Northern Relief Road thoughts

There will be a mixed reaction to proposals for the Northern Relief road. On the one hand Durham has a pollution and congestion problem and attempts to get people to change will simply not deal with it.

I imagine there will be a significant number of residents supporting a new road. However there will also be a significant percentage against a road at all. Then there will be residents who want a road but do not agree with the route.

One such resident sent me a video he has done which you may find interesting. See below.

Another interesting point is that when I asked officers for the analysis of all possible routes for a relief road, I found that there were only the two options running between Brasside and Newton Hall. No consideration of Cocken Road nor of going round the back of Brasside have been even analysed at a basic level – simply because decades ago this was the proposed route. I don’t think that is an acceptable answer.

Whilst I am inclined to support improved road links due to the congestion in Durham City, I am yet to be convinced that the route proposed is the only or best option.

Whatever your views on this and the other County Plan issues, please make sure you attend the consultation events.

 

Success – Lib Dem pressure secures extra £700,000 for highways repairs

A couple of weeks ago I submitted a motion for full council calling on Cabinet to invest more funding to repair roads, in particular because of the additional damage caused by  this winters poor weather but also because of years of under funding. We also called on government to put in more funding.

The Council, suddenly has found – just a few minutes before my motion was due to be debated, an additional £700,000 – great news – Lib Dem pressure pays off.

However we still feel far more is needed. Not least because we have a massive backlog of rod and path repairs of around £200 million!

We will continue to pile on the pressure which has over the years resulted in significant extra investment.

Residents get incorrect Council Tax bills

Residents around Durham City are getting electronic council tax bills which are incorrect.

On Newton Hall and other parts of the City residents have received electronic bills and are being charged for the City of Durham Town Council precept by mistake.

We immediately raised this with officers and are hopeful that paper bills have not been sent out too.

Update: 4782 paper bills were printed and scrapped at a cost of £240. Thankfully they were not posted out. Over 1100 people got incorrect electronic bills. Needless to say we are asking that the proper checks are put in so it doesn’t happen again.

Gritting and snow update – Including Finchale Abbey Village

We have had a few residents get in touch about the state of the roads. The Council has been working round the clock to keep our main roads in a good condition and despite the horrendous conditions most main roads have been passable with care most of the time.

We have one outstanding issue. Finchale Abbey Village is still wanting for a grit delivery despite my original request on 12 December and repeat requests since. We have been given assurances that there will be some delivered tomorrow.

My attempt to get down there today was not fruitful and I turned back. This suggests to us that many residents will be struggling to get out of the village, and if the forecasts are right the village may well be cut off completely by morning. Not great considering its just a couple of miles from Durham City.

When the annual review of winter maintenance comes round there will be some earnest and frank discussions about this particular element of the winter maintenance program from us as your local councillors and these problems will definitely not happen again that’s for sure.

Other than this issue, the Council is doing a good job in difficult circumstances.

All staff are working round the clock and deserve praise for their efforts. It certainly isn’t easy driving a 40 ton truck of grit on ice with near snow blindness, so please bear with them if service levels are not quite to the standard you would normally expect.

We will also see significant disruption to bin collections for the next few days and into next week, so time to compact down those bins!

 

Major flytipping, litter, rubbish, overflowing bins issues reported in a Framwellgate Moor

I have today during a drive and walk around reported dozens of issues around Framwellgate Moor front street and the Terraces.

Numerous overflowing bins, many of them recycling bins which are not due emptying until March 1st.

Numerous flytipping incidents including black bags, fridge and freezers, sofas and other rubbish.

A lot of wind blown litter.

I have raised concerns with the Head of Setvice and Clean and green managers about the clear failure of clean up in the area caused by removal of or lack of proper litter picking and street bin emptying on Friday afternoon now there is no weekend service.

Senior officers will be out on site this week to assess what needs doing.

Please help improve the area by: Reporting overflowing bins including wheelie bins, reporting any bin anywhere with no lid and letting us know of any flytipping or rubbish incidents anywhere across Framwellgate Moor, Pity Me, Newton Hall and Brasside.

I also arranged for the area behind Front St Pity Me to be litter picked and reported several more flytipping incidents there. We need to keep on top of this and need residents help to do it so please do report all issues.

Cotherstone, Lindisfarne, Featherstone still without gritting

Our complaint about the removal of the gritting route and the way in which it was done have been disregarded by the Council as has our formal complaint. We now have a meeting with the Director and Head of Service set up for tomorrow. We will update residents after this meeting.

If anyone knows of any accidents which have happened since the gritting route was scrapped please let us know. We are aware of two accidents one involving two car and the other three cars. We have also been told of a near miss.

We urge all residents on these streets to write to the Council and complain about their actions and demand the route be reinstated.

Damaged bollards and blocked drain reported

As well as the big things we do also chase up on the smaller things. Such as damaged bollards which are currently looking a bit of a mess on Framwellgate Moor Front Street:

Sometimes we also have to go out in the rain and dark to get proof that the Council hasn’t fixed problems despite saying they have or saying there isn;t an issue. One such issue is the collapsed or blocked drain on Framwellgate Moor Front Street which I have reported numerous times. So last week when it was chucking it down I decided to get out there and photograph it. Hopefully now that the Council’s highways manager has been sent a copy we will see some action.

 

Shameful action as Durham’s Labour council scraps Gritting route with no consultation with residents or councillors

Durham County Council has scrapped a gritting route in our area. They made this decision because of parked cars blocking the route LAST YEAR.

Yet at no point over nine months did they bother to try and fix the problem by speaking to residents or even letting us as your local councillors know about it.

The route ran around Lindisfarne, Cotherstone and Featherstone Roads.

The Council only told us about the route being scrapped when the gritting season was about to start and after printing the new gritting leaflet. AND THEY STILL HAVEN’T NOTIFIED RESIDENTS DESPITE THE RISK SOMEONE COULD GET HURT. This is a total disregard for public safety.

We have now logged this as a formal complaint after our repeated attempts to get the Council to reinstate the route and try and find a solution were ignored. The Director has said nothing more can be done. We disagree.

We think the council should have consulted with residents 9 months ago and sought solutions through the summer.

They could have tried to get people to park differently so that the gritting wagon could get through and temporarily use a smaller vehicle. We might have been able to find other solutions if we had the time, but when you don’t know about something it makes it rather difficult.

We will update residents on our complaint when the Council comes back to us. If the complaint doesn’t find a solution then we will consider the next possible options.

Brasside regeneration to start in the Spring

We are pleased to be able to confirm that we have come to an agreement with the Council to get the next phase of Brasside parking regeneration done.

Plans have been agreed which will see a further 80m stretch upgraded.

The current state of the verges through the village is appalling. We are angry that the Labour-run council has refused to put any funding in to the village to deal with these problems and improve residents lives.

We are therefore using local neighbourhood funding to carry out this important regeneration project after our requests for matched funding were again rejected.

The project is currently on hold after we found out there was a chance that Northumbrian Water would be coming in and replacing the main pipework through the village. Had we not asked for this to be checked out the Council may have done the work only for it to be dug up again!