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!

20MPH around schools extended thanks to our action

As many of you will know, Labour councillors produced and forced through a flawed report on 20mph zones following our success in getting the Council to change its policies and agree to allowing 20mph zones. Shame on Labour for playing with Child safety. This meant that schools with fewer accidents in areas like Chester-le-Street where the council leader lives were prioritised over our area.

We secured a review and this showed that schools in our area should have been programmed in first.

The Council is now implementing this and is currently finalising consultation on the project. As part of this they did not plan to include schools in Newton Hall. We have used local funding to make sure that all the schools in our area are included.

This means that near all schools in our area from next year there will be flashing signs and 20mph zones at drop off and pick up times and at lunch times where appropriate.

We hope that this will help to bring down average speeds not just at school times but throughout the day making our area safer for pedestrians.

We are working with the Council on additional projects which will enhance the scheme and also help reduce speeds.

RORY BREMNER OR MEMBERS ALLOWANCES

So what has DCC got to hide on the day there are reports about mileage claims in the papers?

Take a look at the members expenses page. For some reason the 2016/17 councillor allowances page has been replaced by a picture of Rory Bremner. I know DCC has been referred to as a comedy act in the past, perhaps they are trying to have a laugh over the use of taxpayers money.

The link is http://www.durham.gov.uk/membersexpenses

Not a clue how long it will take to change it.

200 Council Managers still haven’t completed COMPULSORY staff sickness training 12 MONTHS after being told to

A few years ago we managed to get the Council to agree to a major program of changes to tackle sickness absence and attendance management issues at the Council.

The good news is that sickness absence is falling, although it is still way too high at over 10 days per employee a year.

The bad news, no the appalling news, is that over 200 managers still have not completed the compulsory training they are required to: 12 months after being told to do it. This training makes sure that they understand when to refer someone for example to occupational health and how to deal with a sick employee in a proper manner. Previously some employees were not referred for months when there were clear issues – one employee wasn’t referred to occupational health for 300 days!!

The Council is continuing to let down employees by not making sure that all managers are properly trained. Surely 12 months is long enough for a manager to have done the compulsory training. Personally, apart from holidays and their own sickness, a month should have been long enough to book a few hours of time in to do the course on the council’s computer system. It’s not a huge ask to put the computer on and do it after all.

I am absolutely certain that not a single manager will have seen any serious repercussions from failing to carry out the training.Offiers at today’s meeting could;t answer what the repercussions were for someone failing to do the training. Compulsory means compulsory. Any manager not having done the training is letting down their staff and this County. The Labour cabinet members responsible should get off their gold plated chairs and have a right go at senior management, much as I did today at our Scrutiny meeting.

PRESS RELEASE: Council profits from cycle scheme at expense of local cycle shops

Labour-run Durham County Council is under pressure to help local bike
shops. Lib Dem campaigners have discovered that local firms have been
priced out of a cycle scheme in favour of a national firm.

Many big employers are involved in a salary sacrifice scheme which
allows employees to pay for a bike through national insurance rebates.
Durham County Council offers this scheme to its staff.

Two years ago local bike firms in County Durham were accessing the
council’s scheme. However a new contract with a national chain was
introduced. Whilst the local firms could still get involved, they
could only do so if they sold different bikes than the national chain
and had to pay a huge 15% commission.

Lib Dem councillor Mark Wilkes has found out that most of this
commission is pocketed by the Labour-run County Council. He commented
“Local firms have been priced out of the market by what is in effect a
back hander. This was not a requirement of the original tender. The
Council should immediately remove the 12% they are taking from this
scheme so that it is worthwhile for local firms to get involved.

A council spokesperson said of the commission “The income contributes
to the council’s costs for managing and promoting the scheme.”

The scheme has so far helped 205 employees take up the cycle program.
Almost all of those taking up the scheme in the last two years have
gone through the national company.

Salary sacrifice schemes like this one can be great at promoting
sustainable travel. The bike scheme helps to cut pollution and improve
health by getting people out of the car and onto bicycles.

However Lib Dem campaigners state that this should not be at the
expense of local firms who are in effect priced out of being involved.

Cllr Wilkes points out “By taking this commission the Council is
removing any chance that local firms can make money. Indeed we have
been told that to be involved actually costs them money as their
margins and costs are swept away by the council taking a cut.”

What makes campaigners even more angry is that the back hander was
kept secret until a local firm mentioned they were having to pay a
commission to the national provider.

Cllr Wilkes added “I imagine that not one of our local firms actually
knew the money was going back to Durham County Council!”

The Labour-run local authority has extended the national contract for
a further 2 years, but Lib Dem campaigners are calling on the Council
to amend the terms and remove the 12% cut they take so that local
firms can afford to get involved.

Residents wrongly told they can vote in parish election, polling cards and postal votes issued

Residents of  Barrington Close have been included in the Parish Council election despite not being in the Parish.

When I was checking through the electoral roll for non parished parts of our area it suddenly dawned on me the Barrington Close wasn’t there.

I called the head of electoral services who ran a check only to discover the Council had registered the street over five years ago as part  of  Framwellgate Moor Parish area.

The Council must now issue new polling cards and notify residents, including those with postal votes that they can’t vote in the Parish election.

Had I not seen this the whole election might have needed to be run again. Thankfully I’m told these residents haven’t been billed for parish council tax, but I will still be checking to make sure.