All Saint’s Christmas Fair success

Sunday’s Christmas Fair at All Saint’s in Newton Hall was a great success. Over 80 children came to see Santa Claus and all got a present. Cllr Simmons attended as Santa’s helper after assisting making preparations in the kitchen for the cafe.

I helped serve turkey stuffing sandwiches, hot beef baps, scones and soup, all prepared by Cllr Amanda Hopgood who was front of shop serving customers for 3 hours. We had a great time and raised lots of money.

It would not have been possible without all the volunteers including Jack Mason, Elaine Kent and Nicola Finlay in the kitchen who kept me right. Thanks also to Neil, Amanda’s husband for making some of the best leek and potato soup ever!

We raised £150 after costs towards the Church Hall.

It was great to see so many people come through the doors and despite the Christmas tree not arriving until Monday we still had a great Carol service and Christmas lights switch on from Santa Claus!

And big thanks to all the All Saint’s volunteers who helped not just on the day but help out throughout the whole year.

Amanda was back in the kitchen today preparing dinner for over 20 local senior citizen’s for the weekly luncheon club dinner – star performance!

Reporting issues across the area

Over the last few days whilst delivering our local leaflets we have reported dozens of local issues including:

Pavement trip hazards and road repair issues

Serious problems with some takeaways in the area with overflowing rubbish and un binned piles of rubbish, including some more serious issues regarding unsatisfactory website disposal. Such problems lead to vermin and we have a zero tolerance approach on these issues. The Council has been notified of all these issues and we are becoming concerned about the amount of time it takes to address the issues, and the repetitive nature of many of the problems with particular establishments, so issues have been elevated up to management levels.

We have asked for a lot of areas to be cleared of leaves and other detritus, both on pavements and roads including Rowan Drive, Dryburn Road, Sacriston Road, Folly Terrace and many more. The clean and green department are doing a speedy job to clear up these issues as we report them.

We have also spoken to numerous residents about specific local issues and have had several dozen residents contact us by email so far regarding issues raised in the leaflets or other local issues.

If you haven’t received our latest leaflet by the end of the week please let us know.

 

Aykley Heads developments

The development of Aykley Heads is progressing, with plans for new offices on what is an existing parking area, likely to come forward soon.

We have raised concerns on more than one occasion over congestion and parking issues across Aykley Heads and will continue to work to make sure that all re development of the area is properly managed and designed.

We are really concerned that whilst the County Council is listening to what we are saying they will not follow through and actually ensure that the development of the area is sustainable.

As soon as we hear anything new we will update on this blog.

Brasside parking scheme completed today. Hurrah!

The scheme we funded from local neighbourhood budgets in Brasside has just been completed. The works just finished cover an area of nearly 100m, and we have now completed the whole 130m stretch we said we would.

The area is now unrecognisable to how it was. Previously there was grass, mud, gravel, potholes and in fact it was dangerous.

The Council’s highways dept refused to provide any funding towards the scheme as Labour councillors have always refused to fund what they call verge hardening works. So we used our local budgets and are really pleased at the results.

MAJOR RESURFACING WORKS AT BEK ROAD/CARR HOUSE DRIVE – 64 BUS SERVICE AFFECTED

This coming weekend 20th and 21st October, the entrance in to Newton Hall from Bek Road traffic lights will be closed. This will include the closure of the section of Carr House Drive from Alnwick Road junction to Bek Road, and Bek Road up to just before Eden Road. A full resurfacing job will be done on the stretch not done last year, but this will include removing the top layer and putting on a full new surface rather than just a coating over the top.

The 64 Bus service will operate along Rothbury Road and Canterbury Road and part of Bek Road as normal, but turn down Langley Road, missing out the rest of Bek Road, going onto Carr House Drive and then down Alnwick Road, it will then turn back onto Rothbury Road, and then continue down Old Pit Lane/Finchale Road – and the reverse going the other direction.

This will mean that two stops (one in either direction) will be missed on Bek Road.

It is possible that the service will be disrupted. Please let us know if any of the 64 services this weekend or any other day for that matter do not actually go through the estate, as there are regular occurrences when the service misses out the estate completely!

We have raised concerns with the council that the closure this weekend has not been sufficiently advertised in the press, and indeed I was only notified myself of the alternative route at 10.30 on Thursday (today).

I also held a 2 hour meeting with council transport officers last week about the 64 service and they are arranging a meeting with Arriva so that we can raise concerns of residents about the frequent occasions when the 64 bus misses out the entire estate.

£343,000 being spent on Northern Relief Road survey

As part of the proposals in the County Plan, the Northern Relief Road (NRR) has split opinions in our area.

A Durham resident asked a question at full Council this week about the cost of the survey works. The response is below.

My biggest concern with this is there has been no evaluation of other routes prior to carrying out this survey. Any sane organisation would have looked at all possible routes, drawn up a report on them and THEN and only then considered survey work on the preferred route – ideally after consultation with the public.

This is where this element of the County Plan is seriously flawed. It may well be that the NRR route they propose is the best option but to not even go through the due diligence stinks of arrogance.

I asked for a report to be compiled on all the possible route options and we await for that report to come forward, however I expect there will be comments raised when the final County Plan is announced and when it is discussed at the inquiry – could be egg on the Council’s face again if they don’t get it right second time around.

Council response:

 

Question:

Since early this year, extensive ground investigations have been underway along the route of a proposed northern relief road for Durham City. What is the cost or projected cost of this work and, secondly, what was the cost of such work a few years ago for a projected western relief road?

RESPONSE
Firstly, I would like to thank Mr Clark for the question.
We are currently completing a significant exercise to test the ground conditions along the length of the proposed Durham Northern Relief Road. This work is essential if we want to bid for national funding to deliver this critical element of infrastructure. The works will see the sinking of over 70 trial holes and boreholes, some up to 90 meters deep, as well as monitoring over a 3 month period. Although the works are not fully complete it is expected that the final cost of the work will be £343,000.
A similar exercise undertaken previously along the length of the Western Relief Road previously cost £273,000.
The Draft Durham City Sustainable Transport Plan is clear that the long term transport strategy for the city centre is dependent on the ability to provide more space for people travelling on foot, by bike and bus. This is impossible to achieve without a new crossing of the River Wear which provides an alternative to Milburngate Bridge. It is this additional crossing that is provided by the Northern Relief Road.
Providing the Relief Road not only allows extra space in the City for pedestrians, cyclists, bus users it will also create significant air quality benefits by removing unnecessary slow moving and standing traffic and allow the City to function as the economy grows.
Displacing non-essential car trips away from the city centre will also encourage residents and visitors to use active travel and public transport when travelling into the city at peak hours, rather than taking the car into the city.
The Northern Relief Road is a longstanding proposal to improve the road network around Durham City. The principle was established by the Inspector of the 1979 County Durham Structure Plan which stated that a Northern link road ‘will improve the link between Consett and the A1 (M) at Carrville and together with a Western Relief Road, reduce traffic congestion through the city centre. The road was also safeguarded in the City of Durham Local Plan 2004 and had been incorporated in the latest consultation on the Durham Plan.
The improvements resulting from the provision of a Norther Relief Road will have major benefits for the cultural and historic environment of the city, making it a much more pleasant place to work, shop and visit and having direct benefits to the built fabric and public realm of the city including the World Heritage Site and safeguarding the City as a premier economic asset.

 

Well done! Council Clean and Green Team in rapid response to dangerous trees

Yesterday afternoon I contacted our Clean and Green Manager about a dangerous tree at the entrance to the Arnison Centre. There could have been a serious accident as it was leaning at 45 degrees towards the road and was only held up by a sign.

The team was out and had the whole tree down and removed and the access fully open again astonishingly quickly. All credit to them. They also made safe another tree in Newton Hall and were called out to countless other problems across the area.

Hopefully we won’t have to deal with this again but if you do spot a dangerous tree contact the Council immediately and let us know.

Arnison Centre update

Various issues have been raised with the company managing the retail centre, some going back over a year. We have chased an update from them regarding these issues: My comments followed by their answers below.

1. The area to the rear of Costa has had a skip there for months, being used for general waste. It has no cover and when it’s windy it blows out. There is a rat problem in this area.
This skip has been removed and I have received the waste transfer note to confirm this.
2. In the same area the road wasn’t designed right and a big stretch of verge which was planted up very nicely when first done has been mud since just after the pods/work was done.
We are aware of this and unfortunately this is due to the occupiers service lorries reversing over this area and damaging the planted shrubs. We have obtained a quote to move the kerb back but due to the large cost of these works we have to increase the budget to allow us to proceed with this. We need to see if we have the funds to proceed with this in the new year once the service charge has been reconciled.
3. Other parts of the site have areas where planting has disappeared or is dead.
We are aware of these and it is unfortunate that people decide to walk over the new planting and as a result it dies off. We have spent £3,500 replanting the shrubs along the Greggs and Costa pod at the end of June. We tendered our landscaping contract in June this year and the new contractor is meeting myself and our facilities manager on site next week to review what others areas we need to concentrate on.
4. The kerb near Marks and Spencer which I reported over a year ago as dangerous has now had cones on it for over six months.
If you are referring to the attached photo I had asked the original contractor to review this and move the kerb back. I will follow this up.
5. The zebra crossing point next to KFC has no crossing markings (worn off) and has now been like this for a year.
We are relining all of the Mercia car park and placed the order with our contractor on 7th September to complete over £3k of works.
6. Still no bins.
We are reviewing whether these are required.
7. Still no seating.
We have decided on the seating and obtained quotes. We need to review all the leases on the park as some of the retailers have exclusion and visibility zones that need to be considered and could alter the preferred location for the seating.

// We are following up on some of these answers but it is good to see some movement on these issues. If you have any other issues with the retail park or any other shopping areas please do let us know.

Abbey Road parking

We are currently working to address some problems in the Pity Me area around Smithfield and Abbey Road. The success of some of the businesses has increased the number of vehicles in the area. This has resulted in some pretty dangerous and inconsiderate parking, but we are on the case and are working with the businesses and the Council to get as quick a resolution as possible.