A step closer to cutting the flood risk in Brasside

We are a step closer to getting a major improvement for residents on Beech Close in Brasside. The Ministry of Justice has now agreed to council proposals to procure the works which involve lining the drain running through the estate. They only agreed after we agreed to commit funding to the project towards the area they don’t own and the Council offered to manage the project. This has been a very long battle with years of lack of action from various sources, but its great to be able to say that our perseverance as local Lib Dem councillors is finally set to pay off.

Forms are being worked on and I hope we will see the work carried out by the summer.

Flood and drainage issues

I have been out for several hours today checking out various flood/drainage issues in the area.

Blue Coat School

The new field drainage at Blue Coat School has helped to ensure huge amounts of water did not get into properties. Some issues do remain and I have been out talking to residents today to work out what they and the council need to do and we will continue to work to ensure everything possible is done to keep properties free of flooding.

The work done in Brasside to cut the flood risk on Beech Close is working well at the moment. A full lining of the old drain is planned to be done to make sure the old drain doesn’t collapse and continued checks for maintenance will be required.

There was a lot of water coming off the surrounding land this afternoon and flowing into the drain. If work had not been done it is likely there would have been flooding.

Various roads around the area have minor flooding and a fair few street drains are likely to be blocked. If your spot one report it to help@durham.gov.uk. The Council has been inundated with requests for help today, so don’t expect an immediate response unless it is an emergency/urgent.


Horrendous path fixed on Farnham Road

When I was on a walkabout a few months back I was disgusted with the state of two of the paths on Farnham Road. Even by the poor standards in many streets, this was in an unacceptable condition.

Thankfully council officers agreed with me and rather than simply replacing dozens of broken paving slabs decided it was more sensible to redo the whole path. The result is excellent.

farnham paths

All Saint’s Church gets new windows with councillor help

We have helped with funding to make All Saint’s Church facilities even better. We provided £5000 from local budgets towards the cost of replacing windows and doors throughout the Church communal areas.

All Saint’s has been providing community facilities for over 40 years and needed double glazed windows as the old ones were in a bad state of repair.

By helping to get them replaced it will reduce energy bills for many years to come which will help to protect the long term sustainability of the centre so it can be kept warm throughout the winter.

In addition to the windows, the funding has helped to provide a new more energy efficient cooker in the kitchen which is helping the local luncheon club and other community groups.

Newton Hall Christmas Lights up and looking splendid

Newton Hall’s first Christmas decorations for years are going up at All Saint’s on Carr House Drive. Your Lib Dem councillors secured this working with the Church & Pity Me Nurseries.

We have used local funding to provide the tree lights and electric supply. The Church is providing the land and electricity.

A big thank you goes to Pity Me Nurseries (Next to the A167 Pity Me roundabout) for providing the tree completely free!

The nursery has 2500 Christmas trees for sale this year, with 3 new trees planted for each one sold. Next year your Lib Dem councillors hope to secure additional decorations in Newton Hall and would like to see new ones in other parts of the area too.

Pic of me helping up a tree with Amanda pretending to keep it steady. Steve the new minister did most of the tree climbing though whilst, I helped out with getting the lights around the fencing and fixing up the new Christmas tree.


Relief as Lib Dems cut flood risk at Barrasford Road & Blue Coat School


Residents on Barrasford Rd and everyone at Blue Coat School are happy after your Lib Dem councillors funded flood prevention measures.

This has been an issue for many years, making the playing field too wet to use and causing serious flooding for many households. I am really happy we have secured these improvements.

We were given a quote of £8500 by the council, so I contacted a NE company who have done the same work for less than half the price! Great news for residents.

barrasford road 2

Dryburn Hill Footpath works commenced

Work to replace flagstone footpaths on part of this estate have started. I have been pushing for this for a very very long time. An improved pavement at the entrance will also be installed for safety reasons following resident requests.

It’s great that after so long asking we can see part of the estate getting improvements. We did hope that more work would be done and offered some local funding to match it but the council has scrapped its policy of working with councillors to match fund highways projects. Something we would like to see changed so that more money can be allocated to such works.


Farnham Road parking area ready for use

For some time now  as your Lib Dem councillors we have been working to get parking improvements.

As a result a fully resurfaced parking area with proper access has been created on Farnham Road.

farnham parking

Councillor Mark Wilkes says “It took a while but we got it done at a good price. We also complained about the state of two footpaths on the street and they have been rebuilt.”

Cllr Mamie Simmons adds “By making sure every penny is spent properly and being proactive we are getting as much done as we possibly can across Newton Hall. We also expect parts of Canterbury and Bek Roads will be resurfaced next year.”


If it wasn’t the Labour Party in County Durham you couldn’t have made it up. I am thoroughly disgusted.

The two highest profile issues coming into my message message box over the past few weeks have been the imminent closure of the Durham Light Infantry Museum in Durham City and changes to the pay and working arrangements of Teaching Assistants (TAs) in County Schools.

At Full Council this morning there were motions on both these issues put down. One on the DLI by me, and another by Cllr owen Temple on teaching assistants. We were asking for further discussion and consultation on them. Also on the agenda was a motion put down by a Labour councillor attacking the proposed Tory government changes to trades union legislation (this was a standard motion created by the TUC that has been put down by Labour councillors in many councils across the country).

Unfortunately for the DLI and the TAs, the Labour motion was submitted first and so was debated first.

Here comes the problem. Some years ago, Labour forced through a provision in the council constitution (against opposition wishes) to limit debate on motions to a total of 30 minutes at council meetings. That’s 30 minutes total, not 30 minutes for each motion!

The constitution also allows for councillors to agree to extend the 30 minute period. So we did that and, with a vote recording the names of everyone and how they voted, Labour refused to extend the debating time.

So the TU debate started, and after w while we tried to move the debate to a vote. Again Labour voted this down and Labour Councillors queued up to filibuster the 30 minutes away, after which that debate was curtailed and voted on, with the TA and DLI motions timed out. There is a chance that these could be discussed at the next meeting, however timing may mess this up, certainly for Teaching Assistants perhaps for the DLI but I will resubmit.

So where do sprouts come in? As part of the timing out, Labour councillor Patrick Conway (Belmont division) told a tale of how his mother had worked in his native Lincolnshire picking brussels sprouts in darkest December. I doubt that TAs and DLI supporters would feel this was as important as their jobs or the future of the DLI museum.

This was a shameful day for Labour, so when you come to vote next time, you know what to do.

My previous post can be seen here: http://markwilkes.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/12/01/call-to-delay-dli-closure/

For the record, here is the list of Labour councillors and one independent (ex Labour) who refused to extend time and allow debate:

Adam Eddy
Armstrong Joe
Avery Brian
Batey Alison
Bell David
Bell Eddie
Bell Jennifer
Bennett Harry
Blakey Jan
Bleasdale Geraldine
Bonner Anne
Brookes Peter
Brown Jane
Carr Colin
Carr Joanne
Chaplow Jean
Clare John
Clark June
Conway Patrick
Cordon Jim
Crathorne Pauline
Crute Rob
Davidson Keith
Davinson Mark
Dearden Katherine
Dixon Mike
Forster Sonia
Foster Neil
Geldard Ian
Glass Bob
Graham Barbara
Gray Joan
Gunn Olwyn
Hampson Carole
Hart John
Henig Katherine
Henig Simon
Hillary Jed
Hodgson Michele
Hopper Kate
Hovvels Lucy
Huntington Eunice
Iveson Sarah
Jewell Ivan
Johnson Ossie
Kellett Bill
Laing Audrey
Lawton Pat
Lee June
Lethbridge John
Liddle Heather
Lindsay John
Liversidge Alan
Lumsdon Rachel
Maitland Joyce
Marshall Carl
Marshall Linda
Measor Janice
Milburn Olga
Moir Bill
Morrison Sue
Napier Alan
Nearney Thomas
Nicholson Henry
Patterson Andrea
Pemberton Trish
Plews Maria
Potts Christine
Pounder Lynn
Shaw Kevin
Smith Heather
Smith Tracie
Stephens Brian
Stradling Paul
Surtees Angela
Taylor Leo
Tinsley Fraser
Tomlinson Eddie
Turnbull John
Turner Andy
Williams Mac
Wilson Christine

Aykley Heads Roundabout work complete

The roundabout looks far better now that it has been resurfaced. We had asked for action and I am very pleased that this work has been done.

There is still an outstanding sunken drain cover which I have pointed out to officers who are checking it out to see if it can be replaced.

A resident has also commented about keep clear markings perhaps not being in the right place and officers are also checking this out.