State of our country lanes – update

I chased up today on the litter situation on our country lanes, in particular Potterhouse Lane (past the tip), Rotary Way, along the back roads and down to Cocken.

They are in a really bad way. Some work will be done soon but some will have to be delayed as Cocken will apparently require a road closure for safety reasons.

I will keep chasing this. Sick and tired of takeaway rubbish on these roads.

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!

 

FIRST EVER OPPOSITION BUDGET MOTION PASSED AT DURHAM COUNCIL

Today for the first time since Durham’s new unitary authority was set up and perhaps the first time in Durham County Council’s 100 year history, Labour councillors backed an amendment to their budget.

This was put forward by me with the support of our Lib Dem group so I’m rather happy today. I proposed using extra funding the government gives for bringing empty homes back into use to employ extra staff to tackle the problem – a no brainier really – but in Durham, to get a motion passed at any time is nigh on impossible – at Budget setting its unheard of!

We will now have something like double the hours invested into tackling this issue. Although I will be checking and double checking that this actually happens.

At present there are over 6900 long term empty properties in County Durham. These leave areas run-down, causing problems for other homeowners and residents and are a waste of resources.

In my area alone there are many of these properties, including many in Framwellgate Moor. Whilst we have managed to get some back into use, many remain unaddressed.

Finally we will have the staff in place to deal with this.

97 councillors voted in favour of my motion, 4 voted against, including John Turnbull (Labour for Brandon, Langley Moor and Meadowfield) bizarre given how many empty properties there are in his area.

Three councillors abstained including Marion Wilson who covers Deerness (Bearpark, Esh Winning, Ushaw Moor, NEw Brancepeth). Another area with numerous empty properties.

 

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.

Tackling anti social behaviour


We are currently working with the police to deal with some antisocial behaviour issues in Framwellgate Moor.

If anyone spots anything across our area which they feel is inappropriate such as flytipping, excessive noise, littering, dog fouling, overflowing bins, properties with a lot of rubbish lying around etc please do let us know or contact the police on their 101 number if it’s something more serious such as a drug related issue or crime.

Cleaning up Fram Front St

We had to intervene this week after the are wasn’t cleaned up on Monday morning. Our usual excellent clean and green officer was away and the cover didn’t clean up.

Thankfully we have some good management and by Tuesday afternoon the whole street had been cleaned up.

We will be monitoring it each day to see that standards don’t drop as we can never return to the bad old days before we became councillors for the area when upto 10 bags of litter were picked up in one day.

Council agrees my motion to work to phase out single use plastics

By 104 votes to 0.

We today started on the road to cutting single use plastics in County Durham. All councillors supported my motion which will see the council looking at its own use of such plastics and the use of them by businesses and residents to see how we can cut the use of a wide range of items or change the way in which we use them.

Councillors will now start work to find out what we can do short medium and long term to address the problems single use plastics are causing.

Our oceans have 50,000 pieces of plastic floating on them per square mile. They are contaminating our food supply, killing sealife and wildlife and causing untold damage to our natural environment.

I am really pleased that every councillor present from every council political group supported the plans.

Sky News has a really good video showing the impact of plastics on our oceans which is worth looking at (see below). I will be working with fellow councillors to find quick fixes to the problem and to consider how to deal with the more complicated issues.

https://skyoceanrescue.com/about-sky-ocean-rescue/