Last week we scored another major victory in the battle to cut Labour’s council majority. We managed to win in their their safe seat of Shildon. Lib Dem councillor Garry Huntington won with a massive increase in the vote: Garry got 1267 votes to Labour’s 682! Well done Garry. Let’s hope more parts of the County turn Lib Dem soon.
When the County Council said they had to cut down the tree which stands at the junction of Abbey Road and Wheatlands Way I asked them to leave a big stump so we could get it carved.
Amanda managed to find someone willing to do this for a knock down price and the work is nearing completion. The Parish council agreed to pay for the carving and we are funding a flower display around it later this year along with new flower tubs across the area. Should look fantastic when it’s finished!
The biggest ever petition on the governments website – to revoke Article 50.
Lib Dem Bev Coult has secured an amazing election win, securing 63% of the vote for the County Council seat which covers Witton Gilbert, Langley Park and many smaller villages.
Labour which held the seat until less than two years ago saw their vote fall further to just 20%.
The Tories slid to just 8%.
Well done Bev, and a big thank you to the residents across this area for sending a resounding message to Labour at County Hall.
The winter weather has certainly taken its toll on our roads, many of the main roads in the area have potholes appearing and some parts are breaking up quite badly. We’ve been reporting them where we see issues but your help is needed. Let us know if any potholes on your street so we can get them reported.
Some work done by the council is sadly already breaking up, we are not sure if this is the quality of the work, but some patching does seem to be deteriorating a bit too quickly – Abbey Rd/Front St mini roundabout is one such example.
We’ve also report problems in Dryburn Road this week and have concerns some of our main roads such as Carr House Drive still have issues.
We recommended funding extra road repairs in the budget but despite the council having over £200 million in reserves, and increasing council tax and us suggesting where additional funding could be found, Labour said no!
We will continue to push for action to fix our roads and pavements.
Campaigners have produced drone footage of the route of the Western Relief Road which some residents might find interesting, it’s certainly beautiful countryside.
In the last two weeks we have had a number of complaints about the shot gun noises in the area.
They are actually from an automatic bird scaring machine which mimics a shot gun sound to scare birds off crops. Unfortunately its been going off from very early in the morning, causing problems for a lot of people.
We have been in lengthy discussions with the council who have managed to get an agreement now with the landowner. The following has been agreed:
- To remove the remaining bird scarer by this Saturday 16th March.
- To reassess any further use required should his crop be attacked by pigeons following the bird scarer removal.
- If bird scarers are to be used again to follow the codes of practice issued by the NFU. This will include consideration of the position and use of baffles (straw bales) to help concentrate the sound onto the fields.
We are hopeful that after Saturday they will not be needed again and if they are the noise will be concerntrated so that it doesn’t impact on residents.
We will of course monitor this.
Residents, furious at the HQ planning application have stated a petition to the Sectrary of State requesting he calls it in.
The more signatures, the more pressure it puts on him to act. I was one of the six councillors who voted against the application at committee last week. I have never in 10 years as a councillor seen a more ill thought out planning application. I was one of only a few councillors on the committee who spoke against the proposals, and at significant length.
There were so many reasons for objection to the application, it was almost too difficult to get across all of them. Cllr Elizabeth Scott the Lib Dem Chair of the City of Durham parish Council spoke against it, as did the two local Lib Dem county councillors Cllr Freeman and Ormerod.
No members of the Labour Party spoke out against the application on behalf of their Party and the MP has failed to provide any comments against the application. So its down to residents and Lib Dem councillors to continue to push for action. You can sign the petition here. I have sent this to all 126 councillors – might there be one Labour councillor out there who sees sense on this?:
The application is going to committee on Tuesday 5th March. Residents are welcome to attend the meeting which starts at 1pm prompt at County Hall. Arrive early to get signed in at the reception as there may be a queue. As I’m on the committee I’m not commenting on the merits or otherwise of the application prior to the meeting, just wading through the 1215 documents on the Council’s website!
Today apart from the budget we debated a motion on declaring a climate emergency.
Sadly the Labour group motion, put forward by Cllr Dunn changed the deadline for the council to become carbon neutral to 2050 from the 2030 being introduced across the Country by almost all other councils. Durham Labour have let down our county. Protesters at the end of the meeting made their feelings known very loudly.
I tabled an amendment to the motion seeking to change it to the 2030 target. Here’s what I said:
Councillor Dunn’s motion declares a climate emergency. The Inter governmental panel on Climate change whose figures amongst others have triggered councils up and down the country into bringing motions to their full council meetings sets 2030 as our deadline date.
I can only assume that somewhere in discussion with fellow councillors or officers of the council, the 2030 date was amended to 2050.
It does not need to be amended. It cannot be amended.
It’s like calling an ambulance for someone having a heart attack and when the ambulance arrives you say to the paramedics can you just wait for a few minutes whilst we have a chat about the weather.
The emergency deadline date is 2030 not 2050.
I have spoken with very senior officers and there is absolutely no reason for us amending the deadline to 2050. The motion includes a demand on government to help us with the funding needed to achieve this target – so financially there is no legitimate reason not to amend this motion to the 2030 target.
Almost every other council in the country which has adopted this motion or a variation on it has stuck with the 2030 target.
One, Leicester, as gone further and set a 2025-2030 target.
Why on earth should we as councillors be satisfied with potentially being 20 years behind everyone else.
County Durham doesn’t sit in some bubble unaffected by climate change. Our Co2 emissions don’t stay in Durham. We don’t have static Co2. We should be leading the way on this issue as we have done with plastics and in so many other areas.
This is an opportunity not a noose. The noose however will tighten around all of us from 2030 onwards if we don’t address the catastrophic climate change heading our way.
And when I say an opportunity I mean that – because apart from it being essential to tackle climate change, it will also save us money as we find new ways to do things, cut unnecessary consumption and make our part of the country a better place in which to work, to live and to visit.
We have a world heritage City, stunning countryside and wonderful communities. By being one of the first Councils to become carbon neutral we will be sending the message out to the world, that they are welcome here and we are a forward thinking environmentally sound place to do business and to visit.
I will not sit by and allow this council to delay something this important. My child has his third birthday next week. In 2030 he’ll be 14 years old and if this council isn’t at least carbon neutral by then every one of us will have failed him and every other child in this County.
Please support this amendment as the alternative is catastrophic and doesn’t bear thinking about.