Canvassing in Framwellgate Moor Division this evening with fellow local Lib Dem candidate Redvers Crooks.


The reception on the doorstep has been very positive , but tinged with anger at Labour’s national and local policies. The attack on the low paid and pensioners with the abolition of the 10p tax band has been illustrated by the disgust of many voters, both low paid and well paid. This is an unjust attack on those struggling the most in our villages. Labour’s tax increases are hitting everyone hard, but the lowest paid are starting to receive their pay slips and it is shameful what is happening to hard working low income families.

Over the past four years, on a local level, the Labour-run County Council has increased council tax by nearly double that which the Lib Dem-run City Council has increased council tax. In fact the Lib Dem rises for the City Council have been below inflation for every one of the last four years. At the same time we are on target to complete on time and in budget the new swimming pool and leisure complex – with free entry to the pool for all under-fives.

On the back of Lib Dem hard work and commitment, investment in our villages has never been greater. Across the district new facilities are being financed and both Redvers and I intend to make sure that more and more of this investment comes to the Framwellgate Moor Division.

All five villages have one thing in common. The County Council has failed on improving our roads and pavements, we are and will fight to get these improvements.

Postal votes will be posted on Friday. If we haven’t knocked on your door or you missed us, please call us. We don’t give out County Council phone numbers as contact details like Labour. You should be able to get hold of your councillors when you need them. All our contact details are here:

Redvers: Mobile 07822 702181 Landline: 0191 373 7232 Email:

Address: 6 College View, Bearpark, DH7 7DY

Mark: Mobile 07809 377 177 Landline 0191 3864238 Email:

Address: 6 Abbey Road, Pity Me, Durham, DH1 5DQ

Lib Dem Office number: 0191 383 9168 Lib Dem office address: 55a Old Elvet, Durham, DH1 3HN

If you want us to call round to talk in person call us and we will come to see you.


Some weeks ago I requested information relating to speeding figures on Front Street and Abbey Road, Pity Me from tests made last year which appeared not to have been released. To my surprise I was informed that these figures would have to be released to the County Councillor before/at same time as being released to me.

I find it hard to believe that figures for speeding taken July and September last year had still not been passed on to our County Councillor or it appears the police. Your County Councillor released some of these figures to the Parish council last week most probably because of my enquiries and I have attached his response below as a word attachment.

He states regarding speeding on Abbey Road that it “does not meet the police target for carrying out an enforcement campaign in the area”

On the same day as his press release to the Parish council I received a reply from the police to my extensive investigations which read:

“I am in receipt of speed and traffic flow survey data from Durham County Council, provided as part of our partnership working in theses matters, which indicates there is indeed a high level of vehicles exceeding the speed limit at a level where enforcement action by the Police would be considered.”

Rather odd that our County Councillor believes the complete opposite. I am also interested in Cllr Burlison’s claim to be constantly in touch with the police in this matter given that it appears he didn’t even have these figures before I requested them.

Your Labour County councillor also states in his release that average speed on Front St, Pity Me is 25.7 mph. His own figures on the same page state that it is 31.4 mph. He goes on to say that this “lower speed is probably due to the close proximity of the mini-roundabout that encourages motorists to slow down.”

The speed test was carried out outside Bishops Way near the Electricity substation – hundreds of metres from the mini-roundabout! I wonder if he knows the area at all. Furthermore if you see the FULL FIGURES which I also post a copy of, you will see that 56% of vehicles are speeding on Front Street in Pity Me and a massive 64% on Abbey Road.

The average figures which have been released by Cllr Burlison do not include an awful lot of information. For example they don’t tell you that 30,900 cars are speeding on Front St, Pity Me every week.

They don’t tell you that on Abbey Road over 3000 cars a week are travelling more than 40mph in the 30mph zone. There is a link below to the video which the government released illustrating the fact that at 40mph there is an 80% chance of a child being killed.

If Cllr Burlison thinks that the police don’t think this warrants action he is wrong. The police do take it seriously and in their email to me said with regards to Abbey Road:

“On the basis of the above speed information, a specific speed enforcement campaign will be initiated and Officers of our Road Policing Unit will target the area for speed enforcement attention at the intelligence led times when speeding vehicles are known to be of particular concern

UPDATE: Following my investigations the police will now also be taking action on Front St 

Your County Councillor clearly isn’t taking this issue seriously. In fact if it had not been for my investigations I expect it would never have been taken seriously. He should have been sorting this out months ago when these figures came out, not giving out incorrect information which is in direct conflict with police opinion and appears to dilute the problem.

His comment that engineering work on the pavement will help reduce the speed on the Framwellgate Moor stretch of Front St is ludicrous. The average speed there is 25mph.

The files:

speedingpityme.pdf Cllr Burlison’s statement and average figures. I have highlighted in red the items discussed above.

fullspeedingresults.pdf The full set of figures

Link to government video (Some people my find this upsetting):

On a positive note, the speed tests I asked for on Woodbine Road and The Avenue after requests from residents have come back with hardly any speeding at all.


In a recent newspaper article one of the Tory candidates for Framwellgate Moor division said that he lived in the area where he is standing. According to the electoral roll he lives in Neville’s Cross Division.

Your Labour Councillor was telling people on his website that he had moved into the area, until I pointed out to the County Council legal department that he was still living in Esh Winning. This has now been amended.

Rev and I do live in the Framwellgate Moor Division and are working hard to get the best deal for everyone across our five villages and the rural parts in between. Where you live clearly isn’t as important as being able to do the job, however at least you know we are honest when we say we live here.


The failure to collect recycling in parts of the area by Durham County Council owned Premier Waste after the Easter bank holiday has led to confusion and some uncollected recycling. Hopefully things will be back to normal this week. If anyone has problems with their recycling this week please contact me immediately.

I am expecting that we will be told the new recycling scheme has been even more successful than anticipated once any initial problems are ironed out. If you didn’t receive the leaflet which came with it the links below will give you some more information.

Recycling Questions and Answers


Some residents have mentioned that collectors are leaving bits of recycling on the pavement including broken glass. I have reported this and hopefully things will be back on track soon.

I have also mentioned that they shoud have a small dustpan and brush to clear up broken glass and that they shouldn’t drag the bags wherever possible as this is damaging them.



A quote from our Labour County Councillor:

“Yet again the latest Lib Dem ‘Focus’ newsletters claims our roads are not safe and are an accident waiting to happen. This is nothing but misinformed scaremongering.”

Perhaps our Labour councillor could explain to the residents of Ritson Avenue that their road is not dangerous. There has been yet another accident near to the spot we were told by local residents that this would happen (picture above).

AND is he also aware that only yesterday there was a further accident on Auton Stile in Bearpark due to the dangerous layout of the traffic calming “pinch points”. Lib Dem Cllr Redvers Crooks has requested figures as to the number of accidents at the two pinch points in Bearpark and I will report back when we have them.

Wanting to make sure our roads are safer is not scaremongering. These accidents prove there is an ongoing problem which has not been dealt with.

The failure to deal with the speed tests I spoke about in yesterday’s blog is not scaremongering. It is a fact. Perhaps our Councillor should spend less time denying the problem and more time working to solve it. If he won’t then it’s time to choose someone who will.


Sunday 6th of April 2008 will go down as the day Labour shamed our country and themselves. Tomorrow 5.3 million of the lowest income families will be paying more income tax and national insurance.

Low income families with annual earnings between £5,931 and £15,075 will be on average £152.40 worse off – following the cutting of the ten per cent income tax band and changes to National Insurance. More and more will have to rely on the tax credits system – if they can claim.



The Lib Dems will have around 90 candidates standing across County Durham for the Unitary elections. In Duham City District we have a full slate of 22 local candidates.

In Easington, if it were not for the Lib Dems, Labour would now have 8 unitary councillors as no one else has stood against them in four divisions. We have 18 candidates compared to just a handful of Conservative and Independents. Last May 40 Labour councillors were elected unopposed to Easington District Council – finally these residents will have an election.

In Wear Valley we are contesting every seat, whilst in Sedgefield, Chester-le-Street and Derwentside we have a further 50 or so candidates. Three of the District councils have not released nominations yet.

Unfortunately there are some BNP candidates standing in the County. Whilst I appreciate everyone’s right to stand and always hope that as many people as possible cast their vote, I hope everyone turns their backs on these extreme right-wing candidates.



Now that the nomination papers are in, I can announce that I will be standing for the new Unitary Council on May 1st, alongside my colleague Redvers Crooks. We are pictured above with some of the Lib Dem candidates for the other divisions in the District.

The long term future of County Durham will be decided on May 1st. Either we will have more years of Labour failures – with continued waste of taxpayers money – or a new beginning for the County.

In the Framwellgate Moor Division your Lib Dem candidates only need 76 people to switch from Labour for us to win the seat and become your elected representatives – compared to the by-election in 2006. This means that every vote really will count on May 1st.

We both live in the Division and have both served you on the City Council since May last year. Between us we are also Parish councillors on all three parish councils in the Division, and continue to work with our Lib Dem colleagues on all three councils. Labour has no representation at all on either Framwellgate Moor or Witton Gilbert parishes.

If the democratic deficit left behind after the abolition of our City Council is to be filled, this link between the parishes, unitary council and local community will be essential. We feel that we are ideally placed to make sure that all five of our villages as well as the more rural areas of the Division are fully represented.

We have started to knock on doors across the division and the response has been tremendous. If we happen to miss you or don’t make it round to everyone, please accept our apologies.

There are over 4000 homes within this Division, and as you can see from the map below it covers a significant area. We are up for the challenge and hope you are willing to give us the chance.



Voting matters

The queues of people we see in many countries at election time remind me of the importance of voting. In Zimbabwe an empty plot of land had 8000 voters registered – yet despite the clearly corrupt nature of many voting systems overseas, the queues can still be seen.

In the UK successive labour and Conservative governments have taken our vote for granted. The last Labour government was elected by less than 22% of eligible voters. In simple terms for every person who voted Labour, almost two voted for other parties and two did not vote.

The voting system in County Durham has allowed Labour to stay in power for decade after decade. If we are to change this monopoly we must tell everyone to go out and vote on May 1st. I believe we can make Durham a more democratic and more efficiently run County with better services. The more Liberal Democrats we have, the more chance we will have to bring democracy back to Durham and the rest of Britain.

Then it will not be possible for our country to be forced into illegal wars which destroy lives and waste billions of pound of our money.