A representative of Easington Labour party has said in the Northern Echo that there is a real possibility of Labour losing control of Durham County Council. After more than 90 years of control, the political map of County Durham is finally shifting. People across the County are waking up to the fact that there is an alternative to Labour.

Just three years ago Labour walked into power once again at County Hall. This time round even they believe they are in trouble. If Labour fails to win the vast majority of the seats in Easington, where their local party is in turmoil, they may not be the largest party on the new Unitary Council. This is why every vote will count on May 1st in every division across County Durham.

By ignoring the views of local people across the County, Labour now deserve to be ignored on May 1st.



When Leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg came to the North East last week he commented about there being no evidence of Conservative support and the clear battle between Labour and the Liberal Democrats which will undoubtedly take place on May 1st. I spoke with Nick during the leadership contest at the end of last year and it was clear that his vision included a strong emphasis on the North and North East of England where he saw the Lib Dems as the only choice after years of Labour neglect.

Comments from Nick Clegg last week:

Mr Clegg said: “I understand why William Hague and David Cameron talk about them making inroads here, but there is no evidence of substance behind those claims.

“They do not have the people on the ground, nor the record of achievement and service to people that we have in a place like Newcastle.

“Across the North of England, from Hull to Liverpool, from Sheffield to Northumberland, there is a pattern established of two party politics between Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

“We are going to have to fight very hard for each vote against a party that has been entrenched in this part for generations, but if you want to move beyond the tired politics of Labour, we are the party to support.”

The Lib Dem candidates will compete for the unitary Durham council on issues including the environment, education and antisocial behaviour.

One of Mr Clegg’s big issues is fuel poverty.

He said: “There’s a lot of poor people being fleeced by the electricity companies. It is more than just those on prepayment meters, and there is no move by the Government to compel the companies to install smart meters so people can regulate their energy use by the second – which is also good for the environment.”

He said the Government granting fuel companies emission licences was like giving them a £9bn subsidy, and said: “If you are going to use taxpayers’ money to give them a windfall of £9bn, at least make sure that is recycled into lower tariffs.”

The Lib Dems say they are the only party with a costed programme that will reverse the Post Office closures.

They would float the delivery division of Royal Mail so that it became a John Lewis style partnership, and use the £2bn raised to subsidise rural post offices.

Mr Clegg said: “Post offices should not be regarded just as a business. They are hubs for the local community. They are crucially important for elderly people who want human contact and want help filling in forms.

“We have seen this trend of communities losing their soul – the pub closes, the shop closes, the village hall closes, the playing fields are sold.

For some, this closure will be the death knell of their community spirit.”


Just found out that someone has set up a blog/website under the name The Cobblers Apprentice – Cobblers to Durham County Council. The link is

One of the blogs on the site says:


Durham County Council Leader, Cllr “21 Jobs” Albert Nugent, has ordered his minions to ban all DCC employees from gaining access to this website. Council employees attempting to log onto the “Cobbler” blog now find “access denied.” If they do want to find out what is really going on at County Hall, they will have to do it from the comfort of their own homes.

This follows questions we have put to Albert, such as how much he gets paid for the eight directorships he holds, in addition to his £35,000+ council “pay.” Needless to say, Albert has signally failed to answer any of our questions – but now he won’t be able to log onto this site (at least, not from his office at County Hall).


I must say that this is a direct quote from the site and has nothing to do with me or the Liberal Democrats. If I have to remove this at a later date I will do so. I am not responsible for anything on the Cobbler site and am not responsible for the content of any website which is clicked on from my blog site. This sounds rather legal but the reasons are obvious


The Local Council elections take place on 1st May. This will be your opportunity to vote for two representatives on the new unitary council for County Durham.

You can only vote in elections if your name is on the Register of Electors and I am aware that there are a lot of houses in the area with no-one registered.

In addition, some residents may have moved into the area since the new register came into force on 1 December last year.

Moved home? Coming up to 18? Just not on the register?

If you’ve moved since the Register was compiled or have been missed off, you can get your details amended. All you have to do is to fill in a Voter Registration Form which you must sign yourself, someone else cannot do it for you.

Registration forms are available from the City Council’s office at 17 Claypath. Alternatively, print off the registration form below:-


Applications must be signed by the elector and returned to the Electoral Registration Office, Durham City Council, 17 Claypath, Durham DH1 1RH.

Anyone may apply for a postal vote at an election. Or you can apply for someone else to vote for you if, for example, you are blind or disabled, or if you will be away from home during an election. Contact the Electoral Registration Office at 17 Claypath for the forms (or see below).

There is a deadline of 5 pm. eleven working days before the day of an election for the receipt of new postal vote applications and six working days before the day of election for the receipt of new proxy vote applications.

Forms to apply for a Postal Vote or a Proxy Vote can be downloaded from the following links:-



Again they must be returned to the 17 Claypath address.


The new green recycling bags are being distributed around the area at the moment. There are some answers to frequently asked questions in this pdf:

Recycling Questions and Answers

I have also added a copy of the inside of the recycling scheme leaflet which explains what you can and can’t put in the new green bags (and also what can go in the green box – which is basically all glass and cans). The paper and cardboard now go in the Bag with the plastics.


I’m sure the collection teams will be working hard to make sure that everything runs smoothly. Please let me know if any issues arise. Hopefully we can double recycling on the back of this scheme.


Potterhouse Lane Litter

Litter around Potterhouse Lane Household Waste Recycling Centre has been plaguing residents for years. The County Council is responsible for ensuring that the Site company Premier Waste keeps the surrounding area free of litter which blows out of the site. After visiting the site with officers and taking regular photographs there is now a visible improvement. I am continuing to check that the area is cleaned up on a daily basis. If anyone notices that this is not the case please let me know.


The site currently closes very early during the autumn, winter and spring and by the time March arrives it is still light for over an hour after the site closes. I have raised this issue and been informed that the same applies to all 15 sites across County Durham. I believe that these hours must be reconsidered at the earliest possible time and have made these comments to County Council.


Once there are more than a few cars at the site, it becomes gridlocked and the waiting times a peak periods are a serious problem – for a recycling site to be contributing to global warming through lines of cars waiting seems crazy. The introduction by the Lib Dem-run City Council of plastic and cardboard recycling from home may help to reduce this, although it has been said that where this has been introduced in other parts of the country it has increased the use of Recycling Centres as it has raised the profile of recycling facilities. I hope that improvements can be made to this site in the future to make it more accessible.


The row over post office closures rumbles on with many rural offices identified for closure in spite of loud local protests.

Councillor Redvers Crooks is campaigning with me to keep our post offices open. Our Labour MP Roberta Blackman-Woods voted against a motion in parliament condemning post office closures, so I guess we can assume she doesn’t mind if our post offices close.

Within the Framwellgate Moor Division we have two Post Offices, one on Framwellgate Moor Front Street and one on Newton Street in Witton Gilbert. Please use them as often as possible. Bearpark no longer has a Post Office after the one on Auton Stile closed which has made it very difficult for local residents who now have to travel to Ushaw Moor or further afield.

The next round of post office closures will not now be announced until after the Unitary Elections and so we have again distributed a leaflet to residents in Framwellgate Moor, Pity Me, Brasside and Witton Gilbert, with a petition. There has so far been a good response.

You can also sign the Lib Dem petition against the closure program on the Liberal Democrat website at Thousands of people across Britain have already done this.

The Lib Dems are the only party to have campaigned nationally against the closures since they were announced. At a County Council meeting last week there was a recommendation to look at ways of using County Council facilities to plug the gap.

I hope whatever happens everyone will use their local post offices for as long as Labour allows us to keep them.


The elections in Durham this May for the Unitary Council will cost local taxpayers more than half a million pounds.

Three quarters of local residents voted against a vast unitary council in the referendum last year but Labour ignored us and the true cost of this decision is coming home to roost.

It is bad enough that Labour ignored the clear voice of the people but the huge cost we must now all pay adds insult to injury. There are even possible plans for another election in 2010 which would see taxpayers reaching deep into their pockets yet again.

My fellow campaigner Redvers Crooks said that “it’s no wonder Council Tax under the Labour County Council has shot up again this year. Labour are incapable of doing anything other than waste our money. This is the same group that spent £4 million of our money on spin in the last year alone.”

The Lib Dems have fought against this expensive and unnecessary new Council from the start because we believe in providing value for money
for local people. The Labour-run County Council has increased Council Tax by more than inflation – again.

The Lib Dem-run City Council raised it by LESS than inflation – again – despite a considerable reduction in the grant from the Labour Government.

We can only hope that the new Unitary council isn’t Labour-run, otherwise we’ll all be digging deep next year.


New Bus Shelter in Brasside

When I was elected last year many residents in Brasside commented to me that there was a lack of local improvements. With this in mind I have looked at improving the village. A new litter bin was installed at the bus shelter as you enter Brasside, and just recently after my request to the City Council a new bus shelter has been installed outside Frankland Prison and a litter bin has been requested. I was recently in Brasside with Redvers before the shelter was installed, discussing various issues.