Shameful action as Durham’s Labour council scraps Gritting route with no consultation with residents or councillors

Durham County Council has scrapped a gritting route in our area. They made this decision because of parked cars blocking the route LAST YEAR.

Yet at no point over nine months did they bother to try and fix the problem by speaking to residents or even letting us as your local councillors know about it.

The route ran around Lindisfarne, Cotherstone and Featherstone Roads.

The Council only told us about the route being scrapped when the gritting season was about to start and after printing the new gritting leaflet. AND THEY STILL HAVEN’T NOTIFIED RESIDENTS DESPITE THE RISK SOMEONE COULD GET HURT. This is a total disregard for public safety.

We have now logged this as a formal complaint after our repeated attempts to get the Council to reinstate the route and try and find a solution were ignored. The Director has said nothing more can be done. We disagree.

We think the council should have consulted with residents 9 months ago and sought solutions through the summer.

They could have tried to get people to park differently so that the gritting wagon could get through and temporarily use a smaller vehicle. We might have been able to find other solutions if we had the time, but when you don’t know about something it makes it rather difficult.

We will update residents on our complaint when the Council comes back to us. If the complaint doesn’t find a solution then we will consider the next possible options.

20MPH around schools extended thanks to our action

As many of you will know, Labour councillors produced and forced through a flawed report on 20mph zones following our success in getting the Council to change its policies and agree to allowing 20mph zones. Shame on Labour for playing with Child safety. This meant that schools with fewer accidents in areas like Chester-le-Street where the council leader lives were prioritised over our area.

We secured a review and this showed that schools in our area should have been programmed in first.

The Council is now implementing this and is currently finalising consultation on the project. As part of this they did not plan to include schools in Newton Hall. We have used local funding to make sure that all the schools in our area are included.

This means that near all schools in our area from next year there will be flashing signs and 20mph zones at drop off and pick up times and at lunch times where appropriate.

We hope that this will help to bring down average speeds not just at school times but throughout the day making our area safer for pedestrians.

We are working with the Council on additional projects which will enhance the scheme and also help reduce speeds.

Bus shelter repairs, replacements and cleaning

We have secured repairs and replacements for a number of bus shelters around the area.

Many shelters are being cleaned, and damaged perspex and glass is being replaced.

This includes the one at the entrance to Brasside on Finchale Avenue and the one near new college where we have also secured work to improve the crossing point for new college.

The one outside Vets for Pets and those near Beech Close and Priory Road on Finchale Road in Framwellgate Moor are also getting new glass installed.

The old brick shelter opposite the Newton Grange pub is also being replaced with a new clean one which should also deter people taking toilet breaks in it!




All Saint’s Newton Hall Christmas Lights

All Saint’s Christmas lights once again looks fantastic. We provided the Christmas Tree again this year, bought from Pity Me Nurseries with 200 additional trees at a super discount we negotiated. We we are planning to plant the trees around the area so if anyone has a suggestion on where they would like to see some trees we have 200 decent sized trees ready for planting after the new year, weather permitting. Big thanks to the volunteers who put up the lights and tree at the Church.



Next Thursday we are standing for re-election as your Lib Dem County Councillors. Please vote for Mark Wilkes, Mamie Simmons and Amanda Hopgood on Thursday 4th May.

We are getting a great response on the doorstep, with many residents also contacting us by email to confirm they are supporting us.

We also hope to get elected to the Parish Council along with our Lib Dem colleagues Nigel Martin, Grenville Holland, Colin Hillary and Clive Beddoes.

Richmond and Salisbury Play Park drainage / surfaces – Council failure to act

Last summer we asked for improvements to the surfaces at Richmond Park. The Council did replace one piece of old damaged equipment after 18 months of asking however the surfaces have still not been touched.

Following further complaints from the public we have again asked for action including sorting out the drainage. It really isn’t acceptable for Council owned play areas to be left in this kind of condition, especially given that we are told that there is money in the pot to carry out repairs.

We are increasingly concerned that it’ taking far to long for such repairs in our area and have complained again this week.

Over at Salisbury Road Play area, we have had to elevate complaints as well. It’s over 4 months since we asked for remedial action and still the Council has not even ordered the works.

Needless to say we are on the war path over this and will now be chasing the Council weekly for updates.



Framwellgate Moor litter pick reinstated after Lib Dem intervention

We reported last week that we’ve had no litter picks from Friday afternoon to Monday on Framwellgate Moor Front Street for the last month and it’s really been noticeable.

The Labour-run council made these changes without any consultation or even telling us as councillors.

As soon as we found out we kicked into action and I’m very pleased to say that the afternoon litter pick on a Friday has been reinstated so bins will not be overflowing all weekend and litter will not be left flying around the place.

If we hadn’t intervened as your Lib Dem councillors Framwellgate Moor would have started to go back to as it was when we had Labour councillors. Those who lived around here 10 years ago will remember the horrendous state of the litter. It’s never possible to get it perfect but our actions on this and on the takeaways should continue to keep it tidier than would otherwise be the case.

If there are any areas with litter in Newton Hall, Framwellgate Moor, Brasside, Pity Me or Finchale Abbey Village please let us know so we can get it sorted quickly.

Working to cut HGV problems in our area and update on associated important road closure

On Tuesday we met with owners and estate managers of the Arnison Centre as well as senior council managers and traffic experts to discuss problems raised by residents over HGVs using Finchale Road, Old Pit Lane, Front St Pity Me and Framwellgate Moor and Abbey Road.

Residents on these streets are being plagued with vibrations from large HGVs. I have personal experience of the damage from vibrations with cracks in plaster, however other residents have far more serious issues with  damage to properties, sleepless nights as well as concerns about highway safety.

Road Closure

In a few weeks time, the access between Rotary Way Bypass and the Arnison Centre/Lidl roundabout will be closed off for widening of this area. This should result in an improvement in access to and from the Centre and was requested by us as part of the expansion of the Centre. However for 6-8 weeks from around the end of March we are going to find major traffic problems including more vehicles including HGVs coming through the Pity Me, Framwellgate Moor and Newton Hall areas.

We have asked for various options to be considered to reduce the impact of this.


So for a while there will be an increase in HGVs, however we have a commitment form the Arnison Centre owners that once this necessary improvement work has taken place, they will work to ensure that all the businesses on the site get the lorries delivering goods to use the A167 Pity Me bypass and Rotary Way as it was originally designed. We will be monitoring this after the roadworks have taken place and will be asking residents to help us identify those business not adhering to the agreement.

Projects which help our senior residents – Your feedback requested

We are keen to hear from you with suggestions of projects and ideas to boost involvement in the community or events for more senior residents. At the moment we do a great deal to assist older residents with council related issues and community programs but we want to do more.

Amanda currently helps to run the Luncheon Club at All Saint’s Church in Newton Hall which provides a meal on Mondays to 40-50 local residents who are retired, with ages ranging from 65 to nearly 100!

We also provided funding to the WI for a senior citizen’s Christmas party in December in Framwellgate Moor.

We have also been campaigning to keep local health services such as podiatry in the area.

We also support all the community buildings in the area which have groups and access for retired residents. And of course we respond to many requests for help each week, ranging from issues which all residents contact us about to concerns¬†with assisted refuse collections, requests for dropped kerbs and social care concerns. Recently we assisted a Durham City Homes resident to improve their mobility access for example. We also helped another resident get access to the Council’s Link2 bus service to get to hospital.

Let us know if there is something missing for older residents in our area or perhaps an idea you feel will help senior members of our community. There may also be funding available for local groups which aim to help older residents.