New Pity Me Housing completed – Hurrah!!

The eight new affordable to rent houses in PIty Me were completed today and new tenants will start moving in tomorrow.

This is a fantastic achievement for us as local Lib Dem councillors, and for County Durham Housing Group. After eight long years of challenging the Council for new homes and them refusing we managed to get the new housing group to agree to use brownfield/garage site for family homes.

The houses are all being let to local people after we secured a local lettings policy. It’s really great that people from the area will be able to still live near family and friends in homes that are affordable to rent. Having been in the houses today I am delighted by the quality of them and hope all those who were lucky enough to secure one really enjoy living in their new homes.

Framwellgate Moor Clinic set to shut

The clinic on Framwellgate Moor Front street is to close (not to be confused with Dunelm Medical Centre).

I have found out this just in the last few days, after the announcement over a year ago that it was under threat, which at the time was also uncovered by us, not through any official announcement.

Again we have found out by accident. The lease is not to be renewed and services will be shift out to other areas over the next three months.

This quite clearly goes against the NHS ethos of having services as close to patients as possible. It will also leave an empty property on the Front Street.

It also appears that there may not have been an attempt to renegotiate the lease on the property, so there is no chance that we will ever know if a better deal could have been obtained. Indeed we also do not know how much the repair clauses in the lease will hit the NHS to return the property to the state at the start of the lease.

All this suggests that there has not been full due diligence in considering whether or not  this is indeed a financially sound decision to make, to say nothing of the impact on service users.

I do wonder what attempts were made to look at adding services to the Clinic to help make it more sustainable. I am deeply concerned as to what is likely to come next with local health services as many are being tendered out and are likely to end up in the private sector with the many risks associated with such action.

Whilst what is going on cannot entirely be laid at the door of the government as this is local decision making  I am certain that the impact of under investment by the current government in the NHS and social care services will have contributed to the decisions being made.

I am waiting for a response from the NHS but expect we will see a response in the press from them before anything emailed back to me.

 

Pity Me Fire this evening

The fire in PIty Me this evening was in a skip on the building site for the new social housing at Woodbine Road, plenty of flames but thankfully, a quick call by residents to 999 and a fast response from the fire brigade got this under control quickly. It nearly spread to another skip and could have ended up setting fire to one of the new houses.

I have spoken with one of the senior officers at County Durham Housing Group who has called out this evening to view the site and will be visiting again in the morning – excellent response.

I’m also in discussion over a number of other site issues.

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.

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!

 

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.

Potterhouse Terrace and woodbine Rd path A167 accesses looking great

The access we secured to the A167 through the end of Potterhouse Terrace looks great. We asked for this as well as the new access at the bottom of Woodbine Road because it was a muddy mess and looked so unsightly before. The access is for cyclists and pedestrians and links to the newly widened path along the Pity Me bypass.

The path at Woodbine Road linking the A167 was completed at the same time and now means that instead of walking across 20 or so metres of grass and mud we have an excellent new access. And its much better in the evenings too as you can actually see where you are going and not trip over mole hills.

Police Commissioner asks for views on 7% council tax rise

The police commissioner is proposing to raise the police element of the council tax by 7%. I have some sympathy with his view that if the government cuts funding then requires pay rises for police he has to find the funding from somewhere.

7% is a high percentage and when added to other rises in cost of living it clearly will have an impact on many people.

For that impact to be acceptable we need to see an increase in visible police presence across the County.

Unfortunately I have a feeling that we will not see this.

 

Press release from the police commissioner Ron Hogg:

In response to pressure from Government, Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner Ron Hogg has decided to increase the amount of Council Tax which goes to the police service, known as the precept, by 7.09%. This equates to an increase of £8 a year, or 15p a week for a property in Council Tax Band A. Members of the public are being asked to comment.

Ron Hogg said: “The Government has reduced the funding for policing in Durham and Darlington every year since 2010. We now have around 360 fewer officers than in 2010 – a reduction of 1 in 4.”

“I have been lobbying the Government for some years, to fund policing fairly. I did not expect the Government to respond by placing an additional burden on Council Tax payers. However, in my view they are abdicating their responsibility to protect our communities. This has put me in a position where, if I do not introduce this increase, I will be reducing the income of Durham Constabulary this year, and for every year afterwards. It will inevitably mean fewer Police Officers in the community, preventing and solving crime. I cannot do that without risking the safety of the community. The Government’s decision to relax the cap on the precept equates to an extra 15p per week for a property in Council Tax Band A.”

“Durham Constabulary is already the most efficient force in the country according to HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services. That’s a consequence of the force’s commitment to innovation, making the very best use of the money available. We continue to challenge every facet of our business in order to find further efficiencies, but this gets harder every year. I welcomed the Government’s recent announcement of pay rises for Police Officers, but they have not provided me with the funding for this.”

Councillor Lucy Hovvels, Chair of the Police and Crime Panel said:

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“Panel Members understand current financial pressures placed on policing budgets and support the Commissioner’s approach to seek comment from residents on this proposal”

ENDS

Notes for editors:

For more information or to arrange an interview with the PCVC please contact pcvc.media@durham.pcc.pnn.gov.uk or 07814174417

The public are able to comment on this proposal until Wednesday 31st January 2018. Residents are can provide their views in a number of ways, including:

  •   Through my website www.durham-pcc.gov.uk
  •   Through Facebook or Twitter (search for Durham PCC)
  •   On telephone on: 0191 375 2001
  •   At the AAP Boards during January 2018

o 10th January 2018 – 4together AAP Board
o 10thJanuary2018–MidDurhamRuralAAPBoard
o 16th January 2018 – East Durham Rural Corridor AAP Board o 18th January 2018 – Spennymoor AAP Board
o 22nd January 2018 – Chester Le Street AAP Board
o 24th January 2018 – Teesdale AAP Board
o 24th January 2018 – Derwent Valley AAP Board
o 24thJanuary2018–BishopAucklandandShildonAAPBoard o 30th January 2018 – GAMP AAP Board

  •   At drop in sessions on 19th January at the Dolphin Centre, Darlington 11am-1pm
  •   Additional drop in sessions are planned for Monday 22nd and 29th January 2018 full details can

    be found at www.durham-pcc.gov.uk