The County Council recevied requests for over 700 salt bins across the County over the last few months.

We requested three – on Lund Avenue, Woodbine Road and Oak Lea. The Council has an assessment process which looks at a long list of criteria and scores each request. To qualify a road must hit 150 points.

Lund Avenue received 80 points, Woodbine Road 60 points and Oak Lea 30 points. I will be taking the reports to Framwellgate Moor and Witton Gilbert Parish Councils and have been back in touch with the Highways Dept as I am not happy with the assessments – in particular OakLea.

Whilst I appreciate that the Council cannot provide unlimited salt bins, what really annoys me is the fact that they will not allow councillors  to pay for new ones to be installed out of their local budgets unless the local parish council agrees to fund the filling. I will be reporting this to the parish councils but do not feel this is a satisfactory conclusion given the number of roads which are not currently gritted and the fact that no pavements are gritted.

So that everyone can see how the process works I will be uploading the three reports showing the criteria and the points scored once I have confirmed that the scoring is correct.


The Mayor of Durham Grenville Holland attended the official launch of the new Deric Youth Bus yesterday. I spoke with Chairman and local fellow councillor Terry Moderate and had a look round the new bus which I have to say is fantastic – hats off to everyone who has been working on this.

The funding Cllr Crooks and I provided for the service at Witton Gilbert was very well spent and we backed this up with further funding now that the Youth Club has been set up. Having spoken to Terry about future funding I am sure that both Rev and I will be looking to invest more of the councillors initiative fund money into this great facility.


Click here to be taken to the End Child Poverty website.

Having attended a Lib Dem conference on poverty last month, I am not surprised that the government is failing to acheive the targets set for reducing child poverty. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation estimates that government targets will simply never be hit unless there is serious and immediate action.

The current recession is likely to still further exacerbate this problem and it is now imperative that the goverment listens to the independent foundation and the views of other parties to takle this problem immediately.

The current tax credit system allows a couple earning over 70k a year to claim child benefits. We should be targetting the money we have to those who need it most – its the only way to solve this problem.

If Gordon Brown doesn’t sort this out soon it will be a damning indictment on over a decade of Labour government – a generation of children brought up under Labour in poverty. I can’t see the Conservatives making a serious attempt to address this problem, so again it is left to the Lib Dems to put the pressure on.



Back at the start of the year I contacted the press after finding out about cuts to services which the County Council had hardly been consulted on at all. (Article in Durham times below from 2nd January). I then spoke with the Portfolio Member and officers to ask for the Council to do everything they could to protect services through Witton Gilbert and the surrounding areas.

Local residents contacted me and those in other areas campaigned hard to keep the services.

I applaud the County Council for taking this matter so seriously and it is great that Arriva has now agreed to run new services through Witton Gilbert:

The new services are the 754 Durham via Arnison Centre, Nettlesworth, Sacriston, Witton Gilbert to Langley Park, operating in addition to the hourly service 14 that also runs on this route. The 726 operates from Langley Park via Witton Gilbert, Sacriston, Nettlesworth to Chester le Street, also operating every hour.(Outside of peak periods)

I will be reporting back when the full timetable is available. The services should start on the 30th March.


Bus firm urged to reconsider cuts

11:50am Friday 2nd January 2009

A COUNCILLOR is urging a bus company to reconsider cuts it is planning to make on routes serving city suburbs and outlying villages.

Gateshead-based Go North East will make the changes on Sunday, January 25. But Mark Wilkes, Liberal Democrat councillor for Durham City and Durham County councils, says the cuts will cause hardship for some people.

The planned cuts will affect Langley Park, Sacriston, Framwellgate Moor and Witton Gilbert.

Service 13 (Langley Park- Sacriston-Framwellgate Moor- Durham) and Service 14 (Langley Park-Sacriston-Nettlesworth- Arnison Centre-Framwellgate Moor Durham), which currently run twice an hour, will run hourly only during the day.

The company says peak time services will run more frequently.

Evening and Sunday services will be unchanged. But the 25A (Langley Park-Sacriston-Plawsworth- Chester-le-Street-Picktree Village- Gateshead-Newcastle) will no longer run south of Chester-le- Street to Langley Park.

The 25 (Langley Park-Sacriston- Edmondsley-Waldridge Park- Chester-le-Street-Barley Mow- Gateshead-Newcastle) will continue to run hourly via Edmondsley, with additional buses at peak times.

On Service 71 (Chester-le-Street- Great Lumley Fencehouses-Houghton- le-Spring-Sunderland) some evening and Sunday services will be withdrawn between Chester-le- Street and Houghton-le-Spring.

The firm says Service 78, which runs between Consett, Stanley, Chester-le-Street and Sunderland, will provide a good alternative for customers travelling between Chester-le-Street, Great Lumley and Woodstone Village.

Service levels for the remainder of the route are being considered by the county council and Nexus, the Tyne and Wear Transport Executive.

A spokeswoman for Go North- East said the changes were being made because of low passenger numbers on the routes affected.

Coun Wilkes said: “Daytime services on the 14 and 13 services are to be cut to hourly and will make it even more difficult for residents to travel into Durham. In other parts of North Durham whole services are being axed, with the 71 Chester-le-Street to Sunderland service being scrapped, and the 25a and 28 services cut back.

“At a time when we are supposed to be promoting the use of public transport, these proposals will really hit the most vulnerable in our county. I urge Go North East to reconsider.”


It is clear the the Conservatives and Labour haven’t got a clue on the economy. The reassuring, sensible approach being taken by Vince Cable – Lib Dem Shadow Chancellor is a major relief. His interview with Andrew Marrs on Sunday was a breath of fresh air, and the decision to limit bonuses to the absolute minimum for bankers comes after he made that very point.

The interview can be read or watched here



Over the last few months there have been serious problems with parking in Brasside, particularly on the road running to Finchale Abbey. The number of vehicles parking along this road is now becoming dangerous, with no passing points for motorists and cars repeatedly parking round the edge of a junction which has poor visibility.

The County Council  Portfolio Member for the Environment and the Head of the department are now fully aware of the issues and I have spoken with the officers in charge of liaising with the prison on the traffic plan which I was successful in getting added to the planning application as requirement before occupation of the new block at Frankland Prison.

I have also spoken with the Highways Department to ask for the consideration of double yellow lines along this stretch of road for safety reasons, and have repeatedly asked for the extension of the no parking markings around the junction.

It is clear that there is insufficient parking at the prison, and I am waiting to see the updated travel plan proposals and the answer from Highways.



Support for the Lib Dems nationally has jumped over the last few months and we are now closer to Labour in the polls than at any time in the last 22 years with 22% of the vote.

This must in part be down to Vince Cable who has been head and tails above the Conservatives and Labour in his view of the current economic crisis, and his solutions.

In County Durham we are still the Official opposition to Labour with 27 County Councillors.


Fiona Hall MEP

I’ve added a link on the left to Fiona Hall’s website. Fiona has been a fantastic Member of the European Parliament over the last few years and has spent time in Framwellgate Moor Division knocking on doors, talking to local residents over the last year or so. Fiona’s office is in the centre of Durham so she really is a truely local MEP for Durham City area and the North East.

Her site is at


To allow for easy access to find out what is happening at the parish councils in Framwellgate Moor Division I will be adding the Agenda and minutes of these minutes onto this website once I have had confirmation from the Clerks and Chairs that they have no objection to this.

The parish councils which cover this area are:

Framwellgate Moor – Includes Framwellgate Moor, Pity Me, Brasside and Finchale Abbey

Witton Gilbert – Includes Witton Gilbert, Hartside, Kimblesworth Grange and Witton Station

Bearpark – Includes Aldin Grange and Bearpark