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.


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.