Aykley Heads and new HQ for council and history museum/archives

The proposals put forward by the Council last week with regards to moving the Council headquarters into the City Centre have a lot of merit as does the regeneration of Aykley Heads after the Council have left. The proposals for using Mount Oswald house for the archives and history centre are a great Idea.

Where I do have a problem with the plans is in ensuring that the infrastructure is in place at the same time as opening up these various new sites. The current layout for Aykley Heads doesn’t appear to have a “ring” road, meaning that traffic will block up Aykley Heads roundabout, with the potential for serious traffic issues including problems for the accident and emergency.

It is essential if the Council is going to redevelop Aykley Heads that a link road runs through the business park proposed coming out at an improved county hall roundabout so that all the traffic doesn’t end up congested at Aykley Heads roundabout. We have raised this with the Director for regeneration today.

The moving of the headquarters to the Sands in Durham City may seem a little odd, but the council owns this land (saves money over buying a site) and the passport office and Atos building down there have not caused significant traffic issues. So long as the current park and rides are improved and additional park and rides are added, a smaller hq, with fewer staff and modern working practices should be able to manage on the Sands car park without too many problems. Having hundreds of extra staff in the City Centre will also boost footfall to shops.

However the building must not become a vanity project and there must be proper oversight of the costs. It does concern me that tens of millions of pounds will be spent and that the County Hall site will cost so much to demolish that there will be little or no return to taxpayers. The worry is that as with all large infrastructure projects, we end up with a bigger bill than is necessary.

More details here:

http://www.durham.gov.uk/article/17889/Masterplan-for-6-000-new-jobs-and-400m-economic-boost-for-Durham-agreed

Cotherstone, Lindisfarne, Featherstone still without gritting

Our complaint about the removal of the gritting route and the way in which it was done have been disregarded by the Council as has our formal complaint. We now have a meeting with the Director and Head of Service set up for tomorrow. We will update residents after this meeting.

If anyone knows of any accidents which have happened since the gritting route was scrapped please let us know. We are aware of two accidents one involving two car and the other three cars. We have also been told of a near miss.

We urge all residents on these streets to write to the Council and complain about their actions and demand the route be reinstated.

Damaged bollards and blocked drain reported

As well as the big things we do also chase up on the smaller things. Such as damaged bollards which are currently looking a bit of a mess on Framwellgate Moor Front Street:

Sometimes we also have to go out in the rain and dark to get proof that the Council hasn’t fixed problems despite saying they have or saying there isn;t an issue. One such issue is the collapsed or blocked drain on Framwellgate Moor Front Street which I have reported numerous times. So last week when it was chucking it down I decided to get out there and photograph it. Hopefully now that the Council’s highways manager has been sent a copy we will see some action.

 

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

 

 

Help for homeless and those struggling or in difficult situations over Christmas and beyond

The Council’s housing solutions service provides advice to anyone facing housing problems including:

Anyone who is homeless or sleeping rough

Those who are struggling to pay their mortgage or rent,

Anyone living in unsuitable accommodation

Anyone at risk of abuse or harm

Anyone struggling to keep warm or to pay their bills.

If you or anyone you know is facing any of these issues, contact 03000 268 000. The Council offices are closed from today until 2nd January, however there is an out of hours number for those who cannot wait to get help by calling 01388 722 538.

Members of the public can report anyone who is sleeping rough to the national organisation StreetLink on 0300 500 0914 or at www.streetlink.org.uk

They will try to find the person and offer them help.

Free joinery course for unemployed

The Council is promoting a company called Woodpile over on Dragonville industrial Estate which is offering free 8 week courses in joinery for the unemployed.

If you’re interested or you know anyone who might be contact 01913869735 or email Karen Stubbings at karen.stubbings4050@gmail.com. More info at www.thewoodpile.org

The next course starts 13th February 2018 and places are limited so worth contacting them straight away.