Tuesday, 30 September 2014

County Plan Examination Stage Begins on 1st October

The economic blueprint for County Durham up to the year 2030 will move a step closer when the Examination in Public begins on 1 October.

The County Durham Plan is Durham County Council's vision for the county's future, setting out housing, transport and business developments to ensure the economic growth of the county. Following five rounds of consultation with residents, businesses and other interested parties, the plan was submitted to Government in April 2014.

As part of the statutory process, the next stage is now set to begin with the Government appointed senior inspector, Harold Stephens, overseeing the Examination in Public starting on 1 October. The examination will take the form of a series of meetings where people invited by the inspector, can have their say on specific aspects of the plan raised during the consultation.

Cllr Neil Foster, Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said:

"Following extensive consultation with residents and businesses across the county, the plan sets out our shared vision for a vibrant and prosperous County Durham where people want to live, work, invest and visit.

"County Durham, and the wider region, face significant challenges. By ensuring proposals are in place for all of our 12 main towns and our rural areas, we are aiming to ensure economic growth across the county. The plan will build on our work to maximise opportunities for private sector investment, such as that presented by the Hitachi plant in Newton Aycliffe.

"We are already seeing the benefits with increased developer confidence in the county securing 1000 jobs at the new development at Freemans Reach in Durham City, attracting the first new full service bank in the UK for 100 years to Aykley Heads in Durham City delivering 400 new jobs and the imminent start of the new railway station at Horden (Peterlee) to give some of our most deprived areas access to greater employment opportunities. It's a very positive picture but one in which the County Durham Plan is the catalyst.

"With the start of the Examination in Public, we're one step closer to providing the housing, transport links, business development and job opportunities that will create a better and brighter future for the people of County Durham."

As part of the process Jayne Knight will be acting as a programme officer, independently of the council, to facilitate the day-to-day business of the examination. The Examination in Public begins at 10.00am on 1 October at the Riverside Suite at Chester-le-Street Cricket Ground.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Lanchester Medical Centre Moves To New Premises

I had cause to pay a visit to the new Lanchester Medical Centre this past week and was really impressed by their new facilities. I, like many others in the village, always view a big change like this with some suspicion, but I was very impressed by the size of the new medical centre.

Coming from Consett towards Durham, the new facilities are situated on the first right turn immediately after the turn-off towards Tow Law, next to the Kings Head. Alternatively, from Durham it is the last left turn before the main left turn into the village. Hopefully that helps! There is a large Car Park with plenty of room and the rest of the area looks nearly completion too.

It is nice to see the area finished as it's been talked about for years. The Doctors and Nurses seem to have lots of additional room to carry on their good work.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

28th September Politics Podcast with Malcolm and Liam

Here is our latest politics podcast. It is hosted by Malcolm Clarke and the Labour Party Candidate for the Hexham Constituency for the May 2015 General Election, Liam Carr.

This week we discuss lots of important issues including the aftermath of the Iraq vote in parliament after Friday's recall and Liam describes how he would have voted had he been MP. We cover the start of conference season and our thoughts on the second defection of a Conservative MP to UKIP, triggering another by-election in Rochester and Strood this time, we also take the time to discuss whether memory in a keynote speech is more useful than actually covering every issue! This is a good show this week with plenty to talk about.

Please press play to listen to the podcast or subscribe via our talkshoe page by clicking this link.

Our political podcast is available on iTunes where you can subscribe FREE by visiting their iTunes store. Click here to subscribe to our Politics Podcast on iTunes. There is no better way of ensuring you do not miss a show as any new shows as they will automatically be downloaded to your computer each time you open the iTunes application.

Thanks to everyone who takes the time to listen in and we hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

21st September 2014 Politics Podcast with Malcolm and Liam

Here is our latest politics podcast. It is hosted by Malcolm Clarke, Chairman of the North West Durham Labour Party (me) and the Labour Party Candidate for the Hexham Constituency for the May 2015 General Election, Liam Carr.

This week we discuss the aftermath of the Scottish Referendum result where Scotland said no to independence. Liam discusses the pledge to increase the minimum wage to £8 which has been announced by Labour this week and we also cover local government funding, HS2 and our local campaigning activities.

Please press play to listen to the podcast or subscribe via our talkshoe page by clicking this link.

Our political podcast is now available to subscribe on iTunes which is completely FREE from their iTunes store. Click here to subscribe to our Politics Podcast on iTunes. There is no better way of ensuring you do not miss a show as any new shows automatically downloads to your computer each time you open the iTunes application and we have uploaded a new show.

Thanks to everyone who takes the time to listen in and we hope you enjoy it.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Lunch Time Office Opening

My good friend Maxine Johnston officially launched her new office premises today which are situated in the West Wing of the Prospect Business Park in Leadgate.

Maxine, who previously worked at One North East before launching a party business before diversifying into marketing services, offers a range of help which includes social media campaign management, assistance with brand design and implementation as well as consultancy services.

I dropped into the launch event today and saw her new office during my lunch break. The new office looked great and Prospect Business Park seems a great place to work in. There is ample car parking space and a great view and it looks like a place I'd love to work in if I had my own business. You can rent a room there from £50 per week so if you need business premises, I'd recommend you taking a look.

If you want any business assistance from Maxine, who was an #SBS winner in 2011 receiving recognition from business magnate and former Dragon, Theo Paphitis, visit her website at http://www.maxinejohnstonmarketing.co.uk/ Follow Maxine on twitter by visiting @maxjmarketing

Scotland says "No" and Crook says "Yes"

I am very pleased Scotland said no to independence. It is clear there is an appetite for further devolution there but this must be tempered by considered thought towards what this means for England. We must avoid becoming further divided in both national terms and in our local areas.

Alex Salmond's defeat speech and Nicola Sturgeon's interview showed why many members of the public remain suspicious of politics. They attempted to claim some sort of deferred victory when, in truth, it was a resounding defeat and a reminder to them that when the SNP gained their majority government, none of their main pledges were for an independent Scotland. They pursued dogma over pledges and will now attempt to spin that this was all a plan for further devolution from Westminster. This debate had started already, as the main parties agreed that more independence within the union was preferable to separation. It was never going to be the case where Scotland said 'no' and it was 'as you were'.

We enjoyed a glimpse into the past as Gordon Brown made a series of rallying speeches. I do, however, believe that calls for him to return to front line politics are not likely to happen.

Maureen Stanton, Labour's candidate for Crook in the by-election, swept into office with 47% of the vote. I was delighted for her and had campaigned for her. She received 753 votes with the UKIP candidate finishing in 2nd place with 336. Joanne Carr was selected as Labour's candidate for the Burnopfield & Dipton by-election, following the resignation of Cllr. Bob Alderson. This election will take place on 23rd October.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

14th September 2014 Political Podcast with Malcolm and Liam

Here is our latest politics podcast. It is hosted by Malcolm Clarke, Chairman of the North West Durham Labour Party (me) and the Labour Party Candidate for the Hexham Constituency for the May 2015 General Election, Liam Carr.

This week we discuss Thursday's Scottish referendum vote and the escalating media coverage. We give our usual updates on our local activism and campaigning as well as covering the tragic news item of the British hostage being murdered by Isis and how we might respond to such terrorism.

Please press play to listen to the podcast or subscribe via our talkshoe page by clicking this link.

Our political podcast is now available to subscribe on iTunes which is completely FREE from their iTunes store. Click here to subscribe to our Politics Podcast on iTunes. There is no better way of ensuring you do not miss a show as any new shows automatically downloads to your computer each time you open the iTunes application and we have uploaded a new show.

Thanks to everyone who takes the time to listen in and we hope you enjoy it.

Monday, 8 September 2014

£20 Garden Waste Bin Charge from 2015

More than 190,000 households are being invited to join the County Durham garden waste collection service next year.

From spring 2015 there will be an annual fee of £20 for garden waste collections from the kerbside. It will also be offered to an additional 35,000 properties which are not covered by the current scheme.

Letters are being sent out this month to all eligible households. By signing up, residents will receive 16 fortnightly garden waste collections between spring and autumn. Anyone opting to take up a three year subscription will get a discounted rate of £50.

Durham County Council's Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, Cllr Brian Stephens said:

"With government spending cuts, the only way we can continue to provide this service is to charge a small annual fee.

"From next year, residents will need to choose whether or not to join the scheme and I’m pleased that the option is going to be available to more households."

Local authorities are not obliged to provide garden waste collections. Out of those that do, some 35 per cent already charge separately for the service. The £20 annual fee is lower than the national average.

Households are invited to subscribe by 1 February to ensure they receive all 16 collections next year. Those subscribing will receive a sticker for their garden waste bin to show they are part of the scheme.

For more information about the service or to find out if a property is part of the scheme, go to www.durham.gov.uk/gardenwaste

These changes only apply to garden waste collections. Rubbish and recycling collections will continue to be collected throughout the county as normal.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

6th September 2014 Politics Podcasts with Malcolm and Liam

Here is our latest politics podcast. It is hosted by Malcolm Clarke, Chairman of the North West Durham Labour Party (me) and the Labour Party Candidate for the Hexham Constituency for the May 2015 General Election, Liam Carr.

This week we discuss the government suffering a defeat with the Affordable Housing Private Members Bill, the PM sending 1,000 troops to a multi-national force and what we have both been doing on the local campaigning front in the past week.

Please press play to listen to the podcast or subscribe via our talkshoe page by clicking this link.

Our political podcast is now available to subscribe on iTunes which is completely FREE from their iTunes store. Click here to subscribe to our Politics Podcast on iTunes. There is no better way of ensuring you do not miss a show as any new shows automatically downloads to your computer each time you open the iTunes application and we have uploaded a new show.

Thanks to everyone who takes the time to listen in and we hope you enjoy it.