Getting there

July 18th, 2014 by Owen Temple

But not there yet. That has to be the verdict on County Durham’s employment statistics.

Every month Durham County Council produces statistics on employment within the county, and they all show the same trend. The employment position in the county is improving, but this county lags behind the national statistics, and the region as a whole lags behind Durham.

The graph of the percentage of the working population claiming Job Seekers Allowance paints the picture very clearly.

JSA Claimants July 2014


So, even more disturbingly, does the graph showing the percentage of the 16-24 age group who are claiming “out of work benefits” – though I have to say the use of a vertical scale which starts at 8% instead of 0% is a textbook example of how graphs can mislead and inadvertently suggests that youth unemployment is a North Eastern problem, whereas it is very much a national problem which is even worse in the North East.

Youth worklessness


If you are interested in getting the full report email [email protected] . I have asked for the council to update the website page which is still quoting April statistics, and to revise their use of graphs in order not to mislead readers.

County Durham Children’s Centres to close?

July 17th, 2014 by Owen Temple

Not according to the County Council, but does that stack up?

Benfieldside Children's Centre

Yesterday’s cabinet meeting agreed to go to “consultation” on a report which would see the number of Children’s Centres in County Durham reduced from 43 to 15 as the service is directed to run more services from local community facilities, rather than relying on parents to come to relatively expensive fixed centres. The full report can be read here.

The gist of the argument is that the service is intended to:

  • Maintain its services
  • Maintain its full staff complement
  • operate out of a wider range of buildings, but fewer fixed facilities
  • Reach a wider range of parents and families

all this whilst saving around £1 miilion.

The argument is that traditionally footfall in the centres has not reached as many of the “hard to reach” families which the service is primarily aimed at. Recently they have been working hard to get the teams into more local facilities (Church halls, Community Centres, doctor’s surgeries, One-point hubs etc.) and this has resulted in them reaching a higher proportion of “hard to reach” families and children than previously, but the other side of the coin has been that the usage of the centres themselves has declined. In short, the service has been carrying a high cost overhead for fixed buildings whilst seeking to re-focus its operation closer to people’s homes.

The proof of the pudding will, of course, be in the eating. For Consett if the plan is implemented (and I think you will know that consultation following a Cabinet decision never changes the decision) it will mean the closure of the Benfieldside and Leadgate Children’s Centres. I’ll collect a lot of flack for using that term “closure”, because the plan is to “transfer” control of them to other organisations (like, say, schools or current day-care providers) so that the buildings themselves remain open, and it may be possible for them to continue to be used to provide Early Years Services. The details of that, however, are all up in the air so I don’t think you can count on them and I’d be inclined to see it as “closure” until someone proves that the “transfer” route actually works to provide continuing services on the existing sites.

One interesting sidelight is that there is a risk of substantial claw-back of finance if some of the buildings cease to deliver early years services to children. That’s because many of these centres were set up with funding from Europe, designated specifically for the development of improving Early Years provision. That, at least, creates a real motive to retain services in them. Who said we get nothing from Europe?

The details of the consultation are not yet out, but when they are (due from July 31st.) it will be accessible from the Consultations page of the Durham County Council website  . I have also been assured that a paper questionnaire will be provided to all users of the existing centres.

Wardens’ report

July 17th, 2014 by Owen Temple

Dog fouling

Wardens have investigated 3 reports of dog fouling this month. They have also removed 9 stray dogs.


Wardens have investigated 1 report of littering this month.


66 incidents of fly-tipping were reported this month. 29 investigations into these incidents were carried out in order to find any evidence to link the fly-tipping to those who dumped it.

Untidy yards and gardens

Wardens have issued 3 advisory letters and 4 litter clearing notices to properties with untidy gardens or yards this month.

1 fixed penalty notice has been issued to a resident who has failed to respond to requests to clear their yard or garden.

Antisocial behaviour

Wardens dealt with 9 incidents of ASB reported directly by members of the public, as well as 27 incidents which were passed via the Police Airwaves system. Wardens have carried out 1 seizure of alcohol from under aged drinkers this month.

FPN table

Application to Vary Licence at Maddisons

July 7th, 2014 by Owen Temple

The following application has been received/accepted by Durham County Council.

Application Type – Application to vary a Premises Licence – New kitchen is being built – old kitchen will be transformed in new seating area, & new seating area created outside

Applicant: – Miss Heather Price and Mr Paul Purvis

Premises – Maddisons 26 Front Street Consett DH8 5AQ

Date of Application – 07 July 2014             Last date for representations – 04 August 2014

Contact details:

T: 03000265107

E: [email protected]

Land of Oak & Iron Survey

July 6th, 2014 by Owen Temple
1 Comment

Anyone who attends local community meetings is likely to have heard of “The Land of Oak and Iron”. Others probably haven’t, though I did write about the original grant to develop the environmental, industrial and natural heritage of our area in October last year.

The team working this up are now hoping to get an insight from us all through completion of an online survey which you can undertake by clicking here.

Please do take the opportunity – the more people who answer from County Durham, the higher our profile in the planning process.


New spotlight on blue badges

July 6th, 2014 by Owen Temple

Abuse of blue disabled parking badges is bad news for everyone – genuine users and ordinary motorists alike – so I have no problem with a new campaign to target people who abuse the system by “borrowing” or “lending” these badges for their own benefit, or by using fraudulently produced copies.

At a recent Audit Committee, in a section from which the Press and Public were excluded and on which I therefore am preventing from publishing details, it was clear that County Durham is very effective at pursuing some forms of fraud, less so at others, and I am very happy to see some outcome from that.

From 7 July, enforcement officers will be will be checking that badges are real and being used by the badge holder in person to help make sure that drivers with genuine disabilities can access the parking spaces they need. Abuse of a blue badge is a criminal offence which can lead to a fine of up to £1,000.

Residents are being urged to report people fraudulently using blue badges by calling the council’s hotline on 08000 321 663 (free from a landline) or by texting Fraud, followed by the details, to 0778 602 7280.

Inspection Day

July 1st, 2014 by Owen Temple

4th August 2014 is the day the public has the right to raise questions on the council’s financial statement.

Details are advertised on the central display section of the county website and will no doubt soon be available.

New Parking proposals for Front Street

June 17th, 2014 by Owen Temple

These proposals, shown below, are at the request of business owners and managers in the area who hope they would bring a higher turnover of customers to their shops.

Some of the business oweners owners (Maddison’s, Booze Buster and Mackays) have said that their loading is done before 10am and that a time limited waiting bay for the rest of the day would be more beneficial to their stores.

These proposals are subject to change, depending on the outcome of the consultation. You have until July 4th to give your views.

Front Street Parking Proposals


Obviously definition is not high in this picture. If you want a better one, and one of the existing position, please just email us.

Dogs go Free

June 17th, 2014 by Owen Temple

Owners and non owners pay!

That’s the very reasonable position of the Charity Dog Walk being organised by the Fire and Rescue Service in Consett which will be hosting a Charity Dog Walk at Consett Fire Station on Sunday 29th June at 10am. The event aims to raise funds for a number of charities including Stray Action for Dogs and Durham Retired Police Dogs Benevolent Fund.

Everyone is welcome to attend (with or without a dog!) and free refreshments will be available. Entry fee is £3 or £7 for a family of four.

Land of Oak and Iron Open Meeting

June 15th, 2014 by Owen Temple

Land of


Owen Temple & Margaret Nealis

Photo of Owen Temple & Margaret Nealis
300 Medomsley Road
Co Durham
T: 01207 505564

Owen Temple, who has been Consett North's Lib Dem Councillor since 2007, and Margaret Nealis are committed to working for local people in Consett, to make sure that their voice is heard at County Hall. As the county council takes a more and more centralised and "one-size-fits-all" approach, it is more important than ever for Consett to have campaigners who will stand up for this town.


Do you agree that a 3 hour time limit on the Albert Road Car Park is a good idea?
Email Address:
Consett North May 2013