You are the eyes and ears of the community

An email from a local resident alerted me to the cutting down of trees between Bramwell Terrace and the allotments to the rear. It’s quite a secluded spot and as such it would be easy for County Hall never to hear of it.

Bramwell Tce 2

At present I don’t know whether County Hall was already aware of it and whether all the correct protocols are in place for the protection of the environment. I don’t know whether those protocols are adequate. I don’t know whether our officers will react with speed and vigour if this is unauthorised. That’s all to be discovered. But the incident still reminds me yet again of how important it is that local people feel connected to the democratic system whose purpose is to put them in control of the powers that be.

Fortunately, important though this particular matter is, it’s nothing like the seriousness of what the media has been full of in the last few days – blind eyes turned to child abuse at Rotherham and the BBC – but the principle is the same. The corrosive effects of cynicism, the paralysis of embarrassment at being thought stupid, lethargy, all work to undermine our contribution to society, and with it society itself.

So a big thank you to all those of you who keep in touch. You are the eyes and ears of our community.

And now for something completely different – Learn hedgelaying for free

An Introduction to Hedgelaying course is being run as part of the Heart of Teesdale Landscape Partnership Field Boundary Programme, which is aimed at anyone keen to gain a greater appreciation of ancient rural crafts and practical conservation, and will take place at Deepdale Wood Nature Reserve, Barnard Castle on Friday 12 and Saturday 13 February 2016.

The two day course will go through the history and value of hedgerows, while explaining how to use and maintain traditional hand tools such as axes, saws and billhooks to manage the hedgerow. Participants will also get plenty of practice of hedgelaying in the local style.


Booking is essential as places are limited. For more information and to book a place on the course, email or phone 03000 267 143. Anyone living in the Heart of Teesdale area will be given priority for places.

Destroying County Durham is more than just a crying shame – it’s a crime

Latest figures from Durham County Council’s neighbourhood protection team show that 73 fixed penalty notices were issued for littering.

Three were given out for dog fouling, five for untidy yards and gardens and failing to comply with litter clearing notices and two to waste carriers who did not have the correct paperwork.

Twenty-six Community Protection Warnings and nine Community Protection Notices were handed to the owners of properties with untidy gardens or yards.

Wardens removed 127 stray dogs, serving as a reminder of how important it is to make sure dogs are microchipped so that they can be traced and returned to their owner if they get lost.

Teams investigated 49 reports of antisocial behaviour, attended 148 incidents passed from the police, carried out 117 alcohol seizures from underage children and investigated 233 antisocial behaviour reports.

And, as part of Operation Stop It, a multi-agency crackdown on flytipping, the following statistics were also recorded for May:

  • 451 flytipping incidents were reported and investigated – 22 are still ongoing and 10 were progressed for prosecution.
  • 26 CCTV cameras were deployed in known flytipping areas.
  • 14 Police and Criminal Evidence interviews were carried out.
  • Seven duty of care letters were issued warning people of their responsibility to dispose of waste legally.
  • There were 30 stop and check operations to find out whether waste carriers were licensed – two fixed penalty notices were handed to carriers who did not have the proper papers.

Man with a van

Working to improve your town

Neighbourhood Wardens and the Antisocial Behaviour Team report back on the Consett area for August 2013.

This is a shortened version of their report which also includes the work of the Civic Pride Team. If you want a full copy just email us.


 Dog fouling

Dog fouling is one of the major issues dealt with by neighbourhood wardens. We have investigated 8 reports of dog fouling and issued 4 fixed penalty notices for dog fouling. We have also removed 20 stray dogs.


Litter is another important issue. We investigated 2 reports of littering and issued 18 fixed penalty notices for littering.

Fly tipping

57 incidents of fly tipping were reported during August. We carried out 17 investigations into these incidents in order to try and find any evidence to link the fly tipping to those who dumped it.

 Untidy yards and gardens

6 advisory letters have been issued to properties with untidy gardens or yards.

Antisocial behaviour

Wardens dealt with 3 incidents of antisocial behaviour reported directly by members of the public, as well as 23 incidents which were passed via the Police Airwaves system.

Consett Town related Fixed penalty notices

Consett MacDonalds Littering x 2 4/8/13

Consett MacDonalds Littering 6/8/13

Consett MacDonalds Littering 8/8/13

Consett Morrisons Littering 9/8/13

Consett Dixon Street Littering 10/8/13

Consett MacDonalds Littering 13/8/13

Consett Durham Road Littering 23/8/13

Consett MacDonalds Littering 8/8/13

Since April 2013 the following numbers of Fixed Penalty Notices have been issued in the Consett area:

Littering x 38

Dog Fouling x 6

Failure to comply with Litter Clearing Notice x 3

Antisocial behaviour interventions

 There have been 39 ASB cases received and investigated by the ASB Team across the Consett area during August 2013.

 You can contact Neighbourhood Wardens on 03000 26 1000

If you or anyone you know is suffering from ASB, please contact the ASB Team on 03000 26 0000

Altogether Greener in Consett

Wednesday 5 June 2013 1.30pm – 4.00pm
St Patrick’s Hall, Victoria Road, Consett, DH8 5AX
The Churches Regional Commission has been working in partnership with Durham County Council to consider the distinctive contribution faith communities can and do make to the life of our County. The publication of ’Faith in Sustainable Communities’ outlines some of this work and introduces a programme of conversation styled workshops reflecting on the Sustainable Community Strategy for County Durham. Five Key themes are at the heart of the Strategy: Altogether Wealthier; Altogether Better for children & young people; Altogether Healthier; Altogether Safer; Altogether Greener.
Faith communities have a distinctive role in most communities and neighbourhoods; in some situations providing resources and services; in others, along with other community groups and organisations expressing views and opinion which inform and shape policy formation and implementation.
The workshop in Consett will focus on ‘Altogether Greener’. An aim is to identify challenges and changes, personal and political, which may need to be addressed at all levels. The roundtable discussions will provide opportunities for dialogue and critical reflection which can then lead to informed actions.
Three short presentations identifying current challenging issues and concerns will be given by:

  • Dr Robert Song – Senior Lecturer in Christian Ethics, Durham University
  • Kathryn Sygrove – Chair of Durham Fair Trade Partnership
  • Maggie Bosanquet and Stephen Beresford – Sustainability, Carbon and Climate Change Team, Durham County Council

The event is free and booking is requested.

email or telephone 0191 232 0296

Bad habits cost the earth

But a Northumbrian Water water-saving kit is Free!

Water Saving Kit

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about a Northumbrian Water consultation and I guess I’ve become living evidence that consultation can work (are you listening Durham County Council?)

By making me think about my attitudes on water use, the consultation led me to apply for a FREE Water Saving Kit which has given me a small DIY job to do this Easter. I don’t know if will deliver the 100 litres a day or the £60 per year savings it suggests on the box, but it gave me a very small glow of satisfaction when the 5 minute shower timer encouraged me to linger just a little less long this morning.

The biggest water volume and monetary saving will probably come from installing a meter – not least because human nature tends to make us all a little less blasé about things we pay for directly – but what I hope both will do will be to make me just a bit more aware of how I’m using water. Just reading the leaflet made me aware of something new – how dry much of the North East is.

Nice to be ahead of the game

Adopting Derwentside’s twin bin scheme county-wide has boosted County Durham’s recycling rates.

Figures show that, following the introduction of twin-bins, between April and July householders in County Durham recycled 3,965 extra tonnes – the equivalent of 793 extra lorry-loads – compared to same period last year. That’s an increase of 34 per cent.

The expectation is that by the end of the year people will be recycling more than 48 per cent of their waste. That’s good news for us all in terms of reducing bills for landfill tax, and it’s good news for the planet.

“We told you so” never wins any brownie points in politics, but it remains true that in our Liberal Democrat costed budget proposals one of our recommendations was to work on the basis that twin bins would increase re-cyling rates by 5% which would have given the council an extra £287,000 to spemd on libraries or apprenticeships. Predictably we were shouted down, but our prediction proved correct. Don’t expect to see any admission of that in the press release!