Skateboard park design consultation

If you know any young people with an interest in skateboarding/scootering , please let them know about a consultation meeting about the design of the new skateboard park which is being rebuilt as part of the Academy and Leisure Centre scheme.

boy jumping with a scooter over a funbox

The people who understand what they need are the young people themselves who use the facility, and they will have a chance to input into the scheme directly with Haggs SMP skate designers.

The consultation event is 11th June at Belle Vue (Consett) Leisure Centre between 05-00pm and 07-00pm.

Important funding event for Charities & Community Groups

Friday January 31st will see St Patrick’s Hall, Consett, hosting a day-long event/seminar for third sector charity and community organisations.

The events will provide organisations with an opportunity to look at business planning, funding strategies, managing community buildings, quality assurance, harnessing social media and much more.  There will also be an opportunity to hear from funders who may be able to support specific projects. The programme itself is as follows:

Registration: 9am

Workshop session 1: 9:30am – 11:30am (Choose one session)

  • How to be Brilliant
  • Volunteering Strategies
  • Business Planning

11:30am – 12:30pm – Lunch and refreshments

Workshop Session 2 :  12:30 – 1:30pm – Funder presentations

Current funders attending: County Durham Community Foundation, Comic Relief, sported., BIG Lottery, Community Foundation Tyne and Wear(regional grants), Heritage Lottery.

Workshop Session 3: 1:30 – 3:30pm (Choose one session)

  • Fundraising Strategies
  • Harnessing Social Media
  • Market Place – open to talk to funders, support from Durham Community Action

If you are interested in attending log-on to the Durham Community Action website here to register. The event is FREE.

Consett North Partnership at a crossroads

Or a dead end. It’s your choice.

At the Consett North Partnership tonight it was clear that we have a critical choice to make. When both the chair and treasurer stood down, there were no takers for the positions as a result of which next month’s meeting on November 6th will be a special general meeting where we will either elect a new committee or start down the route of dissolving the partnership.

That would be a great pity.

Over the years that I have been part of the partnership we have undertaken major projects like the renewal of the steps from Aynsley Terrace down to the Dixon Street playing fields and much smaller ones like providing inter-generational parties and Christmas hampers for some elderly residents. We have supported the Police and Community Together meetings, and responded to council consultations. And long before I had ever heard of it, the partnership was involved in extensive community and environmental work.

All that, however, has depended on a group of dedicated and hard-working community minded people, and as the numbers have dwindled, so has what can be achieved. So now it’s make or break time.

So if you are a community minded person who thinks it’s important for Consett to have an active team of people committed to making out town a better place to live in,  providing an effective framework for seeking funding for local projects, and providing a forum for people where people can raise their concerns – then make a date for Wednesday November 6th, 7.00 p.m. at the YMCA. Choose it or lose it; the choice is as stark as that.

A Tweet in itself

Benfieldside, Blackhill, Bridgehill and Shotley Bridge Community Partnership.

The partnership’s meeting tonight reminded me just how good this partnership is. It’s largely responsible for persuading Northumbrian Water to act on the flooding that has occurred in the Benfieldside area. I know that because I was at the first meeting that Northumbria Water attended where they were less than convincing, and where most attendees were doubtful as to whether they would act, but tonight they reported back to the very well attended partnership meeting on their plans for extensive work.

It’s good that the partnership has found a new new secretary as well. There’s an amazing amount of stuff that goes on at a local level, and it all takes dedicated time and commitment. It was also good to see all four councillors who cover the area at the meeting – even though the part of the area which falls into Consett North shrank when the Boundary Committee changed the ward boundaries for the May elections.

Much more of the ward falls into the Consett North Partnership which meets every first Wednesday of the month at Consett YMCA. They too do great things that don’t always get noticed, like the steps on the Blue Heaps. I missed their meeting last night in order to be at the Salvation Army’s excellent concert at the Empire with a wonderful American choir, so will have to catch up with their plans. It’s great that there’s so much going on.


Following my query the council will publish amended figures today for the rise in worklessness in the Derwent Valley Partnership area.

Sadly, although the correction reduces the figure for the increase in the number of people who are workless, it doesn’t change the harsh fact that the number of people not working in our area has risen significantly over the last twelve months. It won’t be helped, either, by the news that the Eurozone has slipped back into recession. All too often parts of the media behave as though the economic health of Europe isn’t our concern.

The cleric John Donne was closer to the truth when he wrote “no man is an island, entire of itself”. The same goes for national economies.

Unemployment figures

The latest figures on unemployment and worklessness in County Durham have been released by the council, and will be available on the county website from tomorrow.

They are broken down into two groups. The first group, the proportion of the total working age population who are claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance, is defined as “Claimant Count”. The second group, the proportion of the total working age population who are receiving Job Seekers Allowance, Incapacity Benefit/Severe Disablement Allowance, and Employment & Support Allowance, is defined as “Worklessness”.

In terms of our own local area the “Claimant Count” is 3.9% averaged across the sexes, the “Worklessness” figure 12.5%.

Statistics are cold things, and can be used and misused fro a variety of purposes, by the most chilling aspect of the figures provided is the extent to which both the claimant count and the worklessness proportion in the Derwent Valley Partnership area have risen since last year. The increase in our worklessness proportion over that period seems to have risen more sharply than anywhere else in the county, and I’ll be seeking to understand that better, and the reasons behind it.

There’s also a lot of very detailed information on all areas at the Office for National Statistics website.

Cabinet News for Consett North

Predictably the Cabinet rubber-stamped the closure of Broomsdene tip today.

In response to the reader who asked what scrutiny there would be of the £1 million plus price tag attributed to the work said to be required for Broomsdene I can confirm that the answer is none. I had already written to ask for any written figures to back up the numbers in the report, and the email I had received was backed up verbally. There are no written reports or calculations to be had. We just have to take the estimates on trust!

My question to the cabinet after making the points previously made on this blog was simply, “Why should the people of Consett believe that the consultation with them had, or ever could have had, any effect on a decision which had already been made before a single question was asked of them.”

The response was an emphatic denial that the fate of Broomsdene had been sealed before the consultation – and a charge that people who had promoted the petition to retain the site had been “building up false hopes”! Not much sense of irony was apparent. Nor was there much respect shown to the people of Consett in the suggestion that we are all such shrinking violets that the 5,700 signatures were of people who were “forced to sign”.

I have to admit that at the end of this first hour I had had enough. If you want to know what other decisions were made today you will be able to find them in last week’s council press releases.

101 things to do with the Olympic Torch

If you’ve got just one idea please let us have it.

At the Blackhill, Bridgehill, Benfieldside & Shotley Bridge Partnership on Thursday night a number of ideas were generated as to how we can make the most of the Olympic Torch running up Durham Road to Villa Real on June 16th.

It may well be the only time it ever happens in our lifetime, so let’s see how we can make the most of it and make it an event that children can look back on with pleasure. If you’ve got an idea please let me have it and I’ll feed it into the mix. Time’s already running out.

Councillors should get out more

You’ve probably had your copy of the Advertiser by now which includes Councillor Young’s statement made at a recent Cabinet Meeting:

The vast majority of people are interested in a new school and new sports development, and quite frankly they don’t care where it goes as long as we get it.

You can’t help wondering when Councillor Young last took the chance to spend some time in Consett talking to ordinary people. If he did, he would know that people do care where the Academy is built. He certainly seems to!

Of course we all want a new school and new sports facilities – but very few of us understand why Councillor Young cares so much that it should be built on Belle Vue. And very few of us understand why he, and the county council cabinet he is part of, are so uninterested in what local people want.

Whilst we continue to try to get our heads round that, I hope people of goodwill will continue to lobby for our town to get the new school it deserves, and the new sports facility it has already provided the money for, on a site which will improve our town. That’s just common sense.

A cheerful story about money

On the day in which many announcements of cuts are being made and analysed, here’s some very impressive news of the strong financial backing local people have given to the Consett Green Spaces Group’s battle to protect the Belle Vue Fields.

In a recent house to house collection over £1,800 was raised for their fighting fund. The people of Consett haven’t given up. Nor have the Green Spaces Group who are currently exploring their legal options.

If you missed the chance to make a donation they’ll still be happy to get one now!