Decision made

sports-village-small-jpeg.jpgFour years on, a decision has finally been made. We are to have new sports facilities based at Berry Edge, but the plan is no longer the massive £25 million project that was supposed to be deliverable for just £6 million of Derwentside council tax payers’ money.

As the promised flood of funders dwindled to a trickle, councillors faced a stark choice. They could either find £16 million – that’s an extra unbudgetted £10 million – to produce just the first phase of the original plan (minus the football, athletic and tennis elements) or come up with an alternative.

The cheapest option was to refurbish the Belle Vue Leisure Centre and add a new swimming facility to it. Councillor Keith English and I thought that was a good option, at around £8.5 million, to retain and update the level of facilities we have now, but it did offer fewer development opportunities for the long term – particularly in the capacity to develop extensive junior football, tennis, athletic and facilities or possibly, in the long term, to provide a new stadium for Consett AFC.

The Labour group, backed by most of the independents, proposed a new sports centre at Berry Edge with a £10 million cap on Derwentside Council’s share of development costs, with another 1.2 million to draw up a revised specification. The net result is that we will get less in terms of facilities than we have now, and pay more for them, but with a site which is capable of being expanded and developed if additional sources of funding can be found in the future.

It’s not ideal but Keith and I decided to go with this proposal because it offers some real benefits:

  • Development potential mentioned above

  • It remains affordable without completely asset-stripping Derwentside

  • Minimum disruption to leisure facilities during the building programme

  • Modern buildings with greater energy efficiency and lower running costs

The task now will be to hammer out an appropriate specification that will be well used and provide the facilities that local people want. It is essential that people make their voices heard. In particular bowlers will get another chance to argue their case for inclusion which was to have been denied in the original sports village plan.

And by the way, if you wonder why suddenly this article is full of figures, the controlling Labour Group had a sudden “deathbed conversion” to openness and democracy. In a U turn, despite the meetings agenda, they moved that the Press and Public be allowed into the meeting. It would be good to think that our campaign had changed their minds. Sadly, I fear that it just means they thought that their political advantage lay that way.

Consett Sports Village – A reply

focus-front-page-large.jpgWe received the following reply from David Pyke to our recent “Focus on Consett” leaflet. It is so important that, with his permission, I print it in full here.

“I am Secretary of Consett YMCA Junior Football Club. We are an FA Chartered Community Club.

Way back in 2001 we put in a funding bid with the FA for £1 million to re-develop Belle Vue – this was taken on board as a great bid, but it made sense to go with the council’s sports village project of which we would be a major partner (plus the idea originated from us – the community):

31 junior teams from under 7 to under 18 (over 400 children and countless volunteers, parents, guardians etc

1 Ladies team

1 Adult disabled team

1 Consett reserve team

1 Consett over 40s team

1 Under 21 team

Also as secretary of Consett AFC (part of the community club) we were part of the deal  with Belle Vue Park lease in exchange.

This is what all the football pitches were for as there are not sufficient facilities in Derwentside of any quality – for any sport, let alone football.

We pay lots of money for facility hire eg £20 per hour for indoor training, £1,000 for the Empire (our end of season presentation) etc. etc.

We should have had all this in place in 2007, now. We have been badly let down and left with archaic facilities – unless there is a plan B or councillors who care?”

As you would expect, I have replied to this comment and will update you when I get responses so long as David Pyke agrees to my doing so.

This is just the sort of open public debate we need – not decisions taken behind closed doors where you, the public, get told only what the council wants you to hear.

Nick Clegg’s New Year message


Just a couple of weeks into his leadership Nick Clegg has set out his vision of a Liberal Britain to strive for in 2008; a Britain in which the poorest children have as much spent on their education as those who go to fee-paying schools; a Britain where toddlers are protected from the intrusive invasion of advertisers seeking to brainwash them, and adults are also liberated from the invasive demands of a government which requires them to submit their personal information to a vast database for its ID card scheme.

You can read Nick’s message at or watch and listen to it at

If Nick is right, and I believe he is, there is a great opportunity for us to communicate with millions of people who want a liberal Britain and share Liberal Democrat values.

If you are one of those who wonder whether you might want to join the Liberal Democrats, please get in touch. We promise you’ll be under no pressure. Better still, you might just find what a liberating thing it is to work with others who share your values and want to build a better Britain (and a better world) to live in.


Welcome to Owen Temple’s website. As Liberal Democrat councillor for Consett North ward I am committed to keeping you informed about what’s going on locally in the council and on the street.

New to using a website I hope that over time I will get better at the technology, and the value and quality of what I can offer lean heavily on the use you make of it and the feedback you give me.

 Owen Temple