Here is this week’s update on developments in the Council and community.


Last week’s Durham County Council Cabinet meeting, Wednesday 12 February, was hugely important. The meeting heard reports on the Council’s activities on business investment sites and homelessness; agreed next year’s school admission arrangements; and received some very depressing news regarding the latest indices of deprivation.

However it also:

• agreed next year’s budget (where an easing of government austerity cuts to the revenue budget has allowed the council to allocate extra revenue to front-line services, and also to release capital spending of £199 million).

• accepted the Climate Emergency Response Action Plan of 111 costed projects to address the emissions both of the Council and the County, along with preparations to set up partnership groups and organise measures to lobby the government for help.

Last week also:

• DCC’s digital projects team won a Modern Service Delivery Award;

• The Council signed the GMB’s Work to Stop Domestic Abuse charter, a campaign for greater support for employees experiencing domestic abuse;

• Please take part in the consultation on Selective Licensing, DCC’s proposal to raise the standards of privately rented properties in County Durham.

Finally, I have received a number of messages fearing that this weekend’s flooding may have invalidated the Council’s proposed new HQ; this is not the case, and I have posted the DCC statement on this on my blog.


Climate issues were also in the news last week when the Seaham Garden Village development became the first scheme to harness mine water energy – a collaboration between the Coal Authority, Tolent Construction, and DCC.

Other matters last week proved more controversial.

• I spoke at the Durham YouthStrike4Climate on Friday 14 February where I met opposition from activists who do not think that DCC is doing enough (although they had not read the Climate Emergency Response Action Plan, which I hope will change their minds somewhat).

• Anti-Social Behaviour is a very raw issue at the moment, and my report on last week’s Aycliffe ASB meeting, Thursday 13 February, provoked a lively debate on facebook.

• Rats – perhaps driven from the countryside by the weather – are also causing local concern, and I have published some advice on my blog.

Finally, a message for businesses: Do you know that Business Durham offers free, informal business advice and support drop-ins at Jackson’s Coffeehouse, Xcel Centre, every Monday from 1:30-4pm?

As always, there is more about all these issues on my blog at: