Dear Sir,

A dangerous situation exists in the Moor area of the town. This area is situated close to the roundabout into Woodham.

The land was originally declared unstable by Sedgefield Borough Council and unfit for housing or recreational purposes (I will return to this in future letters).

The land was given over to nature and Great Aycliffe Town Council agreed to maintain the area.

When the development of housing on the Cobbler’s Hall site took place, Durham County Council promised to develop the area into a Nature Park/Reserve. The area would have ponds, viewing platforms and be planted up with appropriate marshland plants.

On viewing the plans, the Town Council realised that the ponds were nothing more than deep, steep-sided, clay-lined sumps. We immediately objected to them on safety grounds and tore up our agreement to maintain the site.

The engineer who was tasked with drawing up the plans for the pond informed the Town Council that his brief was not to build nature ponds but to put a surface drainage system into that area.

In my experience, such systems are expensive as underground cisterns have to be installed. These cisterns gradually hold back water and feed it slowly into approved water courses.

During construction, lifebuoys were installed to ensure the safety of the workforce. On completion of the work, the lifebuoys were removed.

Other promised work on the site never came to fruition, apart from a cheap, inadequate chestnut paling fence.

At a meeting between the Deputy Leader of Durham County Council and the Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhood Services at Durham County Council, the Town Clerk and myself were offered that the ownership of the land could be transferred to the Town Council. We pointed out most firmly that we would not accept the area, that it was a very real risk to life and that Durham County Council should address the situation immediately.

In recent times, Durham County Council have replaced paddling pools at the Riverside Park in Chester-le-Street at considerable capital and revenue cost. It appears to me that nothing is too good for those who live north of Durham Gate and anything is good enough for people such as those in Aycliffe who live south of it. This is a case where there is a potential danger to children’s lives and saving money on such a scheme is totally unacceptable. At the very least, the ponds should be capped and a high metal security fence placed around them.

Finally, this should be done immediately.

Councillor Bob Fleming