When Durham County Council became a unitary authority in 2009, the new Council set up what it called ‘Area Action Partnerships’. Roundly opposed and criticised at first, since then the AAPs have been a major point of contact between the County Council and residents. They have run participatory budgeting events, have been consulted on every important policy-decision, and have themselves raised local concerns with the Council. They have also been the conduit by which the Council has funded specifically local spending.

What this has meant for Newton Aycliffe – which is part of the Great Aycliffe and Middridge Partnership AAP (GAMP) – is that GAMP has received over the decade some £1½ million in Council funding, which has paid for dozens of initiatives such as the Employability Scheme (a grant to help unemployed people get the qualifications necessary to get a job); the ‘Buddies Befriending’ Scheme (to tackle social isolation); and Cobblers Hall Play Park.When the Newton Aycliffe Youth & Community Centre recently restarted its Youth Club, it did so with a GAMP grant.

These schemes have supported the community through a decade of savage cuts in public spending and – as DCC Leader Cllr Simon Henig said at the celebration-and-thank-you event reported in this week’s Newton News – have helped protect County Durham from the damage of Austerity.We are very quick – and often justified – in criticising the Council, but GAMP has been a quiet boon to our community for a decade, and Newton News wishes it every success for the next decade.

This week’s edition of the Newton News is just full of people volunteering; collecting money for charity; organising community events, visits and treats; and raising awareness of good causes. We live in a community full of genuinely good people doing genuinely good works.Thank you to all of you.

Looking at the promotion materials, the Newton News suspects that Eleanor Conway’s comedy event at The Stand Club in Newcastle will not be everybody’s cup of tea. But we applaud her work to raise awareness of the damage that alcohol, and alcohol addiction, can do at a personal – as well as at family and community – level.