Durham County Council have agreed to review their multi million pound headleases. These agreements could have long reaching consequences with taxpayers taking on the risk and the economic downturn COVID is causing.
The headlease of particular concern is £120 million agreement at Milburngate, Durham. This includes 5,000 square metres speculative office building, alongside 153 built-to-rent apartments. Where the Council will pay for the buildings over the next 30 years. But it is Durham County Council’s responsibility to run the facility, and find organisations to rent the space.
Taking on the risk of venture means that the taxpayer foots the bill if it goes wrong. These decisions are being made behind closed doors, with the public being barred from knowing the details.
The Council have agreed for a full review to take place – following a motion submitted by Lib Dem Cllr Owen Temple (Consett North), with a report going to cabinet in the new year. This is something that needs to be carefully watched with Croydon going bankrupt for not managing such agreements effectively.
Durham County Council have asked leisure centre staff to give access to toilets after Lib Dem intervention.
A 78 year-old local resident with “waterworks” problems needed the toilet whilst out shopping. He popped in to the Labour-run council’s leisure facility and was refused toilet access.
Local councillor Michael Stead says, “When this resident contacted me I was shocked at this loo-dicrous decision. Years ago the Council got rid of our public toilets and pointed people to the leisure centre.
“To refuse someone elderly, with a health condition, permission to use the loo in an emergency was simply unacceptable.“
Michael contacted his Lib Dem county councillor colleagues, and after they intervened the Council’s Covid policy was scrapped.
Lib Dem Michael says, “I don’t think anyone can under-estimate just how uncomfortable it can be for anyone who suddenly gets caught short.
“I’m pleased the council has listened and applied some common sense.”
The elderly resident who was turned away was helped by a local shop manager on the high street who, following Covid rules allowed the resident to use their toilet.
Cllr Stead adds, “Sometimes it does feel a bit like the world has gone mad. All credit to the hero who helped out, using common sense and compassion.”
Covid case rates in County Durham are changing rapidly. One week we may see a significant fall, the next a sudden surge. What is absolutely clear is that everyone in our county needs to follow the rules and if possible go further.
Our sympathies go out to everyone struggling through these difficult times. If you need help and haven’t been able to find it online or in the community, please get in touch with us and we will do all we can to find you assistance.
The North East is now in full lockdown and details of what can and can’t be done can be seen here:
There is a Dashboard where you can see the current rates for your part of the County. The areas are broken down based on Middle Super Output Areas. These are geographical areas based on a population of around 7000, and are not based on electoral divisions or specific towns or villages. The rates shown are around a week out of date.
The Dashboard also shows other data including the number of deaths in the County and specifically deaths in Care Homes.
Last year Labour councillors voted on masse against a 2030 carbon neutral target for our County Council, setting 2050 instead.
The Liberal Democrat Official Opposition on Durham County Council submitted a motion to set 2030 as the target. This is the date that scientists say we must be carbon neutral by, to stop runaway climate change.
Your Lib Dem county councillors will continue to fight to meet this target so that our children, grand-children and future generations can live safely. By meeting our targets we will not only help to protect our environment but also be able to save money by using and developing new technology, securing grants and cutting energy costs.
Councillor Michael Stead asked for his council papers to be emailed to him to save on waste. Your Labour-run council continues to print and post out papers.
Every time there is a council meeting the Town Council posts out paperwork to councillors, wasting thousands of pounds each year on paper, printing and postage, when for most councillors a simple email would work.
Cllr Stead comments, “Perhaps there are a few councillors with computer issues, but when a councillor asks for papers to be emailed, surely the Council should do this.”
Michael adds, “What this shows is that Labour just don’t care about wasting taxpayers’ money.”
Cllr Stead has made numerous suggestions to cut waste so services can be protected and council tax kept down.
However rather than support his views they cut him off in the middle of speaking at a budget meeting.
Cllr Stead concludes, “It seems Labour councillors are only interested in Council control, not in saving money to protect services or keep money in residents’ pockets.”
Across County Durham, Liberal Democrats are winning elections with some remarkable swings.
In the once Hard-Labour town of Shildon our candidate Garry Huntington swept to victory with almost 1257 votes compared to just 682 for the local Labour candidate in last years By-Election.
In February 2020, our County Council candidate for North Aycliffe and Middridge, Michael Stead won a stunning by-election victory in the Woodham ward with nearly 80% of the vote, leaving Independent and Labour miles behind. The Tories didn’t even have a candidate.
This was one of the last elections before lockdown.
Across the County we are determined to win more seats. Come and join us and help us change our county for the better.
Across County Durham people are joining the Lib Dems because they see us as the only opposition to an out of control local Labour Party. We are the official opposition party on Durham County Council, leading the fight against Labour.
Residents are signing up, helping deliver leaflets, and agreeing to stand for election in their area.
So many people are angry at the way Labour is running County Durham. When Lib Dems uncovered a £12600 a year taxpayer-funded payment to the Labour chair and vice-chair for clothes it hit the national press. We got it scrapped.
When Labour shut the Durham Light Infantry Museum, Lib Dem councillors led the political fight-back alongside furious residents. And Lib Dems have led the fight against a new £50 million taxpayer funded Council Palace.
You can now join the Lib Dems for just £1 a month. Visit www.libdems.org.uk