Lib Dems elected to City Council

Lib Dem Councillors Richard Ormerod, Mandy Ross, Judith Atkinson and David Freeman

Liberal Democrat Councillor David Freeman topped the poll in the recent elections for the new City of Durham Parish Council.

Fellow Lib Dems Judith Atkinson, Richard Ormerod and Mandy Ross were also elected to represent Elvet & Gilesgate on the new council (which will be known simply as the City of Durham Council).

Sadly, the excellent Lib Dem candidates Jo Strachan and Sam MacLeod did not quite make it onto the new council, but will continue to fight for our area as part of the Focus Team.

In the neighbouring Neville’s Cross ward, the Lib Dems also won four seats, giving them eight seats in total.
Councillor David Freeman said:

“The Lib Dems would like to say a huge thank you to the residents of Durham City who put their trust in us again.

“It is a huge honour.

“We will continue to work hard for the area all year round, working with residents and keeping local people informed with regular newsletters. We will do our best to represent all residents, whether they voted for us or not.”

Durham Pride Event, 26 and 27 May

On Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 May Durham Pride has again been given permission from the Council to have its event on The Sands.

After last year’s event we received numerous complaints, mainly about the noise from the music stage.

The Licence Hearing for this year’s event was 16 May. Both of us sent submissions to the Licencing Panel setting out the concerns raised by residents about last year’s event, and David attended the meeting.

Pride is a very successful event and shows Durham to be the inclusive place we want our city to be. However we do not believe The Sands is the right location as the site is too near residential areas and because the number likely to attend is so very high. 10,000 are expected this weekend, with the event becoming bigger every year.

Our main concern for this year’s event was noise management. Last year noise levels were recorded at 100 decibels when the safe level according to Environmental Health is 65. Last year, council officers were not in attendance to monitor noise and as a result be able to ensure noise compliance. This was not acceptable and we are therefore pleased that we have persuaded the council to have Environmental Health officers on site. We are pleased that the event’s organisers acknowledged the residents’ concerns at the Licencing Panel from last year and that this year there will be changes.

We also raised highway issues as last year cars were apparently parked all over the estate. This year the organisers have said they will have signs up saying that Wearside Drive, Ferens Place, Ferens Park and Orchard Drive are residents only parking. We did ask that the council’s Parking Enforcement Officers should work on the Sunday but unfortunately this has not been agreed to. Without the staff patrolling there remains the possibility that event attendees may still end up parking illegally. The police have long maintained that they will not issue parking tickets unless the highway is being obstructed and that parking issues are for the council (which does not employ staff after 6pm on Sundays)!

Longer term we believe that, as with the the Miners’ Gala, Durham University Racecourse is a better location for the event, particularly as it is so well attended. We will be pursuing this further.

This year’s event will have a funfair and picnic on the Saturday and funfair, stalls, beer tent, music stage and other activities on the Sunday. Both days events will start at 1.00 pm and last until early evening.

Thankfully for all of us, ‘Jedward’ are not performing this year!

If you are attending the event we hope you have a great time.

The Lib Dem Team for Durham

Judith Atkinson, Richard Ormerod, Mandy Ross, Sam MacLeod & David Freeman

There are 6 Liberal Democrats standing for the City of Durham Parish Council for Elvet & Gilesgate ward on 3 May:

Judith Atkinson
Hello, I’m Judith. I live in Gilesgate Close in Durham City centre.
I joined the Liberal Democrats in 2015 as I was impressed by the exemplary service delivered by the local Lib Dem team.
I care passionately about the environment, both locally and globally. We need to create a better world for future generations.
In 2012 I retired following my career in Adult Education, which I enjoyed thoroughly as I am a real people-person! My qualifications in counselling, and my experiences meeting people from a diverse range of backgrounds, would stand me in good stead to represent the local area. I previously served as Vice-Chairman of Dunelm U3A, a local organisation set up to promote learning for pleasure and interests.
I regularly attend St Oswald’s Church in Elvet.
In my spare time I like nothing better than being with my three grandchildren, and I value my family enormously.

David Freeman
I have lived in Durham all my life and work in the city centre as a Civil Servant at the Passport Office, where I am also a trade union representative.
I have been the area’s councillor for 15 years. During that time I have worked with our local communities and residents associations to improve our green spaces, play areas, streets and city centre to make Durham a better place to live.
I am very involved in planning issues, trying to get better developments and opposing the many poor applications. I have campaigned for years for stronger planning policies to protect our city.
There is much more to do to make Durham City better. Our new Durham City parish council will, l hope, be a strong voice for Durham City. It will need to challenge and hold to account our Labour-run county council on the poor decisions it consistently makes and to challenge Durham University on its grandiose plans for Durham City.

Sam MacLeod
Hi, I’m Sam. I’m a 19 year-old student reading Economics at Durham University.
I came up from Sheffield a year and a half ago and now live on Orchard Drive in The Sands.
I’m a passionate Liberal Democrat, involved in running the university’s liberal society and in helping out various local party groups across the North East.
I’m a hard-working, community-minded individual, and think I could bring a unique perspective to the city’s new parish council.
I would like to encourage more students to get involved in the local community and help maintain and improve our unique city.
Outside of studies, I’m an avid chess player, a black belt in jujitsu, and a coffee connoisseur.
I work part-time in The Market Tavern in Durham City centre, please say hi if you see me there!

Richard Ormerod
I moved to Durham from Burnley in Lancashire in 1996, and liked it so much I’ve stayed ever since!
I’m married to Amanda and we have two children who attend Durham Johnston and St Margaret’s schools. We live in Durham City. I am a vegetarian and support all law-abiding animal welfare groups.
My “day job” is in Northallerton, in home-to-school transport. I previously worked in the telecommunications, printing and music industries.
I have been a county councillor for the Elvet & Gilesgate division since 2013 and before that was a parish councillor. With David Freeman I have worked hard to get improvements to our area, especially to the play areas and the historic city centre.
I am keen to protect our historic city, whilst ensuring that it has a vibrant future. I am particularly keen to assist local small businesses wherever I can.

Mandy Ross
I was born in Amble, Northumberland and I came to Durham as a student in 1983.
Following graduation, I began my teaching career at Durham Gilesgate Comprehensive and later taught the very first lesson at the “new” Durham Sixth Form College!
My son, also a Durham graduate, was raised here, and I have enjoyed more than thirty years living in this special place. I now live on Ferens Park in The Sands.
I have recently retired from teaching and I am hoping to maintain an active role working hard in the local community.
In my spare time I am a member of the Durham Walkers Group and Clayport Film Club. In addition, I am currently studying Norwegian at the University.
I am eager to protect the unique beauty of our city, encouraging thoughtful progress in order to build a community where we can all thrive.

Jo Strachan
Originally from Leeds, I moved from London to live in our beautiful city and to work as a teacher in 1993 with my then very young family. I have lived in Gilesgate since 2003.
I have worked as a primary teacher, a primary advisory teacher and as a Deputy Head. From 2000 I worked as a Senior Lecturer in education at Sunderland Uni.
Retiring just over two years ago, I have always had an avid interest in both national and local politics. Our city is beautiful and it’s an honour to live here. I would like to help maintain its historical status and present it at its best, which to me means listening to the views of local people.
I have a passionate interest in the arts; theatre, literature and fine art. I am a big believer in public art, and I paint in my spare time.
Durham has a mix of both student and permanent residents and I wish to use my time and knowledge to serve all sections of the community. I am keen to bring people together by encouraging ‘town’ and ‘gown’ to work together for the benefit of the community.

Make your votes count on Thursday 3 May

Make your votes count!

Polls are open from 7am to 10pm.

You have SIX votes.

Please use all six of your votes for the Lib Dem Team.

Your vote will not be counted if you vote for too many candidates.

You do not need your official poll card to vote.

If you have a postal vote and haven’t posted it back you can deliver it to any polling station in the ward up until 10pm on Thursday 3 May.

No change to bin collections in May

There will be no changes to bin collections in County Durham over the two May Bank Holidays.

Residents are also reminded that the council’s Customer Access Points and customer surgeries will be closed during the Bank Holidays.

Further details are attached or view the story online at


Easter bank holiday bin collections

There will be no changes to bin collections in County Durham during the Easter Bank Holiday weeks – weeks starting Monday, 26 March and Monday, 2 April.

This includes refuse and recycling as well as garden waste collections, for those who have signed up to the scheme.

Households who have collections on a Friday are therefore reminded to still put their bins out on Good Friday (30 March).

Residents are also advised to put their bins out for collection by 7am on their normal collection day.

Those who are unsure of their collection days can find out by entering their house number and postcode into the ‘My Durham’ section at

For more information about bin collections visit and to find out which items go in which bin visit

To subscribe to the garden waste scheme, visit or call 03000 260 000 during office hours.

Residents can ‘Save time and do it online’ if they wish to report a missed bin collection or order replacement bins. Simply register an account at Accounts can be accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

New Council HQ on The Sands

Durham County Council has recently decided to move its headquarters from Aykley Heads to Durham City centre. The site which they have chosen to build is The Sands car park. This new headquarters would not be the same size as County Hall but is likely to be similar in size to the Passport Office building on the old ice rink site. It will cost at least £40 million to build. A planning application is likely in the summer.

Residents will understandably have concerns about further building in the area. While we believe other options could have been better for the new headquarters location this is a decision which has already been made by the council’s Labour Cabinet. Residents may also be concerned that when the council is making budget cuts it can none the less build a new headquarters for itself.

What we can say at present is that a planning application is likely later this year, that a contractor has been selected and that the new building is expected to be completed in winter 2020. It will hold 1000 staff (similar to the Passport Office) and be four storeys high (as the other two office buildings are).

The Sands parking provision will be moved to a new car park on the old Post Office Sorting Office site at the bottom of Providence Row, adjacent to Durham Sixth Form Centre. The bus park will be moved out of the city.

Building anything next to the green space of The Sands is going to be a challenge. We need to ensure that the council gets it right. We are already having meetings with planners and the Chief Executive’s team to ensure that they get this right. The issues we have raised so far are that the green barrier between The Sands and the present bus park needs to be preserved as much as possible to ensure a barrier between the building and The Sands.

We are also very concerned that the development will have 200 car parking spaces. Around 50 spaces will be on the new HQ site but the others will be added to the 132 lost spaces in The Sands car park at the Old Post Office Sorting Office site. This will mean a multi storey car park having to be built which could be very unsightly and out of proportion to its surroundings and will lead to more cars leaving the area up Providence Row and into Claypath.
If any new car park is not built before the new HQ is built we are very concerned about where cars will go. Many years ago The Sands itself was used as a temporary car park. We have told Council officers this would be unacceptable.

There are many issues we believe residents will have and we therefore want to hear what you think about the plans.

Last ditch effort to save Durham’s M&S from closure fails

A LAST ditch effort to stop one of the biggest names on the high street from leaving the city centre has failed.

Durham City councillors David Freeman and Richard Ormerod had written to the chief executive of Marks and Spencer’s with a plea for the retailer not to abandon it’s Silver Street store.

Following several years of speculation, the company announced in January that it would be closing its clothing and food outlet in the city centre in April.

Cllr Freeman said:

“It is very concerning that we could have a large empty retail unit in Durham City centre. There are already rumours of other retailers considering their position in the city centre.

“It is disappointing for us in Durham that Marks and Spencer will not reconsider their closure, it is wrong for Durham City and I believe wrong for them financially.”

The councillors for Elvet and Gilesgate had sent a ten-point letter to M&S chief executive Steve Rowe highlighting major developments currently underway in the city, future growth in student numbers living centrally and a lack of competition from other food retailers.

Cllr Freeman added:

“We will likely have more people working (and spending money) in the city centre within the next two years and houses and flats are being built or have planning permission for residential use as well as student use which will lead to more shoppers within a ten minute walk of the shopping centre.”

Responding, David Leach, the company’s government affairs manager, said: “In the case of Durham, I can assure you that the decision has been given a great deal of consideration and follows detailed examination of all relevant commercial and financial data relating to the store’s current performance and future potential.

“You will appreciate that I am unable to go into specific details, but in broad terms we consider factors such as trends in sales and profitability; cost of operating the store; modernisation work required; property details such as lease terms, rents and business rates; and how the store fits with our broader retail offer in the local area and our ability to recapture sales.”

He added that it was considered unfeasible to continue as a food hall because of the investment needed to modernise the unit.

When it closes, it is likely to be one of four empty units in Silver Street, following the recent closures of East and Krispy Kreme, and Greenwoods, which has been empty since last year.

M&S, which has a bigger shop at the Arnison Centre, in Pity Me, says all staff at the Silver Street branch have been offered jobs nearby.

Graffiti outbreak

Councillors and residents are dismayed at the recent outbreak of graffiti in the city centre.

Pleasingly, your councillors have been informed that the police have made an arrest in connection with it.

Councillor Richard Ormerod said:

“This graffiti is not art, it is selfish, antisocial vandalism.

“It is a blight on our community and beautiful city, and must be stopped.

“I hope the police take tough action against the perpetrators as a deterrent to others.

“I would like to thank the council’s Clean & Green Team for the swift work they have done in removing much of the mess.

“I would advise all residents to report any graffiti to the council. Contrary to what is widely believed, the council will remove graffiti from private property as well as its own.”