Durham delivers despite over £240m in government cuts
Durham delivers for the environment despite over £240m in government cuts
Labour is working hard for County Durham
This is a list of just some of our key achievements, as Labour works to ensure our county remains safe and healthy and continues to be a great place to live, work, do business and visit.
Responding to Coronavirus
- We established the County Durham Together community support hub to support vulnerable people affected by coronavirus including community shopping, check and chat, advice and guidance and emergency food provision. Five hundred council staff have been redeployed to deliver essential services.
- Through the hub we pro-actively offered assistance to more than 75,000 vulnerable people in the county, putting people in touch with local services offered by a range of local community and voluntary sector groups
- Labour-led Durham County Council stepped in to provide a £1.5 million Covid community emergency response fund to support the work of community groups across County Durham from the spring of 2020 - £100,000 for local community groups in each of our 14 Area Action Partnerships. Hundreds of local groups have been supported with a significant number focussed on supporting people with accessing food, social isolation and mental health.
- Durham County Council’s Welfare Assistance Scheme was increased by a further £1.5 million to help our response to the pandemic, including support for foodbanks. This support will continue over the next year.
- We extended the benefits of Durham County Council’s Local Council Tax Support Scheme, utilising the Hardship Fund to provide up to an additional £300 council tax relief to thousands of households, twice the level of any other council in our region, and arranged individually with council tax payers in financial hardship for their payments to be deferred with instalments to recommence later in the year.
- More than one hundred homeless people have been assisted since March 2020 to ensure that everyone has had a roof over their head during the pandemic
- We supplied over 800,000 items of PPE in the first two months alone, including almost half a million items to the social care sector.
- We supported commissioned social care providers through over 13,600 telephone calls and the provision of advice and support.
- We have provided ongoing support to our social care providers across the county throughout the pandemic including additional financial support to help with the ongoing costs of the pandemic.
- We established an infection inspection team and comprehensive multi-agency support package to support care homes to prevent and tackle infection outbreaks.
Delivering 30,000 New Jobs
Labour-led Durham County Council has developed an ambitious plan to deliver 30,000 new jobs for County Durham while securing existing jobs. With the impact of coronavirus, this ambitious plan for jobs is needed more than ever.
- We have supported more than 8,000 businesses across County Durham by swiftly and efficiently allocating total grant payments through the Small Business and Retail Hospitality Leisure Grant Funds of almost £100 million, with Labour-led Durham County Council one of the best performing local authorities nationally. We have continued to support businesses, paying out a further £23 million of grants since September.
- We recalculated the business rate bills of nearly 2,500 businesses, applying business rate reductions and discounts totalling more than £50 million.
- We introduced immediate supplier payments, supplier relief for important vulnerable suppliers and rent deferrals for our commercial tenants, achieving our best ever rates of performance in these areas to support local businesses
- We provided advice and assistance to schools and childcare providers across the County and assisted over 240 schools to remain open to provide education for vulnerable and key workers children.
- We maintained all of our child protection, safeguarding and social care services, maintaining contact with children and their families.
- Since the first lockdown more than 150 play areas have been open, with social distancing measures in place where appropriate.
- From May 2020, all 12 of our Household Waste Recycling Centres have remained open and we have ensured they are safe to use with social distancing promoted at all times.
- Durham County Council’s refuse collection services have continued to operate, and last year 99.86% of bins were emptied across the county.
- In October 2020, Labour-led Durham County council set up a local free school meals scheme within 72 hours after Conservative MPs voted against extending free school meals into the half-term holiday. We supported around 10,000 children over the half term week.
- A new County Durham Vision was agreed in 2019, following extensive engagement including through our 14 Area Action Partnerships. Its key ambitions, based on more than 30,000 consultation responses across the county are More and Better Jobs, Long and Independent Lives and Connected Communities.
- The County Durham Plan, adopted in 2020 after a successful examination by an independent government inspector, includes policies and proposals for the county until 2035 that will ensure the right homes are developed in the right places to meet the needs of residents, including affordable housing and properties for the elderly. The Plan is also expected to facilitate thousands of new jobs across the county. It also ensures the protection of the historic and natural environment and secure the infrastructure to support development, such as schools, healthcare and community facilities.
- A planning application has been approved for the redevelopment of the Aykley Heads site into a new modern business park, providing approximately 4,000 jobs, with 1,800 more in the construction phase, establishing Durham as an employment hub within the North East. This will potentially boost the county’s economy by up to £400 million. To make way for the business park, County Hall will be demolished.
- Situated on a strategic site just off the A1(M), ambitious plans are already underway on the Integra 61 site which could bring 4,000 new jobs to County Durham. The first part of the development saw Amazon open a new fulfilment centre in County Durham bringing with it 1,000 new permanent jobs, one of the largest sites built in the UK in 2019-20.
- Hitachi Rail Europe: Durham County Council with its business development arm and Merchant Place Developments led a successful bid against 40 other locations across the UK to bring Hitachi Rail to County Durham. Over £110m has been invested in the site, which now employs 700 people, and has manufactured 192 trains since 2015. The company has spent £1.8 billion with its supply chain since 2013 including over 130 separate North East suppliers. Hitachi has recruited over 50 apprentices and it is a co-founder of South Durham University Technical College, designed to improve the manufacturing skills base of the county.
- Forrest Park, Newton Aycliffe: After attracting £13 million in Local Enterprise Partnership funding, we have expanded the North East’s largest industrial estate, Aycliffe Business Park, by 52 hectares which includes Hitachi Rail. The new junction has now been completed and provides better access to the A1(M) and A167. Forrest Park could create more than 3,000 jobs and add almost half a billion pounds to the economy over the next 20 years
- Jade Business Park in East Durham is a 55-acre employment site close to the A19 and Dalton Park, and is set to provide over 1 million square feet of new employment space and over 2,500 jobs. The park is owned by Durham County Council, managed by Business Durham and delivered in partnership with Highbridge Developments and NELEP. Phase 1 of the development provides seven units totalling 155,000 square feet of new space for distribution, technology, and advanced manufacturing businesses.
- Durham County Council has allocated £25 million for investment in Towns and Villages across the county. This supports the wider £750 million investment with the programmes bringing back into use derelict land, improving the environment, redeveloping high streets, improving transport and connectivity as well as providing social housing across the county.
- Atom Bank is one of the nation’s first digital banks. Durham County Council’s business development arm played a crucial part in securing its headquarters location, first at Northumbria House, a council-owned property, and subsequently at the Rivergreen Centre. It demonstrates the confidence of the business and professional service sector to invest at Aykley Heads as a strategic employment site. Atom has created over 400 jobs, and is collaborating with the region’s universities developing new technological platforms for the digital banking sector.
- Salvus House: a flagship, quality office development located at the heart of Aykley Heads acquired in 2017 by Business Durham on behalf of Durham County Council with support from the local enterprise partnership, Salvus House is home to firms in the growing fintech sector, design, accountancy, engineering, communications and digital design industries. The location has proved popular with businesses due to its close proximity to Durham rail station and is already playing a key role in bringing investment and more jobs to the region. The centre is 92% occupied with 16 businesses, employing 196 people.
- Durham Works, a £29 million youth employment initiative for young people aged 16-24 living in County Durham who are not in education, employment or training has now supported approximately 7,500 young people – with almost 70% progressing into employment.
- Durham Employment and Skills have provided employability support to more than 1,500 people, 650 learners have achieved qualifications and skills and there have been almost 2,500 registrations on community employment programmes over the last three years.
- The council’s business development arm Business Durham has secured £17.9 million funding in the last three years to provide programmes to support over 1,300 County Durham businesses to grow and become more competitive. Collectively the programmes are supporting the creation of over 950 jobs
- The innovative Finance Durham Fund was launched in May 2017. Established as a £20 million fund to provide loans and equity investments to support businesses expanding and locating in County Durham, to date the fund has made investments totalling more than £5 million, supporting 400 jobs and leveraging over £9m of additional investment into the County.
- Durham County Council played a critical part in securing two new food stores for Crook and Stanley. The site at Elliot Street, Crook, had been blighted with some long-standing vacant buildings. The council acquired the properties to facilitate development of the new, long awaited, food store. Opening in October 2019, and creating 30 new jobs, the store serves the residents of Crook and also the surrounding rural settlements. Meanwhile, on the council- owned site of the former bus station and adjacent vacant site in Stanley, a new store opened in November 2018, securing 35 new jobs for the area.
- NETPark Explorer & Phase 3: Durham County Council secured more than £3 million from the North East LEP’s Local Growth Fund (LGF) to develop the Explorer buildings at NETPark near Sedgefield, in order to offer grow-on space for science, engineering and technology companies. Explorer provides combined clean room, laboratory and office space, and is now home to six businesses employing 80 people in high value jobs. We also secured £5 million LGF funding to open up a further 26 acres of expansion land for Phase 3 at NETPark as this key employment site continues to grow.
- North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence: Durham County Council’s business arm, Business Durham, leads the North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence and has recently been awarded an extension to the contract to March 2022. Located at NETPark, it is one of five regional centres supported by the Satellite Applications Catapult and the UK Space Agency. The primary aim of the Centre is to stimulate and enable the satellite and space technology sector to grow and contribute to the economy in the North East region.
- Durham County Council has continued to work in partnership with other landowners to bring forward development at Peterlee North East Industrial Estate. A number of land acquisitions have been completed and demolitions undertaken to facilitate future development activity. A Section 106 Agreement has been prepared which once signed will enable development to come forward.
- We have established public Wi-Fi and a footfall monitoring system in two of our main towns, Stanley and Bishop Auckland. The council is now looking to expand the scheme to cover a number of other towns across the county including Chester-le-Street, Crook, Seaham, Barnard Castle and Durham City over the coming months.
Adult Social Care
- County Durham Care Academy was launched in August 2019, working with local partners to deliver training and development opportunities so that we can create a skilled and valued adult social care workforce in County Durham. This includes entry level training for individuals who are new to the adult social care sector and ongoing training and development for those already employed.
- In April 2020 County Durham Care Academy launched a fast-track recruitment and training programme in response to pressures being placed on the sector by the coronavirus crisis.
- Dementia Friendly Communities: County Durham’s Health and Wellbeing Board has encouraged the development of Dementia Friendly Communities of which there are now 19 across the county. This work includes raising dementia awareness and developing Dementia Friends Champions in the relevant settings.
- Extra Care services were rated ‘Good’ across all domains at the last inspection in September 2018 with the service safe, responsive, well led, effective and caring.
- The Adult Learning and Skills Service was judged ‘Good’ by Ofsted inspection in 2018 with inspectors noting the quality of learning provision and that a high proportion of leaners achieve and progress into positive destinations. Over the last three years the service has performed above the national average for achievement rates for Education and Training provision.
- Area Action Partnerships received an allocation of £25,000 each for projects that target Older People’s Social Isolation, from a national grant for social care. The grants have supported 57 projects across County Durham.
Children and Young People
- Education is a key priority for Labour in County Durham. We know that we can achieve more positive outcomes if parents and carers get their first choice school for their children. Across County Durham approximately 95% of our pupils receive their first preference of school – significantly higher than the national average.
- Durham County Council established the Durham Safeguarding Children Partnership to work with the County Durham Clinical Commissioning Groups and Durham Constabulary to keep children safe.
- We have reduced speed limits from 30mph to 20mph in streets around schools to reduce traffic speeds and improve safety. 20mph zones include streets around schools in Bishop Auckland, Bowburn, Chester-le-Street, Consett, Coxhoe, Easington, Framwellgate Moor, Langley Moor, Middlestone Moor, Newton Aycliffe, Newton Hall, Peterlee, Seaham, Spennymoor, Stanley, Stanley Crook, Ushaw Moor and West Rainton.
- Liquidlogic electronic information system: following a significant investment by Durham County Council, a new electronic information system was successfully implemented for children’s social care and early help teams across County Durham, helping to modernise and transform the way social workers are working with families in Durham.
- Social Work Academy: Durham County Council has set up a Social Work Academy, an innovative development to ensure that newly qualified social workers receive the appropriate training and development to successfully start their careers working with children and families. The Academy supports and mentors students and newly qualified social workers to develop their skills, knowledge and professional confidence.
- Stronger Families programme: Durham County Council is one of only 14 councils nationwide to be awarded Earned Autonomy status for its work with vulnerable families. The programme helps families with a range of issues such as children not attending school regularly, having behaviour problems or not being able to get a job. Working with partners, the programme has successfully helped well over 4,000 families to overcome issues to date.
- New Youth Council established: Young people are able to share their views about a range of issues that affect them through a Youth Council for young people aged 11-17 which has its own budget to spend on projects that benefit young people in County Durham. Representatives are chosen from each of our secondary schools and sixth form colleges across the county. The establishment of the Youth Council was opposed by Durham Conservatives.
- Mental Health Support to schools: by the end of 2021 all schools in the county will have been given the opportunity to access free Mental Health support training through the Anna Freud School and College Link Programme.
- We have made significant improvements to our services for Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). This has included our commitment to involving children and families in improving services, setting clear standards for services and reducing waiting times for specialist autism assessment and speech and language therapy assessment.
- The Edge of Care service, which started in 2018, provides a rapid response to children and their families who without this help and support would need to come into care. The service is available seven days a week 24 hours per day. The team develops relationships with families at the point of crisis which has enabled around 100 children in the last year to remain with their families thereby avoiding coming into the care system.
- Durham County Council continues to celebrate the services of our Foster Carers through an annual awards event. The awards recognise the dedication and commitment of those who give safe, stable, loving and nurturing homes to children and young people. The awards provide recognition for long service and going the extra mile in caring for children and young people with over 90 carers recognised at the 2019 event.
- A new multi-million-pound digital media centre successfully opened in Autumn 2019 at Durham Sixth Form Centre. The £3.4 million project was constructed by Durham County Council which stepped-in following the collapse of Carillion. The centre includes state of the art facilities including a high-tech IT hub; multimedia room; TV studio; cinema; conference and event room, games room, café and 13 classrooms. Sixty-three highly skilled workers and 13 locally sourced sub-contractors worked tirelessly to ensure the project was completed on time for the beginning of the new term in September.
- Durham County Council introduced measures from 1 April 2017 to exempt care leavers from Council Tax up to the age of 25 and provide a 50% discount to the liable person where the care leaver was residing with an extended family member (or another adult) who had previously lived on their own and received a single person discount. We were the first authority in our region to adopt this policy.
- In 2018 our 14 Area Action Partnerships received almost £10,000 each from a former Durham County Council youth grant to allocate to local projects that fit with youth need. Focusing on 11-19 year olds, the grants have supported 145 projects across County Durham.
Keeping County Durham Clean and Green
- Neighbourhood Wardens: In our 2020 Budget, Labour councillors on Durham County Council voted through additional investment to employ 11 additional neighbourhood wardens across the county. This has led to increased action to deal with a range of issues including fly-tipping. The 2020 Budget which included this additional investment was opposed by Durham Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Independents.
- Our 2020 Budget also included new additional resource for Find and Fix teams operating across County Durham. The teams are multi-skilled and have carried out a large number of tasks across the county including general tidy up’s, removing and cutting back shrubs, replacing and repairing benches, repairing fences and removing graffiti.
- Labour-led Durham County Council now employs more than one hundred litter pickers across the county – one of the largest numbers of any council in the country. We have also retained levels of grass cutting with open spaces normally cut 14 times during the year.
- Wild Flower/Meadow Verges: Durham County Council has extended a trial to 26 sites across the county involving meadow creation and improving biodiversity, attracting more than 50,000 positive ‘hits’ on social media
- County Durham has consistently picked up awards in Britain in Bloom competitions for many years and maintained 12 Green Flag awards for our Parks and Cemeteries in 2020 which is highest number in the region. Green Flags, recognising the best green spaces in the country, are judged on maintenance, conservation and community involvement as well as open spaces being welcoming, healthy, safe and secure. Parks awarded a Green Flag include Blackhill and Consett Park, Hardwick Park at Sedgefield, Chester-le-Street Riverside Park, Bishop Auckland town recreation ground, Wharton Park and Annfield Plain Park as well as six cemeteries across the county.
- Working in partnership with Durham Constabulary, the Environment agency and Crimestoppers, Durham County Council’s Operation Stop It! has led to significant reductions in fly tipping across County Durham.
- Working in partnership with local communities, Durham County Council’s Operation Spruce Up has helped clean up communities across the county.
- Following the adoption by Durham County Council of the Fixed Play Provision Strategy in 2015 we have implemented a programme of enhancement and upgrading of existing play areas and provision of 10 new play areas involving capital investment of over £1.75 million investment to date.
- Over the past two years, Durham County Council’s Trading Standards Team has seized over 26,500 illegal cigarettes and 180 kg of unlawful hand rolling tobacco. Over the past two years, around 47,000 counterfeit goods have been removed from the market across County Durham.
- Durham County Council have recruited over 930 Friends Against Scams across the County, who have signed up and been trained to raise awareness of frauds and scams. They are able to spot scams and spread the message to family and friends to be on their guard and avoid becoming victims.
- Durham County Council’s Community Action Team have undertaken hundreds of projects across County Durham, with a total of 217 legal notices served and 29 works in default required where there was non-compliance with notices. Core casework related to common issues such as rubbish accumulations and defective drainage, with open to access properties, pest issues, fly tipping, dog fouling and housing disrepair also being investigated.
Climate Change and Carbon Reduction
- Carbon emissions have reduced by over 55% since 1990 and Durham’s Low Carbon Team was recently named by the Association of Public Service Excellence (APSE) as having the Best Climate Change Initiative for our climate action emergency response plan following Durham County Council’s declaration of a Climate Emergency in February 2019.
- In a study of 59 cities, Durham was named the UK’s greenest city as a result of the large reduction in carbon emissions. The study was carried out by Solar technology specialists The Solar Centre and based on government data on ten green criteria, including air quality, carbon emissions, waste management and green spaces.
- Only 2% of household refuse collected across County Durham now goes to landfill – a figure which was more than 70% prior to the formation of the new unitary council in 2009.
- Durham County Council’s Single Use Plastics Pledge was awarded the Best Waste Minimisation or Prevention Project award at the LARAC (Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee) annual awards. Almost 200 businesses, individuals, schools, nurseries, and community groups have signed the pledge since it was launched.
- One Million Trees: Durham Woodland Revival attracted £435,000 of Lottery funding to manage and plant up 5,000 hectares of woodlands over four years from 2019. This is in addition to other planting initiatives; in total more than one million trees have been planted across County Durham.
Housing for All
- Durham County Council’s Housing Strategy was adopted in July 2019. It includes a focus on raising standards in the private rented sector, including seeking greater licencing powers in order to tackle poor landlords; delivering homes to meet the needs of older people; and working with communities most effected by long term empty properties.
- Durham County Council’s Housing Development Team has aided in the increase of affordable housing provision in the county. Working with local registered providers, the number of completions has risen year on year.
- Council house building: Durham County Council committed in 2020 to review the options for a council house build programme and in early 2021 we agreed a programme to build 500 council homes across County Durham.
- Durham County Council has proposed a Selective Licensing scheme with the aim of improving private rented sector housing, helping deal with a range of neighbourhood issues including anti-social behaviour.
- The Managing Money Better initiative has assisted households with issues such as incorrect utility company billing, faulty meters and incorrect tariffs and provides information on boiler grants and general energy efficiency, enabling residents to save significant sums of money – over £1 million has been saved by residents in fuel payments and switching to better tariffs.
- Durham County Council’s Housing Action Team have delivered a range of targeted interventions to improve housing and living standards including the inspection and licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation and targeted actions against landlords to ensure effective management of their properties.
- Horden Masterplan: The development of a masterplan for Horden’s numbered streets, following two rounds of successful resident and landlord consultation, resulted in a preferred option being chosen. This has led to further discussion between partners such as Registered Providers, Homes England and central government in an attempt to attract resources to facilitate the necessary changes required.
- Durham County Council has Masterplans in place for all of the principal towns in the county to guide investment and improvements, including for Barnard Castle, Bishop Auckland, Chester-le-Street, Consett, Crook, Newton Aycliffe, Peterlee, Seaham, Shildon, Spennymoor and Stanley.
Connected Communities: Transport and Digital Durham
- Work on a new bus station for Durham City is underway. Designed to increase the overall space for passengers, there will also be improved facilities, such as increased toilet provision, including parent and child and a changing facility, as well as increased seating and space in the passenger circulation and waiting areas. The delivery of the new bus station is seen as the first stage of a wider development of the North Road area.
- New station for East Durham: A new multi-million pound railway station opened at Horden in June 2020 linking the east of the county into the local, regional and national rail network. The development, a joint project was funded by Durham County Council with an additional £4.4 million from the Department of Transport’s New Stations Fund and a grant from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership. It is predicted that the station will serve more than 70,000 passengers each year.
- A1M Junction 61 Improvements: Multimillion-pound infrastructure works are now complete at a site which is primed for a key role in County Durham’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The works will significantly improve access to the Integra 61 development near Bowburn which is set to become a premier industrial and logistics location in the region, already attracting online retailer Amazon.
- A Local concessionary travel scheme was agreed by Durham County Council’s cabinet in early 2020 for WASPI women – women born in the 1950s hit by the government’s change in the women’s state pension age.
- As part of the national Building Digital UK initiative, Digital Durham is the main programme in the North East, managing investment of £35 million to transform broadband speeds for residents and businesses across the region. At the start of the programme around a third of properties in County Durham did not have access to superfast broadband. Today, coverage stands at 96.4% properties, much of the increase due to the work under Digital Durham.
- Durham County Council offer low-cost refurbished computer equipment to registered charities and social enterprises under the Reboot scheme. Since its launch, more than 200 devices have been made available to communities, benefiting thousands of residents.
- Durham County Council have improved our online offer with more than 120 services now available online, improving access to services and enabling engagement with the council at a convenient time and a lower cost per transaction.
A thriving Visitor Economy, Libraries, Heritage, Arts & Culture
- The visitor economy has grown year on year across County Durham, with an increase of almost 50% from £627 million in 2008 to £914 million in 2018, the significant increase in visitor numbers meaning more spending in local shops, cafes and bars, restaurants and hotels.
- Year of Culture: 2019 was designated a Year of Culture in County Durham to harness an unprecedented programme of events, festivals, anniversaries and openings taking place during the year. With two international events at the forefront of the programme (Cricket World Cup 2019 and Lumiere), there were a host of attractions introducing new experiences and openings, and anniversaries such as the Norman Cornish centenary year.
- Lumiere Durham attracted its millionth visitor in 2019. This internationally renowned light festival has boosted County Durham’s economy and has put Durham on the map as a world leader.
- In 2020, a new £17.7 million Durham History Centre was approved following extensive consultation to bring together for the first time under one roof the County Durham Archives and collections with the DLI collection and registration services. The County Durham story will be told in the context of the county’s rich history, via a vibrant exhibition and café, state-of-the-art search rooms, innovative digital facilities and a dedicated learning space. Work begins in 2021 and as part of this development a number of external funding bids have been successful.
- New Libraries have been opened in Barnard Castle, Newton Aycliffe and Stanley in recent years, which has prompted a significant increase in book issues and the use of local library services. County Durham is one of very few areas in England which has seen no library closures over the past decade.
- Peterlee Library co-location: In May 2019, Peterlee Library opened in Peterlee Leisure Centre. The third library to be co-located into a leisure centre, the £2.6m project comprised a new leisure and library shared reception space, new library, refurbished changing village to serve the swimming pool and separate male and female dry changing rooms.
- In November 2018, Durham Town Hall opened its doors as a visitor attraction. Initially developed as a pilot to see whether there was any interest in the building, its history and collections, the Town Hall had been open every Saturday from 10am until 3pm until it was forced to close due to lockdown. During the first year of opening, there were over 10,000 visitors to the building.
- Bishop Auckland Town Hall has undergone a £1.5 million refurbishment which has seen new auditorium seating installed, a new digital cinema system, a new café and gallery on the ground floor and re-worked library service. Work is now commencing on developing the cinema, art and live performance programme as Covid restrictions are lifted.
- Durham County Council has pledged to provide more than £1 million of matched funding towards a £6 million project for restoration and renewal of the historic building at Redhills, Durham Miners Hall. The National Lottery Heritage Fund will also release funding for the feasibility study, project planning and development.
- We are restoring the historic buildings at Shildon Locomotion Museum and design work is underway on a major expansion to the museum with a new £4.5 million collection building to increase the number of visitors in time for the 2025 Bicentenary celebration of the Stockton to Darlington Railway.
- We have supported Beamish Museum financially with £1.5 million towards the remaking Beamish project, which will see a massive expansion of the museum including new exhibits, increasing the number of visitors to the county and creating further employment opportunities in and around the museum.
- Bishop Auckland Food Festival 2019: There were 29,000 visitors to the event in 2019. Net visitor spend was £413,000, with an additional £70,000 of contracts placed with County Durham companies. The total economic impact of the event was £705,000, which represents a 1,282% return on investment for the council.
- Seaham Food Festival 2019: Despite atrocious weather forcing one day of the two-day event to be cancelled, this new festival still saw over 15,000 attending, providing a large-scale high-profile event in the east of the county. A virtual online event was run to support local food and drink providers during the COVID-19 lockdown.
- In September 2019, Durham County Council secured £1.6 million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for Seaham Townscape Heritage Project. Several key public spaces in the Town Centre are to be upgraded, alongside heritage-led regeneration of historic properties in Church Street. Most importantly, the project will offer a range of activities to improve the wider understanding and enjoyment of the town’s heritage, including heritage skills and training courses, guided walks and talks and a digital heritage trail.
- Seaham Marina continues to go from strength to strength. Despite the pandemic the marina’s retail offer remains strong with all commercial units currently let. Success on the water has also been achieved with an ever-increasing programme of water sports and activities thanks to the marina’s water sports activity provider, Adventure Access. Having already won many industry awards, the marina was also awarded top honours by winning the “Excellence in Planning for Health and Wellbeing” category at the national Royal Town Planning Institute’s (RTPI) Awards for Planning Excellence.
- Durham County Council’s finance team have been actively supporting Bowes Museum at Barnard Castle through a challenging financial situation. This has not only involved providing advice, but two members of staff have also been working at the Museum on a part time basis to cover vacancies in the Museum’s finance section. This has enabled the Museum to stabilise financially, with the aim of improving its cultural offer to benefit a wider section of the community throughout County Durham.
- Our ambitious annual Brass festival has been delivered across more towns in County Durham, including Crook, Newton Aycliffe, Shildon, Spennymoor and Trimdon as well as in Bishop Auckland, Chester-le-Street, Lanchester, Peterlee and Stanhope, as well as directly in 80 schools, enabling us to engage with 15,000 young people.
Strong Finances, Partnerships and Social Inclusion
- Durham County Council has balanced its budget every year despite facing £240 million of budget reductions during a decade of government austerity.
- The council’s Transformation programme, changing the way we work, has increased the number of council staff working in Crook and Spennymoor. The number of jobs has increased by almost 200 in Crook and by 400 at Green Lane, Spennymoor.
- The importance of social value is now firmly embedded within the council and our procurement processes, buying and spending local wherever we can and taking steps to remove barriers for local businesses in accessing contracts. County Durham is viewed as a leading council in terms of social value across the country.
- We have developed excellent relationships with our Trade Union colleagues who help us deliver our workforce and transformation agenda. Our Trade Union Partnership Agreement establishes shared values, a common purpose and our approach to a pragmatic, effective and transparent working partnership.
- During 2019 we worked with our Trade Unions to become the first local authority in the country to sign up to the TUC and GMB Reasonable Adjustment Disability Passports Initiative to better support our employees experiencing difficulties because of a disability or underlying health condition.
- We have also worked with our Trade Unions on many other campaigns and strategies including the Dying to Work Charter, Work to Stop Domestic Abuse Charter and our Apprenticeship Strategy.
- Durham County Council have prioritised support to financially vulnerable households such that seven years after the Conservative – Liberal Democrat Government abolished the national Council Tax Benefits System the council continues to have a Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme which mirrors the previous benefits for all claimants. As a result no resident potentially impacted by this element of welfare reform changes has had to pay any more council tax than they did in 2012/13. Durham County Council is now the only area in the North East to provide residents with this same level of support.
- Durham County Council’s Welfare Rights Team have proactively contacted people over 75 and successfully returned more than £3.3 million in unclaimed benefits, with a further £140,000 returned following a TV License Pension Credit campaign in 2020.
- Having already been awarded the North East Better Health at Work Silver Award in recognition of our work in addressing health issues within the workplace through the promotion of healthy lifestyles and considering the health of our employees in a structured and supportive way, we also signed the Time for Change Pledge in 2018 demonstrating our commitment to change the way we think and act about mental health in the workplace.
- Durham County Council’s Payroll and Employee Services continue to develop their external focus which already brings in over £1 million per year in income by providing payroll services to external customers.
- Durham County Council’s Corporate Fraud Team has worked with a range of other bodies and services in tackling criminal operations and financial abuse. As a result of work undertaken across all activities the Corporate Fraud Team has recovered or intercepted more than £5.9 million worth of fraud.
- Following the establishment of the Corporate Fraud Team, we now work closely with external insurers and external solicitors to tackle potential fraud in a joined-up approach. This has proved very successful, and we are now considered a leading Council by insurers in combating insurance fraud, saving at least £400,000 in claims that may otherwise have been paid since 2018.
- Our successful Apprenticeship Programme continues to expand, with our apprenticeship starts increasing from 196 in 2017/18 to 291 in 2019/20, working across a wide range of roles across our services. In terms of new apprentices, support is in place to help them continue with their employment and progress their careers. Durham County Council was awarded a place in the government’s Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers list nationally in 2020 – the only local authority in the North East to be included in the Top 100 list.
- Durham’s 14 Area Action Partnerships, established by Labour-led Durham County Council in 2009, have engaged with 30,000 people and have now awarded grants to more than 5,000 projects over the last ten years. With match funding, our AAPs have invested more than £100 million in local communities across County Durham.
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It may have taken almost a year, but the Government finally signed off a ground-breaking Labour initiative to protect renters.
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- Only Labour can ensure the county continues to thrive despite the decline in Government funding.
- Only Labour can deliver job security for hard-working people.
- Only Labour can protect the public services, under threat from the Government’s relentless austerity drive.
- Only Labour can attract investment of the quality of Hitachi while supporting homegrown innovators creating jobs and prosperity.
Please add your name to our petition to the Government.
It's time for a fair funding deal for County Durham.
Since 2010, Government cuts have been far greater in the north than the south, year after year. The scale of these cuts threatens services across County Durham. I call on the government to change its policies and provide a fair funding deal for County Durham.