Agenda item

Leader's Report


Councillor Henig provided the Council with an update report which included the following:


  • The government had announced that the Agility Trains Consortium were the preferred bidder for the resumation of Intercity Express programme. The consortium had already committed to build its assembly plant in Newton Aycliffe and would create hundreds of construction and engineering jobs in County Durham. The Leader praised the two years of hard work and massive effort by the County Council, County Durham Development Company and Merchant Place. Councillor Henig also placed on record his thanks to Phil Wilson MP, Trade Union Congress, Unite, Chamber of Commerce and the County Durham Development Company on their achievements, commenting that it was a huge vote of confidence in County Durham;


  • The Council had been notified by the government that £100m would be made available nationally for pothole repairs. The County Council had submitted a bid and were awaiting the outcome;


  • The Lumiere festival would take between 17-20 November 2011. The festival was an opportunity for local artists and companies to showcase their talents.  Funding amounting to £200,000 had been secured from the European Cultural Fund. Seminars would be held to give Members a preview of events;


  • There was an ongoing review of the Planning Committee structure;


  • The North East Local Government Summit was taking place on Friday 25 March at Durham University;


  • The Secretary of State for Department for Communities and Local Government had made a recent statement relating to distribution of business rates and formula grant which could result in the Council having to make further savings of up to £80m per year on top of the cuts already made. The Leader expressed his concern regarding the announcement and informed the Council that he had already spoken to local government ministers on this extremely serious issue which would impact hugely on all authorities in the North East.  He encouraged all political groups on the Council to lobby for a proper equalisation system.


Councillor Martin responded to the Leader’s report and welcomed the result relating to the Agility Trains contract.  He added that all-party support and lobbying in addition to the hard work carried out by all organisations concerned had delivered an excellent result.  Councillor Martin also placed on record his congratulations to Phil Wilson MP who had secured the best deal for County Durham and spoke of the benefits and opportunities for jobs and training for the people of County Durham.


In relation to statement issued by the government relating to local government finance, Councillor Martin informed the Council that he had already made representation on the issue and agreed that a system which would generate monies to already affluent areas was simply not fair and would be lobbying further for the introduction of a proper equalisation system.