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Agenda item

Leader's Report

Minutes:

The Leader informed Members that the Council had supported Armed Forces Day and the centenary of the Royal Air Force by flying the armed forces flag and the RAF Ensign at County Hall, as well as taking part in the RAF centenary service at the Cathedral.

 

On 5 July the main entrance to County Hall was lit up blue to mark the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the NHS.  Meanwhile, the Celebrating Durham message wall was currently on display at Spennymoor Leisure Centre and would move to Dalton Park Shopping Outlet in August.

 

The recently released annual tourism economic impact assessment showed continued positive growth in Durham County with visitors up by 2.4% and visitor expenditure up by 5% on 2016.  Almost 20 million people visited County Durham and the numbers employed, directly or indirectly, in tourism also rose by 5% on 2016.

 

Binchester Roman Fort had reopened to the public after essential improvement work which included the installation of a new wooden structure to protect and preserve the Roman bathhouse.  The new structure included painted murals that would have been used to decorate the original building.

 

At the end of June Man Engine, the largest mechanical puppet ever constructed in Britain, came to Willington as part of its national tour.  Supported by Northern Heartlands, Durham County Council, Three Towns AAP and Willington Town Council the event was attended by an estimated 6,000 people, celebrating the mining history of the Willington community.

 

The Durham City Run would take place tonight and the Brass Festival would culminate at the weekend with Streets of Brass in Durham City.  Throughout the week the Big Brass Bash programme had visited towns across County Durham, including Peterlee, Crook, Shildon, Spennymoor and Newton Aycliffe before the finale at Wharton Park.

 

The Leader paid tribute to all staff and especially those from Neighbourhood Services who had the task of clearing up after these events.  Their efforts, such as those after 200,000 people attended the Miners Gala, were hugely appreciated and shone a very positive light on the Council.

 

During the first week of the Great Exhibition of the North the Leader gave a presentation which included some of County Durham’s great successes at the North East Cultural Partnership ‘Thinking International’ event at the Sage, Gateshead, which brought together more than 100 arts, heritage, university and business representatives for a strategic discussion about Brexit and the cultural sector in the North East.  While Brexit was now only a few months away, with many issues still to be resolved, the key priority must remain the economy and jobs.

 

To this end a six week County Durham Plan consultation was now underway.  A series of activities were taking place to encourage residents to give their feedback.  Activities included public events, social media, bus shelter adverts, radio adverts and leafleting at events with a high footfall.  The consultation ended on 3 August 2018.

 

Consultation on the Chester-le-Street Masterplan was also underway and would run until 3 August, the consultation on the Bishop Auckland Masterplan would run until 20 August and the consultation on the Horden Masterplan closed on 5 July.

 

Members and staff had the opportunity to get an early view of the proposed new council headquarters ahead of the public pre-application consultation events which were held in Durham City and Freemans Quay.  The reason for moving headquarters was to clear the Aykley Heads site for a new business park and 6,000 new jobs.  Developments such as this and others across County Durham were essential to the future of County Durham.  This was why the Council was promoting a second ‘My Future is County Durham’ video across its platforms and local press.  As part of the Council’s commitment to promote and facilitate high quality career opportunities for the future it had a focus on the office space of the future, promoting jobs linked to a range of industries including precision engineering, finance, photonics and the space and satellite application industries.

 

A key part of the Council’s plans also included more staff being relocated to other key sites across County Durham as the new HQ building had been designed to be substantially smaller than the present County Hall.  It was already very positive to see the increased number of staff working at Crook since the refit of the offices there and more staff would locate to offices across the County, such as Seaham, Meadowfield, and Green Lane, Spennymoor which would spread the economic benefits across the whole County.

 

The County had enjoyed a fine summer of events and also weather and the Leader hoped that this would continue in the weeks to come and hoped all members could enjoy some time off during the August recess before the next council meeting in September.

 

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