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Agenda item

Leader's Report


The Council noted a report of the Leader of the Council as follows:

·        The annual Durham Miners Gala had attracted a crowd of up to two hundred thousand.  The Leader paid tribute to council staff in the Clean and Green Team who worked tirelessly during and after the Gala to keep the streets clean and tidy, doing a tremendous job which was often taken for granted.  The Leader also praised the flower displays in the City to celebrate mining heritage with the Gilesgate roundabout flowerbed celebrating 150 years of the Durham Miners’ Association and a 3D flowerbed including Miners’ Lamps at Prince Bishops roundabout.  Additionally, an amazing green sculpture which was created outside the Chester le Street Riverside during the Cricket World Cup which attracted much national attention.


·        Congratulations were sent to Durham’s Ben Stokes, Mark Wood and the rest of the England team who won the Cricket World Cup for the first time ever.  The competition included three matches played at Riverside at the end of June and beginning of July which were all a major success.  An estimated 70,000 people from around the world came to County Durham to enjoy the Cricket World Cup, with the backdrop of Lumley Castle showcased to a huge global television audience.  Thousands had also enjoyed the free-to-enter Cricket World Cup fanzone split across Millennium Square and the Market Place in Durham City.


Two local heroes, Janice Nokni and Jan Vincent from the charity Aspire were chosen to lead the Cricket World Cup out at the first match due to their community work for women’s development


·        There were many events to look forward to in the #Durham19 Year of Culture, including the following.


The annual Brass festival was underway and the Leader was sure that colleagues would see one of the events over the next few days.


A Norman Cornish exhibition had recently opened at the Gala as part of his centenary celebrations, as well as an exhibition and walking trail in Spennymoor.


Kynren was well underway with performances every Saturday and Sunday evening into September.


The Flying Scotsman would be visiting Locomotion at Shildon from 26 July for just over two weeks.


The Durham City Run Festival would take place at the end of July and this year had been extended to a three-day celebration incorporating the annual Durham City Run and a new family activity headed-up by Paula Radcliffe, amongst other activities.


Ideas for things to do in the summer holidays could be found in the new summer guide which had been delivered to all households across the county.


In the Autumn the Durham Book Festival and The Take-Off Festival would take place and then it would be time for the tenth anniversary edition of Lumiere, which promised to be very special with a number of favourites returning alongside some new commissions.


Finally, the completion of The Auckland Project’s multi-million pound redevelopment of Auckland Castle was due later in the year.


·        An event was held in June to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Durham’s twinning with the university city of Tubingen in Germany.  Over the weekend of 6-7 July the Chair and the Leader were part of a delegation which visited the city.  Over the years many people had benefitted from the partnership.  A group of young people from Tubingen would help form one of the pieces for this year’s Lumiere when it was hoped to welcome the mayor of the city to Durham. The Leader provided the Council with the following inward investment update. A major new housing and development scheme in East Durham had been given garden village status by the Government.  The South Seaham Garden Village was a partnership between the Council, Tolent and Home Group and was located close to the A19, Dalton Retail Park and the coast.  It would bring 1,500 new homes, half of which would be affordable and work was expected to begin early next year with the first new homes being available by 2020.  It was anticipated that the development would crate around 1,000 jobs, including 500 new construction jobs and 300 jobs in the centre of the village.


Work had commenced on junction 61 of the A1(M) at Bowburn as part of the Integra 61 development which would see 101 acres of industrial units and 270 new homes constructed in the area.  Under the £4.5 million road scheme, which had been funded by the Council, Highways England and Roadchef, new lanes would be constructed and current lanes widened to increase capacity.  Traffic lights would be installed at the junction by the Roadchef services to control the flow of traffic around the A688 junction and improve road safety.


Planning permission had been granted for the new multi-million pound Jade Business Park next to the A19 and Dalton Park which could see the creation of more than 2,500 jobs in County Durham.


Bishop Auckland was one of 51 local areas chosen to progress to the next round of the Future High Streets Fund.  The Council would receive £150,000 of funding to work up detailed project proposals to regenerate and transform the town centre, and if successful, would eventually receive multi-million pound funding to complete the project.


New retailers were moving in to Durham City, including the letting of the former M&S and BhS units, which followed the opening of the new Odeon Luxe cinema at The Riverwalk.  Work had started on the fist phase of the Milburngate development which would involve the construction of 70% of the development and would include a number of nationally recognised leisure operators.


·          A scheme that aimed to improve County Durham’s woodlands had been awarded £434,200 of funding.  The Durham Woodland Revival project had been awarded the funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to restore and reconnect woodland in the county.  The funding would enable the Council to work with Woodland Trust, Northwoods, Wear Rivers Trust and the Forestry Commission to bring neglected and under-managed woodland back into good condition and to boost woodland cover over a four-year period, starting in the summer.


·          Consultation for the County Durham Partnerships new vision which set out the Council’s ambitions for the county for the next ten years was open until 30 July.  The draft proposal had been taken to AAP and partnership meetings across the county.  Consultation had also been taking place on the new History Centre for County Durham based at Mount Oswald and this remained open until 28 July.


·          Consultation on the Horden Masterplan had concluded.  Feedback was being analysed before the next steps would be announced.


·          The annual Dying to be Cool campaign was underway for the fourth year.  School assemblies were taking place across the county teaching young people about cold water shock and the dangers of jumping in to open water.  Fiona Gosling, whose son Cameron tragically died after jumping in to the River Wear in 2015 continued to front the campaign, along with Cameron’s brother Cyle and the Leader thanked Fiona and her family for their continued bravery and efforts to raise awareness.  The message had been delivered to over 15,000 school children since the campaign launched in 2016.


·          The Leader reported the following commendations and awards


The Council was a finalist in the Health and Integration category of the 2019 Municipal Journal Achievement Awards for its approach to co-commissioned support for young offenders or young people at risk of offending.  The Council was also commended in the Awards for its approach to digital and online services and achieving better outcomes via the Area Action Partnerships.


The Durham Works Awards held in May provided the opportunity to celebrate the outstanding achievements of young people who had overcome significant barriers to progress into education, employment and training.  Durham Works was the Council’s ground breaking European funded programme which supported young people in County Durham.


The Adult Learning and Skills Service Festival held on 4 July also celebrated the outstanding achievements of individuals whose lives had been transformed through engaging in learning.  The Adult and Learning Skills Service delivered apprenticeships, adult skills and community learning across the whole of County Durham, in particular supporting people who were least likely to participate in learning.


The Celebrate Me awards ceremony were held on 3 July for children and young people who were looked after by Durham County Council either with foster carers or in a residential children’s care home.  The event was organised by the Children in Care Council and celebrated the achievements of children and young people who, despite facing many adverse experiences, had made remarkable progress in areas such as education, sports, personal or creative arts.


·          The Leader reported that Margaret Whellans, the Council’s outgoing Director of Children’s Services, was attending her last Council meeting before leaving the Council in August.  The Leader thanked Margaret for her hard work and passed on best wishes for her retirement.  John Pearce, the new Corporate Director of Children and Young People’s Services was due to start in September.


·          Finally, the Leader hoped that all colleagues were able to take some time off over the summer after another very busy year.


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