Remembering The Anniversary Of The First Covid Lockdown

Remembering The Anniversary Of The First Covid Lockdown

The Town Council would like to inform the public that it will be remembering the anniversary of the first Covid Lockdown on Tuesday 23rd March by lowering the Union Flag to half mast and lighting up the Town Hall yellow.  Further all staff will observe a one minute silence at 12 noon.  This is a mark of respect to remember those who have lost their lives to Covid over the past year.

Thank you.



Former Cllr Ben Ord

Former Cllr Ben Ord

It is with deep sadness and regret that the Town Council advise that former Cllr Ben Ord has passed away.

Ben was a dedicated public servant representing the people of Spennymoor from the 1980’s, serving as a Liberal Democrat councillor on Durham County Council, Sedgefield Borough Council and Spennymoor Town Council until as recently as 2013.

The Council would like to send its condolences and sympathies to his wife, daughter, family and friends.

As a mark of respect the Town Flag is being flown at half-mast.


Milestone Moment As Work To Begin At £400m Business Park For County Durham

Milestone Moment As Work To Begin At £400m Business Park For County Durham

Work is set to begin on a major business park for County Durham, paving the way for 4,000 new jobs and a £400 million boost to the economy.

Durham County Council is to begin work on the park at Aykley Heads, at Durham City, having already pledged £6 million to the project’s first phase. The remaining £6 million for phase one comes from the government’s Getting Building Fund, which aims to deliver jobs, skills and infrastructure across the country.

The milestone commencement of work has today been welcomed by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP,) North East England Chamber of Commerce and Durham University.

The vision for Aykley Heads is to create ‘A Development for a Different World’ – in recognition of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the way people work. It will offer a new and unique business location for the region that maximises economic growth in County Durham and delivers jobs in new and growing sectors. It is one of five designated strategic employment sites across the county and part of the council’s ambitious mission to provide more and better jobs, bridging the gap in economic performance with other parts of the UK.

Aykley Heads is also evidence of the council’s commitment to keeping major projects on track through the coronavirus pandemic, in recognition of how important they are to the county’s long-term economic future.

The site’s first two phases offer the prospect of a potential 4,000 jobs and it is estimated a further 1,800 will be supported in the construction of the park.

The first phase will see the creation of 3,500 square metres of flexible office space within a three-storey building and 124 car parking spaces to the north of the site.

Work on ‘Plot C’ will begin in the coming weeks with the commencement of groundworks ahead of the construction of the building.

Cllr Simon Henig, Leader of Durham County Council, said: “We are delighted to be starting work at Aykley Heads, a key strategic site which aims to deliver thousands of new high quality jobs for County Durham and the North East.

“Aykley Heads will offer ‘A Development for a Different World’ – in recognition of how the pandemic has changed the way people work. It will be a top-class destination for businesses by virtue of its location in a World Heritage City, excellent transport links and also the environment we are creating for staff which will be an attractive and environmentally friendly setting with plenty to enjoy indoors and out. We are also very pleased to be working with Durham University to explore how the park can deliver a unique digital offer for occupants.

“We know from our conversations with developers and investors that these are the kind of things they want in a business park and that there is strong interest from companies in being part of Aykley Heads. This will only be strengthened by County Durham being included in a national top ten recently for fintech growth.

“The start of work on site signals our desire to continue to deliver and support schemes which bring economic growth and more and better jobs. Projects like Aykley Heads will be key to ensuring resilience and our long-term recovery.”

The North East LEP is a public, private, and education sector partnership that covers Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland local authority areas. It manages the Getting Building Fund in the North East and has added to the money available by providing £8m from its North East Investment Fund.

Andrew Moffat CBE, Chair of the Investment Board at the North East LEP, said: “The £6m investment from the government’s Getting Building Fund will drive forward the creation of new Grade A office accommodation in County Durham, paving the way for more businesses to join this thriving business park.

“Already home to growing fintech company, Atom Bank, and the North East England Chamber of Commerce, Aykley Heads is one of the region’s fastest growing employment sites, attracting inward investment and creating more and better jobs for County Durham and North East England.

“This next phase in the development of Aykley Heads business park will create an initial 262 jobs and create hundreds more when the building opens.

“Along with the Milburngate development, Aykley Heads has helped position County Durham as a prime location for office space, and a great location to start and grow a business.”

A hybrid planning application for Aykley Heads was approved in December, giving full permission for Plot C and outline consent for the rest of the site.

 This includes land currently occupied by the council’s County Hall headquarters, with the authority having agreed to move to a new smaller headquarters in the heart of Durham City to pave the way for the business park. The new headquarters will provide a base for 1,000 council staff, boosting footfall and trade in the city centre, as well as in Crook, Seaham, Spennymoor and Meadowfield where other employees will be located.

The first two phases of Aykley Heads will when complete provide up to 38,468sq m of floorspace and be divided into six plots, with each providing office buildings and parking

spaces. ‘Character zoning’ will be used to create distinctiveness, while green spaces and paths will be provided for the enjoyment of workers, residents and visitors.

Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice-Chancellor of Durham University, said: “Durham University makes a significant positive contribution to the North East economy, worth around £600 million a year and supporting over 10,000 jobs. We are proud to be working closely with Durham County Council across a wide range of areas, to the benefit of our County and communities and to ensure that our economy recovers quickly from impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Aykley Heads project is an extremely exciting venture for our City, County and region. It will bring new, high-quality jobs in an attractive setting, with excellent links to the city, university and transport network. Along with other developments in the pipeline across the region, the Aykley Heads project will be another reason for our outstanding students to remain in the North East beyond graduation and make the region their home. We look forward to the development of strong collaborative research links to the Aykley Heads business base that are closely aligned to our research strengths and to support companies with their Continued Professional Development needs. We also see strong potential for siting new ventures arising from our staff spinouts and student start-up businesses. We look forward to working with Durham County Council to maximise its potential.”

Aykley Heads already benefits from close links to the A1, East Coast Main Line and other public transport, as well as cycling routes. These have already attracted a number of high profile firms to the vicinity, including the business and IT consultancy Waterstons, as well as Atom Bank and the chamber of commerce.

James Ramsbotham, chamber chief executive, said: “The Aykley Heads development will be eagerly anticipated by many aspiring businesses who desire quality commercial premises with outstanding transport links, so close to both the A1(M) and the East Coast Main Line, and in the proximity of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Together with all the planned developments nearby, this location will provide modern buildings with excellent hospitality nearby and all the other amenities that will complement the offer. The chance to provide such excellent facilities in Durham will attract high quality businesses from far and wide.  It is no coincidence that the chamber chose this position for our HQ thirty years ago and we now look forward to welcoming others to this outstanding site.”

County Durham boasts four other strategic employment sites, with Jade Business Park near Seaham, Integra 61 at Bowburn, and Forrest Park at Newton Aycliffe all welcoming their first tenants last year. The £5 million expansion of NETPark at Sedgefield, is also underway and set to create up to 1,400 jobs. In total, the five sites are set to bring 15,000 jobs to the county.

County Durham and Newcastle were recently named among the UK’s ten highest growth ‘clusters’ in fintech – financial services and technology.


Reinstate Mothballed Railway Line, Council Urges Government

Reinstate Mothballed Railway Line, Council Urges Government

The North East’s largest council is calling on the Government to reinstate a currently closed railway line, providing major economic, environmental and social benefits to the region in the process.

The East Coast Main Line (ECML) is of critical importance to the area’s transport network, but a key concern remains the two-track section between Northallerton and Newcastle. It forms a major capacity constraint on the route north of York, making it increasingly difficult to cater for expected passenger growth and for future HS2 (High Speed 2) and NPR (Northern Powerhouse Rail) services.

An important first step in providing the necessary extra capacity would be through the reinstatement of the Leamside Line, which runs for 18 miles from the Tursdale Junction near Ferryhill in County Durham to Pelaw in Gateshead.

The line was mothballed in 1991, as it was believed then that the upgraded line provided sufficient capacity for predicted demand. However, the number of rail passengers has increased beyond forecasts and there is an urgent need for more rail capacity in the North East.

By 2033 the demand for travel to London is expected to have almost doubled compared with current usage.

Furthermore, it is proposed that HS2 trains will use a dedicated alignment from London/Birmingham to south of York before joining the ECML to Newcastle. Ensuring the rail network in the North East is ‘HS2 ready’ before the mid 2030s is fundamental for the success of the project in this area, but it is not possible using existing infrastructure.

Similar and along the same timeframe as HS2, Transport for the North is developing plans to enable a frequent high-speed rail service, NPR, connecting the North’s main economic centres. The plan is to double the number of pan northern services to four trains per hour. Thus, by the mid 2030s there is a need to increase the current ECML capacity by 50 per cent. Constraints already affecting the ECML between Newcastle and Northallerton will only be exacerbated by HS2/NPR.

The importance of re-opening this line has been noted in work by Network Rail, Highways England, Transport for the North (as part of the Northern Powerhouse agenda) the Strategic Economic Plan for the North East LEP, the emerging North East Transport Plan and several Local Development Plans in the North East. The benefits of reopening the line were independently examined in 2014, concluding that it would represent a relatively low-cost investment in transport infrastructure in the region, serving multiple functions.

This work is being refreshed and a bid to the Restoring Your Railway fund for further development work is being readied for submission on Friday 5 March.

Today, Cllr Carl Marshall, Durham County Council Cabinet member for economic regeneration, who also represents Durham on the North East JTC and is the North East board member for Transport for the North (TfN), the North’s statutory transport body, called on the Government to commit to re-opening the Leamside Line.

He said: “With stations on the East Coast Main Line corridor at Durham City and Darlington, County Durham benefits from regular direct fast links to Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, London the West Midlands and the South West.

“There are however severe capacity constraints arising on the ECML, in part from the mix of traffic types, in particular high-speed passenger and slow-moving freight on the two track railway north of Northallerton. Currently, trains of similar speeds are run together north of York to maximise capacity, however this prevents an even spread of passenger services through the hour.

“The reinstatement of the Leamside Line would be a strategically important piece of transport infrastructure for the North East, relieving the existing two track railway between Darlington and Newcastle. It could also enable a number of potential new stations in the council area, for example, at Ferryhill, Belmont Park and Ride and Fencehouses.

“Not only would the reinstatement of the line contribute towards wider economic growth, it would increase resilience to disruption on the ECML and ease pressure on the region’s largest road bottleneck – the A1(M) at Newcastle-Gateshead.

“The council fully supports the re-opening of the Leamside Line and along with colleagues on the North East Joint Transport Committee we are calling for increased capacity on the ECML corridor north of York to accommodate future growth in train services including HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail. We also participate in the East Coast Main Line Authorities group which calls for investment along the entire ECML.

“We hope that we will see progress on this vitally important project soon.”


Launch of public conversations regarding Shotley Bridge Community Hospital

NHS County Durham CCG has launched further public conversations in relation to the clinical model for services at Shotley Bridge Community Hospital. This engagement and the opportunities for people to join the conversation will run until the end of March 2021.

During this period of engagement the CCG want to talk to people and find out their views on how future services will be delivered by a new clinical model that has been developed by working with partners in the hospital trust. There will also be opportunities to discuss future potential estate solutions.

You can see a range of materials on the CCG website which include a video presentation from NHS staff about the context and updated clinical model being discussed.

Sharing your views
You can share your views through the online survey, as part of the 8 public events or by contacting the CCG directly ( or by answerphone on 0191 389 8609) where you can share comments directly and request paper copies of the documentation if required.

Public events
As a result of social distancing restrictions the planned events will need to be held online at this time. If you are interested in joining any of the sessions below, please get in touch with the CCG by phone or email (above) to register your place and they will provide the full details for joining the sessions.

  • Wednesday 3 March, 3.30- 5pm –Urgent Care / Diagnostics
  • Thursday 4 March, 5 – 6.30pm –Chemotherapy and Medical Investigations
  • Tuesday 9 March, 2.30 – 4pm –Inpatient beds
  • Wednesday 10 March, 5 – 6.30pm -Outpatients (including therapies, women’s services, Minor surgery)
  • Wednesday 17 March, 10 – 11.30am –Outpatients (including therapies, women’s services, Minor surgery)
  • Wednesday 17 March, 5 – 6.30pm –Urgent Care / Diagnostics
  • Thursday 18 March, 10 – 11.30am –Chemotherapy and Medical Investigations
  • Tuesday 23 March, 5 – 6.30pm –Inpatient beds


Providing comments/ questions
You can also share any comments or questions you wish to put forward in relation to each of the service areas that are included in the clinical model through the links below. The CCG will aim to then pick up comments made as part of future Frequently Asked Questions and any updates that are provided.