In the Constituency

Roberta has today welcomed the news that over 10,000 smart meters have already been installed in homes in the City of Durham constituency, and has encouraged other residents to consider having them installed free of charge to help them manage their energy costs.

Smart meters replace traditional meters and come with a smart energy monitor, showing how much energy is being used and the cost in pounds and pence, in near real-time. Smart meters also mean an end to estimated bills as they automatically send meter readings to the supplier.

As part of the UK Government’s Smart Meters Bill, all homes and businesses in Britain are being offered smart meters by the end of 2020. To find out more about having smart meters installed for free in your home, visit www.britishgas.co.uk/smart. 

Roberta said:

“Getting a smart meter installed for free means that people can track how much gas and electricity they are using, and help keep their energy bills down. It’s positive to hear that many homes here have already embraced this technology.

I’d encourage everyone in Durham to find out more about how smart meters can help them to manage their energy use around the home.” 

Roberta encourages residents to get smart about energy this Spring

Roberta has today welcomed the news that over 10,000 smart meters have already been installed in homes in the City of Durham constituency, and has encouraged other residents to consider...

Roberta Blackman-Woods, MP for the City of Durham has today welcomed the decision of Durham Constabulary to request a review of the premises licence of Missoula in Durham City.

Following the death of Olivia Burt outside Missoula on Wednesday 7 February 2018, a joint investigation into the incident was launched by Durham County Council and Durham Police. Although investigations are still ongoing, the police have now requested that the council review the premises licence of Missoula, to address concerns relating to the prevention of crime and disorder, and public safety. Following this request, Roberta has written to Durham County Council to support this move, and to call for a wider review into the licensing policy for Durham City.

Roberta said:

“I am pleased to hear that Durham Constabulary has asked for a review of Missoula’s premises licence, and have contacted Durham County Council to support this request and to call for a wider review in the city centre.

I and others have raised the issue of public safety with the local authority for many years, particularly with reference to the number of establishments in the Walkergate development with late licences. While this request by the police is a welcome move to address concerns with this particular premises, it is vital that this is not dealt with as an isolated case.

As I have pointed out to the council on a number of occasions, a blanket licensing policy for the whole county is not appropriate, and does not take into account the unique challenges of a compact city centre such as Durham.

Following this request from the police, I have asked Durham County Council to carry out a review of its licensing policy for Durham, as the wider issues such as the suitability of the locations for many of the licensed establishments in Durham, public safety and the management of the night time economy still remain.”

Roberta backs Missoula Review

Roberta Blackman-Woods, MP for the City of Durham has today welcomed the decision of Durham Constabulary to request a review of the premises licence of Missoula in Durham City. Following...

Roberta Blackman-Woods, MP for the City of Durham has today welcomed the decision of the Home Office to grant two Durham University academics, Dr Ernesto Schwartz-Marin and Dr Arely Cruz-Santiago, indefinite leave to remain in the UK, despite initially saying they must leave the country. The family has lived in the UK with their daughter for 11 years.

Following the decision to refuse their recent visa application, Roberta and others contacted the Immigration Minister and the Home Office to ask that this decision was reconsidered, and was delighted that the family has now been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

Roberta said:

“I am so pleased that common sense has prevailed, and that Ernesto and Arely have been granted leave to remain in the UK. This seemed a particularly unfair decision, as this work in Mexico is part of their roles at the University.

It was also heartening to see the huge amount of support that the family received from people in Durham and across the UK. It was clear from the correspondence I received that they are really valued members of the local community, and my thanks go to everyone who took the time to contact me to show their support for the family.

Despite the initial decision to refuse their application, my thanks also go to the Home Office for the quick response both I and the family received once this refusal was challenged, and the speed with which they reviewed the decision. I am delighted at the positive outcome.”

Roberta welcomes decision on Durham Academics

Roberta Blackman-Woods, MP for the City of Durham has today welcomed the decision of the Home Office to grant two Durham University academics, Dr Ernesto Schwartz-Marin and Dr Arely Cruz-Santiago,...

Roberta has today spoken of her disappointment at the announcement that Marks and Spencer is set to close its Durham City store in April 2018.

In a statement released today, Marks and Spencer has announced that this closure is part of its drive to modernise its estate, and that all 48 staff who are currently employed in Durham will be moving to other stores.

Roberta had already called a meeting with senior officers from Durham County Council to discuss the future of Durham City Centre tomorrow, and will be highlighting the need for Durham to be an attractive location for retailers as well cultural and leisure services.

She said:

“I am very sad to hear that Marks and Spencer will be closing its Durham City store in April this year, however this news was not unexpected.

Despite the good news that all staff will be redeployed to other locations, the loss of this flagship store will be a further blow to residents of the city and surrounding villages.

It is vital that Durham remains a vibrant and attractive centre for residents, tourists and visitors. Losing such retailers to out of town shopping centres means there is a greater pull away from the city, and I will be meeting with officers from Durham County Council tomorrow to discuss this.”

MP disappointed at M&S closure in Durham City

Roberta has today spoken of her disappointment at the announcement that Marks and Spencer is set to close its Durham City store in April 2018. In a statement released today,...

Roberta has recently welcomes the result of the ballot held in Durham City asking residents if a new Parish Council should be formed for the central areas of Durham City.

Durham County Council carried out the consultation after receiving a petition from Roberta and local residents requesting that people in the central unparished areas of the city be consulted on the formation of a new town council.

As part of the consultation, Durham County Council sent documents to more than 11,700 residents and stakeholders asking them for their opinions on two options – creating a City of Durham Parish Council or maintaining existing arrangements.

Once the ballot papers were counted, the local authority confirmed that sixty six percent of residents who took part in the consultation voted in favour of Parish Council. Durham County Council will now vote on draft recommendations to start the process of setting up a Parish Council when they meet in June.

Roberta said:

"I am delighted to learn that the residents of Durham have voted in favour of creating a Parish Council in the City Centre. Almost all of the City of Durham constituency is already parished, and I believe this decision will give people who live in Durham the chance to benefit from more local representation.

I would like to thank all the volunteers who helped in going door-to-door with the petition, as it was their hard work in campaigning for a Parish Council that started this process. I would also like to offer my thanks to everyone who not only signed the petition, but took the time to return their ballot papers.

Thanks should also go to Durham County Council for acting so swiftly in arranging this consultation process once the petition was received, and I look forward to reading the draft recommendations that the local authority will publish prior to their meeting in June.”

Roberta welcomes Town Council vote

Roberta has recently welcomes the result of the ballot held in Durham City asking residents if a new Parish Council should be formed for the central areas of Durham City....

Roberta Blackman-Woods, MP for the City of Durham, has contacted Durham County Council and Durham University to once again raise the issue of waste bins in Durham City.

Along with local residents, Roberta has regularly raised the issue of waste overflowing from bins in the city centre, and often sprawling across pavements and streets. Roberta has contacted Durham University as a significant number of properties across the city are in use as Houses of Multiple Occupation by students, and has called on Durham County Council to work with the University to tackle this problem.

Roberta said:

“Having waste bins overflowing anywhere is simply unacceptable, and I have asked Durham County Council what steps can be taken to ensure this issue is dealt with. Not only is this extremely unsightly, but this waste is often left in the street for days before collection, and it creates an environmental health hazard for residents of the city.

I have contacted Durham University about this issue as well, as the number of student HMOs throughout Durham can exacerbate this problem, simply due to the number of occupants in these properties. I feel that the University also has some role to play in ensuring that our city is kept clean and tidy, and remains an attractive and safe place to live.

I look forward to hearing from both the local authority and the University in due course about what action can be taken to eradicate this problem.”

MP highlights problems with bins in Durham streets

Roberta Blackman-Woods, MP for the City of Durham, has contacted Durham County Council and Durham University to once again raise the issue of waste bins in Durham City. Along with...

Roberta has recently voiced her support for the campaign for a Parish Council Durham City Centre, and has urged local residents to take part in the Community Governance Review currently being undertaken by Durham County Council.

Durham County Council began consulting with local residents on 6 February and electors in the Neville's Cross, Elvet and Gilesgate and part of the Durham South wards have until 6 March 2017 to return their ballot papers indicating whether they support the formation of a new Parish Council within the central, unparished areas of the city.

The Community Governance Review came about following the submission of a petition by Roberta and local campaigners calling on the local authority to reassess the way the city is governed. The petition was signed by over 1600 residents who expressed their wish for more local representation in Durham.

Roberta said:

“I am delighted that Durham County Council are running a consultation on the formation of a Parish Council for Durham, and as MP I will be taking a strong stance to support this. Most of the City of Durham constituency is already parished, and I believe that the residents who signed the petition have a valid argument in requesting the same level of local governance as the rest of the constituency.

I do hope that local residents will support the campaign for a Town Council, and I urge everyone to take part in this consultation and return their ballot papers before 6 March 2017.”

Campaigning for a Parish Council in Durham City

Roberta has recently voiced her support for the campaign for a Parish Council Durham City Centre, and has urged local residents to take part in the Community Governance Review currently...

Roberta has welcomed the decision by Durham County Council to begin consultation on new regulations aimed to reduce the number of To Let boards on residential streets in Durham.

A voluntary scheme for landlords was introduced in 2009, which limited each landlord to one board per street, however there has been a recent increase of breaches of this voluntary code.

The new regulations currently being consulted on would remove current rights of landlords to display To Let boards without seeking consent from the local authority first, and local residents have the opportunity to say whether they would prefer to retain the voluntary code, or whether Durham County Council should apply to the Government for a Regulation Seven Direction to formalise the controls on To Let boards.

Residents can take part in the consultation by visiting www.durham.gov.uk/consultation or attending a drop in event organised by Durham County Council at the Town Hall, Durham Market Place on Monday 16 January 2017 between 3.30pm and 7.30pm.

 Roberta said:

“I am delighted that Durham County Council have now begun consulting on tighter regulations to curb the number of To Let boards in Durham, as along with local residents I have campaigned for a Regulation 7 Direction in Durham for some time. Having held a number of discussions with landlords and residents, and undertaken surveys on the impact of To Let boards over a number of years, it was clear that the voluntary scheme needed strengthening.

I have raised this issue with the Council, and have regularly discussed steps that have been taken in comparable cities around the country, with a view to introducing similar measures in Durham. 

Durham should be doing everything it can to make the city attractive for visitors and residents alike, and a preponderance of To Let Boards can be very unattractive indeed, and I very much look forward to working with Durham County Council and local residents to tackle this issue in the near future, and I urge members of the public to engage with this consultation.”

MP welcomes consultation on To Let boards in Durham City

Roberta has welcomed the decision by Durham County Council to begin consultation on new regulations aimed to reduce the number of To Let boards on residential streets in Durham. A...

Roberta Blackman-Woods, MP for the City of Durham has welcomed the decision by Durham County Council to approve a planning application for a new emergency department at the University Hospital of North Durham.

The local authority’s County Planning Committee unanimously approved plans for the new £30 million department, which will double the capacity of the existing A&E department. The new development will also include new urgent care facilities, as well as a larger paediatric department.

Roberta said:

“I am very pleased that Durham County Council have approved this planning application, as I have been urging the hospital to expand the A&E department for a very long time. I hope that work can begin on this development as soon as possible, to help alleviate the pressure the existing department is having to deal with.

Although the staff at the hospital do a wonderful job, it has been clear for some time that the demand for emergency services has outgrown the existing facilities, and this was a necessary decision by the local authority to allow the hospital to continue to provide the high level of care that patients need.”  

New Year brings good news for the University Hospital of North Durham A&E

Roberta Blackman-Woods, MP for the City of Durham has welcomed the decision by Durham County Council to approve a planning application for a new emergency department at the University Hospital...

Last month, I was invited to take part in a debate hosted by the Durham Union Society on the topic of grammar schools. 

Debating the establishment of new grammar schools

Last month, I was invited to take part in a debate hosted by the Durham Union Society on the topic of grammar schools.  Read more

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