Archive for July, 2011

“Closing centres will put our health at risk” From The Advertiser Series

THE North-East’s largest council has been accused of putting sports clubs and children’s health at risk by closing three leisure centres.

On Thursday evening, more than 60 angry youngsters staged a noisy protest outside Sherburn Leisure Centre against Durham County Council’s plan to close the centre – and those in Crook and Ferryhill.

The Labour-run council, which faces £125m of cuts over four years, voted to close the three centres earlier this month.

But sports club leaders say the decision puts their future in doubt and the young protestors say their views were ignored.

Andrew Dixon, from Sherburn Vipers tae kwon do club, which has 30 members, said: “If the centre closes, the club would probably cease to exist.

“We’re finding it difficult to find facilities elsewhere. We just want it to stay open, regardless of who runs it.”

Jayne Dixon, from Sherburn Gymnastics Club, which has 45 members aged from five to 15, said: “We’re absolutely devastated. We’ve got nowhere else to turn.”

Laura Reed, 15, who uses the centre’s gym every weekend, said: “I’m very upset.

There’s nowhere else I can use.”

Several community-led bids to take over the three centres, including three bids for Sherburn, were rejected by county councillors as unviable.

However, Sherburn Parish Council chairman Stuart Walton said its bid would be resubmitted, and The Northern Echo understands other bidders are similarly refusing to give up hope.

Council bosses say the centres are costly and need refurbishment and they want to support outdoor sports initiatives.

Terry Collins, the council’s corporate director of neighbourhoods, said it had consulted very widely with leisure centre users and clubs and would work with any clubs affected by closures.

“Our sport and leisure strategy is proof of our longterm commitment to not only continue to support grassroots sport and leisure activities, but to broaden what is on offer and bring it closer to more people,” he said.

The three leisure centres are due to close on Saturday, October 1.

Three other centres were saved. Pity Me’s will stay open on reduced hours, Deerness Gymnastics Club will turn Ushaw Moor’s into a gymnastics academy and Coxhoe Leisure Centre will be run by the community.

“Closing centres will put our health at risk”


Stables owner devastated after arson attack on site

A GRANDMOTHER has been left devastated after arsonists burnt her stable block to the ground and endangered the life of a horse.

Kathleen McGee, who runs Durham Dressage, arrived to find the remains of the timber building, near Station Road, in Ushaw Moor, County Durham, being dampened down by firefighters.

Ms McGee, the manager of a nearby engineering firm, raced to the scene from her home in Newton Hall after she was alerted by a member of staff.

She said: “There was a lot of smoke, but when that cleared, there was nothing left. It was total devastation.

“I cannot get my head round why anyone would do this deliberately, especially when there was a horse in the yard. It is totally senseless, almost barbaric.”

Ms McGee’s two horses, Trinity and Ellie Mae, were grazing in a nearby field at the time.

Flynn, a yearling colt Irish draft horse that has an injured hind leg and was being looked after for a friend, was in the stable yard, but escaped the flames by jumping a 4ft fence. He was later found in a nearby field.

Ms McGee said: “I was more worried about him than the stables. He was so terrified, you could not go near him for a while until he had calmed down.”

The fire broke out at about 8.45pm on Monday, July 11.

Ms McGee has stabled horses there for ten years and rebuilt the facilities three years ago at a cost of £8,000.

She has already had to deal with five raids by thieves, during which about £2,000 worth of equestrian equipment was stolen.

Ms McGee said that about £3,500 worth of equipment had been destroyed in the blaze and has been told that her insurance will not cover the building and may not cover the equipment.

Ms McGee, who has raised £4,000 for charity over the years with dressage competitions, said: “I have lost everything.”

Her daughters are organising a clean-up operation.

Anyone who would like to help is asked to go to the Durham Dressage’s website at Anyone with information about the fire is asked to call police on 0345-60-06-365.

From The Northern Echo READ MORE

Ushaw Moor defeat Aycliffe u18’s

Newton Aycliffe’s under 18’s were defeated by 8 wickets away at Ushaw Moor in the Durham County Junior League. Batting first Aycliffe scored 73 for 8 in 20 overs with only Ben Nicholson (16 runs) and stand in captain James Layfield-Carroll (11 runs) reaching double figures. In reply the homeside dodged the showers and coasted to victory after 15.3 overs.


via Cricket Scoreboard 15-7-11.

Categories: sports

Potential for cash claw-back if leisure centres close (From The Northern Echo)

A COUNCIL may have to repay a large proportion of grants totalling £1.7m if a proposal to close leisure centres goes ahead.

Durham County Council will decide the fate of six leisure centres today.

The council’s cabinet will be asked to endorse recommendations to close leisure centres in Ferryhill, Sherburn and Crook, while retaining Abbey Leisure Centre, in Pity Me, with reduced opening hours.

They will be asked to support further negotiations with Deerness Gymnastics Club, which is bidding to run Deerness Leisure Centre, in Ushaw Moor, and the Future Leisure campaign’s proposal to run the centre in Coxhoe.

The recommendations come after a bitter 12-week public consultation in which residents voiced their anger over what many saw as the stripping of a vital service.

It has emerged that the council received grants from Sport England for two of the threatened centres – £1,379,786 for work at Ferryhill Leisure Centre and £327,032 for work at Deerness.

via Potential for cash claw-back if leisure centres close (From The Northern Echo).

YouTube – ‪Deerness Valley Gymnastics Gymfusion Performance 2011‬‏

YouTube – ‪Deerness Valley Gymnastics Gymfusion Performance 2011‬‏.

Uploaded by on Jul 12, 2011

A great day for all taking part in the Gymfusion display in Spennymoor 2nd July, 2011.

Work Underway creates HUBS in Ushaw Moor

Work is now under way to create hubs in Seaham, Peterlee, Stanley, Consett, Chester-le-Street, Ushaw Moor, Bishop Auckland, Newton Aycliffe and Ferryhill, and a hub in Barnard Castle is already in operation.

DURHAM County Council has reassured Crook families they will still receive important services, despite missing out on a new children’s hub. JULY 1 EDITION

The One Point scheme, which will see local authority and health services for young people brought together under one roof, had originally recommended creating 13 hubs in the county.

However, budget restraints forced Durham County Council and County Durham and Darlington NHS to reduce this figure to 10, meaning planned hubs in Crook, Thorney and Durham City were scrapped.
But Carole Payne, Head of Early Intervention and Partnerships at the Council, said local people would not lose out.

“Crook will still have a One Point service but we will be using the PCT building in Hope Street which is currently used as an outreach centre for Willington Sure Start,” she explained.

“The children and families of Crook will have access to the same services as other areas in County Durham with new buildings. This is just a case of the council and the NHS making best use of resources by using an existing building instead of building a new one.

“There will be no reduction in front line services as a result of the decision to reduce the number of hubs and the same number of staff will be employed in PCT building as would have been in the hub.”
One Point comes into effect in September and is aimed at giving young people and their families easier access to services including health visiting, school nursing, education psychology, education welfare, parenting support, careers guidance and youth work.

David Williams, Durham County Council’s Corporate Director of Children’s Services, said the system would result in better outcomes for young people and their families.

Work is now under way to create hubs in Seaham, Peterlee, Stanley, Consett, Chester-le-Street, Ushaw Moor, Bishop Auckland, Newton Aycliffe and Ferryhill, and a hub in Barnard Castle is already in operation.

More than 735 employees across the two organisations are affected by the restructure, including 490 local authority posts, with an expected reduction of 240.

However, the One Point teams will have 683 posts, including 188 newly created ones, which results in a net reduction of up to 52 county council posts.


via Full services but Crook’s hub lost , Wear Valley Mercury.

Categories: announcements, Education Tags:

Reprieve hope for leisure centres – Deerness Leisure Centre

THREE of six council-run leisure centres threatened with closure look likely to be saved, The Northern Echo can reveal.

Durham County Council chiefs will today recommend the closure of centres in Ferryhill, Crook and Sherburn, after concluding that none of the five bids to take over the running of the struggling facilities could be supported.

However, they will back further negotiations over Deerness Gymnastics Club’s plans to reopen Deerness Leisure Centre, in Ushaw Moor, as a gymnastics academy and a community bid to save the leisure centre at Coxhoe.

Abbey Leisure Centre, at Pity Me, looks likely to survive as a council-run facility with reduced opening hours.

Final decisions will be taken by the council’s cabinet next Wednesday.

The Deerness bid had been widely expected to win council support. But officials’ backing for the Future Leisure campaign in Coxhoe, which is supported by Coxhoe Parish Council, comes as a surprise after serious concerns were raised ten days ago.

The council now says it is “hopeful that, with more work, the bid can be moved forward”.

Pity Me’s facility is expected to survive after the council discovered a covenant agreement requiring it should continue as a sports facility until at least 2014. To cut costs, it will only be open at peak times.

The Labour-run council, which faces £125m of spending cuts over four years, including £67m this year, says closing all six leisure centres would save £1.3m a year, while selling the sites would raise about £3m.

Officials say all the authority’s leisure centres are lossmaking and it has more centres per head of population than neighbouring councils.

A 12-week public consultation on the closures ended in May, leading to ten groups submitting 19 takeover bids.

However, the only private company involved in the process, which wanted to run all six, withdrew after concluding they could not be run at a profit.

That left 13 bids from nine community-based groups.

Spectrum Leisure and Management, which runs Spectrum Leisure Centre, in Willington, bid for Sherburn, Coxhoe, Ferryhill and Pity Me, with other community bids for Crook, Sherburn and Pity Me.

While council officials say the bids for Deerness and Coxhoe meet the legal criteria regarding the transfer of staff and satisfy the requirement that the takeovers be at zero cost to the council, they have expressed concerns over the other submitted business plans.

These include supposedly over-ambitious income predictions, reliance on non-existent council funding and a failure to take account of employment law.

Speaking about all the recommendations, Terry Collins, the council’s corporate director of neighbourhood services, said: “I am sure many people may have expected all six to close and it is testament to a great deal of hard work that that looks less likely.”

He added: “We think this is a really good result. We’ve taken this process extremely seriously. We’ve worked very hard to encourage people to make bids.

“We’ve had all the private sector walk away, which has demonstrated the difficulty of running these centres.

“But we’ve worked with the bidders to try to come up with arrangements to satisfy all the requirements.

“We have ended up with nearly 95 per cent of residents still within ten minutes’ drive of a council-run leisure centre.

“We appreciate the disappointment of those bidders that haven’t been successful and we want to thank them for their contribution.

“But we have a responsibility as a council to ensure those bidders that go forward are realistic and can meet all the requirements.”

If the proposals are endorsed by the authority’s cabinet, those leisure centres earmarked for closure could shut, and the Ushaw Moor and Coxhoe centres be handed over to new operators, by October.

Reprieve hope for leisure centres (From The Northern Echo).

Categories: leisure, Local Business, sports