Durham deemed the UK’s greenest city
Durham is the UK’s greenest city, according to solar technology specialists, The Solar Centre, based on 10 green criteria including waste management, air quality, carbon emissions and green spaces.
Swansea came second, and Newcastle ranked third.
A significant factor was the score for air quality, with Durham seeing a 47 per cent carbon emission reduction between 2009 and 2019, and we scored well in availability of green spaces and parks too.
Cllr John Clare “We are pleased to receive this recognition for our work to combat climate change, which is a testimony to the amazing work of the council’s environment and low carbon teams. “We declared a Climate Emergency in February 2019, which committed us to an 80 per cent reduction in council emissions by 2030 and to making the county carbon neutral by 2050.
“We are constantly implementing ways to tackle climate change from innovative angles. This includes helping businesses and residents become more energy efficient, and integrating clean technology in our county’s infrastructure.”
Find out more about what Durham County Council is doing to reduce its carbon footprint.
Durham’s kind-hearted messages for Council & NHS
“I am more grateful than I can say, and thank them from the bottom of my heart for everything they did and all with such gentleness and professionalism.”
“We really are very grateful to you and cannot stress how much of a difference it has made to us this week just knowing we’re not alone in these worrying times.”
Hundreds of similar messages of gratitude for Council and NHS workers during the lockdown were received, and The Council thanks everyone for their obedience.
The Council has been striving to ensure the essential services it provides for you are reduced as little as possible by the lockdown, such as collecting bins, or caring for vulnerable children and adults.
Jenny Payne’s mother is the main carer for her 92-year-old husband, who is blind, and because of the lockdown, Jenny was unable to travel from her home in Cumbria to help when mother was admitted to hospital following a suspected stroke.
Jenny called the emergency duty team (EDT), which arranged a care package for her father within 24 hours.
Jenny said: “I will never be able to thank them enough because they supported me whilst I was in a panic and so upset. They were so calm, and they were just completely practical and helpful.”
Two more thank you messages came for the pest control team.
“All sorted thank you. He was in the area and came back and what amazing service I have had today on the text, the phone and from the officer…outstanding please pass that on to all involved.”
“She told me you reassured her she can enjoy her garden, even though she cannot see her grandchildren.
She was getting emotional, and she nearly had me in tears, her last words to me were she loves us and the job we do.”
Cllr Andrea Patterson said: “On behalf of all our staff, I’d like to say a heartfelt thank you to all the residents for their kind messages of support.
“We truly have an amazing workforce and that has never been more apparent than in the current climate, and I would like to pass on my gratitude to all our staff for everything they are doing to continue providing services to residents.
“It is always rewarding for staff to receive thanks and positive feedback from the public – the volume of messages has been overwhelming and is greatly appreciated. They make such a difference to those delivering services on the front line and those working behind the scenes to keep things running as smoothly as possible in these challenging times.”
Council encourages businesses to apply for support
Businesses in are being encouraged to seek financial support after nearly 7,500 grants were paid out totalling almost £83m.
The Council is inviting local companies to apply for Business Support Grants to ease the financial burden they may be facing during the government lockdown, where they meet the government’s eligibility criteria.
The council has to date paid out 7,466 grants totalling some £82.700m – 85.57 per cent of the total originally estimated. It is working hard to increase the numbers of businesses that will be supported above the original estimate of 8,700.
These figures are the highest of any local authority in the North East in terms of the percentage of grants paid, and eight highest nationally. In terms of the number and value of grants paid to date, the council is third nationally.
The council and its economic development arm Business Durham have been approaching companies which were not originally identified as eligible for the grants to encourage them to apply, where they can demonstrate they meet the government’s eligibility criteria.
Cllr Carl Marshall said: “We are really pleased to have paid out more than £80m in grants so far to help more than 7,000 county businesses.”
One of the key eligibility criteria is that a business must have been occupying a qualifying business premises that was listed in the council’s rating list at 11 March.
Businesses can find out whether they are eligible and get more information by visiting http://www.durham.gov.uk/ndrgrants
Coxhoe based luxury wedding dress boutique Alice Elizabeth Couture is one of the 7,442 county companies to have benefited from a grant so far. Boutique owner Elizabeth Harker-Smith has already starred in a video talking about the grant for the Cabinet Office. twitter.com/cabinetofficeuk/status/1252541893948452864
Durham and Darlington Councils Encourage People to be Good Lockdown Neighbours
With the continuing government lockdown and major events like BAFF being cancelled well into summer, we have to help ourselves as services such as doctors, firemen and police won’t be so available.
Durham County and Darlington Borough Councils are working with their partners to share advice and tips to support you during through the lockdown.
With some vulnerable people having to isolate themselves for a period of 12 weeks in order to be shielded from the virus, residents are being urged to be good neighbours.
People are advised to accept help from family, friends and neighbours where possible, with some ways of supporting each other including offering to collect essential food items or prescriptions on their behalf. Local GPs or pharmacies may also be able to arrange a delivery for prescriptions.
Offering emotional support is another part of supporting neighbours. Many people are feeling anxious or worried as a result of the pandemic and a simple conversation over the fence or on the telephone could make a big difference to someone who is feeling isolated.
Anyone in need of extra support or feeling more isolated can also access the two virtual
community hubs linking them to existing local services.
Cllr Lucy Hovvels MBE said: “It is more important than ever to look out for each other. As the lockdown period continues many people, especially those who are vulnerable, will feel increasingly anxious and isolated.
“Simple and safe steps to keep in touch with those people, offer to collect some essentials for them, or even to point them towards our community hubs if they need more support, will make a big difference in helping them feel more comfortable.”
Councillor Jonathan Dulston said: “I am proud that, in Darlington, we are seeing and hearing about wonderful examples of good neighbourliness and people looking out for one another.
“The council has been working closely with community groups and hundreds of people have volunteered to help vulnerable people as part of the Darlington Cares: Community initiative. That’s great to see. There’s never been a better time to get to know your neighbours, especially if they may be vulnerable, in a socially-distanced way of course. All the examples of people helping one another really have been heart-warming to see.”
At a time when the fire service is unable to carry out usual community visits, County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service (CDDFRS) is asking people to remind elderly or vulnerable friends and neighbours to keep checking their smoke alarms and be mindful of fire safety in the home and garden.
Graeme Metcalf said: “Being a good neighbour can be as simple as being considerate if you are having a garden fire and when you’re having that chat over the fence or at the bottom of the drive, asking if they are OK, or need any help or just reminding people to double check their smoke alarms are working; that in itself could save someone’s life.”
CDDFRS is asking you to refrain from burning their garden waste until normal waste disposal services resume. Garden fires could get out of hand and put people at risk, and your neighbours could be using their gardens for the only fresh air that they are permitted.
Other ways to support neighbours include reporting any suspicious behaviour to the police or taking part in neighbourhood watch schemes. Durham Constabulary is also reminding people that they can be a good neighbour digitally, as well.
Supt Richie Allen said: “The message about staying safe doesn’t just apply to people going out and about. At a time when many more of us are looking to social media and video platforms to stay connected, we would urge people to remember how to stay safe online.
“Make sure you are using recognised platforms to connect with people, don’t share large amounts of personal information online – even if it is a fun Facebook quiz and try to stay aware of scams. If you hear about scams or issues, remember to tell your friends and neighbours about them as part of being a good ‘digital’ neighbour too.”
More advice on how to support your neighbours is available here.