I was born, and spent the first nine years of my life, in Byers Green before moving to Fern Grove in Middlestone Moor. I lived there until I got married to my wife Kathy, and we have lived all our married life in Spennymoor; the last thirty three years on Mayfields. We have been married for forty three years and have two children, Lisa and Kevin. Lisa is the mother of our ten year old granddaughter Carrera, and lives in Spennymoor; while Kevin, recently married, lives in Dubai. My father Adam, coming up 97 is well and living independently in Middlestone Moor, he is an inspiration to everyone.
I worked for forty years at Black & Decker where I worked in a number of shop floor and office environments; latterly working in the purchasing department as a buyer. As a buyer it was important to negotiate value for money; which has helped me, as a councillor, to try and get value for money on your council tax.
I have proudly served our town as a local councillor since 2002; initially as a District Councillor on the old Sedgefield Borough Council, subsequently as a County Councillor for the new Durham County Council Unitary Authority and on Spennymoor Town Council.
I am, as a member of the Spennymoor Independent Group, currently a Town Councillor for Byers Green and a DCC Councillor for the Spennymoor and Middlestone Ward. As a party we work together and operate without a party line but are a group that will stand up for your local priorities.
In my capacity as a councillor I am involved with a number of organisations. I am a school governor for Byers Green Primary School and a fervent believer that our children need the best education possible; many of our children are not getting the right start in life. As well as currently being a Board Member of Spennymoor Area Action Partnership I was, until recently, a board member of the Social Housing Group livin. Being a board Member of livin, gave me an insight to many of the issues associated with housing. For example private rented properties and the problems caused by Absent Landlords. Social Housing and the difficulties caused by Universal Credit/Welfare Reform. Developers of New House Builds who seem to have little thought for their customer’s aftercare.
Going between developers and the council I have worked hard to make sure new housing developments have roads, footpaths and open spaces “Adopted”; sometimes the adoption process can falter causing problems in the future for tenants.
At Durham County Council I am on three standing committees; including Planning which has given me a good understanding of the planning process; allowing me to advise, and help, many constituents. I am extremely disappointed that the new consultation of the previously rejected Durham County Local Plan has been put on hold. Without a Local Plan planning committees must rely on the broader National Planning Policy Framework when making decisions, this sometimes does not give us the opportunity to reflect local concerns. It is my opinion that the 300 houses passed for development in Middlestone Moor (opposite the Binchester pub) would not have been passed with a local plan in place. The new round of New Home Bonus will not be paid out to councils who do not have a Local Plan; costing this council £ millions.
I am a passionate believer that local government should be transparent, open, honest and accountable to its people, if you have this people will engage and become more involved. It is easy to say but if I was a part of a majority ruling group in the Town Council I would endeavour to put as much information on the public part of the agenda as I could.
No matter what anyone says it is only because The Spennymoor Independents started to video council meetings (and put it on YouTube) that it is now done officially by Spennymoor Town Hall. If re-elected back to DCC I will Move a Motion for cameras to be fitted to the main Councillor Chamber there.
I find council work fascinating and rarely boring, there is always something new to learn and different ways to help constituents. In opposition, which I hope will change this time around; you cannot normally change the Strategy of the Ruling Group, but you can push them to make policy amendments. However, working at grass root level with constituents and council officers you can put the politics behind you and work for the benefit of individuals and our town, THIS CAN SOMETIMES MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE TO PEOPLES LIVES.