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2002 - 2002

14/11/02  New Road Junction Scheme Proposals for West Auckland

Durham County Council as a result of a detailed analysis have proposed the following changes to the road layout in West Auckland, surrounding the village green. The Junctions will be replaced by mini roundabouts which will help reduce speeds of vehicles travelling through West. Improvements will also be made for pedestrians by providing more traffic islands, dropped curbs and tactile paving.  The road that leaves Front St to the main A68 (opposite the manor) will be blocked off. Overall the aim is to improve pedestrian facilities, reduce vehicle speeds making West Auckland roads safer. Comments can be made by getting in touch with Don Waller Durham County Council - 0191 383 4096

05/11/02    New Village Centre Activities.

Shopping service

Village Centre to Asda/Morrisons Friday 8th November, Thursday 14th November, Thursday 21 November and Thursday 28th November.  Cost £1.50 return trip.  Return journey people are dropped off at their front door.

Luncheon Club

Meets once a month.  Next trip Tuesday December 3rd.  Venue unknown at present.

Craft sessions.

 Wednesday afternoons 1.00p.m. to 3.00.p.m.  Bring your own craft or develop new crafts and work towards making things for 2003 carnival.

27/08/02   Village Carnival Huge Success

The return of the Village Carnival was a huge success.  West Auckland residents and visitors crowded the village green to watch and enjoy the afternoon of fun. The carnival was opened by Debbie Maben whom with others worked very hard in organising the event.

19/08/02 New Sign Post, World Cup Reminder

Durham County Council have erected new signposts in West Auckland on the A68 from Darlington and also from the A68 Toft Hill. These new sign posts remind us that it was West Auckland that represented England in the first world cup in 1909 and successfully defended the title in the next season.

16/08/02     Volunteers Rewarded

Mary Armstrong from Crook and John Niven from West Auckland had been awarded a local hero award for all their hard work and dedication given to their communities.

The award was part of the Beyond Volunteering fair organised by volunteer agency the Experience Corps. More than 90 awards have been received throughout the country by people who have made a valuable contribution to their local communities

Both candidates were nominated for the accolade by their local MPs, Government Chief Whip, Hilary Armstrong and Bishop Auckland MP Derek Foster.

Mary Armstrong has given her time in various roles as volunteer, working for The Butterwick Hospice and Bishop Auckland General Hospital.

Mr Niven has his own business working as an architect and worked on the recently opened Four Clocks project in Newgate Street, Bishop Auckland.

Mr Niven accepted his award on behalf of West Auckland Community Partnership, whose volunteers have worked hard to provide activities in West Auckland.

30/07/02      Family Fun Disco Roaring Success, Carnival queen chosen

      After a evening of family fun, dancing the night away Sarah Goodfellow saw off the competition to be crowned West Auckland carnival queen 2002. Her Matron will be Stacy Bradwell, followed by the three princesses Chantelle Cliffe, Shelby Cliffe and Laura Wright and not to mention the carnival prince Kieran Mcgee.

 Don't forget forthcoming attractions

Darts marathon comprising of 8 players at the Queens Head on August 1st 7pm - 01:00am.  

Stars in your eyes, organised by the football club to be held at W/Auck WMC on Sunday August 4th between 2pm - 7pm. Enter on the day, but be dressed up as your star. Only £1 Entry.

22/07/02    West Auckland Carnival Monday 26th August

      The West Auckland Village partnership is restoring a West Auckland tradition " The West Auckland Carnival" after many years of absence it will return this year on Monday 26th of August starting on the village green at 1 pm.  For further details about our fundraising efforts and carnival attractions click the above carnival link.

Jazz bands and Displays, Tog of war,  Quoits,   Kids 5 a side tournament (on the rec),  Adults 5 aside final,  Face painting

Bouncy castles,  Velcro Olympics, Display of old W/Auck photos, Photos of Carnival 1951, 1977, 1980's,  Oakley Cross Rugby Team Display,  Cake Stall,  Tombolla,  Raffle, Burgers,  Beer Tent

16/07/02    Carnival queen to be judged at Family Fun Disco

 Family Fun Disco- Monday 22 July West Auckland WMC

Carnival queen to be judged and chosen on Monday 22 July at West Auckland WMC, during the Family Fun Disco 7 PM - 10 PM. Judging will take place on the evening for the carnival celebrities. Make sure you fill in your slip and get your number on the night.£1 entry or £3 max per family, all proceeds to carnival funds

One Carnival Queen and one Matron, One Carnival Princess under and One Carnival Prince


Parish council one step closer.

  A petition signed by 13 percent of West Aucklands population has been handed in to Wear Valley Council with the aim of setting up our own Parish Council.  The proposal will be put out to consultation and people will be given the opportunity to comment or object before it goes to the relevant government department for consideration. It is hoped that it could be set up by May next year with 12 councilors having more of a say in the future of West Auckland   

14/02/02  Campaign for a Parish Council.

    A public meeting has been called next Wednesday (20th, Feb) at the Memorial hall at 7pm to allow villages a chance to ask questions and an opportunity to sign a petition which will be submitted to Wear Valley Council with the aim of setting up a parish council.  The petition states: " West Auckland has a long history being noted in the Bolden Book 1183 and has been developed around the largest green in England. It is a conservation area that enjoys many local facilities, two schools, a Methodist church and memorial hall together with over 35 other businesses and commercial establishments, we feel that we should have more say over our affairs than we do under our present administrative structure based at Crook".   There are approx 1,200 householders in West Auckland and some 3000 people, 10% or no less than 250 of the electorate must sign this petition if not then we do not deserve our own council. Collection boxes for the petition forms are located at the post office, the save store, and the late shopper until February the 28th.

25/06/02 West Auckland Flood Defense Scheme update

Work for the construction of the dam to be built in spring gardens will start in September. It will consist of a 15 meter earth dam, 250 meters wide. more

24/01/02  Drive Inn Motel Burns Down.

On Thursday the 24th of January the former Drive Inn Motel in St Helen Auckland caught fire. The main area of damage was in the former Jousters restaurant end, gutting both floors. Police and Fire Brigade suspect arson.  

24/09/2001   Tintern Road well and truly gone

Tintern road on the Leazers Council Estate in St Helen Auckland has finally been wiped off the map,   It is part of the councils master plan to improve the area. The estate has 221 houses on it of which one third stand empty had been a problem for the last few years with drugs, crime and anti social behaviour leaving remaining residents in fear to venture out.

17/08/01 Planning Application deferred until after Site Visit.

There was a good turn out to the planning application meeting at the Wear Valley Council Offices where residents are fighting to block , permission for loading bays and a  turning point in the hope of stopping HDV Food Ltd opening a meat processing plant on the Aptec industrial estate.

It was Mr. Hutchinson former postmaster and magistrate who presented the case on behalf of the  residents to reject the application followed by Councilor John Ferguson. During the representation photos were distributed of the companies current manufacturing area with a skip full of bones and meat which was stood outside on the companies forecourt.  Mr. Speed when pressed by residents has spoke of nothing but contempt to residents and the council, stating that he can do whatever he wants with with the units in the industrial park and nothing the residents or the council can do anything about it. He also said that he would also not like to live near anywhere near a meat processing plant himself and he is going to West Auckland because the units are cheap.

The planning committee are now destined to make a site visit and then conduct another meeting to decide whether permission should be granted or declined, however this meeting will  be done in private and nobody can represent the residents. Wear Valley Council claim it is the rules (anything that has to be decided upon in privacy only creates suspicion .)

10/07/01 - anger at public meeting

A heated public meeting took place on Wednesday 18/07/01 at the West Auckland Memorial hall over the plans for Meat Processing Plant applied for by HDV Food Limited currently of Chilton.  At the forefront of the debate were the environmental issues, of pollution, noise, and traffic.  Just under a 90 residents attended.

It is speculated that a  large number of 32 tonne articulated lorries would be arriving from all over Europe from 5am in the morning till 10 pm at night using all 4 major routes into West Auckland adding to an already congested road system.  These times may be expanded to 24 hours a day seven days a week.

Whilst the parked  lorries emit an unacceptable amount of noise due to the refrigeration units they carry.  The wagons transport raw meat from all over the world.  De-boning will then be carried out at the factory where the meat will then be processed for delivery to various places.

Other sources of noise pollution will come from refrigerated units parked outside the factory; it is believed initially there will be five diesel engines units driving the temperature-controlled compressors.    

So far over 200 letters have been signed and will be handed to the Wear Valley Council, who is set to consider the application at a planning committee meeting on Thursday 26th July.  The general public can attend this meeting and therefore  are urged to be present.  The Application sought are for 3 loading bays to the rear, groundwork to rear, provision of loading and turning area, the council are believed to categorise this as low risk application?????  Obviously unaware of the environmental issues and of the feelings of West Auckland residents not to mention that the plant will be situated only 100 feet away from residential areas.  Councilor John Ferguson shares the views of the residents and gave a 100% backing to the residents concerns and vowed to fight all the way against the planning application.   Update - the Planning Committee Meeting has now been Postponed to Thursday 16th August at 18:00 hrs.  News Flash Wear Valley District Council have now changed the date of this meeting to Friday 17th August at 17:30 hrs. More

01/06/01 - Slow Progress being made at Tintern Road

Tintern road on the Leazers Council Estate in St Helen Auckland, is finally being knocked down.  It is part of the councils master plan to improve the area. The estate has 221 houses on it of which one third stand empty had been a problem for the last few years with drugs, crime and anti social behaviour leaving remaining residents in fear to venture out.

0/07/01 - West Auckland History Walk.

 A tour of the historic buildings around the village green will take place on Tuesday 17/07/01 guided by Mr. Martin Roberts.  Meet at the Village Center at 19:30

01/06/01 - Village center now open.

Current times are between 02:00pm till 16:00 pm on Fridays and 10:00 am till 12:00 noon Saturdays.   

Facts about Mary Anne Cotton  Tuesday 12 June 07:30 pm

Local History Group 07:30 Tuesday 05 June

19/05/01 - West Auckland lad victim of road rage                   

In the early hours of Wednesday, at 12:45am a 26 year old man from West Auckland became the victim of a road rage attack, on the A68 between Toytop Farm and Sunnydale Farm. The assailant believed to be a man in his mid thirties, white with a stocky build, short dark hair, with 2 or three hooped earrings in each ear drove a small whitish Peugeot style vehicle. He overtook the victim on a dangerous bend in the road, the victim then flashed his lights at him in anger due to this dangerous maneuver.  The assailant then  slowed down and pull his car up across the road to prevent the victim from passing. Both men got out their cars, only the assailant clutched  a four inch knife and started beating and slashing the victim leaving him with cuts and bruises. anybody knows anything about the incident phone Darlington Police on 01325 467681.

11/04/01 - Village Center Due to Open- soon

Volunteers are needed to help run a village drop in centre which will be based at the old library on Front St, West Auckland, The drop in centre will be open for a trial period until September. It will hopefully open its doors on Saturday 28th April between 10:00 am and  4:00pm, however there still is some work on refurbishment to do. If anyone would like to volunteer please email me and I will put you in contact with the steering committee.

 9/4/2001 - House Fire -rescue attempt failed

On Friday the 6th April fire swept through well known Jean Nicholson`s, Bungalow, Neighbors and a Passerby gallantly attempted to break in but without success.  She was brought out by firemen and given ambulance aid by the paramedics and taken to Bishop Auckland hospital where she was transferred to the RVI in Newcastle suffering form extensive burns and smoke inhalation. She sadly died on Saturday Evening.  The fire was thought to be caused by bed linen catching fire whilst smoking in bed.    

16/03/2001 -  20 Jobs to Go

Following a review, Helmsman Cubical Systems parent company WB Bawn-Bawn operations have decided after staff consultation to close the West Auckland plant.  Ten Jobs will be redundant and the remaining ten will transfer to  the plant at  Bury St Edmunds.

20/03/2001 - Foot and Mouth Cases within 10 Mile Radius of West Auckland

Since the first known case on  February 20th,  there are cases in County Durham,  many within 10 miles of West Auckland. West Auckland Web are in Support of the Farmers and therefore urge the local population and visitors to adhere to the advice of  Wear Valley Council and Ministry of Agriculture.

9/03/01 -  Flood Defense Update

The photos  below clearly show and demonstrate that people in West Auckland can sleep in their beds safe and sound armed with the knowledge that the River Gaunless shouldn't strike again (we Hope). Photos taken in December when river levels were high. Left photo taken at the bridge near the Manor House, middle - looking down onto the Nursery, right on the bridge near the Nursery. .

8/01/01                            Hope for new Village Center

Hopes to convert the old library into a village center became a step closer yesterday, with the help of  a grant, (£5000), which came from the Millennium Festival Organization.  A steering group has now been set up to help get the project off the ground and convert the currently boarded up library into an attractive drop in center..  

08/01/01                       West Auckland Post Office Robbed

On Friday the 5th of January the West Auckland Post Office above Oakley Green was robbed at 17:15 by three men, they escaped with an undisclosed amount of money after threatening three staff . This is the 8th raid on post offices in the region over Christmas and new year.

01/01/01                       West Auckland Web Goes Mobile

  West Auckland Web is now available on the Mobile Internet. Point your WAP enabled mobile phone browser to http://www.tagtag.com/westaucklandweb   If you don`t have an Internet Mobile Phone then look further down this page and click on an Internet Mobile Phone Emulator (one of the three links below the other phone picture).   

Temporary Flood Defences

Most of the folk from West,  will have noticed by now  flood defences being built this takes the form of a large embankment running from the just below the bridge at Spring Gardens along the course of the river down to the behind the Manor House. Flood walls are also protecting the nursery, further down stream. It is believed that these defences are not the long term solution  (but are costing just as much) a decision will be taken at a later date once the results of the feasibility studies are complete.  The dyke behind the wall (see picture below), has also been cleared by the owner of the land.  (Environmental Agency Newsletter)

8/11/00              Severe Flood Alert on the River Gaunless

Since October 31 Britain has been hit by heavy rainfall causing extensive flooding throughout the country. In over a week the river Gaunless has been placed on severe flood alert by the Environmental Agency approximately  4 times,  Monday 31st October, Thursday 2nd November and Sunday 5th November through to 7 November. Each time the river peaked only a foot and a half lower  from previous river levels  in June.  However this time the authorities were better prepared, handing out sandbags to place against doorways and building blockades to prevent water from flooding  the Nursery. The Blockade across A68 at Toadpool was being controlled by the environmental agency by allowing an orderly amount of water into the drainage system. Nevertheless it is believed that extensive flooding was prevented only by mother nature itself  by peaking below the levels recorded back in June.

Worried About flooding in your area contact 0845 988 1188 - Flood watch information.

31/10/00                               Tintern road to be Demolished

Over the last eight months Wear Valley District Council and Market Research UK, undertook a study of the views of residence in the St Helens Ward, The results of these were presented at a public meeting held at the local primary school.   The Key problems identified were poor housing, environmental conditions and high crime level, it is believed to be caused by lack of investment by the council, poor policing and a lack of community involvement culture.  The effects this had on the area were migration of residence, surplus housing and a social stigma attached to the area.  The Councils aim from this point forward is to create a Master Plan which is a strategy drawn up by a project team consisting local councillors,  school representatives, police, residents association, a number of residents and other  officials from  various disciplines.  Once this plan is drawn up the council then have a much clearer argument to gain funding to action the proposals for the redevelopment of St Helens.  As a short term measure a proposal was made at the meeting to start the demolition of Tintern Road this was accepted by the majority, although it was stated that there are still 15 houses occupied and would need to be re-housed.    

Proposals from the Environmental Agency

A follow up meeting to place in the beginning of October at the St Helens School to unveil possibilities that will hopefully prevent a re-occurrence of the June floods .  The Environmental Agency stated that new monitoring systems were in place at Copley and Lowlands, these would give only an hour warning for those who have signed up to the telephone warning system.  River Gaunless is at the moment been cleared of rubbish and in areas dredged. The options available to the Environmental agency are.

Three Flood Storage Reservoirs- Lowlands, Spring Gardens and Fylands- Spring gardens being largest

Flood Defences - 1.5 Meter embankment following course of rivers flood plain.

Alterations to River Channel- Dredge the river so it is deeper and wider.

Relief Rulvert - Water will be diverted away from the South Church River Loop.

Each option will cost somewhere in the region of 1.5 Million pounds work will be completed by the  Babtie Group.

06/10/00   Crowds Gather to Watch Bungee Jumpers  

On Tuesday the 26th September crowds gathered to watch local residents hurl themselves from a 200ft crane and plummet to the ground on the end of a bungee.  The event organised by Mark Row owner of the new Jousters Restaurant in the grounds of the old drive in motel in St Helens Auckland. Some of the jumpers raised funds for their charities while others jumped for FUN?

30/09/00          Plans to Demolish Homes

The Leazes Lane Council Estate in St Helen Auckland, has been given the go ahead for a  partial demolishment, in a bid to clean up the area.  The estate of 221 houses of which over a third are lying empty, had been a problem for the last few years with drugs, crime and anti social behaviour leaving remaining residents in fear to venture out.  It hasn't been decided which and how many houses will go until local residents have had their say..  

30/09/00        Safety Measures Demanded By Councillors

The River Gaunless is at the center of another row. The river bank behind Front Street in West Auckland, which was partially eroded in recent floods has prompted Councillors to demand action to improve the safety of that stretch after a seven year old boy fell in and could not climb back out he was rescued by a passerby who heard his cries for help.  Fortunately the boy only suffered cuts and bruises.

15/9/00         Woman Stole Pensioners Cash

Police are searching for a women who tricked her way into an elderly residents home in St Helen Auckland, where she stole money, police added that this woman also targeted other properties in the area and are warning people to be cautious about who they let into their homes.  Police issued this photofit  of a woman who tricked the pensioner. Any information contact Bishop Auckland Police.

30/08/00     Council Tenants Go Home

Wear valley district council have promised that all the houses in West Auckland that were flooded in  June  will be completed before Christmas this year, allowing the residents back home, who are currently living with relatives or in temporary accommodation.

07/08/00      Call For Help For Deprived Council Estate

  Wear Valley and County Councillor Mr. Sonny Douthwaite has spoken out in a desperate plea to get action he says that the Leases Estate in St Helen Auckland is going from bad to worse.  With more than 20% of the homes empty and boarded up.  People living  on the estate are afraid to go out and feel like prisoners in their own homes.  Mr. Douthwaite added that the only thing that can solve this problem is to pull it down of have it completely refurbished. Council Leader Olive Brown said they are in the process of submitting a bid for government cash to improve the estate.  

02/08/00     Agriculture Minister Demands Investigation

    A Presentation  featuring, residents views, video and photographic footage of South Church and West Auckland was presented to the Agriculture Minister Elliot Morley which after learning of the devastation prompted him to call an emergency investigation.  The Environmental Agency claims flood warning systems will be in place by September and Follow up meetings will occur in October.  

People of West Auckland Have their Say                    

    An Open Forum Meeting took place at the St Helen Auckland Junior And Infant School on Tuesday the 4th of July organised by the Environmental Agency. It was to explain the events leading up to and on the 4th of June with regard to the Floods that occurred and also to gain more information and feedback from residents.

Saturday the 3rd of June there had been torrential rain in County Durham in fact three inches the equivalent to one months normal rainfall. Heavy rain the previous week meant that the ground was already waterlogged causing the rain to drain into the River Gaunless quickly and could not cope with 70 tonnes a second and burst its banks flooding 133 houses in West and 194 in south Church ( the Actual figure is believed to be rising as more victims come forward.) The Oakley Beck also in West flooded an additional 33 homes. This flooding was worse than those of 1924 and 1979 where the river rose 10 feet above normal.

Some of the residents who attended the meeting informed West Auckland Web that they are presently moving around and staying with different friends and relatives each week whilst the the council work on repairing the damage to homes. whilst other are forced to live upstairs converting children's bedrooms  into makeshift kitchens and using the parents room as Living/Dining/ Bedroom rolled into one.  

   Questions posed by the residents were- why wasn't an early warning given? Are their any lakes or reservoirs upstream (it is believed that the open cast mining sites have water catchment areas, so is it possible that these may have burst?)  Did the water become contaminated by the Butterknowle  Sewerage Works? Why haven't the rivers been dredged for so long. (one lady river bank owner claimed that the river bed has risen 2 foot in the last 15 years.)  What about the theory that when the land that was used for open casting  initially the land  had say for example 10 foot of top soil which absorbed lots of water and when the mining was finished they only replaced two foot of top soil back which meant it would not absorb so much therefore running off into the rivers much quicker.

    The Environmental agencies suggestions for the way forward- to install a flood warning system before winter, this would involve a telephone warning system and or perhaps a warning siren which may be more effective due to the fact that the river can rise more than 3 feet in one hour and finally a feasibility study will be done for proposed flood walls.

15/06/00            West Auckland Left out.

Locals of  West Auckland are upset at being left out of the District Council  and English Tourist Council official Mini-Guide despite their links with a prolific female murderer who killed up to 20 people including her own children, to put them on the map. A grisly memorial to the hanged 19 century killer Mary Anne Cotton or a replica of the worlds first metal railway bridge designed by George Stephenson are being considered as attractions by the people of west to help them on the wear valley tourist trail.

15/06/00               Forgotten Flood Victims

During the Weeks after the flood and extensive media coverage it seemed that West Auckland had been forgotten once again.   Publicity was given to the residence of South Church three miles away and appeared to be getting aid from the council.  However the People of West Auckland had had their say  last week when crowds turned up to tell their side to Bishop Auckland MP Derek Foster and Ward Councillors. As they toured the area they noted back yards full of Furniture, Washing machines and Carpets whilst ruined belongings filled the skips along the side of the road.  If that wasn't bad enough looters pilfered and scoured through yards and skips in the attempt to dry out and resell some of the goods.  Now after a full evaluation from the council, residence are being moved to other dwellings whilst the cleaning operation continues.

7/06/00                 West Auckland Flooded

After non stop rain from Friday the river Gaunless and Oakley Beck burst their banks at approx 0400 hours Sunday morning causing a torrent of filthy pungent water surge through the streets of West Auckland many homes in  Toadpool, Eden grove, Front St, Chaple st, Arnold st, Meadow view,  River walk were filled in places with 4 feet of water.

            New outlook for community

St Helen Auckland will have a new look when the £265,000 improvements are unveiled at an opening ceremony on Friday, April 14, The improvements are hoping to give a sense of pride and responsibility for the local environment, these include street furniture, new fencing, tree planting, play area, wildlife section developed with a mosaic and seating for youngsters to enjoy and finally conversion of a car park into a five a side foot court and basketball court

0/03/00         Roadwork Delays

Motorists travelling into and out of West Auckland will face more delays. Work starts on the Bridge between West Auckland and St Helen Auckland on the A688 on Monday March 13 works are expected to last six weeks.  This is on top of the other bridge strengthening works on the A68.

Pensioner fright as car hits wall

Pensioner Ruby Jackson, 80, from Sycamore Grove in West Auckland Jumped out of her skin yesterday while settling down to lunch at 12.25pm. Youth were seen running away from a car after it battered Ruby's Bungalow wall causing damage to brickwork but not the bungalows structure itself.

25/2/00        Disgraceful Fly Tipping

In every town or village their is always a minority of ignorant people that willfully destroy our country side.  On the old Railway line over looking Oakley Green some 200 tyres have been dumped, 50 of which were rolled into the river. For this many to have been dumped a lorry must have been used, if anybody has any information please contact the police as this bridleway is popular for dog walkers, ramblers, and children

15/02/00     Burglaries in West Auckland

Over the weekend there has been two break-ins in neighboring streets, one in East Green and one in Milbank court.  The occupants of one of the households disturbed the intruders causing them to run off.  Anyone with any information please contact detective Sergeant Ken Donnelly at Bishop Auckland Police Station.

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