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West Auckland Web Created by Darren Fairclough.          Back to Home Page                                All images @ Darren Fairclough 2013

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2003 - 2005

07/11/05 Youths to receive anti-social behaviour orders

TWO youths in West Auckland are due to be given Anti-Social Behaviour Orders as authorities battle to curb vandalism in the village. The move was revealed by Wear Valley District Council's anti-social behaviour officer Phil Shaw at a meeting to discuss the problems. Mr Shaw was joined by local police officers to talk to residents about incidents and discuss how the situation could be improved. The message they delivered was that more crimes needed to be reported - but Mr Shaw added that enough crimes had been reported against two youths for action to be taken. "I have two anti-social behaviour orders pending within the St Helen's and West Auckland area," he said. "They are juveniles, they are youths, young people who you will probably know of or will have heard of."

Residents spoke of vandalism and threatening behaviour from local youths, including roaming gangs late at night, underage drinking, litter and graffiti. One resident said: "A lot of people live in fear."

Mr Shaw urged villagers to report all such crimes anonymously on diary sheets, and vowed that action would be taken against persistent offenders. PC Andy Hucker said: "It's not just the responsibility of the police to solve these problems now. The most significant role is played by the community. "There has to come a point where you are willing to stand up to these people and give us this information. With these names, we can pay these people visits. It's information that we need. The message is, it's essential that these diary sheets are filled in."

Other issues raised included cars driving on East Green, which will soon be prevented by the installation of heavy duty bollards, and underage drinking, with UV pens due to be handed out to shopkeepers to try and reduce it.

20/10/05 Meeting over Unruly Youths

PUBLIC meeting has been called to discuss vandalism and anti-social behaviour in West Auckland. Residents are urged to attend the meeting next month to put their concerns to police and councillors. Problems have increased dramatically over the past couple of years. The village has been plagued by youngsters congregating, drinking and smashing windows - often near East Green residential home. Shops and pubs have also been targeted. Andy Turner, from the parish council, said: "There's been a growth in anti-social behaviour in West Auckland and it has grown out of all proportion. "Therefore, we've called a meeting where people can come along and meet the people responsible for law and order and let them know their worries." Police officers and representatives from both the parish and district council will also attend the meeting, as well as Wear Valley District Council's anti-social behaviour officer Phil Shaw.

Parish council chairman John Ferguson said that more police on patrol and the introduction of street wardens were among the possible solutions likely to be put forward.  He added: "As a parish council in West Auckland, we want to look after not just the old people, but after everybody. "The way the problems are, we have decided to try to clean up the area and make it a better place to live in. "Youth clubs aren't the fashionable thing anymore - we need more police presence and street wardens."

PC Andy Hucker, who has been West Auckland's beat officer for the past three years and was instrumental in setting up the meeting, hopes there will be a good turnout. Villagers will be able to ask questions and put forward suggestions to help combat the anti-social behaviour.  PC Hucker said: "The point of the meeting is to get myself and Phil Shaw together to answer questions that members of the public have, and to show that we are doing what we can." The meeting will take place at West Auckland Methodist Church on Wednesday, November 2, at 6pm. All welcome.

Source Northern Echo 20/10/05

09/10/2005     Breaking News  - Explosion at West Auckland Club

An Explosion at the West Auckland Workmen's Club, occurred at approx 11:00 am today. Rumour has it that it was a boiler, that is located at the rear of the club in an outside building. Shortly after the explosion smoke billowed out from the roof and front upstairs windows. It is unknown at this stage how much structural damage has been done. The fire brigade and police were quickly in attendance. The police set up a minor road diversion, whilst the fire brigade set out to work.

09/09/2005      Advanced Works Started on Bypass

Steps are now well underway constructing advanced works for the West Auckland Bypass. These advanced works include a minor diversion of the River Gaunless and the construction of a bridge. The work on the main bypass will continue next year and is due for completion in 2007

09/08/2005  Lottery cash will boost plans for village hall

 VILLAGERS can go ahead with their plans to renovate a community meeting point thanks to Lottery cash.The Village Centre, in West Auckland, has been used as a meeting place for people of all ages since it was launched as a pilot scheme five years ago. But it has long since needed a revamp and volunteers from the West Auckland Community Partnership have been busy trying to secure funding to modernise it. Now they can go ahead with their plans after being awarded a Lottery grant for £20,000.

John Niven, from the partnership, said that now the grant had been received it will be added to other funding and the work can start soon.He said: "It is used a couple of nights a week as a youth drop-in and we also have a book exchange which people use, but it has never really been a comfortable place. "We want to bring it up to standard so that we can have a kitchen for refreshments, decent toilets and a chance to make it more accessible. "We have been trying for some time to get funding together and this grant means we can now go ahead." There are also plans to install Internet access points and organise homework and holiday clubs. It is hoped that it will be a place where young and old can come together and be a venue for a host of community activities.

Bishop Auckland MP Helen Goodman has been so impressed by the work of the partnership that she has pledged her support as its patron. She said: "Getting this lottery grant is tremendous news for West Auckland. It will enable facilities to be put in place that will be of benefit to the community." Mr Niven said that the new look centre could be up and running by Christmas, but appealed for more volunteers to help realise the partnership's dreams. He said: "We do need more volunteers so that we can open the centre more often. We would love to hear from anyone who can help."

Anyone interested in volunteering is asked to contact Mr Niven on (01388) 832587.

Source:  Northern Echo 09/08/2005

14/07/05 Village to share school activities

A £723,000 sports hall and arts room has been opened at a school in a south Durham community.The sports hall and arts room at Oakley Cross Primary School, in West Auckland, were officially opened by Councillor Sonny Douthwaite yesterday.Village residents and children from other schools are already using the facilities, which include a multi-purpose hall, changing rooms, a refreshment area and large room for music and arts activities.

It was developed through a Government strategy called A Sporting Future for All to improve inadequate facilities across the country and widen access to sport and art in communities with the greatest need.

Oakley Cross is one of eight schools in County Durham to be awarded the grants, distributed by Sport England.Pupils who go to an after-school tae kwondo class in the hall gave a demonstration at the opening ceremony.

Headteacher Liz Ivil said: "The hall is a fantastic addition to our school. It is busy every night and is already helping to create a good community spirit."We are delighted to have the new facilities, both for the children we teach and for the many local people living in this rural area, who want to participate in sport, enjoy the arts and be part of this thriving community."They allow us to reach many different aspects of the PE curriculum in a warm, safe and enjoyable environment for learning."It also allows us to consider lots of new activities outside of school hours for our pupils and other young people in the local area."

Councillor Neil Foster, Durham County Council's cabinet member for children's services said: "This project was planned in partnership with the school, the county council, Sport England and the Arts Council to provide state-of-the art facilities at the very heart of local communities.

"If this type of investment enables the young people of West Auckland to start to participate in PE, sport and the arts, encourages them to stayed involved and ultimately allows them to reach their full potential, then it is money very well spent." Source Northern Echo 14/07/05

12/07/05  Advanced works on bypass get go ahead

WORK will start this summer on a £7m road that will remove through traffic from three south Durham communities.

Durham County Council's deputy chief executive (environment) Chris Tunstall told members of West Auckland Parish Council that funding is now available to start advance works for the second stage of the A688 West Auckland bypass.The 1.5 mile stretch of single carriageway will link the first stage of the bypass at the St Helen Industrial Estate with the A688 on the south-western edge of West Auckland.It will reduce traffic and improve air quality for people in West Auckland, St Helen Auckland and Tindale Crescent.

Advance works due to start this summer include a minor diversion of the River Gaunless to allow for bridge construction at a late date as part of the whole plan.The main construction will begin in summer next year with completion due in mid-2007.

The bypass includes new roundabouts on the A68 at Hummerbeck, and where the road joins the A688 near Oakley Service Station, and a path for pedestrians, horse riders and cyclists.

." Sonny Douthwaite, chairman of the county council's highways committee and a resident of St Helen Auckland said he was delighted that the scheme was now going ahead. He said: "This has been on the cards for a long time now, but at last it is to become a reality. "There's no doubt it and the improvements will be a tremendous benefit to residents." More on Bypass

10/07/05  Environmental Agency Programme of Events, Relating to the Spring Mill Dam and Wetlands

"History Night"": Wed 20th July; 6:30-7:30pm, the Manor,House Hotel, The Green, West Auckland

A talk by the historian and deputy editor of the Northern Echo, Chris Lloyd speaks about the industrial history of the area. Then find out how the history

of the area. Then find out how the history of the area will be displayed along the multi-user route next to the wetland on information boards. Please bring along your old photos/stories about the industrial history of the area. These will be used in a history exhibition from 20-26 Aug (venue to be confirmed on the night), and to help design the information boards.

"Nature On Your Doorstep" Sat 13th Aug; 12:00-3:30, the Bridge Inn, Gordon Lane, Ramshaw, and the wetland

A talk by the local naturalist Terry Coult about the wetland, and the history and biodiversity of wetlands in County Durham. Followed by a fun and interactive guided walk of the wetland. This is your chance to get involved in designing information boards, sculptures and seating.  A buffet lunch will be provided as well as transport to the site. All welcome!

Local Wildlife Monitoring Group, Wed 17th Aug; 6:30 - 7:30pm, the Manor House Hotel, The Green, West Auckland - Event Cancelled.

Come and find out more about the plants and animals we hope to see at the wetland, and how you can help us to monitor them. Results will be displayed on a website.

Community Festival:Sat 1st October; 11:00 - 4:00pm, the wetland

A community festival to celebrate and launch the project organised in collaboration with the Durham County Council. This will be a fun family day out with lots of activities and crafts to get involved, as well as guided walks, and exhibits.

All Very Welcome!!!

For more information on any of the above please contact Hazel White on;

0191 203 4238.

25/06/05   Weather Holds Out For St Helens Gala

The Weather held out on Saturday the 25th June for the St Helens Gala. Performances were given from the Pittington Band. Other attractions were entertainment and displays from Surestart, merry go rounds, bouncy castle, bouncy slides, a fun house, raffles, tombolla, and a line dancing display.    

22/06/05 Olive Branch Offer Over Rubbish

A COUNCIL has ended a four-week feud over rubbish in West Auckland. Residents in Copeland Road and Edith Terrace had not had their wheelie bins emptied for a month after refusing to comply with Wear Valley District Council's orders to leave them at the end of their street. They want the refuse to be collected from their doors because they claim leaving the wheelie bins at the end of the street blocks access.

Householders said they would not back down until the council collected the bins from their homes.

The council said it would cost too much in manpower to push wheelie bins from each door to the collection point, but yesterday Max Coleby, the council's acting director of community services, offered villagers an olive branch. He said: "If they don't want to leave the wheelie bins at the gable ends, they can store their black bags in the wheelie bins, then on collection day leave the bags outside their doors for collection. "We think that's reasonable. They're a canny set of people, but there's a point where the council has to act reasonably and we think we have done that." The council will also clear the backlog of rubbish during the next collection.

Resident Gary Russell said: "It seems a bit silly going back to black big bags. I'd still rather have wheelie bins if used properly. They've gone to all this hassle and money and now they're going back to using black bags. We just want our rubbish cleared.

Source Northern Echo 22/06/05

21/06/05 Waste row reaches another week

A STAND-OFF between a council and villagers over a new waste collection scheme has resulted in a four-week build up of rubbish. Residents in the Copeland Road and Edith Terrace areas of West Auckland have been told by Wear Valley District Council to leave their wheelie bins at the end of their street. But residents are refusing to do so, and they say that the council has failed to keep an earlier promise to collect rubbish from outside their homes and that leaving them at the end of the street restricts access.  The refuse has stood untouched for a month and residents say it is attracting vermin.

"We are not leaving this," said resident Gary Russell, of Copeland Road. "The council is not providing a full service, they're just providing a part service. We are still having to do the council's refuse collection work. "If half the street of Copeland Road and Edith Terrace were to put wheelie bins at their nearest gable end, there would be 44 in total, blocking the roads for exit and access. Nobody will compromise."

One resident dumped a number of black bags of rubbish outside the council's headquarters in Crook in protest.

More than 29,000 wheelie bins were delivered across the district in March and April and were designed to streamline the area's waste collection service. A council spokesman said: "If they don't want to put their bins out then that's up to them. The service is there. "There've been incidents where we haven't been able to get the lorries down the back lane, so we've asked them to leave them on a gable end. "What they need to do is give us a call. We can go out and assist and the refuse collectors will wheel the bins to their gable end and then wheel them back down again."

Residents wishing to apply for an assisted collection can call (01388) 761617.

Source Northern Echo 21/06/05

13/04/05 Spring Mill Wildlife Dam and Wetlands - Accessing Wetlands and Beyond

The West Auckland flood defence dam  will be opened on Friday 15 April. The dam  now named as "The Spring Mill Wildlife Dam" by Callum and Jevon Robinson who won the competition ran by the Environment Agency, can be enjoyed by all, both the Environment Agency and the Mineral Valleys Project have created a multi-user route (2.4km) which runs along side the wetlands on the former the old Haggerleases railway line. The 11 hectare site is currently being transformed into wetlands and this is where local people can get involved, some activities can include planting, designing information boards, designing seating areas, providing activities to develop the site and much more

03/06/05  Planting Reed Beds

can you help plant reed beds for a new wetland site?

A valuable new wetland habitat is being created along the River Gaunless between Spring Gardens and Ramshaw.

We are looking for volunteers to come and help us plant reed beds at the wetland site on Saturday 18 June. We will be there from 1:00pm and finish at 5:00pm.

Everyone is welcome and no previous experience is necessary, as we will be there to show you how it is done. It will be a mucky activity so don't forget to bring outdoor clothing and wellington boots. Children under 16 years old must be accompanied by an adult.

For more information please contact Hazel White on 01912034238.

You can get to the wetland site by walking along the new multi-user route, which runs from West Auckland, crosses the A68 at Spring Gardens and runs along the edge of the wetland site to Ramshaw. Next to the West Auckland Dam

08/02/05  The First World Cup Set for the Big Stage

In four years time this Easter it will be exactly 100 years ago when the victorious West Auckland Town  AFC won the very first world cup, and at present, plans are under way to mark the centenary anniversary. Jack Drum Arts in county Durham have commissioned a production entitled, "how we won the World Cup and kept it."  The play will poke fun at the FA and give West Auckland the recognition it deserves. The cast will of about 4 or 5 but each with a host of parts. The play will involve local schools in projects aimed at raising awareness of life in the West Auckland community 100 Years ago.  It is hoped that the small scale production will premier at West Auckland WMC.

03/01/05 Plans to close St Helens Doctors Surgery

  The  Auckland Medical Group which has a surgery in St Helens which supplies both West and St Helens hopes to centralise its services by moving to a purpose-built base in Bishop Auckland. The move, which is the group's preferred option for redevelopment, would mean closing sites in the villages of St Helen Auckland and Coundon and at Cockton Hill Road, in Bishop Auckland. The Toft Hill sites will Remain open.

A patient consultation on the proposals will include public meetings at Manor House Hotel, West Auckland, January 11; Elgar Room, Bishop Auckland Town Hall, January 18 and the Community Centre, Wilson Avenue, Coundon, January 25. All start at 7pm before a final decision is made.

If the base, on Watling Road, is built, it would offer the full range of primary care services to all patients and possibly a practice-based operating suite where GPs, with surgical qualifications, could carry out procedures.

For a copy of the consultation form, call (01388) 458835

08/12/04  Name the Dam Competition.

The Environment Agency has finished building a huge dam at Spring Gardens, West Auckland, to protect the area from flooding from the River Gaunless. Work is also underway on the wetlands and a multi user route.

Win a fabulous food hamper or a Playstation 2.

All you have to do is come up with an original name for the dam and Wetlands. The winner will be invited to the official opening in spring 2005 where the winning name will be unveiled on a special commemorative plaque.

Facts about the dam and wetland areas

The dam is 15 metres high, 320 metres long and more than 80 metres wide; It has been built using 80,000 cubic metres of clay taken from local pits;

The dam is part of a larger project designed to protect 660 homes fr flooding in West Auckland and South Church and took 18 months to build;Just upstream of the dam, a variety of wetland habitats including woodland, reed bed, wet meadow, ponds and scrapes will be created. The dam will store up to a million cubic metres of water;This will increase habitat for flora, fauna, including wading birds, otters, bats and amphibians;A multi-user off road route linking West Auckland and Ramshaw is being created.

The lead partner in the project is the Environment Agency along with Durham County Council and Durham Biodiversity Partnership.

To enter you need to pick up, complete and return the entry form, from the Post Office, Copeland road Primary School, Oakley Cross Primary School or the Village Centre before 10:30am December 17th 2004. (entries to be placed into the boxes held at the above locations). Read the rules appertaining to the competition.

This is a environmental agency competition not a West Auckland Web competition.

02/12/04 Flood Defence Dam Completed

    A fifteen metre-high dam built to protect homes and businesses in two Durham towns is now fully operational. The dam, which has taken 18 months to build, is part of a major £8.8 million flood defence scheme for West Auckland and South Church to lessen the flood risk from the River Gaunless.  The partially completed structure helped protect 400 homes and businesses during high river levels back in August. Environment Agency contractors started work on the flood defence project in May 2003, which also included riverside walls and embankments. The scheme will protect more than 600 homes from a flood with a 0.5 per cent chance (200 to 1) of happening in any one year.

The dam, upstream of Spring Gardens in West Auckland, works by storing water during high river flows, then releasing it slowly. It is 15 metres high, 320 metres long and more than 80 metres wide. It has been built using around 80,000 cubic metres of clay taken from local borrow pits. The dam will store up to a million cubic metres of water and a special piece of equipment called "hydrobrakes" allow the water to be released from behind it at a controlled rate.

"The project team has worked extremely hard on this complex project and I am delighted that we have been able to provide working flood defences for the community in such a short time. "Work will now continue to complete the landscaping to blend the defences in with the existing surroundings."

The project also includes work to protect properties from flooding of Oakley Cross Beck, which is expected to be completed before Christmas.

Source: Environmental Agency - Simon Parrock

30/11/04 Go Ahead for Bypass

Transport Secretary Alistair Darling has just approved the go ahead for the West Auckland Bypass.

In the early 1950s, village county councillor Bobby Curry saw the need for a new road.

Even so, neither he nor his successor, George Steadman, could have envisaged that by the 21st Century 17,000 vehicles would pass through the village every day. Residents have had problems with the noise and found it difficult to cross from one side of the village to the other.There have also been fears for some of the historic buildings along the A688. Sir William Whitfield told a public inquiry into the bypass that heavy traffic was causing major damage to his Grade I-listed 17th Century home, St Helen's Hall, yards along the roadside from the 12th Century St Helen's Parish Church, one of the oldest in England. He spoke of the desperate need for the bypass when he addressed inspector John Watson at the inquiry, held in West Auckland Methodist Church last July. Mr Watson ruled that the benefits the road would bring to 3,143 homes outweighed the negative effects it would have on the lives of objectors.

Durham County Council, which included initial works on the road in its Local Transport Plan, has included the first phase of construction, a bridge over the River Gaunless, in its 2005/6 programme. More on Bypass

Source: Northern Echo (Bessie Robinson)

23/10/04 Village's history could be ready for the bulldozer

A FORMER village chapel and church hall could be demolished to make way for housing and a shop.

The former non-conformist chapel, in West Auckland, and the old church hall - both on Station Road - are subject to applications that could see them pulled down.Developer Pars Homes has applied to replace the chapel, which is occupied by a furniture store, with a block of flats. Grocery chain Spar wants to move into a purpose-built shop, proposed for the site of the hall, which has stood empty for about three years.

Councillors at Wear Valley District Council will consider the plans for the chapel site at the next meeting of its development control committee, on Thursday. The proposals are for 15 two-bedroomed flats in a three-storey L-shaped building facing Station Road, with parking spaces at the rear and open space to the south west.

A planning application to demolish the old church hall and replace it with a new convenience store is expected to be discussed by the development control committee by the end of the year. Despite both buildings having social and historical connections with the community, neither are considered worthy of retention.

Conservation and archaeological experts at Durham County Council feel they are not listable because many original features have been removed.

David Townsend, head of development and building control for the council, said: "Neither have been used for their original purpose for years and have been business premises no longer required.

"They have been altered significantly and lost several original features. "We have recommended approval of the flats and the Spar application is still going through the planning process at the moment."

Source:- Northern Echo 23/10/04

16/07/04  Flood Defence Update

The Works at Spring gardens are progressing well. Over 90,000 cubic metres of clay has been formed and compacted into the dam itself. The material was excavated from on site borrow pits and have been completed just last week.

The next section of works will include construction of the spillway, this can be seen in the photo as a low spot over 150m long in the middle of the dam. Works are ongoing at the bottom of the spillway placing concrete on the right of the picture.

New access roads will be created around the dam for use during maintenance and telemetry will be installed to monitor water levels.

The photo shows the dam looking West along the crest of the dam which is over 300m long and up to 15m high.

Work on the Oakley Beck flood defence system will be starting shortly, whilst the River Gaunless scheme is ear marked for completion in November 2004. The Oakley Beck defences consist of 300m  walls and 260m of earth embankments. Access ramps over the defences will be constructed where necessary.

The defences are planned at the following locations:

Upstream of Staindrop road bridge on either side of the Beck.  From the play area to downstream of Oakley Cross Beck School.

Within the grounds of Oakley Cross Beck School

21/06/04  West Auckland Carnival 2004 Cancelled

West Auckland carnival has been cancelled because villagers failed to respond to an appeal for help to run it.

West Auckland Village Partnership has reluctantly scrapped plans to hold a summer carnival on the village green on August Bank Holiday Monday.Partnership secretary John Niven said that help would have been needed to ensure that the day and events leading up to the carnival, such as choosing a carnival king and queen, were and safe.

He said the partnership realised people would be disappointed, especially children looking forward to fancy dress contests, but is was hopeful that more community groups and individuals would volunteer next year, so that a carnival can be held in 2005.

Source: Northern Echo 21/06/04  

26/06/04 St Helens, Summer Fair Goes Ahead Despite Bad Weather

St Helens Summer fair went ahead despite the bad weather. The event took place, on the Middlewood Green and in the community centre. Activities included  a fun house, bouncy castles, trampolines, merry go rounds and other shows and side stalls. There were raffles, make up and jewellery stalls.  Sure Start put up displays and the very popular face painting, performed below by the one and only Andrea Davies.

06/06/2004   Broadband Goes Live

Broadband for West Auckland, Toft Hill and surrounding areas should go live by the 25 June 2004. Type your telephone number into the box on the lower right hand side on the following BT page

hopefully you get this message.

Good news - Your exchange will have ADSL broadband by 25th June 2004, and our initial test indicates that it should be possible to provide ADSL broadband on this telephone line.

Our initial test on your line suggests that you should be able to have an ADSL broadband service that provides up to 2Mbps download speed.

West Auckland broadband Page/ Info

14/05/04 West Auckland Bypass Delayed

A public inquiry will decide the future of the 1.5-mile route taking traffic from West Auckland, St Helen Auckland and Tindale Crescent. Preliminary works due to begin in summer will not be able to start until early next year, depending on the result of the inquiry.The Government Office for the North-East ordered the hearing, scheduled for July 13 in West Auckland.

The objection is from the new owners of a property in Darlington Road, West Auckland, who were not aware of the plan despite a land search. Many residents had backed the development when they were consulted in 2002, agreeing at a public meeting that the scheme was needed.

It would link the western end of a route completed in 1998, next to the St Helen Industrial Estate, with the A688 near Oakley Service Station, crossing the A68 at a roundabout near Hummerbeck. A county council spokes-man said: "There has been an objection from some owners of an adjacent property. Government Office North-East are of the opinion that it justifies being considered at a public inquiry.

"Now work cannot start until next spring, at the earliest, providing the objection is turned down."

More info on Bypass

20/05/04  Gunshots at Mini Appleby Travellers Fair

Residents of West Auckland  had reported to hearing gunshots  prompted the Durham Police force to launch one of their biggest operations ever. The force called in off duty staff and used officers from neighbouring forces. The drama unfolded at about two am Sunday morning (30/05/04) at the travellers fair dubbed Mini Appleby organised by Peter Seagraves. The police immediately closed off the area and roads into and out of West Auckland using both armed  and regular officers. By one o'clock Copeland Road, was still shut whilst officers guarded the travellers caravan site from all access points. It is believed that the travellers caravans were searched as they left the site.  Four men are being detained at police stations around the area in connection with firearms offences.

Residents of West Auckland, are claiming that a number of assaults have occurred during the night at the fair.

06/05/04  Homes  Plan for former Scrap Yard

Land formerly occupied by a recycling centre and car breakers may shortly become housing for 100 families. The plans may also include opening up a scheduled monument to more visitors. Hidden behind the former bus depot lie the remains of part of the Stockton and Darlington Railway Line.  A developer proposal near the scheduled ancient monument could see a landscaped footpath created to link the village to the site.  If approved the scheme would provide an information board to improve visitors understanding of the worlds first passenger railway which passed through the village.

Another developer want to build 128 homes with a looped road with landscaping and planting around the boundary of the site. in the proposal one of the 3 green spaces within the site could be opened as a community garden which the developer would contribute £112, 000 towards maintenance of the children's play area because of the councils attempt at saving money by closing 40 playgrounds. (see below and vote)

03/05/04  New Play Park Opened, whilst another faces an uncertain future

A £95,000 play park has made a dream come true for a small community. The Middlewood Green Action Group, consisting of residents and councillors from St Helen Auckland, near Bishop Auckland, has worked for five years to create a playing facility for the youngsters in the village. The development will give children an opportunity to enjoy playing five-a-side football and basketball, and practise their skills on the stunt ramps in the skate park.

The park was unveiled just days after Wear Valley District Council revealed it was closing 30 play areas. The play park near Oakley Cross School  in West Auckland may face closure unless the parish council aim to keep its upkeep, suggestions by Wear Valley Council include parishes raising extra money which would hit the council tax payer through a precept or parish charge.

04/04/04 'Give us the names of nuisance youths'

POLICE are appealing for villagers to help fight anti-social behaviour by identifying youths who have been disturbing the community and endangering the lives of motorists.Complaints to the police about gangs of young people congregating in the centre of West Auckland and causing a nuisance have risen sharply since the New Year.

PC Andy Hucker, beat officer for St Helen Auckland and West Auckland, said many residents have voiced their concerns at public meetings.He said: "People of all denominations are feeling threatened and intimidated by large groups of youths while going about their normal business."Often they do not even feel safe nipping to the local shop or to visit a neighbour.

"Another problem is the activity of throwing missiles at moving vehicles travelling through West Auckland. "This started as snowballs containing rocks in the winter, but now they are slinging mud and gravel at cars, which is mindless and dangerous."

PC Hucker is urging residents to name the youths causing the disturbances and for parents or guardians of children to ensure they know where they are and what they are doing. He said: "If we know who is causing the problems we can speak with parents or guardians and work together to re-educate them and form a resolution to these problems."

Anyone with information can call PC Hucker, PC Bill Lavery or Sergeant Jayne Kelly on (01388) 603566.

Cited in the Northern Echo 02/04/04

19/02/04  Teesdale Radio 107.2 FM  February 23 - March 21st

 Local people from Teesdale have set up their own Radio Station due to start Broadcasting on at 6 am on Monday 23rd February. It will Broadcast through conventional radio methods using 107.2 FM as well as internet broadcasting. For more info visit   or

19/02/04    West Auckland to get Broadband

One North East on the 23rd of January announced that most people living in the North East will have the opportunity of getting broadband by March 2005.  It is believed that West Auckland will be completed by September 04.

West Auckland Web would like to thank, Mrs Sam Easton who, on behalf of the people of West Auckland, Evenwood, Ramshaw, Toft Hill, Etherley, Bolam and  Bildershaw volunteered to be the official BT registered campaign leader for the West Auckland Exchange. And campaign she did, West Auckland Web acknowledges all the time and effort she put in, from creating posters, visiting post offices to gather registrations, meeting various people in BT, publicizing the campaign in  local newspapers and much more. Her effort more than doubled the then, number of registrations for broadband. So well done and thank you very much.  

09/01/04  Fire broke out at Priory Pine (Old Methodist Church)

The pine factory on Station Road in West Auckland, was on fire from around 16:45 on Friday 9th Jan. Approx 5 fire engines and one incident support fire units attended.  Two ambulances were also called one for a seriously injured man whom paramedics treated and rushed to Bishop Auckland hospital. According to the BBC teletext he is suffering from 90% burns. The police had the road shut during the fire and cleanup.   

05/01/04 Poisonous Women- Discovery Channel, Saturday 10th Jan

 'Poisonous Women', the documentary about Mary Ann Cotton, Nannie Doss and Kristen Gilbert, will be broadcast on the Discovery Channel  January 10th, 2004. It is believed that it will be broadcast at either 9 or 10pm. This documentary was produced by the Australian company Beyond Productions. Some of you may remember getting a free round of beer in the Prince of Wales purchased by Beyond.

17/11/03 Bring Broadband to West.

Breaking News : West Auckland Exchange trigger level has been set at a whopping 500 registrations.

Exchange Current Registrations Trigger Percentage

West Auckland 197 500 39.40%

Cockfield 47 400 11.75%

Staindrop 28 200 14.00%

Witton Le Wear 26 150 17.33%

Barnard Castle 172 500 34.40%

Mrs Sam Easton, the official, BT registered campaign leader for West Auckland Telephone Exchange, has recently appealed in the local newspapers and distributed leaflets has managed to increase the interest level from 93 to 190 which is a tremendous achievement, in only a few months, however please continue to show your support in registering your interest in broadband. When you do register your interest you are under no obligation to purchase broadband.  You can  pick up a registration form at the post office in West, Evenwood, Toft hill  and Etherley, complete it and leave it at the post office for collection.

You can register by clicking the link below or through most ISP`s such as Freeserve, AOL etc.

Benefits of broadband.

Use the Telephone whilst Surfing (yes miss no more calls whilst on the internet)

Permanent connection

Blistering speeds, a dial up modem may manage 56k (if its lucky) broadband will do 512k.

     14/10/03  Warning Bogus Officials

A man and a woman tricked there way into a household on Oakley Green on the 9th of October at approx 17:30. The woman claimed to be a social worker whilst the man claimed to be a plain clothed police officer. They asked questions to the son of the resident about an injury. They stayed for about 45 minutes before leaving,  stating they would be in contact. The woman was white, in her early 40s, 5ft 7in and slim, with blonde, shoulder-length, straight hair. She was wearing a beige trouser suit and white blouse, black shoes and gold hooped earrings. The man was white, of similar age, 5ft 10in, of average build, with short, dark brown hair. He wore black trousers, a white shirt and black clipped tie. Anyone with information is asked to call police on (01388) 603566 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.  The motive behind this is currently unknown.

Please remember genuine callers will be carrying identification and any unsolicited visitor should be asked to prove they are who they claim to be.

22/09/03 Mary Anne Cotton -  Friday 26th September, Tyne Tees. (ITV 1)

This Friday (26th September) a program entitled Britain's Forgotten Murderess will be screened on Tyne Tees (Channel 3 or ITV1) at 11 pm, so don't forget to watch it or set your video. This production was created by Granadamedia and have believed to have been filming around West Auckland in recent weeks. Mary Anne Cotton over the years has attracted a lot of interest from various people. This year included an Australian company called beyond productions and the well known company Granada Media, so remember to watch or set your video on Friday.

17/08/03  Village Carnival

 This Years Carnival is only a week away on Monday August 25th start 1pm, make it a carnival to remember.


Blue Grass - a Great North East Band

Resident Vocalist - Hodgy

Various Stalls

Jazz Band Display

Youth Line Dancing Display

Weardale Railway Trust

Side Shows/ Kiddies Rides

W/Aucks First Duck Race

Grand Raffle -

Many Other Attractions

28/07/03 Bypass Scheme to go on show

A planning application for the 2.5 km single carriageway road has been submitted by Durham County Council. It will join the first completed stage of the bypass at St Helens, joining the A68 at Hummerbeck and then continues to join the A688 near the Oakley service station.  Work is scheduled to go ahead in the autumn, subject to planning approval. The Public can view the 5 million proposal at.

          The Manor house Hotel  4 - 8th August and 1 - 5 September.

           The Village Centre  11 - 29 August between 10am and noon.


11/07/03 Oakley beck to be included in Flood Defence plans

Work is currently being carried out at Spring Gardens (West Auckland) and South Church, to improve flood defences from the River Gaunless, after the floods of 2000 where 250 homes where damaged by water. The Environment agency, under new jurisdiction  will include the downstream section of the Oakley beck (a tributary of the River Gaunless) in flood defence schemes. Approx 40 homes where flooded when the beck burst its banks on the same night as the Gaunless on the 4th June 2000.  

04/06/03  New For Old, Old Houses Demolished, New houses built for St Helens


As many of you are aware work is still continuing on the councils master plan to upgrade St Helens by demolishing streets of houses, the remaining council houses will be upgraded to the 21st century government standards according to St Helens Residents Association. The plan is still being delayed a little bit due difficulties in re-housing some residents. A private housing company have outlined plans for a possible 130 houses to be developed on land behind the bungalows at Finchale Square. The Plans are available to see at the Old Bank Chambers in Bishop Auckland.

05/05/03     Election Results -District and Parish Councils.

Parish of West Auckland, West Auckland 1 Ward.  6 Seats.

BELL John Hopkinson. KNOWN AS JACK    MAIRS Colin, NIVEN John , PALFREYMAN James Arthur, ROBERTS Hugh Martin, STOCKS Michael   

Parish of West Auckland, West Auckland 2 Ward.   Seats: 6.

CHARLTON Hazel .FARRER Edward, FERGUSON John, RIELLY Lynn Anne, TURNER Andrew Hunter, WHITEHEAD Andrew   

06/04/03  TV Company Interested In Mary Anne Cotton

A leading Australian TV company over the last few weeks have been contacting West Auckland Web regarding the infamous tale of Mary Anne Cotton. They are currently producing a documentary for the Discovery Channel about women who murder or attempt murder by poisoning.  They will be following 3-4  cases, both historic and contemporary, one of which we expect to be the story of Mary Ann Cotton. The Beyond Production company ( may be making a location visit to West Auckland in the near future.

28/03/03  Road Improvements under way, but residents vent anger

in mid March the start of the road and pedestrian improvements began. Starting with the  roundabout at the top of Mill Bank. Shortly after, work started on the A68/Chapel St roundabout as per plan which can be seen below. However residents were in for a shock when the placement of what some describe as "awful looking bollards that are out of character with the area", were fixed to the pavement outside the Ex Dave Naylor TV shop. This deprives  local residents parking outside their homes and makes it difficult for the loading and unloading of merchandise being delivered to the current business in the ex Dave Naylor Premises.  Now the businessman can only block off the road causing further congestion.

In a meeting with residents the County Council admitted it made a mistake with the pedestrian island to cross the busy A68. As can be seen in the photo (right) council workmen dug up the road to build the pedestrian island only to find that lorries could not negotiate around it. so hence its plans have been scrapped. Residents suggested that a pelican or zebra crossing should be placed there, however the council spokesmen said there is no more money to do that. Even though it is one of the busiest crossing points in West Auckland.   Perhaps it will take someone to be seriously injured or killed before the bungling council will satisfactorily deal with crossing point over the busy A68 in West Auckland.

16/01/03  Village Centre Luncheon Club

Next luncheon club outing is to Saxon Inn, Escomb on Tuesday 4 February, bus leaves at 12.00noon and returns at 2.45pm.  £1.10 secures a seat on the bus, payable at the Centre.  Menu - snacks from £2.95, meals from £4.95.  People will have the opportunity to visit the Church.

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