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23/12/06     Festive Cheer

ELDERLY residents in West Auckland were given some festive cheer this week as they received Christmas hampers. Members of the village's Parish Council called round to both of the village's residential homes to deliver fruit, mince pies, chocolate and drink. On Monday, they went to Devonshire House Nursing Home and on Wednesday they visited East Green Home. All of the goods are from local suppliers and stores, and were delivered by parish council chair Hazel Charlton, vice chair Colin Mairs and councillor Andy Turner. Coun Charlton said: "We like them to know and feel that they are an important part of the community. "They always make us very welcome and are very appreciative of what we do." Marion Reed, manageress of Devonshire House, said: "They always bring a nice hamper and the residents appreciate it."

Dan King , Reporter - Northern Echo

23/12/06   Gas Leak a Care Home

NEARLY 40 elderly residents were evacuated from a County Durham care home following a gas leak. Staff at East Green Home in West Auckland noticed the smell of gas on Thursday afternoon, resulting in all 36 residents requiring alternative accommodation. It is hoped that they will be able to return to the Durham County Council-run residential home today (TUES 19th), following repair work. Transco were called on Thursday after the smell was first detected, and after carrying out a check, they discovered a gas leak. The fault meant that there was no heating and no means of providing hot food for at least two days, so after consultation with the residents' families, it was decided to move them all. Some have been staying with residents, while others have been transferred to nearby care homes. Durham County Council's corporate director of adult and community services, Rachael Shimmin, said: "Moving residents is a big step to take but we transferred them to local homes and made sure there was as little inconvenience as possible.  "The job has been repaired and we would expect that the whole process will be completed by tea time." Almost half of the residents have been housed at the 40-bedroom Chilton Care Centre. The £1.8m centre is owned by Guardian Care Homes UK, whose operations director Elaine Reay said: "The home has only been open since August, so we were able to look after 16 people.

"Obviously, they were upset by all the upheaval but we made them feel at home and they soon settled in. We were delighted to be able to help." West Auckland Parish Council had planned to deliver a Christmas hamper to the home yesterday, but will instead call in tomorrow (WED) with their festive treats.

Dan King, Reporter - Northern Echo

26/11/06                     New Age Curling

New age curling - exactly what is it, well you can find out, because the West Auckland Community Association  proudly presents a Free Sampling session at the Memorial Hall, Darlington Road, West Auckland on Tuesday 16th of January, at any time between 10 am and 12:00 Noon. It is suitable for all ages and abilities/disabilities.

09/11/2006           Get into the Christmas Spirit - Christmas Decorations-  Competition

VILLAGERS and businesses in West Auckland are being encouraged to get into the festive spirit this Christmas. The annual competition for the best Christmas decorations in the village is again being run by West Auckland Parish Council. There are prizes and certificates for the residents whose efforts are deemed the most impressive, while the best business decorations are also rewarded.

Judging will take place on the evening of Friday, December 15, with The Northern Echo's Mike Amos and Sharon Griffiths making the decisions. The winner will receive £50 plus a certificate, with the runner up awarded with £25 and a certificate. The best commercial premises will be presented with a trophy to hold for the rest of the year, as well as a certificate. This will be the fourth year of the competition, although this year sees a slightly different format.

Last year, there were prizes for the best large house decorations - won by John and Juliet Metcalfe of Raby Terrace - and the best small house, awarded to Anne and Harry Gittins, of Staindrop Road. The best commercial premises has been won by the Eden Arms for each of the past three years.


02/11/06                     Pitman's World Cup medal failed to attract catalogue price

A MEDAL awarded to a pitman who helped an amateur football team win the first World Cup is to stay in the North-East after failing to meet its reserve at auction yesterday. West Auckland Football Club won the first Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy in Turin, after they were chosen to represent Great Britain against the cream of Europe in 1909.The medal awarded to the team's goal-scoring goalkeeper, James Dickenson, went under the hammer yesterday in west London, but failed to attract its catalogue price of between £15,000 and £20,000.It was offered by Graham Budd Auctions at Sotherby's Olympia as one of more than 800 lots, but although bidding reached £12,000, it failed to sell. Auctioneer Graham Budd said: "We will see what happens in the next couple of days."We sometimes get offers on things after the auction, and someone may well come up with one that is nearer the asking price."If it comes to nothing, it will return to its owner."The medal - which is engraved with the words Torneo Internazionale di Football, Indetto dalla Stampa Sportiva, Torino, Aprile 1909 - was offered on behalf of Mr Dickenson's grandson, who lives in the region.The keeper did not concede a goal in the tournament, which saw the team of miners from the Northern League beat FC Winterhour, of Switzerland, in the final.He also scored a penalty in the 2-0 semi-final win over Stuttgart, of Germany.

14/10/2006                      Pitman's World Cup medal for sale -

THE medal awarded to the pitman who helped West Auckland win the first ever World Cup is set to go under the hammer. West Auckland stunned the football world when they won the first Sir Thomas Lipton trophy in 1909.The competition began when businessman Sir Thomas Lipton wanted to see a competition held between the leading football clubs of Europe. The football associations of Italy, Germany and Switzerland agreed to take part, but the Football Association of England refused to nominate a club. Although no one is sure why, West Auckland, an amateur side of coalminers from the Northern League, were entered. Some sources say Sir Thomas's secretary wrote to WAFC, thinking Woolwich Arsenal FC would reply. Instead, West Auckland FC did.   The plucky pitmen did the country proud, beating FC Winterhour, of Switzerland, in the final in Turin. Almost 100 years later, the winner's medal of goalkeeper James Dickenson will be offered at Graham Budd Auctions, in London, on November 1.Keeper Dickenson did not concede a goal in the tournament. He also scored a penalty in the 2-0 semi-final win over Stuttgart of Germany. The medal is being sold by Mr Dickenson's grandson, who lives in the North-East, and is expected to raise up to £20,000.The club, which plays in the Arngrove Northern League Division One, owns one medal, believed to be from team captain Bob Jones. General manager Stuart Alderson said he had no idea it was worth so much. He said: "I'm shocked - I didn't think it would bring anything like that. I don't know if we would ever sell ours, but at that price, who knows? "The original trophy - which the club defended two years later when they beat Juventus 6-1 in the final - was stolen in 1994

Source: Northern Echo

25/09/2006                 Work Now Started on the West Auckland Bypass

The 1.5 mile long stretch of single carriageway, which is expected to take around ten months to complete, will link the first stage of the bypass, which was completed in 1998, adjoining the St. Helen Industrial Estate, with the A688 on the south western outskirts of West Auckland. In doing so, it will remove unnecessary through traffic and improve environmental conditions for people in West Auckland, St. Helen Auckland and Tindale Crescent.


04/09/2006 Council hopes to create war memorial on village green

RESIDENTS are hoping that a war memorial at a 166-year-old disused water fountain will create a focal point in the centre of their village. West Auckland Parish Council wants to create a memorial at the "pant" on the west side of the village green. The council is hoping to secure funding for the war memorial after recommending the historic pant as a heritage point along the proposed South West Durham Corridor.

Hazel Charlton, chairwoman of the parish council, said: "We haven't got a memorial anywhere in the village. In the memorial hall we've got the names of those from the First World War, and we were thinking of adding the names of those who fought in the Second World War. "But there's nowhere for anybody to lay flowers. "A few people have come up to me and said there's nowhere like this in West Auckland or Saint Helen Auckland. "The pant has been there for hundreds of years, from the time when people would tie their horses to it, so we are thinking that we could incorporate the memorial into the area round the pant and make it more of a feature of the village." Mrs Charlton said that the parish council wants to grass over the path to the pant, making it part of the green again.

The council is also hoping to create a garden area surrounding the war memorial. Parish councillor and local historian Martin Roberts said: "The pant was built in about 1840 as a water fountain and made redundant in 1890.

"It was made into a memorial for the jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897 but now it's redundant again, so we thought we could revive it as a possible site for a new war memorial. "The only memorial we have got in the village is the memorial hall, which is great, because it's a building we can use, but we thought it would be good to create an external expression in the village for those that died in the war."

Source : Northern Echo website http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/newsbyedition/swcodurham/display.var.905524.0.council_hopes_to_create_war_memorial_on_village_green.php

01/08/2006  Work to Start This Month on £7M West Auckland Bypass

Work is due to start within days (Monday August 14 ) on the main phase of work to complete the £7m West Auckland Bypass.

The 1.5 mile long stretch of single carriageway, which is expected to take around ten months to complete, will link the first stage of the bypass, which was completed in 1998, adjoining the St. Helen Industrial Estate, with the A688 on the south western outskirts of West Auckland. In doing so, it will remove unnecessary through traffic and improve environmental conditions for people in West Auckland, St. Helen Auckland and Tindale Crescent.  

Work on the scheme was due to start in August 2004, but was delayed after a public inquiry was called over an objection to a compulsory purchase order required for the development.

However, the Secretary of State subsequently announced a decision in favour of the County Council.

Advance works for the bypass were carried out last year and included a minor diversion of the River Gaunless to allow a new bridge to be built during the main phase of works.

The new highway will include three new roundabouts, on the A68 at Hummerbeck, at the western end of the first stage next to St Helens Industrial Estate and where it joins the A688 near Oakley Service Station, together with a path for pedestrians, horse riders and cyclists throughout its length.

The work will be carried out by Balfour Beatty Ltd.

A consultation exercise carried out in the summer of 2002 showed overwhelming support for the bypass.

Coun Sonny Douthwaite, Chairman of Durham County Council’s Highways Committee, said the scheme aimed to improve road safety and the environment as well as links between the rural west and centre of the County and access to industrial areas in West Auckland and St. Helen Auckland.

"It forms a significant part of the County Council's second Local Transport Plan, covering the period 2006-2011,” he added.

“ I’m delighted that we’re now ready to start work on the main phase of the scheme. A bypass has been on the cards for a long time now, but at last it is to become a reality.

“ There’s no doubt it will be of tremendous benefit to local residents.”

20/07/06  Multi User Route - West Auckland to Barnard Castle - South West Durham Heritage Corridor Project

A meeting will be held at the Village Centre on Thursday 3rd August regarding the proposed creation of a multi user route along the disused railway line from Barnard Castle to West  Auckland.  The main focus of the meeting is heritage as Ground work - West Durham is trying to gather ideas for small projects in villages along the line that could be funded by the Your Heritage Initiative (which is part of the Heritage Lottery Fund).  These projects would be community led and ideally would create greater access to West Auckland's heritage and increase opportunities for local people to get involved.   If you have some ideas for West Auckland projects or would like to find out more about the whole project please come along, the meeting will start at 7.00pm.

02/05/06  Nightclub demolition paves way for town regeneration

THE demolition of a derelict nightclub and former cash-and-carry is the icing on the cake for villagers who have fought hard to regenerate their community.

In their heyday, George Matthews Cash-and-Carry and Trax nightclub and motel, St Helen Auckland, were thriving businesses to be proud of. But over the past few years, the derelict buildings have fallen into a state of disrepair, victim to vandals and creating a dominating eyesore on the village outskirts.

Last week, plans for a housing development by Broseley Homes were given the go-ahead by the district council's development control committee, and soon the buildings will make way for 87 homes. It is one of several housing developments which are being built in the village as part of a major regeneration plan.

In recent years, the village had become run down and has been dogged by anti-social behaviour and vandalism. But villagers fought back and have since created a community to be proud of, through the hard work of groups such as the St Helens Residents' Association.

26/04/06   Historic railway will form main route of tourist trail

A DISUSED railway route is to form the basis of a 12-mile tourism trail. The Barnard Castle to West Auckland railway line opened in 1863 and closed in 1964.

The proposed South-West Durham Heritage Corridor project will form an all-weather track suitable for cycling, walking and horse riding. The route the track takes is rich in industrial heritage, with a number of structures from the Stockton and Darlington Railway still present. The track will be complemented with improvements to the surrounding landscapes and restoration of many of the structures. Work on the £6.5m long-term project will hopefully start in 2008, and potential funding sources include the Heritage Lottery Fund and One NorthEast. The project is aimed at boosting trade and tourism in the area. West Auckland sits on the intersection of the A68 and A688 - popular routes for Northumberland, Scotland and the Lake District. The track will be based on the route of the disused railway but takes in a corridor on either side, travelling through Cockfield, Evenwood and Ramshaw.

Associated regeneration schemes are planned along the route to improve specific areas.

The trail will provide a relatively level off-road route and will cross a number of bridges and two viaducts, one of which is Grade II-listed.

Durham County Council's cabinet member for the environment, Bob Pendlebury, said: "I am pretty confident that we will be able to pull this project together and it will certainly be a very attractive proposal."Many of the changes over the years across the county have been for the benefit of trade and tourism, as indeed this will be. "But it will also make a difference to the people who live there and hopefully give them a boost too."

In a recent meeting, councillors agreed to acquire the land necessary to build the continuous trail and approved preparation of plans for the scheme.

02/04/06  Celebrating 50 years of marriage

A BUSY couple who devote their lives to public service celebrated their golden wedding yesterday. Councillors Sonny and Margaret Douthwaite spend many hours working for the community of St Helen Auckland, near Bishop Auckland.

They are the only husband and wife to have served as chairman of Wear Valley District Council, where Mrs Douthwaite is still a member and chairs the licensing committee. Mr Douthwaite joined Durham County Council in 1997 and is now chairman of highways, one of the busiest posts on the authority.

They met as teenagers growing up in West Auckland in the late 1940s and married six years after they first got together in 1950. Mr Douthwaite said: "We lead busy lives and rarely see each other during the day but it works for us. "We love our work in the community and we understand what each other does.  "It never stops being interesting."

Source: Northern Echo

24/03/06 Female Volunteers Wanted

FEMALE volunteers are being sought to help with a community drop-in centre in West Auckland. The former village centre on Front Street will be used as a meeting point for youngsters when it reopens in a few weeks following an extensive renovation.

West Auckland Community Partnership Group is looking for volunteers aged over 17 to help run the centre and its two age groups of seven to 11-year-olds and 11 to 18-year-olds. But although local men have stepped forward, no women have so far volunteered.  

West Auckland beat officer PC Andy Hucker, who is involved with the group, said that they hoped to have volunteers of both genders as it will be a mixed centre. He said: "We are looking for females who have an interest in doing youth work. It's an opportunity to get into voluntary work and make a difference in the community."

The centre is due to reopen at the end of May after grants worth about £30,000 were secured, and Bishop Auckland MP Helen Goodman has agreed to become its patron. Any females interested in working with the centre can contact PC Hucker on 0845 6060365 ext 2306.

Source: Northern Echo

20/03/06 Dial A bobby

A NEW dial-a-bobby scheme has been launched allowing residents in West Auckland to leave messages for their local beat officers.

Villagers can leave information or comments for PC Ian Nelson and PC Andy Hucker, who patrol the streets of West Auckland, on the recorded service. But PC Nelson, speaking at a meeting of West Auckland Parish Council, said that incidents should still be reported in the usual way.He said: "As we are not on duty every day, it's not always possible to contact us, but you can leave a message.

"It's not a means for reporting an incident. Incidents would still need to be reported with the normal procedure, but if you want to leave a bit of information, this is the means to do that." Contact PC Nelson on 0845 6060365, ext 6232058, and PC Hucker on ext 6231710

Source: Northern Echo

13/01/06    Pension Crisis Threatens Jobs in West Auckland  

A NORTH-EAST company last night became the latest victim of the UK's mounting pension crisis as it called in administrators, putting almost 50 jobs at risk.

Aptec Technologies, in West Auckland, near Bishop Auckland, County Durham, had a £14m pension deficit when it last filed its accounts, and the gap is believed to have been unsustainable, forcing it to call in administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers.In Aptec's accounts, filed with Companies House on December 31, 2003, it said that, as of March 31, 2002, its gap between the actual value of the scheme and the target value was £14.4m.Aptec, which has 47 workers at West Auckland and an annual turnover of £3m, appointed administrators on Tuesday, blaming a "significant" pension deficit for its problems.It was not clear last night what the up-to-date deficit figure was, or whether workers' pension rights would be protected.

Ian Green, joint administrator and partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said: "In common with many companies at this time, Aptec Technologies has suffered from the difficulties of a significant pension deficit, and the ongoing funding of this was the predominant factor in the directors' decision to seek the protection of the administration order."The business is operating with a full order book and manufacturing is ongoing."With the support of key customers and suppliers, we are hopeful of a sale of all or part of the business, safeguarding the jobs of the workforce."The pension deficits of large, FTSE 100-listed companies have been well documented in recent weeks, with British Airways' £1.3bn pension fund deficit prompting threats of strike action from pilots yesterday.

With new pension legislation being considered by the Government, which would require employers to contribute more to final-salary schemes, business leaders are worried some small companies would be unable to cope.Andrew Sugden, policy director at the North-East Chamber of Commerce, said: "Any business with a final-salary pension scheme is going to have problems, and will have to face up to those issues."

Source: Northern Echo 13/01/06

04/01/06       Grants Given to Renovate Village Centre

WORK to renovate a community centre will start later this month after a group of villagers raised enough funding for work to commence.

Since 2001, members of the West Auckland Community Partnership have been raising money to give their village centre a much-needed refurbishment.

They have received grants worth about £30,000 and now have sufficient cash for work to begin. Plans for the site, opposite the village green, include a kitchen, upgraded toilets, Internet access points and better accessibility.

The centre has been used as a meeting point for people of all ages since it was launched as a pilot scheme five years ago, but has long been in need of improved facilities.

John Niven, from the partnership, said that work was set to get under way within the next few days and should be completed within three months.

He said: "We hope to start doing refurbishment work by the end of January, with the aim being to finish by the end of March. We are still working to tie up a few loose ends but we now have enough money to start.

"It would be somewhere where anyone could come, maybe just for a cup of tea, or for information about different activities - somewhere to bring the people of the village together."

The centre is a former Co-op building and library which has opened sporadically for different uses over the past ten years, but recently it has been used during the week as a youth drop-in venue.

The success of the pilot scheme has led to the community partnership deciding to use it as a full-time village centre. The money has been raised through grants, but the group is still hoping to secure more funding in order to complete the work.

Mr Niven said: "The main funding we have had so far is from the Big Lottery Fund, which made up 50 per cent. Another 25 per cent came from the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund."

Bishop Auckland MP Helen Goodman has agreed to become patron of the centre, and will open it when the work is completed.

Source: Northern Echo 03/01/06

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