Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Durham City Market Place - Public Meeting 21/7/11

Last Thursday, I went to a public meeting at St Nicholas Church to discuss the controversial redevelopment of Durham Market Place. Durham has a population of only 30,000, yet over 6,000 people felt sufficiently concerned about this scheme to object to it at the planning stage. Despite these protests, it was forced through by Durham County Council with only minor changes. So much for local democracy in Durham.

As the project is now virtually complete, only minor changes can be made to the anonymous plaza we have been left with; but the dominant concern that kept coming up in this meeting was not aesthetics but road safety. All the kerbs and pavements were removed during the redevelopment, leaving a dangerous situation where neither vehicles nor pedestrians know where they are supposed to go. One resident was so worried by this that he drove all the way back from a business trip to Nottingham just to have his say. His point was that something needs to be done pronto before someone is seriously injured or worse.

I was impressed at the way local MP Roberta Blackman-Woods chaired this meeting and also her promises of fast action on road safety and the less important issues of shoddy benches and bins. Let's hope that she can deliver. Until then, be sure to keep your wits about you on the mean and increasingly dangerous streets of DC...