Durham County Council have regular consultations with the Public and current Consultations can be found at the link below

Current Co Durham Consultations



Consett Post Office - Consultation

As you may already be aware, Consett Post Office is proposing to relocate from Victoria Road to Middle Street (PhoneHub retail store), Consett.

The Post Office will be hosting a Customer Forum which will take place on Thursday 29th August at Christ Church Consett, Parliament St, Consett, DH8 5DH. The session will run between 3.00pm and 6.00pm

The forum will provide an opportunity for customers and stakeholders to meet representatives of the Post Office to discuss the proposal in more detail. There is no formal presentation so customers are able to drop in at any time during the session to discuss the proposal in more detail. 

Please note that this consultation closes on 11th September 2019.

If you are not able to attend the above meeting, you can visit (please search for ‘Consett Post Office’) for more information.

Long Term Empty Property Council Tax Premium consultation

We are reviewing our policy relating to council tax charges for empty properties and want your views on proposals which would see the premium charge increased for long term empty properties.


Empty properties can deteriorate rapidly and become a target for vandalism and crime, having a negative effect on the neighbourhood and surrounding area. 

Since April 2013, we have charged a 50% premium on properties that have been unoccupied and unfurnished for more than 2 years unless they were undergoing major repairs. Up to 12 months delay in paying the premium could be allowed so major repairs could be completed. Within six months of being introduced in 2013, 727 properties had been brought back into use. A third of all long-term empty properties are owned by absent landlords.

Following a change in the law in April 2019, we can now charge a larger percentage of premium for these types of houses.

Evidence shows that the premium provides an incentive to the owners of long-term empty properties to bring them back into use and could potentially boost the supply of properties available to rent in the county and help support our housing and homeless strategies.

To find out more and have your say on this consultation, please go to and complete the online survey 5.00pm on 6 October 2019.

Consultation Notification - High Needs Block for SEND/I

I am writing to inform you of a consultation on the High Needs Block funding that supports children and young people with Special Education Needs, Disability (SEND) and alternative education requirements. The consultation went live on 17th July and will run until 17th October 2019. Information about this consultation and how you can have your say can be found at:

NHS announces consultation decision

Patients in Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield will still be able to access services during the evening and weekends in a GP ‘hub’ near to where they live, following a 12 week public consultation.

The CCG has announced the decision to implement changes to ‘7 day services’ following support received at the Durham Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 11 June 2019. The CCGs Governing Body approved the recommendations presented in an independent report in a meeting held in public on 28 May.

Changes to the service providing additional appointments during evening and weekends via GP ‘hubs’ have been agreed and will be in place in September/ October this year. 

Additional appointments will be available at the following ‘hubs’ but it is important to note these services are not walk in services and can only be accessed via your own GP practice or NHS111.

In the Durham Dales additional appointments will be available from 12 noon - 8 pm during the week and 10am – 2pm on a weekend in Bishop Auckland. 

In the Easington area, appointments will be available from 12 noon – 8 pm during the week and 8am – 1pm on a weekend in Peterlee and in Seaham from 6-8pm during the week and 8am – 1pm on a weekend.

In Sedgefield area, additional appointments will be available 12 noon - 8pm during the week and 10am-2pm on weekends from Newton Aycliffe,  In addition, Spennymoor will provide appointments from 6 – 8pm during the week and 10am-2pm on a weekend and in Sedgefield from 10am-2pm on a weekend only.

There have been changes to the number of hubs available, but patients in these areas will still be able to access the service from a neighboring ‘hub’. 

We will provide more support to access transport for those who need it, especially to towns that no longer have a ‘hub’. In addition more pre- booked appointments out of hours for those patients who struggle to access normal GP services will be provided and enhanced services for frail and housebound patients.

The CCG wants to remind people that they should think GP surgery first during the day between 8am-6pm, Monday-Friday and contact NHS 111 at all other times where clinical staff will signpost you to the most appropriate service based on your clinical need.

The consultation report is being widely publicised and is available on the CCG website at

Special Education Needs Funding Consultation

A three-month consultation on a range of options to changes of services for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and those who need alternative arrangements for education is due to run from the 17 July to 17 October 2019. 

The review and consultation will explore how the council can ease the significant financial pressures it is facing around its provision for SEND and alternative arrangements for education. Currently funding comes from government through what is called the High Needs Block (HNB) of the Dedicated Schools Grant and the council is spending around 15 per cent more on these services than it recesives.

The council will undertake a review of spending on a broad range of services currently paid for through the high needs block, including the following areas:

  • funding and places in special schools; 
  • transport for pupils attending the pupil referral unit;
  • the commissioning of support services such as integrated therapies, equipment and adaptations;
  • the model for top up and targeted funding for young people with SEND;
  • financial support provided through local partnerships of schools and funding for the pupil referral unit and alternative provision.

As part of the consultation we are putting together a video to convey the key proposals, survey form / online form and focus groups where we can discuss key proposals.  We would welcome the opportunity to come along and discuss the outline proposals, could you let me know a date between the 17 July to 17 October 2019 

New plans for Festival Walk to be unveiled

Festival Walk, located in the heart of Spennymoor’s town centre, is set to be redeveloped as part of ongoing regeneration work across the county.

Durham County Council will host a joint pre-planning public consultation along with the potential developers Hellens Group and ALDI, from 10am on Thursday, 18th July at Spennymoor Town Hall. This will provide an opportunity for residents and local businesses to review and comment on the exciting new proposals at the earliest opportunity.

To find out more visit

Healthwatch Flu vaccination survey

Healthwatch County Durham has been asked by Durham County Council’s Public Health team to gather feedback on what people think about the flu vaccination.  We want to find out what discourages eligible people from getting their free flu vaccination and find out what would encourage more people to get vaccinated.  The following are eligible for a free NHS flu vaccine: 

  • ·Children aged 2 - 10yrs on 31stAugust 2019
  • ·Those aged 65 years old or over   
  • ·Pregnant women 
  • ·People with certain medical conditions, aged 6 months – 65yrs
  • ·Those in long-stay residential care homes
  • ·Carers
  • ·Those in close contact with immunocompromised individuals
  • ·Frontline health and social care workers 

If you are able to share our survey with any of your clients/carers or any of your team that would be really helpful.  You can use the paper version attached and return completed surveys to the address on the survey itself.  Or you can use the online version -

The deadline is 19th July.

Many thanks,

Denise Alexander

Durham 2035 - a vision for County Durham consultation

We would very much appreciate it if you could circulate the following to your groups and networks to promote the Durham 2035 – a vision for County Durham Consultation. The consultation will run until the 30 July 2019.

By 2035, County Durham will have more and better jobs, people will live long and independent lives and communities will be well connected and supportive.

That’s the vision being proposed for the area by the County Durham Partnership – but do you agree with this ambition for the future?

Residents, business and visitors to the county are being asked for their views on the ambitions laid out in the vision. The vision document, which has been has been shaped by feedback received during an earlier consultation at the end of last year, also outlines a series of aims and objectives which underpin the vision statement.

More information, including a video and copy of the vision, is available at

Durham History Centre consultation 

Following approval by councillors in January 2019 to proceed, we are now at a second stage consultation seeking feedback on the high-level design and service proposals for Durham History Centre. We’d really appreciate the views of as many people as possible. Would you be able to share this information with your contacts and put on Durham Voice please?

Durham History Centre will bring into one central location the story of the history and heritage of the county, as told through historic records, photographs and objects. The proposals will bring Mount Oswald Manor House back into use, adding a high quality, visually appealing extension which will complement the existing building.  

The extension will provide space for exhibitions, activities and events, which celebrate our County’s history, and a secure home for the heritage collections. There will be an attractive destination café for all as well as a catering offer.  There will be space to view original historic documents and objects both physically and digitally and a dedicated volunteer room. A classroom will expand access for children and schools countywide.

The existing Manor House will provide enhanced registration services.

Visit for more information on this exciting project, details of drop in sessions and how you can share your views with us.

The consultation runs until Sunday 28 July 2019.

Social value in government procurement

The government is consulting on how government should take account of social value when it awards contracts, including the introduction of an ‘evaluation model’ to test whether social value is being adequately incorporated into central government procurement. NCVO will be submitting a response. The consultation closes on 10 June 2019.

My MS My Needs

The My MS My Needs survey has now been launched. It is the largest survey of people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS) in the UK.

It has been announced that for the first time, we are running an MS family & friends survey, alongside My MS My Needs. We want to support our entire community, people with MS and those who provide them with vital support to live well. We would like to reach as many people as we can so that we can learn as much as possible about their experience of having or being affected by MS.

I would be grateful if you could share the attached flyer across your networks, on any social media channels, in e:bulletins or with anyone you know who has MS or provides support to someone who does. If you know of any other organisations or contacts that may be able to help spread the message and extend the reach of this survey please pass this on to them too. Electronic links to the surveys are as follows: -

My MS My Needs:

MS Family & Friends:

There is also a blog about this on our website

Review of the Autism Strategy from the Department of Education… 

Please see below the launch of a national call for evidence to inform the review of the autism strategy by the Department of Education.

Today, with the Department for Education, we have launched a national call for evidence to inform our review of the autism strategy. The call for evidence is inviting views from autistic people, their families and carers as well as those of professionals. It is aimed at finding out what is working and where progress has been made and importantly where we need to push harder to transform the lives of autistic people, their families and carers.

The call for evidence can be accessed online at the following link and is open for responses until 16 May 2019.

As well as the opportunity to give views online, we are working with organisations and networks, to organise face to face sessions with groups of autistic people, including children and young people.

We are keen to gather as many views as possible and would be very grateful if you could share the link via your websites, networks and social media.

Review of Statement of Policy under the Licensing Act 2003

All licensing authorities must prepare and publish a statement of their licensing policy every five years. Our current policy which was published in 2014 must be reviewed this year. We will be developing a new policy over the coming months that will be adopted by the Council by the end of October 2019.

In carrying out that review, we want to consult with existing licensed premises and with organisations, persons and bodies representing responsible authorities, the public and most importantly, the licensed trade in our area.

As with the current policy, the new one will be focussed on the following four licensing objectives which the policy will seek to promote:

  • The prevention of crime and disorder
  • Public Safety
  • The prevention of public nuisance
  • The protection of children from harm

We believe that the Council’s licensing policy should benefit the operators of licensed premises and the public alike. Our policy will reflect and incorporate the freedoms and flexibility provided to the licensed trade and leisure industry by the Act. However, it is important that our licensing policy balances the legitimate needs of businesses in the county and the demand for leisure and cultural activities alongside the need to protect those who could be adversely affected by licensed premises.

We would very much like to hear your views in relation to our current licensing policy. We would welcome any suggestions you may wish to make that might lead to improvements in our policy for the coming five-year period.

To have your say on the policy you can let us know via the following link:

Alternatively, you may wish to respond by writing to me at the address below, marking your correspondence “Review of Licensing Policy” or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.Comments must be received by Friday 3rd May 2019.

Access to GP Appointments

Healthwatch County Durham has been asked by the two Clinical Commissioning Groups in County Durham to gather feedback on the impact Care Navigation has had on the patient’s experience in Primary Care ie GP services.  Care Navigation is the system where trained, non-clinical staff, talk to patients when they book an appointment, providing information about the professionals or services that may be suitable for a patient’s needs.  Our role is to carry out an independent, confidential evaluation of Care Navigation. 

The survey closes at the end of February and all responses are anonymous.  Our aim is to find out what is working well and what could be done better.  

If you’d like to get your voice heard follow this link – 

Stroke Rehabilitation Services - Engagement

The three Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) covering County Durham and Darlington are looking to gather the views from patients who have experienced a stroke and / or their families/carers, to help us to provide a service that delivers care closer to home where possible and more continuity of care. The review is looking at the current pathway which includes the specialist stroke rehabilitation provision at Bishop Auckland Hospital, as well as rehabilitation provision outside the hospital in the community. The engagement activity will begin on Thursday 4th October until Friday 9th November and will include speaking to patients who are currently on the stroke wards at Bishop Auckland Hospital and University Hospital of North Durham and those who have recently been discharged. We will also be attending established stroke groups within the community to talk to stroke survivors to gather feedback on their experiences. We will be discussing options around new ways of providing care to stroke patients which would enhance their experience.

If you have recently experienced a stroke or are a family member/carer for someone who has, and would like give your views on your experience of the rehabilitation services, please click the link to take part in a survey: If you need assistance in completing the survey, would like a paper copy or require the survey in an alternative format, please contact Tina Balbach on 0191 371 3245 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Young People's Transition of Care 

Healthwatch County Durham has just launched a survey on the transition of care for young people with extra needs from children’s to adult services. The survey is for young people aged 13 – 25yrs with extra care needs, or a family member or carer who supports them. It’s suitable for those who are just starting to think about moving or have already been transferred into adult services. We would love to hear from you, just click on the link