Elvet & Gilesgate

Victoria and Omide are your local Labour candidates for the Elvet & Gilesgate ward, standing in this year’s Durham County Council election in May. Highly-experienced Parish councillors, they understand the unique needs of the city and are hoping for your support in ensuring those needs are heard at the highest level.

Victoria and Omide are standing in the Elvet & Gilesgate ward this May. As your local Labour team they are committed to working hard to build a thriving economy that works for everyone.

This has been a difficult time for everyone, and we hope that you have not suffered too greatly through the pandemic. Support is always available to you from your local branch, and we are always there to help in any way we can.

We want to represent every member of the Elvet & Gilesgate community, so if you have any local issues on which you feel strongly, please let us know – again, we will do everything we can to help.

As we build up towards the elections in May, we want to highlight some of the important issues that need to be tackled.

Read on to find out Victoria and Omide’s vision and commitment to the city, and a message from them ahead of Election Day.

COVID RECOVERY Initially, the biggest issues at county level facing the council will be the economic and psychological recovery from COVID. We fear that government will try to leave much of the recovery to local authorities, without providing the resources to do so – allowing us to raise council tax but not providing new funding opportunities. We want to be able to manage our recovery from the pandemic, without having to add further strain on the finances of the people of County Durham. 

We are both passionate supporters of fairness for all and have been fighting the effects of austerity for ten years, trying to improve the quality of life for those who have been hit hardest. We fear that the impact of COVID on the economy will continue to widen the gap between those who will benefit and those who will suffer, and we will support the council’s efforts to invest in the local economy as the county recovers from the impact of the last 12 months.

The Environment One of our biggest priorities is the environment, and putting a carbon neutral and greener city at the heart of everything we do. The new city bus station in Durham will help to improve vital transport links around the county, but we would like to see a commitment to a more environmentally friendly transport by investing in electric buses to reduce carbon fuels and air pollution.

Housing Re-energising the City of Durham also means we need to readdress the housing in the area, to change the imbalance of student accommodation and family homes to ensure a more sustainable, balanced community. This means retaining – and reclaiming – family homes, promoting affordable housing for all sectors of the community, but particularly for families with children and young people looking for their first step on the housing ladder. We want to improve the quality of student and rented homes by the compulsory registration of all landlords, and fighting to ensure proper maintenance of rented properties inside and out.

We want to see an increase in social housing and reducing homelessness, and promote the building of homes that are designed to meet the needs of all people, particularly older people and those living with disabilities.

These are not the only issues that are impacting our community, our city or our county, but they are front and centre of our mission as we look to re-energise the City of Durham, and the ward of Elvet & Gilesgate. That mission has been built after consulting with you, and after listening to your views and comments we have outlined our commitments below.

After listening to your views and comments, Victoria and Omide have set out their plan, and are committed to working to:

Create a Vibrant High Street:

A Labour led County Council will support business recovery after Covid and bring more attractive and independent businesses into the city. We will encourage developers to create flats above shops to reduce retail rents and rates.

We will celebrate the heritage of the City, open the History Centre in Mount Oswald, encourage tourism and create a safe and successful “all day long” economy for residents from across the county with new sustainable jobs.

 

Involve Young People:

Our City is home over 20,000 young people, in the university, school and colleges. We will engage with them, involving them in local democracy and encouraging them to understand our history and culture. Many students are already involved with voluntary organisations and we will work to widen that organisations and we will work to widen that experience and integration in our communities. We supported their Climate Action and will continue to do so.

 

Ensure a Clean & Green City:

CO2 emissions have fallen by half. Durham’s City and County Councils have planted over 1 million trees. We will work with Neighbourhood Wardens and the ‘Find & Fix’ Teams to keep our City Clean and continue to improve our public spaces and parks. We will champion ‘Durham in Bloom’ and ever more planting.

Achieve Greener Transport:

The new Bus Station, delivered by the Labour Council, will support future Electric Buses with improved services and travel connections. We will improve pavements and cycle-ways and all our Park & Rides will be fitted with Electric Charge Points. We are serious about tackling Climate Action.

Deliver Action on Housing:

Ensure rented property is to a higher standard, requiring gall landlords to be registered and to maintain their properties inside and out. We will urge the university to provide more college accommodation. Labour has launched a £70 million county-wide programme to provide 10,000 new affordable homes to rent.

 

Encourgae Better Lives for All:

We will improve life for older and disabled residents by working to integrate care and health services to enable people to live independent lives for longer.

Tackling noise and light pollution; improving street access; preventing social isolation; and offering mental health support are part of Labour’s priorities.

We support the Council’s pledges for social housing; social care; regeneration and tourism; climate targets and children’s welfare.

Social Housing:

Labour has launched a £70 million county-wide programme to provide 10,000 new affordable homes to rent. Omide and Victoria are committed to Labour’s plans to increase and improve affordable housing for purchase and rent and to ensure improved consultation to get new developments in the right places;

We will ensure rented property is to a higher standard, working with landlords to ensure they need to be registered and to maintain their properties to the highest standards inside and out.

 

Social Care:

We will work to integrate social care with health to provide seamless services as we want to support elderly and disabled residents to live healthier independent lives for longer. We support the Council’s provision of high-quality support for training of care workers and will take action to tackle social isolation and offer better mental health support;

 

Regeneration:

Post Covid we will need to support town and village recovery by helping recovery for businesses and support for new jobs; Labour is committed to rebuild our economy by creating 30,000 new jobs and by supporting community projects to reopen after Covid, bringing improved transport links and eventually electric buses, to the new bus station.  

Climate Change:

We are committed to improve the environment and reduce greenhouse gases. Labour is encouraging Green Transport across the region; installing electric charging points; improving air quality; planting thousands more trees.

We will support a Green Revolution by bringing jobs into our area to retro-fit homes with eco-systems; support local energy generation and reduce single-use plastics.

 

Cultural Development and County-wide Tourism:

We will encourage more heritage centres across the county, like the new History Centre at Mount Oswald (see developer’s impression) and encourage tourism to the city and county through promotion and support.

Opportunities for all Children

We will support the “right to food” initiative and provide assistance to foodbanks, support the quality of education in schools across the county, families in need and better social care; invest in new school buildings. The County Council has invested £70m in leisure services

A Message From Omide & Victoria

We are your candidates for Elvet and Gilesgate for the County Council elections on 6th May. We know the last year has been the toughest time most of us have ever experienced. We hope that you are feeling somewhat better now we can start to meet friends and family again, at least outside.

Over the time that we have been Parish Councillors, we have received hundreds of emails and telephone calls.  We have responded to everyone and have been able to secure a satisfactory outcome for many of your concerns. There are still many problems to resolve: traffic on Gilesgate Bank; the quality of some of our pavements; the on-going issues with bins and rubbish; late night noise. We are working on these issues with officers in the County Council and we hope that, if we are elected, we may be able to improve matters in these areas too.

When the Parish Councillor was set up, Labour prioritised what residents told us was important to them. This is what we have achieved:

 

  • improved air quality for all, by abolishing the use of diesel fuels in the market place;
  • supporting the Bus Station electrification proposals to make transport healthier and safer and provide improved travel access;
  • planted 300 trees and 7,00 bulbs in the Parish;
  • through the County and Neighbourhood Plans, we can now exercise much more control over undesirable development in the City;
  • collaborated with developers to encourage accommodation above shops which reduces business rents;
  • sought to provide a minimum guaranteed quality for rented houses, to improve the environment.
  • invested in locally-managed Neighbourhood Wardens who respond immediately to our concerns;
  • planted trees; enhanced local grassy areas and the gardens of socially managed flats;
  • created Christmas Business Frontages awards to brighten and celebrate the city in winter;
  • established a Young People’s Environment committee to advise the parish council on environment issues and encouraged schools’ own environment committees and climate change challenges;
  • funded re-cycling of “hard-to-recycle” items though schools and a project to reduce single use plastics.

If we are to be elected to the County Council our next priorities will be in social care, social housing and working for greater harmony between city and university to achieve a quieter, safer city for all.

We know the recovery from the economic effects of Covid and years of austerity will require on-going support.  The County Council must make creation of jobs a priority, support our local businesses and improve transport. We would be proud to represent you, we will serve you all and would be grateful for your support now.

Victoria Ashfield & Omide Deinali