THE question of whether Durham City will have a new council to call its own could be resolved this week.
Since local government reorganisation three years ago, which led to the abolition of the old Durham City Council, representatives of the city have been calling for it to be replaced by a new town or parish council.
But the issue has been complicated by whether or not the new council would incorporate some of the city’s suburbs, and also by a poor response to questionnaires sent out by the county council.
Council bosses admit the process has been “complex” following a public consultation which found that only a few hundred people living in Durham City actually seem to want a new council.
Questionnaires were sent out to 8,119 households of which only 13% ... 1,057 replied.
Out of those 557 households said they were in favour of a new Durham council. In the estate of Newton Hall, to the northern fringes of the city, the response was even more difficult to gauge. Around one in five households replied, and out of these a tiny majority of 0.3% came out in favour of a parish council for the area.
Durham County Council will consider the matters at a full meeting in County Hall at 10am.
Colette Longbottom, head of legal and democratic services at the council, said: “Gauging public opinion on this has been a long-standing commitment by the county council and the process is now nearing close. Since the completion of the consultations, the cross-party Constitution Working Group has considered these results and the representations received.
“Having concluded that the matter is very finely balanced, the group will be presenting two options for consideration at full Council.
“One option incorporates the whole area being parished with a combination of parish councils for Durham City and Newton Hall, an extension of Framwellgate Moor Parish Council and two parish meetings. The alternative option will propose no change at this time.”
Coun Nigel Martin, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Durham City council and an advocate of a new town council, said: “I believe had there been a referendum instead of questionnaires sent out then the outcome may well have been more clear cut.
“It is a complex issue which has been delayed due to government boundary changes. I would have liked to have seen a new town council established sooner after the local government reorganisation in 2009.”