Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Rays of Sunshine

I am by nature fairly optimistic and in the present climate, both economic and natural, that's probably a good thing.  There was really good news a few days ago that Nifco had been granted funding from Regional Growth fund for their expansion.  A small research facility with 9 staff, and a much bigger expansion to their manufacturing base will protect the existing jobs and allow for more staff to be employed over the coming years.  One of the good things about that is that Nifco employ and train apprentices - they don't just expect fully trained and qualified people to turn up on the doorstep.   The young men we met when Alan Lewis and I toured the factory earlier in the year were enthusiastic about their work and their study, and looking at their faces on the Gazette photos this week that enthusiasm is still there.
There's a ray of hope for Durham Tees Valley Airport too.  Although it didn't get the funding this time, it seems that the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, is willing to look at a re-worked bid.  Credit where it's due - Alex Cunningham MP did raise the issue quickly in Parliament and met with the minister to discuss it.  Let's hope that the revised bid is successful in due course and the land around the airport can begin to offer some employment opportunities with the right kind of infrastructure to ensure the heavy traffic goes along the correct routes.
On Friday the agents for Yarm School's planning applications held a briefing meeting for the Parish and borough councils affected as well as the various residents' groups in the area.  Unsurprisingly they presented a smaller scheme, but equally unsurprisingly in my opinion it's still far too intrusive in the Tees Heritage Park. There would be fewer pitches but no fewer children playing on them, so the noise and disturbance would all be concentrated in one area.  A marginal improvement for the residents of Egglescliffe village but still not acceptable to most.  The old applications are now withdrawn and we await the new ones so that comments can be lodged all over again.
Now the traffic surveys are being carried out around the area in order to build the new computer model for yarm and Eaglescliffe.  That will be interesting to see.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Orchard Shops

At long last another step forward.  Today Stockton Council issued the necessary notice, granting permission to demolish the burnt out shops.  I've spent a lot of time in recent weeks working with council officers to try to find a way to speed matters up and finally this announcement came today.  Of course it's only the next stage.  Getting rid of the burned and charred remains will make a huge difference to the appearance of the site and might mean that we can have some movement on the blocking off of car parking spaces at the front.  Disabled people are not finding it easy to access the Library at present, having to park at the side and negotiate the cobbled paving.
The next question of course is, what's going to replace them?  The owner has said all along that he wants to see shops there, and so do the people of Eaglescliffe.  But not just any shops.  The shops need to be affordable so that the services people want can come back - the pharmacy which provides much more than a prescription service, the hairdresser, the dry cleaner, the fish & chip shop, the Indian and Chinese takeaways, perhaps even the betting shop!  We don't want the shops to be so expensive that they are never occupied.  That parade, with the library at one end and the community centre at the other, is the heart of the area and needs to be full of life again.
No doubt there'll be changes.  Perhaps there'll be flats over all the shops rather than just at the end.  They'll surely have good secure rear yards, learning the lesson from recent events.  The front paving probably won't be quite as attractive to bmx and scooter fans.  We hope it'll be easily accessible from the car park and easy to walk along.
I hope that the owner is going to work with the community to come up with a design that will be the best for the area and good for him by being profitable too.