Chester-le-Street film

I have contacted local council regarding filming in the town. I got a rather strange response. 

I thought it would be good to contact the local council to explain about making a film in Chester-le-Street. The response was more for people who are making commercial films such a Vera and Inspector George Gently rather than my amateur effort in preserving a record for the people of the northeast and town.

I am aware of the legalities of filming people. As long as it’s not in a private area (which includes being inside shops/malls) and you are not harassing people it’s okay to film. I am hoping to seek permission to film in some shops and capture ordinary life. I have made a list of the events in and around Chester-le-Street and plan to start filming at the end of the month.

Here is part of the first response I received;

To make a request to film in County Durham here’s what you need to do! Complete the attached filming request form, giving as much detail as possible …

You will also need to send us the following: 

  • Proof of Public Liability Insurance (minimum of £5m cover)
  • Risk Assessment for the filming 

If you intend to use a drone we will need further information such as: 

  • Drone Operators CAA Certificate
  • Risk Assessment and Flight Paths
  • Public Liability Insurance 

The more notice we have the better and we usually ask for at least 2 working days to turn these requests around.  If you have any questions at all by all means email them through. 

Now baring in mind its just going to be me, with a camera and maybe a tripod. So I thought I would reply and explain again that it would just be myself and a camera. It isn’t going to be a commercial enterprise or screened world-wide etc. Just me recording everyday life in Chester-le-Street. Here’s the next reply:

Its ***** here from the Events Team and I help with the coordination of filming requests that come into the Council.

Unfortunately, all requests seeking permission to film on County Council Land need to follow the procedures that my colleague *** pointed out to you and this is regardless of whether the request is from an amateur film maker, Student or a production company. 

Also, with regards to flying your drone around town it’s advisable that before doing so you have the landowners permission.  May I also suggest, if you haven’t already done so, taking a look at the Civil Aviation Authorities website where you will be able to find guidance about flying drones for recreational purposes etc.

I must say I did find the film of Chester le street quite interesting and I can see why you are wanting to make a new film marking 50 years since that first film but unless we receive the details we will not be able to support your request to film.

I quickly fired off an email back asking if they would stop all people using smartphones. I even found a website which marks out what is designated ‘Council land’.

Screen Shot 2018-03-09 at 16.41.23

So as long as I don’t film on carparks, ropery lane cemetery the whole of the bypass, the Riverside ground which includes all of the riverside park, the field where the youth centre once stood, the marketplace, the community centre, the land where the civic centre was, all of land the surrounding Whitehill way, all of the dene (Cong Burn Wood) etc etc etc Here is a link for that map.

Seriously then, what is the point in me trying to make an amateur film for the next generation? I cannot afford public liability insurance let alone the Drone Operators Certificate which costs around £1000-1500 depending on who and where you plan to learn.

The last sentence I found the most ‘disturbing’:

‘I am really sorry that this is not the news you were hoping for, could you perhaps make enquiries with your local Area Action Partnership or Town Council who may be interested in your idea and perhaps be able to help you through the process.’

Town Council? What town council? They got rid of Chester-le-Street Council and put us in the melting pot of Durham Council.

So in 50 years time when people ask, I wonder why no one made a film of Chester-le-Street you can tell them this story.



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