Does Chester-le-Street need another bar?

Does Chester-le-Street need another place to drink? I love my hometown and happy and proud to live here but does it really need another bar?

There are already ten drinking establishments within a few hundred yards of the proposed site. They have been there for a number of years and I am not including ‘Working men’s clubs’ within the area of the town in this number. Why is it that the council now seem it fit to give permission for another place to drink?

I had a brief search of the proposals and peoples objections to the demolishing of the current premises to be replaced by a new build. I can understand that a building that was built hundreds of years ago needs a lot of care and maintenance. From the reports that have been published, it looks likely that building work that had been carried out was of a poor standard and therefore contributed to the decline of the building.

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Anti-social behaviour, noise, litter and other concerns that have been reported over the years to official associations such as the Police and the council with residents complaining that on occasions the disruption to their lives is unbearable.

I was amazed but not surprised that despite these objections the council has given permission for the site to be flatted and the bar to be built.

There are a number of premises (like other towns) that are empty and have been for some time. What I think is that the council’s motivation for approving this bar is 100% money. There is no nostalgic, sentimental  or even aesthetic part of their plan. They will make the decision on the basis that will this business make money, not for the residents or the people that will work in this establishment but the taxes and rent that the council will receive in funds.  The fact that this will cause problems for the police in anti-social behavious and it’s dealing with is inconsequential to the council.

Sad to say goodbye to another part of Chester-le-Street.


Conspiracy theories the new religion

You used to be laughed at if you believed in conspiracy theories and not the truth. Now the tables are turned. You aren’t normal if you don’t believe in them. 

I am really having a hard time with the internet and humans at the moment. I have spoken a few years ago about the ridiculousness of conspiracy theories. People who have revisionistic ideas about how they view past events and some atrocities claiming certain things didn’t take place.

I want to know why people believe in conspiracy theories and can this be linked in the same way that humans attach religion to themselves by giving their lives meaning, purpose and hope.

The fact that as humans we look for an explanation of events and occurrences. We want to know why things happen. The part of our brain the amygdala is the thing that kick-starts the processes of emotion. It starts out processing fear of something so when we are confronted with that which should scare us into running eg. enormous cat with a mallet chasing after us.

Our evolutionary brain helps us decide that which is a real or false threat. Then we look for the reason why something happened. One assumes that in child-psychology and development as a young person grows constantly as the question  ‘why?’ – a characteristic that parents no doubt will attest.

Our brains are processing that all that information and it’s not to say some conspiracy theories are all false, some do in fact turn out to be true. Someone, like myself, claims to be a free-thinker we are able to process quite clearly that which is true and that which is complete bullshit.

Take for example these posts from The Daily Star I have collected over the last year. These are all headline news topics written and presented to get you to (click bate) click and read. If you were to only get your news and information from this one site you probably be a nervous wreck unsure whether to the world is coming to end by either freezing to death, nuclear war or being fried in your own juices due to a heatwave.



When I was researching this post I found it fascinating that some people have a propensity to believe in conspiracy theories and this then moves on to confirmation bias. So even if you have all the facts in front of you people will still tend to trust their own thoughts and beliefs. That which you think is true is confirmed eg. all Chinese people eat green rice. You will seek out that information which confirms your belief rather than rationally choosing to look over information provided to form a new opinion. You don’t challenge facts and information even though you are told otherwise which leads to belief perseverance.

Every time I hear or read of some spurious claim on social media I have to test the information rather than relaying it others to make sure I am not sharing blatant lies. Our connection to social media now has allowed being sucked into all sorts of conspiracies and falsehoods.

Religion tends to rely on higher powers and hierarchical structures to confirm and guide people in all situations. Lots of people will claim that they are not a slave to anyone else yet allow facebook sites, twitter accounts, fanatical leaders to provide them with their own assumptions of the world.

So for me, I think those people who dance behind the pied-pipers of conspiracy theories are just the same as those who readily make decisions about their own lives according to how their holy scriptures or priests tell them. There’s no such thing as a free-thinking follower of religion neither is there someone who subscribes to organisations who promote and encourage ridiculous conspiracies.


There are 7.5 billion people in the world. What an amazing fact.


I can go to a bookshop and peruse the fiction and non-fiction parts of the shop. Fact or fiction. Stuff that isn’t true and stuff that is made up. A story.

Out of the 7.5 billion people the planet you can be put to death in some countries if you say you don’t believe in god.

In other countries, people will be listening to your conversations at work, in the street, on the internet and letters you write other people. If you are caught out criticising the government you could be arrested sent to jail or worse.

In the UK, we have an open and tolerant society. Majority of the people want it to stay that way and that’s the basis of a democracy. Your politics can be left or right leaning. You can dislike a certain part of society and disagree with how others live their life.

I am not so keen on people who insist on taking your plates away the microsecond you have finished eating and IMMEDIATELY start washing up. I have to live with that struggle. I am having counselling and a rack of medication has helped.

Bleating constantly that your free speech has been compromised because you 1/ scream through peoples letter boxes shouting abuse 2/ turn up to peoples homes who are completely innocent shouting all sorts of claims. This is when your freedom of speech ends. That’s it. No in-betweens or claims of government intervention. Grow up. Start respecting people.


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’.

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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.


Religious Hate Crime

Golding and Fransen jailed for what the judge said: “It was a campaign to draw attention to the race, religion and immigrant background of the defendants.”

I am no fan of the Christian Institute. I think their reporting is biased and targets the LGBT community unfairly. In a blog post, I wrote in July last year I explained to them that despite their claim that LGBT community is only 1.7% of the population nearly 50% of their youtube videos were about or mentioned LGBT people.

“I still believe despite the progress that this country as made we have a long way to go to be accepted in society. I did a short survey of the Christian Institute’s YouTube channel and tallied up the number of videos they had posted in 2017 to their site. It’s a total of 170 videos and out of that 69 videos mentioned LGBT issues; that’s nearly 41%. Even in their own videos, they quote that LGBT people only make up 1.7% of society; they devote nearly half of their content to LGBT issues.”

I know that I don’t like their views and I am certainly unhappy that they target people in the gay community with their own ideas about sexuality. I accept they hold those views as they are entitled to do so. That’s what is meant by free speech.

Let’s say for example got really angry with them and travelled to their offices and demanded to speak to someone in their organisation. If didn’t feel I had been heard and to make my views known again I could return to their premises and ask them why they held such views about LGBT community. I could follow their director after he left work and ask him questions.

Now, this is where the law comes in. At what point do the ideas of free speech end and religiously aggravated harassment start? There is a fine line between the two and laws were set up to protect people of faith from such harassment. This is what we are as a country whether we like it or not. When you read about those laws they are there to protect the people. This is what makes us a great country of respect for others religion.

But I have read comments about Fransen and Golding:


Other comments are either to foul to write or completely left-field and have nothing to do with the case.

I have said it before more education is needed in religion, not the lack of it or total removal as some have advocated. Just because you understand something does not mean that you have to agree with it.

Detective Inspector Bill Thornton of Kent Police said: ‘The crimes committed by Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen were abhorrent and motivated by religious insensitivities.

‘They claimed to be exposing the men who had been accused of rape when in reality they knew little about the case in question and could have put the trial at risk due to their reckless actions.

‘It was the bravery of the female who was attacked and the tireless work of Kent Police detectives who ensured the men responsible are now serving a significant period of time behind bars, not because of any misguided attempt by Golding and Fransen to claim credit for their conviction by bringing religion into the equation.

‘The fact that completely innocent members of the public were accused of being rapists, making them fear for their own safety, shows how little regard they have for the consequences of their actions.

‘Kent Police simply will not tolerate any offences that are motivated by prejudice and hate, and will investigate all such incidents thoroughly in order to bring those responsible in front of the courts.


It’s easier to complain, isn’t it? The weather, news, your street and town. But complaining doesn’t really get you anywhere. 

As I mentioned in my previous post I set up a facebook group to coincide with a twitter account I acquired a few months ago. It’s all about my hometown of Chester-le-Street. I thought it would be a good thing to provide general information. It was great to be able to get out news about weather and roads during the terrible snowstorm that affected most of the country and brought a lot of infrastructure to a standstill.


I thought too that it would be a good thing to capture the spirit of the town to mark fifty years since a film was put together and archived by local cine camera enthusiasts.

The above link is to the film of the town. What I good idea I thought to myself to have something people could see in fifty years time of what life was like in 2018.

The rot started pretty quickly as I asked for people’s ideas about what to film in the town.   Someone started to complain about the empty shops and I should spend my time quizzing local councillors about what they plan to do with the town for the future. I am fully aware that my town like others across the country is facing a huge change due to how people shop for goods and where we spend our money. The traditional shops of the past have gone and replaced by the cheaper out of town retail parks and the obvious use of the internet.

I don’t think any council has the single answer and able to provide full occupancy for shops and businesses it’s a huge balancing act of budgets and cuts from central government. We do have quite a lot as a town.  We are unique as we are close motorway and east coast links. Surrounded by smaller villages the town itself is a direct connection to other major cities in the region.

Nostalgia and the yearning to return to the good old days of the past aren’t simply unhelpful but also unobtainable. The world has changed and for us to survive we have to change too whether we like it or not.

So I say we look to the future with a positive upbeat note. We can achieve good things if each of us is willing to contribute.