Three Bs brighten town eyesore in time for In Bloom judging

A derelict Stanley eyesore has been transformed into a colourful centrepiece for the summer.

Stanley Town Council has transformed the derelict former Stanley Board School into one of the main attractions of this year’s Northumbria in Bloom submission, thanks to artistic schoolchildren from the town.

The project saw youngsters from St Joseph’s Primary School, draw inspiration from this year’s academic theme of “Birds, Bees and Butterflies” to design 29 new “windows” for the school, featuring brightly coloured animals, flowers and summer scenes.

The project was organised by Stanley Neighbourhood Warden, Dave Jarvis, who had originally planned it for last year, only to be scuppered by the pandemic lockdown.

He said: “People in the town, quite understandably, are tired of the derelict building at the bottom of the Front Street, and when Northumbria in Bloom judges visited the town in 2019, our submission was marked down due to the state of the building.

“So, we decided that we would address it last summer and I approached the building’s owners with the plan to brighten the place up and they agreed to let us carry out the project. Sadly, we had to delay the project when COVID struck in 2020, but as soon as the schools were back, we set about using the youngsters’ imagination and artistic talents to create a project to turn this eyesore into something that brightens up the area.

“The “windows” have been placed over metal security boards and will stay in place throughout the summer. People have reacted really positively to them and we had loads of passers-by coming across to tell us how great they were as we put them in place – we’re really pleased with how well the project has worked out.”

As well as people in Stanley, the colourful displays also seem to have found favour with In Bloom judges, who commented on how much they improved the building, deemed a blight on past judging visits.

“So much effort goes into making the town a pleasant place to be, it’s nice to get so many positive comments,” added Dave. “The great thing is, we will keep the artwork once the building is finally earmarked for development, so they will go on display at the school or elsewhere in the town.

“I’d like to thank all of the youngsters and staff at St Joseph’s who have helped drive this project forward and created such eye-catching, amazing work.”

The project was made possible thanks to support from Stanley Town Council and Durham County Council.

Town Council Leader, James Kane, said: “The Council has really pushed the boat out this year to make the town and surrounding areas look good for summer. After the past 18 months we have all endured, it was important to us to make sure people were greeted with colour and flowers when they come into Stanley.

“Dave has done an incredible job overseeing this project and the schoolchildren’s work is absolutely fantastic – a big well done to everyone involved.”

Stanley Panto’s Got Talent! Oh yes it has!

This December, pantomime returns to Stanley Civic Hall with Beauty and the Beast. As theatres safely reopen their doors to audiences, it’s time to look forward to Christmas and the star of this year’s laughter-filled offering.

Britain’s Got Talent impressionist star, Cal Halbert leads this year’s cast as the laugh-a-minute Muddles. Having wowed the judges on BGT, receiving standing ovations from the entire audience and Ant & Dec, Cal headlines Stanley’s biggest ever panto!

Cal Halbert, frequently accompanied by BBC Newcastle’s Alfie Joey, is best known as one half of The Mimic Men. As a leading light on the Comedy scene, an established star of Pantomime, and hit appearances at the Utilita Arena to the London Palladium; Stanley’s audiences are in for a treat.

County Durham lad and top Panto producer, Reece Sibbald said:

“It’s my privilege to be writer, director and producer of Beauty and the Beast this Christmas. This year’s show is set to be bigger and better than ever before. With incredible costumes, sumptuous scenery and mind-blowing special effect, this is almost certainly the best value pantomime in the North East.

I’ve created a brand new production for Stanley Civic Hall. It’s a hilarious script, filled with adventure, romance and hilarious comedy antics. Be sure to book tickets before the final petal falls for this beauty of a panto!”

Beauty and the Beast will run from 15th – 24th December 2021 at the Stanley Civic Hall. Tickets are priced from only £12.00 with fantastic family discounts available.

Beauty and the Beast

Stanley Civic Hall
Wednesday 15th – Friday 24th December 2021
01207 299 110
Tickets from £12


Cast & Creatives List

Producer, Director & Writer – Reece Sibbald
Muddles – Cal Halbert

For further information, please contact

Focusing on the feelgood factor with flowers, flags, and events

Stanley Town Council has its focus firmly on the feelgood factor, having signed-off a budget aimed at adding colour, lifting spirits, and enhancing the environment.

The cautiously optimistic budget was created with flexibility to allow for unforeseen changes to COVID19 guidance, but it is geared towards providing the area with something to look forward to.

Among the projects bringing colour to the streets will be the return of Blooming Good Fun, a competition encouraging residents to show off their gardens, yards, window boxes, hanging baskets, tubs, open spaces, and businesses. The contest is running for the fourth time and will be the prelude to the town’s entry into Northumbria in Bloom, which was cancelled last year.

Talks are currently ongoing with the idea to restore the Stanley Flower Mine, an earthwork memorial commemorating the 1909 Burns Pit Disaster, which cost the lives of 168 men and boys. The memorial designed by Ken Turnell is one of a series of pieces of public art built along the Coast to Coasts (C2C) cycle path, where seasonal daisies show and fade as the light changes on the natural memorial.

The Council will also be issuing messages of unity following the implementation of a new Council Flag policy that will see the Council flying a variety of flags to coincide with designated days and months as a sign of unity, support and respect.

As well as the return of socially distanced movies and, eventually, shows, funding has also been allocated to bring the Pantomime back to the Civic Hall. A further announcement will be made on the details in the coming months, but it promises to be the biggest and best performance the venue has staged.

Council Leader, Les Timbey, said: “As a Council, we pride ourselves in putting the people of Stanley and the surrounding areas at the very centre of everything we do and every decision we make. That is why we made our pledges to them when the Council was formed, that is why we will consult with communities on the town’s priorities for its masterplan and that is why we are so focused on providing some much-needed positivity in 2021.

“The Government’s COVID recovery roadmap provides us with a rough timeline for what we can do and when, but as each stage of the recovery unfolds, we want to ensure we provide people with something to look forward to and also enhance the environment with flowers, repairs and removal of anything that may cause community blight.”

Stanley Town Council will also add colour to the Civic Hall, embracing a variety of countries, cultures and events via their flag displays. The Union Flag will fly throughout the year from as the first flag, whilst the second flagpole will mark national days like St David’s Day, when the Welsh flag will fly; St Andrew’s, when the Scottish Saltire will be raised; the Rainbow for Gay Pride Month; the County Durham colours for St Cuthbert’s Day; and the Armed Forces flag for Armed Forces Day, to name but a handful.

“COVID19 tore through Stanley and many paid a terrible, unjust price,” said Stanley Town Mayor, Carole Hampson. “But the one thing that pulled us through was the way communities came together to help each other and how we mobilised to support the most vulnerable in our society.

“We want to continue with that spirit of unity by honouring the days of our neighbouring countries, marking the sacrifice of our servicemen and women, standing with LGBQT allies and generally embracing the colours of other countries, cultures and organisations. To truly recover from the pandemic, 2021 must be the year when we all put aside bias and differences and come together to heal and recover.”

Happy 100th birthday Vera Soulsby

Happy 100th birthday Vera Soulsby 🥳
Huge congratulations to Vera Soulsby, resident of South Moor, Stanley who today (18th February 2021) celebrates her 100th birthday.
Vera, who has was born in Maple Street, worked in the Colliery canteen in her younger years, before moving to the Disco Superstore in Annfield Plain, an allusion to its true name of the Annfield Plain Co-op and Discount Electricals.
As one of eight siblings, she remains close to her only surviving sister, who is just four years her junior and who also lives in South Moor. Unfortunately Vera’s husband Eddie passed away in 1994, but she still reminisces the rides out in their car and their nice holidays abroad. Vera has continued to live an active lifestyle, devoting her time to the Woman’s Institute prior to its closure, and she continues to live in good health today.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, Town Mayor Cllr Carole Hampson is unable to congratulate Vera in person, however we hope everyone can join with us in saying Happy 100th Birthday Vera!!

A budget built to bounce-back

The Town Council has set out an ambitious list of priorities for the coming year, as we help to stimulate our area’s fightback from the pandemic.

Council this week approved the 2021/22 budget, which maintains a raft of essential community activities and services.

Councillors and officers also created a “reactive” budget, allowing re-prioritisation of investment quickly, to help community organisations and charities in their COVID-19 recovery.

However, even with the reactive element built-in, the vast majority of key services and support currently provided – such as the Neighbourhood Warden scheme, Advice in County Durham Partnership and the Environmental Caretakers – will all continue to be funded.

Council Leader, Cllr Les Timbey, said it had been one of the most challenging budget processes the Council had faced in living memory.

“2020 was a year of “firsts”, and that has also been the case with this year’s budget,” said Cllr Timbey. “Officers and elected members worked together to conduct a forensic appraisal of Council investment, to ensure that we could make the necessary reductions, while maintaining current levels of service provision.

“There have been moments of inspiration, passionate debate, and a lot of incredibly tough decisions in the budgetary process to ensure we continue to look after the people, organisations, businesses and charities in and around Stanley.”

Among many projects that will continue are the “Stars, Youth & Community” youth project, environmental improvements to build on enhancements of recent years, heritage projects protecting and celebrating the culture of the area, while Council will continue to the support the Stanley Fund, administrated by County Durham Community Foundation, to the tune of £50,000, which has helped leverage over £300,000 additional funding into town projects.

Funding for Advice in County Durham Partnership continues to be a priority, with numbers accessing the service expected to rise considerably. The trailblazing service helped people deal with over £2m in debt arrears in 2018/19 and guided residents to access £900,000 in benefits they did not know they were entitled to.

Stanley Town Council has made significant savings across the board, cutting its cloth appropriately, while safeguarding frontline services. A large percentage of savings will be found from an ongoing organisational review across the entire Council. However, rising costs and essential maintenance needed to maintain and develop the Civic Hall means the Council has been forced to increase its precept by 2.99% from the 2020/21 budget.

“The decision to increase taxes is never one we take lightly,” added Town Mayor, Cllr Carole Hampson. “We are always reviewing how we operate, and the ongoing organisational review will reduce salary costs significantly, but, sadly, to maintain levels of service, we must increase our precept.

“This is a budget of priorities and while we continue to help those with immediate need of support, we are also focused on the economic fightback from the pandemic – this budget delivers on both fronts.”

In real terms, the precept increase will see residents in Band A homes pay an additional £1.96 across the year or 16.3p per week towards Stanley Town Council services.

Stanley Town Council, Town Clerk, James Black, said:

“The last year was like no other and has taught us that your best laid plans can change in an instant. Accordingly, we have created a budget that hopes for the best, but very much prepares for the worst.

“For example, our events budget of £44,000 has been allocated to a Community COVID Recovery Fund, but should we be in a position to hold some form of community event in the summer, we can re-allocate funds to do that.

“We are also driving forward the Stanley Masterplan, the blueprint that will hopefully help shape the town and surrounding area’s future development. Consultation with residents and businesses ended this week, so we will be looking to progress that at pace, to help focus attention and investment on areas of local priority.

“So, while Stanley Town Council continues to be reactive to the needs of residents, we are also planning for a successful future.”

Cllrs Les Timbey and Jeanette Stephenson flanked by the Stanley Town Council clean-up team

Three old gas bottles, two rusty trollies and a damaged toilet and seat

Stanley Town Council’s New Kyo pre-Christmas clean-up.

If you go down to New Kyo woods of today, you’re in for a big surprise…because a Town Council clean-up team has been blitzing the blight of fly-tippers.

The team of environmental caretakers removed around a ton of waste, fire-damaged trees and overturned burned area, targeted by vandals.

The area, to the rear of North Terrace, was a magnet for anti-social behaviour during the lockdown months and has continued to be a draw for youngsters drinking and lighting fires in the woods.

Ward councillor Jeanette Stephenson alerted council operations manager, James Harper, to the issue and a the “rapid response” action was organised.

“The Stanley area has truly beautiful areas and this path through the woods at New Kyo is used by many walkers,” said Cllr Stephenson.

“With the restrictions placed on us by the COVID19 regulations and the latest lockdown regulations, it’s essential that these outdoors areas are not only accessible for local people to get out into the fresh air, it’s also vital that they are free from fly-tipping, burn sites and nuisance behaviour. I hope this rapid response clean-up means more people can enjoy this picturesque woodland walk.”

Among the more bizarre items removed from New Kyo were shopping trollies, gas containers, discarded toys, a burned mattress and an old aubergine-coloured toilet.

Stanley Town Council Leader, Cllr Les Timbey, said: “It’s infuriating that some people feel it is okay to use these beautiful open spaces as a dumping ground for their rubbish, but we want to assure residents that if this happens where they live, we are here to help tidy up.

“Improving the environment in and around Stanley is one of the key pledges of this council and my message to residents is: we will do all we can to make sure you can enjoy the place you live and my message to fly-tippers is: we will catch you and you will be prosecuted.”

James Harper led the team of three environmental caretakers and two neighbourhood wardens, which spent six hours cleaning up the woodland, bridal way and tidying the hedgerows.

He said: “Residents of New Kyo spoke and we acted. The amount of rubbish we have removed is incredibly and while some of it has clearly been here for a long time, much of it was recent.

“We appreciate how work like this can have a hugely beneficial impact on a community and we urge any other communities having issues with fly-tipping or anti-social behaviour to let us know and we will do whatever we can to alleviate the issue.”

Casual Vacancy for a Councillor in the South Moor Ward of Stanley Town Council

An election has been requested to fill the vacancy for the South Moor Ward of Stanley Town Council.

Under the provisions of the Coronavirus Act 2020, the vacancy will be held open until Thursday 6 May 2021. However, this date may be brought forward or deferred by Government depending upon the circumstances. Any Election that is in due course called will be duly publicised as required by law.

If you have any questions, please email or write to Electoral Services, Room 1/104-115, County Hall, Durham DH1 5UL

Dated Tuesday 30

June Terry Collins
Returning Officer

Notice of vacancy in the Office of Councillor

Stanley (South Moor)

Notice is herby given.

that due to the resignation of Lewis Christie, a vacancy has arisen in the Office of Councillor for the Parish Council.

If by 3 July, 2020 (14 days after the date of this notice) a request for a by-election to fill said vacancy has not been made to: The Returning Officer, Electoral Services, Room 1/104-115, County Hall, Durham DH1 5UL by TEN electors for the said Parish (Ward), the vacancy will be filled by co-option.

Where ten valid requests for a by-election are received by the Proper Officer then under the provisions of the Coronavirus Act 2020 and The Local Government and Police and Crime Commissioner (Coronavirus)(Postponement of Elections and Referendums) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 the by-election will not currently take place, and the vacancy will be held open until the by election takes place. The 2020 regulations provide for the by election to take place on the date for the Ordinary Election of Councillors due to be held on Thursday 6 May 2021. However, this date may be brought forward or deferred by the Government depending upon the circumstances. Any Election that is in due course called will be duly publicised as required by law.

Dated 15 June, 2020

Alan Tubman, Deputy Town Clerk Stanley Town Council

COVID19 – An update from Cllr Les Timbey, Leader, Stanley Town Council

A community isn’t just an area of land – a postcode or village, town, suburb or street. It’s people. It’s goodwill. It’s coming together to achieve a shared goal or offer support in a crisis.

It is all of these things and more and in the Stanley area we’re lucky to have such strong bonds that will see us through the current COVID pandemic and emerge a more robust, more united community.

In my last update, I focused on the outstanding work of PACT House, which has mobilised incredibly since the very beginning of this crisis.

I’m immensely proud of the work Stanley Town Council does to support this organisation, and that is also the case for two other of our town’s most important operations: SHAID and Just for Women.

For those who don’t know, and I’m certain there aren’t many, SHAID, or the Single Homeless Action Initiative in Durham, provides a range of housing advice, support and related services to help young people make the difficult transition to living independently in the community.

We have been lending SHAID our support for a number of years and it’s incredibly heartening to witness the many successes they have achieved. A huge amount of thanks must go to Kevin Howe and his dedicated team.

We continued to back them at the start of the lockdown so the organisation could continue services for the people who need them most.

Under immense pressure, SHAID has maintained all services over a seven day week. All of the organisation’s staff have risen to the challenge of meeting the needs of vulnerable people. Over the last 10-weeks, SHAID has:

  • Dealt with 26 homeless cases of all ages
  • Maintained ongoing support for over 60 vulnerable families
  • Continued to accept referrals into sheltered accommodation services while observing strict health and social distancing guidelines
  • Continues to work in partnership with local Councillors and Partner agencies including the Rough Sleepers Unit.

SHAID’s Plan 4 Life service continues to engage with young people in and around education and employment pathways, readying them for the eventual uplift of the lockdown, and even though we are all being incredibly reactive at the moment, the organisation remains proactive, exploring the gaps in its services and to provide even greater support.

An example of this is the “Face Shield Initiative” – SHAID has now issued over 150 of these shields to key workers across the Stanley area, giving individuals key workers, shop keepers, care homes, that little bit extra protection to do their jobs.

Just For Women is another organisation that has found itself very much on the front line.

As many of you will have read in the Northern Echo article, the centre received 276 messages in just one week recently, and warned of growing concerns that there will be a further spike in demand for its services to help people being threatened or attacked by partners when restrictions are lifted.

Based in the fantastic St Joseph’s House by Stanley Police Station, JFW has been putting together and distributing activity packs for vulnerable children to provide escapism and give them something to do during the lockdown.

Linda Kirk has reported a greater than expected demand for services, with a surge in reports of domestic violence since COVID19 brought the country to a standstill.

Sadly, it is expected that the surge will continue after the crisis, when women will flee abusive homes.

JFW has continued to man its helpline for anyone in need, as well as reaching out to help children and women by putting together craft packs. Staff and volunteers are also making up gift packs for the elderly and care workers.

In an incredible effort, over 2,000 packs have been created and distributed throughout the local community.

A firm believer in the restorative powers of being creative, Linda and her team distributing craft kits so women can participate in craft therapy at home, personal hygiene hampers so everyone has access to vital items necessary to maintain high levels of personal hygiene and gift hampers to the elderly community to remind them they have not been forgotten in these difficult times.

  • Anyone needing to get in touch with Just For Women, please call: 07395906647
  • To reach SHAID, call: 01207 238241

As always, stay home, stay safe and stay well.

Cllr Les Timbey
Stanley Town Council

Message from Stanley Town Council Leader

Message from Cllr Les Timbey, Leader, Stanley Town Council

For this week’s update, I’d like to firstly focus on one particular area of outstanding COVID response.

At the time of writing, PACT House has dealt with over 1,250 issues since opening it’s Coronavirus Crisis Hotline – this is an incredible effort and I thank Daren McMahon and his brilliant team of volunteers.

The assistance offered to people has ranged from things as seemingly trivial as posting letters, to supplying vital food packages to families where people have lost employment or emergency support for residents suffering health issues that have been forced into isolation.

It is incredible that by the end of this week, PACT House and the community partners it is working alongside in this emergency response effort, will have helped 2,000 individuals and families and the Stanley Area.

The area breakdown as things stand on 27 April:

  • PACT area: 1,250
  • Annfield Plain: 500+
  • Craghead: 120+
  • Quaking Houses: 50+

On relocating to Stanley Civic Hall, PACT House began operating a six-day a-week fresh food bank, cooked food was prepared on the premises and frozen into easily distributed cartons. The home-cooked “ready meals” have proved popular and it’s great to hear from Darren that recipients have been complementary on the quality of the stews and casseroles.

Crisis Packs have been provided to those in dire need. These consist of fresh and tinned goods, bread, eggs, toiletry and sanitary products. Volunteers are also shopping for people with specific needs and collecting and delivering prescriptions and medications.

Stanley Town Council and Durham County Council emergency COVID response funding has enabled PACT to re-stock its depleted food bank, helping it meet the increased needs of our community.

I must remind people – PACT House, and the organisations it works with across the area, is operated by volunteers. This team is organised, committed, passionate and community spirited…it is a team made up of amazing people who we owe an enormous debt of gratitude.

These volunteers pack food parcels, deliver meals and medication, call and chat to people in isolation. Just knowing this organisation is helping and help is just a phonecall away is easing people’s worries.

There is also a Facebook ‘PACTivites’, which has been created to support families with activities and fun stuff to do, while keeping adults engaged and in contact with each other.

PACT’s community radio station, available on, broadcasts requests from people in isolation and shows are hosted from the foodbank and feature volunteers.

PACT House may have closed its doors, but it is using every communication platform for keep the virtual world’s doors open. It keeps people connected, lets them know they are not alone, and is a trusted touch-point for people through this crisis.

Foodbanks at Craghead Village Hall and Quaking Houses Village Hall are becoming increasingly essential, and PACT’s partnership with Annfield Plain Community Centre, which is also doing excellent work in their locality…hopefully more on this vital team soon.

Stay indoors, stay safe and stay well.

Cllr Les Timbey, Leader, Stanley Town Council