Bicycle racks and ‘Active Travel’ in Sedgefield

It was great to read a letter in Sedgefield News that put the spotlight on the new bicycle racks that have been installed in the centre of our community.

This is one of numerous initiatives that are being delivered by the Active Travel Project, an ongoing collaboration between Durham County Council, Sedgefield Town Council, the Sedgefield Bicycle and Active Travel Group (BAT) and Fishburn Parish Council. The project’s working group has met regularly since autumn 2021 and has explored a range of potential projects and funding for those. Some of these have already been implemented, some are in the pipeline, and some are (for various reasons) longer term aspirations. The new bike racks and refurbished bus shelter in the centre of Sedgefield constitute one of the completed projects.

At its core, the Active Travel Project seeks to improve cycling and walking infrastructure in the Sedgefield ward, making it easier and safer for residents and visitors to get around and between our communities. This work doesn’t exclude motor vehicles, so the group is also focused on issues such as bus services (and bus shelters/stops) and car parking. Our priorities and work are informed by the large community survey that we undertook in late 2022/early 2023, which identified that residents want to see improvements to walking and cycling infrastructure; strongly support the introduction of motor vehicle speed reduction measures; and would like to see more parking options for motor vehicles, and enforcement of any parking restrictions that are in place, or get implemented.

When we were discussing bike rack provision, representatives from BAT strongly lobbied for racks on the other side of High Street. As a group, we explored that option but – at the time – it wasn’t going to be possible. In the absence of that, we all agreed that it is a good thing to have more cycle parking in the centre of Sedgefield, and wrapped that up in a scheme to improve the condition of the bus shelter and the surrounding area. We’re delighted with the outcome, which secured support from a combination of time-limited funding sources that were designed for exactly that kind of initiative.

We want to see the new bike racks get more use. However, that is only likely to happen when Sedgefield is perceived to be a cycling-friendly town, and the addition of the racks is only one small part of achieving that. They are in place now, and we will use them as an impetus to do even more in this wider project. We will actively promote the new racks (thanks for highlighting in the April edition that they are there, Alan), and any extra cycle parking that we can get installed, all as part of the Active Travel offer here.

Other initiatives that have already been undertaken or supported through this project are: the completion of the new path from the end of Station Road to Hardwick Park, resurfacing of the footpath from Mordon to Bradbury, and the introduction of the Heritage 100 Walk for Sedgefield. Looking ahead, in the short-term pipeline are: New speed mitigation measures in Sedgefield and Fishburn, including permanent speed matrix signs and advisory 20mph zones around schools; improvements to footpaths in Sedgefield; new bike racks in Fishburn; and improvements between the end of Station Road and the new path, for pedestrians, cyclists and wheelchair/mobility aid users.

At a recent Active Travel Project meeting, we agreed to revisit the potential for new bike racks on the other side of High Street. BAT representatives offered some good ideas of how that could work, and we’ll actively explore whether those can be delivered. In time, we aim to have lots of cycle parking options, much better cycleways and footpaths, and other improvements.

The group will also continue to explore better car parking solutions, but our primary focus is to make Sedgefield an attractive, accessible, and safe place for cyclists, walkers and those using mobility aids. There’s a lot still to do, but we are starting to make some significant progress and we will continue to work together (and with anyone who is interested in contributing) to make positive changes here.

Bees at Hardwick

What should you do if you get a swarm of bees in your garden?

Well, first of all try and identify if they are honey bees. Honey bees are small and vary in colour from golden brown to almost black.

All will form a distinctive cluster when they have settled as a swarm. Honey bees have large hairy eyes, a furry chest or thorax and distinctive bent antennae. If they are honey bees then Bees at Hardwick may be able to help.

Things to note:
- Swarms most often occur on warm sunny days in May to the end of July around 11am – 4pm
- Often there is a peak on a fine day after poor weather when temperatures approach high teens
- Swarming bees usually don’t sting but it is wise to stay away from the swarm and keep children and pets Indoors
- Beekeepers collect swarms on a voluntary basis; they are NOT paid to provide this service
- The beekeeper may not be able to come immediately; they have jobs and commitments of their own
- If, on arrival, we find that they are not honey bees we are unlikely to be able to help
- Honey bee swarming is natural and the bees are just looking for a new home.

Please contact us on 07856 625007 or 07581 285859 or see our Facebook page ‘Bees at Hardwick’.

POLICE UPDATE

Festival and concert goers looking to get last minute tickets to this summer’s top events are urged to be on their guard against fraudulent sellers, as new data reveals £6.7 million was lost to ticket fraud last year.

Action Fraud, the national fraud and cybercrime reporting service, has launched a ticket fraud awareness campaign, warning people to be alert to fraudsters trying to catch out people planning for popular and sold -out events.

Last year more than 8,700 people reported they had been a victim ticket fraud, with a total of £6.7 million lost.

The warning comes ahead of the Glastonbury Festival ticket resales and before top summer events, such as Taylor Swift’s sell out Eras tour. Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, said: “We all want to enjoy ticketed events this summer, but that doesn’t stop fraudsters from taking the fun out of things we look forward to doing. Too many people are losing out to fraudulent activity or genuinelooking phishing messages.”

How to protect yourself from ticket fraud
- Only buy tickets from the venue’s box office, the promoter, an official agent, or a well-known and reputable ticket exchange site.
- Avoid paying for tickets by bank transfer, especially if buying from someone unknown. Credit card or payment services such as PayPal give you a better chance of recovering the money if you become a victim of fraud.
- Be wary of unsolicited emails, texts or adverts offering unbelievably good deals on tickets.
- Is the vendor a member of Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR)?

If they are, the company has signed up to strict governing standards. STAR also offers an approved Alternative Dispute Resolution service to help customers with outstanding complaints.

For more information visit star.org.uk/buy_safe.

If you have been a victim of fraud or cybercrime, report it at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.
Steve's Nature Diary

It’s that time of the year again, when I sometimes get woken up in the early morning to the sound of a blackbird singing outside the bedroom window - and what a sound it is. It is one of the first birds to sing in a morning, with a clear and confident voice. The beautiful song is low-pitched and given in short, fluty verses that seem to stop abruptly.

Unlike the song thrush, blackbirds don't repeat their verses, but they do sometimes throw in a bit of mimicry. This reminds me that it will be soon time for International Dawn Chorus Day. Taking place on the first Sunday of May, it is the worldwide celebration of nature's greatest symphony. Across the world, people rise early to revel in the sweet sound of birdsong, from rattling wrens in Rotherham to crooning cowbirds in the Caribbean.

Ideally you need to be up early, and, if keen, before dawn, and the first bird you will likely hear is the tawny owl making its final calls before it goes to sleep for the day. As the sun rises, the day shift begins, with blackbirds and robins singing sweetly from their lookout posts, but the clear voice of the song thrush rings loudest with such variety they sound like several birds, bold phrases repeated in threes, fours and even fives, spurred to new heights by the competition of a song thrush in the distance.

Other birds join in as time moves on, including the first chiffchaff who finds their voice, tentative at first, but quickly growing in confidence. They proclaim their name from a tall strand of willows, “chiff chaff chaff, chiff chaff chaff, chiff chaff!” this is joined by the blackcap, willow warbler and the dunnock’s soft voice is lost amongst the increased variety and volume of the chorus.

You don’t need to recognise the songs, you can just sit and enjoy the sounds - but if you did want to learn birds' song you could try an app like “Merlin” - but be warned it is not 100% accurate so don’t believe everything it tells you. You could, of course, just open your curtains, open a window and hear some of the dawn chorus, but nothing beats an early morning stroll in any of our local woodlands such Hardwick Park, Wynyard Woodland Walkway or Houghall Woods.

You can find out more about International Dawn Chorus Day at wildlifetrusts.org/dawn-chorus-day.

Ceddesfeld Hall: Home of Sedgefield Community Association
Ceddesfeld Hall: Home of Sedgefield Community Association

It's Mediaeval Fayre time, 18th May, 10am-4pm. See the article on the news page for more information.

For more information on Ceddesfeld Hall events, regular activities, room hire and bar opening times, contact Wendy on 01740 620206, Pat on 01740 620607, John on 01740 620042, Sarah on 01740 622185. Visit us on Facebook or see the SCA website, www.sedgefieldsca.org.uk

Mayor's Corner

On 13 May, I relinquish the chain of office as your Mayor and First Citizen, after two of the busiest years of my life. Before that, on 7 May, I will be delighted to distribute a bundle of cheques to headline charity The Red Sky Foundation and a significant number of local community groups, in response to the many letters requesting financial help with their ongoing projects.

None of this would be possible without the great generosity of Sedgefield people attending my many fundraising events, dropping cash in my renowned collecting bucket, baking for my coffee mornings or donating prizes, bottles and toys for my raffles, tombolas and toy stalls.

I would like to place on record my grateful thanks to all who have supported me: to Annette Lawson for being my indefatigable and proactive Consort, to Paul Howell MP for being a great ally and to my close family, who have had to put up with my lengthy absences from home on around 165 occasions.

I have met and got to know many lovely people in the village during this second year, which has been an absolute delight for me.

Finally, I would like to wish my successor as your Mayor all the very best for his/her year in office. What an incredible journey the new Mayor will face!
David Jasper

Your Letters

Sedgefield Sycamore

Brent Morfoot kindly shared these beautiful images of this magnificent local tree, beautiful in all seasons.

Sedgefield News

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