Present: Roger Cornwell, Jean Rogers, Mary Sales, David Ramsden, Dick Fong, Odile Fong, Mike Costello, Ruth Chambers, Liz Brown, Jean Meredith, Ann Evans, Cllr. Grenville Holland, Kevin Turrington, PCSO Chris Dunn, PCSO Steve Bell, Pamela Thomas, Alan Doig, Ann Lockhart, Sheila Kemp, Jackie Levitas.
2. Apologies for absence:
had been received from Cllr. Nigel Martin, Lesley Aers, Steve Bell, Mairi Thompson and Annie Brown.
3. PACT (Police And Communities Together) Session
a) PCSO Steve Bell talked the meeting through his report. In future, on the instruction of his sergeant, he will not circulate a written report: he will refer to written notes, and these will be available to be consulted at the meeting, but will not be published on the CCP website.
b) There had only been one cycle theft in the last month, for which a suspect had been apprehended and the bike retrieved: this was seen as a success for the police operation.
c) There had been a number of burglaries, both opportunistic (with premises being entered through open windows etc.) and deliberately targeted (with entry being forced and high-value items stolen). The meeting expressed concern at the latter, and were assured that burglary remains a priority.
d) Police had been called to a noisy party in Redhills Lane at 1.00 am: the first student housewarming of the season.
e) Steve is aware of youths gathering on the Putting Green in Wharton Park; he thinks that it is a meeting place in fine weather, but that there is no drinking going on, and participants are mostly quiet. He encouraged those present to clear up their litter after themselves, but did not attempt to dispel the group. Kevin Turrington had spoken to them about clearing up rubbish, and received an abusive response. Steve will continue to monitor the area.
Ruth Chambers added that youths were once more hanging out in St Margaret's churchyard, leaving a mess. Steve will look in on his rounds.
f) Dick Fong raised two issues. He had been on a bus which had had to manoeuvre around someone lying in the North Road (presumed drunk); he was also concerned at the level of amplification used by buskers in the City. Steve replied that he does tell buskers to reduce volume that he feels to be excessive, but that the overall noise level is an Environmental Heath issue.
g) PCSO Chris Dunn is the new University Liaison Officer:, replacing Phil Raine. Our message of thanks to Phil for his work in the past has been passed on.
Chris reported that the first three Wednesdays after Freshers' Week will be Nights of Action.
He is working on building good relations with University Security.
Chris can be contacted via the Police 101 number, or directly be e-mail at:
h) Licence renewal for Nadon Thai restaurant: the CCP was party to the discussions which resulted in the initial licence being granted for one year, and subject to a number of conditions. Due to delays in opening, the licence was now due for renewal, and the restaurant had asked for the conditions to be varied, but they had only been open a few months, and the CCP felt this was not long enough to test whether we would accept a variation in the conditions. Reports of the restaurant were good, and the meeting was sympathetic to the request for an extension of hours until midnight for customers already in the restaurant, but opposed the creation of a bar / waiting area. Roger Cornwell would convey this response to Tim Robson (Licensing Officer).
i) Review of Priorities: the meeting approved the police decision to treat burglary as a priority. In addition, with the new term starting, student behaviour should be prioritised.
a) Examination in Public of the County Plan: in Ruth's absence, Simon Squires had been asked to put in a request for the CCP to speak to the comments we had submitted, and to say that our representative should be one of our Trustees, to be decided later. It does not seem that the Programme Officer is acknowledging these requests, so the fact that Ruth has heard nothing is not significant: but Roger and Ruth will confer on representation.
b) The Village @ the Viaduct (formerly the Fred Henderson site) is now letting, although work continues. Jackie Levitas had returned from holiday to find a letter from neighbours who had been monitoring transgressions by BAM: she would pass it to Roger for circulation to the group. The builders have, however, been persuaded to switch off the reversing signal.
Kevin Turrington complained of vehicles blocking pedestrian access by parking in back lanes. Mowbray Street was now so congested that it was impossible for residents to park. Police can intervene in cases of obstruction, but have to be called out every time: they cannot prevent the obstruction taking place to begin with. Kevin will draft an e-mail asking the council to install a bollard, which Ruth will send on behalf of the CCP: she will copy it to Cllr Grenville Holland, who will support the request.
c) Alan Doig and others had had a meeting earlier that day with Andrew Ward, about Neville's Cross Social Club: Mr Ward is making some concessions, but has not overcome all the objections.
The meeting endorsed Roger's decision not to add Mr Ward to the e-mail list.
A planning appeal is pending. Grenville has been pressing for this to go to committee, as the officers had proposed to deal with it under delegated powers, and having supported the initial application were likely to be sympathetic to the applicant.
Some of the rooms have already been let. Jean Rogers asked whether Students' Union or University welfare services could be invoked where students were being moved into disputed (or, as at the Village @ the Viaduct, incomplete) property? Should we be campaigning for a Code of Practice or list of approved landlords? It was agreed that this should be placed on the agenda for the next meeting, and meanwhile could be raised at next Thursday's meeting of the City Liaison Group.
d) Roger had not had time to pursue the request of James Taylor to speak to the meeting on behalf of the purchasers of The Gates: Liz Brown will take over.
6. Sunlight Laundry site
The developer had held a display and consultation exercise at very short notice, and plans were quite sketchy at this stage, but Liz reported that the proposal was for 395 homes, rising to five storeys ("to balance Monument Court"), with a student hub at the centre. This is a major developer with a record of sustainable developments, and if they think the site is viable, they will put in a very strong application.
Roger had informed the developer that the figures for student numbers, on which they were relying, were erroneous, and had sent them the spreadsheet of student accommodation already in preparation.
A meeting earlier this evening at St John's Church was attended by over 50 people, and had resulted in the setting up of a Neville's Cross Residents' Group affiliated to the CCP.
7. NORA: National Organisation of Residents' Groups meeting
Ruth reported that NORA had contacted Universities UK asking for a meeting to discuss and share good practice, and Graham Towl had responded on behalf of Durham University. He would be reporting on the meeting to the Liaison Group on Thursday, and had expressed willingness to make more contact with residents' groups: the CCP welcomed this initiative.
Mike Costello pointed out that we had only learned about this indirectly, and proposed that we affiliate to NORA; this costs £25 per year. This was approved: Mike will contact NORA, and will suggest that the other Durham City groups do likewise.
8. Durham Community Foundation
Ann Evans had attended a meeting on the CCP's behalf, and established that we would be eligible for grant aid. She would pass the papers on to the Treasurer, with copies to representatives of the new Neville's Cross group.
9. Possible misuse of Residents' Visitor's tickets
Kevin apologised that it had not been possible to circulate an outline of the problem before the meeting. He was encountering problems with residents' parking in Lampton Street. The allocation of two permits per house in itself authorised more cars than would fit into these small streets, and in addition he was seeing vehicles parked long-term, displaying three visitors' permits daily. After some discussion, it was recommended that Kevin contact Dave Wafer in the Council's Highways Department.
10. Reports from local Councillors
Grenville's main preoccupation at present is the County Durham Plan
He had no information about what was happening with the King's Lodge planning application, but would find out.
11. Other Business
Jean Meredith described the situation at the new Sainsbury's at Neville's Cross: the layout of the car park created a dangerous combination of vehicles and pedestrians. The local management were unresponsive, but she would write to Sainsbury's on our behalf, with a copy to Grenville. The Health and Safety at Work Act applies.