Crossgate Community Partnership: Minutes

Minutes of the General Meeting 4th November 2014

1. Attendance:
Present: Roger Cornwell, Jean Rogers, Liz Brown, Dick Fong, Odile Fong, Mike Costello, Ben Jackson, Simon Priestley, William Hunter, Kevin Turrington, Simon Squires, Ruth Chambers, David Ramsden, Brendan McKeon, Steven Bell, Mairi Thompson, Mary Sales, Barbara Ravelhofer, Alan Doig, Clare Wright,
Linda Lovell, Jonathan Lovell (visitors)
Cllr. Grenville Holland
PCSO Steve Bell, PC Samantha Nicholson
2. Apologies for absence:
were received from Ann Evans, Jackie Levitas, Lesley Aers, Drew Agnew, Jean Meredith, Annie Brown, Carole Reeves, Adrian Wright, John Lowe,
Cllr. Nigel Martin, Cllr. Richard Ormerod.
3. PACT (Police And Communities Together) Session
PCSO Steve Bell introduced PC Samantha Nicholson, and gave the meeting an oral report.
a) There had been no burglaries; this was attributed to an initiative in which police officers left their cars to patrol on foot.
b) There had been numerous complaints about noise, from noisy parties and also of noisy groups in the streets. In a number of cases, names of those involved had been passed to the University.
c) There had been several reported bicycle thefts.
d) Steve had followed up a member's report of activities in Wharton Park; Kevin Turrington confirmed that he, too, had been phoning in reports.
e) He had been unable to contact the organiser of the car meets at Sidegate, but will visit.
f) There were reports of drug-taking in George Street, and Steve would investigate.
g) PCSO Chris Dunn, who attended our last meeting, is no longer University Liaison Officer; PC Ralph Thomson is Acting University Liaison, but is not permanent and retains other duties alongside this rôle.
h) Review of Priorities: the meeting agreed to retain the existing priorities of cycle theft, burglary and student behaviour.
4. The minutes of the previous meeting
were agreed as a correct record.
5. Matters arising
a) Examination in Public of the County Plan: Roger Cornwell reported on the progress of the EiP:

  • The major item of interest was that the Inspector had instructed the Council to produce a new version of Policy 32 (Studentification / Balanced Communities), incorporating material introduced by objectors about the scheme as operated in Manchester. The Council would produce a new draft the following day, to be followed by a meeting of interested parties on Friday.
    A working group organised by Mike Costello had produced a list of key points, which were:
    • introduction of an Article 4 Direction,
    • an Article 7 Direction on letting boards
    • mandatory licensing of HMOs
    • no PBSA except on existing University land
    • strict monitoring and enforcement

    The result will be a new Policy 32, and the Council must reconsult; the policy will then come back before the reconvened Enquiry, which deals mainly with non-strategic matters.
  • Development of Green Belt land around Crook Hall (the 'Northern Quarter') had been very effectively opposed; Mike had attended the site visit.
Simon Squires expressed the gratitude of the meeting to those individuals who are putting great quantities of time and effort into the Enquiry on our behalf.
b) The Village @ the Viaduct: A recent article in Palatinate was discussed: could the University do anything to improve the living conditions of its students? Failing this, was there no Student Welfare service that could intervene? Student Welfare representative have attended the City/University Liaison Group, and expressed interest in attending residents' meetings; we would continue to encourage this.
c) Parking Zones in Viaduct Area: Kevin Turrington had circulated an e-mail outlining the problem: that residents who have paid for parking permits in the Crossgate (Viaduct) area suffer from commuters parking here for a long term (suspected railway travellers) because they are the cheapest parking spaces within Durham's Controlled Parking Scheme. They also block back lanes obstructing access. He had held a site visit with Danny Harland (County Council Highways officer) and outlined a plan to introduce bollards and extra parking places in Flass St. and Waddington St; bollards in John St and Holly St and revision of the double yellow lines; and to increase metered parking charges from 30p to 50p per half hour in zones J, K and N (aligning to rest of the city). Zone L North Road will remain at 30p, to encourage people to use this area where space is normally available.
It was noted that Cllr. Richard Ormerod had expressed willingness to help fund bollards.
Kevin thanked Mike Costello for his help.
d) Neville's Cross Social Club: students are already in residence, but the application to convert to 15 student residences and a bar had been turned down by the Planning Committee. The Council would not enforce their decision pending an appeal, but the Inspector had told planning officer Barry Gavillet that the case would be decided within four weeks.
e) The application to convert Kingslodge / Finbarr's: goes to committee on Tuesday 11th, and the officers recommend refusal. Ben Jackson spoke to the meeting on behalf of the directors of Finbarr's Restaurant: their lease runs until 2020, and although the applicant could pay them to surrender it before that date, this would be an additional cost. The restaurant employs 40 staff, of whom 25 are full time, so the development would result in a net reduction in employment on the site. Cllr. Grenville Holland will speak in support of the officers' recommendation, and Simon Priestly will speak on behalf of the CCP.
f) A report of the meeting between Residents' Groups and the University was circulated: 7 Durham City residents' groups were present, as were representatives of DSU. The report was received.
6. Letting Boards
Mike had recently circulated the Council's voluntary code for letting boards and a covering letter from enforcement officer Pam Glaister encouraging agents to participate in the scheme. It was agreed that Ruth Chambers should write to Pam Glaister on behalf of the group, expressing our disappointment that once again the Council was proposing a voluntary scheme of the type that had not hitherto been successful; in addition, failure to consult interested parties had resulted in boards being permitted in a period which residents and student welfare agencies agreed in regarding as too early in the year.
7. Community Action Team
Mike reported that the Community Action Team is a multi-agency team which is part of the Council, and is active throughout County Durham with a focus on deprived areas. It has now turned its attention to the city, and appeared shocked by what it had seen. The 'Viaduct area' had been identified as being of particular interest, because of problems of rubbish, etc.
8. Dates of future meetings
The proposed schedule was approved.
9. Reports from local Councillors
Grenville reported on problems of maintenance of the Catholic graveyard at the top of Redhills Lane.
He confirmed that funding could be found for bollards where needed (see item 5c above).
Most of his time this month has been spent at the Examination in Public of the County Plan.
A written report had been received from Richard Ormerod; this had been circulated.
10. Other Business
Brendan McKeon had successfully opposed an application to extend the opening hours of Stantons Fish & Chip shop in Neville Street. It was argued that there should be an obligation on the licensing authority to gather statistics, which would inform any review of licensing policy: Roger would investigate further.
11. Date of the next meeting
Monday 1st December 2014.