Minutes of the Annual General Meeting 13th January 2015
Present: Roger Cornwell, Jean Rogers, Jackie Levitas, Ann Evans, Cllr. Grenville Holland, Liz Brown, Ruth Chambers, Mairi Thompson, Steven Bell, Simon Squires, Cllr Richard Ormerod, Carole Reeves, John Lowe, Brendan McKeon, Kevin Turrington, William Hunter, Sheila Knowles, John Knowles, Barbara Ravelhofer, Clare Wright
2. Apologies for absence:
were received from Lesley Aers, Mike Costello, Alan Doig, Dick Fong, Odile Fong, David Ramsden, Adrian Wright, Jean Meredith, Annie Brown
PCSO Steve Bell
The meeting sent its best wishes for a speedy recovery to Dick Fong.
3. Annual General Meeting
a) Annual Report: Cllr. Grenville Holland suggested that the question of the redevelopment of the North Road, and the stalled consultation on this project, be taken up with Ian Thompson, the Council's Corporate Director of Regeneration and Economic Development.
The Annual report was received nem. con.
b) Approval of the accounts: Simon Squires, as Treasurer, introduced the accounts. Grenville pointed out, for information, that the CCP was carrying forward a comfortable surplus, of a size which would make it difficult for the organisation to receive Neighbourhood Funding. This was noted, and the accounts approved nem. con.
c) Election of Trustees: Nominations for all the existing Trustees, and no others, had been received, and all were willing to stand. The existing Trustees were therefore re-elected. Officers are elected by the Trustees at their first meeting of the year.
d) Other AGM Business: Jackie Levitas expressed the gratitude of the meeting to all the Trustees for their work throughout the year; responding, Roger Cornwell thanked all the individuals who have put effort into specific areas of work throughout the year.
4. PACT (Police And Communities Together) Session
a) PCSO Steve Bell had sent his apologies, but had submitted a written report, from which Roger selected some highlights: the arrests at Maiden Castle reported last month had been followed by a complete drop in the number of reported cycle thefts; there had been two burglaries; several complaints about noise had been received during the first half of December; in relation to issues of motor noise in Sidegate, the Car Club had relocated its activities on a trial basis to Belmont Industrial Estate to congregate, and no complaints in had been received in December/January; as previously reported, the new University Liaison Officer starts full-time this month: she is PCSO Rebecca Carey (). It was agreed that she should be invited to attend the February CCP meeting.
b) In addition, Roger and Ann Evans (representing the Trustees) had been invited to observe a dawn raid on a house in Neville Street which had been the source of serious noise disturbance. Two men were arrested, and two four-foot high speakers, four smaller speakers, a mixing desk and an amplifier were seized (see press report). It was anticipated that the offenders would be dealt with by restorative justice.
c) The previous meeting of the CCP had discussed a number of incidents of dangerous cycling, and Roger had passed this on to Steve via e-mail. It was agreed that this should be one of our Priorities (replacing bicycle theft) alongside burglary and student behaviour.
a) Examination in Public of the County Plan: the Inspector's report is now expected by the end of February; notes of the sessions should be in the Examination Library by the end of this week.
b) The Village @ the Viaduct: Grenville agreed to write to Stuart Timmiss, the Council's Head of Planning, saying that local residents are not happy at the continuing failure to approve a management plan for this development (which had been a condition for granting planning consent): he would ask the Council to say that the admission of any additional residents would trigger enforcement action.
c) Parking Zones in Viaduct Area: Kevin Turrington reported that Danny Harland (County Council Neighborhood Parking Team) has sent out the documentation for Phase 1, an increase in the parking tariff paid at machines, which is due to be evaluated in the next few days. If it is approved, then the increase will go ahead in April.
Phase 2, the installation of bollards in John Street, Holly Street, Waddington Street and Back Lane Western Hill, is still awaiting approval. Roger has met the Rights of Way Department, who accept that the lane (the historic line of Ainsley Street) is probably a right of way. In order to get it added to the Definitive Map, it would be helpful to establish its use by the public over the last 20 years. Roger will circulate the e-mail list with a request for information on this. He pointed out also that it is not necessary to establish that it is a right of way for the Council to undertake maintenance, as they can maintain highways even if this isn't the case. Local funding might well be available to help with this.
d) Neville's Cross Social Club Liz Brown was seeking details of the conditions which had been imposed before construction could begin, and reported that the Council appeared to be backing away from the assertion that these had already been satisfied. She had put in a complaint about the felling of trees on the site, and noted that the resultant stumps had subsequently been removed.
e) Letting Boards: Grenville will pursue this.
f) There would be a meeting of the Area Action Partnership on Wednesday 14th January, which would include a report back on the community clean-up of the back lanes around the bus station.
7. County Hospital
Signet appear to have prepared the revised application with an eye to the reasons for rejection of their original application discussed in the Planning Committee. But the application was so flawed, and rejection so uncontroversial, that other grounds were not discussed. This being so, the meeting was shocked to learn that senior planning officer Andrew Inch had written to Signet telling them that the revised application was "capable of overcoming the reason for refusal".
Signet also seemed to feel that the requirement for a Statement of Community Involvement had been met by their activities around that original application - in which case, we could presumably argue that public responses to that initial application should also stand. Nonetheless, Barbara and Anna would repeat their mailshot, circulating a template which people could use as a basis for letters of objection, and would welcome volunteers to help.
The official closing date for comments (22nd January) is too early to permit full pubic participation; it is the day of a public meeting called by Roberta Blackman-Woods, MP, which people are urged to attend. Jackie will ask Roberta to intervene, asking for an extension of the consultation date. The application will not go to committee until March at the earliest, by which time the Inspector considering the County Durham Plan should have produced a revised wording for Policy 32 (on balanced communities / studentification).
8. Sunlight Laundry
An application has been received by the Council (but not yet validated) for development as student accommodation. The Neville's Cross forum are arranging a meeting with the developers: they would be happy to see the site developed for residential or mixed use.
9. Student population in the Viaduct Area
Kevin Turrington had drawn on the Electoral Register and on personal knowledge to estimate the proportion of students to permanent residents in a group of streets surrounding the County Hospital. The streets included in this survey are: Lambton Street; Sutton Street; Bridge Street; Flass Street; Waddington Street; Mowbray Street; Ainsley Street; and Parkside. Existing purpose built student accommodation (the Village @ the Viaduct) had not been included. Even the most cautious reading of the data was that the population within the streets studied was 87% student to 13% permanent residents.
10. Reports from local Councillors
Richard Ormerod; reported continuing progress towards improving access to St Margaret's Centre / Priory Orchard. He anticipated that the necessary Traffic Order would be made on February 2nd.
He was continuing to press for a handrail at the bottom of Crossgate (next to Halifax bank), but officers were reluctant. Members were critical of the sharp angles and interruptions in the handrail opposite, as installed by the Council: while the presence of the handrail was appreciated, these corners introduced a new hazard.
Residents of Grape Lane were meeting to discuss improvements to the street.
11. Other Business
Clare Wright objected to the closure of Wharton Park for a full year (spring 2015 - spring 2016) for improvement works: she asked whether it was necessary to close the entire park for the entire period, or whether areas where work was not currently in progress could be kept open. The meeting supported the idea of a staged closure if this was possible, and Richard Ormerod agreed to pursue the question.
12. Date of the next meeting
Monday 2 February 2015, in Antioch House - please note change of venue.