Crossgate Community Partnership: Minutes

Minutes of the meeting Monday 4th April 2016

1. Attendance
Present: Roger Cornwell (in the Chair), Lesley Aers, Steven Bell, Liz Brown, Alan Doig, Dick & Odile Fong, Simon James, John Knowles, Jackie Levitas, A. Lockhart, Brendan McKeown, Jean Rogers, Simon Squires
Cllr Grenville Holland, Cllr Nigel Martin
2. Apologies for absence:
were received from Mike Costello, David Ramsden, Carole Reeves, Clare Wright
Cllr Richard Ormerod
PCSO Steve Bell, PCSO Rebecca Carey
3. PACT (Police And Communities Together) Session
a) In the absence of representatives from the police, Roger Cornwell read PCSO Steve Bell's report; this showed 4 cycle thefts in Crossgate in the last month;
There had been several burglaries, including one at the Garden House pub, where a suspect had been identified from CCTV footage;
Steve had caught some youths smoking cannabis in St Margaret's churchyard: they had been taken home by members of the City Beat Team, and all spoken to in front of their parents. The regular patrols had since found no evidence since of drug activity in this area. The meeting regarded this response as "an outbreak of common sense".
b) PCSO Rebecca Carey had also sent a written update. In the last month police had:
  • Given 6 Community Protection Warning Notices (5 in the Crossgate/Viaduct area)
  • and issued 2 Community Protection Notices.
  • 2 tickets had been given for littering,
  • and 2 tickets given for urinating,
  • One premises licence had been revoked at the request of the police for encouraging students to commit anti-social behaviour in the street (though there is still time for this decision to be appealed).
Roger Cornwell had attended part of the hearing of the licensing case against Shaheen's Indian Bistro, and reported back (press report here). While the University claims it is unable to intervene in cases of misconduct by individual students, the meeting felt that it could reasonably be expected to take a view on the activities of college sports teams and / or societies, as in this case. Cllr Nigel Martin offered to raise this with the Vice Chancellor, and Roger would maintain pressure on University representatives at DURF (Durham University / Residents' Forum) meetings.
c) Priorities remain unchanged: dangerous cycling, student behaviour and combatting burglary by better security.
4. The minutes of the previous meeting
were agreed as a correct record.
5. Matters arising
In addition to those matters arising on the agenda for discussion, it was noted that no application for a license had as yet been made for the basement of the Fish Tank, Neville Street.
Simon Squires asked about progress on the NPF's request for help to identify sites suitable/not suitable for development. Roger had ascertained that they did not at present have any sites listed for Crossgate. It was agreed that the process might be set in motion by Roger circulating this information to the Crossgate mailing list, asking people to suggest sites, which Simon would then collate and pass on to the NPF.
6. County Hospital: what action is possible after the granting of the developers' appeal?
a) Jackie Levitas reported that there was work in progress on the site, and that trees were being removed, although the preliminary work, as detailed in the Inspector's decision, had not yet been carried out. Liz Brown advised that the person to contact about tree felling is the Council's Tree Officer, and offered to provide contact details. In addition, Nigel will confer with Cllr. Grenville Holland about how to ensure that conditions are enforced.
b) Nigel outlined the process for referring the Council's handling of the case to the Local Government Ombudsman. It would be necessary to demonstrate not only that there had been maladministration, but also that it had caused injustice: this would be interpreted very narrowly, so the initial complaint had to come from someone living in the direct vicinity of the site. He was keen to support a complaint, but could not initiate one.
c) Roger reported that he had been liaising with Roberta Blackman Woods MP, over errors in the Inspector's report, which might be grounds for a complaint to the Parliamentary Ombudsman or for seeking a Judicial Review.
d) Jackie pointed out that local residents were waiting for Roberta to consult them, as she had told the press. Roger would contact Roberta on behalf of the CCP and ask her to organise this.
7. County Durham Plan
The County Council has now decided that it cannot simply amend and refresh the original Plan: it has announced that it intends to start again with a "clean sheet of paper" and issued a revised timetable according to which the Plan will be submitted in December 2017, eighteen months behind the previously published schedule.
Nigel pointed out that long though this timescale is, it is shorter than that of the discarded plan, implying that the plan was not in fact all bad, and that parts of it can be reused.
Delay is not without penalties. The government's New Homes Bonus may be lost if no plan is in place by a set date.
8. University / Community issues
a) The University plans to repurpose Queen's Campus (Stockton) by establishing an international foundation college, and pulling the academic side "back" to Durham, with additional accommodation at Ushaw and / or Mount Oswald. In fact many students already live in Durham and commute to Stockton: this change is unlikely to fill all the PBSAs for which planning consent has been given.
b) Roger has been approached by BBC's Look North, who are planning an item on studentification in Durham. There was some discussion of the key points.
9. Reports from Local Councillors
a) Nigel reported on progress towards the Proposed Regional Authority for the North East: DCC appears to be cooling towards this.
Wharton Park reopens at the end of May.
b) Grenville felt that Cllr Simon Henig's statement had been widely approved; there had been no criticism.
People were, however, still very angry about the closure of the DLI.
10. Date of next meeting
The next meeting will be on Tuesday 3rd May 2016.