Crossgate Community Partnership: Minutes

Minutes of the Meeting 7th March 2017

1. Attendance
Present: Roger Cornwell (in the Chair), Robert Banks, Goshka Bialek, Liz Brown, Alan Doig, Matthew Flannery, Sharon Flannery, A. Lockhart, Brendan McKeown, David Ramsden, Jean Rogers, Doug Scott, Simon Squires, Ann Stokes, Sarah Wilkinson
Cllr Nigel Martin
2. Apologies for absence
were received from: Lesley Aers, Morag Crichton, Mike Costello, Ann Evans, Jackie Levitas,
Cllr Grenville Holland
3. PACT (Police And Communities Together) Session
No reports had been received from the police; nor has we been notified specifically that they would not be attending, although as reported last month, Roger Cornwell had been told informally that a recent change in shift patterns now meant that neither PCSO Steve Bell nor PCSO Rebecca Carey would be able to attend future meetings. As requested, Roger had written to Sgt Kay Howarth, asking whether police continue to find attendance at our meetings useful: but there had not been time since his letter for a reply. Members were reminded that they can attend Durham City PACT meetings.
4. Minutes
The minutes of the previous meeting were agreed as a correct record.
5. Bus Station "Consultation"
Simon Squires reported that the Ombudsman's office had found no fault with the Council in response to his and Roger's complaints: he felt that their approach had been very superficial. Both he and Roger had responded to the draft reports with comments. Roberta Blackman-Woods MP has been briefed. The Planning application for the redevelopment of the Bus Station had previously been expected "in the spring"; it was now not likely to appear before the summer.
6. 16 and 24 Nevilledale Terrace
No building work had yet been observed at no. 16, although it must be completed by 10th April to comply with planning requirements. If it starts as soon as term ends on 17th March, this is not impossible. Roberta is looking at taking the case to judicial review.
The landlord of no. 24 has appealed at the last minute, claiming that tenants were occupying the house from the date of purchase on 12th September, and therefore before the new restrictions. Neighbours deny this; in any case, the house is not on the HMO register.
7. Building work at the County Hospital
Liz Brown has attended the meeting about work on this site. The demolition phase is now over, and work is starting on the construction of the new blocks. This will proceed in parallel to work on the old block, where stonemasons are now working.
Liz was concerned about where builders employed on the site were to park: Stephen Reed, the County Council's Planning Development Manager, says that there is limited parking on the site, and that other workers will need to use available on-street parking.
8. Lowe's Barn Community Project.
Alan Doig reported that a new community centre is being built near St Cuthbert's Hospice, to replace the existing centre on the sports field. The plan is for the management committee to consist of two representatives of each of the four residents' associations in the area: Crossgate, Nevilles Cross, Sheraton Park and Merry Oaks, which will fold itself into the community centre. Liz will represent the CCP at the meeting on Thursday 9th, though all are encouraged to attend.
9. Waste collection and recycling.
Goshka Bialek was concerned that rubbish left in the back lanes in black plastic bags is unsightly, and attracts rats. Student residents use the bags because their landlords have not provided bins, or because bins have been removed by the refuse collectors and not returned. She had been told by the Council that it was the job of the binmen to return the bins, but they do not do this.
Roger saw three sources of problems:
  1. residents who don't put their rubbish in bins
  2. refuse collectors who fail to return bins, often leaving them some distance away
  3. landlords fail to provide tenants with bins; during the vacations, they put waste from house maintenance in the bins, although since this is waste from a business they have no right to do so.
Other contributions to the discussion noted that the use of open boxes for recycling was not suitable; and that recycling put out incorrectly was simply left indefinitely. It was agreed that Liz should contact Stuart Champion, the Streets Warden, about the problem, and if necessary escalate it.
10. Reports from Local Councillors
Cllr Nigel Martin reported that in the course of a planning meeting considering the conversion of a house in Dalton Crescent from C3 to C4 (i.e. multiple occupation by students) it had been revealed that when Council officers were assessing the number of HMOs, they looked at the register of exemptions from Council Tax in June 2016. Given how fast the situation changes, this was unsatisfactory. They now propose to consult the list of exemptions in place on October 1st, but even this is too early for the start of the academic year. The interim policy talks about the density of HMOs in the present tense, implying that the data must be accurate in real time (and the Inspector who allowed Jackie Levitas's appeal seemed to be making the same point in noting that the data were not contemporaneous). This was probably unworkable, and the policy would have to be amended on this point.
This will be the last meeting Nigel attends as Councillor, and Roger thanked him (and, in absentia, Cllr Grenville Holland) for their work as our councillors.
11. Date of next meeting
Our next meeting will be held on Monday 3rd April.