Crossgate Community Partnership: Minutes

Minutes of the Meeting 5th June 2017

1. Attendance
Present: Roger Cornwell (in the Chair), Lesley Aers, Goshka Bialek, Mike Costello, Brendan McKeown, Jean Rogers, Kevin Turrington, Sarah Wilkinson
Cllr Liz Brown, Cllr Richard Ormerod, Cllr Elizabeth Scott.
Roger Cornwell welcomed all present to the meeting, and in particular our three newly elected councillors.
2. Apologies for absence
were received from: Ann Evans, Carole Reeves, Simon Squires, Ann Stokes, Clare Wright
3. Minutes
The minutes of the previous meeting were agreed as a correct record.
4. Durham University Strategy
Several of those present had been among the invited guests at a presentation which had required them to eat a three course meal and drink wine, and to watch a sequence of videos about the University's intention to increase its size still further. Discussion of how local residents can best respond to this led into the next agenda item.
5. DURF (Durham University / Residents' Forum)
Mike Costello (DURF Secretary) reported that attendance at that morning's meeting had included representatives from nine residents' groups, senior officers of the university and County Council officers. Various concerns had been raised, and it had been suggested that these could be followed up by focus groups, that is, by sub-groups focused on specific issues on a task and finish basis. There was an awareness that the need for additional policing arising from the size of the University could nor be met by a single PCSO. Owen Adams, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor with responsibility for Colleges and Student Experience, had accepted that an exercise could not be described as "consultation" unless answers received were listened to.
Sarah Eldridge (the Council's Development Management Team Leader) had said that a Regulation 7 (statutory control of letting boards) was not now likely within 18 months. This was generally regarded as disappointing.
6. Failure of communications / liaison between different agencies and residents
Goshka Bialek outlined the history of her attempts to obtain action on the problems of living in a student area. In particular, she had sought action on a) student neighbours dumping rubbish in her dustbin, which was not returned to its place by the refuse collection team and b) noisy parties. On a), she had a file of e-mails exchanged with the Council over a period of months, in which a response to her complaint was continually deferred. Action had been delayed by difficulty in discovering which department she should have written to. On a) she continually called the police non-emergency number, but this did not produce a rapid response. On one occasion, the officer answering the phone had, in an attempt to be helpful, suggested first that she contact the Council's noise abatement department (who work normal office hours only), then that she contact University Security (who no longer intervene in student behaviour in town) and, as a last resort, whether she had considered moving house.
Roger had asked PCSO Rebecca Carey (University Liaison) for a report: in anticipation of end of term celebrations, half night patrols have already started. These had been carried out on Wednesday and Thursday nights and more were planned for the coming weeks. In the period covered by Rebecca's report, 3 houses had been issued with community protection warning notices and 4 with actual notices; 2 tickets had been issued for urinating; and 12 houses in the viaduct area had been knocked on prior to 11 pm to remind them to keep the noise down and to ask them to turn the music off.
Kevin Turrington recommended contacting Bob Coates in the Council's Refuse and Recycling department, but accepted that there did not appear to be any permanent solution: it was necessary to make repeated complaints each time the problem recurred. It was also remarked that while it is helpful to have the names of individual officers, it ought not be necessary to have this information to get action from the Council.
7. Ongoing issues: parties / rubbish and recycling
There was nothing to be added to what had been said about student parties under the previous topic.
Roger pointed out that students, like any other residents, are entitled to have their rubbish removed by the Council. However, refuse generated by landlords clearing out refuse left by students at the end of their tenancy, or waste that results from building works, is trade waste, and the Council is entitled to charge for collecting it (and should be encouraged to do so).
Kevin reported that Dominos had been issued with a final notice, and had at last moved their bins off the pavement. He commended the work of Stuart Champion, the Streets Warden, and the team of Neighbourhood Wardens.
After years of urging that the Green Move Out campaign be moved forward, the bags and leaflets had finally this year been delivered ahead of the main departure: congratulations to all concerned. Sarah Wilkinson had seen bags put out and collected in Nevilledale.
8. 16 and 24 Nevilledale Terrace
a) Sarah Wilkinson reported that the landlord of no. 16 had now secured scaffolding, which would allow the required works to be carried out, albeit outwith the time limit allowed. However, the landlord of the adjacent property would not permit its erection while the house was occupied, i.e. until July. The work will therefore be carried out starting in July.
b) The Planning Inspector who is hearing the landlord's appeal on no. 24, has now asked the Council for final comments. This makes it unlikely that the Inspector will report in time to prevent the house being let for the next academic year.
c) Cllr Liz Brown commented that while canvassing door to door she had discovered a number of houses which were HMOs despite not being on the HMO register.
d) Roger referred to a report in the Northern Echo (previously circulated) of a court case in which the landlord of no. 12 Nevilledale Terrace had been fined for not having a current HMO licence (and for housing more than the permitted number of students in another property in St Margarets Garth.
9. Reports from local Councillors
a) Cllr Richard Ormerod had been specifically asked to report on reports of a "bus gate" in the North Road. This was a proposal to encourage observance on the restrictions on traffic in the North Road by improving signage. There is no proposal for an actual gate. Richard was cautiously in favour, and is trying to iron out issues of disabled access.
He also reported that a noticeboard for the use of Crossgate residents and organisations is now installed outside the Elm Tree.
b) Cllr Elizabeth Scott had been contacted by residents about a skip in Ainsley Street, and had managed to get a notice served. She was also working with the police on groups of youths hanging out in Flass Vale.
c) Liz reported on road works at the Neville's Cross traffic lights, caused by a burst water main. She is also pursuing the state of local streets, as reported to the previous meeting by Ann Evans, and had been told that a sweeper will be sent, and the gullies will be cleared.
A dropped kerb is being put in outside the old Neville's Cross Post Office at Relly Path. At present users of mobility scooters have to go onto the A690 to carry on up the hill, an oversight which is being corrected
10. Date of next meeting
Our next meeting will be held on Tuesday 4th July.