Crossgate Community Partnership: Minutes

Minutes of the Meeting 5th November 2019

1. Attendance
Present: Cllr Roger Cornwell (in the Chair), Robert Banks, Margaret Jefferson, John Knowles, Sheila Knowles, Brendan McKeown, Pat Mussett, Dot Patterson, Sally Patterson, Simon Priestley, Jean Rogers, Simon Squires, Ann Stokes, Sarah Wilkinson
Keith Evans (Bursar, John Snow College), Louise Fowler (Unite Students)
Cllr Esther Ashby, Cllr John Ashby, Cllr Carol Reeves
Cllr Liz Brown
2. Apologies for absence
were received from: Lesley Aers, Mike Costello, Ann Evans, David Ramsden, Malcolm Reed
Cllr Alan Doig, Cllr Grenville Holland
Cllr Richard Ormerod, Cllr Elizabeth Scott
3. Minutes
The minutes of the previous meeting were agreed as a correct record.
4.Rushford Court
a) Open Day: Louise Fowler invited residents to an Open Day at Rushford Court, planned for early December. She also reminded residents not to miss the Lumière installation at the site.
b) Community Flyer: the Chair apologised for the incompleteness of the link circulated with the minutes, which should have pointed to the draft published on the website. There was some confusion about which leaflet was being discussed, nor was it certain that the full text was present. However, Roger would recirculate the draft.
c) Move-in (continued): Dot Patterson reiterated the problems of noise on move-in day discussed at the previous meeting. Keith Evans assured her that John Snow College will not repeat this, since by next year they will have moved into their own premises; Louis added that Unite Students do not yet know whether next year's residents will be individual students arriving singly, or another college arriving en masse. However, Unite are constantly learning how to control noise, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights. They have increased the presence of security staff in high-vis jackets, so that students are aware they are being observed.
5. Policing issues
a) Organised student parties: Cllrs Liz Brown and Roger Cornwell had seen advertising for a service to organise student parties; there has also been coverage in the Guardian of something similar in Bristol. Liz is investigating, and would welcome any additional evidence members may have. Neither Louise nor Keith had come across this, and both emphasised that it would not be permitted in Rushford Court.
b) Feedback on Parish Council conference on ASB: The Parish Clerk had compiled a list of solutions proposed by the meeting, and circulated it to all those attending. Cllrs Esther Ashby and Carol Reeves presented this to the meeting: in the context of the earlier discussion about the draft leaflet, which includes a wide choice of contact numbers, a single portal to report AntiSocial Behaviour would be particularly valuable. It was suggested that the list of solutions be circulated to all those on both Crossgate and Durham City mailing lists.
Esther argued that the City's residents' groups would be more powerful if they spoke as a unified body, and the practicalities of this were discussed: some degree of collaboration was desirable, but to what extent can the Parish Council now provide this?
Brendan McKeown urged the meeting not to overlook the position of students as residents: they often live in areas of high night-time disturbance, but are less likely to complain. Indeed, they are liable to see this as part of the price of studying at Durham: but this is reflected in Durham's low rating in the league tables for quality of student experience (which might be a reason for the University to take action).
Simon Priestley raised the possibility of a system for rating student properties, analogous to TripAdvisor. The Students' Union is working on something of this kind.
c) Excessive noise in the evening: Roger had received a complaint from a resident of Albert Street about noise in the early evening (bed-time for her children): her student neighbours tell her than anything goes until 11.00 pm. The ASB conference had been unanimous that this is not the case: police, council and university all agreed on this point.
d) The meeting expressed its thanks to all the volunteers who had helped distribute the Livers-Out leaflet.
6. Planning Applications: 22 Allergate DM/19/01673/FPA (refused) and DM/19/01674/LB (approved)
Robert Banks updated the meeting on these applications: the general application to convert to an HMO had been turned down, but the application for Listed Building consent was approved. The officer had pointed out that no objections had been received to the latter (objections all having been addressed to the general application). Liz suggested that as the application had been decided under delegated powers, the officer's report ought to cast some light on the reasoning here. It was also expected, given the previous history of the applicant, that she would appeal.
7. Letting Boards: Regulation 7 Direction
There had been a dramatic fall in the number of lettings boards, which have largely disappeared from the City. One or two were still visible, some of which may have been erected before 16th October and retained the previous rights.
8. Unauthorised sign at Revolution Bar
The sign had been removed, and replaced with an only marginally different sign, for which planning consent has now been sought.
9. Report from County Councillors
a) Cllr Richard Ormerod had sent a written report, which was read out from the Chair.
b) Liz reported that in the last month she and Cllr Elizabeth Scott had mostly been active outside the Crossgate area. The Council would be consulting on the Bus Station redesign in December.
10. Reports from Parish Councillors
a) Liz reported:
  1. Following the briefing on licensing, the Clerk had written to the County Council asking for licensing applications to be made available through an online portal (similar to that for planning).
  2. She would be speaking on HMOs at the Examination in Public of the County Plan.
  3. Double yellow lines had been painted on South Road. to prevent contractors parking on the verges.
b) Cllr John Ashby reported that the challenge to the County Council's occupation of common land at the Sands continues; as does the Examination in Public of the County Plan. At the Inspector's request, the Western Relief Road will be considered by Cabinet at its November meeting.
He had spoken to the County Council's HMO Officer: the Council is considering the introduction of compulsory inspection of HMOs. DSU is also moving towards this conclusion.
c) Roger reported:
  1. a small victory at the EiP, in that the Inspector had informed the Council he was not minded to take Fern Hill out of the Green Belt.
  2. Outstanding Art licensed café in the North Road has applied to vary the conditions of its licence (they are asking for an off-licence, and to be relieved of the obligation for the door to be opened to admit each customer): the Parish Council will oppose this application to vary a very recent licence.
  3. The Parish Council is seeking advice from the Secretary of State as to whether the Charter Trustees (he explained the history of this group) should be wound up, and the power to appoint a Mayor revert to the Parish.
d) Esther reported:
  1. that the County Coucil's new Licensing Policy is generally fuller and better explained than the previous policy, but the only policy change is in the last sentence: no new late food takeaways will be granted an alcohol licence. The new policy does not come into force until it is published on the Council's website.
  2. The County Council is consulting on the need for a cumulative impact assessment for the City.
  3. The Parish's Environment Committee is considering possibilities for action on late night noise.
  4. The Students' Union has volunteers to undertake tasks like clearing snow from paths. Roger suggested they talk to St Margaret's church about cutting back the cotoneaster which blocks access to the handrail on Crossgate; Jean Rogers added that snow clearance on the Avenue would be welcomed.
  5. Pressure for a Late Night Levy on licensed premises has been slow, but is beginning to happen.
11. Date of next meeting
Our next meeting will be on Thursday 5th December.