Crossgate Community Partnership: Minutes

Minutes of the Meeting, 2nd December 2021

1. Attendance
Present: Roger Cornwell (in the Chair), Lesley Aers, John Ashby, Robert Banks, Lucille Butler, Margaret Jefferson, Brendan McKeown, Pat Mussett, Simon Priestley, Jean Rogers, Ann Stokes, Sarah Wilkinson,
Louise Fowler (Unite Students),
Cllr Liz Brown,
Cllr Grenville Holland
2. Apologies for absence
were received from: Gillian Banks, Mike Costello, Ann Evans, David Ramsden, Malcolm Reed,
Cllr Richard Ormerod,
Cllr Esther Ashby, Cllr Victoria Ashfield, Cllr Alan Doig
3. Updates from Rushford Court / Collingwood College
Louise Fowler reported that life at Rushford Court was generally quiet: the recent changes in Covid regulations meant little change. End of term departures would take place over the weekend of December 11th, after which the building would be ar 40% occupancy, allowing generous space for safe distancing.
Rushford Court had received some flower bulbs from the Parish Council's planting scheme, and having planted as many as they could find sites for on the premises, would be happy to undertake the planting elsewhere.
4. The minutes of the previous meeting
were approved as a correct record.
5. Antisocial behaviour issues
John Ashby, secretary to the Durham University and Residents' Forum (DURF), spoke to the documents he had circulated to the Googlegroup ahead of the meeting (Consultation paper on ASB and noise issued by the Parish Council, and the response he had compiled from residents' groups to that paper). The change of control at Durham County Council / new Police and Crime Commissioner / new Vice Chancellor could be an opportunity for a fresh start, and improvements were perceptible: DCC was issuing Community Protection Warnings, and would be giving statistical feedback; a Noise Nuisance process was being introduced by the University.
Roger Cornwell read out an e-mail he had received from Gillian Banks, concerning noise in the early hours od Thursday morning from a group of students wearing matching blazers: this identified them as belonging to a known society, so some action should be possible, although, as Simon Priestley pointed out, transient noise is in general both a major annoyance and particularly difficult to deal with. Roger would write to Rebecca Eves (University / Community liaison) and would notify the Community Response Team.
Cllr Liz Brown would be attending the meeting on ASB called by Joy Allen, the new PCC; as would the Parish Clerk.
6. Durham University and Residents' Forum (DURF)
Simon had represented the Partnership at a meeting of DURF earlier that day, which had mostly been concerned with the issues of ASB already discussed. The Forum would be meeting the incoming Vice Chancellor in March, trying to strengthen the position of DURF within the University structure.
7. Durham City Framework
DCC is conducting a consultation on a development strategy for the City of Durham: Simon urged the importance of responding on this: Roger asked members ti read it and circulate ideas. Liz mentioned the need for projects to make use of levelling-up funding.
8. Planning Application DM/21/01670/FPA for 12-bed student accommodation on the upper floors of the Workingmen's Club
The Council's Spatial Policy team were opposed to this development, treating it as an HMO of which there are already too many in the area. The Planning Officers were therefore likely to oppose the application.
9. Storm Arwen: damage and recovery
Lucille Butler explained that she owns 1 Crossgate, where the suction of the wind had pulled a boundary wall off its base; two cars parked outside had been crushed. She was insured with NFU, and the wall would be rebuilt, in accordance with the requirements of the Article 4 which applies to the area, but work may have to wait until spring, and it may then be necessary to close Back Alexandra Crescent to allow work to be carried out.
It was suggested that Back Alexandra Crescent should in any case be made 'no parking': Liz would look into the possibilities.
Liz also reported that a major incident had been declared because the storm had left so many people without power. The University was offering emergency accommodation.
10. Rubbish and recycling
Margaret Jefferson described the situation in the back alley between Sutton Street and Allergate, which is full of large 'communal' bins. These are not suitable for a domestic area. She argued that if students are made aware of the refuse and recycling system, they will make an effort to get it right. Sarah Wilkinson supported this view: she talked to her student neighbours while delivering leaflets, and felt that a majority coped well with the system: being proactive, and making sure they knew what to do could produce results.
Liz added that the council was struggling with an increased quantity of rubbish since lockdown: this was overall, not just from students.
Roger and Liz would meet to discuss this.
11. Views obstructed by vegetation
Cllr Victoria Ashfield had written to apologise for not replying earlier: the situation is complicated, but she is trying to secure Section 106 funding to address the problem.
12. Freeman's Quay Covid Concerns
Brendan McKeown was concerned about poolside precautions, but was attempting to obtain more data.
13. Reports from County Councillors
a) Liz invited members to support the Mayor's Coffee Morning, on Saturday 4th.
She had learned that historically St Cuthbert's church had served as a burial site for stillborn babies from the then Dryburn Hospital, and from the County Hospital when it was a maternity hospital. There were no marked graves, but she was in discussion with the vicar about setting up a memorial.
She was concerned at the generally low level of mask wearing.
b) A written report had been received from Cllr Richard Ormerod, and Roger would circulate it to the e-mail list.
14. Report from Parish Councillors
a) Cllr Grenville Holland had suggested to the County Council that the Parish Clerk should be provided with an office in the Town Hall. It had emerged that no member of the council was responsible for the Town Hall, which was managed by a consortium of officers: Grenville felt that it was underused, and that the new council could do better.
b) A written report from Cllr Esther Ashby recorded that she had been alone in voting against the Parish agreeing to co-sign, sight unseen, a letter from the City of Durham Trust objecting to the reduction of livestreaming of DCC meetings.
Progress was being made on improvements at Perkies Park.
She was working hard to prepare for a charity gift-wrapping service in the covered market.
15. Date of next meeting
The next meeting, on Thursday 13th January 2022, will be our AGM.