Crossgate Community Partnership: Minutes

Minutes of the meeting, 3rd March 2022

1. Attendance
Present: Roger Cornwell (in the Chair) welcomed all those present at the meeting, especially those attending for the first time: Joan Adams, Lesley Aers, Gillian Banks, Robert Banks, Goshka Bialek, John Billinge, Alexis Cleveland, Morag Crichton, Ann Evans, Alison Fox, Denis Fox, Margaret Jefferson, Sheila Knowles, John McGuinness, Brendan McKeown, Pat Mussett, Simon Priestley, Jean Rogers, Ann Stokes, Paul Watson, Andrea Watson, Sarah Wilkinson,
Cllr Esther Ashby, Cllr Alan Doig, Cllr Carole Lattin.
2. Apologies for absence
were received from: Malcolm Reed, Simon Squires, Kevin Turrington,
Louise Fowler (Unite Students)
Cllr Liz Brown, Cllr Richard Ormerod,
Cllr Victoria Ashfield, Cllr Grenville Holland.
3. The minutes of the February meeting
were approved as a correct record.
4. AntiSocial Noise Procedure
The University has been working with Durham County Council and Durham Constabulary to put in place an Anti-Social Noise Procedure, codifying the action that can be taken when noise from student properties causes a disturbance. Gillian Banks was congratulated on her letter published in that morning's Durham Advertiser, which pointed out the major limitation of this procedure, that it only applies to noise from buildings, and do does not address the major problem of noise in the streets. Nonetheless, Simon Priestley urged members to make use od the procedure where it does apply: this enables the police to build up a picture of night-time disturbances i the City.
Gillian Banks reported that she and Robert Banks had accompanied the Police and Crime Commissioner on a walkabout, and had pointed out some problem areas: she hoped this would help.
Cllr Esther Ashby reminded members that the 'Shh' campaign had aimed to address the problem of transitory noise: it had been less than completely effective, but the exercise had identified some useful avenues of one-on-one interaction with students.
Roger Cornwell passed on a message from Cllr Liz Brown, who is seeking the installation od CCTV in the terraces around Hawthorn Terrace, primarily to target flytipping, but it could also have other advantages. Esther commented that the police seemed interested in the wider distribution of video doorbell systems.
In conclusion, members were urged to report all anti-social noise - and Cllr Carole Lattin reminded members to make use of Pinpoint as well.
5. DURF meeting with new Vice Chancellor
A meeting between Durham University and Residents' Forum (DURF) and Karen O'Brien, the incoming Vice Chancellor, was scheduled for the following Monday. A briefing had been prepared for the VC by the residents' association members of DURF, and Roger read this out. Alexis Cleveland cautioned that the University's stated target of 50% of students in University accommodation would not reduce the numbers living out as long as numbers continued to increase. More positively, since the VC's previous post was at a university where students are not permitted to bring cars with them, she may be sympathetic to implementing this rule at Durham.
6. Planning applications
a) DM/22/00369/FPA to convert 24 Nevilledale Terrace from a family home to an HMO: the applicant, Mrs Moore, is a well-known local student landlord. Sarah Wilkinson pointed out that the site notice (posted on 1st March) was inaccessibly placed on railings near the property. She hesitated to challenge this, however, as this would delay determination of the application, which was expected to be refused, and it was possible that Mrs Moore would try to install student residents for the new academic year.
It was agreed that the CCP would comment on the application, drawing on the objection lodged by the City of Durham Trust.
b) DM/21/01918/FPA to convert 8 Laburnum Avenue from a family home to either a family home or an HMO (successful appeal). Mike Costello had won his appeal, with the Inspector stressing that the circumstances (effectively, that he had been driven from his home by student neighbours) were very specific and personal. Since this was unlikely to create a precedent, it was welcomed.
7. Parking: possible measures to reduce demand on limited spaces
John Billinge spoke on behalf of residents of Briardene, who have been campaigning to introduce residents' only parking, similar to the special status obtained for residents of Grape Lane, which is its own parking area. A message from Cllr Liz Brown said that she and Cllr Elizabeth Scott were pressing for Briardene to be given the same status. But residents of Somerville and Nevilledale, where there is no on-street parking, pointed out the risk that they would be excluded. Roger suggested trying to persuade DCC to limit parking for HMOs, rather than excluding council tax payers. Jean Rogers regretted the absence of County Councillors from this discussion: although we value their reports of their activity, it is also important that they are informed of the specific issues raised in this discussion.
8. Responsibility for removing Council posted notices
Simon Priestley had noticed the large numbers of Council notices, such as those about planning applications, meetings and consultations, affixed to lampposts and never removed, even after the passage of several years. This looked messy - and Jean added that it also made it more difficult to identify new notices, reducing their effectiveness. Ann Evans suggested that we tell DCC that sprucing up the City was a necessary part of the current City of Culture bid. Roger clarified that removal of planning notices is the responsibility of the applicant, but that there is no mechanism to ensure this happens. He would write to the County Council, expressing our concern.
9. Reports from County Councillors
a) Cllr Richard Ormerod had circulated a written report. This included an update on repair of cobbles in Crossgate, but Ann Evans was concerned about the state of the cobbles in Silver Street: Crossgate needs attention, but the problem is much more extensive than Crossgate. Roger would feed this back to Richard.
Richard's report also contained an update on the removal of seating adjacent to the North Road roundabout: he felt that this, with the new planting, looked much better. But CCP members recalled a consultation, in which we had agreed that the existing arrangement of benches and tables was a focus for anti-social behaviour, but argued for the retention of seating, much valued by older residents, without the tables. Ann Evans would write to Richard on behalf of the CCP to remind him of this.
b) Cllr Liz Brown was absent sorting donations for Ukraine. She had sent Roger a message: she was aware of the ploughing up of Observatory Hill, and has been asking questions. Many CCP members had walked those paths without hindrance over decades: Roger would brief Liz about the procedure for claiming a footpath.
Controlled parking outside Rushford Court was being extended, with the aim of discouraging taxis from waiting there.
Work was progressing on a memorial to the stillborn babies buried at St Cuthbert's church; the artist was seeking ideas.
10. Report from Parish Councillors
a) Cllr Esther Ashby reported that the Business Committee was making extensive plans to celebrate the Jubilee, including a service in the Cathedral, and a picnic in the Marketplace. Members who were planning street parties were asked to liaise with the Parish Clerk.
The allotments at the top of May Street were being brought back into use.
Government funding had been obtained for projects to improve the safety of women at night. These included training for door supervisors in how to deal with vulnerable women, and resilience training for women, to be delivered by the University but not restricted to students. At the same time, St Nicholas's church hall was providing a base for a variety of voluntary organisations who were active around the night tome economy. Funding for this would run out at the end of March.
b) Cllr Carole Lattin reported on tree planting on the Sands.
The Ruth First memorial had been restored, and was about to be reinstated.
River cleaning was in progress, as detailed in Richard Ormerod's report.
The Parish was preparing a new leaflet on recycling.
She also reported on the City of Durham Community Emergency Plan: this is a process supported by the County Council, whereby the community develops a plan to support the emergency services.
c) Cllr Alan Doig urged people suffering from AntiSocial Noise to use the Pinpoint system to log disturbances. The police rely on calls to 101 to measure the problem, and currently this gives an underestimate. Please use both od these reporting systems.
With the reopening of New Elvet Bridge, the bus gate had now been removed. The money raised in fines (£1,200,660 in total) should be spent on improving public transport.
The Parish Clerk had submitted a Freedom of Information request to DCC, to find out how much income was lost by the exemption of students from Council Tax: in 2020-21 this amounted to £8,797,335.
11. Other business
Robert Banks had attended the meeting with the Police and Crime Commissioner, and had a supply of ultra-violet market pens to distribute.
12. Date of next meeting
The next meeting would take place on Tuesday 5th April 2022.