Crossgate Community Partnership: Minutes

Minutes of the meeting, 7th July 2022

1. Attendance
Roger Cornwell (in the Chair): Joan Adams, Emma Backhouse, Sue Childs, Gillian Banks, Alexis Cleveland, Chris Hugill, Margaret Jefferson, Fiona Lowrie, Vicky Mattless, Pat Mussett, Simon Priestley, Malcolm Reed, Jean Rogers, Ann Stokes, Sarah Wilkinson,
Cllr Esther Ashby, Cllr Victoria Ashfield, Cllr Grenville Holland, Cllr Carole Lattin.
Cllr Liz Brown
Roger Cornwell welcomed attenders to the meeting, and thanked Sue Childs for facilitating the Zoom meeting.
2. Apologies for absence
were received from: Ann Evans, David Ramsden.
Cllr Alan Doig,
Cllr Richard Ormerod
3. The minutes of the June meeting:
were approved as a correct record of the meeting
However, the meeting had been informed that an FOI request had been submitted about the cost of policing the "Platty Jube" event; this was not in fact the case, and a note to that effect should be added to the minutes.
4. Change of Treasurer - update
Sarah Wilkinson, our new Treasurer, has now received confirmation from the Co-operative Bank that the requested changes have been implemented.
5. Police incident in Allergate
Reports - many of them inaccurate - had been appearing of an incident in Allergate in late June, to which the police had been called. Allergate residents were able to clarify that this arose from a long-standing issue at 24 Allergate, the Bernicia (housing association) property. The problem, as they saw it, was that the occupant of one of the ground floor flats was being exploited by drunks and down and outs of Durham who are using his property as a drink/drugs den and he doesn't seem able to resist their calls to be let in.
Margaret Jefferson had heard a noise outside at the back of her house, where two men were fighting, causing damage to the gate: she had called the police. It appears that later one of the two was violently assaulted by the other and was admitted to intensive care (he was discharged later in the week). Because it was at the time a serious crime both the garden and the rear of 24 were deemed a crime scene.
Gillian Banks felt that Bernicia's management had been aware of this problem for some time, and that the two very serious incidents in recent months did not inspire confidence in their ability to deal with it; Margaret did not disagree, but hoped that Bernicia had now been jolted into action.
It was agreed that the CCP should improve our contacts with Bernicia, and invite them to attend a future meeting. As Parish Councillor, Cllr Carole Lattin was happy to support this invitation, and to make contact with Bernicia on our behalf. She also praised the student neighbours, who had been very helpful.
6. Hawthorn Terrace "Platty Jube" (Platinum Jubilee) Street Party on 4 June
A response was still awaited from DCC to our / the Parish Council's comments.
Roger would now submit an FOI request to ascertain the cost of policing the event.
Whatever shortcomings there may have been in observing the terms of the TEN licence, Roger commented that the notice itself had been properly displayed in the window of the applicant.
7. Events at Holi and Bhang (Farnley Tower)
Fiona Lowrie described the disruption caused by recent events held at the hotel under a TEN licence. She felt that the management did not care about the impact on the local community: several neighbours had complained about the noise, but the volume had not been turned down. She thanked Roger and Cllr Liz Brown for their help and support.
Liz had referred the issue to Environmental Health, who are consulted over the issue of TEN licenses: if noise is reported to them, a red flag will be raised against future TEN licenses.
Roger noted that in the case of the first of the two events complained of, the TEN was not on display: this was an offence which should be referred to Licensing. A more serious response would be to seek a review of the hotel / restaurant's licence: He would discuss the pros and cons of this with Fiona and Celia, as immediate neighbours.
Cllr Grenville Holland pointed out that that there are outstanding planning applications for this property: could they be reconsidered in this light? Roger would ask the Parish Clark to place this on the agenda of the Planning Committee.
8. Temporary event notices generally
Cllr Esther Ashby explained that TENs are a longstanding concern of the Parish Licensing Committee: the County's Environmental Health officers are reluctant to engage on the topic, but the Parish will continue to press them. The meeting expressed a desire to pursue the issue. Suggested actions were talking to other bodies; asking NORA whether this is a problem nationally; involve Mary Foy MP.
It was agreed that Roger would write to NORA, and would make formal contact the Parish Licensing Committee.
9. 1 Crossgate Peth Wall collapse
As landlady Lucille Butler explained to our December 2022 meeting, the force of Storm Arwen had pulled a boundary wall off its base at her property; two cars parked outside had been crushed. At the time she told us that 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,
Chris Hugill, who lives just uphill in Crossgate Peth, was concerned that work did not seem to be advancing, and that the highway (Back Alexandra Crescent) was still partially obstructed. His wife (also Chris Hugill) had spoken to DCC, who did not seem concerned about this.
However, Liz reported that she too had now spoken to the Highways Department's maintenance and enforcement team, and is hopeful that they will now act. She is considering the desirability / possibility of double yellow lines on Back Alexandra Crescent, which is the sole vehicle access to Crossgate Peth.
10. Livers Out leaflets and deliverers
Simon Priestley reported that the text of local content from the CCP had now been fed to the University, and production of leaflets was moving forward; soon he would be looking for volunteers to deliver leaflets.
11. Planning application DM/22/01606/FPA for 50 The Avenue
Simon had seen this application for alterations including changes to the frontage of the house, and the installation of uPVC windows, on the Planning Portal, although he had not yet spotted a notice on the street. The City of Durham Trust had already objected, and the Parish was not happy with the application, but was for the time being taking a watching brief. Liz, who was familiar with the house, felt that some work was necessary, and that the construction of the infill houses opposite was likely to have affected the bay windows. Gillian voiced the general opposition of the meeting to uPVC windows, and Roger pointed out that the Neighbourhood Plan was very helpful in this respect, as changes must actively enhance the Conservation Area.
Roger and Simon were asked to collaborate on an objection on behalf of the CCP.
12. Bus Station
As reported by Cllr Richard Ormerod (written report, previously circulated), the bus station is now due to reopen in July 2023. There is to be a much-needed review of the use of North Road for bus boarding and alighting, as the current arrangements are not the most logical (larger and more used buses stopping by the shops).
Esther added that the Parish Council's Business Committee has had long discussions about the impact of works on the businesses in the North Road: how can this be improved? Roger argued that the County Council cannot deny all responsibility for the effects of its actions.
Liz added that Cllr Elizabeth Scott had been looking into this matter: Roger was asked to write to Elizabeth expressing the CCP's concern.
13. Garden at 24 The Avenue
This plot, for which planning permission had been given some time ago, was now very overgrown, with growth creeping out into the pavement. It is used as a shortcut between the Avenue and May Street, so its neglect is potentially hazardous. Liz noted that the initial panning consent would by now be running out of time, but the clock had been reset for a further three years in June 2021 when a planning condition was discharged (this was believed to be a works description which allowed access to the building site from the Avenue only).
The condition of the garden could be reported via the Council's Do It Online portal.
13A. Benches at Margery Lane / Crossgate
Margaret noted that these two benches were in very poor condition; one was completely broken, the other badly damaged. However, their location was not ideal, as it was very exposed to traffic fumes. Could they be refurbished, and then relocated nearby? Liz urged caution over removing them, as despite the disadvantages of the location people do rest there. Carole will talk to Richard Ormerod about how they can be improved.
14. Reports from County Councillors
a) Liz has been receiving complaints about the old motor repair shop on Back Western Hill. It is in a dangerous condition, and children have been playing there.
b) A written report from Cllr Richard Ormerod had been circulated, and items in it previously discussed.
15. Reports from Parish Councillors
a) Grenville reported that the Business Committee was continuing to pursue conversation with student landlords, but with very little result.
He commended the Children's Book Festival / Family Fun Day, an excellent event which should be encouraged, though he regretted that it was not being held in the Town Hall.
b) A written report from Cllr Victoria Ashfield had already been circulated. She gave an update on the progress of the blue plaque scheme. Negotiating the positioning of plaques was proving very labour intensive, and the Parish Clerk had been asked to take a break from this, as it was consuming a disproportionate amount of time.
The planters around the city were now past their best, but she was delaying refreshing them until student houses were occupied again, so that people would be available nearby to water the new plantings. The response to this request was generally very positive.
c) Esther reported that the flood of licensing applications had slowed substantially, allowing the committee to work mostly on policy.
16. Date of next meeting
The next meeting would take place on Tuesday 2nd August 2022.