Crossgate Community Partnership: Minutes

Minutes of the meeting, 2nd November 2023.

1. Attendance
Roger Cornwell (in the Chair): Joan Adams, Lesley Aers, Gillian Banks, Robert Banks, Martin Hiles, Chris Hugill, Margaret Jefferson, Brendan McKeown, Simon Priestley, David Ramsden, Malcolm Reed, Jean Rogers, Ann Stokes, Rachel Toes, Nick Toes, Joe Witherspoon,
Cllr Esther Ashby, Cllr Victoria Ashfield, Cllr Carole Lattin,
Cllr Liz Brown.
Roger Cornwell welcomed all those attending, and apologised for the failure of the heating in the meeting room.
2. Apologies for absence
were received from: Emma Backhouse, Morag E. Crichton, Ann Evans, Vicky Mattless, Judi Webb, Sarah Wilkinson,
Cllr Alan Doig,
Cllr Richard Ormerod.
3. The minutes of the October meeting
were approved as a correct record.
4. 4 Nevilledale Terrace and 1 Beechcrest - unauthorised works
a) Both the City of Durham Trust and the Parish Council had already submitted very solid objections. Enforcement is ongoing.
b) Cllr Liz Brown pointed out that since this case will come before the Area Planning Committee, she is unable to comment. All the documents are on the DCC Planning Portal.
5. Update on works at Rushford Court
Unfortunately Chris Hindmarsh, Durham University's Project Manager for Rushford Court, was unable to attend the meeting. Brims, who are doing the construction work, have sent extensive documentation, which has been uploaded to our website; they have also offered to meet us, and to organise a site visit, if that is what we want. The meeting did not think this was necessary at present, but expressed its thanks for the information, and asked to be kept in touch.
6. Parking issues
a) Resurfacing work in Allergate had now been completed, and road closures were over, although road markings, including yellow lines, have not yet been reinstated. In contrast to the experience of Hawthorn Terrace residents, Allergate residents praised the quality of the actual surface, and the conduct of the workers, but stressed that ot was essential double yellows lines (permitting loading but not parking) be reinstated. In addition, the setts which had been removed had been replaced with concrete blocks: Roger had been in touch with Conservation Officer Lee Hall who confirmed that the stone setts were a protected part of the street scene; Liz suggested that he now contact David Sparks.
b) Hawthorn Terrace: Notices had now been posted instructing residents that cars must be removed to permit repainting of yellow lines.
7. Other traffic issues
Liz reported that works at the Whitechurch (New Inn) junction were overrunning, and would not now be end until after works on Potters Bank were due to start. Each of these is part of the route for traffic diverted from the other. She is urging delaying work on Potters Bank until next year, but is having trouble finding officers she can canvas, since it is half term.
8. Renewing the Regulation 7 Direction
The Regulation 7 Direction, which removes the right to display letting boards in the Conservation Area, will shortly be due for renewal. The meeting was unanimous that it has brought about a major improvement in the appearance of our area, and asked Roger to write to the Council urging them to renew the direction.
9. Car parking charges and tariff review
Durham County Council is in serious financial difficulties, and as a result is proposing to increase parking charges both on street and in car parks. The proposed changes, which have been approved by Cabinet, are outlined on the DCC website, and are now subject to a consultation. Members were urged to respond individually if they so wished.
10. Community Emergency Plan
Cllr Carole Lattin is involved in the early stages of the development of a Community Emergency Plan: she is passionate about this, having been caught in the disastrous flooding in Greece last summer, which had made her very aware of the need for planning at a very local level. She had already circulated some introductory material about Community Emergency Planning. The purpose of the Plan is not to replace the Emergency Services, but to harness local knowledge of extremely local risks and resources; one option would be a single plan for the entire parish, but it would also to possible to break it down into even smaller areas, perhaps under a single umbrella. The County Council's Civil Contingencies Unit can fund emergency supplies.
Carole asked for expressions of interest in volunteers: Liz is already involved, and Martin Hiles and Simon Priestley volunteered. Carole will also be talking to DURF.
11. Dates of meetings in 2024
The meeting was happy to continue the practice of meeting monthly, alternating the first Tuesday and the first Thursday of the month. Suggested dates were:
  • Thursdays: 11 January (AGM), 7 March, 2 May, 4 July, 5 September, 7 November
  • Tuesdays: 6 February, 2 April, 4 June, 6 August, 1 October, 3 December
It was noted that this deferred the January meeting by a week to avoid the Christmas / New Year holidays, but that the April meeting would fall the day after Easter Monday. There were no objections to this, and the schedule was approved, subject to the availability of the meeting room.
12. Reports from County Councillors
a) A written report from Cllr Richard Ormerod had been received at 5.00 pm on the day of the meeting, so that, although it had been circulated, members had not been able to read it. Roger therefore talked the meeting through the main points.
Members were surprised at the report that the Bus Station was now open, as no-one had seen any evidence of this.
He thanked those who had supported the campaign to save the ticket office; Roger in turn thanked Lesley Aers, who had first brought this to the attention of the meeting.
The Parish Council had prepared and circulated a leaflet urging people to 'shop local'. Some members had already received copes of this at home, and Jean Rogers commented that, although there might be difficulties over promoting individual businesses, not all local shops were immediately obvious, and the leaflet as it stood did not help to find them. More information was needed, and Roger offered to circulate information.
b) Liz reported that during the partial closure of St Leonard's school, school buses had been cancelled, and this was creating major parking problems around the school.
She is prepared to fund the Ainsley Street footpath to the Flass Well, but the council will not agree to this until there is agreement about who will maintain it. She will consult with the Friends of Flass Vale.
24 Nevilledale and 41 Fieldhouse Lane were being used to house nurses without planning consent; enforcement were aware of this.
A number of students were parking in Briardene; she was trying to persuade the Parking Shop to enforce the rule that properties built or converted since 2000 were not entitled to residents' parking, but they argued that conversion to HMO was not conversion in this sense.
Elsewhere in the County there is selective licensing of landlords, which aims to impose a minimum standard, but this does not apply in the City. This would be reconsidered for 2025/6, and she thought we should push for the City to be included.
13. Reports from Parish Councillors
a) Toria had circulated a written report, with notes from an informal 'Awayday' session at which the Parish Council had been brainstorming about priorities for the forthcoming financial year: feedback about this would be welcomed.
b) Carole had circulated a written report, and was happy to answer questions about it. She drew attention to a proposal from the Wear Rivers Trust, supported by the parish council, for a possible barrier to be erected across the river to catch and analyse the various plastics which end up in the river.
c) Cllr Esther Ashby was urging the Business Committee to acquire an electric vehicle which would enable local businesses to make deliveries; she had been encouraged in this by a conversation with Ann Evans, who had discovered that the wine merchant in the covered market made deliveries.
Information boards had now been installed near the Beacon, which were in themselves very attractive, but were at an angle and a distance from the roadway which made them difficult to read.
Colin Wilkes, who is retiring as Managing Director of the Markets Company, has been an asset to the Business Committee and will be much missed.
14. Date of next meeting
The next meeting will be held on Tuesday 5th December 2023.