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Minutes of Parish Council Meeting 16/04/24

Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting 16th April 2024


Fr Colm, John Thompson, Tom Hoban, Tony Power, Leanne Heseltine, Mike McNally, Alejandro Gonzalez, Cynthia Dunn, Graham Donnachie, Emma Turnbull, Kathleen Murray.

1. Fr Colm opened the meeting with a prayer.

2. Apologies – Joanna Pallister, Joe Hughes Maria Melia, Mary Harrison, Tom Harrison,

3. Minutes of the meeting 23rd January 2024 accepted.

4. Parish Update – Fr offered his comments regarding the current position of the Parish. Parish numbers remained steady with a slow return following the Covid pandemic, it was agreed that the Easter services were successful and well attended. The Parish finances remain stable, a full written report was provided and circulated to council. Fr provided an update regarding maintenance to the Parish buildings; he expressed his concern regarding the state of the kitchen and several of the rooms at St Joseph’s Church indicating there needs to be a focus on redevelopment of the rooms particularly the Kitchen area to meet the needs of the various groups who meet regularly. The issue of health and safety in the context of food hygiene was considered and it was agreed that organisers of events involving food preparation and distribution were following appropriate guidelines. The progress on developments relating to St Bede’s Presbytery and the surrounding land, is ongoing and several issues including those relevant to covenants had been resolved, Fr thanked those involved in progressing this matter. The various groups in the Parish continue to provide services and support and it was noted that regular reports would be provided by each group to the Parish Council. A summary was provided regarding several of the parish groups including safeguarding, support fund and links with the Parish schools. Fr referred to developing further the links with the community in which the Durham Martyrs is part of.

The Parish continues to provide a broad range of activities and it was agreed that many of these activities extended outwards to the wider Durham community. This was considered a positive step forward in raising the profile of the Parish of the Durham Martyrs and potentially lead to stronger links being formed. He thanked the work of parishioners who help with these activities but suggested more volunteers were needed. Fr referred to a recent meeting held to consider how the Parish can develop and move forward, an update is included in a separate item under AONB presented by John Reilly O’Donnell. Fr informed the Council that there would be an increase in the occasions of the international meal held at St Joseph’s.

5. Finance feedback – A comprehensive update of the current financial status was provided within the written report submitted by the finance team. The fourth way of giving is ongoing updates to be provided by the Finance team (TH). Expenditure both committed and anticipated has included/will include new lighting, roof repairs (ongoing) and a new carpet in the body of the St Godrics Church. Additional security cameras (a result of unsociable behaviour occurring on St Joseph’s land decorating interior St Joseph’s Church, entrance to

St joseph’s pavement and path cleaning and replacement windows for St Joseph’s church. St Bede’s presbytery site is under negotiation to let and eventually to be sold for social housing development. The report also included reference to the issue of insurance cover. It was noted that the Durham Martyrs stance must be that the Person(s) authorising and/or organising and/or involved in an activity must take responsibility to complete a Risk Assessment and to make sure that the Law and Health & Safety and Safeguarding Policies are complied with and to ensure that the insurance is not invalid.

6. Building Committee feedback – the committee reported that the replacement of the stolen copper roofing is completed. Groundwork including entrance pavement to St Joseph’s needs maintenance and two trees in the grounds are required to be felled. St Godric’s continues to experience issues with a leaking roof, the treatment and removal of knotweed is required and the carpet in the body of the church will be replaced. A bulletin note on 3rd March from Fr Colm drew Parishioners attention to the importance of Safeguarding and to promote this through meetings. This applies to the Parish ensuring safe buildings, and the safe provision of services by observing relevant legislation, and where the Buildings Committee are concerned, this refers to observing the Health and Safety legislation and Food Safety regulations and following the guidance from the Diocesan Health and Safety officer. Recently Fr Colm reported to the Committee about the discarding of drug paraphernalia at the rear of St Joseph’s and the increase in the use of that area for this practice. The council responded very quickly to the reporting and cleared the area. Anyone finding discarded syringes and needles must not clear it away themselves but contact the council direct.

7. Dates of Parish Council meetings

9th July 2024 7pm St Joseph’s.

15th October 2024 7pm St Joseph’s.

14th January 2025 7pm St Joseph’s.

The date of the AGM tbc


o Parish Development update – Cynthia Dunn. As a follow up to the previous Parish Development open meeting chaired by Fr John O’Brien a core group was formed and met to discuss how the development of the Parish of the Durham Martyrs can be moved forward to enhance networks within the Parish and surrounding communities. The ideas generated were presented to the Parish Council by Council member Cynthia Dunn. The work to date offers an insight into several ways in which the Parish can begin to develop and build on its presence within the surrounding communities. The proposal put forward offers a two directional approach with the establishing of two groups: an Alpha group which would address the spiritual element and a community group to explore ways in which to develop and foster networks across the community. The group has considered several factors to identify where the parish currently stands; for example, in youth engagement, ministries, reaching out to potential parishioners and engaging with community agencies already established. Cynthia impressed upon the group that the initial ideas needed to be small to start, with a gradual scaling up of developments. The core group will be seeking to approach individuals who have the skills and experience to help progress developments. Council was reminded that the initial focus is on several short-term objectives. The discussion regarding the development of the Parish considered the proposals suggested and Council agreed to provide appropriate support where required. Regular updates to be provided by (CD).

o Car parking – this has created a problem for Parishioners specifically attending mass at St Godric’s Church. Objections were submitted by individuals including parishioners of The Durham Martyrs and several community groups, as the introduced parking restrictions on a Sunday impact on a number of the community activities that take place throughout the day. It was agreed that the Parish Council would submit their concerns in a written letter to Durham County Council. (JT/MM)

o Fr Colm informed Council that Bishop Stephen would be visiting Durham Martyrs over the weekend of the 8th and 9th June 2024. This will be an opportunity for the Parish to meet Bishop Stephen and give him the warm welcome that Durham Martyrs are renowned for. It is hoped that there will be an opportunity hold a shared meal (AG) following the 10.30 am mass on the Sunday reflecting the diversity of the Parish.

o The date of the AGM is to be confirmed.

The next PPC meeting will be on 9th July 2024 7pm St Joseph’s.


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