Durham University has reaffirmed its commitment to working with partners and neighbours, following a productive first community engagement event.
Around 250 residents, business leaders, staff and students and others attended ‘University and City: Growing together’, a community engagement event held at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Durham City, on Thursday 12 April.
The event began with presentations from Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice-Chancellor of Durham University; Ian Thompson, Corporate Director of Regeneration and Local Services at Durham County Council; and Assistant Chief Constable Dave Orford of Durham Constabulary.
A speech was read on behalf of Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods, City of Durham MP, who was unable to attend due to family circumstances.
There were then group discussions, focused on exploring the key opportunities and challenges of Durham’s University Strategy, 2017-2027 for the City, after which the outcomes of these round-table sessions were shared.
In advance of the event, the University announced it would be: establishing a Community Relations Task Force and recruiting a full-time Community Liaison Officer to work with its neighbours; match-funding, with Durham Constabulary, a uniformed police presence in term time; and continuing to part-fund, with Durham County Council, a Neighbourhood Warden for Durham City.
In addition, the University is making it easier for local residents and partners to get in touch. New Community web pages have been created at www.durham.ac.uk/community, which feature updates on the University’s plans, local information and contact details.
Jane Robinson, Chief Operating Officer of Durham University, said: “I want to thank everyone who took the time to attend and contribute to our community engagement event.
“We see the event as part of an ongoing dialogue. We want to work together with our partners and neighbours to ensure there is a positive environment for all who live and work in Durham City.
“We acknowledge we have more to do in this area and would encourage anyone with an interest in the future of Durham, whether they were able to attend the event or not, to share their comments and suggestions.”
An online feedback form has been set up for comments and suggestions, at www.durham.ac.uk/community/haveyoursay.
Ms Robinson continued: “We will reflect carefully on all the feedback we receive, and share it so that we can involve residents and partners as we develop our plans.”
Details of the next event will be announced in due course.
Ian Thompson, Durham County Council’s Corporate Director for Regeneration and Local Services, said: “Working closely together allows us to shine a light on our county as a great place to be.
“And through our continuing relationship with residents and partners, including the University, we hope to ensure a positive environment for all who live, work, study and visit Durham.
“Through this close partnership working we are looking forward to building on the successes we have had already to further develop our beautiful and welcoming city to be somewhere families, students and businesses are all proud to call home.”
Assistant Chief Constable Dave Orford, of Durham Constabulary, said: “As a force rooted in its community, we welcome increased engagement with the University.
“We look forward to expressing our opinions and listening to those of others on what the University wants to do to improve the City for everyone.”