Planning Inspector Yvonne Wright has attracted criticism after giving the green light to more student accommodation. The council has refused permission to redevelop the site of the former County Hospital near North Road twice previously, but on Monday Wright announced that Peveril Securities would be allowed to use the site to provide 363 student beds. Unease about the number of new developments appears to be growing, with Jackie Levitas, described by The Durham Times as the last non-student resident of nearby Waddington Street, saying that the “whole city is going to be redeveloped into a student campus. I’m so sorry for Durham”. Local MP Roberta Blackman-Woods also voiced her opposition, describing the plans as “totally inappropriate”.
The Durham City MP also continued her campaign against the potential franchising of the Crown Post Office on Silver Street. The Post Office, which is considering allowing forty-two post offices nationwide to be run by private operators, explained the move through a spokesman, who argued: “We cannot look to the taxpayer to subsidise Crown Branches that lose money”. Nevertheless, the idea is opposed by the Communication Workers Union as well as Blackman-Woods, who warned that “we are at risk of losing key services… and a vital part of the city’s infrastructure”.
Sunderland AFC chief executive Margaret Byrne resigned as the fall-out from the Adam Johnson case continued. Johnson, who was brought up in County Durham, was found guilty of one count of sexual activity with a child on 2 March, having previously admitted two lesser charges. Byrne was under pressure after allowing the winger to continue playing for the club despite being aware that he had kissed the victim. Meanwhile, former Sun Editor David Dinsmore was found guilty of breaching the Sexual Offences Act after the paper published a pixelated photo of the teenage girl whom Johnson had abused. The case led to further controversy after Facebook removed a page which supported an appeal against the verdict, after some users used it to post unpleasant comments about the victim. The page, set up by Johnson’s sister, was called “Justice for Johnson”.
Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg, a book about gender equality at work, has been introduced onto the Engineering curriculum at Durham. Sandberg, who is Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, wrote the book to encourage women to make every effort to further their careers, and men to ensure that they take equal responsibility in the home. The School of Engineering and Computer Sciences plan to compare views on gender equality between year groups that have and haven’t studied the book.