Parish Council meeting minutes 2 Sept 2020

via Zoom

The Parish Council Meeting has to take place remotely for reasons of social distancing brought in by HM Government during the COVID-19 outbreak.


Gittisham Village Ward
Cllr C Hall (Chair)
Cllr D Valentine

Gittisham Vale Ward
Cllr A Wilkins (Vice Chair)
Cllr P Orchard
Cllr J Twist

In attendance: Cllr Susie Bond (EDDC), Cllr Phil Twiss (DCC), Fiona Clampin (clerk), two members of the public

Apologies for absence: Cllr M Walker, PCSO Darren England

76/20 To accept and approve apologies

Apologies were received and accepted.

77/20 To confirm the minutes of the meetings held 1st July and 24th July 2020

The minutes of the meetings held on 1st July and 24th July 2020 were confirmed and signed by the Chair.

78/20 To receive the Beat Manager’s Report

The police did not send a report this month, so the clerk provided figures taken from . In July 2020, 1 crime reported: criminal damage or arson.

ACTION: Cllr Orchard to forward to all members the weblink to crime statistics.

79/20 To receive declarations of interest

Cllr Wilkins declared an interest in agenda item 23, as he is due to be reimbursed by the council.

80/20 Reports from County Council and District Council representatives

School Transport

As we start a very unusual school term for our young people, Cllr Twiss said that DCC’s Education Department had issued a letter to parents regarding travelling safely to school and home on dedicated and public shared transport. This was distributed to all members. Cllr Twiss said he thought it likely that there would be the odd teething problem in terms of capacity, but hoped that any of these can be resolved quickly and easily, if needs be by increasing the number of vehicles to do this safely.

DCC Highways

While not a road as such, Cllr Twiss said that Footpath 3 from Buckerell Parish towards Gittisham Parish which passes over the River Otter by way of a footbridge is a good way to get out and about. He said he had got the local DCC Ranger to make repairs on the bridge which had fallen in to disrepair and was getting to the point of being dangerous. Cllr Twiss said he was also talking to the Honiton Show Committee about the possibility of a permissive path from where Footpath 3 meets the River Otter, turning right towards The Otter Inn, which may in turn be a nice distraction on a walking loop from Gittisham to Gittisham via there and possibly The Combe Garden centre! The show committee is due to meet shortly to discuss this as one of their agenda items.

Cllr Twiss added that he had now completed the ‘Doing What Matters’ review with Mike Brown, DCC Neighbourhood Highways Officer for the Feniton and Honiton Division in terms of highways maintenance and drainage, and as with the other parishes he should have been liaising with the clerk on this matter.


Cllr Twiss said there was nothing specific to report, other than the Jurassic Fibre Broadband Ultrafast Broadband delivery is going well, despite COVID-19 restrictions and likely to reach Gittisham/Honiton at the end of this year.

Farm work Welfare App

Given the nature of our mainly rural area, Cllr Twiss said this may be of interest to members of the PC where sometimes problems are hidden in plain sight and not always spotted. The development of an app has been undertaken by the Clewer Initiative and supported by GLAA, NCA, Fresca Group and the Modern Slavery Helpline. The app is called the Farm Work Welfare App (FWWA) and launched in late July 2020.

FWWA is aimed at seasonal farm/rural workers and employers in the food picking, packing and processing sector. It seeks to provide a pocket resource for employers to aid them in strengthening their processes to prevent or identify labour exploitation within their operations, whilst also helping workers to understand their rights, learn what good practice looks like and arm them with the knowledge to identify exploitation. A reporting function is also provided which interlinks with the Modern Slavery Helpline. Content will be available in 8 languages covering the most vulnerable nationalities. Documents were distributed to all members.

Reporting of issues to DCC/EDDC

Noting comments relating to item 25 of the Gittisham PC agenda for 2nd September and in order to maintain a more accurate trail of report and response, as well as duplicating queries, Cllr Twiss said it would help enormously if issues which might be best described as of an ‘operational nature’ could firstly be raised via the clerk to the PC by E Mail to for EDDC and for DCC

If the clerk is unclear as to the relevant responsible authority is, he added that both have a very good working relationship and will usually pass on the issues if not theirs to resolve. For items such as that concerning improving access though the emergency gate at the end of Old Elm Road which is outside of the routine operational nature, Cllr Twiss explained that is where he comes in, and a request by email from the clerk will enable him to log it and to the relevant DCC or EDDC system. Cllr Twiss added that if the request is of an urgent nature and the clerk is not available, please send in the same way with a cc to the clerk and Cllr Twiss.

Hospital and healthcare

As we move towards what appears towards a more usual position health care services returning towards pre COVID-19 levels, Cllr Twiss said it is evident that the RD&E NHS Trust is going have to go a long way to return to where it would want to be for elective, non-elective and clinical surgeries.

The overall position at the RD&E NHS is far from straight forward in terms of referrals, elective surgery and clinic, allied with other major procedures and not brilliant when compared to 2019. Cllr Twiss distributed the key areas of interest to all members from his Council of Governors’ performance update from 7th August for June. This month’s update is due shortly and will have hopefully improved significantly from then.

Put simply COVID-19 and the impact on all sites in the RD&E footprint has been huge, but because of many fewer cases in our area staff are now returning to their ‘day jobs’ in large numbers, which is having a month by month positive impact on the ‘metrics’ e.g. June had a 31 per cent improvement of referrals over May, but that was still only just over 67 per cent of cases handled in June 2019! Keeping the main site at Wonford fully operational and safe on non COVID and Covid work is a challenge in terms of clinical hygiene and safe staffing levels, with PPE working incredibly exhausting and adversely effecting efficiencies.

The Nightingale Hospital has currently been re-purposed to deal with the cancer referrals backlog, in advance of an anticipated winter spike in demand for a perfect winter storm pressure of flu, COVID-19 and some old people suffering from poor health, particularly during winter, where this is one of the Trusts major clinical priorities regarding early diagnosis and treatment. The Nuffield is currently contracted to do 8 clinics a day on hip replacements (Exeter world class in this field) where the backlog because of this procedure being halted in late March due to risk of post op infection massive and the Trust is working at optimum capacity taking many factors in to account, no least staffing levels.

In summary a case of clinical priorities where progress is being made in all areas, but clearly not quick enough in a system under huge pressure even before COVID-19, but where the big injections of cash and new staff recruitment is definitely helping. Cllr Twiss said he hoped outpatient appointments will be quicker to resolve than long term waiting on elective surgical procedures and the paragraph below gives me some cause for comfort, in particular the creation and now implementation of the outpatients hub and a massive technological boost via an intelligent platform patient record system called ‘MyCare’, which is going live in early October which will improve matters dramatically and quickly (£50m cost and yes, tested and has been running for some time in Exeter and other UK Hospital sites which will give the RD&E a huge advantage over todays position and other Hospital Trusts!!).

Cllr Bond said while August is normally a quiet month, full Council met to discuss the Strategic Planning Committee’s decision to withdraw from the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (GESP). On a personal level, she said this is a hugely disappointing, politically motivated move, which is likely to leave us vulnerable to development in inappropriate areas. GESP was looking at allocating sites from 2031 (the end of EDDC’s current local plan) and 2040. The new administration at East Devon District Council (a coalition of Independents, LibDems and Greens) had no faith in the process undertaken thus far, despite having been involved in plan formation. Working co-operatively with our immediate neighbours would have given EDDC more clout in negotiating for grant funding for major infrastructure projects, Cllr Bond argued.

The plan now is to continue the work already ongoing to revise the Local Plan. Climate change, Covid and (not least) the Government White Paper on Planning due to be published this month will need to be taken into consideration. The Government proposals are to be discussed at a Strategic Planning Committee on 16 September, which will be a Zoom meeting with the usual period at the start of the meeting for public speaking.

Cllr Twiss left the meeting.

81/20 To note the latest planning decision notices

a) 18/0359/V106 – Land adjacent Hayne Farm, Hayne Lane, Gittisham – Variation of requirement for affordable housing and other obligations in Section 106 agreement pursuant to application 13/2744/MOUT
Approval with conditions.

b) 20/1380/PDQ Land north of Hamlet House Weston – Conversion of agricultural building to dwelling
PDQB prior approval refused.

c) 20/0912/VAR – Goldcombe Farmhouse, Gittisham EX14 3AB – Conversion Of Existing Buildings To Holiday Dwellings (application for removal of Condition 5 of planning permission 84/P0792 to allow year round occupancy of the holiday dwellings and variation of Condition 6 of planning permission 84/P0792 to allow The Cider Barn to be used as an unrestricted residential dwelling)
Approval with conditions.

82/20 To consider the following planning application:

a) 20/1600/FUL – 11 Ferndale Close Honiton EX14 2YN Construction of single storey rear extension and provision of render

Members had no objection to the above application.

83/2 To consider the parish council response to the COVID-19 outbreak

The Chair said the volunteer group in the village was still up and running, but there had been no particular need for support in the last few months. She said that she was heartened to see the village play area open and well used once again. Members heard that the village hall would be open for bookings from 5th September, with Covid-related restrictions in place.

84/20 To consider plans for expenditure in the parish under the Community Infrastructure Levy & S106

Cllr Orchard said he had contacted the environmental health department at EDDC to see if the officers had any objection to the land being used for a boules court. [NB Since the meeting the department has been in touch to inform Cllr Orchard that their only concern would be if the proposal was on contaminated land.]

ACTION: Cllr Orchard to check with Jamie Buckley at EDDC the next steps.

85/20 To consider work to be carried out by the lengthsman to maintain drains and ditches in the parish

Members noted that Len Abbott had carried out strimming work on the river once again. Cllr Valentine asked if the lengthsman could check the ditches along Dark Lane, as large tractor wheels are pushing the verges into the ditch. This then becomes an obstruction to water when it rains.

ACTION: Cllr Walker to ask Len Abbott to inspect Dark Lane.

86/20 To consider maintenance of the play area, including regular safety inspections

The Chair said Combe Estate had donated some logs to replace the current stepping logs which are showing signs of rot. Members agreed that until the logs had been installed, the lengthsman should look at filling in the holes or they could be dangerous. Cllr Orchard said he felt the play equipment for younger children was looking somewhat tired, and asked if the rubber units should be replaced. The Chair said the items were not particularly old, and she agreed to tend to them to see if they could be improved.

ACTION: Chair to ask Len Abbott to fill in log holes while waiting for installation, and give toddler equipment a thorough clean.
ACTION: Clerk to write to Combe Estate to thank them for the donation.

87/20 To consider climate change measures within the parish

Cllr Wilkins reported that since the last meeting some progress has been made towards the possible provision of an electric vehicle charging point in the village. DCC is the liaison point for funding and support services, and Cllr Wilkins said he had had several exchanges with them providing information as it is requested. Initially a position near to the old telephone box (defibrillator housing) is being considered as the preferred location but is of course subject to a survey to judge suitability whilst considering the possibility of flooding and the provision of power. He said the power required for a 7kW charger is a minimum of a 32A 240V supply; a 22kW rapid charger requires a full three phase supply at 32A per phase and is probably not viable. It is assumed the land forms part of the public highway and as such DCC will undertake obtaining traffic orders and provide signage and road markings for the EV Charging bay. If the land turns out to be owned by the Combe Estate, then easements and wayleaves will need to be obtained first. Cllr Wilkins said Justin Lascelles should be kept informed of progress in this respect.

Cllr Wilkins said there will also need to be a commercial partnership established to provide the charging service; DCC will enable this arrangement. The Chair said she had had a very positive response from the village and the estate. Whist the project is progressing, Cllr Wilkins said the parish council will need to keep villagers informed and allow for comment and feedback at the main decision points. DCC has advised they will start supporting the parish council sometime this month, but timescales are rather challenging and the scheme will need to be completed by the end of the current fiscal year.

ACTION: Cllr Wilkins to take this project forward and inform Combe Estate.

88/20 To consider limited residential development in the parish

Cllr Valentine said the CLT was due to have an AGM on 19th March but the lockdown prevented that taking place. At the moment the AGM is postponed. The legal basis for the GCLT is that it is registered as a Community Benefit Society and the current society rules require the society to hold an AGM. In theory, therefore, a decision to postpone the AGM would mean that the society is in breach of its rules and members of the society could challenge the CLT through the courts on this point. Cllr Valentine said he would hope that this is unlikely given the circumstances, and added that he was investigating the possibility of holding an AGM using Email.

A number of site investigations/surveys have now been completed and the CLT’s solicitor is currently investigating the background and details of the land title. The appointment of architects will take place following interviews which are taking place on 9th September. It is intended that there will be a public consultation exercise to present the architects proposals for the site. The nature of this exercise will be subject to Covid-19 guidance.

Cllr Valentine said a project team will be formed to guide and take any necessary actions during the design and construction phases. The project team will consist of representatives from GCLT, Wessex CLT Project, the architects, the Housing Association partner, site consultants as necessary and Combe Estate. The Housing Association partner remains to be appointed. There are 3 HAs with a potential interest. Members agreed that the situation was looking positive.

89/20 To consider the parish emergency plan

Cllr Valentine said his work with the GCLT together with family commitments have taken priority, but that he hoped to present with Cllr Orchard a draft later in the autumn. However, he said that Gittisham was one of few parish councils to publish an emergency plan on its website. Cllr Orchard added that he had been surveying some other emergency plans from 2015, and was incorporating some of the basic detail into the developing Gittisham template. Members agreed that telephone numbers and roles and responsibilities needed to be updated.

ACTION: Cllr Valentine to discuss Environment Agency work with the Chair.

90/20 To consider the issue of dog waste in the parish and action as appropriate

The Chair said the problem of dog waste appeared to have improved, so it was not necessary to purchase a waste bin. Cllr Valentine added that he often speaks to dog walkers and reminds them of their responsibilities. Cllr Wilkins said that there were many instances of dog waste bins not being emptied in the Vale. He found that when EDDC responds to a report, the reported bin is emptied but others are not checked at the same time. Cllr Twist echoed this on the Hayne Farm development, saying that dog waste bins appear to fill up quickly. Cllr Bond encouraged them to report the issue to the Customer Service Centre, and said to report to Cllr Twiss (via the clerk) if there was no progress.​

91/20 To consider the casual vacancy in Gittisham Village ward

Members agreed the vacancy should be advertised until the third week of October, allowing a decision to be made at the November meeting.

ACTION: Clerk to advertise the vacancy.

92/20 To consider the purchase of a defibrillator for the Hayne Farm development

Cllr Twist reported good progress on a defibrillator, and said the next step was to agree the best location with all parties concerned.

ACTION: Cllr Twist to speak to Stella Adamson about next steps.

93/20 To consider the purchase of a computer for the parish clerk

The clerk said there was no update on this.

ACTION: Clerk to investigate and cost for next meeting.

94/20 To consider updating the parish website to comply with accessibility standards by 23rd September 2020

The clerk said public authority websites had to comply with accessibility standards, and Gititsham’s did so up to a point following the recent maintenance on the site. However, Clare Bryden of Websites Ahoy had advised that further work needed to be undertaken to make individual council documents accessible. Cllr Wilkins agreed to look into this.

ACTION: Clerk to forward accessibility guidance from Clare Bryden to Cllr Wilkins.

95/20 To review parish councillors’ roles and responsibilities

Members discussed assigning specific responsibilities, and the following was agreed:

Cllr Hall – water and drainage
Cllr Wilkins – planning decision notices, EV charging, highways
Cllr Walker – play area, lengthsman
Cllr Valentine – CLT and planning
Cllr Orchard – S106, grant applications, public transport
Cllr Twist – environment, climate change

96/20 To consider liaising with other local parish councils.

The chair suggested that making connections with other parish councils could be useful, to share problem-solving experience and ideas. Members agreed that an informal meeting, perhaps annually, with neighbouring parishes would be beneficial. The Chair said with Covid restrictions in place this would be deferred to a later date.

ACTION: Clerk to contact neighbouring parish councils.

Cllr Wilkins left the meeting.

97/20 To approve the September payments and to note the current bank balance

It was resolved to approve the following payments:

1056 Michael Poll £60. Play area grass cutting, (inv ref. 10031)
1057 Michael Poll. £60. Play area grass cutting, (inv ref. 10036)
1058 F J Clampin. £218.79 Clerk’s salary and expenses
1059 Len Abbott. £399 28.5 hours lengthsman work, July 2020 (at new rate of £14/hr)
1060 Len Abbott £112 8 hours lengthsman work, August 2020
1061 Len Abbott. £133.91 expenses (paint, repairs to strimmer, timber)
1062 Andy Wilkins £54.04 reimbursement for play area cleaning expenses

DD NEST £17.50 Clerk’s pension

The clerk said the second half of the annual precept had been received. Members were informed that the current bank balance stands at £13,492.55 (which includes the £7,000 in the business reserve account).

Cllr Wilkins returned to the meeting.

98/20 To consider any late entry correspondence

Cllr Orchard informed members that the A30 would be closed between 8pm and 6am for resurfacing, with a diversion via the village. He added that roadworks on Hayne Lane / Devonshire Road junction had been rescheduled to begin on 18th November. Since the meeting DCC Highways has sent formal notification that Hayne Lane embankment works will take place 12th October – 5th November 2020.

99/20 Matters to be reported to DCC / EDDC

Cllr Wilkins said that whilst not in the parish, he felt that EDDC should be praised for the excellent refurbishment of the play area next to Cherry Gardens. This is used by children from the Vale and is proving to be very popular.

Cllr Wilkins reported there had been a few comments about the recent tree felling on Hayne Lane, south of the gate on the eastern side of the lane. It appears that ten or more established trees, together with the established hedgerow have been felled and cleared, and there seems to be no logical reason for these removals. Cllr Wilkins said he was not sure if this was being carried out by EDDC or DCC, but it is a local contractor undertaking the work. There has also been a tree felled on EDDC land between the railway line and Laburnum Close, near to the rear of no.6, again with no obvious purpose. Cllr Wilkins said in the past EDDC had been reluctant to cut back problematic trees, so this wholescale removal is rather surprising. Could the EDDC and / or DCC representative investigate and provide feedback?

Cllr Wilkins said he had received comments that there are problems for people using wheelchairs or mobility scooters traveling through the pedestrian walkway next to the gate at the end of Old Elm Road. The gap is such that mobility scooters and full-sized wheelchairs cannot turn to pass through the pedestrian chicane.

Cllr Wilkins explained that following the heavy rain on 13th August, the stream on the boundary between the Vale and St Michaels is partly blocked with debris just north of Old Elm Road. He asked if this could be cleared so that water doesn’t build up. He also noted that the balancing pond north of Old Elm Road near the railway line has yet to have its annual maintenance, in the past this has been carried out in July or August.

Cllr Twist said that over the summer there has been a problem developing on the Hayne Farm estate of foreign-registered juggernauts pulling into the estate during the night. The vehicles then have major problems trying to turn round to get out. It would appear that this is a satnav problem, but it’s unclear why this has only started happening recently. Cllr Wilkins said signs with a weight limit could be installed, but as this would require a traffic order it would take time.

ACTION: The clerk to inform DCC and EDDC respectively of the above.

ACTION: Cllr Twist to keep a diary and / or collate more information on lorry movements.

Cllr Wilkins said many appreciative comments had been received about the newly installed bench in Gittisham Vale.

100/20 For information only; items for the forward agenda

Members questioned whether it was time to order replacement pads for the Vale defibrillator; one member of the public said whoever does the weekly check can use the dashboard to inform CHT.

It was agreed to include the following items on the next agenda: coronavirus, climate change, lengthsman work, limited residential development, S106, parish clerk’s computer, parish clerk remuneration, Hayne Farm defibrillator, play area, gazette distribution, website.

ACTION: Chair to ask the lengthsman to check the status of all grit bins.

101/20 Clerk’s Report


102/20 Date of next two meetings.

Wednesday 7th October and Wednesday 4th November at 7.30pm via Zoom. Should restrictions on public movement be lifted, these meetings will revert to being held in the parish room or another suitable venue.

There being no further business, the meeting closed at 2035 hrs.


7th October 2020