Parish Council meeting minutes 7 October 2020

GITTISHAM PARISH COUNCIL

MINUTES OF THE PARISH COUNCIL MEETING

HELD ON 7TH OCTOBER 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. 

Present:

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

Cllr M Walker

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: PCSO Darren England

103/20 To accept and approve apologies

Apologies were received and accepted.

104/20   To confirm the minutes of the meeting held 2nd September 2020

Cllr Wilkins alerted members to a missing item regarding excessive tree felling and hedge clearance, which the clerk agreed to insert.  The minutes of the meeting held on 2nd September 2020 were then confirmed and signed by the Chair. 

105/20   To receive the Beat Manager’s Report

The police did not send a report this month, so the clerk provided figures taken from https://www.crime-statistics.co.uk/ .  In August 2020, 2 crimes reported: 1 x other crime and 1 x anti-social behaviour. 

106/20   To receive declarations of interest

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

107/20   Reports from County Council and District Council representatives

Cllr Twiss said that COVID-19 continues to dominate most aspects of our everyday lives where tuning in to news bulletins or reading the papers is enough to frighten anyone and heighten already high levels of anxiety.

However people in East Devon are overwhelmingly ‘playing by the rules’ currently in place, he said. Putting COVID-19 cases in to some context Devon, including East Devon has very low numbers of cases currently, with the Feniton & Honiton DCC Division experiencing something of a ‘mini spike’ recently with three cases reported in the past week.  He said this may or may not be related to a large number of cases in Exeter, (most associated with the University) where people work in Exeter, but live in East Devon.

Clearly there is no room for complacency or letting down guards, but evidently risks are very low in terms of contracting COVID-19 and even lower in terms of a much worse outcome. There have been no deaths in East Devon for the last 3 weeks, although regrettably 3 out of area in care homes situated in Plymouth since 12th September. The following web site gives you numbers of cases reported for the past week and which may be of interest to members of the Council; see www.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=47574f7a6e454dc6a42c5f6912ed7076  

Wider picture / snapshot of coronavirus in the South West peninsula

Cllr Twiss distributed some recent figures for September:

  • 23rd to 29th September there were 134 laboratory confirmed cases in Devon.

East Devon 10; Exeter 78; Mid Devon 7; North Devon 10; South Hams 9; Teignbridge 13; Torridge 3; West Devon 4.

[29 in Torbay; 36 in Plymouth; 137 in Cornwall and c 31,000 in England]

So, currently confirmed cases per 100,000:  Devon 16.7; Torbay 21.3; Plymouth 13.7; Cornwall 24; England 54.8.

  • Jan 31st to 29th September there has been 1,722 confirmed cases in Devon and 218 deaths.

(Torbay 366 cases and 58 deaths; Plymouth 938 cases and 89 deaths; Cornwall 1,383 cases and 208 deaths; England 393,818 cases and 42639 deaths). 

There were 0 deaths in the Peninsula attributable to Coronavirus in the period 12th to 18th September. 139 recorded in England (that is still only 0.2 per 100,000 residents).

Please note that all deaths are not necessarily caused by Coronavirus, just that the person tested positive at some stage – at this time it is impossible to separate the cases without going back and scrutinising each death certificate.  Later figures are markedly more accurate than earlier in the Pandemic.

Confirmed infection cases show a marked increase in Devon and Cornwall. The Devon County Council figure includes a spate of positive cases at Exeter University (78) making up over 60 per cent of the Devon figure with more expected, although there is no evidence as yet of wider community transmission. The Cornwall figures rise seem to be due significantly to one food processing factory in Redruth.

With autumn here and less people affected to date in the Peninsula, it does really highlight the importance of social distancing, hand hygiene and good local communication in keeping a potential second surge in check, Cllr Twiss said.

Schools

Cllr Twiss said our local schools have done a fantastic job with staff putting in hundreds of extra hours work to ensure it is as risk free as possible for pupils and staff to return to school with attendance figures extremely good. As an example locally he quoted from Honiton Primary School headmaster, Christopher Tribble, from a meeting yesterday:

“Currently our attendance is hugely positive (despite the pandemic) at 97.6 per cent.  It is a notable success that we have managed to bring back the overwhelming majority of the populous back, which was above the national average of only 88 per cent – by nearly 10 per cent.  This is a notable success to add to the attendance success we secure during the pod/bubble era.  I believe that this is due to the strength and continued trust in the relationship we have within our parent body and wider school community. This has been no easy feat and has been achieved by building bridges and being very proactive with communications, continued visible actions relating to safety and a strong physical school presence.  The staff should feel proud of that achievement.”

The school like others in our area undertakes a regime of permanent and ongoing risk assessment which in itself is no small undertaking.

Healthcare

For those of you over a ‘certain age’, said Cllr Twiss, please remember to book your ‘flu jabs as soon as possible with either the GP or one of the local pharmacies (many of which offer online booking) with further details at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine/

Cllr Bond said there is little to report this month as Covid seems to be at the forefront of all our minds. Dealing with the fall-out for local businesses and residents has put considerable strain on the council. Government has now asked local councils to operate the ‘Test and trace support payment’ scheme which has to be up and running by 12 October. This scheme gives a support payment of £500 for those who are forced by law to self-isolate from 28 September, who are in low-wage jobs and cannot work from home.

Work is ongoing with other southwest councils under the Team Devon banner to look at mitigating the impact of Covid on the South West.

Otherwise, the Rural Community Buildings Fund is now open for applications, Cllr Bond reported. This is an EDDC grant scheme offering up to £5000 to village halls, community buildings and community shops to upgrade or repair their buildings. Closing date for applications are 23 November 2020 and 15 March 2021.

Cllr Wilkins asked if the £2 all-day parking in East Devon would be reintroduced for the period November – March, but Cllr Bond replied that this had not been announced, although there is a working party to discuss what parking rates would be in the future.

Cllr Bond said she had filled in the consultation on the Devon Local Flood Risk Management, and mentioned Gittisham.

Cllr Twiss added that there would be more funds coming downstream for road maintenance and repairs, so he would shortly be reviewing what needs to be done in the coming year. 

Cllr Twiss left the meeting.

ACTION: The Chair to fill in the Flood Risk Management consultation before 15th October 2020. 

108/20   To note the latest planning decision notices

20/0451/FUL – Shermans Farm Gittisham EX14 3AU – Construction of permanent agricultural worker’s dwelling with parking and associated development.  Approval with conditions.

20/1600/FUL 11 Ferndale Close Honiton EX14 2YN Construction of single storey rear extension and provision of render Approval with conditions.

20/1854/AGR – Rapshayes Farm Gittisham EX14 3AB Agricultural workshop and covered store Approval with time conditions.

109/20   To consider the following planning application:

a) 20/1726/FUL – 1 Hamlet Cottages Weston Honiton EX14 3PB Change of use of an existing workshop (use Class B1(c)) to a residential dwelling (use class C3) with minor alterations

Members resolved to object to the above application, agreeing that granting permission would establish a new residential unit in the countryside without agricultural need being sought, and it will act as a precedent for other opportunities in the future which would be detrimental to the overall policy-making of EDDC.

110/20   To consider the parish council response to the COVID-19 outbreak

The Chair said the volunteer group had supported those required to quarantine, and Cllr Bond encouraged residents to download the Track & Trace app.  

111/20    To consider plans for expenditure in the parish under the Community Infrastructure Levy & S106

Cllr Orchard said he had contacted Sulina Tallack at EDDC, who recommended that the parish council contact some reputable companies for quotes for the boules pitch.  The parish council would then choose a preferred supplier, and report back to Sulina explaining the project and the audit trail followed.  Once it has been approved, EDDC would draft a grant agreement.  It would also be run past planners, in case they were aware of any potential issues.

Cllr Orchard added that residents living alongside the river would need to be informed before the construction phase.  Cllr Wilkins reminded members that the response to the public consultation on how S106 funds should be spent had resulted in a resident suggesting that part of the money was spent at Hayne Farm.

ACTION: Cllr Orchard to obtain three quotes, and to check with Jamie Buckley at EDDC they are aware it is a thorough overhaul of an existing, ‘homemade’ pitch.  Cllr Orchard to ask Baker Estates if they recommend a contractor, and to check out EDDC’s list of approved contractors online.

112/20   To consider work to be carried out by the lengthsman to maintain drains and ditches in the parish

Cllr Walker said Len Abbott had checked the status of all the salt bins. 

ACTION: The clerk to report via DCC website that the bin at the bottom of Tommy Wax hill is completely empty. 

113/20   To consider climate change measures within the parish

Cllr Twist said that the Devon Solar panel group buying scheme had closed on 5th October.  She reported that she had investigated the Government’s new Green Homes Grant, which opened on 1st October.  Any work carried out under the grant has to be completed by 31st March 2021; applications can only be made on line and only government-approved contractors (of which there are 900 nationwide) can be used.  Cllr Twist had looked as an example at double glazing, but there were only two contractors listed.

Cllr Wilkins said there had not been too much progress on installing an electric vehicle (EV) charging point, but DCC have advised that they are working on the long list of sites and will ensure Gittisham is there.  Additionally, DCC has enquired if there would be interest from the villagers for the provision of an electric vehicle on a ‘car club’ basis?  In other words an EV that people can book and use and then pay for the time they’ve had it.  Cllr Wilkins suggested an informal consultation within the village is undertaken to establish if there would be interest in this innovative suggestion.  Once firm proposals are available for the EV charging point and possibly the ‘car club’, a further formal consultation with the village and the estate will be needed prior to the parish council deciding to proceed or not.

ACTION: Cllr Wilkins to draft an article for the Gittisham Gazette, and all councillors to canvass opinion on the ‘car club’ proposal.

114/20   To consider limited residential development in the parish

Cllr Valentine said architects had been appointed to the CLT, with the successful bid coming from ECA based in Poole.  He explained that the next step would be to establish a project team, led by Wessex CLT, consultants and a number of representatives chosen through the CLT board.    Cllr Valentine added that the housing association partner has not been chosen yet, although invitations have gone out.  He said people would be seeing a number of options coming forward for development of the site, and then they’ll go to a public consultation exercise.  Once agreement is reached over a final design, it’s hoped a planning application could be submitted in the spring of next year.  The CLT AGM will be held on 10th November via Zoom.

Cllr Bond asked if this was a moment to have pre-app discussions with EDDC planners, to which the answer was yes.  Cllr Valentine said he would speak to ECA before setting up a meeting.

ACTION: Cllr Valentine to inform Cllr Bond of the date of the meeting with ECA.

115/20   To consider the parish emergency plan

Cllr Valentine said there was no update on this.

116/20 To consider the purchase of a defibrillator for the Hayne Farm development

Cllr Twist said Baker Estates are still awaiting a response from Sovereign Housing, so there is no movement on this action.  She said the parish council had received an email from a Heart Charity- London Hearts, which procures and supplies defibrillators and cabinets, giving a discounted package and a £200 parish council grant, training for the community is free.  She said she had not followed this up as it could be a while before we are ready to move on purchasing. Also the parish council may wish to stay with their current supplier, she said. The website is www.londonhearts.org.

ACTION: Cllr Twist to continue dialogue with BE.

117/20   To consider refurbishment and maintenance of the play area

Members heard that RhinoPlay had given a date of 19th October to inspect the split wood on the tower, after which they would communicate their decision to the parish council. Members heard that the baby / toddler swings were discoloured, despite the Chair having scrubbed and bleached them extensively. Members agreed to replace them in the spring.

The Chair thanked Combe Estate for the donation of the stepping logs, and also Len Abbott for installing them. She said that she and Cllr Valentine had met Mike Dawes regarding the proposal to have a tree and hedge at the top end of the wild area, and this had been withdrawn by mutual agreement. She reported that the padlock at the top gate had been replaced by zip ties. 

Members heard that the oak tree planted earlier this year had not survived the summer, but Terry Trim had agreed to replace it free of charge as soon as appropriate.

Cllr Walker suggested that with winter approaching the play area would not be in use nearly so much, so members agreed that a monthly clean would be appropriate starting from the week after half-term.  Councillors agreed to reassess the situation at the November meeting.

ACTION: Cllr Orchard to obtain three quotes from suppliers for new seats and chains.

118/20   To consider the purchase of a computer for the parish clerk

The clerk circulated a selection of laptops recommended by Which! magazine under £500.  However, Cllr Twiss had indicated he could provide £400 from his DCC locality budget towards the cost.  Members agreed with Cllr Wilkins’s suggestion that a laptop costing between £500 and £800 would be more suitable.

ACTION: Cllr Wilkins to advise the clerk on possible spec.

ACTION: Clerk to investigate further with revised price range and discuss with Cllr Valentine’s son.

119/20 To consider the parish website

Cllr Wilkins said he had made minutes and agendas back to April 2020 accessible, and would now make a start on other documents as outlined in the accessibility report from Websites Ahoy.

ACTION: Cllr Wilkins to continue the review of documents using a Windows-based operating system.

120/20 To consider the distribution of the Gittisham Gazette

Members agreed that Mr Sellick’s remuneration should be reviewed in December 2020.

ACTION: Clerk to inform Mr Sellick and thank him for his work.

121/20 To consider liaising with other local parish councils.

The clerk said she had made contact with neighbouring parish councils including Talaton, Buckerell, West Hill, Feniton and Payhembury, and received positive responses to the suggestion of an annual meeting to share problem-solving experience and ideas. 

ACTION: Chair to investigate setting up a Zoom meeting with other councils.

The clerk left the meeting.

122/20 To consider a review of remuneration of the parish clerk in line with the annual NALC salary scales, and associated pension payments

Members resolved to raise the clerk’s salary in line with NALC recommendations to £11.55 / hr, and the pension to £22.48 which the clerk had calculated using the Money Advice Service workplace pensions calculator. 

ACTION: Clerk to investigate with DALC regarding years of service and effect on pay grade.

The clerk returned to the meeting.

123/20 To review the bank signatories and update the mandate as appropriate

Members resolved to remove former councillor Russell Hayman’s name from the list of signatories and add Cllr Twist. 

ACTION: Clerk to update with Nat West.

124/20 To approve the October payments and to note the current bank balance

It was resolved to approve the following payments:

1063       F J Clampin                          £224.86 + £3.60 expenses Clerk’s salary & expenses (at new rate of £11.55 / hr)

1064       F J Clampin                          £30.33   Remainder of clerk’s backdated pay to £1st April 2020 at new rate

1065       Len Abbott                            £126       9 hours lengthsman work, Sept 2020 (at £14/hr)

1066       Michael Poll                          £60         Grass cutting play area (inv. ref 10041)

1067       Michael Poll                          £60         Grass cutting play area (inv. ref 10045)

Cllr Wilkins left the meeting.

1068       Andy Wilkins                        £4.68      reimbursement for play area cleaning expenses

DD          NEST                                     £22.48   Clerk’s pension in line with new rate of pay (5% employer, 5% employee)

Cllr Wilkins returned to the meeting.

The clerk circulated bank resolutions for June 2020 and September 2020, and thanked Cllr Twist for her help in completing them.  Members were informed that the current bank balance stands at £12,966.11 (which includes the £7,000 in the business reserve account). 

125/20   To consider any late entry correspondence

Cllr Walker said residents had informed her the Stagecoach bus was occasionally missing out the village, which left those needing it for work and appointments thoroughly inconvenienced.  Moreover, anecdotal evidence from a driver indicated that some were uncomfortable driving the lanes and missed Gittisham deliberately. 

The Chair suggested changing the format of the agendas, to group items by councillor and reflect their respective responsibilities, which was approved.

Cllr Wilkins reported that roadworks would be taking place on Hayne Lane beginning 12th October, at the Iron Bridge 29-30th October and lower Hayne Lane on 18th November.

ACTION: Cllr Orchard to write to Stagecoach; Cllr Walker to furnish a list of missed dates and times.

ACTION: Cllr Orchard to investigate school bus provision when the lower part of Hayne Lane will be closed, as well as in January 2021 when the road to the Forge will also be shut.

126/20   Matters to be reported to DCC / EDDC

Cllr Wilkins said there had been further complaint about disabled access through the emergency gate between Old Elm Road and Hayne Lane, including from a new resident.  Cllr Wilkins felt the response from DCC would not be welcomed by people with mobility issues, as although DCC had agreed to look at it they had not provided a timescale.  A previous query had been raised three years ago, he noted. 

There are other issues with the gate, Cllr Wilkins explained:

In February workmen installed drop kerbs on the pavements around the gate. During these works the security lock was removed and a temporary Yale combination lock used instead. The security lock was never returned and recently the temporary lock has been replaced by a small key padlock.

DCC have advised that the key is kept at the DCC/Skanska depot at Heathpark. Considering the gate is for emergency access by the emergency services, with their dispatch advising the combination to use, the current situation raises some questions.

Is it expected that emergency services divert to the DCC depot to collect they key whilst on an urgent call and return it on completion of the call?  Have the emergency services been alerted to this change in operation?  Is the depot open 24/7 with someone ready to issue the key?

Cllr Wilkins said the gate has been damaged in the past and will now not easily open or close. Last year he observed it taking three workmen and a club hammer to close it. This situation was reported to DCC at the time and DCC responded that they thought it was “a little stiff”. Cllr Wilkins said it’s more than a little stiff and could not be opened by a two person ambulance crew!

He concluded that the gate is no longer fit for purpose as an emergency access for the emergency services and DCC are aware of this. If DCC feel emergency access is no longer required can it be removed and replaced with a wall or some other permanent barrier?  Vale residents would rejoice if the access to Hayne Lane was removed for all but pedestrians and cyclists.  To add to this situation the latest version of Apple Maps, released on 2nd October, shows access for vehicles between Old Elm Road and Hayne lane. This is reflected in the associated satnav service which is routing vehicles though the gate.

Cllr Wilkins said it was reported at the last PC meeting that the boundary stream between the parish and Honiton was partly blocked at the north side of Old Elm Road adjacent to the bridge. He reported that EDDC attended and strimmed the vegetation on both banks either side of the bridge, they did not clear the blockage. The trimmed foliage was deposited into the stream thus making the issue worse; water now regularly builds up under the bridge due to the restricted flow.

There has been a rather poor attempt to maintain the balancing pond, he noted. On 5th October a digger was deployed which removed the built up debris from the water flow and grid depositing it on the pond floor. When the pond next kicks into action the debris will become buoyant and once again deposit itself from where it came no doubt restricting water flow.

In other years during maintenance debris has been taken off site, vegetation has been cleared and the area left looking attractive. It was a feature frequently used by children to play adventure games and by adults to enjoy watching wildlife. Sadly it is now unloved and unused.

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

127/20   For information only; items for the forward agenda

Members questioned whether the parish reflected the changing make-up of the area, and whether the parish council structure reflected its residents. 

It was agreed to include the following items on the next agenda (which will have a new format): coronavirus, climate change, lengthsman work, limited residential development, S106, parish clerk’s computer, Hayne Farm defibrillator, play area, website, representation, liaising with other parish councils. 

ACTION: Clerk to discuss representation with EDDC.

128/20   Clerk’s Report

The clerk said that the officer at DCC had told her the Planning Inspectorate have something of a backlog due to the lockdown putting a stop to public inquiries and hearings. They are just getting going with virtual inquiries so perhaps there will soon be news on the footpath at Goldcombe.

129/20   Date of next two meetings 

Wednesday 4th November and Wednesday 2nd December 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 2100 hrs.

Chair…………………………………….

4th November 2020