Parish Council meeting minutes 4 November 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

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), one member of the public

Apologies for absence: PCSO Darren England

130/20   To accept and approve apologies

Apologies were received and accepted. 

131/20   To confirm the minutes of the meeting held 7th October 2020

The clerk said the pay rate in minute ref 124/20 had been incorrectly reported and should read £11.53 / hr.  The minutes of the meeting held on 7th October 2020 were then confirmed and signed by the Chair. 

132/20   To receive the Beat Manager’s Report

The police did not send a report this month, so the clerk provided figures taken from .  In September 2020, 1 crime reported: 1 x anti-social behaviour. 

133/20   To receive declarations of interest


134/20   To consider actions from the last meeting not otherwise on the agenda

The Chair said she had filled in the consultation on the Devon Local Flood Risk Management, and requested that GPC is involved with discussions on land management to alleviate flooding, such as in the Otter catchment.

The clerk said she had reported the empty grit bin at the bottom of Tommy Wax, and written to Mr Sellick regarding the gazette distribution.

Cllr Wilkins said his work on the website was ongoing.  He said that a proposed article on an electric car club was sent to all councillors on 8th October, with only one acknowledgement received.  Without endorsement from the council as a whole, he said he did not forward it for publication in the Gittisham Gazette.

135/20   Reports from County Council and District Council representatives

DCC Social Care

Cllr Twiss said as we go in to winter and a second COVID-19 lockdown, DCC Social Care teams have been planning and preparing for dealing with the fallout of the second wave, armed with a lot more knowledge and understanding than in the spring of 2020 and the first lockdown, with a focus on vulnerable people and unpaid carers.

Designated Care Homes

The Department of Health and Social Care has written to all local authorities setting out requirements to designate care settings for COVID-19 positive people who are not quite well enough to return straight home from an acute hospital. These settings will be inspected by the CQC for assurance of infection control measures. Whilst the settings could be existing care homes, the beds would need to be on separate wings or floors in order to avoid the risk of infecting other residents, and would require a separate staff group to support these residents.  No care home will be required to accept someone with a positive test result, and we are in the process of agreeing with local NHS providers how we can ensure we have suitable accommodation available to meet this need.

Supporting carers

Unpaid carers across Devon do an incredible amount work and this has only increased during the COVID-19 period, said Cllr Twiss, with recent research suggesting that nearly two-thirds of unpaid carers have not been able to take any breaks at all in the last six months.  In response to this, alongside NHS Devon CCG DCC has made grants of between £1,000 and £15,000 available to care providers, personal assistants, and carers themselves who can develop and provide innovative opportunities that will give other carers a break, during COVID-19. See for how to apply.

Waste and recycling

The regulations and guidance for the second lockdown have been tweaked a little to widen what is and isn’t classified as being open and operating.  Cllr Twiss said he had received enquiries from members of the public about the Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRC’s), but he said he could reassure members that DCC sites will not be closing.. There may be occasions where there are staff shortages and some temporary closure may be necessary but DCC will put out media communications about any situation that arises due to staff sickness/isolation.

COVID-19 funding for individuals, organisations and businesses

Cllr Twiss said DCC had allocated £192,100 from Government grants (and an additional DEFRA one using EDDC) to set up a hardship fund (with qualifying criteria) and process applications during the COVID-19 crisis. This fund is still very much open for business and applications and further details can be found at

Street lighting in urban and applicable rural settings

Cllr Twiss reported that DCC has recently announced that all of its 79,000 streetlights will be converted to LED lights within the next two years – reducing carbon emissions by 75 per cent.  It comes as part of a working partnership with SSE Contracting who will be carrying out maintenance of streetlights in Devon and Torbay over the next ten years – with the aim of the contract being carbon neutral by 2030.  He said the company will be building on the work it has undertaken for DCC for more than 25 years, which has already seen around 34,000 street lights converted to low-energy LED technology since 2015, as well as the replacement of more than 5,400 street lighting columns. It will also look to improve the county’s Central Management System to remotely monitor and operate lighting more flexibly and efficiently and will eventually allow us to cease night scouting, saving further costs.  This street lighting contract is extremely important as DCC continues to reduce carbon emissions. Street lights account for a significant amount of DCC’s carbon emissions, Cllr Twiss said, and the conversion to LEDs alone will reduce carbon emissions by more than 15,000 tonnes each year, the equivalent of taking 8,000 cars off Devon’s roads.

DCC Highways

Planned works continue as near to normal as possible with maintenance and capital works taking places across the Division, including finally the lower end of Hayne Lane in the near future, where for selfish reasons Cllr Twiss confessed he was pleased as he continually finds himself in a wide rut between lanes on his bike when cycling that way, which will now be resurfaced!

Cllr Bond said that as the second lockdown is upon us, EDDC is prepared to keep the most vital services running throughout the next month (or possibly longer).  Waste and recycling services will carry on as normal.  LED leisure facilities will have to close.  Parks, gardens and public toilets which were Covid-secure will stay open.  The Community Support Hotline will be re-opened to support those in difficulty during lockdown, as well as supporting local community groups who are working hard to care for those in their areas.

Otherwise, Cllr Bond added, now that EDDC has pulled out of the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan, work is underway to review the Local Plan. The first step will be a ‘call for sites’. The administration is hoping to find sufficient smaller sites to fulfil the housing requirement.

Cllr Wilkins added that EDDC had introduced its £2 / day parking for the run-up to Christmas.

136/20   To receive reports from councillors on areas of responsibility and actions since the last meeting:

  1. To note the latest planning decision notices

Cllr Wilkins said there were no new decision notices to report.

2. To receive an update on Highways

Cllr Wilkins said the situation with heavy vehicles entering and turning within Hayne farm has been raised with DCC through Phil. GPC is awaiting a proposal from DCC to solve the problem. For some reason, he said, DCC is of the opinion the issue is with articulated lorries parking overnight.  Cllr Orchard suggested that there is a clear signing strategy at similar junctions around Honiton, and asked why Meadowacre Road did not have one of these on the street name plate, plus at the junction into the closed area (junction with Hayne Lane).

Cllr Wilkins said that as Cllr Orchard had reported via email, the works on Hayne Lane were completed and the site cleared on Tuesday 27th October.  The two repaired culverts are working well and the retaining method, which he had not seen before, is neat.  It will be interesting to see how the system performs over time, he added.

Though not within the parish, Cllr Wilkins said the road through Alfington will be closed 18th -19th January 2021.  This means that traffic, including the school buses, traveling to and from Ottery will need to find an alternative route.  The diversion plan has yet to be published, but Cllr Wilkins said he suspected it will be via Fenny Bridges and Gosford Road.  He added that the road to The Forge would be closed for the same two days.

ACTION: Cllr Orchard to contact Stagecoach and DCC, to explain that the January works are happening simultaneously within a mile of each other, and to ask for them to be rescheduled during the school holidays.

ACTION: Cllr Wilkins to contact Carol McCann to offer a roadworks item for the Gittisham Gazette, explaining that it may be subject to change.

3. To consider plans for expenditure in the parish under the Community Infrastructure Levy & S106

Cllr Orchard said he had the details of a couple of contractors, but had taken no further action on developing a boules pitch in the village.  Cllr Valentine said he had met the architects who would be designing the proposed limited housing development in the village, and discussed with them the possibility of trying to encourage the highway authority to instigate some form of traffic control coming into the village.  It’s something which other authorities have allowed parish councils to instigate and used CIL money for that purpose, he explained.  Cllr Twiss said this was not something which could be funded by S106, and suggested members contact EDDC to check the criteria for CIL.  Cllr Wilkins added this could be a way to revisit the provision of a mandatory speed limit through the village before the affordable housing element is begun.  The entrance to the housing development would be on a slight bend, and could present a problem for traffic movements in and out. 

ACTION: Cllr Wilkins to contact EDDC to research regulations and investigate potential costs.  To discuss in parallel at the CLT meeting in November. 

4. To receive an update on public transport

Regarding the roadworks on 18th November on lower Hayne Lane, Cllr Orchard said he had secured agreement in writing with the contractors for school buses to be allowed through the works area in the morning.  Cllr Twiss asked if he could be copied in to any future correspondence about the impact of any roadworks on the school buses.

ACTION: Cllr Orchard to follow up email to Stagecoach and DCC schools transport team.

5. To consider the purchase of a defibrillator for the Hayne Farm development

Cllr Twist said she had received an email last week from Adam Clark, Development Officer at Sovereign Housing asking a number of questions about the installation of an AED, which she circulated around the parish council.  She added that Cllr Wilkins had kindly provided some of the information required which she included in her response to the email, and a draft of the response was circulated to councillors.  A copy was also sent to Robin Palmer, Project Manager at Baker Estates.  She said she would await Sovereign’s reply.  The block of flats where it’s hoped the AED could be located has just started to be built, and Cllr Twist said it would be good to have the electric connection included in the build rather than installed later at extra cost.

6. To consider climate change measures within the parish

Cllr Twist reported that the government’s Green Homes Grant scheme was featured on BBC Spotlight last week, specifically Cornwall, where there are complaints about only national firms being listed to carry out the work. It was feared that with the deadline of 31st March 2021 there will not be time to carry out the work in this region. Regarding Electric Vehicle Charging Points, Cllr Wilkins explained that he had handed this brief to Cllr Twist, as it appeared to fit better within her climate change portfolio.  Cllr Twist said there had been no further update on this for Gittisham. There was an article in the Midweek Herald on 28th October, written by Stuart Hughes of DCC about those charging points already installed in Devon and their strategy for more installations in the county.  Also for information Heron Farm has installed two electric charging points in their car park.

Cllr Twist said the police and trading standards had issued many warnings on scamming, (particularly cold calling) regarding the Green Homes grant.

7. To consider limited residential development in the parish

Cllr Valentine said that following the appointment of ECA as the architects acting on behalf of GCLT, a project team has now been established to assist and monitor the design process. The architects visited the site on Monday together with himself, Combe Estate and the advisors from Wessex CLT.  Cllr Valentine said he will also be meeting the engineers on site in due course. The second lockdown announcement may have a number of impacts which could introduce delays into the current project plan. Cllr Valentine said they are investigating the options for engaging with the community as part of the design process. Later this week, he added, the CLT would be interviewing, by Zoom, two housing associations who have indicated an interest in becoming the GCLT’s development partner.

The GCLT delayed AGM is due to take place on Tuesday 10th November at 7.30 pm via Zoom and the next board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday 18th November at 7.00 pm.  Cllr Valentine also updated members on a possible timetable for next steps in the process, which he explained was a target and not a guarantee.  He said the CLT was hoping to submit a planning application during the spring of 2021, following an exhibition of the various options which would have to overcome Covid restrictions somehow.  A decision could be expected by the end of the summer 2021; if approved, construction would begin towards the end of next year, and completion by the end of 2022.  Cllr Bond advised Cllr Valentine to have discussions with EDDC as soon as possible.  Cllr Wilkins told members he had updated the Gittisham website to include the three CLT meetings currently scheduled.

8. To consider the parish emergency plan

Cllr Valentine said there was no update on this.

9. To consider the refurbishment and maintenance of the village play area

Members heard that the supplier of the tower had been delayed visiting the play area to look at the split wood, but was due to visit w/c 9th November. Cllr Walker said she would continue to check everything was in order at the play area, but suggested the rota of weekly cleaning and maintenance checks was not necessary over the winter period. She added that Len Abbott would also visit the play area from time to time, and she said that the cleaning tools were stored at her house.

The Chair said that with reference to the hedge originally planned to screen the view opposite King’s Cottage, councillors had agreed that it could potentially present a safety issue if parents could not see their children climbing over the gate in the upper field.  She said Mike Dawes had suggested to withdraw his request for a hedge on safety grounds.  Members resolved to remind Russell Hayman of the agreement to maintain the hedge along the road in front of the play area at its current height in future, and at a lower level outside Parkers West.

Cllr Orchard said he had distributed to members a limited selection of replacement units and costs for the toddler swings. It was agreed to defer any payment until at least March 2021, depending on how much expenditure there has been in this financial year. The Chair advised Cllr Orchard to choose seats that meet the required safety standards.

ACTION: The clerk to respond to Mike Dawes and contact Russell Hayman.

10. To consider work to be carried out by the lengthsman to maintain ditches and drains in the parish

Cllr Walker said the lengthsman had been working on ditches etc and under the railway bridge at the bottom of Honiton Lane, and he would continue to carry out this kind of work throughout the winter.

137/20   To receive a report from the Chair

The Chair said the proposal to liaise with other parish councils would be carried forward to the next meeting. 

Members discussed a possible restructuring of the parish council, bearing in mind the growing numbers within the Hayne Farm development; Cllr Wilkins suggested it would be wise to have a clear idea of what was desirable before approaching EDDC.  Cllr Bond said in terms of the size of the parish council, it depends on the number of electors.  If it’s any help, she said, Feniton has seven parish councillors and it’s a bigger parish than the two Gittisham wards combined.  She offered to email the officer in charge of elections at EDDC to ask advice if GPC could set out what exactly the proposal was, and suggested that DALC could also help if required.  Cllr Twiss said with new technology, there was now much more work that could be carried out between meetings.

The Chair said the clerk had distributed descriptions of the clerk’s role and corresponding pay scales.  Members agreed with the Chair’s suggestion that the pay scale should remain at the current rate, given the clerk’s range of duties and the amount of parish expenditure.

ACTION: Cllr Wilkins to discuss routes to restructuring with EDDC.

Cllr Twiss left the meeting.

138/20   To consider the purchase of a computer for the parish clerk

The Chair said the clerk had circulated details of a laptop computer, based on research by Cllr Wilkins and Johnny Valentine.  Members resolved to purchase this model, the Acer Aspire 5 15.6in Ryzen 7 8GB 512GB FHD Laptop – Black, currently priced at £649.99 from Argos.  The clerk said the £400 contribution from DCC’s locality budget had been received.  Cllr Wilkins suggested that the laptop should have fully licensed applications with everything licensed and registered to the parish council. The laptop should be for official parish council use only and be labelled as being the property of the parish council. There should also be a file backup process in place and internet security installed.  The clerk agreed to add the purchase of the Microsoft Office Home & Business 2019 licence to the December 2020 agenda.

ACTION: Clerk to purchase the laptop using a personal credit card and claim back the cost in December.

139/20 To amend the parish council standing orders to allow for a secret ballot on a co-option vote

Members resolved to approve the change to the standing orders to allow for a secret ballot on a co-option vote.

140/20 To amend the parish council Covid standing orders to allow for secret ballots at remote meetings to be carried out by text / private message

Members resolved to approve the change to the Covid standing orders to allow for secret ballots at remote meetings to be carried out by text / private message.

141/20 To consider candidates for the Gittisham Village councillor vacancy and proceed to co-option as appropriate

Members followed the co-option procedures adopted at March 2020’s parish council meeting, with the amendments as outlined in minute ref 140/20.  Two candidates had come forward; members voted by text message and Alex Rowe was duly co-opted to the parish council (Gittisham Village ward) and summoned to attend the next meeting.  Members felt that both were strong candidates.

ACTION: Clerk to write and thank the unsuccessful candidate.

142/20   To approve the November payments and to note the current bank balance

It was resolved to approve the following payments:

1069       F J Clampin                          £224.86 + £3.60 expenses Clerk’s salary & expenses (at new rate of £11.53 / hr)

1070       F J Clampin                          £373.64 HMRC rebate of overpaid tax

1071       Michael Poll                          £60         Grass cutting play area (inv. ref 10054)

1072       Len Abbott                            £105       7.5 hours lengthsman work, Oct 2020 (at £14/hr)

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

Members were informed that the latest installment of CIL had been received (£6,156.58), and the current bank balance stands at £19,101.24 (which includes the £7,000 in the business reserve account). 

143/20   Clerk’s Report

The clerk asked if any councillor would like to volunteer as a snow warden.  Members agreed with Cllr Walker’s suggestion that new Cllr Rowe might like to step forward. 

ACTION: Clerk to pass Cllr Rowe’s details on to DCC and provide him with information on the role.

144/20   For information only; items for the forward agenda

Cllr Wilkins said the stream on the boundary between Gittisham and St Michael’s continues to back up beneath the Old Elm Road bridge. He said he had reported the matter to EDDC once again.  There has also been an issue with raw sewage flooding gardens at the far end of Ferndale Close, said Cllr Wilkins. Though not a parish council issue, residents requested he attend a discussion with South West Water on 15th October.  Unfortunately no solution was found.

It was agreed to include the following items on the next agenda: gazette distribution & remuneration, parish council support for scam awareness and security, highways, planning, CIL / S106, public transport, climate change, Hayne Farm defibrillator, lengthsman work, play area,  limited residential development, emergency plan, representation, liaising with other parish councils. 

Cllr Rowe said he had seen a telecoms engineer inspecting the green cabinet near the Forge, and he had noticed that Gigaclear was trading once again under the same name.

ACTION: Chair to take forward with Cllr Twiss and see if there is any update on broadband infrastructure.

145/20   To consider any late entry correspondence


146/20   Date of next two meetings.  

Wednesday 2nd December 2020 and Wednesday 6th January 2021 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.