Parish Council meeting minutes 2 December 2020



HELD ON 2ND DECEMBER 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

Cllr A Rowe

Gittisham Vale Ward:

Cllr A Wilkins (Vice Chair)

Cllr P Orchard

Cllr J Twist

In attendance: Cllr Susie Bond (EDDC), Cllr Phil Twiss (DCC), Tom Biddle (Baker Estates), Graham Hutton (Baker Estates), Fiona Clampin (clerk), one member of the public

Apologies for absence: PCSO Darren England

Before the meeting, Tom Biddle & Graham Hutton from Baker Estates (BE) spoke as members of the public regarding agenda item 7a).  Graham Hutton provided an update on the Hayne Farm development, and told members that 43 of the affordable homes have either been handed over or are close to being handed over.  He explained how Baker Estates and its contractors had managed during the first lockdown.  He said many staff had been furloughed and turnover was down by one third, and this situation was part of the reason for the amendment to the application proposed, a Section 73 application which allows developers in principle to slightly modify approved consent.  Tom Biddle showed members plans of the site, and explained that BE had reviewed the site because of the risks associated with the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent impact on the business.  He said for plots 235–239, BE was proposing to replace the four one-bed and the one two-bed apartment with four two-bed houses and one three-bed house.  He explained that the storey height would stay the same, although the units would be different.  If approved, he said this would allow BE to make sales securely and help the company move forward over the next 12–18 months.  Graham Hutton added that Honiton Town Council had been supportive of the application at its meeting two weeks ago.

Cllr Valentine asked about the current projections for completion.  Graham Hutton replied that the affordable homes are forecast to be finished around the end of 2023, and the entire site within seven years (from the start date).  The open market properties would take longer, and at the time of publication the development was around half-way through construction.

Cllr Bond asked about the state of the market, and Graham Hutton replied that in general it was quite good.  He anticipated a wobble in the future however.

Cllr Orchard asked when the noticeboard frame was likely to be installed.  Graham Hutton responded that he would follow this up with the supplier, and members heard that in the future the board would be moving to the public open space near the substation.

Graham Hutton enquired as to how the residents of the development had integrated with the community.  The Chair said that pre-lockdown some residents had taken part in village activities.  Cllr Twist added that the development has its own Facebook page, and residents are definitely using the noticeboard to keep themselves informed.

147/20   To accept and approve apologies

Apologies were received and accepted. 

148/20   To confirm the minutes of the meeting held 4th November 2020

The minutes of the meeting held on 4th November 2020 were confirmed and signed by the Chair. 

149/20   To receive the Beat Manager’s Report

The police did not send a report this month, so the clerk provided figures taken from .  In October 2020, 3 crimes reported: 2 x anti-social behaviour, 1 x public order.

150/20   To receive declarations of interest


151/20   To consider actions from the last meeting not otherwise on the agenda

The clerk said she had not been able to purchase the laptop, because it appeared to be out of stock in the two shops where it had been available previously.  Cllr Valentine said that stocks had diminished quite dramatically in computer components, and Cllr Twiss advised the clerk to wait a little longer for items to come back in stock as long as the DCC Locality Budget is spent before the end of financial year 2020/21.

Cllr Wilkins reported that he was in the process of setting up a suitable computer to review the website documents.

Cllr Wilkins said he had contacted Carol McCann to offer a roadworks item for the Gittisham Gazette, explaining that it may be subject to change.

Cllr Wilkins explained that the issue of traffic speeds and whether CIL money could be used to support traffic calming measures coming into the village from the west is being managed by the CLT Project Team.  He said that DCC rather than EDDC will be their contact point for any authorisation required, and funding would be considered once authorisation for the possible design is agreed.

Finally, Cllr Wilkins said he had contacted EDDC’s Electoral Services to discuss routes to restructuring the parish council, but was awaiting a response. 

152/20   Reports from County Council and District Council representatives

DCC Care home COVID-19 Testing

Cllr Twiss said that as is well documented, older people are generally more vulnerable to contracting COVID and the challenge is to given them maximum protection, keep them out of an acute hospital setting and through no fault of their own using up resources.

However, he explained that the Department of Health and Social Care is about to launch a huge expansion of testing in care homes, with their pledge being that by 18th December all care homes will have received sufficient test kits to enable:

All staff to be tested twice a week

All residents to be tested weekly

Up to two visits by two visitors every week (i.e. testing for up to four visits a week for every resident)

Most of the test kits will be the new ‘Lateral Flow Devices’ which give results in less than 30 minutes. This is really good news for the many care homes in East Devon and beyond, Cllr Twiss said.

This is a small-scale pilot involving eight care homes in Devon and DCC is one of three Local Authorities (also Hampshire and Cornwall) who were selected, based on low prevalence rates.  The aim of the pilot is to examine the role of how testing of visitors, alongside other existing infection prevention/control measures, maximises safety. It will run for four weeks from 16 November to 13 December 2020. Homes received training through online webinars on 12/13th November before commencing the pilot on 16th November.

The testing will use a combination of new rapid-results tests, as well as the tests already in use:

Weekly swab testing of regular visitors, using existing PCR swab testing technology

new Lateral Flow Devices (LFD) tests which are taken before visitors enter the home with results available within 15 to 30 minutes.

As LFDs are new technology, any positive tests will be confirmed with a PCR test.  Feedback from the homes is collected through weekly online sessions, facilitated by the DHSC, and this has been mainly positive said Cllr Twiss.  It’s been reported that the process is simple to follow, and meaningful contact whilst wearing full PPE is appreciated. Relatives and residents have been very emotional with the pilot bringing hope and a glimpse of the new normal.  Thirty visitors had been tested as of 20th November.  One visitor tested positive and went home to isolate whilst awaiting the result of the PCR result.  One visitor refused testing because they didn’t feel comfortable.

Mass vaccination programme

Cllr Twiss explained that the national COVID-19 mass vaccination programme is to commence in December 2020.  The focus of initial vaccination will be in staff and residents in care homes and those over 80 years of age.  A significant amount of work is taking place locally across the Devon-wide system to co-ordinate activity and ensure coverage across the county, and that there is an awareness how and when people can access the vaccine at their GP surgery or regional centre (Exeter).

He added that the Exeter Nightingale hospital has now received its first COVID-19 patients.  Since the beginning of July, the Nightingale Hospital Exeter has been providing local people with fast and safe access to a range of important diagnostic tests. These additional services will now stop at the Nightingale facility to allow the hospital to care for COVID-19 patients. Diagnostic tests will continue to be available to those who need them through existing diagnostic services across the region.  The 116-bed hospital is designed to provide care for patients with COVID-19 and can support both ventilated and non-ventilated care. Patients with COVID-19 who need the additional services available within an acute hospital will be cared for there.

ACTION: Cllr Twiss to email Cllr Bond with current occupancy figures.

Waste and recycling

All DCC-operated recycling Centres are open, but from recent personal experience in recent weeks very quiet, said Cllr Twiss.  Winter opening hours are in operation for most sites this is 9-4.30 Monday to Friday and 10-4.30pm Saturday and Sunday. They will be closed on Christmas day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.


Cllr Twiss said he was pleased to report that volumes of work across the Highways teams remains really high.  He reported that the recent wet weather has seen a significant number of problems on the network, but this has not held up the winter maintenance programme which officially started on 15th October, with the salt barns fully stocked, and all vehicles ready. 

Additional COVID-related contingency plans are also in place should they be required.  In many ways, Cllr Twiss said we are quite fortunate to have as many depots as we have, including one in Honiton that serves the eastern end of East Devon.  You may have seen recently that the new Network Operations Control Centre that has been set up now in Great Moor House to make sure our roads stay functioning throughout the year.  He added that with the recent second lockdown, traffic flows on the A-road network have again fallen, during the last couple of weeks week by about 30 per cent and at weekends by about 40 per cent, compared to the equivalent week in 2019.  With schools remaining open, the morning peak flows are virtually unchanged; the main changes are during the daytime and evening periods.

The DCC Highways Asset Team is extremely busy delivering its highest ever capital programme.  This larger budget is allowing the team to look beyond the normal priorities of Devon’s main A-roads and address some of the deterioration on the county’s important lower category roads.  These improvements and renewals across the network are beginning to be noticed by the travelling public as this work continues, said Cllr Twiss.  As ever, at this time of year, the DCC gully cleaning policy is under scrutiny as we experience a combination of leaf fall and an extended period of wet weather.  The team has carried out a detailed review of its approach to drainage cleaning which has resulted in a number of improvements. 

The second Doing What Matters project focused on the rebuild of the safety defect process and is now beginning to look at new software development with a view to rolling out a trial ‘beta’ system in the New Year.  The primary aim of the project is to improve the number of defects repaired at the first visit.  In order to achieve this, Cllr Twiss said DCC is investing in the amount of advance information recorded by its safety inspectors.

Cllr Bond said EDDC’s Cabinet has resolved to grant LED a subsidy to the tune of £732,000 to help mitigate the impact of Coronavirus. Leisure East Devon operates as a charitable trust and is therefore unable to access Government grant funding. (Had LED been operated by EDDC, it would have been eligible for funding, Cllr Bond explained.)  Given the importance of LED, which operates nine leisure and fitness centres including swimming pools and tennis courts across East Devon, to the health and well-being of residents, Cllr Bond said the council had no alternative. Full information is available here

Cllr Bond said she had circulated to parish councils a distilled version of the Government guidance on tiers and their restrictions, particularly now that East Devon is in tier 2. These will be reviewed on December 16.

153/20   To consider the following planning applications:

a) 20/2179/VAR Land West of Hayne Lane Gittisham Variation of condition 1 of application 18/0454/MRES (Proposed construction of 291 no. dwellings and associated parking, garages, roads, drainage and landscaping (approval of reserved matters pursuant to outline planning permission 13/2744/MOUT), amended proposal to reduce total number of units from 300 to 291) to amend unit types on plots 235-239 from apartments to 4 x 2 bed and 1 x 3 bed dwellings, amend the shape and size of the rear gardens associated with plots 234 and 240, and allow for a garage to be constructed serving plot 235.

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

Cllr Twist explained in relation to a) that the density would not be greater with this variation, and that the two-bedroom houses had been very popular, more so than the flats.  Members agreed with the Chair’s comment that it was positive to see BE adapting to the market, and the proposal had no impact on drainage.  Councillors resolved to have no objection to the application.

Members resolved to object to b) on the grounds outlined previously, ie 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.

Tom Biddle and Graham Hutton left the meeting.

154/20   To receive reports from councillors on areas of responsibility and actions since the last meeting:

a) To note the latest planning decision notices

20/0781/FUL and 20/0782/LBC Rapshayes Farm, Gittisham EX14 3AB Conversion of barn to holiday let accommodation.  Approval.

 b) To receive an update on Highways

Cllr Wilkins said there had been no response from DCC regarding the situation with heavy vehicles entering and turning within Hayne Farm.

He circulated details of forthcoming roadworks in the parish:

18–19th January 2021 Lane Past Gittisham Forge, road closed for detailed bridge examination

9th February 2021 Lane to Cathayes Farm, road closed for replacement of two BT poles

22nd–26th February 2021 Outside Putts Corner caravan site, traffic control (two-way signals) to install back-to-back hydrants on the water main

25th February–5th March 2021 Hayne Lane from Hayne Farm to Beech Walk, road closed for patching

3rd March 2021 Road past Truances Dairy closed for replacement of one BT pole.

Cllr Orchard suggested that DCC should not carry out roadworks on school bus routes during term-time as a matter of policy.  Cllr Twiss replied that the situation with roadworks planned in Alfington for January could change, as things often do depending on the weather, staff availability and the holiday season.

c) To consider plans for expenditure in the parish under the Community Infrastructure Levy & S106

The Chair said that there had not been any real progress on whether CIL money could be used to support traffic calming measures at the entrance to the proposed new development opposite Clysthayes.  Cllr Bond reminded members that CIL can be used to mitigate the impact of any development.  Cllr Twiss alerted councillors to the fact that a road crossing at the Beehive in Honiton had cost in the region of £50,000. 

The Chair said the parish council and the CLT could write to DCC to request a new traffic survey further up the hill going west, to support any application for traffic calming measures.  Cllr Twiss advised them to write to Tom Vaughan.

ACTION: Cllr Bond to contact EDDC about the possibility of using CIL money for the above-mentioned purpose. 

ACTION: Cllrs Wilkins & Valentine to contact DCC about the possibility of a new traffic survey. 

d) To receive an update on public transport

Cllr Orchard said the service over the past month had been good, on the whole.

e) To consider the purchase of a defibrillator for the Hayne Farm development

Cllr Twist said she had received an email from Adam Clark, Development Officer at Sovereign Housing, who is now considering the request for a defibrillator to be installed.  The company would also be raising the request at their next site meeting, and hoped to provide Cllr Twist with an update before Christmas.  See also update from Graham Hutton before minute ref 147/20.

f) To consider climate change measures within the parish

Cllr Twist reported that the government’s Green Homes Grant scheme had been extended until March 2022.   Regarding Electric Vehicle Charging Points, Cllr Twist said she had registered an interest but received no further information from DCC about a proposal for an EVC for the village.  The clerk said Talaton PC’s clerk had been in touch asking if it was possible to share experiences on securing an EVC. 

ACTION: Clerk to pass on Cllr Twist’s details to the Talaton clerk; Clerk to obtain more information from Broadhembury regarding its two charging points behind the village hall. 

g) To consider parish council support for scam awareness and security

Cllr Twist said she had submitted a short article to the Gittisham Gazette in November, about scam awareness.  She explained that there are many websites that warn about scams and how to recognise scams, and she was focused on how we might recognise those people who are being scammed, and how we could distribute information to residents, for example if there were doorstep callers working in the area.  The Chair suggested that Facebook and WhatsApp could be a good way to do this.  Cllr Rowe said providers such as BT and TalkTalk have alert lists of scammers, which could be good for the older members of the parish.

h) To consider limited residential development in the parish

Cllr Valentine said South Devon Rural Housing Association had been appointed as the GCLT’s Housing Association partner. A project team has now been formed and consists of representatives from the GCLT Board, the architects (ECA), the housing association, the engineering consultants, Combe Estate and GCLT’s advisers, Wessex CLT Project. Cllr Valentine explained that the project team will lead and advise through the design stages and report back to the GCLT on a monthly basis. Initial options for the development of the site have been presented to the project team, and further options are currently in preparation. There will be a public consultation in the new year and further details will be published in due course.

i) To consider the parish emergency plan

Cllr Valentine said work on this had recommenced and further progress will be undertaken in the new year.

j) To consider the refurbishment and maintenance of the village play area

Cllr Walker said the repair of the tower planks had been carried out to a high standard. 

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

Members resolved to approve Cllr Walker’s suggestion for the lengthsman to carry out more work in the village play area.

ACTION: Cllr Walker to speak to Len Abbott about playground maintenance.

155/20   To receive a report from the Chair

The Chair said that while there had been no definite decisions made on how the parish council should be structured as the parish grows, she reminded members of Cllr Twiss’s suggestion that with the help of technology, it might not be necessary to meet at the same frequency as in the past.  She thanked councillors for their work during the year, and for bearing with the idiosyncrasies of Skype and Zoom since March.  She wished all members, their families and those who support the parish council a happy Christmas and a healthy 2021.

ACTION: All councillors to reflect on frequency of meetings and discuss at the February 2021 meeting.

156/20 To review the current state of gazette distribution and remuneration

The Chair said as the gazette had been distributed online since the first lockdown, it might be worth re-evaluating its distribution in the future.

ACTION: Clerk to write to Mr Sellick to inform him that the distribution is under review.

157/20 To approve and sign the annual CIL report 2019/20

The clerk distributed details of CIL income and expenditure for 2019/20. Members resolved to approve the document, and it was signed by the Chair.

ACTION: Clerk to upload the CIL document 2019/20 and send to EDDC.

158/20   To approve the December payments and to note the current bank balance

It was resolved to approve the following payments:

1073      F J Clampin                       £224.86 Clerk’s salary

1074      Len Abbott                         £147      10.5 hours lengthsman work, Nov 2020 (at £14/hr)

1075      Community Heartbeat Trust £324    Annual support cost for two defibrillators      

1076      Peter Sellick                       £26.66   Gazette distribution

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

Members were informed that the current bank balance stands at £18,356.24 (which includes the £7,000 in the business reserve account). 

159/20   Clerk’s Report

Members agreed that the parish council would pay for any future attendance on a DALC new councillors course for Cllrs Orchard and Rowe.  Each course (there are four) costs £15 + VAT.

ACTION: Clerk to look out for future course opportunities. 

160/20   For information only; items for the forward agenda

Cllr Wilkins said it would be necessary to include an item on the forward agenda for a new casual vacancy, as he was tendering his resignation from the parish council with immediate effect.  The Chair thanked Cllr Wilkins for his years of service and tenacity in serving the local community.  Members all agreed that when current Covid restrictions were lifted, a suitable outing to thank Cllr Wilkins could be arranged.

ACTION: Clerk to notify EDDC of vacancy.

Cllr Wilkins left the meeting.

161/20   To consider any late entry correspondence


162/20   Date of next two meetings. 

Wednesday 6th January and Wednesday 3rd February 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 2055 hrs.


6th January 2021