GITTISHAM PARISH COUNCIL
MINUTES OF THE PARISH COUNCIL MEETING
HELD ON 3RD FEBRUARY 2021
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 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
Before the meeting, one member of the public suggested that an additional rubbish bin would be useful for the village green.
180/20 To accept and approve apologies
Apologies were received and accepted.
181/20 To confirm the minutes of the meeting held 6th January 2021
The minutes of the meeting held on 6th January 2021 were confirmed and signed by the Chair.
182/20 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 December 2020, 5 crimes reported: 4 x violence & sexual offences (Laburnum Close, Parsonage Lane, Cypress Close), 1 x anti-social behaviour (Parsonage Lane).
Having circulated the annual crime report, the clerk said she had raised questions with Darren England, asking if the parish council could do more to help combat crime. Cllrs Orchard and Twist said that the parish council would like to have more detailed reports to know if the PC could be more proactive, as rising crime figures can affect things such as house insurance prices. The clerk agreed to contact Darren England again.
ACTION: Clerk to follow up with PCSO Darren England to see how the police can be more involved.
183/20 To receive declarations of interest
184/20 To consider actions from the last meeting not otherwise on the agenda
Cllr Twiss said he hoped Mike Brown from DCC Highways would be in touch with Cllr Rowe regarding grit bins.
185/20 Reports from County Council and District Council representatives
Cllr Twiss said it is very much a case of two steps forward, one step back this month. But the vaccine rollout being delivered at a rapidly escalating pace in Devon and beyond gives a great deal of hope for a measured lifting of current restrictions and a much better summer than 2020, improving all of our mental health and wellbeing, as well as the local economy including jobs and inbound income from a likely ‘staycation boom”.
As we all see from media outlets, infection rates in the UK appear to have peaked and are now beginning to recede due to the impact of lockdown and the vaccination programme to a lesser degree. Thankfully we have no seen COVID variants in our area and with the new door to door testing regime in areas identified let’s hope it remains that way.
Cllr Twiss reported that he was able to visit County Hall last week where a pop-up testing site has been set up and at full tilt is able to test up to 2,000 people each day, adding to other sites around Exeter. It is quite likely that in due course a vaccination site will also be sited at County Hall to add significant capacity to the programme, as well as more jabs being delivered at local G.P. surgeries and some private pharmacies in supermarket locations that have space to maintain social distancing.
A significant number of beds occupied by COVID patients at the RD&E NHS Trust sites are because of ‘out of area’ patients, but large numbers of frontline staff have been vaccinated and staff numbers returning to work is improving to ease the pressure a little.
Cllr Twiss said he recently met via Zoom Alison Hernandez, the Police & Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall to discuss a wide range of issues and concerns, with Neil Parish our MP sitting in as his post bag is much the same as mine, albeit with a much higher volume of correspondence!
One of the matters raised was a lack of report of crime statistics to Parish and Town Councils by way of a regular report. The Devon and Cornwall Police web site at https://www.devon-cornwall.police.uk/your-right-to-information/our-people/our-performance/crime-figures/ is now providing regular ‘high level’ data but does not enable you to drill down to parish level. Cllr Twiss added that for him, he can only refine to Honiton Rural and Honiton Town, which helps, but only a little.
He said all parties had agreed that resources are problematic and that an annual parishes meeting (online and physical to maximise attendance) might have more relevance than bare statistics which are often skewed by one or two rarely occurring crimes and don’t really provide reasons or analysis behind the figures. Cllr Twiss said he was aware this idea has been mooted before and has been trialled successfully in the DCC Axminster Division, but he said he would actively try to make this happen. He circulated the data for Devon and Cornwall for September where the Honiton area features on pages 99 and 100 of the attached document.
Fairer funding for Schools
DCC is part of the F40. ‘Fairer funding for schools’ campaign where we lag significantly behind other counties and is clearly unfair. Cllr Twiss circulated the latest update on the issues facing our schools and education from all f40 members. This briefing has gone to MPs in the f40 areas,
Bridges and structures
For a change something a little more day to day about the work of DCC, said Cllr Twiss. It’s the time of the year when the RAC Foundation release their annual bridge with 3,105 bridges (defined as structures over 1.5m in span) defined as being substandard. This was 1.6% up on the 3,055 figure twelve months before. Devon County Council is responsible for more bridges than any other authority in the UK and is recognised as one of the UK’s leading authorities in structures asset management.
The term ‘substandard’ does not mean there is a problem with the bridge, he explained; it means we are managing 233 bridges that cannot carry the full 40 tonnes ‘standard’ highway load and only 3 of these need upgrading. In 2019 this figure was 244. Ninety of these are ‘clapper’ bridges on Dartmoor National Park, which are performing well, and the remainder are either scheduled for strengthening work or have a weight limit. Those with weight limits are suitable for the road they are on, such as small lanes where large vehicles are unlikely to require access. DCC manage their bridge stock effectively in accordance with national guidelines to maintain the safety of the public.
Devon’s chief engineer made comment to the RAC Foundation following this year’s survey saying “Whilst the number of substandard bridges may appear worrying, there is often a good reason why a bridge falls into this category; it does not mean the bridge is unsafe as it will be managed by the Local Authority usually by a weight limit.
A restriction such as this may be wholly appropriate for the class of road and/or location, however the survey shows local authorities would want to remove 2,256 bridges out of this sub-standard category which can only be achieved by more investment through Government funding.”
The Chair said she would like to reiterate the difficulties experienced by people working from home and pupils home schooling with regard to slow or ineffective broadband. Cllr Twiss acknowledged that broadband was still a problem in the village particularly, and he hoped to make progress on this very soon. The Chair thanked Cllr Twiss for his work in the community.
Cllr Bond said East Devon District Council is currently consulting on the issues and options for a revised Local Plan. The questionnaire is here: https://eastdevon.gov.uk/news/2021/01/have-your-say-on-future-developments-in-east-devon-local-plan-consultation/ and it’s important for people to make their views known at this early stage of the review process. Meanwhile, in the last 3 years, a total of 2,868 new homes were built within the district, which is comfortably over the target of 928 per annum. The Chair said she welcomed the news that the district had exceeded its housing quota.
Cllr Bond explained that EDDC’s Cabinet had been meeting this evening to discuss whether to part-fund a masterplan for an extension to the Healthpark Industrial site at Hayne Lane. This is a site which was allocated in the Local Plan for employment. Consultants will be looking at the site primarily to establish viability and how best to bring the site forward. Cllr Bond said she had added a recommendation that one member from Gittisham PC, Honiton TC and Combe Estate be invited to attend meetings of the working group. The Chair thanked her for stressing Gittisham’s need to be involved in the process. Cllr Valentine said he wanted to highlight that this is the first stage of the review of the current Local Plan; this is always the publication of an issues and options report, where the district council identifies what it sees as the key issues over the next 20 years. Cllr Valentine urged the council to express either support for some of what EDDC is saying such as the renewables and energy-saving features, or concern regarding future growth for Honiton. He reminded members that previous planning applications such as that for the south side of Honiton above the Vale may well come back into focus. The consultation period expires on 15th March, so Cllr Valentine proposed to study the report and present his findings at the March PC meeting where the parish council can decide on its submission. The Chair encouraged all members to look through EDDC’s report and email him any thoughts. If anyone would like a copy, please contact Cllr Bond.
ACTION: Cllr Valentine to prepare a report for the March meeting.
Cllr Twiss left the meeting.
186/20 To consider the following planning applications:
- 20/2656/LBC Winsor Cottage Gittisham EX14 3AS Ground floor: remove walls in kitchen/breakfast room and install new door and removal of stone cladding around fireplace and under 2no. windows in lounge. First floor: remove and construct walls and doors in bedroom no.4; create door opening from bedroom no.1 onto landing for bathroom; remove and construct walls in bedroom no.1 to create ensuite and replace existing metal stair balustrade with timber balustrade
Members had no objection to the application.
187/20 To receive reports from councillors on areas of responsibility and actions since the last meeting:
- To note the latest planning decision notices
Cllr Orchard said there were no updates since the last meeting.
- To receive an update on Highways
Cllr Orchard said the railway bridge at the Forge was inspected the night of 18 January. On Weds 20 Jan the old A30 under the new A30 dual carriageway was flooded during extended rain; DCC was aware of this, he said. Cllr Orchard reported that the balancing pond south of Old Elm Rd had been so 70 per cent full, partly due he felt to DCC’s summer 2020 response not to clear the outlet grill. However since 2nd February the grill has been cleared. Cllr Orchard said he will get in touch with DCC’s Mike Brown to inform him of a blocked pipe at the entrance to a field on Hayne Lane.
Forthcoming road closures in Gittisham parish:
09 Feb: Lane to Catshayes Farm: BT pole installations.
22-26 Feb Chineway to Hare and Hounds. Water works.
24 Feb Hayne Lane again: Pot hole repairs 24 Feb-05 Mar
Members heard that https://one.network/ is a good guide to all works. You may need to log in to create an account (free) to see forthcoming works up to 3 months hence.
- To consider plans for expenditure in the parish under the Community Infrastructure Levy & S106
Cllr Orchard said there was no update on this.
- To receive an update on public transport
Cllr Orchard said he had received a refreshingly honest apology from the Stagecoach Operations Manager about the non-arrival of the school bus on 18 December 2020, last day of term. He said there was nothing else to report, but considering the police annual report is that in the parish there were 40 transport crimes of a total of 87 in the year, something is not adding up.
- 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 asking for further information, which she has supplied. Cllr Twist believes his main point was asking about the electrical contractor we would use to install the defibrillator. She responded that the parish council agrees a contractor with themselves and Baker Estates. The Chair said there was nothing more to be done for now.
- To consider climate change measures within the parish
Cllr Twist said she had investigated the provision of renewable energy suppliers, of which there were 4 including Ecotricity. However changing companies is not the best route to take, she cautioned, as some companies (especially smaller ones) are going bust with alarming regularity, and your account is transferred by OFGEM to which ever company is prepared to take the accounts.
Electric Vehicle Charging Points
Cllr Twist reported that she had received an email from Alastair Mumford (Corporate Energy Manager, DCC), who stated they were in the process of providing more information to ORCS, and hoped to get back to her in about 4 weeks. There is additional funding available from the Government, announced yesterday.
Cllr Twist said she had spoken to Bob Nelson the Chair of Broadhembury PC about their EVCPs which have been installed for about 2 years. They received their funding through a grant from the Department of Transport, via the Energy Saving Trust, and received 75 per cent of the cost. They chose Pod Points (EDF) which are accessed via an app. Cllr Twist said she had also spoken to Talaton’s parish clerk about their plans. The Chair said perhaps the electric pool car would be worth pursuing alongside the charging point, and encouraged people to come forward with other energy-saving ideas for the parish.
- To consider parish council support for scam awareness and security
Cllr Twist said that information released last week shows that fraud including credit cards, identity and cyber, is the most prevalent crime in Britain costing £190 billion a year.
ACTION: Cllr Twist to draw up a poster based on Neighbourhood Watch information about vaccine scams, and Cllr Orchard and the clerk to put on noticeboards.
- To consider limited residential development in the parish
Cllr Valentine said preparations are in hand for having a pre-app meeting with EDDC planning (no date finalised yet). It has been necessary to extend the boundary of the site in a westerly direction for about 10 metres to help with accommodating a turning circle for larger vehicles, extending gardens and helping with surface water attenuation proposals. It is not anticipated that this will introduce any new planning problem since the previous planning permission granted in 1999 extended the site significantly in a westerly direction. Cllr Valentine reported that we are close to having a preferred scheme and details will be advised asap. Members agreed they endorsed the progress taking place with the Gittisham CLT, and the work it has been undertaking to date. Cllr Valentine said the Government appeared to be positive towards community-led developments, as it has recently given a further £4m to the Community Housing Fund. This is revenue funding, not capital, to help organisations such as CLTs get to the point of securing planning permission.
Cllr Valentine said that EDDC has 30 days from the pre-app meeting to feed back any comments, and after that there is the potential to move forward to submitting a planning application. At that point, Cllr Valentine said he would like to arrange a community event in March to seek wider community support for the proposal. Members discussed how this could be organised given the current Covid restrictions in place; the Chair confirmed it was not possible to use the village hall, and thought it was likely the other venues in the village would present the same issues. It was agreed an outside event might be a possibility, with display boards installed so that people could attend at their own convenience while respecting social distancing.
Regarding the use of CIL funding for a village “gateway”, Cllr Valentine said this was not as straightforward as anticipated. He had received a message from Tom Vaughan at DCC who said that if the community is considering investing in this, DCC may be able to support it if there is evidence of consultation and community approval. However, Mr Vaughan described issues with traffic speeds in Gittisham as “perceived”. Members agreed that the traffic monitoring system had been installed in the wrong location previously, and did not therefore provide the necessary data to show speeding as an issue.
ACTION: Cllr Valentine to speak to Hamish Hall regarding online public consultations.
ACTION: Cllr Valentine to write an article for the Gittisham Gazette asking if people would support the parish council’s investigation into a village gateway.
- To consider the parish emergency plan
Cllr Orchard said Cllr Rowe had uploaded the old plan and template for the modern plan onto Google Drive. He added that there was now an additional paragraph on the location of defibrillators and how to use them, as well as ‘phone numbers for external agencies. Cllr Orchard said there was a need for volunteers to come forward who could act in the event of an emergency weather event. The Chair said she would contact the group of Covid volunteers, and Cllr Walker suggested one representative in the village, Hayne Farm and Vale respectively would be sensible. Cllr Orchard said there would also be a private list of vulnerable people in the parish, and he had access to advice from Devon Communities Together on how this could meet data protection law. The Chair asked for the emergency plan to be completed by the date of the next meeting.
ACTION: Cllr Orchard to write short article for the Gittisham Gazette asking for volunteers who would be able to assist in the case of extreme wet weather (flooding threat), and snow and ice for village, Vale and Hayne Farm areas.
- To consider the refurbishment and maintenance of the village play area
Cllr Walker reported that a new family in the village had told her how delighted they are with the play area. She said she would return the hand gel to the entrance, and keep the cleaning rota under review.
ACTION: Cllr Walker to put hand sanitiser at the entrance to the play area.
- To consider work to be carried out by the lengthsman to maintain ditches and drains in the parish
Cllr Walker said that Len Abbott had unblocked a drain on Honiton Lane where the pond had flooded after recent heavy rain. He had also found another drain he was unaware of, so he will wait for the water level to drop before he excavates it. The Chair said the heavy rain had mostly disappeared down the river, thanks to the lengthsman’s excellent work.
188/20 To receive a report from the Chair
The Chair said the off roading situation is improving with the involvement of Combe Estate, DCC rights of way, Cllr Twiss, the police and locals. All were using the proper channels, she reported, and thanked everybody for increasing the visibility of this problem. The Chair said she would be contacting the local parish council chairs.
189/20 To consider a temporary solution to the absence of a postbox in Gittisham village
Members heard that the postbox had been taken down briefly while work continues on the building, but the box has since been reinstated.
190/20 To consider the casual vacancy in Gittisham Vale
The clerk said EDDC had informed her no requests had been received for an election to fill the vacancy, and the parish council could now proceed to co-opt.
ACTION: Clerk to put co-option policy into action.
191/20 To consider updating the parish website to comply with accessibility standards
The clerk said since the resignation of Andy Wilkins, she was looking for a volunteer to update the parish website to ensure it complies with the latest accessibility standards.
ACTION: The clerk to forward details of the requirement to Cllr Rowe, although there is no obligation on him to undertake this if the workload is not manageable with other commitments.
192/20 To approve a supplier for the Gittisham play area maintenance contract for 2021/22
The clerk said she had approached three contractors to invite them to bid for the annual maintenance contract. Members resolved to appoint Michael Poll for another year.
ACTION: Clerk to contact Michael Poll and thank him for his previous work.
193/20 To consider the frequency of parish council meetings, and to discuss the practicalities of returning to face to face meetings from 7th May 2021
Members agreed with the Chair that the schedule of meeting was not onerous, and they resolved to carry on as things stand. Cllr Orchard added that if parish council meetings were less frequent than once a month, sub-committees would still have to meet for items such as planning.
The clerk explained that from 7th May 2021 the legislation regarding holding remote council meetings is due to end, and it was therefore necessary to plan for meeting face to face. Prior to the meeting, she circulated guidance from DALC. Members discussed how meetings could be held face to face, including half the council meeting one month and keeping meetings as short as possible. Cllr Valentine cautioned that due diligence would have to be observed. Councillors agreed to review the scheme for delegation at next month’s meeting, so that the parish council is prepared to carry on business if there is no change in the legislation.
194/20 To approve the February payments and to note the current bank balance
It was resolved to approve the following payments:
1080 F J Clampin £225.52 Clerk’s salary & expenses
1081 Combe Estate £10 Play area rent 01/01/2021-25/12/2030
1082 Gittisham PCC £157 Gittisham Gazette printing
1083 Gittisham PCC £23.50 Gittisham parish room hire 2020
1084 Len Abbott £84 6 hours lengthsman work, Jan 2021
1085 Arthur J Gallagher Insurance £266.81 public liability insurance (lengthsman)
DD NEST £22.48 Clerk’s pension (5% employer, 5% employee)
Members were informed that the current bank balance stands at £17,261.44 (which includes the £7,000 in the business reserve account).
195/20 Clerk’s Report
The clerk said the alternative laptop was out of stock. She explained that Cllr Rowe was due to attend DALC’s Being a Good Councillor four-part course in March, which the PC had approved at a previous meeting. Regarding dog poo bins at Hayne Farm, she said she had not yet received a reply to the PC’s message to Baker Estates.
ACTION: Cllr Valentine to ask his son for recommendations of in-stock laptops.
196/20 For information only; items for the forward agenda
Internal auditor’s contract 2021/22; website; face-to-face meetings, review of any outstanding policy documents
197/20 To consider any late entry correspondence
The Chair said she was pleased to see how proactive councillors had been.
198/20 Date of next two meetings
Wednesday 3rd March and Wednesday 7th April 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.
3rd March 2021