Parish Council meeting minutes 7 April 2021



HELD ON 7th APRIL 2021

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 P Orchard

Cllr J Twist

In attendance: Cllr Susie Bond (EDDC), Cllr Phil Twiss (DCC), Graham Hutton, Chris Watton & Tom Biddle (Baker Estates), Fiona Clampin (clerk), two members of the public

Apologies for absence: PCSO Darren England

Before the meeting, Baker Estates (BE) explained the background to their S73 application and gave an update on the current situation with the Hayne Farm development.  Graham Hutton thanked members for their support on the previous application, which has been approved.  He reported that as a result of that amendment, five of the latest homes to be built had been reserved through the Help to Buy scheme for first-time buyers.  Tom Biddle explained that the current application does not represent a fundamental change but rather focuses on cosmetic aspects.  It affects 27 properties in total, and would allow BE to respond to changes in the market and feedback from current residents.  BE is proposing to move some of the affordable units elsewhere on the site, change the size and internal figuration of some properties, and provide new house types which were not on the original application.  He said that none of the changes affect height parameters, highway design or public open space provision.  Graham Hutton added that the mix and number of homes had not changed, and the overall size of the homes is reducing.  The original plan would have left BE with quite a lot of large homes to sell in one go, and the company would now prefer to have a mix of smaller and larger properties.

Graham Hutton said that by May, BE should have reached 150 units and therefore it is approaching the half-way point in the development.  He promised to email the most up to date figures to the clerk.  Cllr Bond said there appeared to be a change with the attenuation pond from 3 down to 1, and Graham Hutton said this had already been approved by DCC as the lead flood authority.  Cllr Orchard enquired as to progress on the play area, and Graham Hutton replied that BE’s commercial team was in the process of organizing the equipment and placing orders.  He could not give a start date however.

Graham Hutton told members that BE had an option with the Combe Estate to build 40 additional homes on the old farmyard site, and he has met EDDC for a pre-application meeting.  There would be no additional access off Hayne Lane.  He said more engagement and public consultation is necessary, and the proposal is at a very early stage.  Cllr Walker asked if there would be an affordable element, to which the reply was yes.

217/20   To accept and approve apologies

Apologies were received and accepted.

218/20   To confirm the minutes of the meeting held 3rd March 2021

The minutes of the meeting held on 3rd March 2021 were confirmed and signed by the Chair. 

219/20   To receive the Beat Manager’s Report

The police did not send a report this month, so the clerk provided figures taken from .  In February 2021, 2 crimes reported: 2 x violence and sexual offences (Cypress Close). 

ACTION: Clerk to follow up with PCSO Darren England regarding off-roading above Westgate.

220/20   To receive declarations of interest

Cllr Valentine declared an interest in item 8b (minute ref. 224/20), as he has previously advised the applicant.

221/20   To consider actions from the last meeting not otherwise on the agenda

The clerk said she had not yet purchased Microsoft Office for the parish council laptop (as agreed at the last meeting), but would do so.

Cllr Rowe said he had attended all four of DALC’s Being a Good Councillor courses, and found them very informative.  He said he had worked through the 2019/20 transparency code documents on the website, and had passed them to the clerk for review.  He explained that DALC had advised councillors to note on their parish websites that work on making documents accessible is ongoing.  The Chair said it was good to be making progress on this. 

ACTION: Clerk to send original Word documents to Cllr Rowe.

222/20   Reports from County Council and District Council representatives

Cllr Twiss said that as this version of Devon County Council draws to its conclusion, with a new Council to be elected on May 6th his report is intentionally brief due to being in election purdah.  He said that a lot has happened in his time as your County Councillor, and of course he could not tell whether electors in the Feniton & Honiton Division would elect him to be their representative at County Hall in May for a further four years.  He said he was grateful for the support he had received from Gittisham Parish Council members both current and previous, who work very hard on behalf of parishioners’ interests, despite being something of a thankless task.  He said he was particularly pleased to have been able to offer financial support from the DCC Locality budget to help projects in the village and see superfast broadband reach the village firstly from wireless provider Voneus and shortly a fibre-to-the-premises service from Jurassic Fibre.

Ordinarily he suspected that his ‘end of term’ report would have seen potholes, drains and ditches as key feature.  But the inescapable fact is that COVID-19 has dominated all of our lives for most of 2020 and in to 2021.  Cllr Twiss added that as we all look forward to a much brighter future, he would end on a positive note with an update on the vaccination programme (circulated to members) which continues at pace and will see our lives and those of our family and friends return to a more normal state of affairs sooner than later.  The Chair thanked Cllr Twiss for his active involvement in the parish.

Cllr Bond explained that work on the local plan review carries on apace, with the ambitious target of December for publication of a draft local plan. An Urban Capacity Study has been undertaken to look at possibilities for building within the BUABs of the main towns and approximately 750 sites have been identified, although there is no indication that landowners will want to put their land up for development. The total of 750 sites is far less than the 950 houses required to be built by EDDC every single year.

Cllr Twist asked Cllr Bond why a proposal for an industrial estate on Hayne Lane would that not have appeared on searches conducted by people buying their homes, or their solicitors?  Cllr Bond replied that this would only appear if there was a planning application in the system.  Regarding the estate, she said at the moment there is a proposal to see whether it will be a viable option and what sort of office space or units would be suitable there.  Cllr Valentine added that results often depend on search terms, and also that railway lines often act as a demarcation line between one area and another, so even applications close by will not be classed as ‘in the vicinity’. 

Cllr Twiss left the meeting.

223/20   To consider the following planning applications:

a) 21/0730/VAR Phases 1 – 4 Hayne Lane Gittisham Variation of condition 1 of application 20/2179/VAR (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 and/or numbers on plots 132-136, 162-166 and 299-230; design changes to units on plots 92-95, 105-110, 167-170 &172-175; layout changes to plot 137, and; provision of additional parking to plots 167-170

b)            21/0437/MFUL Part Of Honiton Show Ground Nags Head Road Gittisham Use of the land as a caravan site for up to 100 tents, touring caravans and motorhomes from April to October of each year and siting of portable toilets and showers

Members had no objections to a). 

Graham Hutton, Chris Watton & Tom Biddle left the meeting.

Regarding b), the Chair said she had discussed the application with the chair of Buckerell Parish Council.  Gittisham parish councillors resolved to object strongly to this application for the following reasons: the information given in the application is minimal and sometimes incorrect, and it does not address concerns over flooding, highways, traffic, the scale and siting, use of land, and proximity to settlements.  There are no suitable services and utilities close by, it is not sustainable, the sewerage system is already exhausted and environmental concerns are not addressed in the application.  Members said they would be happy to provide more detail to EDDC on every single item of concern, if requested.

ACTION: Chair to contact Buckerell PC chair with update.

224/20   To consider the following appeals:

  1.  APP/U1105/W/21/3267702 Land North Of Hamlet House Weston Conversion of agricultural building to dwelling

Members resolved they did not wish to add anything more to the parish council’s previous comments.

Cllr Valentine left the meeting.

2. APP/U1105/W/21/3267313 Goldcombe Farm Gittisham EX14 3AB Conversion Of Existing Buildings To Holiday Dwellings (application for removal of Condition 5 of planning permission 84/P0792 to allow year round occupancy of the holiday dwellings and variation of Condition 6 of planning permission 84/P0792 to allow The Cider Barn to be used as an unrestricted residential dwelling)

Members resolved they did not wish to add anything more to the parish council’s previous comments, but would like to reiterate the parish council has no objection this appeal.

Cllr Valentine returned to the meeting.

225/20   To receive reports from councillors on areas of responsibility and actions since the last meeting:

  1. To note the latest planning decision notices

21/0428/FUL 34 Meadow Acre Road Gittisham EX14 3FE Construction of single side/rear storey extension.  Approval.

  • To receive an update on Highways

Cllr Orchard said there was nothing to report. 

Forthcoming road closures in Gittisham Parish:

19-23 April 2021. Vodaphone are working on A30 between Ironbridge junction and Turks Head junction. Not clear whether the road will be closed at night, or just reduced lanes.

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

The Chair explained that she, Cllr Orchard and the clerk had met Honiton Town Council’s new clerk, HTC’s leader and Sulina Tallack from EDDC to discuss how S106 money from the Hayne Farm development (which belongs to GPC) can be spent, what proportion could be spent in Honiton itself and on what.  It had been agreed at that meeting, the Chair said, that Gittisham would decide whether or not to go ahead with upgrading the boules pitch and installing a table tennis table which would take the overall expenditure to approximately £40,000.  Cllr Orchard had asked Sulina if it was necessary to go through the public consultation process once again, but has not yet received a reply.  Cllr Walker added that there was support within the village for the additional items.

  • To receive an update on public transport

Cllr Orchard said the Stagecoach bus had failed to collect Kings School students on the last day of the Easter term (again), but he did not know why.  The clerk added that DCC has confirmed it will be providing a privately contracted service for Kings School pupils from September 2021.

  • To consider the purchase of a defibrillator for the Hayne Farm development

Cllr Twist said she had provided the information on the type of defibrillator so the appropriate electrical connections could be made, and would resend this to Graham Hutton at Baker Estates.  Sovereign has given permission to locate the new defibrillator on their building.   

ACTION: Cllr Twist to send information to Graham Hutton.

  • To consider climate change measures within the parish

Cllr Twist said she had read the Resource & Waste Management Strategy for Devon & Torbay 2020-2030 and responded to their online questionnaire.  She presented some of the main points to councillors, who agreed that the parish council should measure the carbon footprint and environmental impact of its actions in future.  The Chair suggested that parishioners be encouraged to ask their parish council to consider the climate agenda, for example land use.  Cllr Twist explained that the Government’s Green Deal Grant was scrapped on 31st March.  The £300m will now go to local authorities to target lower income families to achieve energy efficiency.  The Chair welcomed the news that there had been a litter pick along Devonshire Road in March.

Cllr Rowe asked if wild flower planting projects similar to those in Honiton might be an option, and it was agreed to put this on the next agenda.

Cllr Twist said she had received no further information about the village EV charging point.  Plans to install 30 electric vehicle charging points in several district car parks goes before EDDC full council on 21st April. (Honiton Lace Walk 4 bays, Blackdown House 4 bays).

ACTION: All to keep eyes open for new climate change initiatives that the PC can support.

  • To consider parish council support for scam awareness and security

Cllr Twist said the alert this month is regarding the census and cold callers informing people they have incorrectly completed the census form and there is a fine to pay.  This is a scam, and Cllr Twist reminded members that the Office for National Statistics will not contact people this way.  It is important to keep anti-virus software up to date as “dwell times” can be six months or more (where a virus is planted in your laptop etc but not activated immediately).  Cllr Twist added that another new scam doing the rounds is called “fleeceware”.  This is a mobile application that comes with excessive subscription fees.  The provider offers a short free trial for three days, and then the subscription can be £50 / week.  If you delete the app, said Cllr Twist, you still have the money taken, so you have to follow steps to delete or cancel the subscription as well.

  • To consider limited residential development in the parish

Cllr Valentine said he had previously reported that a pre-app submission had been prepared and submitted to EDDC. A response has now been received and work is now taking place to address some of the comments that have been received. The response is positive and concludes “the principle of development is acceptable providing the application is accompanied by the relevant needs survey and supporting information. The layout and design may require some alterations; however the general concept is supported.”  It is hoped that a preferred scheme will be finalised later this month and that GCLT will then bring forward a public consultation during May.  Details will be publicised as soon as possible.

  • To consider the parish emergency plan

Cllr Orchard said the plan had been completed and distributed to councillors. It needs further snow wardens, training and flood line connection for flood wardens, and then publication date.  Cllr Walker said Len Abbott was often involved in clearing snow, and may be interested in becoming an official snow warden.

ACTION: Cllr Orchard to complete plan.  Cllr Walker to ask Len Abbott if he is interested in being listed as a volunteer snow warden. 

  • To consider the refurbishment and maintenance of the village play area

Cllr Walker reported that the bin had been installed.  The Chair said a large quantity of hand sanitizer was available from her house.  All members agreed to help Cllr Walker if the cleaning became too arduous.

ACTION: Cllr Walker to keep hand sanitiser at the entrance to the play area topped up.

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

Cllr Walker said that Len Abbott would most likely submit an invoice next month. 

226/20   To receive a report from the Chair

The Chair said she would like to make progress on the play area as soon as possible, which could involve redoing the consultation exercise to encourage a few more people to get involved.  She said she thought both upgrading the boules pitch and installing a ping pong table were feasible. 

The Chair reported that she had not heard back from DCC as to which tracks can be used by off-roaders above Westgate, if any, and neither had Combe Estate.

She encouraged all councillors and residents to register an interest on Jurassic Fibre’s website.  This does not commit the user to take up their services, but would help to show the level of demand and encourage the roll-out of superfast broadband.

ACTION: All to register interest with Jurassic Fibre.

Cllr Walker left the meeting.

227/20 To consider the practicalities of returning to face to face meetings from 7th May 2021, including a review of the scheme for delegation to ensure continuity of the Council functions (as far as practicable)

Cllr Bond explained that at the moment, the Government has indicated that meetings must return to normal immediately after 7 May, i.e. Zoom meetings will not be allowed. Their reasoning is that there is no time to extend the legislation. A case is being taken to the High Court to challenge this and it is hoped that Zoom meetings will be permitted as long as the pandemic continues.

The clerk said she had attended a DALC briefing on the issue.  The Chair said the parish council was prepared for the return to face to face meetings, and although not ideal given the concern surrounding this, the village hall had been booked for the June parish council meeting. 

228/20   To approve the April payments and to note the current bank balance

It was resolved to approve the following payments:

1092       F J Clampin                          £226.18                 Clerk’s salary & expenses

1093       Playsafety Ltd                     £107.40                 Annual play area safety inspection

1094       Michael Poll                          £60         Grass cutting, play area (inv. ref. 10065)

1095       34SP                                       £95.40   Annual professional website hosting renewal, 16th April 2021

1096       DALC                                    £36         Being a Good Councillor, 2 x sessions @£18 each inc. VAT     

1097       DALC                                    £167.13 Annual membership 2021/22

DD          NEST                                     £22.48   Clerk’s pension (5% employer, 5% employee)

Members were informed that half of the current financial year’s precept had been received, giving a current bank balance of £19,676.69 (which includes the £7,000 in the business reserve account). 

The clerk said other councils had reported that the road to internet banking was a difficult one, but she agreed to pursue internet banking in future.

ACTION: Clerk to investigate internet banking.

229/20   Clerk’s Report

The clerk said no one had come forward to fill the parish councillor (Vale) vacancy.  EDDC had advised her that the parish council does not need to go through the casual vacancy process again, and the parish council should keep the vacancy advertised until someone expresses an interest.  Until such time, the post will remain vacant.  She advised members that the next meeting would be the annual council meeting which begins with the election of a Chair, and Vice-Chair if thought necessary. 

230/20   For information only; items for the forward agenda

Wild flower planting; public access around the parish.  Cllr Orchard said that he had cleared items from the Vale bus shelter earlier in March, but books, DVDs and magazines had once more found their way into the shelter and were threatening to take over.  The Chair said as it is a bus shelter, there needs to be space for seating that allows for social distancing.  If there are books, they should be confined to a small box. 

ACTION: Cllr Orchard to monitor the situation.

231/20   To consider any late entry correspondence

Cllr Orchard asked if there was any information regarding the proposed footpath at Goldcombe, but the clerk said there was no update from DCC.

232/20   Date of next two meetings.  

Wednesday 5th May and Wednesday 2nd June 2021 at 7.30pm via Zoom.  Should the law allowing remote meetings be lifted as expected, the June meeting will be held in the village hall with social distancing and hygiene measures in place.

There being no further business, the meeting closed at 2105 hrs.


5th May 2021