Parish Council meeting minutes 5 May 2021



HELD ON 5th MAY 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. 


Village ward: Cllr C Hall (Chair), Cllr D Valentine, Cllr M Walker, Cllr A Rowe

Vale ward: Cllr P Orchard, Cllr J Twist

In attendance: Cllr Susie Bond (EDDC), Fiona Clampin (clerk), two members of the public

Apologies for absence: Cllr Phil Twiss (DCC), PCSO Darren England

Before the meeting, Carol McCann (editor, Gittisham Gazette) explained that she would no longer be able to print the gazette at St Paul’s in Honiton.  She asked if there was any funding available to purchase a printer or copier that both the parish council and Gittisham PCC could use, when hard copies are distributed once again.  Cllr Hall said the parish council would investigate, and members agreed to discuss this at the June parish council meeting.

Carol McCann left the meeting.

1/21        To elect a Chair

Cllr Walker nominated Cllr Hall for election as Chair for 2021/22.  This nomination was seconded by Cllr Valentine.  A roll call of members present at the meeting was then taken.  It was then resolved by a unanimous decision that Cllr Hall be elected Chair for 2021/22 of Gittisham Parish Council. 

2/21        To receive the Chair’s declaration of Acceptance of Office

In accordance with Section 83 of the Local Government Act 1972, Cllr Hall made a Declaration of Acceptance of Office.

3/21        To accept and approve apologies

Apologies were received and accepted.

4/21        To confirm the minutes of the Ordinary meeting held 7th April 2021

The minutes of the Ordinary meeting held on 7th April 2021 were confirmed and signed by the Chair. 

5/21        To receive the Beat Manager’s Report

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

The clerk said she had received a reply from PCSO Darren England regarding off-roading above Westgate.  He said he had been in touch with Combe Estate, who had informed him that they were in touch with the county council regarding rights of way.  PCSO England told the clerk he had attended the area, and had installed signs warning people not to use off-road vehicles.  He arranged for officers to patrol the land one weekend in April.  PCSO England explained that he has been tasked with looking at all rural crime for East Devon, and hoped to engage more frequently with the parish.  However, he pointed out that he is now required to cover four areas, not one.  An additional PCSO has been recruited to work in Honiton to allow him to do this.

The clerk added that she had corresponded with Inspector Gait, the new area division commander, and read out his email to members.  Insp Gait had told her that a new rural crime initiative has begun, which is gathering momentum. Insp Gait said he is keen to maximise his officers’ time on the streets, delivering valuable, impactful policing and doesn’t want them to spend too much time doing administrative functions, which is researchable elsewhere. He hoped the parish council could embrace and support this approach.

Members discussed current police engagement with the parish, particularly in the light of recent rises in the police proportion of council tax.  Cllr Orchard offered to attend a public session next week in Honiton, and members agreed that inviting PCSO England to a meeting would start the ball rolling.

ACTION: Clerk to invite PCSO Darren England to a future meeting.  Cllr Orchard to attend public session in Honiton w/c 10/05.

6/21        To receive declarations of interest


7/21        To consider actions from the last meeting not otherwise on the agenda

Cllr Rowe said he had made progress with making documents accessible for the parish website, and had sent them to the clerk.  

Cllr Twist said she had received feedback from Hayne Farm residents regarding tentative proposals by Baker Estates to build additional houses on the old farmyard site (as reported at the April parish council meeting).  Residents had commented that the farmyard is not derelict, and there is still a considerable amount of farmyard traffic, with two slurry pits and a barn to store hay.  There was concern over roof height and surface drainage, and the presence of asbestos in the farm buildings, although Cllr Rowe suggested the roof panels could be made of cement fibre which looks similar.  There are also bats on site, and migratory birds nest there too.  Cllr Walker suggested it might be difficult to develop a site with farm buildings still in use.  Cllr Valentine said it would be wise to reserve these comments to bring to the attention of Baker Estates in the event of any future planning application.  Cllr Bond reminded members that it would be in the call for sites in the Local Plan review.

The clerk asked members if they would prefer to purchase a subscription to Microsoft Office (£59.99) for the parish clerk’s laptop, which would incur ongoing costs, or purchase the standalone package Office 2019 (£119.99).  [The £59.99 was agreed at the March 2021 meeting, ref. 211/20.] Members agreed the standalone package was the best option, and the clerk agreed to claim back the additional cost at the next meeting. 

ACTION: Clerk to purchase Office 2019.

8/21        Reports from County Council and District Council representatives

Cllr Bond explained that as part of the Local Plan review, meetings of the Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) have been scheduled for each month with the intention to have a draft plan put before the committee at their December meeting. This will then go out to consultation in January 2022. At their most recent meeting, the Strategic Planning Committee decided that developers can come to a special meeting of SPC in November to promote their sites. These would be only strategic sites and officers would remove the ones which are immediately unacceptable. The developers will be given a time-limited slot to present their sites. SPC members and ward members must be mindful that they don’t prejudice their position for any future planning application.  This is the link to the March SPC agenda with a timeline for progress of the Local Plan:  

There’s been no progress on the Heathpark Extension masterplan as the lead officer is on sick leave.

Cllr Bond said that at the moment, the Government and High Court have indicated that local authority meetings must return to normal immediately after 7 May, i.e. remote Zoom meetings will not be allowed. However, there is still hope that Government will find time to legislate to continue Zoom meetings at least until the summer. Meanwhile, EDDC is working on how to hold its Annual meeting, currently scheduled for 26 May, given the requirements for social distancing. There is no appetite among councillors to meet up, particularly for a meeting which is often highly fractious! However, it’s a legal requirement that Annual Council is held before the end of May.  Otherwise, the possibility of hybrid meetings is being explored to keep numbers to a minimum in the Council chamber.

Cllr Bond left the meeting.

9/21        To consider the following planning applications:

a) 21/0944/FUL Pomeroy House Gittisham EX14 3AJ – Outdoor pool with plant in existing outbuilding and re-grading / landscaping works within the walled garden; localised repairs and reinstatement of section of collapsed garden boundary wall.

Members had no objections to a).

10/21     To receive reports from councillors on areas of responsibility and actions since the last meeting:

  • To note the latest planning decision notices

21/0437/FUL Part of Honiton Showground 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.  Withdrawn.

  • To receive an update on Highways

Cllr Orchard said approximately 10 reflective posts had been installed on Hayne Lane south of the railway bridge to discourage drivers mounting the soft verges.

Forthcoming road closures in Gittisham Parish:

Cllr Orchard reported that no significant works planned, although the road through Alfington will have temporary signals on Thursday 13 May, while Jurassic Fibre conduct works.

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

Cllr Orchard said the manufacturers (Handmade Swings) of the present swing charge £595 (£714 inc VAT) plus £35 £42) carriage for replacement of 2 cradle swing seats including attaching shackles. Total £756.

The only other robust manufacturer he had been able to find is Kompan. They come in two designs: cradle swing seat £260 + VAT (2 for £576 inc VAT), and a baby surround seat £240 (2 for £552 inc VAT) plus carriage.  He said that EDDC had agreed for S106 funds under the following terms: “The PC needs to sign off on the project and minute that this is what they want, are happy to maintain and to enter into a grant agreement to secure it.”

Members resolved by a unanimous vote to replace the current toddler swing seats and chain with one cradle swing seat and one baby surround seat from Kompan with stainless steel chains.  Members also resolved to maintain and enter into a S106 grant agreement with EDDC to secure the items.  Cllr Walker agreed to ask Len Abbott to install the swings, and bill this separately.  The Chair said the current seats and chains should be disposed of responsibly or recycled.

The Chair explained that if the parish council wished to include additional items funded by S106 to the boules pitch, it would be easy to carry out a further consultation.  Members agreed this should be done via the gazette, and any online fora and posters throughout May.  Once GPC has agreed any additions to the project, EDDC will include it with the allocation for funding.

ACTION: Clerk to purchase replacement swing seats and chains from Kompan; Cllr Orchard to contact Sulina Tallack at EDDC to progress entering into a S106 grant agreement.  Chair to write a short item for the gazette, asking residents for any ideas for additional items in the play area that meet S106 criteria.

  • To receive an update on public transport

Cllr Orchard said most of the books were removed from the Vale shelter after the April meeting, and a sign put up asking people not to deposit more than the basket on the bench can hold.  However, since then there have been two significant deposits since including ‘X’ rated DVDs, enough to fill at least three recycling boxes.  Cllr Orchard has removed these, and members offered to help him dispose of any further items.

ACTION: Cllr Orchard to monitor the situation with the Vale bus shelter.

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

Cllr Twist said she had received no further information from either Baker Estates or Sovereign Housing since the last meeting, although she had sent them the documentation requested.

  • To consider climate change measures within the parish

Cllr Twist said the Devon Climate Emergency Council Support Network report contains a link which will take you to the village’s carbon footprint, both by territory and consumption.  There is also the ability to compare against other parishes, councils and nationally:

Gittisham by consumption per household 15.6t CO2e

East Devon by consumption per household 17.2t CO2e

National average consumption per household 13.1t CO2e

The Chair encouraged all members to read the Interim Devon Carbon Plan, or the eight points that are summarised on this link:  She said there is also a document which explains what parish councils can do, and this is an extract “… try to involve as many businesses and households as possible. Many Parishes are rural, so don’t forget your farming community and businesses, they too have major key roles to play in tackling the two emergencies. Community/Council engagement is fundamental in declaring a Climate emergency. “

She also urged councillors and residents to use the World Wildlife Fund’s carbon footprint calculator   This is not so much about comparing our scores, she said, but more about “how can I change my own score” and understanding how our personal choices affect our carbon footprint. 

The Chair added that she is working with licensed lay minister Julia Barrett to look at ‘no-mow May’ for the churchyard and hopefully extending this longer term into a project to have just mown paths in the churchyard, similar to the play area.  Julia Barratt said she would be speaking to the PCC about this, and would request volunteer help from the parish for further rewilding if approved.

In terms of food waste, the Chair said a parishioner volunteers at the Ottery Food larder and if there is excess bread on Saturdays she brings it to the village bus shelter for sharing. Please spread the word. It needs eating and you can just help yourself.

Electric Vehicle Charging Points.

Cllr Twist said she had received no further information on the charging point for the village.

Members discussed the possibility of wild flower planting in the parish, similar to projects in Honiton, as this would potentially encourage pollinators, increase wildlife and bring joy to people walking past. 

ACTION: All to keep eyes open for new climate change initiatives that the PC can support.  Cllr Rowe to contact EDDC’s Street Scene to investigate wild flower planting.  Cllr Walker to ask her oldest granddaughter to write an article for the gazette on the carbon footprint calculator.

Julia Barrett left the meeting.

  • To consider parish council support for scam awareness and security

Cllr Twist said the parish council had received an email from Ashley Jones, the Regional Fraud Protect Adviser, part of the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SWROCU). The post is being funded by the Home Office. The role is improving awareness and promoting preventative measures, as 80 per cent of fraud is preventable.  There is the offer of a fraud safety presentation, to groups, lasting 35-45 minutes including a question and answer session. There is also a narrated film presentation available via YouTube, , which the Parish Council are asked to promote, along with the Little Book of Scams which we are asked to share. The publication is 60 pages and contains the 17 most used scams, alongside information on reporting and avoid falling victim to scams.

ACTION: Clerk to upload Little Book of Scams to parish website.  All to promote film presentation on scams.

  • To consider limited residential development in the parish

Cllr Valentine said following the Pre App response from EDDC the project team has been looking at addressing the issues that were raised in the response. This required liaising with the consulting engineers, DCC Highways, the HA and the architects. A detailed response is in preparation and will be issued later this week. Some minor adjustments have been made to the site layout and work is now progressing with detailed design work. It is proposed that a public exhibition of the proposed development be put on display for comment in the Village Hall on Friday 11th June between 3.00pm and 8.00pm.  The Chair said she was delighted at this progress, and members offered to assist at the consultation event if necessary.

  • To consider the parish emergency plan

Members resolved to adopt the parish emergency plan.  Cllr Walker reported that Len Abbott was happy to be included as a snow warden.

ACTION: Cllr Rowe to upload the completed plan to the parish website. 

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

Members thanked Cllr Orchard for his work investigating replacement swings. Cllr Walker agreed to speak to Len Abbott regarding any outstanding items in the annual play area inspection report. 

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


11/21     To receive a report from the Chair

The Chair said there had been no progress on defining which paths are ones that off road vehicles can use. She said she had been corresponding with Combe Estate, and had sent DCC a map showing that there’s no route across the top of Westgate Common. There’s no connection for vehicles between Alfington Summer Lane and the tarmacked road on the top of Westgate Common as far as maps show. But no word from DCC rights of way yet.  The problem of destructive use and litter continues.

Fly tipping

The Chair said she would encourage any parishioners noticing fly tipping to report it using the EDDC app. They do respond quickly.

ACTION: Clerk to contact DCC Rights of Way for clarification on bridleways and unmetalled roads / green lanes at Westgate hill; also for update on Ramblers’ appeal. 

12/21 To consider public access within the parish

The Chair said there is widespread and ongoing concern about the interaction between walkers, cyclists, traffic and cattle.  She said she had witnessed a car crash outside her house where the car pulling out did not stop or even look left. Thank goodness they hit another car coming down the hill, she said, and not a bike or child. And that was on the same day as she noticed the tractor driver coming down the hill was texting whilst driving.

Members discussed disappointment among some parishioners over increasing restrictions on exercising dogs off the lead.  It was agreed that access to private land was not a matter for the parish council, and the Chair said she would ask Combe Estate if they wished to write a short piece for the gazette explaining the situation.

13/21 To consider and adopt the parish council’s standing orders

Members resolved to adopt the parish council’s standing orders, replacing the supplementary standing orders which expire on 7th May 2021.

14/21     To approve the May payments and to note the current bank balance

It was resolved to approve the following payments:

1098       F J Clampin                          £226.56                 Clerk’s salary & expenses

1099       Michael Poll                          £60         Grass cutting, play area (inv. ref. 10072)

1100       Michael Poll                          £60         Grass cutting, play area (inv. ref. 10073)

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

Members were informed that the current bank balance of £19,307.66 (which includes the £7,000 in the business reserve account). 

15/21     Clerk’s Report


16/21     For information only; items for the forward agenda

Annual accounts and governance statement; printer / copier for Gittisham gazette. 

17/21     To consider any late entry correspondence

Cllr Twist asked if there had been any update from Baker Estates regarding additional dog waste bins; she said they filled up quickly on the Hayne Farm estate, and this could increase once the new play area is installed.  The clerk said she had not received a reply.

ACTION: Clerk to follow up dog poo bin situation with Graham Hutton.

18/21     Date of next two meetings  

Wednesday 2nd June and Wednesday 7th July (village hall) 2021 at 7.30pm via Zoom.  The Chair asked all to observe social distancing and bring along a mask and hand sanitiser.

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


2nd June 2021