Parish Council meeting minutes 4 August 2021

Gittisham Parish Council

Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting held on 4th August 2021 in Gittisham Village Hall

Present:

  • Gittisham Village ward
  • Cllr Carol Hall (Chair)
  • Cllr Maggie Walker
  • Cllr Alex Rowe
  • Gittisham Vale ward
  • Cllr Peter Orchard
  • Cllr Janet Twist

In attendance: Cllr Alasdair Bruce (EDDC),Fiona Clampin (clerk)

Apologies for absence: Cllr D Valentine, Cllr Phil Twiss (DCC), Cllr Jake Bonetta (EDDC), PCSO Darren England

55/21     To accept and approve apologies

Apologies were received and accepted.

56/21     To confirm the minutes of the meeting held 7th July 2021

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

57/21     To receive the Beat Manager’s Report

Two crimes were reported in June 2021:

  • 1 x violent crime
  • 1 x other theft

ACTION: Clerk to invite PCSO Darren England again to a future parish council meeting.

58/21     To receive declarations of interest

Cllr Orchard declared an interest in item 66/21, as he is due to be reimbursed by the council.

59/21     To consider actions from the last meeting not otherwise on the agenda

The clerk reported that Baker Estates had not yet responded regarding the dog poo bins, as Graham Hutton is on holiday.  

The clerk reported that it’s now possible to publish the accessibility statement for the parish website.

60/21     To receive reports from County Council and District Council representatives

Cllr Twiss did not send a report this month, due to annual leave.

In his absence, Cllr Jake Bonetta (Honiton St Michael’s) sent the following: I would like to express a massive thank you to the community of the Gittisham Vale ward for entrusting me with the office of District Councillor. I am humbled to be able to represent you at District Council level, sharing this responsibility with my role as a Honiton Town Councillor. There is so much work to do to make Honiton an even better place to live – and the work starts right away.

At the last EDDC Full Council meeting on Tuesday 27th July, I was also appointed as the Assistant Portfolio Holder for Culture, Leisure, Tourism and Sport by the Leader of the Council. I am excited to bring my all to this role, in developing our open spaces and youth infrastructure for the next generation to enjoy. This does not retract from my overall focus, which is to ensure that everyone across Honiton St. Michael’s ward is represented equally, fairly, and wholly.

Recycling issues

I have received a number of complaints from residents in Honiton St. Michael’s about missed recycling collections over the past couple of weeks/month. After consultation with strategic officers and other Councillors, I have discovered that this is linked to the wider problems seen across the transport and seasonal sectors, in lack of staff available due to the Coronavirus lockdowns as well as new Brexit restrictions. The StreetScene department, along with almost every identical Council department across the UK, is struggling to keep to recycling schedules.  I have been assured that any missed recycling collections will be picked up within a couple of days of the scheduled collections. The StreetScene department are working overtime to ensure that this happens, and that late collection routes are prioritized for timely collections the next week.

Jurassic Fibre

A number of Vale residents have contacted me about recent works that have taken place by Jurassic Fibre within the Vale area. This work is to install fibre-optic internet access for homes in the area, on the Jurassic Fibre network. I have been personally shocked at the state that pavements have been left in.  Although this is not specifically an EDDC issue, I want to highlight that I have been talking to officers at EDDC about this issue to see if there is anything that the District Council can do. Hopefully we will be able to come to a reasonable conclusion to sort the pavements out.

Members welcomed the other new district councillor, Alasdair Bruce.  He began by saying that he considered himself a district councillor first, a Conservative second, and he hoped to be able to follow in the footsteps of the excellent work done by former Cllr Susie Bond.  He explained that since being elected, he had attended two council meetings via Zoom, not in his opinion a satisfactory way to hold these meetings, especially as we are now all holding parish meetings face to face. However, the controlling group at District has managed to vote through this retrograde step which looks like being in place until January next year, he said.

The one item during the full council meeting on July 27th of interest was an embryonic policy proposed by Cllr Bailey to try and beef up the council’s response to abuse of the planning process when it comes to the felling of trees, often during the pre-planning process. Laudable as this is to try and close this glaring loophole, it needs careful and informed debate to produce a fully supported, fully funded and sustainable policy. Cllr Bruce said he had raised the issue of Ash dieback, which often requires a rapid response due to public safety issues and cannot wait for planning approval as an example. This would also apply to farmers trying to manage trees on their land and forestry businesses.

Related to the above was the issue of planning enforcement raised at the Scrutiny meeting on July 29th. During the debate it was clear that the frustration of members dealing with planning abuses was unable to be effectively tackled by the council’s enforcement team. A perfect storm of shortfalls in funding, lack of officers and poor legislation find the officers struggling to keep on top. Given the constant pressure on councils to increase their housing stock, the appropriate checks and balances need to be in place to produce safe housing of the best quality. Planning enforcement is a vital part of this.

Staff morale at the council was also debated with a frank report by the chief executive officer presented and comments made about the apology offered by the controlling group, the East Devon Alliance. Cllr Bruce said he was not privy to what transpired over the last two years to bring the council to this sad situation, nor had he any wish to know. The debate ended with a clear sense that all members agreed staff morale was key to a properly functioning council and are committed to a respectful and professional work environment.

Members discussed with Cllr Bruce the parish ward boundaries, as well as hedge cutting in Gittisham Vale.  (see minute ref 63/21 b)

61/21     To consider the rollout of superfast broadband, and a presentation by Airband

Lynda Sudlow from Airband gave a presentation via Zoom to members, explaining the company’s plans to bring superfast broadband to Gittisham parish.  She said the work would happen in several phases, beginning in August, with the build planned for early 2022 and completion later in that same year, although the section past Beech Walk will take longer.  All representatives working in the area will have identity cards.  She insisted that there would be no need to dig up roads or erect telegraph poles, as the plan was to attach the fibre cable to the existing copper network.

The service provided is fibre to the premises, and there are a range of packages offered starting from £30 / month for 100Mbps download, an 18-month contract and installation cost of £99.  Lynda Sudlow said that residents could express an interest on the Airband website, and this would not commit them to taking the service. She explained that the router could be placed anywhere in the property, and there would be no issue with connectivity and thick walls. The Chair reminded Lynda Sudlow that most properties in the village were listed buildings.

Members discussed previous problems unique to this parish which had been experienced by other broadband infrastructure providers, and had prevented the roll-out of superfast broadband in the past.  Lynda Sudlow said she would be interested to hear more about this to avoid running into similar problems.  She also emphasized that as Airband is contracted by the government to provide superfast broadband to underserved rural communities, some of the past issues would not apply.  Members agreed this was encouraging news.  Cllr Rowe asked if Airband’s infrastructure would be available to other providers in the future, and Lynda Sudlow replied that the company would be able to offer a wholesale service to other ISPs in future phases.

ACTION: Clerk to circulate Lynda Sudlow’s email address to members.

Lynda Sudlow left the meeting.

62/21     To consider the following planning applications:

a)            21/1165/FUL Bakery Cottage Gittisham EX14 3AF Single storey rear extension and internal alterations. Creation of courtyard and parking bay with EV charging point and erection of maximum 1.8m wall/fence. Alteration of workshop/store to form garden room. (amended plans)

b)            21/1166/LBC Bakery Cottage Gittisham EX14 3AF Single storey rear extension and internal alterations. Creation of courtyard and parking bay with EV charging point and erection of maximum 1.8m wall/fence. Alteration of workshop/store to form garden room (amended plans)

c)             21/1756/FUL Land Adjoining Combe Garden Centre Gittisham Erection of a storage building on land adjacent to Coombe Garden Centre for the storage of stock

Members welcomed the presence of an updated detailed flood risk assessment for a) and b).  Members had no objections to c), but raised a concern over whether there is adequate onsite storage of surface water to prevent any additional run-off onto the A30. 

Cllr Bruce left the meeting.

63/21     To receive reports from councillors on areas of responsibility and actions since the last meeting:

a) To note the latest planning decision notices

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. Approval with conditions.

21/0945/FUL Pomeroy House Gittisham EX14 3AJ – Localised repairs and reinstatement of section of collapsed garden boundary wall. Approval with conditions.

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.  Approval with conditions.

21/1354/VAR Coign Cottage Gittisham EX14 3AB Variation of condition No. 2 (Approved plans) and condition No. 3 (Materials) of planning permission ref: 20/0584/FUL to allow for a change of materials used and alterations to the proposed plans.  Approval with conditions.

21/1295/FUL 1 Hamlet Cottages Weston EX14 3PB Demolition of existing workshop to be replaced with a new self-build dwelling.  Approval with conditions.

b) To receive an update on Highways

Cllr Orchard said there was no progress on the overgrown hedges on the south side of Old Elm Rd between Honeysuckle Close and the bus turning circle. Cllr Walker said some of the hedge had been cut, and members resolved to ask the lengthsman to strim enough of the hedge at head height so access was possible. 

ACTION: Cllr Walker to ask Len Abbott to trim above-mentioned hedges in the Vale as described.

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

Cllr Orchard circulated a draft spec to members for the play area’s new items, in line with May’s public consultation exercise, which was approved. ‌ The spec includes a table tennis facility, outdoor skittles alley and boules court.   

ACTION: Cllr Orchard to obtain quotations from interested companies.

d) To receive an update on public transport

Members heard the replacement bus for King’s School pupils in September would call at the village at 08.15 and 15.44.  Cllr Orchard said the deposit of books in the Vale bus shelter had stopped.

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

Cllr Twist said she was waiting to hear from the Community Heart Beat Trust as to how long the lead-in time is from ordering the defibrillator to installation.  The expected go live date is November 2021.  Members resolved to approve the purchase of a defibrillator for the Hayne Farm development at a cost of £1,760 + £25 carriage.  The annual support package is £135, with a minimum 4-year contract. 

ACTION: Cllr Twist to obtain a letter of commitment from Baker Estates.

f) To consider climate change measures within the parish

Cllr Twist said that homeowners and renters across East Devon can now get free advice on how to save money and make their homes energy efficient. Exeter Community Energy (ECoE) provides confidential and tailor made advice and practical information on keeping your home warm. They do not make cold calls or sell products.  The energy advisers will give you general advice, in depth telephone advice assessments, make home visits, drop in energy advice clinics, they will help with, tariff checks and supplier switching, applying for the Warm Home discount, energy and water saving tips and advice, grants for insulation and heating smart meters and more.  To arrange a free impartial advice call or home visit call 0800 772 3617 or mailto:healthyhomes@ecoe.org.uk

New regulations came into force in May 2021 for those who have wood burners or open fires, coal and wood products have to be certified and labelled by suppliers, for more information go to gov.uk/restrictions on sale of coal and wet wood for home burning.

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

Cllr Twist outlined the latest scams:

Home electric vehicle charging points can be hacked. Two home chargers Wallbox and Project EV have been found to be lacking adequate security when used with an accompanying app for smart phones.  Updated software is now available and owners are being encouraged to update their software ASAP.

h) To consider limited residential development in the parish

Cllr Valentine sent a report in his absence: the public exhibition was extremely well attended with 42 visitors viewing the plans and model that were on display. The majority of comments received (both verbal and written) were very supportive of the proposals that were being presented. There were some very useful comments which were noted and the architects have been looking at how these can usefully be incorporated in the plans for submission with the planning application. A lot of work has also taken place looking at the options for ensuring an energy efficient development.

We must always remember that there has to be a balance to be found with the cost limitations arising from the grant funding and meeting every ones expectations in respect of design etc.  Alan at South Devon Rural HA is currently costing up the proposal and assessing whether we can achieve those expectations within budget. There is a delay with the option agreement between ourselves Gittisham and the Estate. I would simply say “solicitors” and I am sure you will all understand where the delay is occurring. Unfortunately this is a document that we have to include as part of the package of documents to accompany the planning application.

We are nearly ready to submit the planning application (hooray) and perhaps we can celebrate a successful submission in October – just in time for the GCLT AGM!!

i) To consider the parish emergency plan

The Chair said she was in the process of asking the flood marshalls’ views on pinch points in the parish.  Cllr Rowe volunteered his services for observing where issues might arise.   

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

Cllr Walker said the play area was being well used, as were the sanitary measures.  The Village Hall committee has agreed to the picnic benches in their front garden being used by the public for picnics and will install a notice at the playground to advise that this is available.  Cllr Orchard said he expected the replacement swing seats and chains to arrive on 8th October.  He, Len Abbott and Cllr Rowe will install them.  Cllr Twist added that there appeared to be no progress on the Hayne Farm play area. 

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

As per item 63 b).

64/21     To receive a report from the Chair

The Chair said she had been contacted by parishioners about three matters in the past month.

1. Councillor vacancy – how can we fill the Vale rep vacancy? Can we do a re-run of our recruitment campaign?  Members agreed to renew their efforts to fill the vacancy; the clerk and Cllr Orchard said they had re-advertised the position on the website and Vale noticeboard.

2. Litter – Hayne Lane and Beech walk and the Vale bus shelter have litter problems, according to local Facebook groups. Is there anything we can do?

3. Hedge and verge cutting. Members discussed whether the right balance was being struck between leaving areas to go wild and making sure the practicalities of using paths and roads are not adversely impacted.  Cllr Rowe said he would be meeting James Chubb from Wild East Devon to discuss projects of this nature.

65/21 To consider traffic speeds in Gittisham village

Members agreed that Hayne Lane and Beech Walk were becoming terrible rat runs for motorists.  Hayne Lane in particular is difficult to walk, the state of the road is poor and there is a large amount of litter.  Members agreed to ask Cllr Twiss if a traffic count survey could be carried out.  A suggestion has been made that Hayne Lane could be made “Farm Traffic Only” and this will be investigated via DCC.

The Chair said the 20 is Plenty stickers had been fixed to bins and other structures in Gittisham village. Cllr Rowe suggested attaching one to one of the grit bins. 

ACTION: Chair to contact Cllr Twiss about Hayne Lane (speed and litter), Beech Walk (litter) and village (speed).

66/21     To approve the August payments and to note the current bank balance

It was resolved to approve the following payments:

1115       F J Clampin                          £436.51                 Clerk’s salary & expenses (stamps)

1116       Michael Poll                          £60         Grass cutting, play area (inv. ref. 10098)

Cllr Orchard left the meeting.

1117       P Orchard                              £666       Reimbursement for replacement swing seats & chains

Cllr Orchard returned to the meeting.

1118       Gittisham Parish Hall          £10         Hire for July meeting

1119       Len Abbott                           £119       Lengthsman work, 8.5 hours, July 2021

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

Members were informed that the current bank balance stands at £17,062.85 (which includes approximately £7,000 in the business reserve account).  The clerk circulated a bank reconciliation for 30 June 2021.

67/21     Clerk’s Report

The clerk said she had contacted DCC’s RoW officer for the area regarding the Westgate signage, and the officer said she would take a look.  The clerk added that following Fiona Moores’ promotion, there is a new general manager at The Pig, Chris Charles.

68/21     For information only; items for the forward agenda

Traffic speeds in Gittisham village inc Hayne Lane; casual vacancy.

69/21     To consider any late entry correspondence

None.

70/21     Date of next two meetings.  

Tuesday 7th September (village hall) and Wednesday 6th October 2021 at 7.30pm.  The Chair asked all to observe social distancing and bring along a mask and hand sanitiser.

ACTION: Clerk to ask Cllrs Bruce & Twiss if there are forthcoming dates they are unable to make, given that the village hall will no longer be free on a Wednesday evening.

There being no further business, the meeting closed at 2110 hrs.

Chair…………………………………….

7th September 2021