2022-09 Parish Council meeting minutes 1st September 2022

Held in Gittisham Parish Room


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

Vale ward: Cllr J Twist (Vice Chair), Cllr P Orchard, Cllr J Fowles

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

Apologies for absence: Cllr Jake Bonetta (EDDC), PCSO Darren England

63/22        To accept and approve apologies

Apologies were received and accepted.

64/22        To confirm the minutes of the meetings held on 5th July & 16th August 2022

The minutes of the meeting held on 5th July 2022 and the extraordinary meeting held on 16th August 2022 were confirmed and signed by the Chair. 

65/22        To receive the Beat Manager’s Report

May 2022: 1 x anti-social behaviour, Laburnum Close

2 x violence & sexual offences, Cypress Close

1 x anti-social behaviour, Parsonage Lane

1 x violence & sexual offences, Parsonage Lane

June 2022: no crimes

66/22        To receive declarations of interest


67/22        To consider actions from the last meeting not otherwise on the agenda

Cllr Valentine expressed his frustration over the process of drafting EDDC’s Local Plan; Cllr Bruce said he had raised this with the committee chair at EDDC.  Cllr Valentine added that he is collating members’ comments about the Hayne Lane masterplan. 

Cllr Rowe, Walker and Fowles volunteered to represent the parish council at any forthcoming village fete committee.

Cllr Orchard noted that the solar lights in the bus shelters had been installed and were now working.  The Chair thanked Cllr Rowe for this work.

68/22        Reports from County Council and District Council representatives

DCC finances update

Cllr Twiss said Devon County Council is facing a very challenging financial situation, forecast to overspend about £30 million and rising costs and inflation could add a further £15 million. We are not alone in this; many other councils are facing a similar situation.  Increasing needs and demand for services will continue into next year (2023/24) and beyond, so we need to focus on both short-term opportunities to generate savings and longer-term transformation to ensure we create a sustainable future and deliver our strategic vision and priorities.

DCC is committed to working collectively across the whole council, said Cllr Twiss. As part of this response, a Financial Sustainability Programme has been developed and brought together a group of leaders to take forward this work over the summer and in to September.  Over the last three weeks about £26 million of one-off and ongoing savings have been identified and we are continuing to look at other opportunities including identifying areas for creating efficiency, understanding and responding to demand differently, reducing our property estate and the cost of buildings, reducing expenditure on contracts, and increasing income generation. Part of this is temporarily to suspend members’ Locality Budgets, until the complete picture is known (other than those where applications have already been submitted) at the end of September.  Many opportunities are also being identified to change the way DCC does things and work together to ensure better value and outcomes for people in the longer term.

The team doing this work has come together at short notice, and committed time and resources to respond to this challenge. This has been hugely valuable, said Cllr Twiss, not just in terms of identifying additional savings but also developing relationships and understanding of the whole council’s business, which will stand us in excellent stead for identifying further transformation opportunities, where many new ways of working were put in to practice at short notice during the darkest days of the pandemic.

New anonymous digital mental health support service launched across Devon

A new free and confidential digital mental health and wellbeing service for adults is now available across Devon, Plymouth and Torbay.  NHS Devon, working in partnership with Devon, Plymouth and Torbay Councils, has commissioned Qwell to ensure all adults in Devon have access to a choice of support to manage their own emotional health and wellbeing. It offers a safe online space for adults to access therapeutic activities and content including a peer support community. This includes self-help articles, forums, and discussion boards that are moderated by qualified practitioners. Users can also keep an online journal and monitor their wellbeing through an interactive goal tracker.  There’s also a one-on-one live text chat and messaging counselling service with a team of qualified practitioners. Appointments can be booked in advance or accessed through a drop-in text-based chat which runs from midday to 10pm on weekdays, and from 6pm to 10pm at the weekend.  Anyone over the age of 18 years old living in Devon, Plymouth and Torbay can access support from Qwell at https://www.qwell.io/ without a referral from a health professional and there is no criteria to qualify for support.

Bird ‘flu

Bird flu, or avian influenza to give it its correct name, is primarily a disease of birds and we are aware of some cases currently in Devon, Cllr Twiss reported.  The risk to public health is very low as it is not an airborne disease. However, it is really important that you do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you see while out and about and, if you have a dog, make sure they stay clear too.  If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.  Bird flu is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect any type of avian influenza in poultry or captive birds, you must report it by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301.  From 31st August Devon, Cornwall and parts of Somerset have now been declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) by the UK’s Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer, where it is hoped that this will mitigate further outbreaks of the disease.  Bird keepers will have to follow strict biosecurity measures to protect their flocks, regardless of size, in Devon and other southwest counties. This includes ‘backyard owners’ with small numbers of poultry such as chickens, ducks and geese who must follow steps to prevent bird flu from spreading further.

The AIPZ means bird keepers across the south-west region of England must:

  • Cleanse and disinfect clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles before and after contact with poultry and captive birds – if practical, use disposable protective clothing
  • reduce the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry and captive birds are kept, to minimise contamination from manure, slurry and other products, and use effective vermin control
  • thoroughly cleanse and disinfect housing on a continuous basis
  • keep fresh disinfectant at the right concentration at all farm and poultry housing entry and exit points
  • minimise direct and indirect contact between poultry and captive birds and wild birds, including making sure all feed and water is not accessible to wild birds
  • prevent access by poultry to ponds and watercourses and ensure that birds are kept in fenced or enclosed areas

Full guidance can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu#public  

Driving down carbon emissions on Devon’s highways

DCC’s ambition to be carbon neutral by 2030 is ahead of schedule, as we announce our next phase in cutting carbon from Devon’s roads maintenance, said Cllr Twiss.  Phase one, announced last year, saw us become one of the first councils in the country to develop a carbon calculator, a clever way of identifying the carbon emissions produced in every step of highway maintenance.  From the materials used, the labour involved, the distance and the type of transport used to get the materials and engineers to site, the longevity of the materials used and how long the repairs will last – that’s some of the data, crunched by the carbon calculator that identifies the carbon emissions for that specific highway project.

Knowing all this in advance and planning it in at the early design stage of a job – building a new road or structure, say, or repairs to an existing road – puts us in the best position to cut the anticipated amount of carbon generated by the project.  It’s already led to innovative changes in the way DCC and its contractors carry out highway repairs in Devon, using different materials and techniques, and recycling and re-using material as close to site as possible, for example, with significant reductions in carbon emissions.  So, if phase one is about eliminating carbon emissions at the design stage, phase two, which is being introduced in the next few weeks, is about tracking the actual carbon emitted at construction or repair stage.  Contractors have worked with us on designing this next phase, which will ask them to share their live data on completed projects.

Example of how this works with a stretch of road that requires re-surfacing: we want contractors to report back on the quantity of work they have carried out; the materials they’ve used, e.g. asphalt type – the amount of that material, how it got to site, what kind of fuel was used to get it to site, how far it’s travelled, the equipment needed on site, the fuel it uses and where it’s come from; the waste created and what happens to that waste etc. The detail helps to build a carbon profile that tells us and the contractor what the carbon emissions for that project have been.  Experts at the University of Exeter are working with DCC, and they’ve developed an algorithm to crunch the data and create a dashboard to visualise it in a consistent way for all highways projects.

Cllr Orchard asked about the Old Elm Road balancing pond.  Cllr Twiss reassured members that work to clear the pond has been booked with DCC contractors, but he could not confirm the start date.

Cllr Rowe asked about the filling in of yellow lines along Devonshire Road.

ACTION: Cllr Twiss to check situation with Cllr Hughes, the portfolio holder.

Cllr Bruce said he hoped that the engineers have finished the repair works on the Church Mead bridge, and that the council have been able to clarify where responsibilities lie with regard to this and future repairs. Cllr Walker thanked him for this. He reported he had sent in supporting comments for the Stansells’ planning appeal hearing which has been delayed.  Cllr Bruce said he wasn’t sure how the parish felt about the Kings Arms Farm application; he has provisionally voiced his support for it, but said he would obviously take on board any comments from members.

Around the district.

Cllr Bruce reported that EDDC is proposing changes to bylaws covering dogs off leads and a rewording of dog exclusion zones on our beaches.  He has raised grave concerns regarding the removal of dogs on leads in our lanes, roads and certain open spaces. The council feels that any issues can be covered by enforcement action under other laws and the police. Cllr Bruce said he had highlighted the increase in dog attacks on livestock and increased evidence of dog fouling on some sections of our popular beaches.  He felt this is a retrograde step and seems to be a cost cutting exercise rather than a sensible re-alignment of current enforcement.  He encouraged people across the parish to feed in any comments concerning the above if they feel they need to.

Sadly, EDDC council meetings remain on Zoom, said Cllr Bruce, making it possibly the only district council to retain this option. The knock-on effect of inhibited officer access remains a real issue in the discharging of his council duties. He has continued to raise this with the EDDC Chair to get this looked at again, but to no avail so far.

Cllr Bruce said he was pleased to report that EDDC are going to pioneer a new method of sea defence in the coming months. Instead of using steel to reinforce concrete defences, the engineers will be using basalt instead, thereby offering a far more sustainable form of defence work for our sections of coast prone to erosion that need defending.

And finally…… for those who like their fish, Gilthead Bream have been around for some time from our fishmongers, and are mostly farmed fish from the Mediterranean. However, this fish has recently been extending its northern range into many of our estuaries and coastal waters, often staying longer with each passing year. This is perhaps one of the tastiest fish of the bream family and well worth trying, especially if caught locally. Maybe a small silver lining to climate change?

Cllrs Twiss and Bruce left the meeting.

69/22     To receive reports from councillors on areas of responsibility and actions since the last meeting:

  • To note the latest planning decision notices


  • To receive an update on Highways

26 September – 21 October Hayne Lane closed for construction of new retaining wall; a diversion will be in place via Devonshire Road, Sidmouth Road and Beech Walk.  (Revised dates.)

21 November Jurassic Fibre will be carrying out telecom works for two days on Hayne Lane.  Closure north of old A30 junction to Weston 1900–0700 nightly.

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

None.  The Chair said it was essential to review the play area items in the coming months to see if the proposals are fit for purpose.

  • To receive an update on public transport

19– 23 September railway line closure between Axminster and Pinhoe; a bus replacement service will be in operation between Axminster and Exeter St David’s.  Cllr Orchard added that there are proposals to introduce a nationwide capped bus fare.

  • To consider climate change measures within the parish

Cllr Rowe said EDDC would be holding a public event to demonstrate details of a preliminary plan to rewild part of the land along Old Elm Road, from 2-4pm on 13th September. 

ACTION: Cllr Twist to follow up her enquiries about EV charging points.

  • To consider parish council support for scam awareness and security

Cllr Twist said scammers are currently using the hike in energy prices as a way to defraud people, sending out letters asking people to call a Freephone number for help. 

  • To consider limited residential development in the parish

Cllr Valentine reported that there had been no progress.

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

Cllr Walker reported that the village play area was looking tidy, following her inspection.  Members welcomed the repairs to the fence. 

ACTION: Cllr Walker to empty play area bin and speak to Len Abbott about addressing the items in the play area inspection report.  Clerk to follow up enquiry about moving a bin to Hayne Farm with EDDC, and to contact Baker Estates about requesting a post box.

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

Cllr Walker said the lengthsman was prepared for any potential damage following the storms forecast.  Cllr Valentine reported that he had spoken to Len Abbott regarding the Dark Lane resurfacing, which has changed the profile of the lane. 

ACTION: Cllr Rowe to investigate funding with highway maintenance community enhancement fund. 

70/22     To receive a report from the Chair

The Chair said she would be completing a grant application to ask for support for the community kitchen, which has got off to a flying start.  Cllr Fowles agreed to take on responsibility for the parish council’s proposal to request a permissive path between Goldcombe and Hayne Farm.

ACTION: Clerk to provide figures for community kitchen application.

71/22     To approve the September payments and to note the current bank balance

Members resolved to approve the following payments:

1189      F Clampin            £228.74 Clerk’s salary

1190      Michael Poll        £65        Grass cutting, inv. ref. 10161

1191      Len Abbott          £224.75 Lengthsman work, 15½ hrs July 2022 @£14.50 / hr        

1192      Len Abbott          £11.54   Lengthsman expenses July, petrol    

1193      Len Abbott          £43.50   Lengthsman work, 3hrs August 2022 @£14.50 / hr          

1194      Len Abbott          £9.56     Lengthsman expenses, petrol            

DD         NEST                   £22.86   Clerk’s pension  

Members were informed that the current bank balance stands at £24,542.03 (which includes approximately £7,000 in the business reserve account).  The clerk said the second half of the annual precept had been received.

72/22     To update the parish council’s banking policy and the existing bank mandate

The clerk said the process to change the banking mandate online had run aground due to technical problems, and it would be necessary to print out the mandate and fill it in by hand.  Nat West was unable to print the mandate.

ACTION: Clerk to ask Cllr Twist or Orchard to print.

73/22     To review the items highlighted in the annual internal audit report, 2021-22

Members discussed the items, and the clerk agreed to carry out the following actions:

AGAR – clerk to examine auditor’s official template for accessibility, and also for displaying year end totals.

Bespoke council email addresses – clerk to investigate how to secure a .gov email address / ask Clare Bryden.  

No official reserved funds listing – members to review funding allocations over the next few months

Insurance cover for the lengthsman is unusual.  No action to take, but check Michael Poll’s insurance. 

Asset register total – clerk to complete. 

74/22     Clerk’s Report

ACTION: Clerk to investigate whether any work is likely to be carried out on the barrier by Riverside Cottages.

75/22     For information only; items for the forward agenda

Internal audit report 2021-22; decorating bus shelters

76/22     To consider any late entry correspondence

The clerk said she would enquire as to whether the parish council could return to the parish room for meetings.

77/22     Date of next two meetings  

6th October and 3rd November 2022. 

There being no further business, the meeting closed at 2045 hrs.


6th October 2022