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
In attendance: Cllr Phil Twiss (DCC), Cllr Alasdair Bruce (EDDC), Fiona Clampin (clerk)
Apologies for absence: Cllr J Fowles, PCSO Darren England
95/22 To accept and approve apologies
Apologies were received and accepted.
96/22 To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 6th October 2022
The minutes of the meeting held on 6th October 2022 were confirmed and signed by the Chair.
97/22 To receive the Beat Manager’s Report
Sept 2022: 1 x violence & sexual offences, Parsonage Lane
August 2022: 1 x violence & sexual offences, Nags Head Road
98/22 To receive declarations of interest
Cllrs Twist and Walker declared an interest in agenda item 15, as they are members of Gittisham PCC (minute ref. 109/22).
99/22 To consider actions from the last meeting not otherwise on the agenda
The clerk said she had provided Royal Mail with the details for potentially moving a postbox to Hayne Farm, but she would need to chase this up in the absence of a response. The clerk reported that the amended bank mandate had been sent off.
The Chair said the crab apple tree destined for the play area was due to be planted on 15th November, but this had to be postponed due to adverse weather conditions. Cllr Walker reported she had received an email from an EDDC engineer, informing her that a section of the river Gitt would be dredged in April 2023. The material would usually be placed on the river bank to allow displaced wildlife to return to the river, but in this case the material would have to be removed directly from site and not stored on the bank of the river due to its location. Also, the timing of the works means that spawning reptiles or fish are less likely to be disturbed, and the impact to the existing ecosystem is reduced.
Cllr Valentine said that he and the Chair had attended a webinar on EDDC’s emerging Local Plan on 20th October, and this had raised a number of important concerns. These are the appearance of “second choice sites” which includes land in Gittisham parish, as well as a lack of analysis of what the pressure on infrastructure would be of any new development. There followed a long discussion about the process of drawing up the Local Plan, and what members, county and district councillors perceived to be multiple flaws in the document. Regarding the proposed land allocations, members agreed they could support development of the land described as Gitti 06, which equates to Baker Estates’ current outline application for 31 homes next to Hayne Farm. But they could not support Gitti 05, a proposal of 100 homes west of Hayne Lane which Combe Estate describes as “available”, and resolved to leaflet residents to inform them of the public consultation on the plan which runs until 15th January. The Chair added that a Vale resident is circulating a petition to protest a proposal to extend housing south of Honeysuckle Drive. This is the old Gleeson proposal from 2015.
ACTION: Cllr Valentine to draft a text to accompany EDDC’s Local Plan consultation poster and map, and Cllr Orchard to arrange 500 printed copies for distribution. Cllr Valentine to prepare a response that can be presented at a drop-in event in connection with the local plan. To be approved at January’s meeting.
ACTION: Clerk to contact Riverside property owner re dredging.
100/22 Reports from County Council and District Council representatives
Growing Communities Fund
The DCC Growing Communities Fund (GCF) is making a real difference, said Cllr Twiss, giving a helping hand to local communities during the cost-of-living crisis. So far £250,000 has been awarded to local projects across the county, many of which are helping communities cope with the sharp increase in food prices and heating bills. DCC has committed a further £200,000 and is inviting applications for projects that support communities and help them to become more resilient. This is in response to the fastest rise in the cost of living for 40 years; the cost of food increased by 14.6 per cent in the year to September, reaching its highest level since 1980. Projects supported include those that offer local people a warm safe haven, produce food, distribute surplus food and essentials, food banks and classes showing communities how to cook nutritious meals on a budget. See https://www.devon.gov.uk/communities/growing-communities-fund for further information.
Free holiday activities with hot meals now available for children during the Christmas 2022 holidays
School holidays can be particularly difficult for some families because of increased costs, such as food, especially now, when costs of living are so high, and rising. DCC has arranged a programme of funded holiday-time activities, with hot meals, to run for up to four days over the Christmas 2022 school holiday.
To see the full programme of available activities, and to book a place through DCC’s providers at https://www.devon.gov.uk/educationandfamilies/document/haf providers-christmas-2022/#introduction where there are number of options available in Honiton, Axminster, Sidmouth and Seaton.
Digital support for small businesses
New online support is now available to help small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) to be more savvy with their digital skills. As part of the Digital Enablement for SMEs (DESME) project, DCC is delivering in partnership with YTKO and Cosmic, an online self-assessment tool, called the Digital Maturity Index, has been launched, see https://digital.benchmarkindex.net/auth/sign up. It has been devised to enable businesses to gain an understanding of their digital strengths and weaknesses. It also offers insights into digital tools that may help their business develop and grow. This self-assessment tool is designed to be completed by business managers on behalf of their business. Once they have completed this assessment and downloaded their report, they will have targeted information that can guide them to access funded digital training courses and resources or further advice from one of the project’s expert digital advisors.
The DESME project, which is funded by the European Social Fund (ESF), offers bespoke training to enable businesses to make the most of readily available digital tools. The aim is to improve the management of their business, increase efficiency and help them to grow their reach. The project also offers the Digital Course Finder, an extensive online database of digital skills training courses delivered by training providers across the county, as well as online digital skills courses. See https://digitalcoursefinder.org.uk/ for details of 202 courses! This website is the first of its kind in Devon and is aimed at adults of all ages who are looking to learn new skills, as well as businesses looking for Digital Skills training for their employees. Users can search for digital courses based on a variety of factors such as subject, location, course length or format. Training providers can create their own accounts which will enable them to add courses and events as well as maintain and update their courses.
DCC members in the eastern part of Devon will receive a monthly ‘trends’ update for the area and the first below from 8th of November is interesting, if not specific, where the news that surgeries are back a positive step in the right direction, towards the reopening of the front desk at Honiton Police station.
Over the last 28 days for the Rural East Devon Sector, we have seen very steady crime statistics. Most crime offences across the sector are about where they are for the same 28-day period in 2021. The only notable increase relates to vehicle offences. There have been a disproportionate number of thefts from motor vehicles across the whole sector, the majority of which relate to thefts of catalytic converters. These have predominantly taken place across Axminster and Seaton patches, which of course includes the rural aspects of these towns.
Police are working hard across the board in order to combat this issue. A force-wide operation has been instigated and actions are being taken. These include a number of overt tactical options. There will be an increase in patrols in the area over evening times in order to locate any offenders of these crimes. Police from the local area are also linking in with our colleagues in Dorset and Avon and Somerset in order to coordinate joint days of action. This is a rapidly evolving crime series. Advice has been put out by police on social media channels, with the hope of increasing awareness locally. There is a trend of Honda Jazz vehicles and Toyota Auris vehicles being targeted, and so owners of these vehicles should be particularly mindful of this issue and establish any steps that they can take on an individual basis in order to safeguard their property where possible.
There are no other crime trends that require attention. Rural East Devon remains a safe place to live, and crime statistics in the area are pleasing.
In some good news, Axminster and Honiton have recently enjoyed their town carnivals. Both events were well attended by the public, they were pleasant events to police and no known issues have occurred during either events. Police in all four towns are looking at bringing back police surgeries, where the public can meet face to face with a local police officer to discuss any local concerns. Details of these will be published on our website in due course as and when they have been set up. This will be an opportunity for some positive engagement between the local police and the communities we serve.
Cllr Twiss said he had met Matt Galley of Jurassic Fibre and Justin Lascelles of Combe Estate two weeks ago, along with Jurassic’s network designer. Progress is being made, with the possibility of the network build beginning this side of Christmas. Cllr Twiss agreed to send the Chair a map to identify the outlying properties.
Cllr Bruce said the saga of the Church Mead garages is ongoing and should be a source of profound embarrassment to EDDC. To this end, he has today written to the CEO of EDDC to ask for his urgent intervention in this matter. Cllr Bruce said he would continue to pursue this in earnest. Cllr Bruce added he had received a request from the parish lengthsman to look into an issue with a drain which, he understands, Cllr Twiss is handling, and that the river needs clearing. His understanding is that this falls under the Environment Agency so he would seek advice as to the best way forward.
Around the district.
Cllr Bruce said the Strategic Local Plan is rapidly moving towards the public consultation phase. In his ward, Feniton and Gittisham are the two locations that may be impacted by this update to the local plan, with Feniton threatened with potentially unsustainable development. Face to face meetings between the parishes, senior officers and members of the public have now been announced. This will allow them and residents the opportunity to question what is being proposed. It is vitally important that as many residents as possible are able to have their voices heard over this major plan. There will be a limited time frame of some ten weeks within which to submit comments prior to the plan going forward for adoption. The deadline is set for January 15th, 2023, which with Christmas in between does not allow much time. Cllr Bruce urged all to take the time to engage in the public presentation\consultation and have their say on the future of these beautiful villages.
After far too long on Zoom, meetings in person are now to resume at Blackdown House for most meetings. Despite stiff opposition, the vote was carried in favour of a return to normal, not least because EDDC was the last district council in England not back in the office. However, the return to ‘normal business’ is not without its problems. These are the first meetings Cllr Bruce has attended at Blackdown House and there are some obvious issues with the acoustics and the number of public we can safely accommodate. Some, but not all, of these issues are currently being worked on. It is also hoped that by the time of the November parish council meetings, normal access by the public to the council offices will have been reinstated. There are staffing problems which he understands are being sorted as soon as is practical.
For those of us that are off grid when it comes to heating, said Cllr Bruce, news is eagerly awaited from central government as to how the £100 energy grant is to be rolled out. Cllr Bruce has made the point to our MP that many will have already purchased our oil or lpg for winter, and that a system of payment must be robust, and designed to mitigate the kind of abuse that was seen of the furlough initiative. He understands there is an imminent announcement so will update the Parish Council accordingly.
Cllrs Bruce and Twiss left the meeting.
101/22 To consider the following planning applications:
a) 22/2291/FUL Gittisham Farm Gittisham EX14 3AX Roof over existing open livestock yard.
Members resolved to have no objection to this application.
102/22 To receive reports from councillors on areas of responsibility and actions since the last meeting:
- To note the latest planning decision notices
22/1600/FUL – Land Adjacent To Hamlet House Nags Head Road Gittisham. Refusal.
22/2023/TCA – Olive Tree Cottage Gittisham. Approval.
Members noted that some application decisions in the parish have been pending for more than one year.
- To receive an update on Highways
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.
28 Nov–2 Dec Chestnut Way off Old Elm Road will be resurfaced, so displaced parking likely on Old Elm Rd near the roundabout.
- To consider plans for expenditure in the parish under the Community Infrastructure Levy & S106
Cllr Orchard said Sulina Tallack was no longer working for EDDC, but he had spoken to her before she left. She confirmed that she had reiterated to Honiton TC that Gittisham must allocate its spending of S106 money before Honiton draws up proposals for using some of the remainder.
- To receive an update on public transport
Cllr Orchard said that track speed restrictions on the West of England line had been lifted, and the service returned to normal on 14th November. He reported he had cleared a large pile of old books from the Vale bus shelter once again.
- To consider climate change measures within the parish, including proposals for rewilding land in the parish
Cllr Rowe said initial feedback from the public consultation on the Old Elm Road rewilding proposal indicated most reservations were with the ponds and the cost of creating them. Another concern was ongoing management and maintenance, so a clear management plan will need to be given to EDDC workers and / or contractors.
Cllr Rowe said Pod Point had quoted more than £6,000 for an electric vehicle charger and installation. He said he would enquire with a local electrician if this could be done cheaper. The pod point itself was £635 +VAT. Members heard that the hedges had been trimmed by Russell Hayman’s contractor.
- To consider parish council support for scam awareness and security
Cllr Twist said there was no update on this.
- To consider limited residential development in the parish
Cllr Valentine reported that the delay in progress has been due to solicitors finalising the detail of the option agreement. It is now expected that this will be concluded next week and all necessary signatures achieved. This will provide the trigger for the planning application to be submitted.
Cllr Valentine left the meeting..
- To consider making an application for a permissive path, Goldcombe-Hayne Lane
The clerk reported the letter had been sent to Combe Estate, but no acknowledgement received to date.
- To consider the refurbishment and maintenance of the village play area
Cllr Walker reported that the village play area was in good order.
- To consider work to be carried out by the lengthsman to maintain ditches and drains in the parish
Cllr Walker said Len Abbott would let her know if anything needed attention.
103/22 To receive a report from the Chair
Members resolved to approve the Chair’s application to Cllr Twiss’s locality budget for comfy chairs for the village hall and a garden canopy for the patio area at the back. It was agreed the hall committee should purchase and provide the parish council with receipts before the grant can be handed over.
Members agreed the purchase of three new outdoor magnetic noticeboards, 2 for the village and one for the Vale. They cost £277 each from the Noticeboard Company, 9 x A4size.
ACTION: Clerk to order 3 x noticeboards.
104/22 To consider decorating and / or refurbishing the parish council’s bus shelters
The Chair said there was no progress on this.
105/22 To consider donations to organisations under S137 and also financial support for the Gittisham Community Kitchen
Members agreed to defer discussion on S137 until the next meeting, after researching which organisations provided a clear benefit to people living in the parish.
The Chair said the application to fund the community kitchen from the DCC Growing Communities grant had been successful. This will pay for the food and the weekly hall rental until the end of March 2023.
The grant will be paid to the parish council at the end of March 23. She reported the Village hall committee is happy for the rent to be paid then, backdated to cover the 23 weeks. As advised by DALC, to ensure we have an audit trail for the food, the parish council will ask the community kitchen organiser to submit receipts, up to £50 per week and the PC will reimburse them monthly in arrears.
ACTION: All to suggest organisations that will benefit parishioners at next month’s meeting.
106/22 To approve the November payments and to note the current bank balance
Members resolved to approve the following payments:
1198 Michael Poll £65 Grass cutting, inv. ref. 10184
1199 Len Abbott £43.50 Lengthsman work, 3hrs Oct 2022 @£14.50 / hr
1200 CHT £324 Annual support package for Vale & Village defibrillators
1201 F Clampin £228.74 Clerk’s salary
DD NEST £22.86 Clerk’s pension
Members were informed that the current bank balance stands at £23,512.33 (which includes approximately £7,000 in the business reserve account). Members agreed the clerk should ask Trudie Jenkins at Bluechip Payroll to carry out the annual audit, following recommendations from other parish councils.
107/22 Clerk’s Report
The clerk explained that EDDC had quoted £470 for purchase and installation of a dog poo bin, plus £300 / year for collection. Members agreed regretfully that the ongoing cost could not be covered by the budget.
108/22 For information only; items for the forward agenda
Funding organisations with direct benefit to parishioners; bank mandate; decorating / refurbishing bus shelters; lych gate.
109/22 To consider any late entry correspondence
The Chair said Gittisham PCC had written to ask the parish council if it would help to fund repairs to the war memorial. The clerk said she had asked DALC for advice.
110/22 Date of next two meetings
Thursday 1st December 2022 and Thursday 5th January 2023 at 7.30pm.
There being no further business, the meeting closed at 2115 hrs.
1st December 2022