2023-09 Parish Council meeting minutes 7th September 2023

Held in Gittisham Parish Room


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

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

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

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

66/23        To accept and approve apologies

Apologies were received and accepted.

67/23        To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 6th July 2023

The minutes of the meeting held on 6th July 2023 were confirmed and signed by the Chair. 

68/23        To receive the Beat Manager’s Report

May 2023: no reported crimes.

June 2023: no reported crimes.

69/23        To receive declarations of interest

Cllr Valentine declared an interest in agenda item 8k) (minute ref. 73/23k), as he owns an electric vehicle.

70/23        To consider actions from the last meeting not otherwise on the agenda

The clerk reported that Matt Galley from Jurassic Fibre would be meeting Cllr Twiss on 8th September, and would provide updates on the roll-out of full fibre broadband to the parish.  Councillors agreed they would still like Mr Galley to attend a future parish council meeting.

ACTION: Clerk to write to Matt Galley.

71/23        Reports from County Council and District Council representatives

Cllr Bruce explained that after the summer recess, a number of national issues have surfaced that impact on the parish.

Firstly is the issue recently highlighted in the media of the banned release of sewerage by water companies. Whilst South West Water (SWW) is not on the list of offenders, they declined to provide the relevant details that other companies did. Cllr Bruce said councillors could draw their own conclusions on this. However, what is perhaps even more concerning and related is the report by EDDCs coastal officer, which highlights the fact that on an excessively large number of occasions SWW monitors to detect spills were switched to ‘maintenance’ mode. This effectively means they are switched off, said Cllr Bruce. The officer has asked for clarification as why there were so many occasions when these important monitors were switched over; to date there has been no response. Cllr Bruce said he should make it clear that both EDDC officers and elected members of the council share a deep concern and frustration over the level of communication and response from these utilities companies, companies that are tasked with keeping our drinking and bathing water safe to use. In his opinion there needs to be a radical change in priorities in the future.

There have been a number of proposed changes to national planning in recent weeks, sadly some driven by political expediency, said Cllr Bruce. The watering down of strict controls in AONBs is of great concern, given the damage it does to protecting these important environments and landscapes. Whilst he noted that these are only proposals at the moment, they do indicate a direction of thinking which should worry us all.  There also seems to be a mixed message coming out of the government on this. On the one hand there is theoretically more weighting being given to how local communities feel about planning applications, yet many of the standard safeguards are being swept aside to favour developers.

Cllr Bruce said he was dismayed to hear of the lifting of the moratorium on land-based wind farms. Whilst as an element of reducing our reliance on fossil fuel for power, and they play a part in energy self-sufficiency, there are real concerns on their impact on our countryside. One only has to look at the rapid advances in micro-energy generation, particularly in wind power, to see that perhaps the future does not lie in marching these huge edifices across the landscape.

In local matters Cllr Bruce reported that it was heartening to see EDDC planning committee showing with almost one voice their deep concerns over the application to build a battery storage facility in the east of our region. Of greatest concern was the potential risk to the local aquifers should there be any form of spillage or fire, as was seen in the Liverpool fire which the local firefighters had to let burn out and use massive volumes of water. Separately, Cllr Bruce is asking for clarification as to why EDDC planning officers felt this application merited being marked for approval whilst flagging up little concern over the potential impact on our precious water supply.

EDDC’s Strategic Plan continues to grind through the committee stage, with a firm input from concerned communities that may be afflicted by unwanted and inappropriate housing development. Much of this seems to be driven by greed rather than the needs of a particular community.  Cllr Bruce said he remains hopeful that government guidance to be announced soon will go some way to address this. However, this once again seems to fly in the face of recent government proposals, as commented on earlier.  Cllr Valentine added that he had attended the latest virtual planning strategy meeting, and was dismayed to learn of various omissions from a report designed to inform new members about how EDDC manages the council’s housing allocation.  He was particularly concerned about EDDC’s approach to infrastructure pressures brought about by new development, which he understood as requiring developers to pay. 

On the topic of dredging the River Gitt, Cllr Bruce said that a flood prevention consultant had advised EDDC that the best course of action would be to remove any vegetation and debris and allow for the silt to be washed away naturally during heavy rainfall.  EDDC will arrange for the works to be carried out in the next few months.

With work due to start next month on the Church Mead bridge, Cllr Bruce said he would check that residents have been informed officially about moving their vehicles.

In his absence, Cllr Twiss sent the following report:

Reinforced Autoclave Aeriated Concret (RAAC) in Devon schools

There is understandable concern about RAAC in the Devon County Council schools’ area of responsibility and what work DCC has done to establish if any schools are constructed with RAAC that poses any risk to children and teaching staff.  No local authority-run Devon schools have been identified with RAAC and an urgent piece of work is being done to check the status of other schools in Devon that were formerly local authority-run and now academies.  Ultimately if RAAC is identified, a full condition and structural review would be undertaken and if remedial works were to be identified, then these works would form a priority for investment under the DCC Schools Capital Maintenance programme.  Under this programme, Health & Safety works are deemed the highest priority for investment. 

In an extensive survey of DCC’s own school portfolio, no buildings were found to have used RAAC. In 2020/21 DCC put in place arrangements within the existing school quinquennial condition survey programme for surveyors to highlight and report any material they suspected might be RAAC.  To date no RAAC concerns have been raised.  The Department for Education recently updated their RAAC guidance for schools/ responsible bodies, and following this guidance DCC is in the process of improving the robustness of its processes. This will involve a desktop exercise to identify specific properties constructed during the period and of the construction type where RAAC might be present. Property professionals undertake various surveys across the school estate to ensure compliance on an annual basis, in addition to the quinquennial condition surveys. It is proposed to add a RAAC review as part of the surveyors’ visit, where they are attending a building that has been identified as meeting the age and construction type criteria.

Immunisation advice to parents and carers at the start of the new school year

Pre-school boosters, offered to children from age three years and four months, are: 

  • The four in one pre-school booster (diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and polio)
  • The MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine is given at one year (first dose) and at three years and four months (second dose)

A list of all the vaccinations your child should have had, by age, and by when, is available here https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/nhs-vaccinations-and-when-to-have them/

If you are not sure if your child has had all of their vaccinations, please check their personal health record (the red book) and if you have any questions, contact your  child’s doctor’s surgery. 

Annual ‘flu vaccinations are also available to all school children from reception age to year 11, and these are usually given at school. The vaccine for children is a nasal spray. Vaccinating your child protects them, but also others who are vulnerable to ‘flu, such as babies and older people. Children who are aged two or three by Thursday 31st August 2023 will be invited for vaccination at their registered GP practice, as well as any children who are at greater risk from ‘flu to enable them to access the vaccine as early as possible in the ‘flu season. 

Safeguard cash as a vital payment method for many people 

DCC is a member of the Rural Services network https://rsnonline.org.uk/ and they have joined a coalition of businesses, charities and consumer groups to issue an open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, urging for the protection of cash as a critical payment method for both consumers and businesses. As the cost-of-living crisis escalates, cash has become an essential tool for budgeting, allowing for greater financial control and flexibility.  Signatories acknowledge the Government’s recent release of its cash access policy statement as a positive first step, but emphasise that a more comprehensive effort is required to ensure the robust funding and safeguarding of the UK’s cash network.  Despite the huge increase in digital payments, cash remains the second most widely-used payment method in the UK, accounting for a substantial 15 per cent of all payments.  However, the viability of the UK’s cash infrastructure is under threat, due to bank branch closures and successive reductions in funding for the free-to-use ATM network, which comprises nearly 80 per cent of the country’s cash machines. Since 2018, 14,400 free-to-use ATMs have vanished from communities throughout the UK, and an additional 37,000 now face the imminent risk of closure or conversion to pay-to-use machines. This puts at risk the role of cash in future payment systems, but also endangers the financial inclusion of vulnerable populations. 

Cllr Bruce left the meeting.

72/23     To consider the following planning applications:

  1. 23/1207/LBC The Lodge Gittisham EX14 3AD – Demolition of internal wall, removal of roof to existing extension, construction of new extension with parapet and roof lanterns
  2. 223/1206/FUL The Lodge Gittisham EX14 3AD – Demolition of internal wall, removal of roof to existing extension, construction of new extension with parapet and roof lanterns
  3. 23/1631/MFUL Coastguard Road Ltd Devonshire Road Heathpark Industrial Estate Honiton EX14 1SD – development of 17no commercial units
  4. 23/1632/MOUT Coastguard Road Ltd Devonshire Road Heathpark Industrial Estate Honiton EX14 1SD –Outline application for class B2, B8 and E(g)(iii) development within two sites (Phase 2A and 2B) comprising total floor space of 4,000 sq m (all matters reserved)

Parish councillors resolved to have resolved to have no objections to a) or b).  Regarding c) and d), councillors resolved to have no objection in principle.  However, they expressed concerns over the point of access onto Devonshire Road, given the nature of the road itself, lack of visibility on the bend, and the proximity of the bus stop. Councillors also discussed whether this application represents an over-intensification of use of the site.  

73/23     To receive reports from councillors on areas of responsibility and actions since the last meeting:

  • To note the latest planning decision notices
  • 22/1322/MOUT Land at Hayne Farm, Hayne Lane, Gittisham. Approval with conditions.
  • 23/1009/FUL Single storey extension to dwelling and general purpose agricultural barn Landscores Cottage Gittisham Devon EX14 3AU. Approval.
  • 23/1056/FUL Unit B Weston Park Devonshire Road Heathpark Industrial Estate Honiton Installation of vents and flues on north, west and east elevations, removal of window on north elevation. Approval.
  • 23/0110/LBC Charlies Cottage 1 Beaumonts Cottages Gittisham EX14 3AG Replace all windows to match existing with slim line double glazing; gas central heating; install underfloor heating system to the entire ground floor; block up doorway on north elevation; new window on north elevation to kitchen.; new internal doorway between dining room and created bedroom/office.; new window on east elevation to created bedroom/office; new conservation roof window to the new bedroom/office on east elevation; open up the fireplace for an investigation, reinstate fireplace; radiators at first floor. Approval.
  • 23/1221/FUL Shermans Farm Gittisham EX14 3AU Roofing over silage clamp 1. Approval.
  • 23/1222/FUL Shermans Farm Gittisham EX14 3AU Proposed roofing over silage clamp 2. Approval.
  • 23/1280/LBC Batts Cottage Gittisham EX14 3AJ Remove existing capping on chimney on south east gable elevation and install flue liner and new chimney pot and flue. Approval with conditions
  • To receive an update on Highways

21st September: road through Alfington to Ottery closed 0930–1530 for pole tests.

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

The clerk reported that EDDC senior management team had approved the expenditure for the outdoor ping pong table, and it is now with the legal team to draft an agreement for the parish council to sign.  Given this timetable, councillors agreed it would be next year before the facility can be installed in the play area.

The Chair said that Honiton Town Council’s Hayne Lane sub-committee would be meeting on 20th September, along with various local sport groups, to discuss how the S106 money could be distributed. 

ACTION: Chair to write to HTC clerk, looking forward to hearing proposals that have been agreed with EDDC.

  • To receive an update on public transport

Cllr Orchard reported that the bus shelters had been painted a tasteful green.  Members also heard there had been changes to the Stagecoach bus timetable, with a later bus scheduled between Exeter and Honiton via Ottery.

  • To consider climate change measures within the parish, including proposals for rewilding land in the parish

Cllr Orchard said the Old Elm Road rewilding was progressing well.   

  • To consider parish council support for scam awareness and security

Cllr Twist reported that IT systems at Mole Valley Farmers had been hacked, and anyone who has an account with them should check their bank.  It was also reported this week that 3.4 billion phishing emails are sent every day worldwide.

  • To consider limited residential development in the parish

Cllr Valentine said there was no update on this.         

  • To consider updating the parish emergency plan

Cllr Orchard agreed to convene all parties listed in the plan to make sure they were well informed of responsibilities before the onset of winter.

  • To consider purchasing a dog waste bin and long term collection

The clerk outlined the costs sent by EDDC:

  • Installation: £41
  • Purchase: approximately £400
  • Weekly collection: £110 / year

Councillors resolved to purchase and install a standard waste bin, to be emptied on a weekly basis. The bin will be located near the emergency gate at the bottom of Old Elm Road.

  • To consider the creation of a footpath linking Hayne Farm with Gittisham village

Members discussed Cllr Rowe’s suggested text and photographs from a recent drone survey, and thanked him for his work.  The Chair agreed she would discuss with Cllr Rowe the best way to present a formal proposal to Combe Estate.  Councillors said there was strong support within the parish for a path, and increasing numbers of Hayne Farm residents were attending village events.

ACTION: Chair to meet Cllr Rowe.

Cllr Valentine left the meeting.

  • To consider the purchase of an electric vehicle charger

The Chair said that she had been in discussions with a member of Gittisham PCC about the possibility of installing an electric vehicle charger as a way of encouraging more people to visit St Michael’s Church.  Although there were mixed feelings about a charger, it was agreed that the parish council should consider it in next year’s budget.  Cllrs Twist and Walker agreed to raise the subject at the next PCC meeting, and report back to the parish council.

Cllr Valentine returned to the meeting.

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

Cllr Walker said she would remove the waste bin after the October half term, and erect a sign directing people to dispose of their rubbish in the bin by the bus shelter.

ACTION: Chair and Len Abbott to assess the state of the hedge on the north side of the play area to see if it needs trimming. 

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

Cllr Walker reported that the lengthsman had concerns about the drain at Pigsty Corner (on the road to Goldcombe), as if it overflows it will flood and have a big impact on the village.  Members agreed a local fix would be quicker and more effective.

ACTION: Cllr Walker to discuss with Len Abbott.

74/23     To receive a report from the Chair

The Chair said the fete had been a resounding success, and all members thanked Cllr Rowe and the village fete committee for their hard work.

ACTION: Chair to write to Cllr Rowe.

75/23     To consider the casual vacancy in Gittisham Vale

The clerk reported that the vacancy has been advertised, with a closing date of 22nd October.

76/23     To consider updating the financial regulations

To be discussed at the next parish council meeting.

77/23     To approve the September payments and to note the current bank balance

F Clampin             £235.83 Clerk’s salary

Michael Poll        £65 Grass cutting (inv. ref. 10252)   

Michael Poll        £65 Grass cutting (inv. ref. 10258)   

EDDC                  £41 Installation of waste bin, Old Elm Road

EDDC                  £400 (approximate figure) purchase of waste bin, Old Elm Road

Len Abbott           £333.50 Lengthsman work (23 hrs @ £14.50 / hr, July 2023)

Len Abbott           £53.48 expenses, July 2023

Len Abbott           £166.75 Lengthsman work (11.5 hrs @ £14.50 / hr, August 2023)

DD          NEST                     £24.82   Clerk’s pension

After the meeting, it emerged the payment for the clerk’s salary in August had not gone through, so this was rectified.  The clerk said the second half of the annual precept had been received.  Members were informed that the current bank balance stands at £20,143.65 (which includes approximately £7,000 in the business reserve account).  This figure is approximate, until EDDC confirms the price of the waste bin.

78/23     Clerk’s Report


79/23     For information only; items for the forward agenda

Financial regulations.

80/23     To consider any late entry correspondence


81/23     Date of next two meetings  

Tuesday 2nd October and Thursday 2nd November 2023 at 7.30pm. 

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


Tuesday 2nd October 2023