2023-12 Parish Council meeting minutes 7th Dec 2023

Held in Gittisham Parish Room


Village ward: Cllr D Valentine, Cllr A Rowe, Cllr M Walker

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

In attendance: Fiona Clampin (clerk)

Apologies for absence: Cllr C Hall (Chair), Cllr Alasdair Bruce (EDDC), Cllr Phil Twiss (DCC), PCSO Darren England

111/23 To accept and approve apologies

Apologies were received and accepted.

112/23        To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 2nd November 2023

The minutes of the meeting held on 2nd November 2023 were confirmed and signed by the Chair. 

113/23        To receive the Beat Manager’s Report

Due to an error on the Police UK website, it was not possible to report crime statistics accurately.  However, another site published figures for the whole of Honiton Rural, for which 1 reported violent crime in August 2023.

114/23        To receive declarations of interest


115/23        To consider actions from the last meeting not otherwise on the agenda

Cllr Valentine reported that EDDC has decided to proceed with the development of a second new town of 8,000 homes between Exeter Airport and Crealy.  He said this was likely to have some sort of impact on the reallocation of development sites in the Local Plan.

116/23 To receive reports from County Council and District Council representatives

In his absence, Cllr Twiss sent the following report:

Transport: Bus

The £2 bus fare is to be continued until end 2024.  Not only does this help with the cost of living, it also encourages more people to use buses thereby reducing congestion and helping with decreasing carbon emissions.  The revised Stagecoach timetables are now bedding in and there are a lot fewer complaints. Unfortunately, the changes coincided with an increase in illness, mainly respiratory infections amongst bus drivers. Resilience will improve as Stagecoach now has a full cohort at the bus training school.

Transport: Rail

The unexpected, but for us very good news that some of the allocated HS2 funds would be reallocated around the country was very welcome.  Devon is very proactive at having schemes ready or in the pipeline to go when

opportunities arise and DCC actively lobbies for money for schemes. The investment in time at Westminster is not wasted as all the schemes outlined to the minister by DCC have now received a commitment to funding.

  • Tavistock to Plymouth; confirmed project would be funded to delivery subject to ongoing business case development
  • Wellington and Cullompton stations- this would lead to an hourly service for these communities.

More rail news! On December 10th the launch of through tickets on our integrated bus routes, for example someone travelling from Leeds could get a through ticket to Honiton. The integrated working with GWR is producing excellent results and Devon is looked at with a lot of envy from around the country. For a large rural county we have achieved more already than urban areas, with hopefully more to come.

Transport: Roads

Safety Defects

Following the extremely high numbers of publicly reported potholes across the network during the first part of the year, and the increase in repair gangs as a response, numbers have gradually stabilised through the spring and into the summer.  However, they remain above average for the time of year. This has meant that there is still some residual pressure on inspection teams in assessing backlogs.  Evening and weekend working has remained in place in some areas to assist with this.

Work is underway to improve the messaging on the ‘report a problem’ webpages to reduce the number of defects that are incorrectly reported – since January this year this represents around 55% of all reports received.

Following a very challenging winter for road condition and safety defects, the numbers recorded across the network had reduced sufficiently that Highway Safety Inspectors (HSI) were able to re-start the identification of non-safety or ‘serviceability’ defects in June. This process offers HSIs the discretion to record defects that do not meet investigatory criteria in our Highway Safety Policy.  The ‘Elastomac’ product being used is envisaged to provide a lower carbon and cost-effective means of repairing carriageway defects. The mastic product uses up to 70% recycled materials, including lorry tyres, that would otherwise be incinerated and, in the right scenarios, allows reactive works gangs to undertake repairs much more quickly when compared with conventional techniques.

DCC welcomed the Government’s announcement of an £8.3 billion investment for road maintenance over the next 11 years.  We’re receiving an extra £6.66 million this financial year, from the funding redirected from the scrapped HS2 rail line extension to Manchester. It will be followed by the same amount next year, and then there will be a minimum of £208.6 million between now and 2033/34, according to the Department for Transport.  The funding will help address some of the repair backlog on Devon’s 8,000 miles of roads, the biggest highway network of any authority in the country. Some of the money will be used to carry out patching work and other repairs before potholes deteriorate further this winter due to the wet and freezing conditions of the season.  The majority of the funding for this financial year will enable us to bring forward resurfacing schemes earmarked within our future works programme.

Winter Service

Preparations for winter took place over the summer, with the fleet of gritters receiving their annual servicing and calibration checks. Works to install solar panels on some of the salt barns have also been progressed and salt stocks have been replenished ahead of winter.  By keeping the age of the gritting vehicles less than 10 years old maintenance costs are reduced and ensures the fleet is safe and appropriate for the task in hand. In preparation for this winter, eight of our oldest/most costly gritters will be traded-in against six nearly-new vehicles. This will reduce the secondary fleet from 12 vehicles down to 10, an appropriate balance of service resilience against financial pressures.

Gully cleaning 

Over 5,000 drainage issues identified by the gully cleaning crews and highway officers have been resolved since April. The challenge remains dealing with more than15,000 outstanding reported issues with funds available.

The ongoing trial to pre inspect gullies due to be cleaned on the cyclical programme has shown 49% of gullies inspected to date do not require cleaning. The aim of the trial is to ensure plant and equipment is deployed where it is most effective.  A joint trial with Devon’s Flood team to place gully sensors in selected streets in Devon is in the preparation stages. It’s hoped this externally funded trial will offer insight into whether technology can be used to inform policy or reaction for cyclical gully cleaning. The trial intends to run for an 18-month period from the winter period.

Grass cutting

Despite a challenging growing season, the planned first cut of rural grass had been completed by the end of August. Working alongside Torbay Council, efficiencies have been realised in our operations in the south of the county.

Ash Dieback [ADB]

The expert tree inspections have recorded 113 individual reports of ADB, which is an increase when compared with 96 records at the same point last year. This mirrors the overall increase in the total number of individual trees reported with ADB, which is 437 compared with 235 trees at this point last year.

In his absence, Cllr Bruce sent the following report:

There is still no timetable available as to when the National Planning Policy Framework legislation will transit Parliament. This is very frustrating, given the deluge of large applications being inflicted on Feniton. On which subject, I’m getting very little steer from EDDC planning regarding the Taylor Wimpy [TW] pre app. However, in my brief and non-committal correspondence with TW, they have said they are aware of the super inquiry and the judgement but feel it does not apply to them as the housing numbers are significantly less for this application. I felt there was little point in going back to clarify the obvious flaw in their logic, it can wait for a later conversation! I mention the ongoing issues with Feniton in this report as they have implications for all of us.

As I write this report we are experiencing heavy rainfall but I understand that no houses have, at this point, been affected in the ward. Given the district-wide nature of this rain, and the number of flooding rivers, I suspect flooding may well be on the news later tonight.  Of course pothole issues are going to be aggravated by this weather, but I’m assured by DCC that, despite a significant shortfall in funding yet to be addressed by government, the repair teams are doing their best to prioritise damage that has the most impact.

An incident of anti-social behaviour has been reported to me regarding Longlands Way at Hayne Farm. Apparently this has been aggravated by unnamed residents removing the security locks on the main doors. I have reported this to both EDDC and Sovereign.

Both councillors wished the parish council and all residents a wonderful festive season and said they looked forward to 2024.

117/23     To receive reports from councillors on areas of responsibility and actions since the last meeting:

  • To note the latest planning decision notices

Members noted the recent flooding along the Honiton Link Road which has made it impassable.  They highlighted the assertion in the outstanding planning application 22/2723/FUL for the proposed Combe Farm shop that the development will not increase the flood risk elsewhere.  Councillors expressed serious concerns that the recent rainfall and surface water flooding have shown this development is unsuitable.

ACTION: Clerk to draft a response with photographs to EDDC Planning and send to Cllr Valentine for approval.

  • To receive an update on Highways

Road closure: 7th January 2024 0930-1530 road through Alfington closed for BT pole work. 

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

The clerk said she was due to sign EDDC’s draft grant funding agreement to release the S106 money (£3,079 net) towards the cost of the outdoor ping pong table.

  • To receive an update on public transport

Cllr Orchard said trains had been suspended from 7-10December between Yeovil Junction and Salisbury for planned engineering works with a rail replacement bus in service.  However, since those works were scheduled a landslip has occurred at Crewkerne which has closed the line between Exeter and Salisbury.  The line is not expected to reopen before 13th December. 

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

Cllr Rowe said he and Cllr Orchard would be meeting EDDC officer Paul Feely this month.  Cllr Walker said a resident had expressed concern about the apparent use of pesticides in the rewilding area of Hayne Farm.   

  • To consider parish council support for scam awareness and security

Cllr Twist said WhatsApp users are being encouraged to be vigilant after scammers hacked into accounts and asked their victim’s friends and family for money.

  • To consider limited residential development in the parish

Cllr Valentine said he had been re-elected as the chair at the recent board meeting / AGM, and the GCLT planning application was due to be submitted.  The clerk told Cllr Valentine that a page on the Gittisham website could be created for the GCLT.             

  • To consider updating the parish emergency plan

Councillors resolved to purchase pre-filled sandbags at a cost of £178.31 for 90. 

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

There was no update on this.

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

There was no update on this.

  • 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 been clearing the drains up Parsonage Lane, and he had also dug a hole along that stretch which had kept one entrance to Gittisham village free from flooding.  In addition he had cleared a ditch behind Church Mead to stop those houses from flooding.  Len Abbott has asked for DCC to be reminded of the collapsed pipe at Pig Sty Corner, grid reference 50.778538, -3.225841 as fixing this will have a positive impact elsewhere. 

118/23     To receive a report from the Chair

There was no report this month. 

119/23     To consider the casual vacancy in Gittisham Vale

Adam Powell was elected by a unanimous vote to represent Gittisham Vale ward.

ACTION: Clerk to send Cllr Powell register of interest forms.

120/23     To approve the December payments and to note the current bank balance

F Clampin             £248.32 Clerk’s salary & expenses (paper & drawing pins)

Michael Poll        £65 Grass cutting (inv. ref. 10275)   

Leonard Abbott       £87 (6 hours lengthsman work, Nov 2023)

EDDC       £357.80 waste bin & installation

EDDC       £60.92 weekly waste collection total from 13th Oct to financial year end

CHT        £324 annual defibrillator maintenance package x2

The Sandbag Co        £178.31 10kgs pre-filled sandbags x90     

DD          NEST                     £24.82   Clerk’s pension

Members were informed that the current bank balance stands at £18,887.43 (which includes approximately £7,000 in the business reserve account).  Cllr Twist said that as members had resolved to change the clerk’s status on Bankline from ‘viewer’ to ‘payment controller’, a new bank mandate was needed. 

ACTION: All to come with suggestions for budget setting at the January meeting.

122/23 To approve and sign the annual CIL report

The clerk distributed details of CIL income and expenditure for 2022/23.  Members resolved to approve the document, and it was signed by the Vice Chair.

ACTION: Clerk to upload the CIL document 2022/23 and send to EDDC.

123/23 Clerk’s report

The clerk reported that parish & town councils were due to receive a framed photo of King Charles III, should they wish to. Members agreed to liaise with the village hall committee.

Following the visit of a beaver to the River Gitt on 2nd December for the first time since their re-introduction, the clerk said she had reported this to the Devon Wildlife Trust who will give a presentation on how parishes can manage beaver colonies.

ACTION: Clerk to find out whether DWT would like to hold an information session in the village hall.

124/23     For information only; items for the forward agenda

Budget; bank mandate.

125/23     To consider any late entry correspondence


126/23     Date of next two meetings  

Thursday 4th January and Thursday 1st February 2024 at 7.30pm. 

There being no further business, the meeting closed at 2030 hrs.


4th January 2024