Held in Gittisham Parish Room
Village ward: Cllr C Hall (Chair), Cllr D Valentine, Cllr M Walker
Vale ward: Cllr J Twist (Vice Chair), Cllr P Orchard, Cllr Adam Powell
In attendance: One member of the public, Fiona Clampin (clerk)
Apologies for absence: Cllr A Rowe, Cllr Alasdair Bruce (EDDC), Cllr Phil Twiss (DCC), PCSO Darren England
127/23 To accept and approve apologies
Apologies were received and accepted.
128/23 To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 7th December 2023
The minutes of the meeting held on 7th December 2023 were confirmed and signed by the Chair.
129/23 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.
ACTION: Clerk to contact D&C Police & Crime Commissioner to understand how to obtain timely and accurate crime figures for Honiton Rural.
130/23 To receive declarations of interest
131/23 To consider actions from the last meeting not otherwise on the agenda
An Acceptance of Office form was signed by Adam Powell and the clerk. Register of Interests form completed to return to EDDC within 28 days. Cllr Powell took his seat at the meeting.
132/23 To receive reports from County Council and District Council representatives
In his absence, Cllr Twiss sent the following report:
Happy New Year as DCC ramps back up to full speed after the Christmas holiday break, which I hope will be a prosperous and healthy one for all of you, your families and friends. This month’s Division member’s report focuses on the finances of Devon County Council ahead of target setting for the various service areas of the council ahead of next month’s budget setting for 2024/25 in what is going to be an interesting year for everyone in local and national government.
Setting the DCC budget for 2024/25 is, like any year, a huge task for a large scale organisation. Over 79% of the net revenue budget of £743.4 million proposed for 2024/25 is spent on children’s and adult service areas i.e. £588.5m with £154.8m for the others. Demand in these two areas in particular continues to surge, where DCC must legally provide them, often at very high costs, over and above what is termed discretionary services such as routine roads maintenance (other than safety issues) of a 12,000 mile road network, bus service subsidies, climate change initiatives and much more.
The funding for this comes from a wide range of core funding income from the Government and other grants totalling around £236.4m, but the majority of the income is derived from council tax and a share of business rates. This is set against set against a background inflationary cost of living pressures and huge challenges to local government in general. Social care provision is particularly impacted by increases to the national living wage, which at first glance a 30p per hour increase announced by the Government does not seem vast. However, it will add an extra £25.7m to the DCC wage bill, which will need to come from further savings and efficiencies.
There is an above inflation proposed 10.4 per cent increase in the revenue budget for children’s services with a 6 per cent rise in adult services and 4.7 per cent extra for climate change, environment and transport. Reductions in other departmental spending means an overall rise of 6.3 per cent in the council’s budget for next year within the total spend of more than £743 million where officers of the council have worked closely with the DCC Cabinet to secure best value across Devon’s operations and ensure continuing financial sustainability.
To set a balanced budget, savings, alternative funding and additional income of £49.6 million have been identified. Overall, there is additional funding of £43.8 million or 6.3% for services next year. It is not planned to support the proposed budget targets by using general reserve balances. This reflects a strategy of DCC living within its means and to set service budgets that are affordable within anticipated income and funding totals for next year.
In his absence, Cllr Bruce sent the following report:
It’s been a quiet few weeks around Christmas with only two incidents/topics to report on. Firstly, there is still an ongoing issue on the Hayne estate regarding anti-social behaviour, with a resident becoming increasingly fearful. I have raised this with Sovereign Housing and the council officer responsible.
Secondly, having gone through the recently published NPPF hoping to find some material changes that could protect our communities. I am profoundly disappointed to find none of the changes to planning promised by Gove. Instead the ‘presumption to approve’ developments remains in place making it harder to refuse. As a result, I am seeking a meeting with the head of planning at EDDC to see how he feels this new document affects our local planning policy going forward. I am also instigating changes to our local constitution to bring it in line with other districts. For example at present any member of the planning committee who does not attend a site visit is precluded from voting. I have argued that this is a ruling that is not applied by all districts, and that the information provided by officers should be sufficient to make a decision with or without a site visit. This is now being actioned. Also I have asked for the powers to summon officers from the EA, Highways and the water companies to planning meetings, to be applied. This should allow members to question statements made by these companies and raise the level of accountability. I have also asked for the ability to defer decisions on applications if these companies do not attend. I will keep you informed as to how these changes pan out.
Cllr Valentine agreed to report back to members on the latest iteration when he’d had a chance to go through it.
133/23 To receive an update from All Points Fibre (formerly Jurassic Fibre) on superfast broadband
Stephen Harris, Head of Strategic Partnerships from All Points Fibre (APF) was due to join the meeting remotely, but due to issues with broadband it was not possible to connect. Members expressed their profound disappointment that the company would not be pursuing its roll-out, which APF explained was no longer commercially viable. Cllr Twiss indicated in a recent email that the contract for Airband to deliver the roll-out under the Connecting Devon & Somerset scheme appeared to be the most likely option.
ACTION: Cllr Powell to liaise with Broadhembury Parish Council which is experiencing similar issues, and draft a joint letter to Richard Foorde MP.
ACTION: Clerk to contact Airband and invite them to a meeting to provide an update.
134/23 To receive reports from councillors on areas of responsibility and actions since the last meeting:
- To note the latest planning decision notices
There was no update this month.
- To receive an update on Highways
Road closure: 7th January 2024 0930-1530 road through Alfington closed for BT pole work.
20th March road to Catshayes closed to install sewer level equipment.
- To consider plans for expenditure in the parish under the Community Infrastructure Levy & S106
Cf minute ref. 142/23.
- To receive an update on public transport
Cllr Orchard said rail passengers had had a rough time recently, with disruption caused by landslips and stormy weather.
- To consider climate change measures within the parish, including proposals for rewilding land in the parish
The clerk reported that Cllrs Rowe and Orchard had been unable to meet EDDC officer Paul Feely in December, owing to staffing issues.
- To consider parish council support for scam awareness and security
There was no update this month.
- To consider limited residential development in the parish
Cllr Valentine said GCLT was drawing up a memorandum of understanding with Combe Estate. The planning application is due to be submitted very soon. Research into a possible housing association partner is ongoing.
- To consider updating the parish emergency plan
ACTION: Cllr Orchard to arrange a meeting with flood / snow wardens.
- To consider the creation of a footpath linking Hayne Farm with Gittisham village
Members discussed the creation of a permissive path and agreed that there would be funds available to pay for hedges, fences etc. It would fit with the parish council’s climate change agenda and take cars off the road. Cllr Powell highlighted the success of a newly created path linking Feniton and Colestocks, and he said he thought the path would receive widespread support on the Hayne Farm development.
ACTION: Cllr Powell to take forward.
- To consider the refurbishment and maintenance of the village play area
There was no update this month.
- To consider work to be carried out by the lengthsman to maintain ditches and drains in the parish
The clerk reported that DCC’s Mike Brown had been in touch regarding the collapsed pipe at Pig Sty Corner. Cllr Walker agreed to ask Len Abbott whether the tip of the tree which fell down into the stream at Church Mead can be removed without risk. Members noted that water appears to be staying put in the ditch by Truances, following remedial work.
ACTION: Cllr Rowe to follow up with Mike Brown (DCC Highways).
135/23 To receive a report from the Chair
The Chair wished all parish councillors a happy new year.
136/23 To consider donations to organisations under S137 and Transport
Members agreed to donate £60 each to TRIP, Force, Hospiscare, Citizens Advice and Diabetes UK.
137/23 To consider a review of remuneration of the parish clerk in line with annual NALC salary scales, and associated pension payments
Members resolved to raise the clerk’s salary in line with NALC recommendations to £13.73 / hr, for the year 2023-24, and to apply the increase retrospectively. This increase also applies to pension contributions. The 2024-25 pay scales are yet to be determined.
138/23 To approve the January payments and to note the current bank balance
F Clampin £254.34 Clerk’s salary
F Clampin £175.50 9 months’ backdated pay for 2023-24 at new NALC hourly rate, SCP12
Information Commissioner £40 Annual membership
TRIP £60 Donation
Force £60 Donation
Hospiscare £60 Donation
Diabetes UK £60 Donation
Citizens Advice £60 Donation
Websites Ahoy £81.67 support and maintenance during 2023
Sandbag Co £28 Additional delivery charge of sandbags to EX postcodes
DD NEST £26.78 Clerk’s pension
Members were informed that the current bank balance stands at £18,480.07 (which includes approximately £7,000 in the business reserve account).
139/23 To agree the budget for 2024/25
The clerk and Cllr Twist outlined likely expenditure for the rest of the current tax year, and circulated a spreadsheet showing forecast expenditure for 2024/25. Councillors agreed to add £100 to the donations list. Members resolved to set budget expenditure at £12,662 for the year.
140/23 To set the precept for 2024/25
Councillors voted unanimously to increase the precept by 8.5 per cent to £10,139.08, the balance of the budget to be taken from reserves. Members agreed that as the population of the parish has increased significantly, this should not represent a rise at the individual level.
141/23 To update the parish council’s bank mandate
Councillors resolved to approve the clerk’s appointment as a Payment Controller on Bankline.
ACTION: Cllr Twist to contact Nat West.
142/23 To consider entering into the grant funding agreement with EDDC (S106 monies) relating to land at Gittisham play area, money for outdoor table tennis table
Councillors resolved to enter into the grant funding agreement, which will see £3,079 (net) released from S106 monies to part-fund the outdoor ping pong table in the play area. Cllrs Hall and Twist signed the agreement, witnessed by the clerk. The clerk advised members that costs for the table would likely have changed / increased.
143/23 Clerk’s report
The clerk reported that a parishioner had expressed concern over the continuing run-off on the lane to Catshayes.
ACTION: Clerk to write to Combe Estate to outline concerns and ask whether hedge will be restored on the same road.
144/23 For information only; items for the forward agenda
Play area maintenance contract 2024-25.
145/23 To consider any late entry correspondence
146/23 Date of next two meetings
Thursday 1st February and Thursday 7th March 2024 at 7.30pm.
There being no further business, the meeting closed at 2105 hrs.
1st February 2024