2024-02 Parish Council meeting minutes 1st Feb 2024

Held in Gittisham Parish Room

Present:

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

Vale ward: Cllr Adam Powell

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

Apologies for absence: Cllr J Twist (Vice Chair), Cllr P Orchard, Cllr Phil Twiss (DCC), PCSO Darren England

147/23 To accept and approve apologies

Apologies were received and accepted.

148/23        To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 4th Jan 2024

The minutes of the meeting held on 4th January 2024 were confirmed and signed by the Chair.  See also minute ref 156/23.

149/23        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.  The clerk said she had been in touch with D&C Police to raise the issue, and made Cllr Twiss aware.

150/23        To receive declarations of interest

None.

151/23        To consider actions from the last meeting not otherwise on the agenda

Cllr Powell said he had drafted a letter to Richard Foorde MP regarding the continuing delay of installing superfast broadband in Gittisham village.  Members agreed he should use the village WhatsApp group to build a picture of the issues people experience.  Cllr Powell reported that Airband had told him the rollout would happen in the first half of 2024, which was at odds with an email the clerk had received from the company.  Members noted that Airband vehicles had been seen in Fenny Bridges.

ACTION: Cllr Powell to email Airband and invite one of their senior staff as well as the MP, to attend a PC meeting.

Members reiterated the parish council’s support for the community kitchen, and asked Cllr Walker / Cllr Hall to enquire whether the organisers would like the parish council / village hall committee to apply for a grant on their behalf to cover the cost of rental.

Cllr Rowe reported that the village fete is scheduled for 31st August.  He encouraged people to sign up as volunteers.

152/23 To receive reports from County Council and District Council representatives

In his absence, Cllr Twiss sent the following report:

As we have literally weathered the storms of post-Christmas, let us hope that we are able to move beyond what passes for winter this year and look forward to more spring-like condition quite soon. Damage to our highways in January has caused the DCC Highways teams considerable headaches in keeping up with emergency repairs and those of a temporary (prior to resurfacing) and permanent repairs.

Further down this report is quite a lengthy section about devolution, which really is a big deal for Devon, together with Torbay Council.

Highway repairs

An almost permanent fixture in County Councillors email inboxes is potholes, and residents’ concerns are shared by us and the officers and staff.  On 4 October 2023, the government announced £8.3 billion of additional highways maintenance funding over the period 2023 to 2024 and the next 10 years for local road resurfacing and wider maintenance activity on the local highway network. This includes £2.8 billion for Local Authorities in the East, South East, South West and London. Devon’s share over 11 years is £222 million consists an additional funding allocation of £6.663m in each of 2023/24 and 2024/25:  Currently potholes repairs in Devon are funded by ‘in year’ revenue, where for more permanent patching and repair of a higher quality this must be funded by longer term capital investment with the minimum qualification area being 1 square metre.  Significantly, it has now been agreed that DCC are able to reduce this qualification to half a square metre funded by capital funding, which will provide for better quality, long lasting repairs, rather than less durable ‘temporary’ fixes. (It is important to remember that emergency repairs are often temporary before a more permanent one is made).

Devolution – levelling up

In what is regarded by many as a very positive step forward devolving powers and money, Devolution for Devon and Torbay has taken a big step forward with the publication of Government proposals for a ground breaking deal that could re-draw the future relationship between local government in Devon and Torbay, and Whitehall. It’s hoped that additional powers with the cash that follows will happen in future years.

This would enable more decisions to be made locally by people who know their areas best and on things that matter to local people such as building more affordable homes, investing in new quality jobs and skills, and improving public transport. This could see the transfer of a range of powers and funding to a Devon and Torbay

Combined County Authority (CCA), subject to public consultation. Under the proposals, the new body would have direct control of adult education to create up to 50,000 new training and retraining opportunities by 2030.

Through Local Skills Improvement Plans, the proposed CCA will work with business and education leaders to create a stronger, joined-up relationship between employers and schools, colleges and universities to provide the skilled workforce the local economy needs for the future.

The Government is proposing to transfer over £16 million of new funding to invest in new green jobs, homes, skills, and business growth and accelerate Devon and Torbay’s transition to a net-zero economy, capitalising on the area’s world-leading expertise in green science and technology.  The Government is offering a stronger partnership with Homes England, capitalising on the Affordable Housing Programme and Brownfield Infrastructure and Land Fund to create a joint action plan for affordable housing schemes for local people and reduce homelessness. The proposal includes additional land assembly and compulsory purchase powers and would facilitate greater Community Land Trust-led delivery.

On transport, the proposed deal builds on Devon County Council and Torbay Councils’ long history of working well together on local transport planning. The proposed Deal will strengthen this joined-up approach with Devon and Torbay working as equal partners on a CCA and improving the efficiency and co-ordination

of public transport. There is an ambition to introduce a single ticketing system for travellers and investment in services to provide greater access to public transport.  The Government is also offering to transfer responsibility for developing, designing and delivering the next stages of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund from 2025.

The CCA would be responsible for working with Devon County Council, Torbay Council, District Councils and the business and education sectors to support high growth business sectors such as advanced marine engineering, defence, photonics and digital, and improve the look and feel of local communities with street and town centre enhancement.

Do you have community equipment you no longer use?

Devon residents, who have been loaned community equipment that they no longer need such as walking frames, are being urged to take advantage of the final week of an equipment ‘amnesty’ and to arrange for it to be collected, free of charge. Every month, around 5000 items of equipment are returned, more than 80 per cent

of which are refurbished, sterilised and then put back onto warehouse shelves ready for reuse. Almost 70 per cent of the equipment collected and refurbished in this way is reissued within a month to someone in the community.  Returning these items not only reduces how long people who need them have to wait it also saves on having to buy new equipment – it saves up to £100,000 a month which could then be spent on other things.

There are hundreds of pieces of community equipment, such as four-wheeled walking frames, toileting equipment, hospital beds, clinical mattresses, pressure cushions and hoists that are not being used, sitting in garages and in storage for instance.

So, Devon County Council, NHS Devon CCG and Millbrook Healthcare Ltd, which provides community equipment to people on their behalf, launched an equipment ‘amnesty’ last month, asking those who no longer need their community equipment, to organise a collection free of charge.  The previous amnesty in 2021 resulted in hundreds of items being returned, refurbished, sterilised and put back into use in the community. This amnesty is now in its final week and will run until Monday 5 February. People should call 0330 124 8214 to arrange a collection.  Wheelchairs, however, are not part of the amnesty, because these are not provided

by the community equipment service Millbrook delivers.  Collection of the equipment from people’s homes is free, and Millbrook staff will collect the items from the property.

Devon funding news

Just a reminder that Devon funding news is a mine of useful information for individuals and organisations supporting the community and the Rural Services Network equivalent is also a useful source on information and possible funding. See https://www.rsnonline.org.uk/category/rural-funding-digest . Sign up at https://www.devon.gov.uk/fundingnews if you haven’t already.

Cllr Bruce said that coastal damage from storm Henke was much less than Ciarán with the beach defences at Exmouth doing the job they were designed for. A small cliff fall was reported at Budleigh, but nothing on the scale of the collapse at Jacob’s Ladder which also did not reactivate at the time of writing.

The focus on sea water bathing quality is a hot topic at present and rightly so, said Cllr Bruce. Speaking to fellow cold water swimmers (what Cllr Bruce simply called going for a swim), there is much anecdotal evidence of a major deterioration in the quality of our coastal waters. Many experience stomach illness and ear infections, even dog walkers tell him their animals are sometimes poorly after a stroll on the beach. This situation is wholly unacceptable, he said and we are seeing a retrograde step in how we take care of our waste in this country.

With this in mind, Cllr Bruce thought the parish might be interested in some figures recently released by the EDDC coastal officer:

1) Permitted Discharges from CSOs (storm overflow discharge): In total in 2023 there were the following (the number in brackets is the number that fell within the formal bathing season May 15th to September 30th)  Sandy Bay 21 (8), Exmouth 40 (15),  Budleigh 44 (15), Sidmouth 28 (10) Beer 32 (13), Seaton 31(12).   Given that in their Water Fit document South West Water (SWW) commit to achieving no more than 20 discharges at any given beach, this is pretty poor performance.

Currently only two of our beaches are tested for water quality by the Environment Agency, but we are pushing for all to be tested. The trail to operate electric water quality signage at Exmouth failed due to the sign frying itself due to sea water penetration. However, manual signage with the relevant sites to get up to date information are almost ready to be deployed. For all our safety, it is clear that there needs to be a sea change (excuse the pun) in how the water companies operate and a much greater level of accountability and responsibility to the rate payer. Sadly, the district has little leverage to apply as major change can only come from government, said Cllr Bruce. He can only hope that off the back of the Post Office / Horizon IT scandal some serious pressure will now be brought to bear on all our utility companies.

Potholes continue to be a scourge of our road network. It is to be hoped that new money released by government will go some way to addressing this. However, Cllr Bruce remained concerned at the level of poor repair of potholes. He was sure he is not the only person who sees repairs done that will obviously fail in short order, nor where reported holes are removed from the potholes map despite complying with the criteria. Cllr Bruce would like to see a greater level of oversight of repairs by DDC, with contractors who fail to undertake a satisfactory repair not paid until it is done correctly. Now it may be that this does happen, but if so it’s not good enough. Perhaps one step would be a reporting system whereby members of the public can report such instances to the council. Much like the current pothole map.

There are two major planning applications before the planning committee coming up this week which may have broader implications for our parish: the redevelopment of the Knowle site, and a development of 72 houses at Colyton.  Whilst not directly impacting on us, it presents the committee with an opportunity to question the sustainability of infrastructure, with particular emphasis on sewerage capacity and road layout. Cllr Bruce said he was not showing prejudice, but with two major developments in the system heading for Feniton, it will be interesting to see the direction of travel.  The Chair added the importance of recording the experiences of parish residents when it comes to sewerage and flooding.

Cllr Bruce reported that the Combe Farm Shop application had been taken off the agenda, in order for the applicant to address flooding issues raised.

Cllr Bruce left the meeting.

153/23   To consider the following planning applications:

  1. 24/0055/TRE 8 Campion Way Honiton EX14 2YR – T1, Oak approx. 14 metres high and 14 metres wide at all points; to pollard back to previous pollard position when work last carried out in 2016
  2. 24/0019/VAR Rapshayes Farm Gittisham EX14 3AB – Variation of condition 2 (approved plans) of planning permission 20/0782/LBC (Conversion of barn to holiday accommodation) to change the proposed roof covering from clay roman tiles to natural slate
  3. 23/2583/VAR Rapshayes Farm Gittisham EX14 3AB – Variation of condition 2 (approved plans) of planning permission 20/0782/LBC (Conversion of barn to holiday accommodation) to change the proposed roof covering from clay roman tiles to natural slate
  4. 23/2725/FUL Kings Arms Farm Nags Head Road Gittisham EX14 3AP – House of multiple occupation (HMO), that provides individual living-rooms for vulnerable people; the facility includes communal areas for socialising, cooking and dining set with private and secure gardens

Parish councillors resolved to have no objections to the above applications. 

154/23     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 

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

There was no update this month.

  • To receive an update on public transport

There was no update this month.

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

Cllr Rowe said he had met EDDC officer Paul Feely and a colleague, who felt some revision of the proposals for land at Old Elm Road was necessary. EDDC may look at obtaining a capital grant and is considering a tarmacked path to link the green space to other paths.

ACTION: Clerk to revisit Sulina Tallack’s S106 document to see if any S106 funding could be released to fund a track that supports running or other physical exercise.      

  • 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 waiting for a response from a housing association they had approached to take on the project, as well as further commitment from Combe Estate.         

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

Members discussed next steps towards the creation of a permissive path and Cllrs Powell and Rowe agreed to draw up an agenda for points of discussion with Combe Estate.

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

The clerk reported that she had accepted the offer of a free silver birch tree from Devon Wildlife Trust, which is due to be delivered w/c 5th February.  The organisation is offering parish councils in East Devon, North Devon and Torridge a “landmark” tree.  DWT plans to plant and nurture 250,000 trees outside of woodlands to help combat the devastating effect Ash Dieback is having on the landscape with a significant proportion of ash trees due to die in the coming years.  The tree, (around 1.2m – 2m), is designed to be planted in a community space that can act as a focal point and be enjoyed by everyone.

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

Members discussed the level of insurance cover for the lengthsman.  Cllr Walker agreed to explain to him that there are activities which are not covered by the policy, and the parish council can only ask him to carry out work which falls within the policy cover.  If the lengthsman chooses to undertake other work, this is at his own risk. It may be necessary in future to contract another person to carry out activities such as those at height. 

155/23     To receive a report from the Chair

There was no report this month. 

156/23     To approve the February payments and to note the current bank balance

F Clampin             £254.34 Clerk’s salary

Gittisham PCC     £30         Gazette printing for Nov & Dec 2023

CHT                       £162       Defibrillator annual support package

AJ Gallagher Ins  £308.42 Public liability insurance, lengthsman

DD          NEST                     £26.78   Clerk’s pension

The clerk reported that the Information Commissioner fee was now paid by direct debit, so the fee reported last month had been reduced from £40 to £35 / year.  Members were informed that the current bank balance stands at £17,698.53 (which includes approximately £7,000 in the business reserve account). 

157/23 To approve a supplier for the Gittisham play area maintenance contract 2024/25

The clerk said she had approached three contractors to invite them to bid for the annual maintenance contract.  Members resolved to appoint Michael Poll for another year.

ACTION: Clerk to contact Michael Poll.

158/23 Clerk’s report

The clerk said she had contacted Combe Estate regarding concerns over the continuing run-off on the lane to Catshayes. 

ACTION: Cllr Walker to speak to Jack Bartlett (farmer). 

159/23     For information only; items for the forward agenda

Traffic-free amenity route.

160/23     To consider any late entry correspondence

The Chair said she had asked Gittisham PCC for a list of where hard copy gazettes are left.

161/23     Date of next two meetings  

Thursday 7th March and Thursday 4th April 2024 at 7.30pm. 

There being no further business, the meeting closed at 2125 hrs.

Chair…………………………………….

7th March 2024