2024-03 Parish Council meeting minutes 7th March 2024

Held in Gittisham Parish Room


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

Vale ward: Cllr J Twist (Vice Chair), Cllr Adam Powell

In attendance: Cllr Alasdair Bruce (EDDC), Cllr Phil Twiss (DCC), one member of the public, Fiona Clampin (clerk)

Apologies for absence: Cllr P Orchard, PCSO Darren England

162/23 To accept and approve apologies

Apologies were received and accepted.

163/23        To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 1st February 2024

Re: 153/23 d) Cllr Powell asked that it be noted the parish council had suggested renewable energy could be incorporated into the Kings Arms Farm application in some way.  The minutes of the meeting held on 1st February 2024 were then confirmed and signed by the Chair.  

164/23        To receive the Beat Manager’s Report

Due to an error on the Police UK website which the force is aware of, it was not possible to report the crime statistics accurately. Cllr Rowe said he had attended the event to mark the re-opening of the Honiton Police Station enquiry desk.

165/23        To receive declarations of interest

Cllr Twiss declared an interest in agenda item 166/23, as he is a voting member of the South West Regional Flood and Coastal committee. 

166/23        To consider actions from the last meeting not otherwise on the agenda

Cllr Powell reported that Richard Foord MP had accepted his invitation to a meeting on 4th April to discuss the delay in rolling out superfast broadband.  He has also invited representatives of other parishes similarly affected, rural broadband campaigner Graham Long and the Combe Estate. 

ACTION: Cllr Powell to email members with an update on progress so far.

Members heard that additional sandbags have been delivered and are stored in the village bus shelter.

Cllr Walker said farmer Len Bartlett had assured her the gap in the hedge towards Catshayes would be filled once the weather improves.  A resident has expressed concern that the new farm track could be creating additional run-off coming down the road, and was alarmed at the recent increase in surface water.  Someone has placed two sandbags across the gully.

ACTION: Chair and Len Abbott to arrange a meeting to discuss with Len Bartlett.

167/23 To receive reports from County Council and District Council representatives

Covid 19 update

Cllr Twiss said that as we approach the 4th anniversary of the first Covid-19 lockdown in England, on the

23rd March 2020, it’s hard to forget the stress, anxiety, economic hardship for many and a genuine fear that the worldwide pandemic brought with it. It seems a very long time ago that we were forced to change how we lived our lives overnight, often being separated from family members, working from home and not being able to socialise in person being just a few things that the uncertainties Covid inflicted on us.

While Covid 19 may have largely disappeared from most of our lives, we are still reaping its unwelcome legacy of slow economy recovery (matters elsewhere contributing to that) and long-standing health issues.  The disease is still very much with us but reported cases in England have reduced massively, where the official UKHSA data dashboard at https://tinyurl.com/ae98rr6r showing cases weekly cases to the 21st of February of 1839 and sadly 245 deaths with Covid mentioned on the death certificate. Clearly, there is still no room for complacency and you should take precautions if you show signs of having the disease, see https://tinyurl.com/2s39cs8x

Highways – winter update

Following the very difficult winter last year the DCC Asset Management and the Network Response teams have worked very closely together through late summer and autumn to prepare for the winter season. Because of this hard work and the milder winter, the service has recorded 5,500 safety defect potholes in January, slightly below the 7-year average (5,926). This compares well to the 7,500 in 2023.  The significant reduction in the gritting operations mentioned above frees up resources to continue the planned patching operations, again helping to reduce safety defect potholes across the county, but prolonged wet weather in the last few months does not help matters when trying to make repairs to the highway.

Changes have now been made to the ‘front end’ of the public ‘report a problem’ website, https://www.devon.gov.uk/roads-and-transport/report-a-problem/ Additional information will help inform future enhancements and will highlight that members of the public can add themselves to existing reports, rather than duplicating reports. 

Gully cleaning operations have slipped behind programme due to the high number of extreme weather events the service has responded to this year, as well as a series of unexpected equipment breakdowns. Main DCC Highways contractor Milestone Infrastructure has worked hard to get this back on programme and are confident that all programmed gullies will have been attended by the end of March.  A lot of work has been put into addressing drainage referrals raised by the cleaning gangs. Over 14,000 gully issues have been resolved this 2023/24 financial year across Devon; however, the backlog remains high with new issues identified as quickly as the old ones are being tackled. The joint trial with Devon’s Flood team to place gully sensors in selected streets in Devon is in now live. The data recorded will provide 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.

Is your food bill eating away at your weekly budget?

If so, a few simple measures can help save money and reduce waste too.  A Waste Resource Action Programme (WRAP) Food Trends survey last year found that despite the Cost of Living crisis, people are still wasting food that could otherwise have been eaten.  Food prices remain the number one food concern for almost three quarters of participants, and nearly one in four (24%) reported struggling to keep up with household bills. Yet, food waste is still on the rise for four key products – milk, potatoes, chicken and bread.

Keep Cool

Keeping the fridge temperature between 0-5°C can help keep food fresh for three days longer than usual. If you want to test how cold your fridge actually is, an easy way is to use a thermometer. If you do not have a fridge thermometer, pop a regular thermometer into a glass of water and leave it in the fridge for a few hours. Try not to open the door as this can affect the reading. It is worth checking as the average UK fridge temperature is set at least 2°C too warm!

Know Your Dates

Understanding the difference between use by and sell by dates can save perfectly edible food from being thrown away.  ‘Best before’ refers to the quality of the food and your food will be at its best when used before the date given. After this peak freshness date, it might not be at its best, but it will still be safe to eat. You can use your senses to make a judgement. 

Here’s a quick guide to a few key food items and how long they are likely to remain edible after the best before date:

  • Biscuits – six months
  • Canned food – 12 months
  • Cereals – six months
  • Confectionary – 12 months
  • Crisps – one month
  • Dried pasta – three years!
  • Pasta sauce – 12 months

‘Use by’ refers to the safety of the food. You must not eat food past the ‘use by’ date. You cannot always smell the bacteria that causes food to spoil, so after the ‘use by’ date, the food may appear perfectly fine to eat, but it could be unsafe. You can freeze food right up to and including the ‘use by’ date. If you are not sure you will eat it in time, freeze it for another day! ‘Display until / sell by’ is for retailers’ attention only.

Reducing the amount of food we waste is a simple way for households to save money and reduce carbon emissions. 60% of UK food waste comes from households, having a value of £17 billion a year and is associated with 18 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.  If we kept food waste out of the black bin, it would save £2.8m a year in disposal costs.  Using up leftovers, making the most of our freezers and understanding use by dates are just a few ways to help prevent food waste, and save money too. When food waste is unavoidable, it can still be put to good use. Either recycle using your food waste caddy (where available) or compost at home.

Cllr Bruce said our troubled waters persist in the headlines with a major debate at full district council last week. Although he believes the motion was well meant, Cllr Bruce said it lacked any significant teeth with which to encourage/ force SWW to improve the current appalling state of our sea and water ways. He attempted to add an amendment to the motion in the form of the following, ‘EDDC further asserts that no major planning application will be considered without an accompanying, and independently verified report by SWW, stating that they have the relevant capacity for such an application’. It did cause some head scratching but was considered to put EDDC in a challengeable situation and failed to gain enough votes. As a result SWW said of the unanimously passed original motion that it was “disappointed”.  Not perhaps as disappointed as we are, said Cllr Bruce, with the mess they are making of looking after our waters! To balance the issue he added he is duty bound to say that SWW have stated that they remain committed to improving things with substantial investment going into our infrastructure.

Cllr Bruce said he was pleased to report that a well-supported parking review is underway, even more pleased to see his request for there to always be a choice of how we pay is enshrined in the recommendations. He has seen for himself the chaos caused when people try to use certain phone paying apps in car parks. This why he will ensure that, when the review comes to full council for signing off, a full choice of payment options is locked in.

Following on from his comments regarding pot holes in his last report, Cllr Bruce said he had had a number of comments passed to him about residents’ experiences with using the Devon Pothole Map. It seems that inspectors that go out to confirm the state of a given hole will often remove it from the map without informing the person that complained. Now it seems ridiculous, said Cllr Bruce, to state the obvious here, but these holes don’t mend themselves and they are only going to get deeper. He also knows that budgets can only stretch so far. However, surely it makes more sense to fix an issue when it’s going to cost less. How does that old saying go………… a stitch in time……..  he said he had also seen evidence of holes marked on the map as down for repair being suddenly removed. He has taken this up with County as this is completely unacceptable.

So he would strongly advise everyone to, firstly report every relevant hole they find and, secondly regularly check that it hasn’t been removed from the map by some hidden hand. If it has put it back on and keep doing it until it’s repaired. He said he remained convinced that, as ratepayers, we are not getting the correct value out of our contribution to road repairs. He still sees evidence of poor repairs often done on a previously repaired hole. He said he would ask for the data on how many potholes on the Devon map are ones that have been done before, but he doubts that data exists.

Cllr Rowe asked whether the gaps in the yellow lines along Devonshire Road might be filled in to stop cars parking there, as he felt it contributed to increased traffic, especially at rush hour.  Cllr Twiss said the parked vehicles had helped to slow down traffic flow in the past, but Cllr Rowe argued that with increased development on the industrial estate, vehicles are forced to swerve and potentially cause more danger. 

Cllr Walker asked Cllr Twiss if there was any funding available in the DCC Locality Budget.  She suggested using some to replace a couple of rotting windows in the village hall, and Cllr Twiss said he could support an application for £1,000 under energy-saving measures.

ACTION: Chair to obtain three quotes for window replacement and complete application for the VH through the parish council as accountable body.

Cllrs Bruce and Twiss left the meeting.   

167/23   To consider the following planning applications:

  1. 23/1199/MFUL – Land at Weston Park Devonshire Road – Construction of new industrial units (Use Class B2)

The clerk agreed to check whether this was another iteration of an application that had come before the parish council last year, to which there was no objection. 

168/23     To receive reports from councillors on areas of responsibility and actions since the last meeting:

  • To note the latest planning decision notices
  • 23/2583/VAR Rapshayes Farm Gittisham EX14 3AB – Variation of Condition 2 (approved plans) of planning permission 20/0781/FUL (Conversion of barn to holiday accommodation) to change the proposed roof covering from clay roman tiles to natural slate. Refusal.
  • 23/2725/FUL Kings Arms Farm Nags Head Road Gittisham Honiton 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. Refusal.
  • 24/0019/VAR Rapshayes Farm Gittisham EX14 3AB – Variation of Condition 2 (approved plans) of planning permission 20/0781/FUL (Conversion of barn to holiday accommodation) to change the proposed roof covering from clay roman tiles to natural slate. Refusal.
  • 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

The clerk reported that the legal side of releasing the S106 funding for the outdoor ping pong table had been completed, and the parish council could now proceed to purchase the item.  This was one of the most popular choices in the public consultation carried out before the pandemic.

ACTION: Chair & Cllr Rowe to speak to residents.

  • To receive an update on public transport

ACTION: Chair to log delays to the first Stagecoach bus which connects Gittisham village with Exeter, as the service has been poor recently.

  • 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 pro

Cllr Rowe said next month the parish council could purchase the matting in line for the rewilding project for land at Old Elm Road. 

ACTION: Chair to plant landmark tree donated by Devon Wildlife Trust.      

  • To consider parish council support for scam awareness and security

There was no update this month.  Members agreed there was substantial coverage of scams, including a Government campaign, and resolved to take this off the agenda.  Any particular scams to be brought to peoples’ attention can be added in ‘late entry correspondence’.

  • To consider limited residential development in the parish

Cllr Valentine said the planning application had been submitted, which was a significant milestone.  He said the architects’ drawings would be displayed at the community kitchen over the next few weeks.  Members heard that those councillors with GCLT shares will have to declare an interest when the application comes before the parish council.  There are enough members on the parish council however without GCLT shares to be quorate.         

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

Cllrs Powell and Rowe said they had met representatives of the Combe Estate and the Marker family to discuss a range of traffic-free routes between the new development and the village. The most likely option was a permissive path past the farm shop and barns to the village along a serviceable farm track that ends by the old marlpit, as it might be more acceptable than a right of way.  Conditions of use could be determined by the estate and could potentially be limited to certain times of year.  The second route discussed was under the overgrown railway bridge at the Hayne Farm development to follow the hedgerows down to the minor road leading to the

garden centre and village.  If approved, in both cases the routes and conditions of use may change, as the built landscape is likely to change in the future.

ACTION: Cllrs Powell & Rowe to draft an email to parish councillors outlining a possible way forward.  Then contact Combe Estate to ask for a summary of conditions of use. 

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

There was nothing to report this month.

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

ACTION: See minute ref. 166/23.

169/23     To receive a report from the Chair

There was no report this month. 

170/23     To approve the March payments and to note the current bank balance

F Clampin             £254.34 Clerk’s salary

DD          NEST                     £26.78   Clerk’s pension

Members were informed that the current bank balance stands at £17,417.41 (which includes approximately £7,000 in the business reserve account).  Cllr Twist said the torch and safety kit had not been returned to the Hayne Farm debrillator when it was deployed recently, but this would be covered by the annual service package.

171/23 To consider the parish council’s grant-giving policy, publication scheme, complaints policy, anti-fraud & corruption policy, Freedom of Information Scheme and code of conduct

It was resolved to approve the above policies.

172/23 To consider the Parish Council’s Statement of Internal Control, Financial Regulations and Risk Management

It was resolved to approve the above policies.

173/23 Clerk’s report

There was nothing to report.

174/23     For information only; items for the forward agenda

Nothing to add.

175/23     To consider any late entry correspondence

Cllr Powell noted there had been some graffiti underneath the railway bridge leading to Hayne Farm.  Cllr Twist said the parish council would need to urge DCC to paint double yellow lines once the roads on the estate were adopted. 

ACTION: Cllr Powell to contact Network Rail.

176/23     Date of next two meetings  

Thursday 4th April and Thursday 2nd May 2024 at 7.30pm. 

There being no further business, the meeting closed at 2120 hrs.


4th April 2024