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Minutes of the Town Council Meeting held via Zoom, on Tuesday 25 June 2020 at 6.36 pm

PRESENT:

North Ward:

Councillor P S Christie (Town Mayor)
Councillor D Bushby

South Ward:

Councillor Mrs S Langford
Councillor P Lawrence
Councillor R Wootton

West Ward:

Councillor Mrs K Corfe
Councillor C Hawkins
Councillor D Ratcliff

East Ward:

Councillor J Craigie
Councillor Mrs R Craigie
Councillor Mrs J Gubb
Councillor Mrs L Hellyer
Councillor J A McKenzie

IN ATTENDANCE:

Mrs H J Blackburn (Town Clerk)
Mr R D Coombes (Deputy Town Clerk)
Mrs L Dixon-Chatfield
Mrs J Maynard (Chamber of Commerce)
2 x Members of the Public

196.     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Councillors McGeough, Herron and Johns (North Ward – personal).

197.     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST ON ITEMS ON THE AGENDA

Councillor P Christie declared a non-pecuniary interest in Item 21. (Trustee, Bridge Trust).

198.     PUBLIC PARTICIPATION SESSION

Members had, prior to the Meeting, received correspondence including a question from the North Devon Cycling Campaign, “what proposals does the Town Council have to encourage cycling and walking in the Town, and if this has not yet been discussed, when is it likely to be?“

One representative reiterated that there is a two billion pounds fund earmarked for cycling / walking.

The Chairman confirmed that all Members had read the statement leading to the question.

The Chairman summarised that four points had been made:

• Cycle Lanes.
• Reduction of speed limits.
• Cycle rental.
• DCC funding.

He asked that the group provide a map of where they would envisage cycle lane provision.

Having recently spoken with the Police Commissioner, for Devon and Cornwall, and the local Police Inspector he advised that the Police do not seek to enforce speed limit of 20 mph.

The Chairman advised that the Council has no provision or involvement with cycle rental schemes.

He indicated that the DCC funding had been exhausted having been spent in Exeter.

Councillor Mrs Hellyer gave London as an example of where cities are trying to grapple with Social Distancing; there is a 10% capacity on public transport making it ideal for a greater provision of cycle ways.

She explained that the money allocated to DCC, £480,000, if not spent within eight weeks has to be returned. The bulk was spent in Exeter as it has a large centre of population and ideal routes that can be altered for exclusive cycle use.

Bideford has received money for social distance signage.

Councillor Mrs Hellyer has asked DCC for money to resurface areas of the Tarka Trail; otherwise there are no cycle way plans for Bideford. She invited the Cycling Campaingers to provide a map which she will forward. She noted that there are racks in Exeter where you insert your money to hire a bike, a scheme run by Exeter City Council.

She agreed that that the 20 mph speed limits are not enforced, largely it is the good will of motorists to adhere to them, noting that there are simply not enough police officers.

There is a pilot scheme in East Devon, to develop 20 mph speed limits. The decision was made not to grant any more 20mph speed limits until it is seen how that trial goes. The trial will then be expanded, throughout Devon. She reiterated her willingness to take information to DCC.

Councillor Mrs Corfe, having spoken to concerned members of the Public, advised that since the easing of lockdown measures there was a prevelance of speeding cars and parking issues in the environs of Old Town / Abbotsham Road.

She understood the limitations of the Police and felt it was important for the Council to educate, to address constituents and campaign for safer cycling to support people taking to the road. It was quieter during the Lockdown; she believed that the position will become only worse.

The Council has a responsibility to campaign.

Further points raised included:

• Personal and parental responsibilities – do not cycle where it is felt not safe to do so.
• People are encouraged to use the Devon and Cornwall webpage / Live Chat or contact the Local Neighbourhood Team to report incidents of speeding.
• Need to look at ways to improve cycle safety.
• Greater numbers encouraged by safe cycling opportunities will benefit the Climate (the Council has declared a Climate Emergency).
• Potential routes include the Old Bideford to Westward Ho! Railway line.

The Chairman concluded by inviting suggestions where to put “pop up“ bike racks.

199.     ORDER OF BUSINESS

The Chairman declared a change to the order of business bringing forward Item 12, “To agree a protocol for meetings held via zoom,” given that the Meeting was being held via zoom.

200.     PROTOCOL FOR MEETINGS HELD VIA ZOOM

Members had received a Protocol for the Bideford Town Council for Remote Meetings.

The Chairman took Members through the document and described how Members should indicate their desire to speak.

Proposed by Councillor Christie, seconded and

RESOLVED: The adoption of the Bideford Town Council Remote Meetings Protocol (May 2020).

(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0)

201.     MINUTES

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 28 April 2020 were approved and signed as a correct record.

(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0)

202.     ACCOUNTS

a.        To approve the payments listed as at 31 May 2020 and 25 June 2020.

It was proposed by Councillor Christie, seconded and

RESOLVED: That the List of Payments be approved.

(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0)

b.        To receive and approve the Internal Auditor’s Report – Records as at 31 March 2020.

It was proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded and

RESOLVED: That the Internal Auditor’s Report – Records as at 31 March 2020 is approved.

(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0)
(Members expressed thanks to Councillor Ratcliff for his role as Internal Auditor.)

c.        To receive and approve the Independent Auditor’s Report – Records as at 31 March 2020.

It was proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded and

RESOLVED: That the Independent Auditor’s Report – Records as at 31 March 2020 is approved.

(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0, Abstention: 0)

203.     ANNUAL GOVERNANCE STATEMENT FOR THE YEAR ENDED 31 MARCH 2020

The Town Clerk presented the Annual Governance Statement.

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded and

RESOLVED: The Annual Governance Statement for the year ended 31 March 2020 was approved.

(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0)

204.     ACCOUNTING STATEMENT AND ANNUAL RETURN FOR THE YEAR ENDED 31 MARCH 2020

The Town Clerk presented the Accounting Statement and Annual Return.

Proposed by Councillor Christie, seconded and

RESOLVED: The Accounting Statement and Annual Return for the year ended 31 March 2020 was approved.

(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0)

205.     GENERAL POWER OF COMPETENCE

The Item was deferred given that the eligibility expires on the day before the annual meeting of the Council, which has yet to be scheduled.

206.     CHAMBER OF COMMERCE PRESENTATION

a.         The Mayor welcomed Mrs Jane Maynard, President Bideford and District Chamber of Commerce.

b.         Mrs Maynard thanked the Chairman very much and addressed the Members.

She advised that the last three months have been incredibly active for the Chamber. Digital webinars have been hosted helping Businesses on-line. They have worked with, and will continue to do so as partners, Cosmic (not for profit organisation) making Government funding available throughout North Devon through social media, website and one note seminars.

Mrs Maynard expressed thanks to the Council for funding support that saw the launch of their “Hub” She displayed their website that included information for Businesses to be listed (on the Chamber site), workshops, sourcing locally, free recruitment, Member to Member deals, advice, digital presence review, promotion and opportunities to be listed on “visitbideford.org.”

She explained that Chamber professionals had been providing free advice on Government funding grants (during COVID-19).

There had been two sessions with Geoffrey Cox QC MP that had included all areas of Business within the area including tourism, manufacturing, haulage and coach transport. Mr Cox had taken notes and raised points at Westminster. He spoke very passionately about the Future High Street Fund (FHSF) believing it was a good case and should be backed.

Mrs Maynard added that she is on the FHSF Governance Board and that the project is exciting, going forward.

She reiterated that the Hub is the future, the central tenet of the Chamber and will be strategic in helping local businesses.

Mrs Maynard concluded saying that she will keep the Council informed.

c.        The Mayor thanked Mrs Maynard for addressing the Meeting.

207. DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL (COUNCILLOR) REPORT

The Report circulated to Members is enclosed and forms part of these Minutes.

The Chairman asked about the temporary Heras fencing on the Torridge New Bridge. He wondered if it was to make it harder for people to commit suicide from the Bridge. Cyclists using the pavement are finding it difficult.

Councillor Mrs Hellyer indicated that the grass verge / pavement were not intended to be a cycle route. She did not know of any plans to replace the fencing or the thinking behind it.

208.     COMMUNICATION BROUGHT FORWARD ON THE DIRECTION OF THE MAYOR

The Town Clerk advised:

1.        The Town Clerk has been liaising with Highways over the replacement bollard for Mill Street. A like for like replacement has a three month lead in time, however a smaller, more light weight bollard can, in principle, be installed before too long.

2.        The Reopening High Streets Safely Fund is providing £50 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to councils across England to support the safe reopening of high streets and other commercial areas.

The Office and Town Clerk’s Assistants are coordinating volunteers for the footfall monitoring in support of TDC. Clickers will be purchased.

3.       The Town Clerk will attend a second zoom meeting, organised by Chris Fuller, with Town traders to discuss how the re-opening is going (26 June 2020).

She and Councillor Bushby had attended a number of FHSF Governance Meetings. The Onion Collective alongside Igloo and Stantec are producing a draft design for Isaac’s Yard; a model will be produced by the end of June 2020 with the bid proper being submitted by Torridge District Council mid-July.

4.       A DCC owned damaged Column sited on the corner of Bridge Street and the Quay is being removed on 4 July 2020. It holds the Festoon Lighting and “Welcome to Bideford” (Christmas Lights Banner). Budget constraints prevent DCC from replacing like with like. The Town Clerk has been working with Mr Sparrey, Christmas Lights Contractor, to establish the cost implications to the Council of providing the “like” replacement, with DCC supplying what is needed. Notwithstanding the delegated authority, Members will be provided with details.

5.       The closure of the parking bays at the bottom of the High Street as part of the Social Distancing measures for the Town has been suspended. Members were asked to consider whether they are still required.

Councillor Mrs Hellyer advised that the Traffic Order was going through, noting it takes twenty one days, and while it will provide further measures, once passed / authorised it does not need to be implemented. She advocated that it should proceed, keep the one way initiatives but not close all of the Manor car parking spaces. Busses will become more busy and freed up spaces will allow for more safe social distance provision for those queuing. She noted that there had been thirty six cases of COVID-19 in North Devon.

Councillor Bushby led all Members in not wishing to see the High Street parking bay closure aspect of the Traffic Order implemented.

The Mayor advised:

6.      That the TDC Planning Department are no longer publicly displaying Planning Notices, apart from those Listed Buildings, because of (COVID-19) Health and Safety grounds. He believed that it was statutory and was not aware of a Government change.

Councillor Bushby believed that a replacement column, outside Bridge Buildings, would cost a lot. He understood the damage was caused by a lorry used during the DCC resurfacing project. He noted also that it had been creased and could be repaired. There are a number of DCC columns in the Town that have been subject to repair but DCC will not accept it in this instance. He did not believe that common sense had prevailed in this instance.

Councillor Mrs Hellyer advised that it was not a lighting post, just a post, but it did have “wind loading” with the Festoon Lights and Banner considerations. She would pass on the concerns (to DCC).

The Chairman indicated that the posts, installed twelve years ago as part of the Quay refurbishment, were representative of ship masts, and therefore part of the design.

209.     RESPONSE TO THE MODEL CODE OF CONDUCT CONSULTATION

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded and

RESOLVED: That the Council fully endorse the Code

(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0)

210.     MARKET MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 19 May 2020 were approved and adopted.

(Vote – For: 12, Against: 0, Abstention: 1)

211.     NOMINATION OF BRIDGE TRUST REPRESENTATIVE

The Chairman advised that a previous representative could not be re-elected.

Councillor McKenzie proposed, and was seconded, Councillor Hawkins (5).

Councillor Mrs Gubb proposed herself, and was seconded (7)

RESOLVED: That Councillor Mrs Gubb is nominated to replace Councillor McKenzie on the Bridge Trust.

(Vote – For: 7, Against: 5, Abstention: 1)

212.     NOMINATION OF NORTH DEVON COUNCILLOR ADVOCATE SCHEME REPRESENTATIVE

Following discussion, it was

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded and

RESOLVED: That Councillor Hawkins represents the Council on the North Devon Councillor Advocate Scheme.

(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0)

213.     NOTICE OF MOTION

Submission by Councillor David Ratcliff.

“To install nine large Octagonal Planters (max size 4ft x 4ft) on the pavements outside Old Town Post Office and on the opposite side of the road, going round the corner to Meddon Street.”

Councillor Ratcliff explained that there is a lot of parking on pavements in the area. Devon County Councillor A T Inch had been approached with concerns about the difficulties encountered by the disabled, visually impaired and those mobility scooter users. Working with (DCC) Highways and those local stakeholders it was envisaged that “planters” would stop the illegal parking.

Councillor Inch has made £3,000.00 available from his grant funding. The Council are requested to provide funding support to the initiative.

Councillor McKenzie seconded the Motion believing that it was really worthwhile and would beautify the area.

Councillor Bushby commended Councillors Ratcliff and Inch confirming that it would enhance a bland area. He asked who would be responsible for maintaining the Planters on an annual basis adding that they would need to be stunning to be effective.

Councillor Ratcliff stated that there was a willing volunteer who would look after them on behalf of the Council (he would liaise with the Post Office owner). On questioning he confirmed that the Planters would be Council assets (TDC Development Control Office is aware.)

It was proposed by Councillor Ratcliff, seconded and

RESOLVED: That the Motion is supported.

(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0)

214.     NOTICE OF MOTION

Submission by Councillor Peter Christie.

“That this Council sets up an “Emergency Planning Group” to develop its own emergency plans for future crises.”

Councillor Gubb seconded the Motion.

Councillor Christie explained that when the Lockdown started it appeared that we were all at Sea. He had joined a Devon Parish and Town Council Meeting; there were interesting questions but a lot of duplication of effort. He believed that a few councillors could develop ideas for the future, not just COVID-19, but flooding. While there is a reliance on the TDC Emergency Plan, the Council could have a “sub-committee” to consider what could be done in relation to counter terrorism, flood and fire disasters.
Councillor McKenzie believed that it was a sensible idea.

Councillor Bushby felt it could incorporate the Snow Warden.

Councillor Mrs Corfe indicated that it was a brilliant idea and felt that it would be great to involve the Community.

Councillors Ratcliff and Wootton were also in agreement with the former suggesting a membership of four including the Mayor of the Day. He believed that the Council, officers and councillors, everyone had done a good job (during COVID-19).

It was proposed by Councillor Christie, seconded and

RESOLVED: That the Motion was supported.

(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0)

215.     POST COVID-19 DISCUSSION

Members had been asked to submit suggestions for:

• “Going forwards” / setting up a scheme for the future.
• An award for a deserving person / groups.
• Future security measures.

Councillor Mrs Langford suggested financial support for local shops, including charity shops and hairdressers.

She expressed concern for young families where incomes have been reduced and there is no free school meal provision over the summer holidays.

Councillor Ratcliff indicated that there are hundreds of COVID-19 heroes in the area. He suggested that a plaque be placed on the Town Hall building with a short thank you to the whole family of Bideford.

The Chairman advocated helping small shops in Bideford with costs for social distancing measures e.g. shielding. (Councillor Bushby believed it to be a good idea.)

He noted public concern that health centres are working at 120% whilst a further 4,000 houses will stretch provision further.

Councillor McKenzie advised that a local surgery cannot draw on funding from the NHS until they reach 150%. He indicated that discussion was needed.

The Chairman ventured a meeting with the local NHS/CCG to thrash out the future for Bideford Hospital and Health Centres in light of both COVID-19 and the expected growth in housing / population of the Town.

Councillor Ratcliff indicated that it would be an uphill struggle. He spoke of another Bideford Medical Centre that is an Association with 15 – 16,000 patients; they do not see a need to expand. He also stated that the Hospital was shut. He felt that the Council should make representations to the NDDH Trust.

Councillor Mrs Corfe spoke about the difficulties faced with the increased housing need. She referenced the hidden homeless, those under 25, locals who cannot afford to house themselves. She believed that the problems faced by Housing Associations (provision) would only become worse.

Councillor Mrs Corfe explained how in running a ten bed supported accommodation facility to help rehabilitate those clients to independent living it was impossible to move them on; they are at the bottom of the chain. She described the crisis as an emergency.

Councillor Mrs Hellyer concurred. She believed that the Planning Authority should not simply support large housing developments. Dormitory Estates need the infrastructure: schools and medical centres.

She advised that the Bideford Hospital was not closed. There are many clinics held, beds in the Community for up to six weeks stay. A flat on a long term lease exists for those to live, supporting those transiting back home. (Councillor Ratcliff thanked Councillor Mrs Hellyer for the update stating that he would contact NDDH for further clarification having been previously advised that the Hospital was closed.)

Councillor Mrs Corfe believed that the local councils need to raise the concerns with Central Government.

Councillor McKenzie advised that Bideford Hospital provides “legs clinics,” the MIU is closed (COVID-19). Further clinics are held upstairs but it has the capacity to do more.

(Councillor Bushby left the Meeting.)

Councillor Mrs Hellyer indicated that with the need for social distancing, businesses should not be putting out the A boards. They make it difficult for those with disabilities and the visually impaired. Perhaps they could concentrate on window displays, with a BOBB type prize or the best window display. Exeter has a clear street charter. With one way pavement direction directives and social distancing they present further obstacles.

Councillor McKenzie there are rules including the distance from the (advertised) property that are being disregarded and not enforced. He called for action from a neighbourhood officer.

Councillor Craigie recommended the painting of play equipment with anti-microbial paint. It is used in operating theatres and high risk areas and can be applied to any surface; the paint reduces the risk of cross contamination.

It was proposed by Councillor Christie, seconded and

RESOLVED: That Bideford Bay Chamber of Commerce establish if any Bideford shops could benefit from support with COVID-19 readiness provision.

(Vote – For: 8 Against: 1, Abstention 3)

 It was proposed by Councillor Christie, seconded and

RESOLVED: That a fund of £5,000.00 is made available for those small / charity shops that are really struggling with COVID-19 readiness provision (maximum £500.00 per shop), including the Pannier Market shop units.

(Vote – For: 9 Against: 2, Abstention 1)

Councillor Lawrence noted that Charity Shops are often nationally run.

It was proposed by Councillor Christie, seconded and

RESOLVED: That the Clerk writes to DCC expressing the Council’s concern at the lack of enforcement and dangers posed by A boards particularly with social distancing following COVID-19 directives.

(Vote – For: 11 Against: 0, Abstention 1)

It was proposed by Councillor Craigie, seconded and

RESOLVED: That TDC, Westward Housing and other agencies are approached and urged to use antimicrobial to address post COVID-19 problems.

(Vote – For: 12 Against: 0)

Councillor Christie referenced the £25,000.00 ring fenced for refurbishing the Town’s play equipment, and indicated that some of these funds could be used towards the purchase of the paint, for Council owned equipment.

The Chairman requested Councillor Ratcliff to draw up / provide details for a commemorative plaque.

216.     TORRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL – UPDATE

TDC Members advised:

• First Zoom Meetings have been held.
• The Distribution of the Business Grants worked very smoothly.
• The Officers were praised for information provision.
• The Play Equipment Strategy has been delayed (was due to be discussed before the Lockdown) but will be considered soon; painting with antimicrobial will be introduced.

217.     BRIDGE TRUST

Councillor Christie advised Members on amendments to the Business Start Up grants that would help those impacted with the Lockdown.

Councillor McKenzie indicate that the Bursary Fund was still active although there had been a reduction in applicants.

 218.    AGREE DATE FOR NEXT TOWN COUNCIL MEETING

It was proposed by Councillor Christie, seconded and

RESOLVED: That the Town Council Meetings should return to the six week cycle, with the next Meeting scheduled for 13 August 2020. All other Committee Meetings will be convened when required.

(Vote – For: 12 Against: 0)

 

The business of the meeting having been concluded the Mayor thanked the members for their attendance at the meeting which concluded at 8.33 pm.

 

Accounts for approval at the Extra Ordinary Town Council Meeting 25 June 2020

 

Minute Number 200:

Report for Bideford Town Council from County Cllr Linda Hellyer June 2020

We are living in such strange times, that it is difficult to know where to begin.
I have tried to keep you up to date with all news that has been coming out of Devon County Council (DCC). At times things have seemed to be changing almost daily.

At the start of the pandemic, the modelling showed that we might have up to 6,000 excess deaths, and DCC was having to look at providing storage facilities for several thousand bodies.

Thankfully, that worst case scenario has not occurred. The number of people reported to have coronavirus has reduced, and the number of deaths is reducing daily throughout the country. Our region has had one of the lowest rates of infection in the country.

DCC worked hard to provide a third capacity, to enable discharge of people from hospital. They established 3 extra facilities, including The Durrant hotel.

DCC supported care providers and set up a dedicated email box that is monitored 7 days a week. A new contract was offered to domiciliary care providers as long as they paid their workers £10 an hour. There has been an uplift in fees to care home, initially for 3 months.

At the start of the pandemic, DCC identified critical posts. Other workers were offered the chance to be seconded to another post. Quite a few transferred to work with “proud to care”, either hands on or in a clerical capacity. 1000 people responded to the “Do your bit for Devon” campaign, which called for temporary and permanent health and social care staff. Proud to care was able to match up workers and vacancies and organise training.

There was also a tremendous response to a campaign to return medical aids such as walkers and commodes.

DCC helped to coordinate the provision of PPE and became the provider of last resort. DCC offered help with additional costs of PPE for care homes. When a home had a case of covid-19 it offered additional support and staffing.

DCC has been given £36.7million to fight covid-19 but has already spent well over £42million. The 8 district councils have received £8m between them.

Officers have calculated that the Devon team of DCC and the 8 district councils will need another £85million before this is all finished.

DCC has been made one of eleven Beacon authorities to lead on the new test, track and contain policy to control the spread of coronavirus. DCC will be working with Plymouth, Torbay and Cornwall councils. John Hart, the leader of DCC, and Phil Norrey, the chief executive, will be serving on national committees being coordinated by the government.

There are approximately 34,000 people shielding in Devon. The scheme to help them in the event of any new outbreak, would be coordinated DCC as a beacon authority.

Devon has the largest road network in the country and has been allocated £28.8 million from the pothole action fund. Before the pandemic, February was the wettest month on record, which resulted in the formation of many potholes. The pandemic has disrupted the schedule for highways works throughout the county.

DCC has allocated £1million divided between 8 district councils to be able to give to people who find they have no money e.g. before Universal credit comes through.

DCC had a fund of £480,000 which it has administered through its Covid-19 prompt action fund- giving out grants of up to £500, and up to £5000, to help the community deal with the pandemic.

Libraries are reopening on a phased return but have continued to work. They have delivered books to the housebound and had many online activities.

Stagecoach are getting back to 80% of their timetable, but with 50% capacity due to social distancing. During the lockdown, as the services were reduced, DCC and helped coordinate key cars (taxis) to help keyworkers get to work.

Recycling centres are open, and people who have been to the one in Bideford, have told me they got in and out easily. At the moment, works vehicles cannot go there, but a booking system is going to be introduced for them.

Children’s centres have been closed but virtual assessments have taken place. One benefit has been that this has accelerated close working between the centre, health visitors and midwives. Some face to face meetings have taken place, but most meetings have been virtual. The feedback has been that most families have taken very well to virtual meetings, and felt able to discuss their issues more freely.

Over 300 schools (85%) schools have stayed open during the lockdown, looking after the children of keyworkers and vulnerable children. By the end of May, nearly 4000 children were in school. I know that our local schools have been open and the teachers, support staff, cooks and cleaners have been doing a sterling job. The staff have been very flexible and imaginative dealing with all the issues.

At the start of lockdown, I had a bit of a lull in that not so many people contacted me. Initially it was more asking for advice about money, as they suddenly could not go to work. I was able to signpost them to places they could get help. After a flurry of calls like that, it was more folk wondering how they could get help for community action schemes. I was able to direct them .to the COVID-19 prompt action fund. As the lockdown eased, the cars came out, and I had calls about speeding and parking. Now, I am receiving calls about potholes and drains. Meetings with DCC has continued virtually, on Microsoft Teams.

I am shielding now, so cannot meet anyone face to face. However, I am happy for folk to contact me.

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Telephone 07829758360

 

 

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