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Minutes of the Town Council Meeting held in the Town Hall, Bideford on Thursday 23 September 2021 at 6.30 pm

PRESENT:

North Ward:

Councillor P S Christie
Councillor D Bushby
Councillor J Herron
Councillor T Johns


South Ward:

Councillor S Inch
Councillor Mrs S Langford
Councillor P Lawrence

West Ward:

Councillor C Hawkins
Councillor D Ratcliff (Town Mayor)

 

East Ward:

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

IN ATTENDANCE:

Mr R Coombes (Deputy Town Clerk)

67.     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Councillors Mrs K Corfe (West Ward – personal) and Mrs R Craigie (East Ward – personal).

68.     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST AND ANY REQUESTS FOR DISPENSATION ON ITEMS ON THE AGENDA

Councillor P Christie declared a non-pecuniary interest in Item 18. (Trustee, Bridge Trust).

69.     PUBLIC PARTICIPATION SESSION OF 15 MINUTES DURATION

There were no members of the public.

70.     MINUTES

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 12 August 2021 were approved as a correct record.

(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0)

71.     ACCOUNTS

Councillor Christie made reference to the DCC Pension fund expressing concerns regarding their investment portfolio including those companies associated with fossil fuels. Given that the Council has made a declaration in the face of Climate Change and net zero targets he requested that a letter be sent questioning their practice.

It was proposed by Councillor Inch, seconded and

RESOLVED: That the List of Payments be approved.

(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0)

72.    ORDER OF BUSINESS

The Mayor indicated that in the absence of Councillor Jeffery Wilton-Love the Meeting will continue until his arrival when he will be able to provide his Devon County Council Report item.

73.   STAFFING, FINANCE & GENERAL PURPOSES COMMITTEE MEETING

The Minutes of the Meetings held on 9 September 2021 were approved and adopted.

(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0)

74.   MARKET MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE MEETING

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 19 August 2021 were approved and adopted.

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

75.   PLANNING COMMITTEE MEETING

The Minutes of the Meetings held on 25 August and 15 September 2021 were approved and adopted.

(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0)

76.   TOURISM COMMITTEE MEETING

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 7 September 2021 were approved and adopted.

(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0)

77.   ALLOTMENT COMMITTEE

Councillor Lawrence advised Members that he had led the Allotment Committee to reducing the Town Council run plot rents for the financial year 2021/2022 to provide parity with the Associations’ rent level. He was concerned that the Committee had reverted to the previous rental payment, a fifty per cent increase, in order to provide for a balanced budget.

He believed that the rent level to the Council of one pound per plot for the Associations did not sit well with the cost to the Council of £250 and £500 to the Bridge Trust and DCC; in effect, the Council tenants were subsidising the Association tenants.

He proposed that the Council Allotment Site tenants do not have a further increase and that the Associations have an annual increase leading to their lease cover costs.

The Clerk indicated that the Resolved item did not provide for amendment.

The Mayor thanked Councillor Lawrence indicating that the Committee could make future considerations.

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 26 July 2021 were approved and adopted.

(Vote – For: 12, Against: 1)

78.    DECLARATION OF A HOUSING EMERGENCY

a.     The Mayor highlighted the salient points from the District Council’s response received (and previously circulated to Members) following the Council’s desire to declare a housing emergency.

b.     The Mayor invited Members to volunteer to form a Working Group to investigate the Toolkit that provides for Community Action on Empty Homes and to agree the reporting structure for the Working Group.

He added that it would not be a committee, there would be no staff members nor minutes. The Group would work on its own referring to a Committee or the Council. Office provision will be facilitated.

Councillor Mrs Corfe had previously expressed her desire to be a member; Councillors J Craigie, Mrs R Craigie (who had similarly expressed her desire to be a member) and Councillor J Herron agreed to form the Working Group.

Councillor Christie indicated that a TDC report will be presented on 1 November 2021 and suggested a request to provide for a wider distribution to Town Council Members.

Councillor Mrs Langford advised that Members of the Housing Team would be before the Scrutiny Meeting (10.00 am Tuesday, 28 September 2021) to provide information on Immediate and Long Term Emergency actions.

Councillor Christie reminded Members of the “Zed Pod,” solution albeit Tiverton residents had protested at the idea.

79.    IDEAS FOR THE FUTURE USE OF THE LIBRARY

Councillor Christie expressed his concerns over the District Council who have no plans for the Library building once it has been vacated. He noted that Bridge Buildings had been empty for two years.

The Library Building will not lend itself to housing. Currently DCC pay a peppercorn rent of one pound a year. It is central to the Town.

Councillor Christie believed that if TDC did not take the lead the Council should, he invited Members to come forward with ideas.

The Mayor offered: a home for the Bideford and District Archives, Tourism information, a Heritage Centre even small writing groups.

Councillor Johns would fully support the occupation of the building by the Bideford and District Archives.

Councillor Bushby in agreeing with Councillor Christie believed the building to be a valuable resource to the Town. He observed that the Pollyfield Centre provided a Community building east of the Town, the building could provide a multiple use offer in the west. Short of hiring school halls, there was nothing available in the Town.

The Mayor invited Members to E Mail Councillor Christie with suggestions.

Councillor Mrs Hellyer indicated that Library building could be vacated by the end of summer 2022.

Councillor Christie believed the Council needed to be proactive; he made reference to the Major Projects Officer at TDC.

80.    SEA CADETS – COUNCILLOR BOARD OF TRUSTEES APPOINTMENT

Councillor Inch spoke about the importance of the Cadets to the Town not least their involvement in the Civic Parades.

Proposed by Councillor Inch, seconded and

RESOLVED: That Councillor Inch is appointed to join the Bideford and District Sea Cadets Board of Trustees.

(Vote For: 13, Against: 0)

81.    BARNSTAPLE & BIDEFORD & NORTHAM LOCAL WALKING & CYCLING INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN – COUNCILLOR AND STAFF MEMBER NOMINATIONS

Councillor Christie volunteered to join the steering group, reminding Members of his interest in restoring the Bideford to Westward Ho! path.

Councillor Bushby in agreeing to support Councillor Christie’s nomination did not believe there was the spare capacity to provide a staff member.

Councillor Herron was sure a member of the North Devon Cycling Campaign (NDCC) would be interested in volunteering to fill the post.

Proposed by Councillor Christie, seconded and

RESOLVED: That Councillor Christie is appointed to join the Barnstaple and Bideford and Northam Walking and Cycling Infrastructure Plan. Councillor Herron will approach the NDCC to fill the officer post.

(Vote For: 13, Against: 0)

82.    NOTICE OF MOTION

Submission by Councillor J Craigie.

“To support the provision of the Air Ambulance Trust Night Landing sites for Bideford East and West.”

Councillor J Craigie referred Members to the supporting information that he had provided advising that while a Night Landing Site had been agreed at East-the-Water a site had not been agreed to the west, albeit that the Moreton Park Playing Field had been identified as a preferred site.
He sought to match fund up to a limit of £5,000.00 half the cost to equip both east and west sites, advising that the landing lights only illuminate when the aircraft is coming into land.

Councillor Mrs Langford seconded the Motion.

Councillor Craigie advised that Planning Permission was not in place, but Landlord’s consent had been agreed. He was not aware of the need for Planning Permission; Councillor Christie had no experience of an application for landing lights.

It was proposed by Councillor J Craigie, seconded

RESOLVED: That the Motion is supported.

(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0)

83.    TORRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL – UPDATE

Councillor Bushby advised:

a.     Environment Centre – is TDC’s stated priority project. A £7.8M budget has been agreed for the delivery of a new Environment Centre that will act as a single depot site and allow for greater and more efficient operational services. A site has been identified in East-the-Water and a planning application is in preparation. The target date for delivery is April 2023.

b.    Leisure – TDC has decided not to retender it’s leisure services and instead to set up a Local Authority Trading Company to run it’s pools and leisure facilities. A board of directors has been identified and plans are being made for the formulation of the company that will be trading from April 2022.

c.    Brunswick Wharf – The sale of the site, except for the quay wall and 7m wide strip for riverside walkway, is now complete and Red Earth are now owners. TDC successfully applied for £797,000 from the Land Release Fund to assist with the costs of quay wall repair and will use this sum to pay Red Earth for the work they do on that element of the regeneration scheme.

d.    Grounds Maintenance – TDC has resolved not to retender this contract (previously awarded to Tivoli). Plans are well underway to bring the service back into Council control from April 2022. This will mean that TDC has greater control over the level of grounds maintenance service that is provided on it’s properties and that more attention can be given to it’s greatest assets like Victoria Park.

e.    Local Plan – TDC has resolved to undertake a full review of the current North Devon and Torridge Local Plan. In essence this is a precursor to the preparation of a new Local Plan. Arrangements for the governance of the plan review and future plan preparation will be presented to Full Council in October.

f.     Bridge Buildings – The sale of Bridge Buildings has been agreed and is progressing, slowly, towards exchange.

g.    Carbon Plan – TDC has adopted a Carbon Plan that sets out some of the actions that will be taken so that the ambitions of the Council’s Climate Emergency declaration and it’s net zero carbon aspirations can be achieved.

h.    Isaacs Yard – The Council is still awaiting a decision from the levelling up fund. Work is ongoing to prepare the detailed designs for the development that will form a planning application.

i.    Skate Park – The council is preparing a planning application for some noise attenuation on the site following complaints from neighbours. This proposal will be accompanied by some additional landscaping improvements to the area around the skate park.

Councillor Christie noted that TDC do not have a Bio-diversity officer who can “read” supporting planning documentation provided by developers, although North Devon Council do have one. TDC do not have a tree officer, either.

84. BRIDGE TRUST

Councillor Christie gave detail on income, Estate expenditure, Grants: individual, student, group.

The business of the meeting having been completed, the Mayor thanked the members for their attendance and the meeting concluded at 7.08 pm.

 

Table of accounts presented at Town Council Meeting on 23 September 2021 for approval

 

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