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Minutes of the Meeting of the Town Council held in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Bideford on Thursday 14 December 2017 at 6.30 pm

PRESENT:

North Ward:

Councillor D Bushby
Councillor P S Christie
Councillor T Johns
Councillor D A D McGeough (Town Mayor)
Councillor P J Pester

South Ward:

Councillor D Brenton
Councillor J Day
Councillor A T Inch
Councillor S G Inch
Councillor B Wootton

South (Outer) Ward

Councillor D Howell

East Ward:

Councillor Mrs R M Craigie
Councillor M C Langmead
Councillor J A McKenzie
Councillor S Robinson

IN ATTENDANCE:

Mrs H J Blackburn (Town Clerk)
Mr R D Coombes (Deputy Town Clerk)
Mrs L Dixon-Chatfield (Assistant to the Town Clerk)
Mrs J Wallace (Head of Paid Services, TDC)
Councillor Mrs J Whittaker (Leader, TDC)
Mr A Redwood (Property Manager, TDC)
7 x Members of the Public

116.    APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Councillor Mrs P Davies (East Ward – illness).

117.    DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST ON ITEMS ON THE AGENDA

Councillor Christie declared a non-pecuniary interest in Item 20. (Member, Bideford Bridge Trust).

118.    PUBLIC PARTICIPATION SESSION

A member of the public highlighted parking problems experienced in the Town specifically Bridgeland Street and Alverdiscott Road. The former is blighted by illegal parking that presents difficulties for the Emergency Services.

Alverdiscott Road “is an accident waiting to happen.” For twenty minutes in the morning and again in the afternoon, when children are being dropped off and collected from the School, the inconsiderate parking by the entrance causes delays and represents a hazard. There are no restrictions.

He would like the Council to encourage the appropriate authority to introduce single lines and consider an efficient and safe means of operation; perhaps the school could have a dedicated drop off / move off zone.

Without any restrictions the Police cannot do anything.

A second member expressed support for Item. 16. (Notice of Motion - Bridge Buildings / new Library believing that the “iconic” building should remain in the Public Domain. She suggested that the monies earmarked for the current option (a move to Burton in the Park) could be invested in making the building fit for (library) purpose.

A third member thanked the Town, Mr Darren Sparrey and his D S Electrical Team, for the fantastic lights. He declared it on behalf of himself and the Bideford and District Chamber of Commerce.

119.    MINUTES

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 2 November 2017 were approved and signed as a correct record.

(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0, Abstention: 2)

120.    ACCOUNTS

To approve the payments listed.

Councillor Christie questioned the purchase of Christmas Cards, to be distributed on behalf of the Mayor and Mayoress. He reflected that during his tenure as Mayor the money saved in not purchasing cards was bequeathed to the Food Bank; he encouraged future mayors to consider their approach.

Councillor Langmead noted that the payment to Quay Cars for transporting the Mayor and attendants to Chudleigh Fort on Remembrance Sunday was very reasonable.

It was proposed by Councillor S G Inch, seconded and

RESOLVED: That the List of Payments be approved.

(Vote – For: 15, Against: 0)

121.    TORRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL PRESENTATION

a.        The Mayor welcomed Mrs Jenny Wallace, Head of Paid Services, and Councillor Mrs Jane Whittaker, Leader of Torridge District Council. They in turn introduced Mr Adrian Redwood, Property Manager, TDC.

b.        Councillor Mrs Whittaker invited the Members to raise questions, that they could respond to:

Future of Bridge Buildings. Mrs Wallace advised that TDC had considered a bid, which was not accepted, but had tasked their staff with looking into the feasibility of developing the building in house: commercial lower floor / residential above.

Wings planning refusal. Councillor Mrs Whittaker indicated that the application process, despite two time extensions, did not deliver the necessary documentation and lacked substance. Despite committed public support the Project was not necessarily offering what the public were expecting.

Mrs Wallace indicated that Redrow have submitted plans for alternative provision.

BMX Track. Mr Redwood advised that a report had been commissioned on the (stability of the) mound including the slope, angle and formation. Remedial work is necessary, given the manner in which it had originally been constructed, to preserve the structure for the longer term i.e. more stable; the wind has overtime exposed areas which has caused the ground maintenance team issues as well as an accident to a child who collided with a rock.

TDC, the landlord, are liaising with the club given that there will be disruption when the bank is regraded. With an envisaged change to the profile and shape they are in discussion over a design solution and cost; there will be a statement in the Spring.

Councillor Mrs Craigie believed that it was totally inappropriate; issues included loose soil, no apparent licence, six foot fencing and flood lights. There appeared to be no planning application; the visual impact of the tarpaulin, shed and flags is poor. Despite it being sited on a public area the gates were secured; to all intents and purposes a private club. It is not used by the people of Bideford. She believed it should be sited elsewhere and be purpose built. The Park should not be lost to the people of East-the-Water.

Councillor Langmead agreed that the site was not appropriate but added that he and the Property Officers had been working diligently on a solution.

Disappointment at lack of consultation with Town Council over (recent serious) issues pertaining to Bideford. Councillor Howell introduced the topic explaining that the Council had expressed shock when it had learnt about the Travellers’ Site decisions made by TDC, without any form of consultation. The Council had no voice yet in the past lines of communication were open; he cited Brunswick Wharf and Tantons.

Councillor Howell also expressed disappointment having read an article that confirmed TDC was not a Living Wage Employer. He indicated that 184 local councils in England were accredited citing a wide range from Carlisle to Cardiff and Brighton. Whilst he felt that it was not at a great cost, it was proven that when a council receives accreditation others follow suit; he believed that it was a good influence (to the locality).

In addressing the lack of formal communication between the Councils Councillor Mrs Whittaker suggested that those councillors who held a mandate for both District and Town would have known about the Travellers’ Site decisions. She indicated the search for a site had been as a result of expressions of concern received from those residents who abutted the area previously used where occupation had been governed by the fourteen day Tolerated and Trespass law.

The Skate Park had proved attractive to TDC given that the land was theirs. The Skate facility had failed an inspection, the site was not good enough for development and the Tolerated Trespass law does not require Planning Permission. Councillor Mrs Whittaker conceded that it was not the best place, though.

Councillor Howell indicated that the minute of the process was not his concern. He should like to see a confidence in the working relationship, a development of an informal relationship – “this Council should hear about it”. Councillor Mrs Whittaker indicated that she would take the message away, “do the Council know?”

Councillor Robinson provided further historical background to the BMX / TDC site.

Mrs Wallace indicated that TDC would incorporate the National Living Wage by 2020. It was noted that out of 230 employees 42 were below the Real Living Wage albeit 15 were within £0.20 (cleaning operatives).

Councillor Day highlighted the difference between the National Living Wage (£7.50) and the Real Living Wage (£8.75) and implored members to adopt the latter to drive up incomes in the area.

Councillor Day explained that as Chairman of the Renewable Energy Generation Committee he had been liaising with Andrew Waite, TDC Property Officer, who had provided helpful details. Referring to the Plymouth City Council and their involvement with installing thirty five schools with solar panels he spoke of the importance of finding suitable sites in the (Bideford) local area in order to establish a similar community energy initiative. He noted that the Torridge Pool whilst having the potential to house an array could not be considered whilst attention was being given to changing the heating (for the building).

The Children’s Centre, though, would be ideal. He intimated that there was a shared interest between TDC and DCC. He believed that TDC should provide lead and progress the opportunity to site solar pv cells in support of developing the Community Energy (portfolio) case.

Councillor Day commended Mike Ford, Head of Regeneration, TDC in his work towards funding Electric Vehicle Charging Points.

Devonshire Park Play Area. Intention for TDC to make the area safe; the current condition is “not brilliant” – grass will be returned.

c.        The Mayor thanked Mrs Wallace, Councillor Mrs Whittaker and Mr Redwood for attending the Meeting.

122.    REPORT FROM THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

a.        The Mayor invited Mr Pearce to speak on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce.

Mr Pearce indicated:

• That a meeting with police and crime commissioner’s office had been unsatisfactory.
• Anti-social behaviour / drinking in the Town remained.
• Gratitude for the Council’s Festive Town Parking initiative.

b.        The Mayor thanked Mr Pearce for contributing to the Meeting.

123.    DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL COUNCILLOR REPORT

Members had received a report that included the demographics for those members of the population exceeding 65 and 85 years across Devon and a comment on apprenticeships.

a.        The Chairman invited Members to raise questions and comments, that included:

• Longbridge.
o Pointing work appears poor and not fit for an historical monument.
o Bridge drains should have been attended to – oversight - during the closure of the Bridge for surfacing works.
• Landslip – East-the-Water. Exasperation at continued inertia.
• Road hazards / Highway issues.
o Chingswell Street leading to Main road.
o Lime Grove – dangerous parking.
o A386: Quay – Post Office – Port Memorial “heave” / road subsidence.
o Ford Terrace opposite Avon Road – Private Road wall is liable to collapse. Will DCC attend?
o Little America lay by. Food vendors – who grants permission to trade on site? Are they licensed?
o Torridge Street / Clovelly Road drains (need clearing).
o Request for DCC councillor to chase up Asda crossing concern.
o Bus Cuts 16 / 18. Request that the East-the-Water non subsidised service is reviewed – concern at only one bus an hour.

b.        The Chairman thanked Councillor A T Inch for his contribution to the Meeting.

124.    COMMUNICATION BROUGHT FORWARD ON THE DIRECTION OF THE TOWN CLERK / MAYOR

a.        The Town Clerk advised that the Council were in receipt of a DCC Grant of £796.00 for safety equipment.

b.        The Mayor circulated an historic Council accounting document provided by a Mr R D Tighe.

125.    MARKET MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 7 December 2017 were approved and adopted.
(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0, Abstention: 2)

126.     PLANNING COMMITTEE

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 22 November and 13 December 2017 were approved and adopted.

(Vote – For: 15, Against: 0)

127.     STAFFING, FINANCE & GENERAL PURPOSES COMMITTEE

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 23 November 2017 were approved and adopted.

(Vote – For: 15, Against: 0)

128.    TOURISM COMMITTEE

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 7 November 2017 were approved and adopted.

(Vote – For: 15, Against: 0)

129.    RENEWABLE ENERGY GENERATION COMMITTEE

The Chairman highlighted that 361 Energy CIC had made fifty one home visits in Bideford during the last six months and that each home visit generated an average of one thousand pounds in savings. The initiative continues into the New Year, members were invited to direct anyone with fuel poverty issues to visit IntaGr8 on Thursdays.

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 6 December 2017 were approved and adopted.

(Vote – For: 15, Against: 0)

130.    CAMPAIGN TO PROTECT RURAL ENGLAND (CPRE)

Members considered a letter from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) to become a Member of the Devon Branch at a cost of £36 per annum.

Councillor Christie noted that the Council had subscribed in the past but warned against any patronage believing them to be a pressure group.

Councillor Day advised that the CPRE were against wind turbines.

Councillor Robinson indicated that individuals could join.

Proposed by Councillor Christie seconded

RESOLVED: That the Council do not subscribe to Campaign to Protect Rural England.

(Vote – For: 15, Against: 0)

131.    NOTICE OF MOTION

Submission by Councillor D Bushby:

“To promote the use of Bridge Buildings as the most suitable location for the new Bideford Library.”

Councillor Bushby spoke of the importance of such an iconic building, central to the Town, remaining in Public ownership.

The proposed expansion of the Burton further into the Park would lose the amenity in the land; presently it sits just right in the landscape.

Councillor Robinson seconded the Motion. He noted that up to £1 million was available and earmarked for the new library in Bideford. The cost to upgrade the Burton could reach up to £5 million.

Councillor Christie agreed that Bridge Buildings must not be sold but having spoken to the current library staff advised that the two main issues that would need to be addressed were (disabled) access and public toilets. In order for the Building to be considered the library staff should be consulted and Libraries Unlimited asked whether the Building is suitable (to house a library); Councillor Howell felt that Libraries Unlimited would not be receptive following a recent press article.

Councillor Bushby spoke of the potential for a state of the art (work) project for the Library which could be affected quickly and cheaply.

Councillor Brenton proposed deferring the Motion until the next meeting to gauge public interest and obtain a report on Bridge Buildings; he referenced Bideford College in wondering whether it would be difficult to maintain.

Councillor Robinson preferred to amend the Motion, Councillor Christie suggesting “explore the use of Bridge Buildings” in preference to “promote the use...”.

Councillor Brenton was content to support “explore”, believing the Chamber were in favour for the iconic building to remain in public ownership. Councillor Craigie agreed.

Councillor Langmead believed that the Burton and the Library would work well together insinuating that care would be needed in addressing the Planning issues. He liked the one large centre: Victoria Park, car parking, the Library and the Burton Museum. Bridge Buildings, he declared, was not suitable adding that the parking isn’t good.

The Chairman invited Members to vote on the amendment to the Motion:

“To explore the use of Bridge Buildings as the most suitable location for the new Bideford Library.”

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded

RESOLVED: That the Motion is supported.

(Vote – For: 12, Against: 1, Abstention: 2)

132.    TOWN CENTRE PARTNERSHIP

Members received the minutes from the Town Centre Partnership Meeting held on 15 November 2017.

The Members noted the Minutes.

133.    DALC MEETING

Members received the minutes from the DALC Larger Councils Sub Committee Meeting held on 16 November 2017.

The Members noted the Minutes.

134.    TORRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL – UPDATE

Given the discussion / presentation by the Head of Paid Services and the Leader of TDC at Item 121 there was no further update.

135.    BRIDGE TRUST

Councillor Christie briefed Members on the income, expenditure, charitable donations and grants figures. He expressed thanks from the Trust to the Council.

 

The business of the meeting having been concluded the Mayor thanked the members for their attendance at the meeting which concluded at 8.29 pm.

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