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Minutes of the Staffing, Finance & General Purposes Committee held in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Bideford on Thursday 12 October 2017 at 6.30 pm

PRESENT:

North Ward:

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

South Ward:

Councillor D G Brenton
Councillor S G Inch (Chairman)
Councillor R Wootton

South (outer) Ward:

Councillor D Howell

IN ATTENDANCE:

Mrs H J Blackburn (Town Clerk)

060  APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Councillor M Langmead (East Ward – Personal)

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

Councillors Christie, McGeough, Brenton and Inch declared a non-pecuniary interest in agenda item 13. (Members of Torridge District Council).

062  PUBLIC PARTICIPATION SESSION OF 15 MINUTES DURATION

A representative from the Way of the Wharves project explained that the project group have secured funding to create a public information panel for East-the Water Wharves. The representative asked if the Town Council would consider working in partnership with them to create a digital information panel. Members indicated a willingness to share information, but advised that The Town Council is just at the beginning of the project to install a digital information board at 1 Queen Street. The representative was asked to contact the Town Clerk to progress her request.

063  MINUTES

Proposed by Councillor Pester and seconded by Councillor Wootton, the minutes of the meeting held on 31 August 2017 were approved and signed as a correct record.

(Vote – For: 7, Against: 0, Abstentions: 1)

064  CHAIRMAN’S ITEMS

The Town Clerk reported that She had spoken to the Torridge District Council Property Manager about the Town Hall bird netting, who has advised that this is in hand - an order has been raised for replacement netting.

Mr Redwood had also spoken to her about using a hawk to deter pigeons from Tantons and the Town Hall. He had asked if the Town Council consider this is a suitable alternative to a cull, and would they contribute to increase the hawk coverage to a larger part of the town? Members discussed this proposal but suggested that an imitation hawk is used in the first place. A real hawk requires a great deal of control, and its use will upset pigeon fanciers. Members agreed that the problem with pigeons does require resolution. It was noted that someone is putting out seed in the vicinity of Strand Court and the Town Clerk was asked if the maintenance team could sweep up the seed as the first job of the day.

The Town Clerk advised Members of the increased amount of grant applications that had been received this year and of the sum which she recommended working to for the allocation of the grants.

065  ACCOUNTS

Members received the list of payments.

Proposed by Councillor Pester, seconded by Councillor Howell and

RESOLVED: That the draft list of payments is approved.

Members requested that the faded lamppost banners are sorted out and not used next year. The Town Clerk advised that this was in hand.

(Vote – For: 8, Against: 0)

066  MANOR COURT PRESENTMENTS

Presentment Number 4. ( Information Boards)

The Town Clerk advised that she has asked Torridge District Council for a price for the installation of a Fire Alarm at Number 1 Queen Street, and also the cost of putting the intruder Alarm and Fire Alarm on the Torridge District Council monitoring system operated by Guarantor. She asked if she could have sight of written permission to replace the window. Councillor Howell advised that he had verbal permission from the Conservation Officer, but would seek written permission.

067  CONTRIBUTION TOWARDS REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY BUFFET

Members considered the level of contribution to be made by The Town Council to the Royal British Legion towards the buffet served on Remembrance Sunday.

Proposed by Councillor Pester, seconded by Councillor Bushby and

RESOLVED: That Bideford Town Council agrees to make a contribution of £200 towards the Remembrance Sunday buffet.

(Vote – For: 8, Against: 0)

068  ELECTORAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR BIDEFORD

Members gave consideration to an email from Jamie Hollis at Torridge District Council and considered whether Bideford Town Council would like Torridge District Council to review the electoral arrangements for Bideford.

Councillor Christie advised that as he understood it, the parish boundaries would fall in line with the district boundaries which are out for consultation. A discussion followed about South Outer ward, and whether any councillors would be lost. Members advised that they are not clear on the outcome of the Boundary Commission.

Proposed by Councillor Pester, seconded by Councillor Howell and

RESOLVED: That clarification is sought on the outcome of the Boundary Commission, how the wards will be divided for Bideford and how many councillors will be in each ward.

(Vote For: 8, Against: 0)

069  RELATIONSHIP WITH DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL

Members gave consideration to an email from Dave Slocombe at Devon County Council requesting feedback on the Town Council’s relationship with Devon County Council.

Proposed by Councillor Inch, seconded by Councillor Bushby and

RESOLVED: That there are a number of outstanding and ongoing Devon County Council issues (landslip at Grange road, Mill street, gypsy sites) and it would be helpful if a Devon County Council Officer could accompany the Devon County Council Councillor to Bideford Town Council meetings once a quarter.

(Vote For: 8, Against: 0)

070  POLICY ON BADGER CULLING

Members re-considered the policy on Badger culling on Bideford Town Council land following feedback from Full Council.

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor Howell and

RESOLVED: That Bideford Town Council does not allow the discharge of firearms, or any other weapon in Ford Woods for the purpose of culling any animal or bird by any other means.

(Vote For: 8, Against: 0)

071  QUOTAIONS TO PRUNE THE TREES ALONG BIDEFORD QUAY

Members gave consideration to the quotations for pruning the trees along Bideford Quay (both sides) to accommodate the Christmas Lights.

Proposed by Councillor Howell, seconded by Councillor Bushby and

RESOLVED: That Bideford Town Council employs Glendale to prune the trees along Bideford Quay to accommodate the Christmas lights.

(Vote For: 8, Against: 0)

072  NOTICE OF MOTION – COUNCILLOR DAVID BRENTON

“That Bideford Town Council negotiate the purchase of the East-the-Water Wharfs from Torridge District Council under the expression of interest in the Localism Act 2011 part five, chapter two.

Councillor Brenton began by quoting Dr Jonathan Owen from DALC who had said at a recent conference: “Don’t be afraid be confident”. Dr Owen is encouraging parishes and towns to have greater autonomy.

Councillor Brenton said that he was concerned about the future of East-the-Water Wharfs and that under the current proposals, nothing would be gained for Bidefordians. He felt that the development would become second homes, with little to offer local people. He felt that one of the current draws to the town was cycling on the Tarka Trail, and the car parking was of value for visitors to park and unload bikes. Councillor Brenton went on to say that the impression given by Torridge District Council is that the sea wall is in a dreadful state, but in fact, apart from a section this end, it is in pretty good condition. However, he felt it would be prudent to remove the moored vessels to stop them banging against wall. He said that clearly more information was required about how much roughly it would cost to clear the site, and he would get this before the Town Council meeting.

Councillor McGeough seconded the Notice of Motion as he believes that Bideford Town Council could deliver a scheme more suitable for Bidefordians. He advised that he has put in a Freedom of Information request to Torridge District Council about East-the-Water Wharfs.

Councillor Howell also expressed support for the motion. He questioned the experience that the interested developer had in large scale schemes and whether due diligence had been fully exercised.

Councillor Pester advised that in 2007 he had suggested that Torridge District Council knock down the building at Brunswick Wharf and use the area for parking, He felt that if this had happened, £300,000 would have been accrued in the interim period, although Councillor Christie did point out that there would have been a cost to tarmac the area.

Councillor Christie asked about the previous attempt to register Brunswick Wharf as an Asset of Community value and whether this needed to be re-addressed. The Town Clerk advised that Brunswick Wharf was currently placed on the Torridge District Council list as an asset that had not been registered, so it may not be possible to negotiate the purchase via this procedure. Councillor Brenton advised that he had attended a DALC meeting where the mechanisms whereby towns can take over community assets had been discussed. He would find out more.

Councillor Christie suggested that the motion is very open ended and Bideford Town Council need to have something in place that can be achieved quickly. Open spaces and gardens were discussed as well as some timber framed units.

Councillor Bushby said that he was saddened that Bideford will not get much out of the current scheme, and that holiday homes do not help a community. He said that the Town Council do not have the resources to do muchother than clear site the and create a recreational atmosphere. He would not like to see apartment blocks on the site.

Councillor Howell said that once the buildings are demolished it will be a large area. The Town Council should begin with an end vision, and see how this can be achieved in the meantime.

Councillor McGeough said that the scheme should benefit the townspeople and offered to get an artist’s impression drawn up, of a scheme that would benefit Bideford people.

Councillor Inch was concerned about the lack of financial information on the Project Initiation Form, and said that for this reason he could not vote for the motion.

Councillor Christie suggested that Councillor Brenton does some work on the costings and presents the motion to Full Council with more information. Councillor Brenton conceded that insufficient information had been provided, and advised that he had wanted to test the water, with a view to providing more information to Full Council.

Councillor Bushby felt that it was difficult to have the financial information at this stage, but if the site was cleared, revenue could be earned from car parking. He said that he was in favour of acquiring the site in principle. He is however, concerned about frontage – and whether the moored boats could be removed.

Councillor Wootton asked what the position with the preferred contractor was, and was advised that they are drawing up their plans at the moment.

Councillors McGeough and Howell offered to work with Councillor Brenton to produce detailed plans.

Members talked about different methods of acquiring the land and the contents of the 1974 agreement.

Councillor Brenton proposed an amendment to the original motion, seconded by Councillor McGeough and

RECOMMENDED: That Bideford Town Council pursues the opportunities discussed to negotiate the purchase of The East-the-Water Wharves and further information is presented to Full Council.

(Vote For: 8, Against: 0)

073  MAINTENANCE OPERATIVES

Members received an update on the tasks undertaken by the Maintenance Operatives.

The Town Clerk advised that the Maintenance Operatives were often asked for the contact details of the Town Council to provide positive feedback, and had asked if they could have some Town Council business cards, with the relevant contact details to keep in the van. Members felt that it would be better to put the Town Council contact number on the side of the vehicle. They also felt that handing out business cards would encourage direct contact with the office to report issues, and the protocol was for tasks to be reported into the office by Councillors.

Members discussed weed spraying and how long it takes for the weeds to die back after the application of spray.

The Town Clerk advised that she had discussed the grass cutting schedule with the Maintenance Operatives, who had advised that if they were to take on the grass verges currently maintained by Devon County Council they would require extra help or they would need to make this their main task during the summer months. The Town Clerk explained that during the summer just gone, the grass cutting schedule had been interrupted as different tasks had come up, and it was agreed that this should not be allowed to happen next year. Members were clear that they did want the operatives to take over all the grass cutting in Bideford, and that she should continue to push Devon County Council to make a contribution.

Councillor Brenton proposed that the report was noted and that the Maintenance Operatives were thanked for their continued excellent work in the town.

074  PART II CLOSED SESSION

Proposed by Councillor Pester, seconded by Councillor McGeough and

RESOLVED: That in view of the confidential nature of the business about to be discussed, the meeting moves into part II.

(Vote For: 8, Against: 0)

075  STAFFING ISSUE

There is a confidential minute associated with this item.

076  RETURN TO STANDING ORDERS

Proposed by Councillor McGeough seconded by Councillor Howell and

RESOLVED: That The Meeting returns to Standing Orders.

(Vote – For: 8, Against: 0)

The business of the meeting having been completed, the Chairman thanked the members for their attendance and the meeting concluded at 08.00 pm.


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