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Minutes of the Town Council Meeting held in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Bideford on Thursday 31 October 2019 at 6.30 pm

PRESENT:

North Ward:

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

South Ward:

Councillor Mrs S Langford
Councillor P Lawrence
Councillor R I 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)
5 x Members of the Public

97.      APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Councillor Mrs Gubb sent apologies to advise that she would miss the first part of the Meeting but would attend thereafter.

98.      DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST ON ITEMS ON THE AGENDA

Councillor Christie declared a non-pecuniary interest in Item 22. (Member, Bideford Bridge Trust.)

99.      PUBLIC PARTICIPATION SESSION

A Member of the Public acknowledged the progress of the Council in recognising the Climate Emergency with their speed of action through the remit of the Decarbonisation and Environment Committee. She noted the wide scope of options for the Town that were being considered:

• Solar pv.
• Tidal Estuary.
• Sustainable transport.
• Tree Planting.
• Nappy Library.

She welcomed the suggestion for a Climate Hub to “inform” the townspeople; she noted that there had been a twenty per cent higher rainfall, than the average recorded since 2011, in Devon during the month of October 2019.

DCC are one of four Councils spending the most on Climate Emergency (having committed £250,000 towards a carbon plan); their engagement with “Experts” is crucial.

The Council also has a crucial role to address the Climate Emergency, based on the Town; they need to engage with the Citizens in joint decision making.

She requested the Council to answer three questions:

1.      What is it practically doing in supporting Carbon Zero Emissions by 2030?
2.      Has it developed an action plan? Is it in the public domain?
3.      If an action plan is not available when will it be presented by the Council?

The Chairman advised that the Town Clerk will provide a written reply, following discussion with the Chairman of the Decarbonisation and Environment Committee.

A second Member advised that organisations were committing two per cent of their Budget towards Climate (Emergency) Solutions. She asked whether this would be possible for the Council?

The Chairman indicated that the Town Clerk will again provide a written response.

100.     MINUTES

a.         The Minutes of the Meeting held on 19 September 2019 were approved and signed as a correct record.

(Vote – For: 12, Against: 3)

b.        The Minutes of the Extra-Ordinary Meeting held on 3 October 2019 were approved and signed as a correct record.

(Vote – For: 14, Against: 1)

101.     ACCOUNTS

Councillor Bushby questioned the benefit of Membership with the Forestry Association. Councillor Herron gave detail including access to experts / advice, visits and membership extended to five.

It was proposed by Councillor McKenzie, seconded and

RESOLVED: That the List of Payments be approved.

(Vote – For: 15, Against: 0)

102.     DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL (COUNCILLOR) REPORT

Members had received a report from Councillor A T Inch that included:

• DCC have 23,500 tonnes of salt.
• “Warm asphalt” can reduce carbon reduction over “hot lay” by 7.5%.

Councillor Lawrence questioned the criteria for attending potholes, highlighting the poor state of Moreton Park Road. Councillor Mrs Hellyer spoke about the bureaucracy, indicating that more will be done.

Members noted the Report.

103.    COMMUNICATION BROUGHT FORWARD ON THE DIRECTION OF THE MAYOR

The Town Clerk advised:

a.        Bideford Fire Station Manager Sanders had submitted a Fire Report, which Members noted.

b.        Up Close Theatre, in conjunction with Bideford Town Council and the Voice, will perform A Christmas Carol, a live radio play on Saturday 21 December 2019 in the Town Hall. Performances will be at 6.00 pm and 8.00 pm and will last an hour. Tickets go on sale next week in the Burton Art Gallery and are £6.50. Proceeds will be split between the Mayor’s Charity (the Food Bank), Up Close Theatre and the Voice.

c.        Remembrance Sunday, 10 November 2019 – Town Hall open from 9.45 am, councillors to be robed by 10.15 am.

d.       Signing of the Lease, 7 December 2019 – Town Hall open from 9.45 am, councillors to be robed by 10.15 am.

e.       Mr D Williams (D A Funeral Directors) has provided £1,000.00 to the Wildflower Planting of verges and test sites following discussions with Councillor McGeough.

The Mayor displayed to Members a map / plan of the (uncovered) Market circa 1864 and an information board depicting the lost streets of Bideford: Pimlico and Providence, cleared during the 1960’s slum clearance. They will be mounted in appropriate sites.

104.     STAFFING, FINANCE AND GENERAL PURPOSES COMMITTEE

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 17 October 2019 were approved and adopted.

(Vote – For: 15, Against: 0)

105.     PLANNING COMMITTEE

Minutes of the Meeting held on 9 and 30 October 2019 were approved and adopted.

(Vote – For: 15, Against: 0)

106.     MARKET MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE

Councillor McGeough invited Councillor Hawkins to liaise with the Torridge Officer behind the Bideford Wi-Fi initiative. He believed that £700 remained available and that further funding could be obtained by approaching Torridge Councillors. Councillor McGeough indicated that he would be receptive.

Councillor Bushby spoke about a free Community Food initiative that aimed to reduce food waste. Having visited an example in Tiverton Library with the Project Leader and not finding receptive host sites in Bideford he had introduced her to the Pannier Market. He suggested that the only cost to the Market would be electricity. He hoped that the Committee would look favourably upon the Project.

Minutes of the Meeting held on 8 and 24 October 2019 were approved and adopted.

(Vote – For: 15, Against: 0)

107.     TOURISM COMMITTEE

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 22 October 2019 were approved and adopted.

(Vote – For: 15, Against: 0)

108.     ALLOTMENT COMMITTEE

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 25 September 2019 were approved and adopted.

(Vote – For: 14, Against: 1)

109.    NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN STEERING GROUP

The Chairman invited Members (and their Ward / Community members) to attend the next Meeting for discussions on schooling, surgeries, integrated transport, roads, parking for the future. She believed that a Bideford Hub would provide an opportunity to engage the public (generally).

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 26 September 2019 were approved and adopted.

(Vote – For: 15, Against: 0)

110.    NOTICE OF MOTION

Submission by Councillor J Craigie.

“To support the Power for the People Campaign’s model motion as detailed in the attached PIF.”

Councillor J Craigie expanded upon his Motion where under the current conditions (local) private operators are faced with costs that make the generating and selling of locally generated renewable electricity to local customers prohibitive. He spoke about the importance of being able to sell solar, wind, hydro power direct and closer to the end user. It would be a significant advantage for the local community.

He advised that in supporting the Motion the Council would back the Local Electricity Bill, which, if made law, would make the setup and running costs of selling renewable electricity to local customers proportionate by establishing a Right to Local Supply.

Councillor Christie seconded the Motion.

Councillor Christie advised that although TDC had declared a Climate Emergency their planning policy did not allow for new turbines. A Test Case that would have a significant impact has witnessed the visit of a “Specialist Panning Inspector” to Dolton, where an application turned down by TDC, but fully supported by the Parish for a turbine is being reviewed.

It was proposed by Councillor J Craigie, seconded and

RESOLVED: That the Motion is supported.

(Vote – For: 14, Against: 0, Abstention: 1)

111.    NOTICE OF MOTION

Submission by Councillor J Craigie.

“To clear path and erect suitable fencing along land owned by Advanced Pallet Systems to enable access to the Pollyfield Park for the residents of Churchill Road, Chubb Road, Goaman Road, Hillcrest and Resterick Close.”

Councillor McKenzie seconded the Motion.

Members discussed the legal and cost implications. Councillor Bushby while happy to support the Motion believed that there should be written documentation in place giving detail to the easement / waiver confirming that the legal responsibilities remain with Advance Pallet System.

Councillor Ratcliff reiterated that the Council must not bear any liability for the path.

Councillor Mrs R Craigie wondered about approaching the TDC solicitor for advice.

Councillor J Craigie confirmed that the Land would remain with Advanced Pallet Systems and that apart from installing the fencing it simply provided for an easement. No liability (implications) would fall on the Council.

It was proposed by Councillor J Craigie, seconded and

RESOLVED: That the Motion is supported.

(Vote – For: 14, Against: 0, Abstention: 1)

112.     NOTICE OF MOTION

Submission by Councillor McGeough.

“Following a number of complaints from Parishioners I propose that the words “Little White Town” are removed from all signs within the town and at the town entrances.”
Councillor McGeough explained that he made the submission having been approached by Ward Members. He expressed concern about the perception of the Town to those visiting who might be unaware of the significance of Charles Kingsley’s reference (taken from his historical novel Westward Ho! published in 1855).

Councillor Bushby, in representing the same Ward, was not aware of the concerns indicated; the wording was historical, a documentation of how Bideford was described. In not supporting the Motion he suggested that the Racial Equality Board could be approached in the context of a historical town and tourism.

Councillor J Craigie advised that he would second the Motion in order that it could be discussed, and an amendment tabled.

Councillor J Craigie seconded the Motion.

Councillor Herron understood how the connotations could be regarded as offensive, he suggested that a means to contextualize Charles Kingsley be found.

Councillor Johns exclaimed that the many people who had addressed him were horrified (at the Motion); he could not support it.

Council J Craigie agreed with Councillor Herron, he could see how black and minority groups could be offended when the words did not have context. He suggested adding quotations with reference to the book and date. The words, on the Signs, were never intended to cause offence.

The Chairman indicated agreement.

Councillor Bushby reaffirmed the historical nature of the quote. He highlighted the White Room Practice at the Pannier Market and the White House in Washington, where a black president sat, he said there were many examples where “offense” could be inferred.

The Chairman included the village of Black Torrington, and the West Midlands area known as the Black Country.

Councillor McKenzie noted that a change to the wording on the Signs had been debated in 2010 and rejected. He agreed with that decision and did not support the Motion.

Councillor Ratcliff believed that the Motion was misguided although he was not critical of Councillor McGeough in so far as he was acting on the concerns of his Ward Members.

He noted that in October 2008 Members considered changing the wording on the entry signs from “Little White Town” to “Elizabethan Maritime Town” but resolved that the wording on the Town signs remain as they are. He declared that the wording did not represent racism nor white supremacism. He too had canvassed opinion that did not find support for the Motion.

Councillor Ratcliff suggested that the website could provide information on the context. He reiterated that he had not received any complaints to the current wording of the Signs. In referencing Rawley the American Indian buried at St Mary’s he indicated that he could not support the Motion.

Councillors Mrs Corfe and Mrs Langford expressed the need for respect and sensitivity and care with reference to social media in considering the item.

An amendment to the original Motion was proposed by Councillor J Craigie, seconded by Councillor Mrs Hellyer and

RESOLVED: That the Motion is amended so that the Signs within the Town, and at the Town entrances read: Charles Kingsley’s “Little White Town” (1855).

(Vote – For: 7, Against: 6, Abstention: 2)

(The Amendment to the Motion was carried and became the Substantive Motion.)

(Councillor Bushby left the Meeting).

(Councillor Mrs Gubb arrived at the Meeting).

Councillor McKenzie speculated on the safety issue where drivers could be distracted whilst reading the Signs’ detail.

Councillor Mrs Corfe wondered if the public should not be consulted.

Councillor Hawkins exhorted a delay to provide for more input.

Councillor McGeough stated, as a point of order, those that had approached him would retain their anonymity.

Councillor Ratcliff indicated that there would be a cost implication (DCC had been accommodating when making provision, including the colours, for the present signs).

It was proposed by Councillor Lawrence, and seconded

That the Motion be deferred to obtain feedback from parishioners and allow Members time for self-education / some reflection

(Vote – For: 3, Against: 12)

Councillor Mrs Hellyer indicated that DCC would not bear the cost for any amendments, the Council would have to pay, and that the amendment was not taking away “the Little White Town”.

Councillor Mrs Gubb advised the she would not have voted for the (original) Motion.

An amendment to the original Motion was proposed by Councillor J Craigie, seconded by Councillor Mrs Hellyer and

RESOLVED: That the (amended) Motion is supported.

(Vote – For: 9, Against: 4, Abstention: 2)

113.    NOTICE OF MOTION

Submission by Councillor Mrs R Craigie.

“DCC is offering town and parish councils the option to take over their roundabouts. I should like Bideford to do this so this so that East-the-Water in Bloom can work on the roundabouts in East Ward.”

Councillor Mrs R Craigie indicated that having the manpower and the potential to draw funding from the Wildflowers Monies gave support to the project.

Councillor Mrs Hellyer seconded the Motion.

RESOLVED: That the Motion is supported.

(Vote – For: 15, Against: 0)

114.   TOWN CENTRE PARTNERSHIP

a.       Meeting held on 9 September 2019.

Member noted the Minutes.

b.       Meeting held on 16 October 2019.

Member noted the Minutes.

115.     DALC MEETING

Councillor Mrs Craigie advised that both she and Councillor J Craigie had attended the recent AGM where they were advised that Central Government had been lobbied by the National Association of Larger Councils to remove council tax from public toilets.

They had attended a number of workshops including legal matters and Climate Emergency. (Councillor J Craigie spoke of the Neighbourhood Plan as a means to address the Climate Emergency through a Decarbonisation Action Plan; noting the Council’s limited powers it would seek to encourage voluntary public action.)

116.    TAW & TORRIDGE ESTUARY FORUM MEETING

Councillor Johns provided an update from a recently held quarterly meeting:

• An account on Appledore Shipyard / Richmond Dock.
• Difficulty experienced in obtaining the Harbour Board Minutes.
• Constant threat of oil spillages.
• Appledore/Instow ferry rare (minor) incident.
• Increase of speeding craft since TDC stopped monitoring.
• Interest in potential of River Wave Hub.
• Sand removal from Instow wall.
• Northam Burrows erosion.
• Horsey Island / Braunton marshes “over topped” as a result of high tide and wind – concern over impact on birds / wildlife.
• Confirmation of the Bio Blitz Lundy Marine Festival 2020 to be held.
• The Yelland Ash Base is in a poor state as a result of cycle damage.

117.    TORRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL – UPDATE

The Chairman spoke about the District Council’s recent Meeting. Motions included disabled swings and a retractable cover for the Victoria Park swimming pool.

The Harbour Board is losing money, maintained through statutory provision; more house boats are being accepted.

There had been a good, productive joint TDC / North Devon Council safety partnership meeting that covered crime / mental health / cyber bullying.

118.    BRIDGE TRUST

Councillor Christie briefed Members on the income, expenditure, charitable donations and grants figures.

The business of the meeting having been concluded the Mayor thanked the members for their attendance at the meeting which concluded at 8.05 pm.

 

Account for approval at the Annual Town Council Meeting – 31 October 2019

Accounnt Town Council Meeting 191031

 

 


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