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Town Council Meeting 16 December 2021

Written by Claire Parsons. Posted in Town Council Meeting Minutes

Minutes of the Town Council Meeting held in the Town Hall, Bideford on Thursday 16 December 2021 at 6.30 pm
 
PRESENT:
 
North Ward:
 
Councillor P S Christie 
Councillor D Bushby
Councillor T Johns
Councillor D McGeough
 
South Ward:
 
Councillor S Inch
Councillor Mrs S Langford
 
West Ward:
 
Councillor C Hawkins
Councillor D Ratcliff (Town Mayor)
 
East Ward:
 
Councillor J Craigie
Councillor Mrs L Hellyer
Councillor J A McKenzie
 
IN ATTENDANCE:
 
Mrs H Blackburn (Town Clerk)
Mr R Coombes (Deputy Town Clerk)
Mr P Hooper (Town Marshal) 
 
Prior to the start of the meeting, the Mayor presented a Town Council plaque to Mrs Yvonne Taylor for her dedication to the health and wellbeing of the people of Bideford.  Mrs Taylor had recently stepped down as Chair of the Friends of Bideford Hospital, a role she filled for twenty two years.  Previously she had nursed the people of Bideford and the wider Appledore and Northam Communities.  In receiving the token (with thanks and honour), she spoke of the characters she had encountered and her wonderful memories.
 
101.     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
 
Councillors Mrs R Craigie (East Ward – personal), Mrs J Gubb (East Ward – personal), J Herron (North Ward – personal) and P Lawrence (North Ward – work).
 
102.    DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST AND ANY REQUESTS FOR DISPENSATION ON ITEMS ON THE AGENDA
 
Councillor P Christie declared a non-pecuniary interest in Item 16 (Trustee, Bridge Trust).
 
103.    PUBLIC PARTICIPATION SESSION OF 15 MINUTES DURATION
 
The Town Marshal addressed the Complaints made during the Staffing, Finance and General Purposes Committee, Agenda Item 8, toward the Remembrance Day Parade / Services programme.
 
He explained that he had been in touch with both the Devon and Dorset and Royal Marine Associations who had no problem with the present format, it is not disrespectful in any way, there is no need for change; they are very happy with it.
 
The Royal British Legion’s (RBL) only concern was that the format of the Service, in Victoria Park, is simply adhered to.
 
Lord Burnett, former President of the RBL, Bideford Branch and former commando in the Royal Marines, took part as a member of the Civic Party Procession, similarly approved of the format.
 
The Town Marshal had canvassed people who attend the Parade to pay their respects and similarly no one returned that the Parade / Service programme was in anyway disrespectful.
 
He observed that the driver for the Parade was not to pay respects to the Armed Forces but to remember the fallen. 
 
He did not agree with the request to have members from RMB Chivenor invited to the Parade to lead it.  They have their presence at Barnstaple and Braunton.  Members of 11 (ATT) Squadron, 1 AGRM, Instow have taken part in the Bideford Parade.
 
He believed that the Parade was Civic and questioned why the Military should lead it.  The Parade itself has nothing to do with the RBL and did not start at the Town Hall.
 
The Town Marshal indicated that since his involvement from the early 90s this was the first occasion that he had heard of a complaint about the format.  He was at a loss as to why, if the Veterans had a problem, they had not raised their concerns before.
 
Whilst holding the positions of Town Marshal and Detachment Commander, Bideford Detachment, Devon Army Cadet Force he agreed whole heartedly with the Associations in that what is not broken should not be fixed!
 
In summary he stated that generally he only ever heard how good the Bideford Remembrance Parade was.
 
He thanked the Members for allowing him to address them. 
 
104.    MINUTES
 
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 4 November 2021 were approved as a correct record.
 
(Vote – For: 11, Against: 0)
 
105.    ACCOUNTS
 
It was proposed by Councillor Inch, seconded and
 
RESOLVED:  That the List of Payments be approved.
 
(Vote – For: 11, Against: 0)
 
106.    DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL (COUNCILLOR) REPORT
 
Members had received a written report from County Councillor Jeffrey Wilton-Love which enclosed and forms part of these Minutes.
 
a.    The Mayor invited Members to submit questions.  Questions and comments raised included:
 
• Since his election sitings of the elusive County Councillor were rare.
 
• Councillor Inch had raised several on line Highway issues, none of which had been addressed.
 
• Councillor Christie noted his reference to a planning application (historic) and will contact TDC, noting that the application will not be “live” notwithstanding that it is in a flood plain.
 
• A note be sent to the County Councillor that the Council should like him to make an appearance.
 
107.    COMMUNICATION BROUGHT FORWARD ON THE DIRECTION OF THE MAYOR / TOWN CLERK
 
The Mayor had received Christmas Cards, on behalf of the Council, with Festive Goodwill from Barnstaple and Holsworthy Town Councils and members of the Harbour Community.
 
He attended the Pollyfield Community Christmas Lunch where he had enjoyed a good time and been well looked after.
 
108.    STAFFING, FINANCE & GENERAL PURPOSES (SF&GP) COMMITTEE MEETING
 
Minute number 78.  The Committee Chairman of SF&GP, Councillor Bushby, believed that the first part of the Complaint was not unreasonable and that there should be Council representation on the eleventh of the eleventh at the Victoria Park War Memorial.
 
In order for the second part of the Complaint to be addressed Councillor Bushby indicated his preference for the issue to be returned to SF&GP for further consideration.
 
Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded and
 
RESOLVED: That the Complaint against the Council over the format / programme of the Remembrance Day Service and Parade be reconsidered by the SF&GP Committee.
 
(Vote – For: 11, Against: 0)
 
 
SUSPENSION OF STANDING ORDERS
 
Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded and
 
RESOLVED: That Standing Orders are suspended in order to allow Reverend Rose-Casemore to address the item.
 
(Vote – For: 11, Against: 0)
 
Reverend Rose-Casemore simply reminded Members that where Armistice Day does not fall on Remembrance Sunday, a simple service, including the laying of a wreath by the Mayor of the Day, with bugler in attendance, is held at the St Mary’s Church War Memorial.
 
RETURN TO STANDING ORDERS
 
Proposed by Councillor Ratcliff, seconded and
 
RESOLVED: That the Meeting return to Standing Orders.
 
(Vote – For: 11, Against: 0)
 
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 2 December 2021 were approved and adopted.
 
(Vote – For: 11, Against: 0)
 
109.    PLANNING COMMITTEE MEETING
 
The Minutes of the Meetings held on 17 November and 15 December 2021 were approved and adopted.
 
(Vote – For: 11, Against: 0)
 
110.    MARKET MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE MEETING
 
The Minutes of the Meetings held on 11 November and 9 December 2021 were approved and adopted.
 
(Vote – For: 11, Against: 0)
 
111.    TOURISM COMMITTEE MEETING
 
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 7 December 2021 were approved and adopted.
 
(Vote – For: 11, Against: 0)
 
112.    DECARBONISATION AND ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE MEETING
 
Minute number 13.  The Chairman indicated that “mango” should be replaced by “mangrove” (planting).
 
Minute number 14.  (Driving Responsibly – 20s Plenty.)  Councillor Christie requested an update from (County) Councillor Mrs Hellyer on the Newton Abbott initiative for a blanket Town speed limit of 20 mph.  
 
Councillor Mrs Hellyer advised that it was still under review, establishing what local residents think; she noted that the Police would not enforce a 20 mph speed limit.
 
Councillor Bushby supported a 20 mph speed limit in targeted areas such as outside schools but he would not be party to a blanket area; it was, he said, impossible to drive along Manteo Way at that speed.  As a consequence, there would be more pollution from driving in a low gear; speed restrictions are not just about public safety.
 
Councillor Bushby proposed and was seconded by Councillor Mrs Hellyer not to support the Recommendation for the provision of a £500 budget to develop and promote a local speed awareness campaign.
 
Councillor Craigie, Chairman of the Decarbonisation and Environment Committee explained that the funding was for an Education Campaign to provide for addressing schools and banner (awareness) promotion.
 
Councillor McGeough suggested that the item be revisited by the Committee.
 
Councillor Mckenzie proposed that the Minutes be accepted, stressing that the item is educational and not seeking to impose a limit and was seconded by Councillor Craigie.
 
The Clerk invited members to vote on the first proposal from Councillor Bushby: 
 
(Vote – For: 6, Against: 5)
 
The Clerk confirmed that the recommendation to Council was not supported.
 
Councillor Mrs Langford, whilst having been sceptical of a 20 mph speed limit imposition had, once aware of the campaign goals that had been taken up and trialled in other areas, felt that speed awareness reinforces sensible and safe driving.
 
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 18 November 2021 were approved and adopted.
 
(Vote – For: 11, Against: 0)
 
113.    COMMUNITY ACTION ON EMPTY HOMES WORKING GROUP
 
Councillor J Craigie advised three Members of the Community had joined the Working Group that meets on the first Wednesday of each month.
 
A number of empty properties have been identified through Land Registry investigation.
 
Figures available to the public indicate absence policy excess costs of £1 million a year. 
 
In relation to temporary accommodation, Councillor Craigie advised that where there is a one per cent change in availability of housing the proper cost of accommodation that then includes hotels / caravans, storage, impact upon children / schooling the cost is vastly in excess of the figure.
 
Having identified twelve suspected empty properties, Councillor Craigie indicated an approach to SF&GP for a budget of £300.00 to provide for fifty “searches,” at a cost £6.00 per search.  The result should provide for an opportunity to establish why the properties are vacant (and not properly utilised).
 
He indicated that more members of the Community will also be encouraged to join the Group.
 
Councillor McGeough thanked Councillor Craigie for his work and supported his approach to SF&GP for “search” funding; there is potential to reduce the taxpayer / TDC cost.
 
Councillor Christie spoke of the lack of take up of grant monies offered to shop owners to develop and rent premises above the ground floor commercial area.  Some indicated that the experience was more trouble than it was worth.  TDC are not meeting / enforcing the affordable homes target.  Developers indicate that the costs are not sustainable (30% of stock).  Viability Studies that are presented, as part of the Local Plan, can be, at best, questionable; many spurious expenses are included.
 
Councillor Bushby spoke of large / medium houses that have fallen into disrepair, snatched up by local developers not being converted but developed into the highly lucrative HMO, multi occupancy housing option.
 
Discussion followed on the merits of Community Land Trust working with District Councils and the Community to provide for social rentable housing and a (TDC) Environment Infrastructure Levy that provides a disincentive for development.
 
114.    TOWN CENTRE PARTNERSHIP MINUTES
 
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 10 November 2021 were noted.
 
115.    TORRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL – UPDATE
 
Councillors Bushby and Christie spoke on the potential sale of Bridge Buildings and a £800,000 Brunswick Wharf grant funding anomaly.
 
116.    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 7.30 pm.
 
Image shows the table of Accounts for approval at  the Town Council Meeting held on 16 December 2021

 

Minute Number 106. DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL (COUNCILLOR) REPORT

 
Bideford Town Report – 16/12/2021
 
Dear Council,
 
It is with some real sadness that I cannot attend the meeting but given the rising Covid rates and my contact with high-risk people I feel it would be a tad irresponsible.
 
To that end, I wish you all a very safe and happy Christmas and will look forward to the New Year and meeting you all again.
 
I have a couple of things I would like to report on:
 
1.    It has been brought to my attention that a piece of land is for sale that possibly has a historic industrial planning attached to it. The piece of land is at the Coach Drive turning by the A386 on the way out of Bideford. The planning was granted in 1982 and, as far as I am aware, a shovel was placed in the ground to maintain the application in perpetuity. I have tried to see if there is any information available on this but to no avail. I have been told the planning MAY have lapsed but I don’t seem to be able to find any actual information on it. Given that it is now up reportedly up for sale and has definitely been cleared I believe it may have quite an implication on the area itself and I am not sure a planning granted in 1982 would have undergone the correct scrutiny as deemed today. I believe it is unfit for industrial purposes and I would ask the Council to see if there is any information that can be sought and to perhaps provide comment as to the suitability of a development of this nature in the area it is, should it still be an active planning.
 
2.    Clovelly Gardens North, the footpath there has become bordering on unusable. There is a bit of a back story to this. I have found out it was adopted when the A39 was de-trunked however it was never part of the documents hence the condition it is now in. We have managed to get funding for the footpath to be resurfaced this financial year however due to the structural issues it has required multiple parties to be involved but we got to design phase. The work design has hit a snag with any resurfacing works potentially being compromised by the structural wall. The top four courses of blocks are looking less than in the best condition and placing vibratory equipment and additional weight on them could cause an issue long term. I understand the frustrations of the public, but any works here must be in line with asset management principles and ensure they are the correct and safe to complete. They will be completed but what is there was not foreseen and to that end it will take a bit longer.
 
3.    Cllr Hellyer and I have both volunteered to be part of the County SEND Task Group. This is a huge undertaking as I am sure you will understand but I am confident we have a very good and active team and hope to make the difference needed to help raise County out of the special measures it was placed in by OFSTEAD. I can assure you this will be a priority to me, and I feel I may have quite a bit to offer already. The team itself is excellent and the Officers are bringing a lot of confidence and expertise with them. 
 
Merry Christmas to all and a Happy New Year. 
 
Cllr Jeff Wilton-Love

 


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