Minutes of the Staffing, Finance & General Purposes Committee held in the Council Chamber of the Town Hall on Thursday 15 June 2023 at 6.30 pm
Councillor D Bushby (Chairman)
Councillor P Christie
Councillor D McGeough
Councillor Mrs J Gubb
Councillor Mrs L Hellyer
Councillor J McKenzie (Town Mayor)
Councillor S Inch
Councillor P Lawrence
Councillor C Hawkins
Mr R Coombes (Deputy Town Clerk)
Councillor J Craigie
1. TO ELECT A CHAIRMAN
Councillor Bushby was proposed by Councillor McGeough and seconded by Councillor McKenzie.
RESOLVED: That Councillor Bushby is appointed as Chairman of the Committee for the coming year.
(Vote – For: 9, Against: 0)
2. TO ELECT A DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
Councillor S Inch was proposed by Councillor Mrs Gubb and seconded by Councillor Bushby.
RESOLVED: That Councillor S Inch is appointed as Vice Chairman of the Committee for the coming year.
(Vote – For: 9, Against: 0)
3. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
4. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST AND ANY REQUESTS FOR DISPENSATION ON ITEMS ON THE AGENDA
Councillor Mrs Gubb advised that her husband is fulfilling the role of Seasonal Worker Item 8.
5. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION SESSION OF 15 MINUTES DURATION
There was no public participation.
Proposed by Councillor S Inch and seconded, the minutes of the meeting held on 27 April 2023 were approved and signed as a correct record.
(Vote – For: 9, Against: 0)
7. CHAIRMAN’S ITEMS
It was proposed by Councillor McKenzie and seconded by Councillor Mrs Gubb, and
RESOLVED: That the lists of payments for 15 June 2023 be approved.
(Vote – For: 9, Against: 0)
9. MAINTENANCE TEAM BUILDING – PLANNING PERMISSION GRANTED
Members noted that Planning Permission had been granted with approval conditional on five counts:
a. Works to commence within 3 years of the approval date. Standard condition.
b. Works to be executed in accordance with the approved documentation and drawings. Standard condition.
c. Entrance to be hard surfaced to prevent mud and debris being spread onto the highway.
d. Landscaping scheme to be prepared, submitted and approved within 3 months of the commencement of works on site. Planting will have to be undertaken during the first suitable planting season, towards the end of, or immediately following completion of the build. Post commencement condition.
e. Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) to be submitted, and approved, in writing, by the Local Planning Authority, prior to commencement of works. This is, primarily, to cover:
i. Protection of the east boundary hedge bank during construction using a 3 m buffer and HERAS fencing and
ii. Measures to ensure any excavations and pipes are covered overnight during construction to avoid animals being trapped. Pre-commencement condition.
The Chairman indicated that funding application will soon be despatched providing for the land purchase, tendering and contract award.
10. MANOR COURT PRESENTMENTS
Members considered the stated Manor Court Presentments:
a. That Town Council write to Devon County Council (DCC) to extend the 20 mile per hour area from Moreton Park Road turning on Abbotsham Road to as far as the 30 mile per hour sign add speed indicator signs, including the viability of a speed camera.
Clerk to liaise with Councillor Mrs Hellyer, utilise website form, confirm action to be taken.
b. That the Town Council writes to Torridge District Council TDC) to ask for a two-hour free parking concession in the Town Centre on a daily basis. This will encourage visitors and locals to shop in the Town Centre.
Members spoke of car parking revenue and importance to the TDC. Clerk to write to the Commercial and Leisure Services Manager, TDC.
c. That the Town Council assess the lower path of Ford Woods, which runs from New Road to Rowe Close, and to consider resurfacing the end section sympathetically to improve accessibility for all. To allocate a budget for on-going maintenance of the whole path.
Maintenance Team to be tasked with viewing / establishing what is required and provide pictures / detail for the next Meeting.
d. That the Town Council writes to TDC requesting restoration of the triangle of land adjacent to the River and opposite the entrance to Devonshire Park – known as Ford Rock. The area needs be cleaned, re-planted and landscaped to make a pleasant area and a favourable entrance to Bideford.
The Chairman advised that he has engaged with the Officers at TDC and that the process is ongoing; there is no need to write.
e. That the Town Council contacts DCC to request the planting of trees, that are appropriate and diverse for the area, along the Tarka Trail. This would help towards carbon capture and encourage biodiversity.
The Bideford section is already planted up; not for the Council to address areas outside its remit.
f. That the Town Council makes enquiries with the relevant authority to look at a new community orchard, using part of the Old Town cemetery. An ideal area would be to the north and east of the Fire Station, to improve biodiversity and support local food production and community planting.
Members indicated that this could not be pursued given complications regarding shared ownership between the TDC and the Church of England and historical issues with brick lined tombs
g. For the Town Council to write to TDC to ask for a tree survey to be carried out on the pine trees at Chudleigh Fort with a view to pollarding or remedial action - to enhance the space and the lovely views across the river, and to encourage biodiversity.
Members discussed those trees, not pine, close to the Fort that do obstruct the view, that Pines can not be pollarded and possible removal / replacement.
Members agreed that the TDC are contacted with a view to pollarding / pruning and possible removal to provide for enhancement of the area.
h. For the Town Council to write to TDC requesting that they re-visit the Torridge Play Area strategy of 2021 for the Play Area on Alverdiscott Road (middle section) and to investigate whether a grant that was made for a young children’s skate park, pre-covid, is still available. Request that provision is made for rubbish containers and servicing thereof.
Clerk to action, need for rubbish containers and update on TDC ’s intention on the Play Area and provision of a young persons’ skate facility.
i. For Town Council to write to DDC to ask them for a study into fully pedestrianising Mill Street in order that it can be made more attractive with street furniture and seating.
Members highlighted the need for businesses to receive deliveries and the needs of those resident in Mill Street, including those who require visits from Carers.
Clerk to write to Highway Officer.
j. For Town Council to write to TDC to request a review of the Play area equipment behind the Boxing Club.
Clerk to write accordingly.
k. For the Town Council to contact TDC with a view to installing a dog waste bin close to or on the Tarka Trail close to the Manteo Road junction.
Clerk requested Councillor Mrs Hellyer to write and confirm need / siting and will follow through policy on receiving dog waste bin request.
11. EMERGENCY GRANT REQUEST
Councillor Mrs Hellyer advised a DCC Cabinet Meeting will be held on 12 July when the Bideford Link Facility will be discussed.
Members agreed to defer a decision until the future of the facility is known.
12. MAINTENANCE OPERATIVES
Members received and noted the update on the tasks undertaken by the Maintenance Operatives.
Further discussion included opportunities to work together and share resources with their Northam counterparts.
The opportunity to join the Road Warden Scheme, given their Chapter 8 qualifications and grass cutting engagement, was considered with a view to pot hole repairs.
Members highlighted the compromised Bridge Street area immediately outside the Town Hall which would not receive any priority by DCC given that it was regarded as a minor road.
Councillor McGeough indicated that storage would be needed for the road surface material (provided by DCC without cost). Councillor S Inch indicated that he did not support the Team working on the road questioning where further engagement on the hitherto DCC / TDC areas of responsibility would lead. Members observed that a modest payment was received for the grass cutting.
Councillor Mrs Hellyer indicated that information and application to the Road Warden Scheme could be accessed via the DCC website; liabilities / conditions can be ascertained. (The Clerk will investigate.)
She also requested that the Maintenance Supervisor view the Biddiblack Way play park area. She explained no maintenance provision had been made by the Developer / TDC leaving the grassed areas unkempt.
The Chairman indicated that “no mow” May put an additional demand on resources requiring additional cuts / tasking to enable the grass to be subsequently cut to the normal level. While the restricted cuts afforded some benefit to wildlife, other areas simply became fields. He believed that next year the initiative should be selective and not be “all encompassing.”
Councillor S Inch concurred; additional strain can be placed on machinery. Citing verges next to highways he observed that the reduced cutting worked in some areas but not all.
13. LEASE FOR 1 QUEEN STREET
Members considered the opportunity to renew the three year lease for number 1 Queen Street that runs until 31 August 2023.
Discussion followed on the use of the facility from temporary storage facility, limited usefulness to the Maintenance Team, support for the Civic Element of the Regatta, the Information Screen (difficulties presented in achieving / maintaining up to date information) and the desire for the Police to have a presence in the centre of Town.
Councillor Christie felt it would be an excellent opportunity for the Police and by the Council not retaining facility a letter should be sent to the Police Commissioner advising of the availability and benefit to the Police and local community.
Councillor Hawkins indicated that there was potential to relocate the Screen to the Pannier Market where Market / Town Events could be advertised.
Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor McKenzie and
RESOLVED: That the lease for number 1 Queen Street is not renewed.
(Vote: For: 9, Against: 0)
The business of the meeting having been completed, the Chairman thanked the members for their attendance and the meeting concluded at 7.32 pm.