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Minutes of the Town Council Meeting held in the Town Hall, Bideford on, Thursday 12 August 2021 at 6.30 pm


North Ward:

Councillor P S Christie
Councillor D Bushby
Councillor J Herron
Councillor T Johns

South Ward:

Councillor S Inch
Councillor Mrs S Langford
Councillor P Lawrence

West Ward:

Councillor Mrs K Corfe
Councillor C Hawkins
Councillor D Ratcliff (Town Mayor)

East Ward:

Councillor J Craigie
Councillor Mrs J Gubb
Councillor J A McKenzie


Mr R Coombes (Deputy Town Clerk)
Inspector Seear (Bideford Police Station)
9x Members of the Public
1 x Member of the Press


Councillors Mrs L Hellyer (East Ward – personal) and Mrs R Craigie (East Ward – illness).


Councillor P Christie declared a non-pecuniary interest in Item 23. (Trustee, Bridge Trust).


With reference to Item 19 (Notice of Motions - housing emergency) a member of the public recounted his experiences of living in a tied house sixty years ago without running water and electricity. He spoke of people struggling to progress with the spectre of future central government benefit cuts on the horizon.

He described the housing situation as shameful.

There must be action in the face of the serious housing crisis; it needs to be brought to the public’s attention.

Alluding to the Central Government’s torpor he conceded that the Town Council did not have land to develop but they could show their support by pushing the District Council who do have a Housing Working Group. He spoke of past District Council initiatives that included a land swap although conceding that the development provided for luxury second homes.

He urged the Members to support the Notice of Motion.


It was proposed by Councillor J Craigie, seconded and

RESOLVED: That a change is made to the Order of Business to allow for Item 19 to be considered after the Police report, given the public support for the Motion.

(Vote – For: 12, Against: 0, Abstention: 1)

47.    MINUTES

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 24 June 2021 were approved as a correct record.

(Vote – For: 12, Against: 0, Abstention: 1)


In answer to Councillor Johns the Town Clerk advised Members that a full report on the Ash Dieback Survey would be circulated to all and considered at the SF&GP Committee Meeting. The Dieback is quite severe, and a management plan will need to be prepared.

It was proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded and

RESOLVED: That the List of Payments be approved.

(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0)


a.       The Chairman invited Inspector Seear, to address the Council.

b.       Inspector Seear thanked the Chairman for the opportunity to address the Members and spoke generally on the information that he would provide which could become more tailored or specific subject to their request.

Broadly crime is low, even when considering the Lockdown impact although the statistics do not include sexual assault nor domestic abuse incidents, the latter having increased. Bideford is a safe place to live.

The “summer effect” has not impacted, with the closure of nightclubs, but the relaxing in regulations do point to a busy period. Signs will soon be introduced highlighting the (new) public protection orders.

He expressed sadness at the recent road traffic deaths, noting the influx of holidaymakers and advised caution when driving.

He spoke of an “Anti-social – No Excuses” Team visit on 6 August noting various reported incidents involving drugs, drink driving, vehicle theft etc.

His force was doing well in the face of “COVID-19 app pings.”

Councillor J Craigie requested that the Police make occasional visits to the area of Chubb and Churchill Roads following concerns raised by elderly and vulnerable residents.

Councillor Bushby had received very good reports in relation to the two uniformed, high visibility personnel patrolling the Town Centre. He spoke of their positive affect and wondered on the length of their funding.

Inspector Seear spoke of exceptional wins, and whilst they did not have the powers of a police officer, their body worn video equipment provided really critical intelligence. He did not know how long the funding would last but further bids would be made.

c.        The Chairman thanked Inspector Seear for addressing the Council.


Submission by Councillor Mrs Corfe.

“For Bideford Town Council to declare a housing emergency.
• To declare that we as a Town Council acknowledge and agree that Bideford is in a housing emergency.
• For us as a Town Council to write to District Council and ask that they also declare a housing emergency.”

Councillor Mrs Corfe indicated that by the Council “declaring Bideford is in a housing emergency,” despite not having the resources to address the issue the Community would recognise that the Council care.

She spoke of risks and issues faced by members of the Community that could not be ignored including:

• Three month (notice of) evictions.
• Landlord sales.
• Loss of employment.
• Sofa surfing.
• Limited supply of rental opportunities.

Councillor Mrs Corfe stated that it was a disgraceful situation; people are tired. There is no miracle to help those evicted / those experiencing homelessness. She conceded that the Council have limited opportunities. She believed that the Community want acknowledgement, a validation of their situation; she spoke on the power of solidarity the empowerment provided by the declaration of a housing emergency. There is an opportunity to speak out, a demand for political action to look for tangible solutions, a strength in unified action.

Councillor McKenzie seconded the Motion. He spoke of an elderly resident whose income had been reduced and was under notice to quit her tenancy.

Councillor Christie explained that there were four major problems in the Torridge area:

1.     Low wages.
2.     Second homes (one in four homes sold in 2018).
3.     Holiday homes.
4.     Affordable homes.

He indicated that the District Local Plan stated that 30% of a new home development should be “affordable.” He noted that this was rarely the case adding that Central Government National Planning policy now calls for 10% provision.

He agreed that there was little that the Bideford Town Council could do adding that the District Council were restricted in not having land to develop (the price of which is prohibitive). He did explain an initiative, where grants were available to provide accommodation above shop units. He spoke also of a new modular housing project in Cullompton (and Tiverton – part of Mid Devon District Council’s move towards carbon zero) of a “Zed Pod,” providing for a fully furnished home.

In supporting the Motion, he felt that a letter should be addressed to the local MP; he noted that 25% of Central Government funding is obtained from Development.

Councillor Mrs Langford recognised the need for political will to change policy at local level. She proposed an amendment to the Motion adding that the Council works to support the District Council.

Councillor J Craigie seconded the amendment to the Motion. In the face of inactivity, he stated that there were many powers available to local authorities regarding empty homes including Compulsory Purchase Orders.

He listed a number of the Acts:

Housing Act 1985, section 17 To increase the number of house available or improve housing stock.
Town and County Planning Act 1990, section 226. Takeover of land for redevelopment.
Environmental Protection Act, 1990, Section 80. Order to make property safe or allow emergency action to make safe.
The Housing Act 2004. Make sure empty properties are occupied and managed properly, safe, and suitable to live in.

Councillor J Craigie believed that a lot of powers could be used if the authorities were willing. He described a “Community Action on Empty Homes Toolkit.” A guide to local authorities and communities working together through the process of bringing empty homes into use and to deliver affordable housing for local people.

Councillor J Craigie proposed an additional amendment with the formation of a Working Group to investigate the Toolkit that provides for Community Action on Empty Homes. The SF&GP Committee investigate using a proportion of the reserves to invest in a cooperative housing opportunity and the Neighbourhood Planning Steering Group to consider housing in the Community.

Councillor Mrs Corfe accepted both amendment and the amalgamation of them. Councillor McKenzie agreed and seconded the amended Motion.

Councillor Bushby explained the plight of a family facing eviction and liaison work with the Housing Department. He believed that there was property in the Town that could be used for residential needs, giving an example of one that had been vacant for ten years. As Chairman of the District Council, the Housing and Planning Authority, he indicated that whilst sympathetic he would abstain from voting.

Councillor Christie noted that there were many holiday homes that effectively reduced the housing stock. He believed that land was the issue, for the District Council, and indicated that they did not have the appetite for costly housing litigation.

It was proposed by Councillor Mrs Corfe, seconded

RESOLVED: That the Amended Motion is supported:

1.     “For Bideford Town Council to declare a housing emergency.
• To declare that we as a Town Council acknowledge and agree that Bideford is in a housing emergency.
• For us as a Town Council to write to District Council and ask that they also declare a housing emergency.”
2.     That the Town Council supports the District Council in the face of the housing emergency.
3.     That a Working Group is formed to investigate the Toolkit that provides for Community Action on Empty Homes.
4.     The SF&GP Committee investigate using a proportion of the reserves to invest in a cooperative housing opportunity.
5.     The Neighbourhood Planning Steering Group consider housing in the Community in seeking to address some of these issues.

(Vote – For: 12, Against: 0, Abstention: 1)


Members noted the written report provided by County Councillor Mrs Hellyer which is enclosed and forms part of these Minutes.


a.     The Town Clerk advised that the Mayor Introduction Ceremony will be held on Tuesday 28 September at 7.00 pm in the Town Hall followed by a buffet at the Royal Hotel.

The Deputy Town Clerk will invite the Members accordingly.

b.     The Chairman expressed his desire for a sign declaring Bideford Town Council to be mounted over the front door of the Town Hall.

Councillor Christie advised that he had to submit a planning application, including a wildlife survey, for a plaque given the building’s Listed status.

The Chairman will investigate and provide detail to SF&GP.


The Minutes of the Meetings held on 3 August 2021 were approved and adopted.

(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0)


The Minutes of the Meeting held on 8 July 2021 were approved and adopted.

(Vote – For: 12, Against: 0, Abstention, 1)


(Councillor Herron left the room.)

The Minutes of the Meetings held on 14 July and 4 August 2021 were approved and adopted.

(Vote – For: 12, Against: 0)


The Minutes of the Meeting held on 20 July 2021 were approved and adopted.

(Vote – For: 12, Against: 0)


(Councillor Herron returned.)

The Chairman led the Members in praising the Town Clerk’s Assistant for her work; the positive outcome of the Workgroup would not have been attained without her drive.

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 26 July 2021 were approved and adopted.

(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0)


The Chairman advised that he had been in attendance when TDC officers conducted a smoke test in the Town Hall building. There is no ventilation. The extraction unit in the centre of the Council Chamber roof did not create any smoke movement.

He believed that TDC had failed in their duty of care to those entering and occupying the building. He also stated that they had not made the building COVID-19 compliant.

He explained that there were air conditioning / air exchange units available at a cost of two to three hundred pounds; he would further investigate with a view to Council purchase.


Following discussion, it was

Proposed by Councillor Mrs Corfe, seconded and


a.    Councillor Inch is appointed to the Allotment Committee.
b.    Councillor Inch is appointed to the DALC County Committee.
c.     Councillor Inch is appointed to the DALC Larger Councils Sub Committee.

(Vote For: 13 Against: 0)


Following discussion, it was

Proposed by Councillor J Craigie, seconded and

RESOLVED: That Councillor Mrs Langford is appointed to replace Councillor Mrs Craigie on the Bridge Trust.

(Vote For: 13, Against: 0)


Members noted the DCC response following the Notice of Motion requesting the reduction of the speed limit in Bideford to 20 mph.


Submission by Councillor J Craigie.

“To consider the provision of a South West Ambulance Trust Defibrillator for Pollyfield Park and associated Community training.”

Councillor J Craigie explained that the Defibrillator at the Pollyfield Community Centre had not been maintained. He had contacted the South West Ambulance Trust who could provide a Defibrillator and maintenance package for £1,800.00; training would cost a further £475.00. He believed that the offer of training for local residents was important as many people are fearful of using the equipment despite the obvious benefits.

Councillor Ratcliff seconded the Motion.

It was proposed by Councillor J Craigie, seconded

RESOLVED: That the Motion is supported.

(Vote – For: 12, Against: 0, Abstention: 1)


Submission by Councillor Hawkins.

“This notice of motion relates to BTC becoming a Dementia friendly authority.
I would ask this council to consider tonight reaching out to those who suffer and at times feel lost and need support during the pandemic.

Just going shopping can be a challenge and as a “dementia friend”, which I would ask all councillors to become, we can individually offer that little bit of help when needed. We would need to allocate time only for a rep from

Alzheimer's to give “on the spot” guidance to us and no cost would be borne by council. No administration is needed.”

Councillor Hawkins in canvassing support for the Motion indicated his desire for a member of the Alzheimer’s Society to address the Council.

Councillor Mrs Corfe seconded the Motion. She reminded Members of her Motion to invite (three) speakers to provide insight on issues within the Community.

Councillor Bushby spoke on limiting speaking time to fifteen minutes.

It was proposed by Councillor Hawkins, seconded

RESOLVED: That the Motion is supported.

(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0)


Members received the Notes of the Bideford Town Centre Partnership held on 29 June 2021.


a.       Councillor Bushby advised that at the last full meeting both the Winkleigh and Torrington Neighbourhood Plans had been approved, the Annual Report agreed and a challenge to the Brunswick Wharf Development had been rejected.

b.       Councillor Christie noted that the Housing Department would be providing for two families from Afghanistan.


Councillor Christie gave detail on income, Estate expenditure, Grants: individual, student, group.

The business of the meeting having been completed, the Mayor stated that it had been an honour and privilege to have met the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall; he was appreciative of the Accident and Emergency Department whose attention had enabled him to attend the Royal couple.

He thanked the Members for their attendance; the Meeting concluded at 8.05 pm.

Table of accounts for approval at the Town Council Meeting 12 August 2021




Minute Number 49.


Report for Bideford Town Council from County Cllr Linda Hellyer

Please accept my apologies for not attending the town council meeting.

There is not a great deal to report, as since May, I have been very busy attending induction sessions and Master classes for DCC.

All the committees that I am on have met in person down at County Hall.   It is very different there now, as most staff are still working from home.   Unless they have to go into the office, they have been asked to continue working from home in September.  The council is looking at introducing a hybrid way of working, once it is safe to go back, as many staff prefer to work from home for several days a week.

I send you the various updates as I get them, including one today about Devon’s Economic recovery from the havoc the pandemic has caused.

Locally, resurfacing work was due to start on the 7th  in Elm Grove, and is expected to be completed in one week.  This is welcome news as it is something that I have been asking for, for a very long time.

The planning application for the “new” library is wending its way through the system, and if all goes well, the library will open there in 2022.  It will have a changing places disabled toilet, complete with shower.  This is something that folk have been asking for a long time and will be a very welcome addition to the Town.  I know concerns have e raised by a very few people about the weight of the books, but NPS, who are doing the work for DCC, are a very experienced company who work with councils all over the country, and they employ excellent architects and structural engineers.

 I would encourage you all to continue to report routine matters direct to Devon County Council.

The preferred method is online, as the issue gets sent direct to the relevant contractor.  If you google Devon County Council / Report a problem, a page comes up with icons for e.g. Potholes, blocked drains and gullies, street lamps, overgrown vegetation and parking issues etc.  Click on the appropriate icon and follow the simple instructions.  You will receive an automated email with a tracking number.

Alternatively, you can telephone DCC Customer Services during office hours. 

Telephone 0345 155 1015

For out of hours highways emergencies telephone 01392 380380 or 0345155 1008

For anything to do with speeding or slurry on the road, please contact the Police.

You can email or telephone 101.

I find it quicker to go on the Devon and Cornwall Police website and use the LIVECHAT facility.

I am always happy for people to contact me about County matters:

E Mail - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / Telephone - 07828758360.




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