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Town Council Meeting Minutes - 15 September 2016

Minutes of the Meeting of the Town Council held in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Bideford on Thursday 15 September 2016 at 6.30 pm

North Ward:   
Councillor P S Christie
Councillor D A D McGeough
Councillor P J Pester
Councillor T J Johns

South Ward:   
Councillor J Day
Councillor R I Wootton
Councillor S G Inch

South (Outer) Ward:   
Councillor D Howell (Town Mayor)

East Ward:   
Councillor M C Langmead
Councillor J A McKenzie
Councillor S Robinson

Mrs H J Blackburn (Town Clerk)
Mrs L Dixon-Chatfield (Asst to Town Clerk)
Rev’d.  Leigh Winsbury
Mrs M Bailey – Chamber of Commerce
2 x Members of the Public


Councillors D Bushby (North Ward – personal), D Brenton (South Ward – personal), Mrs P Davies (East Ward – illness), A T Inch (South Ward – work)

Devon County Councillor R Julian - work


Councillor Christie declared a non-pecuniary interest in Item 20.  (Member, Bideford Bridge Trust). 


The Mayor invited members of the public to speak.

One member wished to draw the Council’s attention to a few problems:

•    The zig-zag path at Devonshire Park had become badly overgrown and quite dangerous.
•    When driving out of Devonshire Park, the traffic coming from Torrington is breaking the 30mph speed limit because the sign is not properly visible due to overgrown foliage.
•    There are parking issues with loading bays in the High Street and outside the Post Office, the spaces are being abused.
•    Cyclists using footpaths when there are signs clearly stating no cycling on pavements.  What would happen if a pedestrian were to be knocked down and injured?
•    Concern about the condition of the noticeboard outside the Town Hall.
•    Abuse of the No Exit sign at the entrance of Bridge Street Car Park

The Mayor agreed that traffic did break the speed limit along the Torrington to Bideford road and that there is a 30mph sign on the road itself on approaching the Devonshire Park junction when travelling from Torrington, but many drivers think that the national speed limit starts earlier than it does.  He agreed to mention this to the Police at his next opportunity as well as Devon County Council.

Councillor S Inch agreed that there were parking issues with the loading bays and outside the Post Office.

The Town Clerk said she would take a look at the condition of the noticeboard outside the Town Hall.

The Mayor explained that with regard to cars leaving Bridge Street car park from the entrance where it is marked No Exit was probably habit by the few that do it.
The Chairman thanked the member of public for his participation.

083    MINUTES

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 4 August 2016 were approved and signed as a correct record.

Proposed by:  Councillor Pester, and seconded

(Vote – For: 10, Against: 0, Abstention: 1)


a.  To approve the payments listed.

It was proposed by Councillor  S Inch, seconded and

RESOLVED:  That the List of Payments be approved.

(Vote – For: 11, Against: 0.)

b.    The Members received the External Auditor’s Certificate of Opinion on the Accounts for the Financial Year 2015/2016. 

The Town Clerk advised that The Town Council had received an unqualified Annual Return.  The Auditors had however, drawn the Council’s attention to two points for future reference as follows:
The auditors had noted that the Annual Governance Statement should be considered and approved and signed separately from the Accounting statements.  Although these items had been considered separately at the Town Council meeting in May, both items had been recorded under the same Minute number, and the auditors had advised that in future the minute references should clearly demonstrate, separate consideration.

They also noted that 21 working days had been provided for the inspection of the books and records, whilst only 20 are required, although they advised that the notice had not been advertised for 14 days before the start of the inspection period.

The Town Clerk explained that she had followed the instructions on the audit inspection notice, so was surprised at the second comment.  Councillor Langmead asked the Clerk to gain clarification on the notice period, so this would not happen in future.

It was proposed by Councillor Langmead, seconded and

RESOLVED:  That the External Auditor’s Certificate of Opinion be accepted.

(Vote – For: 11, Against: 0)

Mrs Bailey, President of the Bideford and District Chamber of Commerce opened by thanking Bideford Town Council for their continued support.

She reported that the Chamber are very keen to raise their profile and had written to the Prime Minister, Mrs Theresa May, outlining the organisation and inviting her to visit.  Whilst they had received an acknowledgement, there had been no acceptance of the invitation.  Mrs Bailey said they would continue to request a visit.

She informed Council that the Chamber was in full support of the upgrade to the Link Road but were looking at other transport improvements including public transport to Tiverton Parkway railway station.

She reported that the Chamber were actively looking at promoting inward investment.  They would be revisiting an initiative they had carried out some years ago to put a promotion together to target  national businesses to encourage them to invest with their business in the EX39 area.

The Chamber of Commerce are encouraging TDC to use Section 215 Notices to force owners to improve dilapidated properties.

Chamber, in conjunction with BTCP, were looking at “oven-ready” schemes to put forward for New Homes Bonus funding – there were a lot of claims going into the fund from outside Bideford itself and that we were indeed on the back foot for putting in bids.

With regards to free parking in Bideford, Chamber were keen to pass this over to BTCP to take on as they had all the right partners sat round their meeting table.

Mrs Bailey wished to voice a few concerns that had been raised by Chamber members:  Tantons – businesses in town are very concerned that people coming across the Long Bridge would get the wrong impression of the town.  It is an eyesore and gives the wrong image of Bideford.

She concluded by saying that the Chamber were on a member recruitment surge.  She also wished to thank Council for taking the initiative with employing Maintenance Operatives and following the Northam example.  She considered Bideford would be better off for it.

The Mayor agreed with the comments regarding Tantons and further remarked that there must be movement.  A scheme was being looked at and if no movement from TDC then this Council would move it along but he was not in a position to discuss further.

Councillor Christie informed members that the owner had submitted revised planning applications.

The Mayor thanked Mrs Bailey for her presentation.


The Mayor asked Councillor Day about the Toucan crossing on Clovelly Road.  Councillor Day replied that he had contacted DCC Highways and they had informed him it would be placed by the new Lidl supermarket.  They conferred that there would also be space and consideration for another nearer to the Asda supermarket where there have been many concerns about pedestrians trying to cross the road. 

Councillor S Inch asked if Councillors had received an email from the Devon County Councillor Robin Julian regarding reporting problems on unclassified roads.  He was unclear as to the meaning of the email.

Councillor Robinson explained that these are unadopted roads.
Councillor S Inch responded that in his opinion the adopted roads needed to be improved first.


    •    The Mayor had been passed an email from South West Water advising of a closure of Heywood Road from 19 – 23 December 2016 for essential works to a sewer.  He expressed his displeasure to members at this being the week     before Christmas and outlined the difficulties to the Town Centre at such a prolific time of year.

    •    Councillor Langmead suggested that a letter be written to SWW stating the Council’s displeasure and explaining that Heywood Road was the main artery to Bideford and it was ridiculous to close it the week before Christmas.      He added that the heavy goods vehicles and supply trucks would need to go via Barnstaple, Newton Tracey and Torrington or over the top road and down Clovelly Road.  He felt the letter needed to be on behalf of all businesses.
    Councillor Pester wanted to know if the essential works were connected with the Heywood Road development.
    Councillor Christie could not recall a sewer being situated along Heywood Road.  He seemed to remember that it was in the Marsh Farm area and not under the road.
    There was some discussion about the siting of the sewer and Councillor Pester suggested that the Council’s letter asks SWW to pinpoint the location. 
    The Mayor asked that the letter is copied to the Chamber of Commerce and that they write independently.
    Members all agreed that copies needed to go to Northam Town Council and Stagecoach Bus company.

    •    The Town Clerk had received a letter of thanks from the Citizens Advice Bureau for the emergency grant that the Council had awarded them.

    •    She wished to inform members that the next Spruce up Day would be Sunday 16 October 2016 from 9am until 1pm.

    •    The Town Clerk reported that following an attempted break in at South Molton Town Hall, the Mayor had requested an independent review of the Council’s security measures.  Donna Woolaway from the Police (a former Crime         Prevention officer) met with the Mayor and Town Clerk and gave a safety audit of the offices.  The Mayor explained that the audit had shown that there was no call for concern overall but it was agreed that a roller-shutter be     installed on one of the windows.

•    The Mayor reported that the recent protests against closure of departments within the NDDH had gone very well.  The departments targeted are Maternity, Paediatric and Stroke.  The protests are in order to convey how the public     feel about the closures.  The next one would be Saturday 22 October – he requested that members pass on the information to as many as possible.
    He further explained that the closure plan included 104 acute beds and 164 community beds and that a bigger plan had been leaked that throughout England there would be 700 hospital closures.
    Councillor Christie had heard at the full TDC meeting on Monday that Bideford Hospital would be closing before the end of October and wanted to know if any other members knew anything further.

The Mayor concluded that he had been very pleased with the turn out at the protests in June and August and wished to thank everyone for their commitment.


Members noted the recommendation at Minute numbers 046 and 047. 

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 25 August 2016 were approved and adopted.

(Vote – For: 11, Against: 0)


The Minutes of the Meeting held on 10 August and 31 August 2016 were approved and adopted.

 (Vote – For: 11, Against: 0.)

Councillor Christie reported that Ward Councillors are now invited to join in discussions regarding 106 monies.  He considered this would be interesting and contentious. 


The Minutes of the Meeting held on 11 August 2016 were approved and adopted.

 (Vote – For: 11, Against: 0.)


The Minutes of the Meeting held on 14 September 2016 were approved and adopted.

 (Vote – For: 11, Against: 0.)

The Mayor noted to members that the meeting had been the previous day and wished to the thank the Town Clerk’s Assistant for her speedy return of the minutes.


Councillor Day explained the reasons behind his resignation from the Market Management Committee.

Proposed by Councillor Day, seconded and

RESOLVED:  That Councillor McKenzie be elected onto the Market Management Committee.

(Vote – For: 11, Against: 0)


The Town Clerk had confirmed the costs with TDC who had in turn advised her that the prices would be reviewed in 2017.  She asked members if they wished to go along with the initiative as outlined in the report, and the Small Business Day of 3 December between 8am and 6pm.

Councillor Langmead asked if the dates complied with our own and the Town Clerk explained that the dates were put forward by her on behalf of this Council. 

There was some discussion regarding the improvement of signage to avoid people paying when they didn’t need to.  Members felt that the Council crest needed to be dominant on the signs.  The Town Clerk explained that this had been agreed with TDC.

Proposed by Councillor Langmead, seconded and

RESOLVED:  That this Council agrees to fund the initiative as a way of giving something back to the public.

(Vote – For: 11, Against: 0.)


Councillor Christie resignedly stated that whatever we say it will not make a difference.  He also pointed out the mistake in that South Ward Outer had been excluded from the document, meaning that Bideford had only 15 councillors.  The Mayor humorously noted that he had no ward anymore and had seen the error.  He confirmed there was not a movement to reduce Councillor numbers in Bideford, although Appledore would be losing one representative.
He further considered that the boundary changes were a good idea i.e. Bideford, Bude and Launceston forming a constituency.  Although he commented that the Cornish were not too keen on the idea.

Proposed by Councillor Langmead, seconded and

RESOLVED:  That this Council sends a letter to The Local Government Boundary Commission and TDC supporting the TDC Working Group’s advised changes to the Plan.

(Vote – For: 11, Against: 0.)


Submission by Councillor D Howell:

“That Bideford Town Council approves the purchase of 2 sets of “Welcome to Bideford” Christmas Lights to be situated at the East-the-Water end of the Long Bridge and on Clovelly Road in the vicinity of Atlantic Village.  In addition, approval is sought for the purchase and installation of LED lights to decorate five trees along New Road during the Christmas period.”

The Mayor explained that an electricity supply needed to be found for the Clovelly Road lights which would possibly come from Atlantic Village or from McDonald’s.  He said that at the Christmas Lights meeting, they had looked at five of the trees along New Road by the Police Station and had obtained a quote from DS Electrical for lighting the trees.  Costs received so far had been £4,700 for the welcome signs and £2,200 for the tree lights.

Councillor Langmead agreed in principle but had concerns about the electricity supply itself and the costs.  He pointed out that the Police Station would not necessarily always be along that road.  He wished to know if the prices included the supply and connection of the lights.

The Mayor confirmed that the connections are included and that the cost of supply is either paid for by the Town Council or met by sponsorship.  If  no electricity supply can be found, then the lights do not go ahead.
Councillor Langmead further expressed concern for the supply coming from the Police Station and a possible need to dig the road to lay cable.

The Mayor agreed that digging up the road would not be feasible and if it was the case then the lights would not be fitted.

Proposed by Councillor Howell, seconded

RESOLVED:  That this Council approves the purchase of 2 sets of “Welcome to Bideford” Christmas Lights and the purchase and installation of LED lights to decorate five trees along New Road during Christmas.

(Vote – For:11, Against:0.)


Submission by Councillor Wootton.

“The hosting of a devolution debate at a venue to be decided with organisation and the people of Bideford re Devon County Council devolutions.”

Councillor Wootton requested an open debate for all interested bodies ie Chamber of Commerce, Bideford 500, this Council to discuss the outcome of devolution.  He mentioned that taxes are paid to DCC but they do not spend them in the areas needed.  Perhaps there could be discussion regarding the appropriate spending of those monies if they were handed to another body to deal with.

Councillor Day seconded the motion and he considered it could be good for more people to get involved in the subject.  He mentioned that in Manchester, the subject of devolution is very big.  He felt it was something the public would need to know more about and if there was an appetite for public debate and no cost implication, then he felt that this Council could support it. 

Councillor Christie was sceptical and felt that there was more need to educate ourselves on the subject before involving others.  Councillor S Inch suggested that when the consultation is on the table, then is time for debate.

The Mayor suggested that the Council could not debate unless fully aware of the facts and asked Councillor Wootton if he would be prepared to hold this motion in abeyance and revisit it at a future meeting.

Proposed by Councillor  Wootton, seconded

RESOLVED:  That this Notice of Motion is held in abeyance and revisited at a later date when further details are made available and all Councillors had received more information. 

(Vote – For: 11, Against: 0.)


Councillor McKenzie reported that the first meeting after a short break at the Bideford Town Centre Partnership had been interesting.  He pointed out the Police Report as well as Tables and Chairs licenses, Mill Street costings, the bike rack project, pigeon problems and the projects list.

The Town Clerk explained that work to build the wall at Victoria Park would be started next week and following this the bike racks would be installed. 

The Mayor mentioned that with regard to the project list, Mrs Tonia Quance had been asked to provide details for how much ground would be required for the Table Tennis in Victoria Park. 

He asked the Town Clerk if there had been any word from DS Electrical regarding a Christmas Tree. 

Councillor Christie advised that when using a hawk against pigeons it is as well to know that feral pigeons will not fly which means the hawks do not do any job at all.

After a brief discussion regarding the Harbour Board Working Group funding, it was clarified that only funds from Councillor Langdon Lockton had been received into the holding account of the BTCP and that no monies had been received from the Devon County Councillors.

It was suggested that Councillor Julian look at investing his earmarked funds into the upgrading of Chanters Road to make it fit for heavy plant to use it to transport supplies to the Cattle Market as a potential storage area for the  Harbour.  When there had previously been talk of the Cattle Market being used a storage area, DCC had refused by stating that Chanters Road was not fit to carry heavy vehicles.

Members discussed the costings for Mill Street and expressed their displeasure at DCC’s delay in producing design and prices for the Mill Street and Allhalland Street projects.  Concerns were raised that due to the delay there may not be enough funding left in the New Homes Bonus.  They considered a letter to Mr Roskilly of DCC Highways requesting further urgency in the matter.

The Mayor concluded by informing members that he had been working with Dean Smith of TDC and Insp Phil Gray regarding the streetdrinkers.  He was happy to report that they were making good progress.


Councillor Langmead reported that he had met with Insp Phil Gray regarding streetdrinkers and had made enquiries with Barnstaple about their model, which the Police had now implemented amongst their officers.

He informed members that there had been three planning applications made for Tantons and these had been in for some time.  The biggest problem had been the Environment Agency who have stated that within the next 40 years the river Torridge will rise 6ft.  Therefore they will not allow any ground floor development of Tantons.  This is not good for the owner who has asked if he can waive what the Environment Agency has said.  This step cannot be taken incase of a disaster.
Councillor Langmead reported on an update of Brunswick Wharf and that the original person involved is no longer part of any negotiations.  He could not divulge much more except that the site is now advertised with planning permission and is waiting for tenders to be returned.
He had just a little news on the transformation of TDC with regard to the Town Hall building.  With only Town Council officers in residence TDC are looking to rent out the other rooms in the building to outside agencies.  Bridge Buildings will not be vacated within the original time frame as the building tenders for Riverbank have been delayed.  It is hoped that TDC will vacate Bridge Buildings in November 2017.

The Mayor commented that Andrew Waite of TDC is thinking that the end of October will be when the Agent will look at the tenders for Brunswick Wharf.  Boards will be erected showing that it is available.

Councillor Pester stated that by refusing the development at Tantons on potential flooding grounds would they allow Brunswick Wharf or Riverbank House.  He felt it unfair that the Environment Agency could agree one side of the river and not the other.

Councillor Langmead advised that Brunswick would have to be raised 1.75m and that Riverbank House would need to be raised above the floodzone.  He pointed out that the Newton Road flats that were waiting for development were in a floodzone and now have to be raised.  He commented that unfortunately the Environment Agency is a professional body who have to be complied with.

Councillor Pester remarked that the residents of Chanters Road, Morrisons and part of Northam Road area would all be at risk of flooding.

Councillor Johns enquired why Tantons could not be raised up to add another level.

Councillor McKenzie stated that if the river is rising to 6ft in 40 years time how would that affect our Grade I listed Long Bridge.


Councillor Christie reported that the Clinton Cards building had almost finished.  Four flats had been completed and were very nicely appointed.  They are being advertised.  The shopfront has yet to be finished.

The Custom House tenders are due back at the end of September (2016).

Annual Grants totalling £185,000 have been paid out to sports groups, community groups, churches, bands, the two Hospices as well as Scouts and Brownies.

The Trust had given £7,500 in student grants and awarded 2 Business Start Up grants.

The business of the meeting having been concluded the Mayor thanked the members for their attendance at the meeting which concluded at 8.07pm.

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