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Town Council Meeting Minutes - 15 December 2016


PRESENT:   

North Ward:   

Councillor D Bushby
Councillor P S Christie
Councillor D A D McGeough
Councillor T J Johns

South Ward:   

Councillor D G Brenton
Councillor J Day
Councillor A T Inch
Councillor S G Inch
Councillor R I Wootton

South (Outer) Ward:   

Councillor D Howell (Town Mayor)

East Ward:   

Councillor Mrs R M Craigie
Councillor Mrs P Davies
Councillor J A McKenzie
Councillor S Robinson

IN ATTENDANCE:   

Mrs H J Blackburn (Town Clerk)
Mr R D Coombes (Deputy Town Clerk)
Ms T Bowers (Projects & Marketing, 361 Energy CIC)
Mrs J Poole (Mayor’s Chaplain)
2 x Members of the Public

Prior to the start of the Meeting the Town Clerk confirmed the Building Evacuation procedure, to the assembled.

The Mayor advised that Councillor Mrs Davies would not be standing during the Meeting.

123.  APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Councillors P J Pester (North Ward – illness) and M C Langmead (East Ward – illness).

124.  DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST ON ITEMS ON THE AGENDA

Councillor Bushby declared a non-pecuniary interest in Item 16. (Member, Executive Committee, Bideford Chamber of Commerce).  Councillor Howell declared a non-pecuniary interest in Items 16 and 24.  (Member, Bideford Chamber of Commerce and Member, Bideford Bridge Trust).  Councillor Christie declared a non-pecuniary interest in Item 24.  (Member, Bideford Bridge Trust). 

125.  PUBLIC PARTICIPATION SESSION

There was no public participation.

126.  MINUTES

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 27 October 2016 were approved and signed as a correct record.

(Vote – For: 12, Against: 0, Abstention: 2)

127.  ACCOUNTS

To approve the payments listed.

It was proposed by Councillor A T Inch, seconded and

RESOLVED:  That the List of Payments be approved.

(Vote – For: 14, Against: 0)

128.  361 ENERGY CIC PRESENTATION

a.    The Chairman welcomed Ms Tara Bowers to the Meeting. 

b.    Ms Bowers thanked the Chairman and addressed the Members beginning by advising that she represented 361 Energy CIC, a not for profit social enterprise company which promotes energy saving and renewables in North Devon.  (The Company recently won the North Devon Journal Best Business Winner.)  

To date they have not been involved in the Bideford / Torridge area which fuelled the reason for her presentation.  She spoke of the Fuel Poverty Work that had been conducted over the previous three years to help those on low incomes, including those solely dependent on benefits, and those disabled members of the community who are reliant on electricity to support their medical equipment.  She qualified fuel poverty: where greater than ten per cent of income is spent on energy.

361 Energy CIC provide “one to one” advice in peoples’ homes on all energy usage including simple caveats: turn off unnecessary lights, do not overfill kettle when boiling etc.

Ms Bowers advised that the North Devon Area had a fourteen per cent level of fuel poverty, more than both the National and South West average.  She continued that 361 Energy CIC had garnered much success in Barnstaple and Ilfracombe.

Ms Bowers advised that the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has launched a £1.7 million programme, Big Energy Saving Network, jointly funded with National Energy Action (NEA) to support community groups deliver help and advice to vulnerable consumers.  She spoke of home visits and signing eligible clients up to the Warm Home Discount For winter 2016 to 2017, where a potential saving could be made of £140 from the electricity bill; the money isn’t paid to the client - it’s a one-off discount on the electricity bill (if the provider is part of the scheme) between October and April.  She added that the opportunity was limited given the number of Companies taking part.  Ms Bowers indicated that the eligibility criteria could be extended to include those with children under the age of five and those with more than four children.

While alluding to fuel debt help she spoke of Smart Meters being “a good thing”, stating that everyone will have them by the end of 2020 (Smart Energy GB).  With a Smart national network prices will be driven down.

She finished by inviting the Members to provide information / introduction to those community groups, pension (groups), mothers / toddlers and businesses in the Bideford / Torridge wide area who would benefit from briefings from 361 Energy CIC.  The not for profit organisation can help the most vulnerable residents and improve their standard of living; they are open to helping the Community. 

c.    The Chairman invited Members to raise questions and comments that included:

•     Potential presentation opportunity at the East-the-Water Community Centre for the vulnerable of the community.
•     Westward Housing, through their Social housing house people that would benefit in Devon and Cornwall.

d.    The Chairman thanked Ms Bowers for addressing the Meeting.

129.  BIDEFORD CHAMBER OF COMMERCE – (WRITTEN) REPORT

a.    The Members had received a report that informed of the change in Presidency as a result of the standing down by Maria Bailey; Mr Alan Smith is the interim President.

b.    The Mayor alluded to a recent interesting and positive meeting that saw a presentation from the Head of Paid Services, TDC.  He felt that a similar presentation to the Council would prove very positive.

130.  DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL COUNCILLOR (WRITTEN) REPORT

Members had received a report from Councillor Robin Julian.

Councillor Christie expressed concern at the closure of Raleigh Hill, prophesying a development similar to the East the Water debacle, albeit that Raleigh Hill is well-used.  He described the circumstances that married the two and alluded to failing to elicit a response from DCC.

Councillor Brenton led Members in noting the report.

131.  COMMUNICATION BROUGHT FORWARD ON THE DIRECTION OF THE MAYOR

a.    The Mayor advised that the Morrisons Community Champion would provide twice the originally required ingredients for the Christmas Day IntaGR8 festive pudding, gratis.  He requested that the funds agreed by the Council for the puddings be used for some decorations and extras.  This was agreed.

b.    The Town Clerk indicated that Councillor Pester was recovering well and “will be fully fit by Christmas.”

c.    The Town Clerk had received positive feedback from Atlantic Village regarding the Christmas Lights, “Welcome” banner, that made them feel part of the Town.

132.  STAFFING, FINANCE & GENERAL PURPOSES COMMITTEE

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 17 November 2016 were approved and adopted.

(Vote – For: 14, Against: 0)

133.  PLANNING COMMITTEE

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 2, 23 November and 14 December 2016 were approved and adopted.

(Vote – For: 14, Against: 0)

134.  MARKET MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 3 November and 8 December 2016 were approved and adopted.

(Vote – For: 14, Against: 0)

(Councillor Mrs Davies left the Meeting.)

135.  TOURISM COMMITTEE

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 30 November 2016 were approved and adopted.

(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0)

136.  RENEWABLE ENERGY COMMITTEE

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

(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0)

137.  BIDEFORD FREEMASONS – REQUEST TO TAKE PART IN COUNCIL PARADE

Councillor McGeough advised of his membership and supported the request adding that it would help provide openness and encourage new members.

Councillor Brenton felt that it should remain the responsibility of the Mayor of the Day.
Councillor Bushby supported the request adding that any number of groups supported the Mayor Introduction Parade.

Councillor Christie confirmed that the Freemasons did parade in the past.  (He added that as the Bridge Trust was their Landlords he should declare a non-pecuniary interest.)  He noted that the practise had ended after WW II.

The Mayor spoke of a visit with the Bideford 500; both he and Councillor Christie spoke of the interesting building.  Councillor McGeough was asked to arrange a visit for the Council. 

Councillor Robinson spoke of the substantial (charitable) work that the Masons provide for the Community.  He too supported the request.

Proposed by Councillor McGeough, seconded and

RESOLVED:  That the Freemasons are invited to support a future Council Parade.

(Vote – For: 10, Against: 0, Abstention: 3)

138.  NOTICE OF MOTION

Submission by Councillor D Bushby:

“The provision of £2,000 to the Chamber of Commerce towards the provision of independent, secretarial support.”

Councillor Bushby reaffirmed his Declaration of Interest.  He advised that recent practise had seen the President provide secretarial / administrative support which has been lost following the resignation from office by the last incumbent.  Alluding to the complex lives that people lead and noting the Chamber’s modest funding he believed provision should be made for continuity and progressing the organisation.

Councillor McGeough seconded the Motion.

Councillor S G Inch advised that payment could not be through grant funding given that the criteria does not allow for the payment of remuneration.

Councillor A T Inch considered that forty members paying an annual subscription of twenty five pounds would raise £1000.00.  He then expressed concern that any payment could set a precedent from other organisations for similar support.

Councillor Brenton praised the organisation believing it to be more proactive (than it was), progressive and that a payment could be made as a stop gap, to keep the initiative going.  He felt they were effective in holding TDC to account.

Councillor Christie indicated that he should like to see their Accounts / income.  He indicated that the Bridge Trust would provide no money without appropriate Accounts.  He intimated that an exemption could be possible on an annual basis (although the Bridge Trust did not guarantee annual payments).

Councillor Bushby did not pursue an annual payment but stated the organisation was the voice of the business (of the Town) that saw expansion around the A39 area.  He believed a dedicated “in house” support would be meaningful and timely.  The skills / experience would be rewarded with an honorarium.

The Mayor expressed difficulty in using public money in funding a private organisation.  He confirmed that members had, in the past, fulfilled the role.  He intimated that Business People should be able to resolve the problem but agreed to support a one off payment.

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded

RESOLVED:  That the Motion is supported, a single payment made to alleviate the immediate problem. 

(Vote – For: 8, Against: 2, Abstention: 3)

139.  NOTICE OF MOTION

Submission by Councillor D Brenton:

“That Bideford Town Council take the lead in progressing a community centre at the Redrow/Bloor site.”

Councillor Brenton recognised the marker that Wings had presented with the earmarked land and demand from local people / community groups (he noted that both St Johns and the Kenwith Company of Archers were in need of facilities).  He believed there was an opportunity to establish the project and funding needs.

While taking the opportunity to raise the Motion with the Council, to establish their support for the principle, he believed, though that the Staffing, Finance and General Purposes Meeting, to be held on 5 January 2017, would be the more appropriate forum to establish what is needed and at what cost.  The resultant could provide the basis for an expression of interest to TDC.

Councillor Christie expressed support indicating that the Section 106 was intrinsically linked with TDC and the developers.  He noted that the New Home Bonus would be funded by money generated from development in Bideford North that could be earmarked for a Village Hall in Bideford.

The Mayor confirmed that there was a pressing need (for a Centre) adding it provided an opportunity for the Council to work with TDC.  The Council must define what is wanted.

Councillor Day noted that East-the-Water with a population of 5,000 enjoyed a community centre where the “West” with double the population lacked the facility.  He should like to see an energy efficient building with air heating and solar panels.

Councillor Christie whilst indicating a section 106 funding stream reminded Members that the nine Town / Torridge Councillors could attend the planning meetings where developer finance was discussed.  He intimated that there were very large applications in the pipeline that should see section 106 money being generated.

Proposed by Councillor Brenton, seconded

RESOLVED:  That the Motion is placed on the Staffing, Finance and General Purposes Meeting scheduled for 5 January 2017. 

(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0)

140.  NOTICE OF MOTION

Submission by Councillor D Brenton:

“That Bideford Town Council make a fighting fund contribution of £3,000 to the SOHS.”

Councillor Brenton explained that there may be a need to employ a barrister adding that the contribution would not be a blank cheque, any draw on funds would need to be justified.

Councillor Howell seconded the Motion.  He then spoke of a barrister in Newport, who was interested in the case and the finance model that could be employed that would not impact upon SOHS (funding).

Councillor S G Inch questioned whether the other stakeholder Town and Parish Councils were raising monies in the same way.  He believed that if they too were serious they would commit to a contingency in a show of solidarity / support.

Councillor Christie indicated that the Bridge Trust will support SOHS.

Proposed by Councillor Brenton, seconded

RESOLVED:  That the Motion is supported subject to other councils indicating similar resolve.  A letter is written to SOHS advising them accordingly. 

(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0)

141.  NOTICE OF MOTION

Submission by Councillors P Pester / D Howell:

“That Bideford Town Council awards a Town Shield to Tommy Langford – the 2nd best boxer in the British Isles.”

Councillor Howell felt that the successful athlete, unlike many others when interviewed, never failed to mention his home of Bideford.

Councillor Brenton seconded the Motion.

Proposed by Councillor Howell, seconded

RESOLVED:  That the Motion is supported. 

(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0)

142.  NOTICE OF MOTION

Submission by Councillors J McKenzie:

“For BTC to consider expressing an interest in purchasing the land adjacent to the Joiners Arms in the marketplace for use as a car park.”

Councillor McKenzie spoke about the opportunity to provide level car parking to encourage greater patronage to the Market.

Councillor Mrs Craigie seconded the Motion.

Councillor McGeough advised that the present owner had planning permission for twelve houses which would make any approach cost prohibitive.

Councillor Christie suggested that the minimum price for each dwelling would be £35,000.

Councillor Johns feared that the traffic was a major problem; the addition of a car park would exasperate the problem.

Councillor Mrs Craigie bemoaned the seven year, unsightly derelict area.  She advocated the purchase believing that regenerating the area, would improve the access; additional (level) parking would also benefit those disabled patrons.  It would be a good use of the re-generation budget.  She saw an investment potential for the Market; traffic shouldn’t be an issue.  She questioned whether TDC had the powers to look at the unsightly area.

Councillor A T Inch indicated that given the present circumstances TDC did not have powers to execute.

Councillor Christie confirmed that TDC have looked into the “development”; everything is legal given the process has started.  He reaffirmed that private land was sacrosanct.

Proposed by Councillor Mrs Craigie, seconded

(Vote – For: 1, Against: 12)

The Motion failed.

143.  TOWN CENTRE PARTNERSHIP

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 16 November 2016 were received.

(Councillor A T Inch left the Meeting.)

144.  DALC MEETING

Councillor Brenton deferred the item until the next meeting.

145.  TORRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL – UPDATE

Councillor Christie advised that the submission of the District Plan had led to a demand for more housing to be built in the area.

The District Council cannot explain why the Business Rate for Torridge has been revalued up, ten percent, in the face of a North Devon increase of one per cent and Torbay a decrease of four per cent.

He also found very worrying that there were no future plans for the Town Hall and Bridge Buildings under “Transform”.

(Councillor A T Inch returned.)

Discussion followed on the authority, the role of the members, the political groups and their influence on policy and the delivery of services.

The Mayor praised TDC in leading the way for four national companies to move into the Atlantic Park and creating employment for 100 people.  He further stated that Bideford needs to continue the development; TDC were progressive in their outlook.

146.  BRIDGE TRUST

Councillor Christie briefed Members on the income, expenditure, charitable donations and grants figures.  He confirmed that work was being carried out on the Custom House and the hairdressers at the foot of Bridgeland Street.

The business of the meeting having been concluded the Mayor thanked the members for their attendance at the meeting which concluded at 7.55 pm.



























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