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Town Council Minutes 17 December 2020

Written by claire parsons. Posted in Town Council Meeting Minutes

Minutes of the Town Council Meeting held via Zoom, on Thursday 17 December 2020 at 6.30 pm

PRESENT:

North Ward:

Councillor P S Christie (Town Mayor)
Councillor D Bushby
Councillor J Herron
Councillor T Johns
Councillor D McGeough

South Ward:

Councillor Mrs S Langford
Councillor P Lawrence

West Ward:

Councillor Mrs K Corfe
Councillor C Hawkins
Councillor D Ratcliff

East Ward:

Councillor Mrs R Craigie
Councillor Mrs J Gubb
Councillor Mrs L Hellyer
Councillor J A McKenzie

IN ATTENDANCE:

Mrs H J Blackburn (Town Clerk)
Mr R D Coombes (Deputy Town Clerk)
Councillor A T Inch (DCC)
Ms L Oxford (Devon Census Engagement)
1 x Members of the Public

Prior to the start of the Meeting the Chairman led the Members in a minute’s silence of respect on the passing of former long serving Mace Bearer, Mr Mike Davy, who passed away on Monday, 14 December 2020.

273.    APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Councillor J Craigie (East Ward – personal).

274.    DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST ON ITEMS ON THE AGENDA

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

275.    PUBLIC PARTICIPATION SESSION

There was no public member participation.

276.    MINUTES

The Minutes of the Zoom Meeting held on 29 October 2020 were approved and signed as a correct record.

(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0, Abstention: 1)

277.    ACCOUNTS

Prior to the approval of the payments listed up to 17 December 2020 the Clerk advised that the Petty Cash figure had been increased.

It was proposed by Councillor Christie, seconded and

RESOLVED: That the List of Payments be approved.

(Vote – For: 14, Against: 0)

278.    CENSUS 2021 - TORRIDGE DISTRICT ENGAGEMENT

a.   The Chairman invited Ms L Oxford, Devon Census Engagement Manager for Devon to address the Members.

b.   Ms Oxford thanked the Chairman and Members very much for inviting her to attend and address the Meeting.

She explained that the Office of National Statistics (ONS) conducts a national survey every ten years with the next scheduled to be held on Sunday, 21 March 2021.

The first Census (England and Wales) was held in 1801 with a recorded population of nine million. The last Census, 2011 recorded a population of 63.2 million. The Census (completion) is compulsory, having been made legal in 1920. An individual’s data remains confidential for one hundred years.

Ms Oxford indicated that the information shapes policy, helps with the provision of local and national services and further monitors equality.

She noted that there were two new questions:

1.   Gender (Equality in Society).
2.   Veterans (Covenant).

In taking part individuals and their communities provide the detail that informs policy and decision makers on areas including planning, housing, education, transport, library and waste collection services.

The 2021 Census is a “digital first,” where the ONS are aiming for seventy-five per cent of surveys to be completed online. The benefits of a digital census include the speed of data collection and analysis / action. The 2011 survey provided for everyone to have a paper copy; 2021 will only provide for a paper copy on request.

She indicated that it was her responsibility to identify and engage with those communities who have been identified as “hard to count,” in past census and or those who may have trouble completing the survey online.

The “Key Population Groups” (KPG) identified in the Torridge District area are:
• Adults 80+
• Eastern European
• Gypsy and Travellers
• Low Income Households
• Homeless and Rough Sleepers
• Adults with Low Digital Skills (65+)
• Short Term Migrant Workers (resident for 3 - 6 months)
• BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic)
• Veterans
• LGBT+ Community
• Farmers and Rural Communities

She completed her presentation by asking the Council to help encourage those Members of the (KPG) Community, through social platforms and other networks, to not miss out on completing the Census. She would provide leaflets / articles / social media content / presentations.

c.   The Chairman advised that he had helped his 106-year-old great Grandmother view her census detail.

He invited and led Members to ask questions / raise points of interest that included:

• Gender – terms or people?
o Individuals can now choose from a number of options including, “are you still the gender as at birth?” “How you want to be known as?”
o Veterans, simply, “Have you served in the Armed Forces?”
• Age range.
o Sixteen years and above.
o The Census includes the whole household.
• Those occupying shared accommodation can ask for individual forms. What percentage makes up the KPG?
o ONS are targeting about thirty per cent (but do need local support).

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

279.    DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL (COUNCILLOR) REPORT

a.   The Chairman invited Councillor Mrs Hellyer to address the Members.

b.   Councillor Mrs Hellyer thanked the Chairman and spoke on:

• Highways including drainage “patch and ditching work,” upper Manteo Way and Gammaton Road. Further drainage works are scheduled at East-the-Water School,
Mines road and Torrington Street (the latter where high tides impact upon the drains).

• Road Closure, 11 January 2021, rock face stabilisation work: Brunswick Warf / RoyalHotel / backed up to roundabout; there will be pedestrian access.

• Barnstaple Street bus shelter replacement.

• The Committees involved with Children in Care within the County. Following Central Government Funding all children in Care have access to laptops / tablets (along with Carers).
The equipment has helped those, in Care, who have experienced less stress through not attending school.

• Drive by DCC to recruit foster parent / carers in the face of shortages. Also, progressing with recruiting Health Visitors (she indicated that there are not enough good jobs for partners) with a new package including improved pay and conditions.

• DCC received £2 million (from Central Government) to ensure no Devon child goes hungry (half spent); 15,000 are in receipt of school meals – numbers going up.
DCC have written to parents, by E Mail, providing “Vouchers for Christmas” that can be redeemed at all major supermarkets for Christmas (thirty pounds for two weeks).
There is an Alternate Voucher scheme where schools and libraries will help with the distribution. The initiative will be broadened in the New Year to ensure that all children have a hot meal each day.

• Since September 2,500 children have had to self-isolate; schools have posted vouchers to families.

• DCC have provided support to various organisations, including Split who help the victims of domestic abuse – there has been an increase of 60% in reported cases since March 2020.

• DCC continue and are committed to subsidising (empty) buses - £5 million.

• Twenty miles per hour trials are underway in Newton Abbott. Should the Council be mindful they can apply (to go on a waiting list) for additional speed limitations in the
Town although these would not be considered until the New Year, after the Newton Abbott trials.

• She concluded that problems can be reported direct to DCC via telephone / E mail; she would be happy to pass on issues, also. (She also wished everyone Happy Christmas and a better New Year).

c.   The Chairman invited Members to ask questions / raise points of interest that included:

• New Torridge Bridge – new fencing detail.
• Further areas of flooding where drains need attention including the Pill (outside new flats) and Chingswell Street / Strand.
• Mill Street sign missing.
• Potholes - “Dragon Patcher” busy in Hartland but should be seen in 2021.
• Opportunity to paint railway bridge whilst road closure in place.
• Concern over building developer’s desire to move bus stop near a roundabout.
• Desire for tree planting on pavement.
• Wider DCC involvement outside parking, speeding, drains.
• Speeding – Clovelly Road, control options including covert speed equipment,
Police involvement / authority (report to them: 101 / E mail – confiscation of cars on police (data) initiative).

d.   The Chairman thanked Councillor Mrs Hellyer for her report.

280.    COMMUNICATION BROUGHT FORWARD ON THE DIRECTION OF THE MAYOR / TOWN CLERK

The Mayor advised that Inspector Kenneally had corresponded thanking the Council for their continued (important) support (to the local police), that the pandemic had been a challenge and he wished the Members a safe and Happy Christmas.

Up Close Theatre similarly had expressed festive felicitations and thanks for the Council’s help.

Councillor Lawrence updated Members on “Sound Wave.” The Station has been playing music, including “indents” on the internet; there will be “soft Events” in the New Year. He noted that the person who “streams” the content was very impressed with the studio desk and equipment - one of the best set ups of a small independent station.

Councillor Lawrence thanked the Council for their support.

281.    STAFFING, FINANCE & GENERAL PURPOSES COMMITTEE MEETING

The Minutes of the Zoom Meeting held on 19 November 2020 were approved and adopted.

(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0, Abstention: 1)

282.   PLANNING COMMITTEE MEETING

a.   The Minutes of the Zoom Meetings held on 18 November and 16 December 2020 were approved and adopted.

(Vote – For: 14, Against: 0)

b.   The decisions made by the Planning Committee during October 2020 were noted.

283.    MARKET MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE

Minute 191.b. Councillor Christie indicated that, “parts of East-the-Water are areas of social depravation,” should read, “social deprivation.”

Minute 191.b. Councillor Bushby indicated that, “seven hours thirty,” should read “seven hours thirty minutes.”

The Clerk indicated that the Minutes would be corrected.

Minute 190. Councillor Hawkins stated that having been part of the unanimous vote to engage a Development Officer he now believed it to be the wrong decision, citing the
financial cost to be too much for the tenants.

The Clerk indicated that the item was a resolution to engage Development Officer but if he wished to challenge Minute 193, the Draft Budget recommendation to finance the Officer, he would have to put in a counter proposal, an alternate budget. If the Recommendation (to
finance the Development Officer) fell the item would have to go back to the Market Management Committee to explore an alternate means to finance the position.

Discussion followed on the actual cost to the Tenants, Business Support Grant, the state of the Market as a whole, the lack of traders, visitor numbers, timing, opportunities that the
engagement of the Development Officer would provide and could be lost.

The Town Clerk provided Members with an overview of the Draft Budget. Further discussion included Council subsidy, alternate use as an indoor car park, potential loss of tenants - impact upon budgeted income - and low trader numbers that does impact upon
budgeted income.

Councillor McGeough proposed, and was seconded by Councillor Mrs R Craigie, that a rent freeze for a year be implemented.

(Vote – For: 6, Abstention: 2, Against: 6)

The vote tied, the Chairman’s casting vote resulted in the failure of Councillor
McGeough’s proposal.

The Minutes of the Zoom Meeting held on 1 December 2020 were approved and adopted.

(Vote – For: 13, Abstention: 1)

284.    DECARBONISATION AND ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE

Minute 79. Councillor Christie asked for an update on the Salix finance provision of a Low Carbon Skills Fund Grant.

Councillor McKenzie advised that application had been withdrawn given the need for a more coherent business plan.

Councillor Christie indicated that further funding opportunities will be made available for the Committee to consider.

The Minutes of the Zoom Meetings held on 27 October and 17 November 2020 were approved and adopted.

(Vote – For: 14, Against: 0)

285.    EMERGENCY PLANNING WORKGROUP

a.   The Minutes of the Zoom Meeting held on 9 November 2020 were approved and adopted.

(Vote – For: 14, Against: 0)

b.   The Minutes of the Zoom Meeting held on 14 December 2020 were deferred for approval at the next (Zoom) Meeting of the Town Council.

286.    NOTICE OF MOTION

Submission by Councillor J Herron.

“That all digital meetings are recorded and posted live on YouTube or a similar social media platform for the public to have easy access and involvement with meetings.”
Councillor Herron confirmed his belief that the Public might like to view Council Meetings in the same way as TDC live streamed meetings.

The Chairman confirmed that TDC do stream their meetings, live. He alluded to protocols, conduct and the permanence of the recording.

Members’ discussion included the Team of TDC officers involved including legal personnel that advise, support, and administer the (live) Meetings. Concern was raised over the behaviour of members of the public who may raise controversy on the Council channel.

Councillor Mrs Corfe seconded the Motion.

The Clerk advised how Meetings are currently advertised with advice taken from DALC in relation to Zoom Meetings. She explained that Part II items should not be recorded or discussed live for public viewing. She advocated next day viewing / publication, certainly in the beginning, but would not exclude members of the public from being in attendance.

Councillor McGeough spoke about the “Chat” facility during Zoom Meetings that allowed for the public to communicate with committee members.

The Clerk and Councillor Herron indicated that the facility can be withdrawn.

On prompting from the Chair, Councillor Herron confirmed the Motion provided for live streaming of meetings when held digitally.

It was proposed by Councillor Herron

(Vote – For: 6, Abstention: 2, Against: 6)

RESOLVED: That the Motion is supported.

(Following the Chairman’s casting vote.)

287.    NOTICE OF MOTION

Submission by Councillor Mrs K Corfe.

“To allow Councillor Mrs Corfe to give the Councillors an in depth talk about housing and homelessness and an insight into the housing and homelessness issues for our constituents. (A fifteen-minute talk by Councillor Mrs Corfe at the next Town Council meeting and fifteen-minutes for questions and answers.)
Also, to consider and discuss at this meeting having speakers for forty-five minutes at Town Council Meetings twice a year; councillors, at a later date, to discuss and agree on topics that would be beneficial for to receive and select speakers accordingly.”

Councillor Mrs Corfe explained how Members received much information through Council Meetings and when engaging with constituents. Given that not all were experts she believed that it would be really good and relevant to receive presentations from Members of the Community, twice a year, about various projects that they run or, indeed, councillors could discuss at a later date the subject / organisation that they should like to hear from.

She would like to make a presentation to the Council at the next meeting in January on housing and homelessness and the impact upon the (local) community, noting that the worst (scenario) is still to come.

Councillor McGeough in seconding the Motion indicated that during the first Lockdown there were 9 registered homeless throughout the Torridge District and that those numbers had risen to 189 by the second Lockdown. He looked forward to hearing the presentation from Councillor Mrs Corfe. He had a limited knowledge on the subject but would welcome the opportunity to be able guide those people who needed help to the appropriate agencies.

Councillor Bushby believed that a forty five minute talk was too long, ten minutes was long enough.

Councillor Mrs Craigie believed the Motion to be a good idea and that Councillor Mrs Corfe should ask to make a presentation to a full TDC Council Meeting, observing that the Town had little ability to do anything.

(Councillor Herron left the Meeting.)

Councillor Mrs Corfe accepted that lengthy presentations would not hold the attention for the full time but believed that she would need at least fifteen minutes to do justice to the subject. She suggested that often questions / stories from constituents almost provided a training session. She reiterated the need for fifteen to twenty minutes to give the subject what it deserves. (She had considered contacting TDC in 2021.)

The Chairman did not believe that “Zoom” was the appropriate forum for a forty five minute presentation.

(Councillor Herron returned to the Meeting.)

Councillor Herron explained that his training had informed him that the human attention span was forty minutes. He did not believe that ten minutes provided for an interesting, in depth presentation (with power point).

Both Councillors Mrs Langford and Lawrence agreed that forty five minutes was too long in the context of a full council meeting.

Councillor Herron speculated on an “extra curricula” / special meeting.

Councillor Mrs Corfe proposed an amendment to her Notice of Motion to include provision for a fifteen minute presentation and provision for up to fifteen minutes for questions, allowing for her to address the Council in 2021 with opportunity for two speakers to address the Council, also.

Councillor McGeough seconded the amended Motion.

RESOLVED: That the (amended) Motion is supported.

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

288.    NOTICE OF MOTION

Submission by Councillor Mrs K Corfe.

“For councillors to consider an event at Victoria Park for next year. An event to celebrate the Community’s resilience and strength during the pandemic. To include live music / stalls / activities for children / families etc. – all free.

Part of the event can be an exhibition that documents the strength and resilience of the Community during the pandemic; a thank you to the Community.

I will require a team of councillors to support me to plan / arrange and run. I will also ask the Community for support, too. I have at least twenty people already that want to help.”

Councillor Mrs Corfe summarised her desire for an Event that recognised, celebrated and thanked the Community being appreciative of their collective experience during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Councillor Mrs Craigie seconded the Motion.

Members discussed combining the initiative with the Bideford Fayre (making it a bigger Event), that has a budget, given the potential costs of between five and ten thousand pounds and considering the initiative at the next Tourism Committee Meeting. The opportunity to explore sponsorship, local retail support in the event that not everything could be free, noting (food) vendors and previously staged vintage bus, train, archery and face painting provision. Concern was raised for those that had lost loved ones.

It was proposed by Councillor Mrs K Corfe

RESOLVED: That the Motion is supported.

(Vote – For: 13, Against: 1)

(Councillor Mrs Corfe left the Meeting.)

289.    NOTICE OF MOTION

Submission by Councillor D McGeough.

“I propose that Bideford Town Council adopts all of the DCC owned benches along Bideford Quay for the benefit of locals, and visitors to our Town.”

The Town Clerk advised Members that the Maintenance Supervisor had assessed the benches along the Quay / water side, twenty one from the Kingsley Statue to the “first end” of the Long Bridge and a further four opposite the Police Station to the start of New Road.

Most of them were okay, a few needed sanding down and repainting, a couple of top rails needed replacing a few others about nine or ten had slats out. All remedial work could be completed in situ and would be completed in the normal working schedule.

Councillor McKenzie seconded the Motion believing that the Council should adopt all the benches.

Councillor Mrs Hellyer advised that DCC do not have a policy for individual families to adopt a bench that is already in place. They have concerns over benches with the best views being cherry picked; it would be better if the Council took ownership of them all.

The Chairman noted that in a survey he had conducted there were three benches that had illegal plaques affixed to them.

Further discussion included ownership against cost / insurance implications, Council maintenance work in recent years where DCC had carried out no work and opportunities to raise finance through plaque donations.

It was proposed by Councillor McGeough

RESOLVED: That the Motion is supported.

(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0)

290.    DALC

Councillor Mrs Craigie spoke about a Notice of Motion regarding areas of land development where management companies have been set up to manage the resource and then simply disappear abdicating their responsibilities. DALC agreed the motion in support of NALC who will lobby the Central Government to change the (planning) practise; the present system is not working.

291.    TORRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL – UPDATE

Councillor Christie advised Members:

1.   The Local Plan that had been passed two years ago will be re-examined, “root and branch;” he hoped that local Councils, including Bideford, will be involved in the process.

2.   DCC have sent an impact analysis of COVID-19 on the region; one third of the Torridge workforce has been furloughed and Bideford, out of 457 areas, are the sixth worst affected – Barnstaple the worst.

3.   The Carbon Plan has been delayed.

4.   The ONS Committee has recommended to TDC that spare funds should be deposited in “Ethical Investments.” They are competitive and should be a better bet for the future.

5.   A contentious letter has been published from NHS S106, Torbay Hospital demanding £145,000 to enlarge Northam Medical Centre as a result of the 290 houses development at Badger Hill Wood, Abbotsham Road. He found it more remarkable given that the houses were being built in the Bideford Medical Centre catchment.

6.   The Swimming Pool saga goes on…

Councillor Mrs Langford advised

7.   The Play Strategy having been re-written has been passed from the Scrutiny Committee to the Community and Resources Committee (C and R). It was very positive and supportive of play and play areas although it very much said how difficult it was to fund all areas. They would seek to encourage local residents and councils to receive transfer of some smaller (not the very big) parks believing that local input is better in maintaining them. She stressed that the Strategy had still to be passed by the C and R Committee.

Councillors Bushby and Mrs Hellyer questioned the TDC Play Strategy management record and competence to date. Much monies had been spent on consultations with nothing on equipment. There are more families with young children in East-the-Water than any other area of Devon, yet there has been no investment to reflect this.

292.    BRIDGE TRUST

Councillor Christie gave detail on income, Estate expenditure, Grants: individual (one special sport), student (twenty eight), group.

A new steward has been appointed, the first female to hold the post in 700 years. A new warden has been appointed, also.

The business of the meeting having been concluded the Mayor thanked the members for their attendance at the meeting which concluded at 8.49 pm.

Accounts for approval at the Town Council Meeting – 17 December 2020

Accounts for approval at Town Council Meeting 17 December 2020

 


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