Minutes of the Town Council Meeting held via Zoom, on Tuesday 13 August 2020 at 6.30 pm
Councillor P S Christie (Town Mayor)
Councillor D Bushby
Councillor T Johns
Councillor D McGeough
Councillor J Herron
Councillor Mrs S Langford
Councillor P Lawrence
Councillor C Hawkins
Councillor D Ratcliff
Councillor J Craigie
Councillor Mrs R Craigie
Councillor Mrs J Gubb
Councillor Mrs L Hellyer
Councillor J A McKenzie
IN ATTENDANCE: Mrs H J Blackburn (Town Clerk)
Mrs L Dixon-Chatfield
Insp Shaun Kenneally
Councillor T Inch (DCC)
219. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Councillor R Wootton (South Ward) - personal
Councillor Mrs K Corfe (West Ward) - personal
The Chairman welcomed Members and explained how to use the “Blue Hand” function on Zoom. He confirmed that Members had their voting papers.
220. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST ON ITEMS ON THE AGENDA
Councillor P Christie declared a non-pecuniary interest in Item 16. (Trustee, Bridge Trust).
221. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION SESSION
There were no members of the public present.
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 25 June 2020 were approved and signed as a correct record.
(Vote – For: 12, Against: 0, Abstentions: 2)
a. To approve the payments listed as at 31 July 2020.
It was proposed by: Councillor Bushby, seconded and
RESOLVED: That the List of Payments be approved.
(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0, Abstentions: 1)
b. To approve the payments listed as at 13th August 2020.
It was proposed by: Councillor Christie , seconded and
RESOLVED: That the List of Payments be approved.
(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0, Abstentions: 1)
225. VERBAL REPORT FROM THE POLICE
The Chairman welcomed Inspector Shaun Kenneally and invited him to deliver his report.
Inspector Kenneally explained that he would deliver his report and take questions afterwards.
a. Covid Update:
The pandemic had affected everyone including the Police Force and he had two personnel shielding and working from home which reduced his numbers of officers “on the ground”. His team have been socially distancing where possible but with his numbers down this had proved challenging.
During lockdown they had received many calls regarding second homes and social distancing.
Across the Torridge area licensed premises have not caused too much of a problem with only one having to be closed down.
The biggest issue currently is holiday makers and this has created a higher demand than on New Year’s Eve, across the region.
b. 18 High Street:
There had been concerns raised about this premises during lockdown with street drinkers arriving from other towns in the region but the problem has dissipated with those visiting being returned to their own area.
c. County Lines:
Since the road networks have re-opened, County Lines has raised its head again. During lockdown there had been a lull with fewer vehicles on the roads. Now, with more traffic, the problem has increased. There have been some nasty incidents and some very violent issues but the team are now better placed to deal with this.
d. Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB):
There have been reports about ASBs in Jubilee Square but so far this has not been as bad as this time last year. Currently TDC Environmental Health does not have a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) but it is expected to be reviewed in May 2021 with input from this Town Council. A clear plan of achievement will need to be drawn up in order to resolve the issues.
The Police and Crimes Commissioner (PCC) has introduced Street Marshalls to support TDC with social-distancing, and this has proved effective in Westward Ho! It may be possible to apply this to Jubilee Square. Currently the Police meet every morning to deploy the Town Marshalls to an area that they will be needed.
e. ASB Aggressive Driving:
“boy-racers” continue to be a nuisance around towns in all local areas and complaints have been lodged. The Police have pooled these complaints together and have been given support from the “No Excuses” team, named “Dragoon” and they will be working closely over the next few weeks.
Officers will need to be up-skilled in understanding what modifications have been made to vehicles that causes nuisance. TDC have noise nuisance monitors and the Police are looking at working with them to deploy the units to residential homes in the problem areas in order to monitor and identify the perpetrators. It is expected to have good news on this in the coming weeks.
Inspector Kenneally invited questions at this point.
a. Members raised concerns regarding the PSPOs:
That dispersing from one area would send the problem to another within the town.
That education is needed, supported by the Police
That the term street drinkers is derogatory and that this should be considered together with help for the illness.
The Inspector explained that “street drinkers” is a national term. He had been to Bristol, who have a much bigger problem than Bideford including aggressive begging, and looked at their model which was to have premises for people to drink safely, together with key workers for counselling. In Bideford there is not the volume of street drinkers to attract the funding required for this type of scheme. There is provision in Barnstaple but street drinkers do not want to get on a bus to go there. Currently, they have been encouraged to use the Cricket Pavilion but they do not stay there and the Police have no powers to enforce this.
The Inspector would welcome any new ideas.
Councillor Bushby had been in dialogue with TDC Environment Health regarding a PSPO and would re-open this communication.
Members discussed concerns regarding street drinkers in Buttgarden Street and, in particular, Charis House (supported housing for homeless adults who need support to move into independent living, and floating support to adults living in their own accommodation, to prevent homelessness). It was considered by some to be a “wet house”. Other areas in the vicinity had also reported problems ie Tower Street and Church Walk.
The Inspector and other members allayed fears that the Buttgarden Street drinkers were coming from Charis House as it was mostly considered to be well managed and not a “wet house”.
The Chairman added that many residents from there had applied to the Bridge Trust in their bids to get their lives back together.
Councillor McGeough had received many complaints from residents in these areas and felt that the problem needed to be looked at on a bigger scale for the Town but of course finances had to be considered.
Councillor J Craigie added that as a resident in Buttgarden Street, he felt that the ASBs were the usual ones but not from Charis House. He thanked the Inspector for responding to complaints when necessary.
Inspector Kenneally concluded that he had received a strong letter from a resident in the Buttgarden Street/Tower Street area and had visited, with his team some of the residents there but had very little commitment from the majority of them and therefore not enough to be given the resources needed to deal with the problem. If there are more individual reports he can look at the issues in more detail. He assured Members that the situation would be reviewed at the end of September.
Councillor Mrs Craigie reported that there had been problems with teenagers and young children being rowdy at night, near the open space at Watkins Way, with knocking over bins and creating mess. She asked if an occasional visit could be made by the Police.
The Inspector would seek to try to advise his team to visit.
With no more questions, the Chairman thanked Inspector Kenneally for his time and invited him to stay for the duration of the meeting, the Inspector declined.
226. DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL (COUNCILLOR) REPORT
Councillor Tony Inch was pleased to be attending and remarked that it had been a long time since he had seen everyone. He added that all DCC meetings were being held virtually with the last two full meetings having over 60 participants, and the meeting taking over 5 hours. He anticipated that meetings would continue in this way until next year.
The County Councillor reported that both Montague Place and Milton Place had been resurfaced and this would mean that the Milton Place flooding issue was now resolved. He had further investigated a report of a big pothole in Royston Road. Also repairs in Moreton Park were being implemented.
The Planters for Old Town were on order and this would enhance the area and resolve the problem of overnight parking on the wide pavements. He had received positive feedback for the initiative from businesses and residents.
The pavement by the new B & M Store along Clovelly Road would be built soon.
He had attended the first meeting with the Cycling Forum with TDC which went very well and had flagged up the old Bideford to Westward Ho! Railway path. This was being considered as a going concern.
Finally, the Councillor announced that he still had £8,600 left in his Locality Grant for any projects that came within his area. He would be pleased to support any forthcoming ideas.
Having concluded his report, Councillor Inch invited questions from Members.
The Chairman thanked Councillor Inch.
Councillor Lawrence noted that only the first of three or four potholes in Moreton Park had been fixed and that the one near the shop has been patched but is still a danger to drivers. He asked if some movement could be made on that one, in particular.
Councillor Inch would look into this with a view to resolving the issue.
Members discussed the problem of the lack of pavement on the approach to Affinity especially noting the speed of the traffic along that road.
Councillor Inch explained that there will be a pedestrian crossing going in along from B&M but agreed that the pavement on the other side needed to be completed. He further explained that this was down to 106 agreement funding from developments coming into effect soon.
Councillor Lawrence pressed that, with the crossing going in, there would still be issues with the public walking along the road. Councillor Inch replied that DCC are aware of the situation but have to wait for the 106 agreements.
Councillor Mrs Gubb asked if the DCC traffic wardens were still in operation in Bideford, as there had been issues with parking in the loading bays and disabled parking bays in the High Street. Councillor Inch replied the officers were still operating and that he would raise this with the Highways Enforcement Team. Councillor Mrs Hellyer added that reporting online is very effective and encouraged Members to use this system through the DCC website.
A member addressed Councillor Mrs Hellyer, in her capacity as a DCC Councillor, and requested that DCC look at repainting the old railway bridge as it was looking very dilapidated. The adjacent Royal Hotel was making a really good job of tidying up and refurbishing their building. If the bridge could be painted it would help to raise the tone of the whole area. Councillor Mrs Hellyer replied that she would raise this with DCC.
With no further questions, the Chairman thanked both County Councillors for their report and input and invited Councillor Inch to remain for the duration of the meeting.
227. COMMUNICATION BROUGHT FORWARD ON THE DIRECTION OF THE MAYOR
The Chairman advised:
1. That he had received three letters of thanks from businesses following the awarding of Covid-19 Re-opening grants. He had also received many verbal thanks. He added that there had been a good many applicants and that the offer of funding had been well received.
2. That if any members had any suggestions for Cycle tracks in Bideford to please send them to the Town Clerk. He remarked that Bideford is a medieval town and in those days they did not think of bicycles!
3. Following on from the item above, Bideford and Northam Town Councils need to prepare a proposal to back the Kenwith Valley Cycle Track.
4. He had received an email from Up Close Theatre requesting premises for their rehearsals and podcasting radio station. If any Members had any ideas, again please forward to the Town Clerk. He added that the Theatre Company would have no premises to work from after January 2021. The Chairman reminded Members that the Company had presented a successful play in the Town Hall for the Mayor’s Charity last December.
The Town Clerk advised that she had received communication from DS Electrical regarding the Christmas Lights to be erected in the gardens belonging to the Royal Hotel saying “Welcome to Bideford”. She asked Members which way they would like the wording to face. Members advised that they would like them to face into Bideford, so you see the message coming from ETW into Bideford.
Councillor Lawrence asked if the wording could be different, rather than “Welcome to Bideford” perhaps “Merry Christmas” would be more appropriate. The Town Clerk replied that she would ask DS Electrical if the lights had already been ordered and did explain to the Councillor that Christmas lights are ordered some time in advance.
The Town Clerk mentioned that there had been a suggestion at a previous SFGP meeting of erecting the Christmas banner on the Railway Bridge; she explained that if Members wanted to re-site the lights they would have to move quite soon and have a site visit with DS Electrical. Councillors Bushby, McKenzie, J Craigie and Mrs Hellyer agreed to attend a site visit.
The Chairman asked the Town Clerk to circulate any information she received from DS Electrical.
228. MARKET MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE
Councillor McGeough noted that the outlet in Butchers Row, “Gary Masala” would be opening in the evening and wished the proprietor good luck for being so enterprising. He further noted that other businesses were keen to join in with evening opening.
The Minutes of the Extraordinary Meeting held on 23 July 2020 were approved and adopted.
(Vote – For: 12, Against: 0, Abstention: 2)
229. DECARBONISATION AND ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE
The Minutes of the Decarbonisation and Environment Committee – to approve and adopt the minutes of the meeting held via zoom on 7th July were approved and adopted.
Councillor McGeough advised that further funding from a previous donor, for the wild flower seeding project, would be forthcoming.
The Chairman had received several complaints that the experimental patch on the verge along Manteo Way had been mown. Councillor Craigie explained that due to the lockdown the experimental patch had not been sown.
(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0, Abstention: 1)
230. REQUEST FOR FUNDING TOWARDS THE TRAFFIC ORDER IN MILL STREET
This item was withdrawn by Councillor Mrs Hellyer as she had used funding from her District Council Grant to pay for the Traffic Order.
231. FEASIBILITY AND COSTS FOR RELOCATING THE TDC SKATE RAMP TO EAST THE WATER
The Chairman introduced the item and noted that there were two areas identified for the installation of the Skate Ramp – Alverdiscott Road Park and Pollyfield. He added that the TDC Property Officer felt strongly that the equipment was not to be installed on any land that they owned. He further added that the North Ward Councillors would know the pitfalls of having a Skate/Wheels park near residential properties, by the amount of noise complaints received.
The Chairman asked for a response from East Ward Councillors. The response was mixed with some preferring not to have involvement with the equipment and others looking at ways to mitigate any future problems. It was suggested that the ramp could be partially buried and trees planted to mitigate noise from the ramp. They were all in agreement that to lose this opportunity would be a shame and that East the Water would be without again.
Councillor J Craigie wished to propose a budget be set aside for the move and installation, and he would undertake a survey with the residents near to the site in Alverdiscott Road.
Discussion ensued among all Members regarding the popularity amongst younger people in East Ward of having this equipment, as well as the fact that the ramp is nearing its “end of life” and would require substantial work to bring it up to a standard for prolonged life.
The Chairman advised Members that there was little time to make decisions and carry out a survey as another Parish Council, outside of Torridge, was interested in taking the ramp. He added that TDC would carry no further responsibility for it when it was relocated.
The Chairman requested the Town Clerk obtain firm costings for the relocation, installation and repairs as a matter of some urgency, and that Councillor J Craigie conducts a survey with the nearby residents. The Town Clerk advised that there may not be sufficient time to gather this information, as TDC would like to take a decision imminently about the future of the Skate Ramp. The Chairman said that should this be the case, then Councillor J Craigie should be advised in order that he did not go ahead with a survey.
The Chairman asked the Town Clerk to contact the Property Officer at TDC to ascertain their position on the equipment, and for the information to be taken to the next SFGP meeting.
It was proposed by Councillor Christie, seconded and
RESOLVED: That it is agreed IN PRINCIPLE to obtain costings and responsibilities for the equipment to be presented at the next SFGP meeting and that Councillor J Craigie establishes the views of the local residents. Should these be positive, the project will be progressed and a budget allocated.
(Vote – For: 11, Against: 1, Abstentions: 2)
232. COSTINGS FOR A REPLACEMENT LIGHTING POLE OUTSIDE BRIDGE BUILDINGS AND AGREE THE NEXT STEPS.
The Chairman handed the subject to the Town Clerk who explained that Members would have received the estimate for a replacement lighting pole as previously identified. This would have to be delivered with another job lot and would also incur an installation cost. She had spoken with DS Electrical who have said the pole would need to be installed by a Devon County Council approved contractor. The pole, she described, was a straight forward plain pole and not one which replicated a ship’s mast as its predecessor had been.
Members discussed the need for the pole to be “like for like” in order to aesthetically blend in with the others along the Quay. They were disappointed that the County Council would not fund a “like for like” pole and felt that Bideford was not considered to be a high enough priority for aesthetics.
Councillor Bushby suggested this Council approach Devon County Councillor T Inch for funding as he had such monies available and any shortfall could be considered for payment. Councillor McKenzie agreed but Councillor Inch pointed out that the Town Centre was outside his remit area for funding.
The Town Clerk explained that DCC had advised that a “like for like” pole was not necessary but she added that a quote for one could be obtained. The Chairman asked her to please go ahead.
Councillor Inch further added that he would be happy to help with some funding, subject to costs.
It was proposed by Councillor Christie, seconded and
RESOLVED: That the Town Clerk would obtain costings for a “like for like” pole for further consideration and would formally ask Councillor T Inch for some locality budget funding towards the pole.
(Vote – For: 12, Against: 0, Abstentions: 2)
233. DALC - UPDATE
Councillor Mrs Craigie had not managed to attend the most recent meeting but had received the minutes. She had noted that there were many complaints from other Councils about mounting costs due to Covid-19 and requiring funding from Government.
She further reported that DALC were sanctioning physical Council meetings but advising that virtual meetings could continue until May 2021.
The Chairman suggested that it may be possible to hold a physical meeting in the Torridge Council chamber as they have a big room to enable social-distancing. He added that he would look into this.
234. TORRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL – UPDATE
The Chairman opened by reporting that the District Authority continue with Zoom meetings and that they can get a little heated.
1. Planning Rules:
Members may have heard on the news that new Planning regulations were coming into play and the Chairman has asked for the Planning Officers to produce a digest of these rules which he will send to the Town Clerk. He noted that the new rules would have enormous ramifications on the Local Plan and added that the regulations surrounding buildings especially could be different and exciting.
2. Jet-skis and Camper Vans had been discussed and their use of Bank End.
3. Mr Steve Hearse had been appointed CEO of TDC which had been a popular decision. Under Mr Hearse’s guidance TDC had been one of the best performing Councils for handling the funding during lockdown and the fastest in the County.
Councillor Mrs Langford reported that District had discussed the Atlantic Racquet Centre’s request for funding assistance in order to finish off their changing rooms and facilities. They had been hoping for funding from 106 monies but were concerned that this would not be forthcoming for various reasons. The Councillor continued that the Centre is an excellent facility and they need to look at alternative ways to find funding. The Chairman suggested Councillor Mrs Langford puts the subject forward at the next meeting.
Housing had been raised at a recent TDC Scrutiny meeting and the Chairman noted that TDC could look at the possibility of building properties in order to bridge the widening gap of lack of affordable housing.
Members discussed the lack of affordable housing on new developments which prompted the Chairman to explain the building and development rules on “difficult sites” ie sites with drainage issues. That developers will not put forward affordable housing on these sites due to the high costs of making the ground works stable.
235. BRIDGE TRUST ACTIVITIES - UPDATE
The Chairman reported that the Bridge Trust had started physical meetings and as the committee is quite small, social distancing is not an issue in their large room.
He further reported that the Trust had advertised their Grants scheme, Book Grants for higher education and Bursaries for students leaving College.
The Trust had received four applications for Start Up grants and all were of a high calibre with good schemes in place.
The Chairman invited members to encourage anyone they knew who needed assistance in these points, to approach the Bridge Trust for a grant.
Councillor Mrs Craigie reported that the Trust are awarding funds to Bideford College to purchase equipment for less affluent students to receive online schooling in the event of a further lockdown. She added that the Trust had indeed approached all the schools with the scheme but had not heard back from the others. She asked members who were School Governors (or knew of any) to prompt the schools to contact the Bridge Trust for information.
Councillor Mrs Gubb asked if the Bridge Trust had assisted businesses during lockdown, the Chairman confirmed that they had suspended rents during the Covid lockdown.
The business of the meeting having been concluded the Mayor thanked the members for their attendance at the meeting which concluded at 20.22 pm.
LIST OF CHEQUES FOR THE COVID 19 FUND FOR SHOPS TO RE-OPEN SAFELY