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Town Council Meeting Minutes -  10 March 2016


PRESENT:   

North Ward:   

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

South Ward:   

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

South (Outer) Ward   

Councillor D Howell

East Ward:   

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

IN ATTENDANCE:   

Mrs H J Blackburn (Town Clerk)
Mr R D Coombes (Deputy Town Clerk)
Councillor R Julian (DCC)
Mrs M Bailey (Bideford Chamber of Commerce)
Mrs K Graham (North Devon +)
Mrs R Algar (North Devon +)
7 x Members of the Public
1 x Members of the Press

179  APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Councillors A T Inch (South Ward - work).

180  DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST ON ITEMS ON THE AGENDA

Councillors Brenton, Christie, Howell and Pester all declared a non-pecuniary interest in Item 27.  (Members, Bideford Bridge Trust). 

Councillor Langmead having declared his interest (Member, Bideford Bridge Trust) on the Declaration of Interests Proforma in May 2015, which is lodged with TDC and, following confirmation from the Town Clerk, advised that he would no longer declare his interest.

Councillor Christie confirmed his status as a co-opted Trustee that would see him continue to declare his interest (Trustee, Bideford Bridge Trust).

181  PUBLIC PARTICIPATION SESSION

Four Members of the Public registered to participate:

Ms Porter, Ms Corfe and Mr Short (item 19: refugees/asylum seekers) and Mr Pearce (item 24: Mill Street refurbishment).

Mr Short questioned why Bideford should be considered as a safe haven for Asylum Seekers not believing that there would be any reciprocal arrangement should Bidefordians find themselves subject to an oppressive regime.  He could not reason where they could live.

Mr Pearce advocated that the Council should apply for the maximum funding stream from the New Homes Bonus Scheme in its quest to fund improvements to Mill Street. 

Ms Porter spoke of her involvement with the North Devon Refugee Solidarity concern that over the last six months had collected twenty five tons of aid, which had been transported to Calais, including: donated clothes, shoes, tents, sleeping bags, building materials, toiletries, medical equipment, everyday essentials, children's activity packs and food.

The initiative had also raised £16,000.00; the support from the North Devon public continues to grow.

She spoke of her visit to the “Calais Jungle” where she shared hope with those who have no hope in France or their own Country.

Ms Corfe, who had addressed the Council in October 2015 on Homelessness, spoke of how shocked she was following her visit to Calais, noting that the Refugees were only a few miles away.  She believed that as fellow humans they deserved help.  She highlighted the motivation for many (ordinary citizens: solicitors/bankers/shop workers/housewives) was the experience or prospect of facing machete and gun wielding extremists.  She added that predominantly young men were sent given that they represented the strongest hope with more chance of surviving the journey.

She concluded by stating that the people of North Devon were hugely Community Spirited and generous.

The Chamber responded with applause.

182  MINUTES

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 28 January 2016 were approved and signed as a correct record.

(Vote – For: 12, Against: 0, Abstention: 3)

183  ACCOUNTS

To approve the payments listed.

It was proposed by Councillor Langmead, seconded and

RESOLVED:  That the list of payments be approved.

(Vote – For: 15, Against: 0)

184  BIDEFORD CHAMBER OF COMMERCE REPORT

a.   The Chairman welcomed the President of the Bideford and District Chamber of Commerce to the meeting, Mrs Maria Bailey.

b.   Mrs Bailey spoke of the Chamber’s collaborative approach work across North Devon.  A Meeting in January with Chris Garcia, Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership’s Chief Executive indicated that there was money available across the South West.  She was pleased that Bideford would be hosting an Enterprise Event in April 2016 and raising the profile of the Town within the County region.

The Chamber had reduced their fee to twenty five pounds with a view to increasing the Membership (compares favourably with Barnstaple).  It continued to support Businesses of Bideford and believed the Bronze Tarka the Otter (life and a half statue to be mounted on the Quay) would boost tourism.  In turn it was grateful for the continued support it enjoyed from the Council.

c.   The Chairman thanked Mrs Bailey for addressing the Meeting.

185  REPORT:  DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL

a.   The Chairman welcomed Councillor Julian to the Meeting.

Councillor Julian thanked the Chairman and greeted the Members.  His report, that had previously been circulated, referred to Bideford Town Council’s interest in the information sign at Little America, funding for improvements to the surface of Mill Street, future of Barnstaple Record Office, prospective visit to Pannier Market roadway, illegal parking and Coldharbour Lane.

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

•    Request for double yellow lines opposite Pannier Market fishing tackle shop (top of Grenville Street / Market Place).
•    (Poor) Street repairs / potholes generally, Silver Street, Bridgeland Street, Market Place and Gammaton Cross in particular.
o    Council can’t commit to Little America until pot holes addressed.
•    Confirmation that Record Office is a charitable trust.
•    Disquiet that Route 39 Academy buildings are not suitable for nursery children provision.
•    Concern at Bus Service (cuts, including local school provision) and quality/effectiveness of 21A.

Councillor Julian exclaimed that he was not in charge of Bus provision / highways and felt very strongly about the cuts and closure of schools that has such an impact on small communities citing Sutcombe Community Primary at Holsworthy.  He would, nonetheless, raise the concerns.

c.   The Chairman thanked Councillor Julian for addressing the Meeting.

186  REPORT FROM POLICE ON ISSUES WITHIN THE PARISH

The Members noted a report by Nina Domachowska, Neighbourhood Beat Manager, Bideford Police Station that had been previously circulated to giving crime figures covering January and February 2016. 

187  NORTH DEVON + / LEADER FIVE PRESENTATION

a.   The Chairman welcomed Katy Graham and Rozz Algar from North Devon + to provide a presentation on Leader 5.

b.   Miss Graham introduced herself as the Leader Programme Manager for Torridge and North Devon.  Noting the previous Leader Programmes: Two and Four she advised that Leader Five (2015 – 2020) was very different and pushing boundaries.

A European funding programme, delivered through DEFRA at a local level.  The Torridge and North Devon area, excluding Barnstaple, has received £2.325m for the rural community; one of the biggest programmes in the Country, out of eighty across England. 

There are six priority areas (of funding):

•    Support for increasing farm productivity.
•    Support for micro / small enterprise and farm diversification.
•    Support for rural tourism.
•    Provision of rural services.
•    Support for cultural and heritage activity.
•    Support for increasing forestry productivity.

Every project supported under Leader Five must demonstrate some benefit to the local economy, whether through growth, job creation, increased spend in the area (by visitors) or through enhanced rural services.  Seventy per cent of the funding must be used to create direct economic benefit, such as support to rural businesses to help them grow and / or creating new employment.

The Fund is a competitive grant process and requests for support to maintain the status quo or to prop up a struggling enterprise will not be considered.

Grants start from £2,500 and businesses apply for up to forty per cent of their capital project costs, or up to £35,000 whichever is the lower.  Community / strategic / not-for-profit projects with wider economic benefit can apply for a higher grant rate and amount, depending on the priority area and budget available.  Match funding is encouraged.

The application is in two stages: Outline and Full application, is challenging and can take three months to process. 

The Leader programme for Torridge and North Devon is delivered by a Local Action Group (LAG) – which is made up of volunteers across all of the priority sectors as well as professionals who act as advisors to the group from organisations such as the two district councils and Exmoor National Park Authority.

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

•    How many applications to date?
o    Twenty outline.
o    Three full.
    Two Torridge.
    One North Devon.
o    Two (Full) approved.
    One, John’s of Instow, very strong.
•    Impact on funding if Country leaves the European Union?
o    None.  Agreed funding initiatives ring-fenced.
•    Renewable Energy.  Solar: community benefit.
o    No to capital funding.

d.   The Chairman thanked Miss Graham for addressing the Meeting.
   
ORDER OF BUSINESS

Proposed by Councillor Mrs Craigie, seconded and

RESOLVED:  That the order of business be changed to allow agenda item 19 to be addressed before item 10.

(Vote – For: 15, Against: 0)

188  REFUGEE / ASYLUM SEEKERS – TOWN ACCOMMODATION

The Members gave consideration on whether the Council would support the accommodation of refugees/asylum seekers in the Town (with a view to providing a DCC coordinated response).

They participated in a full and frank discussion including:

•    Historical references.
•    Precedents set over time in supporting the Vietnamese Boat people, Ugandan Asians, Hungarians and Poles (amongst others).
•    The Global size of the plight but relative impact locally:
o    Local housing provision: difficulties to obtain housing / register (especially low paid working couples).
o    Twenty six families to Devon.
    Possibility of one family to Bideford.
    (Of) 17,000 electorate.
•    Five year fully funded Government support.

Proposed by Councillor Brenton, seconded and

RESOLVED:  That the accommodation of refugees / asylum seekers in Bideford is supported.
 
(Vote – For: 14, Against: 0, Abstention: 1)

189  COMMUNICATION BROUGHT FORWARD ON THE DIRECTION OF THE MAYOR 

(Councillor Mrs Davies left the Meeting.)

The Town Clerk advised Members:

a.   Commonwealth Flag Raising.  Monday, 14 March 2016, 10.00 am Riverbank House.

b.   Clean for the Queen.  Sunday, 3 April 2016, 9.00 am Jubilee Square start for the Tidy Town Initiative.

c.   Councillor Information Exchange Day.  Following discussions between Councillor Howell, McKenzie and the Town Clerk Saturday, 30 April 2016, 11.00 am – 3.00 pm has been arranged for the Council to meet and greet the electorate, venue to be confirmed.

(Councillor Mrs Davies returned.)

190  STAFFING, FINANCE & GENERAL PURPOSES COMMITTEE

It was noted that Minute Nos. 107, and 113 contained recommendations.

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 11 February 2016 were approved and signed as a correct record.

(Vote – For: 15, Against: 0)

191  PLANNING COMMITTEE

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 3 and 24 February 2016 were approved and signed as a correct record.

(Vote – For: 15, Against: 0)

192  MARKET MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE

Councillor Langmead, referring to an artist friend who had been unsuccessful in his application for a Work Shop Unit in the Market Hall, questioned the Chairman on the criteria, noting that two of the successful eight applicants were not from Torridge.  He questioned whether Bideford residency should not demand primacy.

The Chairman advised that an address was not a criteria and that a number of the Traders / Tenants lived outside Bideford, as did many of the Farmers who sold their produce in times of yore.

Councillor McKenzie questioned whether the underspend included the electricity provision; Councillor Brenton confirmed the work was within budget.

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 2 March 2016 were approved and signed as a correct record.

(Vote – For: 15, Against: 0)

Councillor Brenton left the Meeting.

193  TOURISM COMMITTEE

It was noted that all items are recommendations.

The Minutes of the Meetings held on 8 March 2016 were approved and adopted.

(Vote – For: 14, Against: 0)

Councillor S G Inch believed that the grass cutting should be extended to include Little America given its site at an entrance to Bideford.  He indicated that he would lead in facilitating the cut.

194  POLICE LIAISON

Members received notice of Councillor Mrs Davies resignation from the Police Liaison role.

Proposed by Councillor Christie, seconded and

RESOLVED:  That Councillor M L Langmead represents the Council in the Police Liaison role. 

(Vote – For: 14, Against: 0)

195  CIVIC REGALIA REQUEST AT MATRIMONIAL CEREMONY

Members considered Councillor McGeough’s request for the Mayor and Mayoress to wear with the Civic Chains at his forthcoming wedding.

Proposed by Councillor Robinson, seconded and

RESOLVED:  That the Mayor and Mayoress, accompanied by their Beadle, may attend the St Mary’s Church Marriage Service of Councillor McGeough on Saturday, 30 August 2016 wearing the Civic Chains. 

(Vote – For: 13, Against: 1)

ORDER OF BUSINESS

Proposed by Councillor Mrs Craigie, seconded and

RESOLVED:  That the order of business be changed to allow agenda item 17 to be addressed after item 27 and taken in Part II.

(Vote – For: 14, Against: 0)

196  EMERGENCY GRANT REQUEST – TORRIDGE, NORTH, MID & WEST DEVON CITIZENS ADVICE

The Members gave consideration to an emergency grant request from the Torridge, North, Mid and West Devon Citizens Advice.

Councillor Day while noting the importance of the Service that was provided wondered whether monies could be drawn from the Contingency Grant Budget.

The Town Clerk advised that £700 remained although effective 1 April 2016 the figure would be £20,000.

Councillor Bushby felt an approach to their insurance company should be made.  Councillor Christie stated that Bridge Trust experience found refusal had been made on wear and tear grounds.

While the approach to the Council indicated that an application had been made to the Bridge Trust the Chairman confirmed that none had been received to date.

Councillor Langmead believed that a survey would have been made on the Grade II listed building when it was purchased.

Councillor Christie proposed that a grant of £5,000 is made with the condition that none is made for the year 2017 / 2018.

Councillor Howell seconded the proposal.

Councillor S G Inch expressed reservations believing that the problem was of longer standing and that an approach to their insurance company had not been made.

While Councillor Bushby supported Councillor Christie he believed that compensation should be sought from their surveyor.

Councillor Langmead advised that income was received from the letting of rooms.

Councillor McKenzie believed that the Item should be deferred until further information was obtained; he believed it prudent to take time.

The Chairman suggested that a letter could be addressed requesting the survey report.

Councillor McKenzie proposed that the Item is deferred.

Councillor Mrs Davies seconded the proposal.

The Town Clerk directed that a Vote is cast on the first proposal:

(Vote – For: 6, Against: 8)

The second proposal (carried):

(Vote – For: 8, Against: 1, Abstention: 5)

RESOLVED:  That the Item is deferred until the Meeting of 7 April 2016.  A request for further information is made:

•    What year was the property purchased?  Was a full survey held? 
•    If this defect wasn’t picked up by the survey, could a claim be made against the surveyor?
•    Has the insurance company been approached?  Could a claim be made?
•    What is the approximate date that the crack was first noticed?

197  MOTOR CYCLE PARKING – CHINGSWELL STREET

Members noted the correspondence received from the Highway’s Officer on motor cycle parking generally, referencing potential future changes to the Strand / Chingswell Street parking provision.

198  NOTICE OF MOTION

Submission by: Councillor Langmead

“That the Council supports the planting of a community orchard at Pollyfield by the entrance to the Allotment Car Park.”

Councillor Langmead added that there would be no cost, to the Council, TDC were in support and the Group doing the work included young people.

Councillor McKenzie seconded the Motion.

Proposed by Councillor Langmead, seconded and

RESOLVED:  That the Motion is carried

(Vote – For: 14, Against: 0)

199  NOTICE OF MOTION

Submission by: Councillor Howell

“To have a Bideford Maritime Heritage Interpretation plaque made in English, Braille and tactile format and placed on a plinth.  Dimension of the plaque 800 mm x 600 mm.”

Councillor Howell advised that the money would be drawn from that allocated for the Discovering Bideford Boards.  The detail would be made from zinc.

Councillor Langmead seconded the Motion adding that the Plinth would enhance the Bideford experience.

Councillor Howell indicated that there was potential for a further three or four to be sited around the Town.

Proposed by Councillor Howell, seconded and

RESOLVED:  That the Motion is carried

(Vote – For: 14, Against: 0)

200  NOTICE OF MOTION

Submission by: Councillor Christie

“The refurbishment of Mill Street Surface - that Bideford Town Council:

a.   Approaches DCC to get firm figures for the complete refurbishment of the Mill St. and Allhalland St. Surfaces.
b.   Initiates an application to the New Homes Bonus fund set up by TDC for between £30,000 and £50,000.
c.   Agrees in principle to set aside funds to help with the match funding of this scheme, dependent on the sums from other providers.
d.   Asks DCC to begin the necessary consultation process as soon as possible.”

Councillor Christie stated that Councillor Julian (DCC) had approached Highways for details of the refurbishment cost. 

He further raised an amendment to the Motion at point b. where £50,000 would be requested from the New Homes Bonus fund (effective 1 April 2016).  He also urged immediacy of action.

Councillor Howell seconded the amended Motion and added that Mr Slocombe (DCC) will pursue the DCC response.

Councillor Bushby intimated that the feeling on the streets was that good quality tarmac with defined edges should be incorporated; the word was no more York Stone!

Councillor Christie felt that a precedent had been set with the Port Memorial.

Councillor Langmead expressed caution over the DCC contractors noting that a quoted job figure of £46,000 rose to £105,000.  He saw merit in obtaining independent prices.

Councillor Christie countered that DCC do have the appropriate powers to facilitate the development.  He did not believe that the Town Clerk should project manage.

Councillor Robinson argued that where firm DCC figures overrun it should be only at DCC expense.

Proposed by Councillor Christie, seconded and

RESOLVED:  That the amended Motion is carried.

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

201  DALC MEETING - UPDATE

There was no update received.

202  TORRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL – UPDATE

Councillor Langmead made reference to the Devolution process, confirmed the A39 School Academy position, indicated that there would be progress on the Tantons site in the next few weeks and advised that the Brunswick Wharf development would now require a new planning application. 

204  BRIDGE TRUST

Councillor Christie briefed Members on the income, expenditure, charitable donations and (start-up) grant figures. 

Councillor Bushby pleaded with the Trust, in the light of the Tidy Town initiative, to improve upon the look of the former Warmington’s Garage building, Bridgeland Street that is a disgrace.

Councillor Christie stated that the Trust’s position was one of impotence; their agreement with the Leaseholder could not enforce action.

Councillor Bushby suggested that the Trust request permission to affect a tidy up.

Councillor Christie confirmed that he would approach the Trust.

205  CONFIDENTIAL ITEMS TO BE TAKEN IN PART II

Proposed by Councillor S G Inch, seconded and

RESOLVED: That in view of the confidential nature of the business about to be discussed, it is advisable, in the public interest, that the public be excluded for the remainder of the meeting; the tenants / traders were instructed to withdraw. 

(Vote – For: 14, Against: 0)

PART II (CLOSED SESSION)

206  LANDIVISIAU TWINNING - FORTIETH ANNIVERSARY GIFT

There is a confidential minute associated with this agenda item.

The business of the meeting having been concluded the Mayor thanked the members for their attendance at the meeting which concluded at 9.02 pm.















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