Parish Council Minutes February 2021

HAWKCHURCH PARISH COUNCIL

Clerk to the Council:
Mr John Vanderwolfe FILCM Chartered MCIPD, MCMI
Newenham
5 Halletts Way
Axminster
EX13 5NB
 01297 34444
 johnvw@tiscali.co.uk

Minutes of the Council Meeting held on Zoom on Tuesday 23rd February 2021

Present: Cllr’s T Greenshields (Chairman), S Bartlett, Dr A Nolan, J Baker and R Fox

In Attendance: The Clerk (Mr J Vanderwolfe), Cllr P Hayward , Cllr I Hall and two members of the public.

309 Apologies
Apologies were received from Cllr’s D Searle (work), R Churchill (sickness) and J Baker (delayed by traffic, but hoped to be able to attend later)

310 Public Question Time
No members of the public wished to speak under this facility.

311 Declarations of Interest under the Code of Conduct
No Declarations of Interest were made at this stage of the meeting.

312 Minutes
The Minutes of the meeting held on the 19th of January 2021, having been previously circulated, were adopted as a true record.

313 Matters Arising
Nil
314 County Council Report It is very much a case of two steps forward, one step back this month but the vaccine rollout being delivered at a rapidly escalating pace in Devon and beyond gives a great deal of hope for a measured lifting of current restrictions and a much better summer than 2020, improving all of our mental health and wellbeing, as well as the local Economy including jobs and inbound income from a likely ‘staycation boom”
Covid-19
As we all see from media outlets Infection rates in the UK appear to have peaked and are now beginning to recede due to the impact of lockdown and the vaccination programme to a lesser degree. Thankfully we have not yet seen COVID variants in our area and with the new door to door testing regime in areas identified let’s hope it remains that way.
County Hall has a pop-up testing site has been set up and is at full tilt and is able to test up to 2000 people each day, adding to other sites around the City. It is quite likely that in due course a vaccination site will also be sited at County Hall to add significant capacity to the programme, as well as more jabs being delivered at local G.P. surgeries and some private pharmacies in locations that have space to maintain social distancing.
A significant number of beds occupied by COVID patients at the R, D & E NHS Trust sites are because of ‘out of area’ patients, but large numbers of frontline staff have been vaccinated and staff numbers returning to work is improving to ease the pressure a little.
Crime figures
I recently met via Zoom with Alison Hernandez, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall to discuss a wide range of issues and concerns, with Neil Parish our M.P. sitting in as his post bag is much the same as mine, albeit with a much higher volume of correspondence!
Fairer funding for Schools
DCC is part of the F40. ‘Fairer funding for schools’ campaign where we lag significantly behind other counties and is clearly unfair. I attach the latest update on the issues facing our schools and education from all f40 members. This briefing has gone to MP’s in the f40 areas,
Bridges and structures
For a change something a little more day to day about the work of DCC, It’s the time of the year when the RAC Foundation release their annual bridge with 3,105 bridges (defined as structures over 1.5m in span) defined as being substandard. This was 1.6% up on the 3,055 figure twelve months before
Devon County Council is responsible for more bridges than any other authority in the UK and is recognised as one of the UK’s leading authorities in structures asset management.
The term ‘substandard’ does not mean there is a problem with the bridge, it means we are managing 233 bridges that cannot carry the full 40 tonnes ‘standard’ highway load and only 3 of these needs upgrading. In 2019 this figure was 244.Ninety of these are ‘clapper’ bridges on Dartmoor National Park, which are performing well, and the remainder are either scheduled for strengthening work or have a weight limit.
Those with weight limits are suitable for the road they are on, such as small lanes where large vehicles are unlikely to require access. DCC manage their bridge stock effectively in accordance with national guidelines to maintain the safety of the public.
Devon’s chief Engineer made comment to the RAC Foundation following this year’s survey saying “Whilst the number of substandard bridges may appear worrying there is often a good reason why a bridge falls into this category; it does not mean the bridge is unsafe as it will be managed by the Local Authority usually by a weight limit.
A restriction such as this may be wholly appropriate for the class of road and/or location, however the survey shows Local Authorities would want to remove 2256 bridges out of this sub-standard category which can only be achieved by more investment through Government funding”.
315 Accounts for Payment
The following accounts were ratified for payment: Darren Strawbridge £300, EDDC £31.50 , Ian Churchill £30 and Firecheck £44.40.

316 Financial Update
The financial update had been circulated prior to the meeting together with a bank reconciliation report. The report was adopted.

317 Highways
VAS Location of VAS sign on Village Hall property has been changed to grass verge above bus shelter. Verge owned by Orchard House and owners have very willingly given their written consent. This location will give a much better view of traffic. Wareham Road Verge opposite Hawkchurch Spa has been in a poor state since underground utilities were installed both to the Spa and from Wyld Meadow solar park. This led to a wider perceived width of road, resulting in vehicles driving off the original surface into holes/rough surface. Dave Ashford (local highways officer) is thinking about using earth from local roadside ploughing (Berry Lane) to reinstate original road width, and verge to a height of 300-600mm. Dave would like to have your views at our February PC. Dave Ashford’s budget has been slashed by 30% this year making it a bit of a headache to plan future works. Possibility of further cuts due to ongoing Covid pandemic. Water leak at sewage works entrance Has been a problem for some time, highlighted by the freeze last week when road to Furzehill Farm and track to sewage works completely iced over. Leak has been traced to SWW pipe supplying sewage works. SWW have alerted their repair contractors Hydrotech. Reeds Barn B3165 Road Blocked drains and ditch causing flooded road, damage to property and car accident have been cleared and are being monitored by highways. Pound Road – Stonebarrow Lane Storm water discharging from Stonebarrow Solar Farm above sub-station is not finding suitable drains and ditches damaging properties and road surface in Stonebarrow Lane. Awaiting feedback from Dave Ashford.
318 Rights of Way
The exceedingly wet weather made a lot of the paths unusable over the last two months. They dried out briefly for a week leaving large ruts before the rain fell again to fill them! However, the strong wind is helping to dry them out again. The drainage issues on BW 44 have been addressed by the landowner and the path has improved immensely.
The signpost at the Downash Lane end of FP41 had sustained damage and has now been concreted back into place. The pedestrian gate on FP26 by the school has dropped and needs to be fixed so that it is self-closing as there are often sheep in the field.
There have recently been problems with the council failing to empty the dog bins. I have been assured that this was due to a different driver being on the route but today it was observed that both bins need emptying yet again. This has been raised with EDDC.

319 Planning Applications

a) Barley Close, EX13 5UD 21/0188/Ful: Proposed agricultural building: Support
b) Cider House, EX13 5XL 21/0308/Ful: Construction of greenhouse: Support
c) Rose Cottage, EX13 5XD 21/0002/LBC: Replace 2 windows at ground floor and 2 windows at first floor on front elevation with double glazed units and replace door and frame on front elevation: Support
Wyld Court, EX13 5TZ 21/0248/Ful: Conversion and change of use of outbuildings to form residential annexe: Support providing bat report updated,

320 East Devon and Dorset Plan
It was agreed that this should be the subject of a special meeting next month
321 Wadbrook Solar Farm.
A discussion took place with Kate Cantwell from Aardvark regarding the recent planning application submitted in respect of the solar farm. It would appear that the description given by EDDC was, at the very least misleading, and that the extension of the life of the site had already been passed as 4o years. Kate offered to forward some additional information which is shown below.
I can confirm that Greencells require the storage container for spare parts to store equipment such as: modules; inverters; combiner boxes; cables; and, screws. The container provides a dry and secure storage space which is particularly necessary in location like this, where there is a lack of natural surveillance.

The storage container is not actually a building, it simply sits on the ground with no foundations. These are common across all Greencells sites in the UK. I would argue that from a technical planning law perspective, such containers are ‘incidental’ to the established use of the site as a solar array. That is, they are common buildings that result from the primary use of the planning unit in the renewable energy/solar array setting. However it is not now uncommon for Local Planning Authorities to request the inclusion of these containers in a planning application and developers generally seek to comply with those requests.

The drawing to show the container design/elevations has been added to the Council’s website and shows the container which is not unusual in any respect. It is already in position on the site, (as this is a retrospective planning application), and I am not aware that the Council has received any complaints in relation to it. Indeed, it is in position amongst the existing and consented solar array so the overall character and visual impact of the site is not changed. As I explained in my email to the Parish Council on 10th February, in my professional opinion, the impact of the minor changes to the plans which this application seeks, upon local landscape character and visual amenity are negligible, if discernible at all from outside the site.

With reference to the request for further funds to be paid by the Applicant to the Parish Council, that was requested in the Parish Council’s consultation response to application 19/1056/VAR (to extend the life of the consent to 40 years), the Council’s officer report stated that:

“This is not a matter for consideration under this planning application. The original application which was allowed did not secure any community benefits through the planning permission, nor were these considered to be reasonable or necessary in planning terms to make the development acceptable, this remains the case.”

322 Items of Urgency
Cllr Bartlett asked if notification had been received regarding vacancies from the local housing association. The clerk responded that he had not received any notification, and had emailed Cllr Bartlett to that affect.

323 Next Meeting
Tuesday 16th March 2021 at 7pm. The meeting will be conducted via Zoom