HAWKCHURCH PARISH COUNCIL
Clerk to the Council:
Mr John Vanderwolfe FILCM Chartered MCIPD, MCMI
5 Halletts Way
Minutes of the Council Meeting held on Zoom on Tuesday 19th January 2021
Present: Cllr’s R Churchill (Chairman), S Bartlett, T Greenshields, R Fox and J Baker
In Attendance: The Clerk (Mr J Vanderwolfe), Cllr P Hayward and two members of the public
An apology had been received from Cllr Dr A Nolan due to sickness, and was accepted. Apology also received and accepted from Cllr Searle. Cllr Hall had sent an apology, which was noted.
294 Public Question Time
No members of the public wished to speak under this facility.
295 Declarations of Interest under the Code of Conduct
No Declarations of Interest were made at this stage of the meeting.
The Minutes of the meeting held on the 22nd of December 2020, having been previously circulated, were adopted as a true record.
297 Matters Arising
298 County Councillor’s Report
Covid-19. Infection rates in the UK have been growing rapidly, as have hospitalisations and sadly deaths. Over the last week alone (or most recent week for which data is available), positive tests have increased by 30%, hospital admissions by 35% and deaths by 45%. A number of hospitals, particularly, but not exclusively in London and the South-East, are reporting Covid-19 patients accounting for more than 50% of occupancy, Intensive Care Unit occupancy in some effectively over 100%, death rates rising and staff on their knees. To describe the scenes we are seeing as distressing is, for me, a gross understatement.
The statistics for Devon are much better (less than half England’s average for infections and a quarter of those in London) and, positively, while the more infectious ‘new variant’ virus is present, the last statistics for Exeter report that it remained at a relatively low 5% or so of infections. The infection rate has been growing rapidly, however, and current statistics do not fully reflect the Christmas holiday break.
The numbers of patients admitted in to the RD&E for Covid-19 patients to date are good, relative to areas of high infection. In the run up to Christmas the numbers across Wonford, our community hospitals and the ‘Nightingale Hospital’ reduced to around 100 patients and has remained at this level, but we should not take false assurance from this, given that the prevalence of disease in our communities is most likely to result in increased admissions going forward.
Currently there are around 5% of local NHS most valuable resource, ie. the staff, who are either unwell, self-isolating or shielding as a consequence of Covid-19, in addition to our normal sickness rates; ‘up-country’ this is worse still. This clearly puts added pressure on other colleagues who are able to attend.
The ‘get out of Jail’ card from the pandemic is a vaccination. The National position is 3 vaccines approved, 2 currently available, including the easy to store/transport AZ/Oxford vaccine, but clearly we are dependent on the delivery of these vaccines in volume. In Devon and across organisations (hospitals, GP practices, care providers, Universities, Local Government, businesses etc) within the county, all have made a huge effort and this effort has been made to ensure we have the staff and infrastructure needed to administer the vaccines we receive safely and expeditiously.
COVID19 Fund. The DCC Covid fund re-opened on Monday the 11th of January to provide flexible resources to organisations working with communities who are clinically extremely vulnerable or disproportionately impacted by coronavirus and the social and economic consequences of this current national lockdown.
Applications can be submitted from 11 January 2021 until 5 March 2021 (please note that the end date could be amended due to the available funding being used up or lockdown restrictions being further extended). Please visit https://www.devon.gov.uk/coronavirus-advice-in-devon/document/covid-19-fund/ for further details and how to start the application process.
Applications will need to include details of how much funding will be required and how you have assessed the need for that amount.
Grants will typically be between £300 and £700, although, where there is evidence that a project is exceptional, we may enter into discussions with applicants and offer higher awards.
Traffic Flows. It is encouraging that people seem to be adhering to the Tier and lockdown restrictions but arguably not as much as they might be with some interesting statistics on movements below, with a very clear message about the importance of your journey and is it really necessary still very important.
The first few days of Lockdown 3 are around -30% when compared with the equivalent days in the previous year.
Morning Peak Hour flows (7am to 9am) during these days are similar, at around -28%.
299 District Councillor’s Report
Cllr Hayward explained that at present most of EDDC’s time is being spent on Covid-19 related issues, and in particular in the administration of the nine different schemes being offered to businesses who have either been forced to close, or whom have suffered a significant loss of earning through Covid-19 restrictions. Concerns were being made through the two MPS in respect of those groups who were excluded from the present scheme, This includes some self-employed people and Directors. EDDC of course have to follow the directive of the Treasury, who provide the bulk of the funding. He went on to say that there are a number of funds available in the Axe Valley for individuals who are experiencing hardship during these difficult times.
The East Devon Local Plan is being consulted on, and he hoped that Hawkchurch Parish Council would examine this document and make any relevant comments. The Dorset Local Plan was also out for consultation
Cllr T Greenshields asked if there was any progress with the idea of a National Park. Cllr Hayward replied that there had not been any moves in this direction at present. Cllr Hayward stated that the local plan review was an opportunity to review the AONB area, to which at present Hawkchurch was excluded. Due to the present restrictions drop in sessions in halls, which would normally happen for this type of consultation, cannot take place, however hard copies of the document can be provided if required.
300 Accounts for Payment
The following accounts were ratified for payment: Playfield Rent £675, SW Water £32.17 and Society of Local Clerks £100.
301 Financial Update
The financial update had been circulated prior to the meeting together with a bank reconciliation report. The report was adopted.
302 Highways –Report submitted by Cllr T Greenshields
Badger setts in Brimley Road are still active causing road to collapse before Christmas.
Highways have cordoned-off collapsed section and road is usable.
The road will not be repaired before September due to Highways having to go through the procedure of obtaining licences for protected species yet again even though we are in a badger cull zone!
Repairs can be very costly, similar damage in Uplyme cost £30,000 (£15,000 for surveys/paperwork and £15000 for the works). It all comes out of the Axminster area budget meaning less funds for other works.
Highways have identified two possible sites for a VAS unit – see attachment- that fit within the various constraints for such devices (they must be a least 100m inside the 20 mph zone).
1. Opposite bus shelter on Village Hall land – need permission from VH. (Julie or Ruth to action?)
2. Rope Walk below telegraph pole – permission might be needed from Diocese?
Both sites will enable unit to be turned around to point in opposite direction.
Battery powered unit has been advised because vegetation etc. would not be suitable for a solar powered one. The pole would also be less visible without its solar hat!
(John sent me an email from the Tiverton County Councillor regards DCC reviewing the use of SIDs which I discussed with David Ashford. Apparently some SIDs might be allowed in future but they will need to conform to all sorts of regulation. As Thorncombe SID has no make or paperwork, he seems doomed to remain an orphan!)
Lengthsman has done a good job at Castle and Westhay Hill. Still a blocked drain to clear in main street and at entrance to sewage works.
A Highways digger has ditched from Hawkchurch Cross to industrial units and at Redpits in Brimley Road.
The Village Hall Committee would be approached and asked if a poll could be erected on their site to accommodate the VAS (speed indicator system).
Cllr Searle had contacted the clerk regarding a possible extension of the car parking facility at the school. Agreed to discuss this at a meeting when Cllr Searle is able to attend.
Cllr J Baker raised concerns about a blocked drain by the Wyld Court entrance. Cllr Greenshields will approach the owners of Wyld Court for permission for our Lengthsman to enter their land.
303 Rights of Way
There was a problem with bridleway 44. This, like many other paths, is very muddy at present and it was agreed that little could be done at present.
304 Planning Applications
20/2825/COU Hawkwell Park: Retrospective application for retention of use of land as a residential caravan site without restricting the occupation to gypsies and travellers only.
Cllr Greenshields stated that he would have liked to have seen more replies from other consultees and wondered if there was still seen to be a need for traveller and gypsie sites in East Devon.
The chairman permitted the applicant for this application to speak. This lady stated that she hoped that members of the council would appreciate that the site had been far better managed over the last few years. She went on to state that she would like to improve the site, however at present she was unable to secure grants because of the present restriction imposed on the site. She wanted to provide a better facility to vulnerable people.
Cllr Bartlett stated she would be in favour of this application providing the accommodation being provided was affordable and was of benefit to vulnerable people. Cllr Hayward felt that EDDC had a bit of a mess of the situation at the site. They had placed restrictions on the site and then arranged for non-compliant personnel to occupy the site. He stated that he felt that at present the site was well managed.
It was resolved that the council would support the application and that the clerk would circulate possible wording in relation to suggested wording.
305 Planning Determinations
Windwhistle Cottage: Demolish rear extension and construct extension. Approved
307 Items of Urgency
Cllr Fox informed the meeting that because of Covid-19 guidance the books in the former telephone box had been removed and were being looked after by Cllr Greenshields.
308 Next Meeting
The clerk asked if the February meeting could be held a week later as he had another engagement that week. This was agreed.
Next Meeting Tuesday 23rd February 2021 at 7pm (Zoom Meeting)