Report of the Parish Council meeting 20th July

Summary of the Parish Council Meeting held on Tuesday 20th July 2021    by Roz Fox

Present: Councillors Ann Nolan (Chairman), Julie Baker, Ruth Churchill, David Searle, Sue Bartlett, and Roz Fox. Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Greenshields and Cllr Hall.

In attendance: Cllr Paul Hayward, and 3 members of the public.

Minutes: The Minutes of the Council Meetings held on 5th May 2021 were adopted as a true record.

Matters Arising:

Cllr Nolan referred to the problem of the dog bins not being emptied regularly, Cllr Fox explained that she had been pursuing this with EDDC for some time but had not been able to get any resolution. Cllr Hayward said he would deal with the matter in his District report.

Democratic Period

The Clerk said he had been telephoned by a member of the public who was upset that the registration of the pub as an Asset of Community Value had expired.  Cllr Hayward said that there had been a similar situation in Chardstock where the registration had lapsed, and they had resubmitted the same bid, but it was refused on the grounds that there was another pub locally. The Parish Council put in a formal complaint but were told that whilst the process might have been unfair it had been complied with.  They were told to wait 18 months before putting in a bid but discovered that every time the council refuse it you can apply again without having to wait 18 months. The last bid was successful.  He added that if there’s passion in the village to do it, he could put Hawkchurch in touch with Cllr Coburn who is the chair of the Action Group. Cllr Nolan said that as Hawkchurch is about to start work on Neighbourhood and Parish Plans, it would be picked up in consultation with residents.

A member of the public said he wanted to comment that road safety was now 100 percent better than it was a week ago due to the fact the hedges had been cut.

The County Report had been circulated.

District Report: Cllr Hayward offered his sincere apologies to everyone in the village about the lapse in waste and recycling services and in a particular the dog bin situation. EDDC has currently has 25 Streetscene vacancies and as quickly as they are filled, staff are leaving. There is a lack of drivers, especially in East Devon where a Dutch auction for staff was going on as they were being poached by delivery and haulage companies who could offer better rates of pay and more appealing jobs than going round collecting dog refuse.

The council have had to undertake an emergency resolution to increase pay of Streetscene staff but it’s not an overnight fix.  It’s a district wide problem with dog services being the worst. He hoped it would resolve itself in the coming months. Currently Managers are having to go out and empty the bins themselves. Cllr Hayward said to let him know if one is not emptied and he would contact the department. The problem has been exacerbated by the exponential rise in dogs over Covid period, lots more visitors, bins filling up and people collecting waste from their house and dropping it in the bin.

Cllr Hayward said he was delighted to see that the Neighbourhood Plan was proceeding. He said Hawkchurch should be aware of the Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (HELAA) process.  The interactive maps show that 11 available sites of sizeable proportions have been identified in Axminster which could potentially double its size! Strategic Planning has put Hawkchurch into higher band of Tier 4 as the village centre offers range of amenities above and beyond a hamlet/small village. Hawkchurch may be asked to accommodate some more growth (5,10,15 extra houses). A Consultation is coming out shortly.  Chardstock has also been put into tier 4 because it had 7 amenities but has now been put back because the pub closed, and the shop and post office are one unit. Chardstock is happy with having no building, but Membury would like more development.

He added that a lot more solar parks/arrays/fields are being planned and now Councillors are starting to object which didn’t happen when Hawkchurch was targeted.

Cllr Hall had asked Cllr Hayward to convey his apologies for “the amount of traffic bouncing through Hawkchurch” next week.

Cllr Searle said there had been an accident at White Gates and he thought the hedge height had been a factor and so had cut the Hawkchurch hedges. DCC will pay for training of up to three volunteers per parish. Cllr Hayward explained that anyone working on road safety/signs needed to have Chapter 8 training. There are active environmental groups monitoring hedge cutting and reporting if they consider it not essential, they will issue litigation to DCC for cutting outside the nesting season. New ELMS (Environmental Land Management Scheme) payments are encouraging upward growth of hedges and to plant one tree for every hedgerow. It was accepted flail mowers are necessary. Cllr Searle pointed that there are a lot more walkers, a lot more push bikes and “Chelsea tractors which drive at some unbelievable speeds”. He said there would be an accident if hedges were allowed to get out of hand in any shape or form. Cllr Hall responded that DCC routinely used to cut hedges then they stopped on cost grounds, so now the landowner is responsible for cutting the hedges, so you must identify who each landowner is. All Saints cut their hedges on safety grounds and were threatened with litigation by a London solicitor. DCC won’t do it, landowners don’t do it and Parish councils who want to do it are threatened with litigation and environmental action. The same applies to grass verges.

Finance

Accounts for Payment:

The Clerk needed Cllr Greenshields to approve one invoice, otherwise all accounts were agreed.

Financial Update:

This had been circulated and was agreed.

S106 Update

Cllr Churchill said that we were going to wait until the Neighbourhood Plan was underway. The money was secured already.

There were no new Planning Applications:

Planning Determinations:  Coate Farm, Rose Cottage, Wyld Court and Barley Close were all approved.

Highways:

Cllr Nolan reported that Cllr Greenshields had said that the roadworks to repair Brimley Road were due to start next month as there were no active badgers on site any more.

Rights of Way:

The annual path cutting was carried out in June by contractors for Devon County Council. As there had been complaints last year about the cutting being overzealous, they left a lot of the wildflowers which meant that the Courshay path became overgrown quite quicky. Unfortunately, the cutting is restricted to areas highlighted in yellow on the map and so some topping up is necessary. Currently this is mainly done by Cllr Fox and her husband, but we really need a few volunteers to help with this. Just carrying a pair of secateurs and clearing vegetation around gateways is a great help.  The unpredictable weather has caused rapid growth surges but there is provision in the budget to cut the core paths again later in the year.

Neighbourhood Plan

Cllr Nolan presented a paper showing the required stages for producing a Neighbourhood Plan and a breakdown of proposed strands that might require working groups (available on the hawkchurch.org website). Councillors were asked to review and advise if there were omissions. The whole process can take about two years before a neighbourhood plan is ‘made’. There are three designated stages: (1) Getting established; (2) Preparing the plan; and (3) Bringing the plan into force. The first part of Stage 1 is complete as the neighbourhood area has been designated as the entire parish and is still active on the EDDC website. The next part of Stage 1 is to build and evidence base and engage with stakeholders. These include all residents in the parish but also organisations who interact with the parish and people who own land or property even if they are non-residents.

Cllr Nolan had reviewed previous Parish Plans, from 1982 and 2011, and proposed that we should produce a new Parish Plan alongside the Neighbourhood Plan. The Neighbourhood Plan concentrates on land use and designations, while a Parish Plan deals with wider aspects of things such as amenities and services.

To launch engagement with residents and other stakeholders to establish what people wanted for the future of the parish, Cllr Nolan proposed that in September the Parish Council should host an open day, or two half days, offering refreshments and an opportunity to discuss issues and ideas. One of these days could be held on the same day as the Annual Parish Meeting, which could not be held in May due to COVID restrictions. This was agreed and further planning will be taken forward by the Steering Group.

Just before the Meeting closed Cllr Churchill mentioned that Himalayan Balsam was beginning to be a problem in the area and would have to be dealt with.

Cllr Searle raised the issue of car parking in the village, and it was agreed to put this on the agenda for the next Meeting.

The Next Parish Council Meeting will be on 21st September 2021 at 7pm in the Village Hall.

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