Summary of the Annual Parish Meeting

Tuesday 16th November 2021 at 7pm.                                                                       By Roz Fox

The meeting was chaired by the Parish Council Chairman, Ann Nolan with all the parish councillors and 5 other members of the public in attendance

Apologies for absence were received from the District and County Councillors

The Annual Parish Meeting had not taken place last year and was delayed this year due to Covid. In her summary the Chairman stated that progress had been made since the last Parish Meeting on 16th April 2019.  During this time the parish council changed Chairs. Ruth Churchill was thanked for her service as chairman. Lesley Harper had moved out of the area and was also thanked for her service.

Before COVID struck the necessary funds for the DAA night landing site had been procured (thanks to all who participated in the fundraising and made donations). The lights were installed, and the site became operational in September 2020.

Thanks were extended to everyone who had rallied round to help others during COVID, especially to those running the shop which became the single focal point when all other venues had to close. Hawkchurch was commended for its amazing community spirit over the last two years, with people looking out for each other during this difficult time. A small amount of funds from the Barnes Trust were used to help a parishioner cope with some very difficult circumstances and she is now back on her feet again.

The Parish Council moved temporarily to Skype and then Zoom meetings during COVID – which led to some entertaining moments as well as occasional frustration with the technology! This was allowed under the emergency legislation brought in during COVID and now that this has been withdrawn, the Council is not legally allowed to have parish council meetings other than in person (despite pleas from many councils around the country – unfortunately it would take primary legislation to change this, so it’s unlikely to happen). A meeting was missed in April due to the funeral of Prince Philip.

The council moved to bimonthly meetings recently, in part to allow time for work on the Neighbourhood plan. More Councillors are needed and parishioners are encouraged to consider joining to help represent the community. If anyone is interested, they can speak to any of the current council about what is involved but applications should be made through the clerk.

The playing field lottery was suspended, as it wasn’t practical to collect cash from people. Sadly, the Football club has disbanded after a great season that ended early due to the lockdown. The Tennis club has thrived, with many more people playing, when permitted, during COVID. Gradually more and more of the clubs and societies have started meeting again and things are beginning to feel more normal.

Julie Baker reported on the Village Hall:

Thishad seen turbulent times during Covid. Five committee members had resigned, and a new Committee had now been formed with Julie in the chair and twelve new members, so a negative had been turned into a positive. Julie also said that the village fete was unlikely to take place again unless others are prepared to take up the reins. As the Fete Committee had always been a subcommittee of the Village Hall, the remaining funds have been returned to the Village Hall and will be ringfenced.

Graham Stammer reported on the Village Shop:

This had featured in the planning consultations and various suggestions had been received. Unfortunately, there was not enough space for a post office in the building. The shop had been a Godsend during the height of the pandemic and the volunteers had been superb. Normal trading hours have now been resumed.

The Parish had had to deal with Badgers, Bees and Crows making their presence felt in the neighborhood. Problems with water are a constant challenge due to the rainfall, springs, and drainage problems. Even the telephone kiosk – the Exchange – suffered from the damp and rescue work had to be undertaken. (thanks extended to Roz, Philip and Tim for stepping in).

Roz Fox read out the annual Public Rights of Way report which is available to view on the website. The paths had obviously been affected by the weather but there were no major issues and a new dog bin has been installed, although getting it emptied is now a problem!

Speed problems persist and perhaps have got worse with the increase in delivery vans – so we now have shared use of a speed indicator system. (Thanks to Tim for sorting this out)

Planning applications continue to roll in – There have been 39 planning applications since the last parish meeting. 26 of these were approved, 5 refused and 1 withdrawn. There are currently 7 awaiting decision. Included in these is the application for the battery storage facility. The outcome of the recent planning inquiry relating to Hawkwell Park is still awaited.

As it has been ten years since the last Parish Plan was made and East Devon had begun preparing a new local plan, that might have significant impact on Hawkchurch, it was agreed to progress with both Parish and Neighborhood planning.

Finally, the Chairman said she would like to thank her fellow councilors and the clerk for their support. She also thanked both the County and District Councilors for their help and support over this period. She said they had been extremely helpful in offering guidance and finding solutions when needed. She hoped that Councilor Hall would soon recover from the impact of Covid and wished him all the best.