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Minutes of the Westleigh Parish Council Meeting held on the 1st September 2021 at the Parish Hall – 19.30hrs

Attendees – Cllr David Fairbrother (Chair), Cllr Chris Heard (Vice-Chair), Cllrs Lesley Burgess, Lyn Gear, Colin Frajbis, Devon County Cllr Frank Biederman, and Parish Clerk (Roger Levick)


1. Apologies receivedNDCllr (& MP) Selaine Saxby, and Cllr Kevin Farrell-Roberts

2. Declarations of Interest – to receive Declarations of Interests from Councillors of any disclosable, pecuniary, or other Interests in items on the agenda - none received

3. Minutes – to confirm and agree the signing of the minutes of the meeting held on the 27th July - unanimous

4. Correspondence and Communications – the Chair remarked that he had received several complaints regarding the collection of recycling materials, where the ‘collectors’ were leaving complete boxes of materials because, say, there was one glass bottle in the plastics box. The Chair pointed out that in this instance, it could have been anyone just dropping something unrelated in the wrong box, as the boxes were out all night. DCCllr Biederman said he would feed these complaints back to NDC. The Chair had received an email about perceived fly tipping at West Living Lane – this is, apparently, building materials which are now being ‘tidied’ as a result of an ambulance not being able to turn round. The materials have been there for over a year, in what is part of the Westleigh Conservation Area. Clerk will speak to Christie Estates as it is their lane.

5. Public Session – there were no parishioners in attendance, and no questions received.

6. County and District Ward Members reports – DCCllr Biederman noted the concerns regarding the Stoney Barton planning application, and confirmed that NDCllr Saxby had ‘called in’ the application. He confirmed that he would initiate an alteration to the SatNav application, that would show the road between Westleigh and Lower Southcott as unsuitable for HGV’s. He also asked the Council’s thoughts on seeking a re-alignment of the public footpath between Treyhill and Combe Farm, to avoid walkers going through the farmyard. Council agreed that it should be investigated. DCCllr Biederman also reminded everyone of the continued need for vigilance with the upturn in Covid cases. He also informed all that there was a desperate shortage of care workers in North Devon, which was causing concern. Cllr Frajbis asked if there had been any progress in getting a speed reduction on the Bideford/Instow road, especially after the last serious crash at the Westleigh junction. DcCllr Biederman replied that it was still high on his priority list. NDCllr (& MP) Saxby’s report – see Appendix 1

7. Finance – to receive an update on the current financial position – there were no transactions to authorise, therefore the net balance remained at £4605.45p

8. Planning matters – Stoney Barton (73719) had been the subject of a Village meeting, and consequently a letter of objection sent to NDC. No issues were identified for the West Ashridge application (73565)

9. Defibrillator training – the Parish Clerk to continue to try and find a suitable training person

10. Highway issues – emails had been received from Mr D Brooks regarding problems with the use of the road from Westleigh via Lower Southcott to the Old Barnstaple Road by HGV’s. Part of the issue is that SatNav does not show this road as unsuitable for HGV’s – this will now be addressed by DCCllr Biederman, and the position monitored to see if that solves the issue

11. Councillor training, refresher training, and new Councillor training – it was agreed that the Parish Clerk would look into accessing training for the Parish Council roles, which could either be reading materials, or on-line. Cllr Burgess remarked that the Governance Tool Kit was a good place to start askyourcouncil.uk/documents/Governance-Toolkit.2009.pdf

12. Access to meetings concerns – the Council were unanimous in their agreement that every effort should be made in accommodating any sort or type of disability that could preclude any Councillor’s attendance.

13. Update regarding the ground behind the War Memorial – contact had been made with the owner of the land, who would be prepared to sell to the Council at a market price. The Parish Clerk to obtain a commercial valuation as the next step. Cllr Burgess queried whether S106 monies (when available) could be used. Clerk to investigate once monies are nearing availability.

14. Environmental issues, to include apparent changes to hedgerow management, and field verges/margins – the Chair and Clerk were meeting with Christie Estates on the 3rd September to discuss the environmental issues raised by the Council. Cllr Frajbis asked if anyone had had any contact with the Taw & Torridge Estuary Group, as he was having no response to his emails. Nothing had been heard from them since Covid started, was the consensus.

15. Westleigh Village Fete June 2022 – it was agreed to defer this item until January 2022 as the Covid crisis was by no means finished. Cllr Heard also proposed that instead of just a ‘one-day’ event, that the Council consider a week-long event, culminating in the fete on the Saturday. Council agreed to make this part of the fete planning.

16. Agenda items for the next meeting (Wednesday 6th October) – nothing specific

17. Any other business not covered – The Chair asked if anyone had noticed that the footpath gates were often being left open – the question was raised as to whether it would be possible to have springs attached so that they closed automatically. The Chair will investigate.

18. Meeting closed at 21.05

Appendix 1

Planning: further to emails between meetings the Stoney Barton application (73719) has been called in

Am meeting with Andrew Woollacott this Friday (3rd) with the Clerk and Chair to discuss any matters detailed by the parish council

Updates from August meeting:  all of these have been returned to the Council but please do not hesitate to come to me with further queries as always happy to follow up on. 

With my other hat on, but linked, I am hosting the CPRE Hedgerow event in Westminster on 6th September and I am hosting the virtual North Devon Climate Summit on Saturday 18th September, 10-1, which is free – all details available here:  https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/north-devon-climate-summit-tickets-165904622191

I have also spoken directly to Minister Hughes about the situation with holiday lets and planning restrictions and written to the CEO of the District Council as these are local not national policy.  I do urge everyone to report any empty or derelict properties to NDC: https://www.northdevon.gov.uk/housing/private-rented-housing/report-an-empty-home