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Parish Council Minutes 5 November 2019


Draft minutes of meeting held on 5th November 2019 at 7.30 pm in the Vestry Room.

Present: Cllrs I Robinson (IR), R Tift (RT), A Cook (AC), J Penman (JP), A Stride (AS), S Martin (SM), J Franklyn (JF, Clerk)

60a/19 Apologies: S Stephens

60b/19   Declarations of Interest & Prejudice: None declared.

Meeting suspended to allow public questions and receipt of reports.

  1. Simon Bates, Green Infrastructure project manager at EDDC, attended and gave a presentation on the proposed masterplan for the Clyst Valley Regional Park. The aim of this project is to enhance access to green spaces with emphases to include wildlife, old trees, orchards, historic sites and other natural aspects of this region. The proposal indicates that the Park will cover an area approximately half that of the size of Exeter. It was noted that the boundary to the proposed Regional Park currently lies a short distance south of the village. Given that the source of the River Clyst is close to Clyst William Cross there was preliminary discussion about the potential to include the Clyst Valley area within the village (and Plymtree itself) within the boundary of the Park. Simon Bates will inform the PC of the mechanism for (and implications of) achieving this, likely to be via a local plan review in 2020.
    New actions: Clerk to add the Clyst Valley Regional Park to next agenda. Simon Bates to notify the National Trust estates at Killerton House re the proposed solar farm at Langford (see minute 68/19 below) (Done).
  2. Melanie Fryer, parishioner, attended and described a recycling initiative aimed at reducing/eliminating waste sent to landfill. She described the activities of TerraCycle which offers a free to end-user recycling service (financed via the green agenda of large companies) allowing recycling of a wide range of materials not offered through local EDDC recycling e.g. crisp packets, chocolate/biscuit wrappers, beauty-product containers, toothpaste tubes etc. It was agreed that Ms Fryer should proceed with this project for a trial period of 4 months in the first instance. Ms Fryer will source boxes to contain waste to be placed in the bus shelters opposite the church and at Norman’s Green and will transport waste as required to the local registered collection point at Honiton. She will also advertise the initiative in the Parish Magazine and via posters in the village.
    New action: Clerk to add recycling initiative to agenda for the March 2020 meeting.
  3. Peter Gimber, village tree warden (on behalf of the PC), attended. He reported on-going concerns re an earth bank (previously a Devon Bank) at Oakridge on the road to Langford (site of a large oak tree with a tree preservation order); he reported that he is pursuing this matter with EDDC. Mr Gimber also submitted a proposed “tree strategy” for the village, developed in the context of ash dieback disease which is predicted to kill up to 98% of ash trees over the next 5 years.  Matters for consideration included identification of sites where new trees might be planted (possibly free of charge via the Devon Ash Dieback Resilience Forum), as well as consideration of planting of new hedge trees (possibly supplied by the Woodland Trust) around the Village Hall car park and recreation ground, as well as development/planting of a community orchard (noting Plymtree is a site of ancient orchards) (all subject to permission of relevant landowners). It was agreed (as proposed by AS, seconded by RT) that the PC would, in the first instance, plant a suitable tree, perhaps in a corner of the recreation ground, to coincide with National Tree Planting week in November. An approximate budget of up to £100 was agreed.
    New actions: Peter Gimber to contact Mr Persey (landowner) on behalf of the PC to seek permission for plating a “landmark” tree in the recreation ground. Mr Gimber to advise the Clerk on the type of tree. Clerk to purchase the tree.
  4. Parishioners Jane Marks, Terry Matthews and Sally Matthews attended to express opinions re the proposed solar farm at Langford. Concerns expressed included the scale of the project at 200 acres, effects on wildlife and loss of agricultural ground. A wide-ranging discussion followed (see minute 68/19 below).

60c/19   Reports from representatives of Police, EDDC, DCC:  
DCCllr Chubb had submitted a report stating:

Devon County Council have set up a committee in preparation for leaving the EU, with a cross department working party of officers and Councillors and the DCC website has a page “Get ready for BREXIT”.

There was a County Council by election in Whipton and Heavitree Exeter on the 24th October and the Labour party held the seat with 1,032 votes, a 40 vote majority over the next candidate.

The children’s budget currently overspending due to the high costs of children’s services. Although there is good news with an increase in the number of foster carers coming forwards. Apparently there has been a reduction across Devon in the number of potholes being reported. There is an ongoing working party dealing with climate change and we are looking at scrutinising the Fire service with regards to the proposed closure of stations around Devon.

 No other reports were received.

60d/19 Approval of minutes of meeting of 3rd September 2019: The minutes were read, approved and signed as a true and accurate record as proposed by AC, seconded by SM and agreed by all.

61/19    Actions from last meeting not otherwise on the agenda: None

62/19    Finance:
Annual update of financial regulations. RT (RFO) had circulated a new draft document representing a more comprehensive set of financial regulations for the PC. This was approved by all.
New actions: Clerk to purchase two memory sticks to ensure effective backup of PC documents from the PC laptop. RT to arrange display of new financial regulations on village website.

Balance of current accounts: Recent spends (since the last meeting) were noted and further approved. Current balances (from 1st April 2019) were checked and agreed as proposed/signed by IR and RT.

63/19    Section 106 monies:
SS had reported (in his absence) that there had been no new developments since the last meeting.
New action: SM (as PC village hall representative) to contact cricket club/recreation ground officers to again seek outline proposals for improving access and drainage at the recreation ground (for onward transmission to Sulina Tallack  and her consideration in due course).

64/19     P3 activity and monies:
Actions from last meeting: AC and IR to apply meshing to the slippery planking previously noted (Done). AS to submit the received advice/guidance re livestock in the field for publication in the Parish Magazine and to attach a laminated copy to posts on the relevant footpath (Done). AS, with AC and RT, to approach the relevant landowner (supported by an annotated drawing/map) to enquire if informal access might be given to villagers on the route suggested (To be undertaken). 
It was agreed that the PC strimmer should be serviced (funded from the existing P3 budget).

65/19     Highways and Road Warden update (RT):
Action from last meeting: RT to identify suitable “herbicide” courses and RT (plus SS if possible) to attend prior to completing spraying in accord with DCC regulations (Done).

RT had been advised by both EDDC and DCC that Bicton College provides a “herbicide” course (at a cost of £430 per person for their three day course). This was considered prohibitively expensive and time-consuming.
New action: RT to seek alternative providers of a suitable “herbicide” course and/or parishioners who are already certified and who might contribute to kerb spraying within the village.

RT reported no recent pot-hole filling activity. It was noted that the wooden fence at the Ford had recently been hit by vehicles on two occasions. RT had been in discussion with DCC who have agreed to repair the fence again and add chevron signage and reflectors to indicate the sharp bend on approach to the Ford when leaving the village.

It was noted that there had been excessive mud on the village roads recently, representing a skid hazard. It was reported that such hazards should be reported to the Highways Department of DCC if not rectified promptly by the relevant farmer.

It was noted that the “no-man’s land” opposite to the School required trimming as previously undertaken.
New action: AC to arrange trimming/flailing of the bank opposite to the School. (Done).

66/19 Village website:
Action from last meeting: IR to investigate progress re creation of the new website front page and to liaise further with William Lines. (Done)
It was reported that development of the “front page” is on-going and that a draft should be available for review soon.

67/19 Creation of village interpretation board:
Action from last meeting: RT to approach Peter Gimber re his ideas for content to be included on the village interpretation board and RT and AS to pursue the project further (Done).
RT reported that Peter Gimber had provided a wide-ranging list of buildings/topics which might be included on the proposed village interpretation board (along with information re footpaths and circular walks). RT had approached five suppliers re outline costs and services provided. There had been three responses; the recommendation of RT and AS was to proceed with the services of Shelley Signs Ltd who offered a variety of styles of board at a reasonable cost (approximately £1100). This plan was proposed by AC, seconded by JP and agreed by all. It was noted that the preferred site for the board was close to the memorial bench and mosaic in the village centre. It was noted that planning permission may be required.
New actions: RT to seek the permission of the land owners re positioning of the proposed board. RT to clarify with EDDC whether planning permission is required and to proceed accordingly.

68/19 Planning applications:
Consultation request 19/01679/FUL from Mid Devon DC re solar farm Langford (deadline 31st October, extension requested in line with other PCs).

It was noted that a request for observations had been received by Plymtree PC (as a “neighbouring authority”) from Mid Devon DC on 10th October 2019. This notice had been displayed promptly on the designated village notice boards (at the shop and telephone box) to indicate the direct route for parishioners to respond to the Mid Devon DC planning department by email or letter or via their website and additionally inviting responses to the PC clerk email address for collation and onward transmission by the PC. No responses had been received by the Clerk but several parishioners from Plymtree and other authorities had responded directly.

Members of the PC had sought views widely; these were noted to be highly divergent ranging from those fully supportive of the proposal to those who opposed it, typically reflecting concerns about the scale and impact of the development. The Chairman (IR) summarised the comments of the PC on behalf of parishioners as follows: 

Having consulted parishioners of Plymtree, the Parish Council met on 5th November where the application was discussed, with members of the public in attendance.

The consensus view was that should the Planning Authority be minded to grant the application the following comments should be noted:

  1. Permission should only be granted for the stipulated duration, i.e. 40 years and only for the express purpose stated, in the application.
  2. No permanent change of use should be considered. At the end of the stated period the land should automatically revert to its current status of agricultural land and all equipment suitably removed without detriment the land.
  3. No additional land owned by either the current applicants or other landowners be considered for future development with respect to ground-mounted solar pv panels or similar technologies.
  4. That wildlife is considered and prioritised when deciding whether to grant or deny the applicant permission.
  5. This application does not set a precedent for future, similar developments.

Ian Robinson, Chair Plymtree Parish Council

New action: Clerk to submit comments on behalf of the PC (Done, November 6th)

69/19 Correspondence: An email had been received from Sue Tidball (after the agenda was published) noting the change of date of the 2020 May Day Bank Holiday to Friday 8th May to mark the 75th anniversary of VE day and querying whether the Parish intends to celebrate this occasion.
The PC was supportive of there being a village event to mark this anniversary (but that its organisation was outside the remit of the PC); it was agreed that a modest financial contribution might be made depending on further details being available.
New actions: Clerk to respond to Mrs Tidball and to seek further information re a possible village event to mark the VE day weekend (Done).

Matters of urgency – items not on the agenda to be discussed at the Chairman’s discretion NB no voting permitted, discussion only. None.  

Dates of meetings for 2020: 7th January, 3rd March, 5th May, 7th July, 8th September, 3rd November at 7.30pm. (Clerk to arrange)

Close of meeting at 10.25 pm.