Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting

held in the Council Chamber, Windmill Lane, Northam

on Wednesday 13th April 2005.


PRESENT:                 Chairman – The Town Mayor, Cllr L Ford

together with 46 Parishioners


1.         Matters raised by Parishioners


(a)  Mr Edward Walker enquired as to the response from the Council to Mrs Hodder’s letter regarding Burrows passes.


(b)  Mr Peter Hames expressed his concern with regard to the Council’s response to the Knapp House planning application.  He considered that there was a strong voice against the proposal, which was outside the development boundary and would be in contravention of many of the Local Plan and Structure Plan policies. 


(c)  Mrs Jackie Avery would like the Town Council to write to the District Council and ask for detailed policy on planning, especially in the Conservation Areas.  Many of the applications being approved are at odds with advice in the Conservation leaflet. 


(d)  Mr Harry Bartlett had studied the Knapp House proposals at the public library and was concerned that the document inferred that the Community Centre in the Square was to be sold.  This was causing upset and confusion to the many people using the Leisure Centre.


Cllr Sturges advised that a statement would come out from Torridge District Council in due course.


Cllr Mrs Cox thought the application was bound to fail and encouraged all those who object to it to write to the District Council.


Mr Bartlett further advised that he thought the document gave the impression that the developers had already been in consultation with the District Council. 


Cllr Sturges advised that the District Council have made no decisions.


Mrs O’Shea was particularly concerned about the loss of the car park in Windmill Lane and questioned where all the cars were going to go. 


Michael Day thought there were too many double yellow lines in Northam and if these were reduced then car parking in the village could be eased. 


Cllr Bradford MBE gave details of the uses made of the Leisure Centre and also the Council Chambers, which are used for the Bideford Archive and the Registrar.


(e)  Maureen Longman, from Lakenham Hill, was concerned that Bone Hill car park was not being used and that cars were parking around the streets.


(f)  Mrs O’Shea would like to see some of the money from the Burrows passes used on the Burrows to repair the roads.


(g)  Another resident advised that he thought the reason Bone Hill car park was not being used was concern over vandalism.


2.         Mayor’s Annual Report


The Town Mayor, Cllr Ford, advised that it had been a great privilege to serve the Council as their Town Mayor which he did as a third generation of his family.  Two events he remembered in particular were the Remembrance Day Parade and the Nativity Play at St Margaret’s School.  He had enjoyed his term of office and he gave thanks to his fellow Councillors.


3.         Reports from Members


Cllr Eastman advised that he enjoyed a good level of success.  With regard to housing he had been able to persuade the District Council that lifeboat and fire station crews receive the same status as servicemen which he hoped would help overcome the problems of finding local crews for these services. 


Cllr Mrs Cox reported on the work of the CAB who were very grateful for the Council’s contribution.  The local office had special skills in debt and welfare issues and they had managed to acquire more office space in an adjacent flat. 


Cllr Miller advised that he was analysing the data from the Parish Survey.  He was in the process of organising a roundup of horses on Northam Burrows in order to identify any that were not authorised.  He continued to be concerned about road safety and in particular the speed of traffic on the Appledore to Northam road. 


Cllr Sturges advised that the skateboard park lease would be signed very shortly.  With regard to development in Westward Ho! the District Council were now taking a stand against high-rise development and had recently refused an application in Cornborough Road.  He advised that he had been pressing for some time for a local development plan and was hopeful that the Town Council would contribute financially to its preparation.  The District Council’s Officer was to make a presentation to the Town Council on 26th April.  With regard to 106 Agreements, the District Council does as much as possible to obtain finance from developers.  As a District Councillor he had pressed for Members of the Licensing and Planning Committees to become qualified.  With regard to public toilets he was hopeful that a public/private partnership would be arrived at whereby the District Council would upgrade toilets in a suitable public house, for example, on the understanding that they were made available 24 hours a day.  The high cost of a new set of toilets ruled these out. 


Cllr Bradford MBE reported on the Leisure Centre and Twinning arrangements.  He also advised that the Grammar School Foundation cups had been disposed of at the school.


Cllr Davies reported on the various committees he is a member of.


Cllr Mrs Mounce reported on the committees she is a member of.  She also reported as Chairman of the Burrows Committee that the old recycling centre site was now restored and that they would be meeting English Nature next week.  She advised that the young surfers at Westward Ho! had outgrown their building because of the number of people taking up the sport and they were trying to find a new venue.  She also advised that he RNLI would be undertaking the beach patrol at Westward Ho! 


The Town Mayor, Cllr Ford, reported on his work on Housing and E & L and he was disappointed that the Appledore Bandstand had not yet been erected.


Cllr Waters reported on the importance of the Northam Burrows Forum and also the DEFRA report which looks likely to open the door for commoners to take a more active role in the management of the common should they choose to do so. 


4.         Reports from representatives on Governing bodies of local schools.


Cllr Waters advised that Appledore School was just below maximum capacity and that the school was not looking for a new site. A shelter on the site had been converted into a staff room and the office vacated was now used for the parent/teachers association who were very active.  In the near future an expansion unit was to be provided as part of the Sure Start movement.


Cllr Mrs Mounce advised that Northam schools were not full although the population was growing.  At St Margaret’s the swimming pool had been filled in and the entrance and staff room were improved.  A travel plan was being developed for both schools but she was concerned that the difficulty was going to be educating the parents.  St George’s school had a new library.  The Snapdragons had been brought back to life and were seeking funding.  At St Mary’s, Bob Fancourt had been appointed Headteacher and windows and doors were being repaired.


5.         Reports from Members on outside bodies


Cllr Ford reported that all was ok with the Blue Lights Hall. 


Taw/Torridge Estuary Form – Cllr Waters reported that the jet ski problem was being considered by a joint committee of the District Councils but he was concerned that at the most recent meeting Councillors from North Devon and Torridge did not attend and it was left to the Officers.  He also advised that the public were not allowed to attend the meeting.


Torridge Police Liaison Committee – Cllr Mrs Mounce urged members to attend the local committees and support the Police.


Mrs Mounce also reported on the Northam Charities where she is a representative for the Council along with Mrs Whittaker.  She advised that all the flats were now occupied and had been repaired and updated.


6.         Nominations for co-option onto the Town Council’s Grazing Advisory Committee


            It was agreed to nominate Mrs M Tucker, Mr R Griffey and Mr S Withecombe to serve.


7.         Active Grazier to serve on Northam Burrows Forum


It was agreed to nominate Mrs Tucker to serve as the Active Grazier.