Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting held in the Council Chamber, Windmill Lane, Northam on Wednesday 16th April 2008


PRESENT : Chairman – The Town Mayor, Cllr A Eastman together with 11 Councillors and 7 Parishioners

1. Mayor's Annual Report

The Town Mayor, Cllr Eastman, reported on recent initiatives to seek to have local facilities returned to the Town Council. He advised that the local Town Councils of Bideford, Holsworthy, Torrington and Northam were in discussions with the District Council. He advised that one of the major concerns in the parish over the past year was the pebbleridge and the recent retreat at the northern end, where about 80 feet of the Burrows had been lost. He was concerned that no action had been taken.

He advised on the events that he had attended during the year as the representative of the Town Council.

2. Reports from County and District Council Ward Members

The meeting noted that the local County Councillor was not in attendance.

Cllr Roger Johnson, District Councillor, reported that he was the lead Member for Youth and the Play Champion. The District Council had been successful in obtaining a lottery funded grant in the sum of £45,000 to support Seize the Moment and to undertake refurbishment of the skateboard park in Appledore. 6 out of the 39 applications had been successful. He was also the lead Member for Tourism and was currently involved with the TIC in Bideford moving into the Burton Art Gallery. He thanked his fellow Town Councillors for working together.

One member of the public left at this juncture.

Cllr Sam Robinson, District Councillor, expressed his concern over loss of part of the Burrows and referred to the report of Professor Pethick. He was concerned that the Shoreline Management Plan was a long-winded process whereas action needed to be taken now. He was concerned that the County Council were having difficulties with their site investigations.

He advised on the progress of the Town Council who were seeking to have the green spaces and other assets repatriated.

He advised that there was a new atmosphere at the District Council which he thought augurs well for the future and he gave the example of the public now being able to speak at Plans meetings.

He thanked Cllr Langton for his work as Chairman of the Planning Committee.

Cllr Roger Tisdale, District Councillor, advised on his efforts with the District Council, particularly in relation to planning applications in Westward Ho! and advised that he thought they were having some success by limiting new development to not more than four storeys as this precedent had been established by a Planning Inspector. He advised that the promenade improvements, which had been wanted for so long, were almost within touching distance. Unfortunately there was no local government money available and funding for the scheme has to come from developers.

At this juncture, the Town Mayor, Cllr Eastman advised that Philip Waters, former County Councillor, District Councillor and Town Councillor had passed away on Wednesday 9 th April. The meeting stood in silence as a mark of respect.

3. Reports from Members on outside bodies

Cllr Edwards reported that he was the new Chairman of the Blue Lights Hall. The Hall was financially sound and they would be celebrating 50 years next year.

Cllr Osborne reported that he intends to be an active member of the CAB.

Cllr Hames reported on the Northam Community Centre which had been neglected. However, there was a newly constituted committee and greater interest by users of the building. The Town Council were working on plans to take over the lease from the District Council. He also reported on the Taw Torridge Estuary Forum which was an active and lively Forum encompassing all the main bodies with an interest in the estuary. He advised on some of the issues that had been discussed including the proposed Atlantic Array Wind Farm and the Churchfields slip. He thought it would be beneficial if the Senior Ranger of the Burrows attended the meeting.

Mrs Slade, on behalf of the Community Archive, reported that the group were continuing to index the Gazette which was now being transferred to computer. Census information was available on microfilm or fiche. They had 2 microfilm units and 3 computers. They had several topic packs for schools and 200 tapes of interviews with local people started in 1983. They get many enquiries and deal with house history and family history.

Mrs Avery, on behalf of Appledore Residents Association, thought that the new Council was more “on the ball” and were very approachable.

Cllr Mrs Biggs was pleased to be back on the Town Council and wished to see the Burrows taken over by the Town Council.

Mr Richard Bradford MBE advised on the use of the Leisure Centre, which was well patronised. Profits from Bingo had raised in excess of £4,000 which had been equally distributed to local needy organisations. He advised that the new owners of the building, Tarka Housing, leased the Centre back to the District Council. He thanked the Town Council for the grant and advised that Cllr Johnson had joined the Committee with Cllr Langton as a substitute. He thanked the Committee and helpers and advised that the AGM would be on 2 nd June.

He advised that he was still the Chairman of the Bideford College Foundation.

Cllr Mrs Boyle reported that she had enjoyed her first year as a Councillor. She expressed concern that there was confusion regarding the Appledore Leisure Centre and there is a real call in Appledore for a Hall.

She advised that the Bideford College Foundation helped children to do what they may not be able to achieve from their own resources.

Mrs Mounce, as a local school governor, reported that all four schools, St Georges, St Margaret's, St Mary's and Appledore were all excellent schools.

Mrs Slade reported on the Northam Charities which is four flats under the heading of Northam Almshouses and Charities. Proceeds from the flats are used to provide relief in need within the parish.

Cllr Johnson expanded on the lease at the Leisure Centre with Tarka Housing and advised that it was for a 25-year period at a peppercorn rent.

4. Matters raised by Parishioners

Mr Reveley was concerned that a slipway at the bottom of South Road was blocked by rubbish and old wheels. He understood that it was a public right of way to the foreshore and advised that people concerned should notify Devon County Council Rights of Way Officer.

Mr Bradford MBE expressed concern that Bassetts Bridge was to be taken down and not replaced.

Mrs Mounce expressed the view that the pebbleridge would not be defended.

On behalf of the four schools she thanked the Council for the financial grants to identified projects.