Minutes of a meeting of the Town Council held in the Council Chamber, Windmill Lane, Northam on Tuesday 30 th January 2007


PRESENT: Chairman - Town Mayor – Cllr K A Lane Members - Cllrs Mrs M Cox, Mrs S A Mounce, A Barnes, R D Bradford MBE, H Brading, J Braund, R W A Miller, P Waters together with 35 Parishioners

Apologies were recorded on behalf of Cllrs Davies, A Eastman, P Hames and R M M Tisdale,

1. Westward Ho! Tennis Club

(Cllrs. Barnes, Brading and Miller declared a prejudicial interest and left the Meeting for this item.)  

Members were considering their views on the proposals of the Westward Ho! Tennis Club to re-locate to Burrough Farm. They had received a presentation at the Special Council meeting held on 17 th January from Mr Lobato on behalf of the Club. Cllr Braund reported that there was strong opposition to the proposals and listed the following nine matters which he thought were important: -

(i) There is very strong opposition to the proposal from several sectors of the local community:

(a) Residents of the new Burrough Farm estates;

(b) Residents of “old” Northam;

(c) Nature lovers who live locally.

(ii) The site is the last piece of Open Green, which offers free access to the public.

(iii) People from all three villages and Bideford make use of this site, walking, sitting (on one of the four park benches), dog walking, picnicking and supervising the play of their very young children.

(iv) This is the only level site in Northam easily available for the disabled (especially wheelchair users) to make use of.

(v) Parts of this site are used by the local youth after school, at weekends and during holidays.

(vi) The western hedgerow is the last home to the wildlife displaced by the building of the Burrough Farm estates. Badgers feed in this area all year round, rabbits live here, various mice and shrews also inhabit the whole area. Most types of local birds feed and nest here.

(vii) This site is earmarked specifically for “Leisure and Recreational” use. At present it is providing exactly this. To effectively remove this facility to accommodate an elitist private club is wrong.

(viii) The aerial photograph submitted by the Club, fails somehow to detail the very defined perimeter footpath in the Eastern section of the outlined site. It would appear that the footpath and four benches have been “omitted”. There are other aerial and land photos available which could substantiate the above statement.

(ix) Floodlighting will cause a nuisance to those with young families adjacent to the site. Floodlights have been noted to have been in use as late as 2200 hours at the Westward Ho! site. There is new legislation (Dec 2006) regarding a local authority's duty to prevent “Nuisance caused by floodlighting.”

It was then RESOLVED to suspend Standing Orders in order to allow members of the public to speak.

(Vote: Unanimous)

Mr Michael Charters, who lives on the Burrough Farm estate and was also a tennis player, advised the meeting that he was not agreeable to the proposals for two good reasons. The first was concern over the number of cars which would need to gain access to the proposals through the estate roads, which in parts were very narrow and already had many cars parked on them by residents. He could see the situation where 100 cars at any one time would be entering or leaving the site. The second reason was that there was an insufficient population base to support a second indoor tennis club.

Mrs Brenda Fagan of Windmill Lane, expressed concerns over noise pollution, possible light pollution from floodlighting, concern that other sites were also being put forward for tennis e.g. Lenwood and Bideford College, which would result in over-provision, the roads on the Burrough Farm estate were not of sufficient capacity and concern that the District Council would not be charging enough for the field.

Ingka Charters of Burrough Farm was concerned that this would result in the loss of the last green space available. It was very important to maintain it for wildlife purposes and to provide a place for young families and the elderly.

Robert Alexander of Windmill Lane was concerned about vandalism and noise late at night and thought it would bring the wrong element to the area.

Terry Crisp could not understand why this has been imposed at Burrough Farm.

The Council then RESOLVED to return to business.

(Vote: Unanimous)

Cllr Mrs Mounce, as a District Councillor, advised that Bideford College were looking to have tennis facilities, as were Grenville and Edgehill and also Lenwood Country Club. The final decision on the proposal was for the District Council as they both owned the land and were the Planning Authority. However, the tennis club have been asked to look at the Tadworthy Road site again, even though the Planning Officers are indicating that this is not an appropriate site. The District Council is aware that there is a lot of local opposition. Cllr Bradford MBE advised that the Local Plan identified this site for recreation which, in his view, should mean for all and not just a certain few. He strongly opposed the use of Burrough Farm.

Cllr Waters advised that if this proposal were to be stopped it was important to identify and put forward good planning reasons and he gave for example, problems of noise and light pollution, not required because of other facilities and really emphasise that there was currently enough to satisfy demand.

Cllr Mrs Cox indicated that a strong planning reason could be the Town Council's Parish Plan, which identified the site as an important open space.

It was RESOLVED to advise the District Council that the Town Council strongly opposed the proposal for the tennis club re-locating to Burrough Farm for reasons as set out in the Parish Plan and the detailed reasons as set forward by Cllr Braund.

(Vote: Unanimous)

2. Minutes

  The minutes of the Town Council meeting held on 19 th December 2006 were approved and signed.

(Vote: Unanimous)

3. Minutes of the Special Meeting of the Town Council held 17 th January 2007

The minutes of the Special Meeting of the Town Council held 17 th January 2007 were approved and signed.

(Vote: Unanimous)

4. Notes of a meeting between Torridge District Council and the Town Council

Members were concerned that these were notes and not minutes.

At this juncture Cllr Barnes left the meeting.

5. Notice of Motion from Cllr Bradford MBE - “ That this Council considers the ramifications of the intentions of the District Council to stop issuing plastic refuse sacks”

Cllr Bradford MBE explained his concerns that if the District Council stopped issuing refuse sacks residents would either provide their own inferior quality ones, which could result in more mess on the streets or perhaps even go back to putting out a bin. This would result in additional work for the refuse collectors and he thought this was a retrograde step. Concern was expressed that the District Council had not fully investigated and costed out the proposals. It was RESOLVED to place the item on the next Liaison Committee agenda and write to Bideford, Torrington and Holsworthy Town Councils.

(Vote: 7 For, 1 Against)

6. Town Clerk's Report

(a) Monthly Financial Report – The Town Clerk presented the monthly financial report that included payments for this month and it was RESOLVED to accept.

The Town Clerk advised that the Youth Service had hired the Bridge Hall for a trial scheme and the cost was £103.50 and this was an additional payment this month.

(Vote: Unanimous)

(b) Quotations for grass cutting at War Memorial

  The Town Clerk advised that he had received three quotations for cutting the grass at the War Memorial site. The lowest price had been submitted by Labour Saving Landscapes in the sum of £336.00. Other quotations were submitted by Creative Garden Services and Landscapes Southwest Ltd. It was RESOLVED to accept the quotation from Labour Saving Landscapes.

Cllr Mrs Cox declared a pecuniary interest and left the meeting for this item.

(Vote: Unanimous)

7. Northam Burrows

Member's items

Cllr Waters considered that as Trustees, there needs to be more information in the minutes recording the monthly figures of grazing on the burrows in order that these could be used as a record for the future.

8. Streetworks and related matters

Member's items

Cllr Miller reported that the Road Safety Officer would be attending the Local Development Framework meeting where he would give information on speed monitoring.

Cllr Braund reported that there had been another fire in Lily Close bins. He understood the Police were investigating.

Cllr Mrs Mounce reported a fire at Oxmans Lane. There was some concern that the same person could be responsible.

9. Grant Aid to Local Schools

The Town Clerk reported that all four local schools had requested the £500 grant made available and had set out details of the various projects they would be undertaking. It was RESOLVED to award a grant of £500 to each school, these being St George's, St Margaret's, St Mary's and Appledore.

(Vote: Unanimous)

10. Grant aid to Northam Family Workshop

Members considered a letter and supporting papers from Mrs Marilyn Barker the co-ordinator of the Northam Family Workshop who were seeking grant aid to assist them to continue functioning. It was considered this organisation was an important asset for Northam and it was RESOLVED to donate £1,000 in this financial year.

(Vote Unanimous)

11. Youth Provision

Cllr Brading reported on the dates for the trial period and he would report back on the success of the venture at the end of the six-week trial.

12. Youth Shelters and other facilities

Cllr Braund submitted a detailed report on the proposal to site two Youth Shelters, one at Lords Meadow and the other at Appledore Churchfields. He advised that he had been in discussion with District Council Officers regarding funding as it may be possible to obtain grant aid from outside organisations. He undertook to provide a final design and costings for the next month's Council meeting.

Councillors congratulated Cllr Braund on producing a very detailed report.

13. Newsletter

Cllr Brading circulated a draft of his proposal for a newsletter. In order to firm up on costings, delivery costs etc, it was necessary to firm up on the format, number of pages etc that the newsletter would contain. It was RESOLVED to circulate copies to all Councillors and to consider the matter again at the Planning meeting scheduled for the middle of February.

(Vote: Unanimous)

14. Liaison Committee with District Council

It was RESOLVED to add the following items to the agenda for the Liaison Committee: -

(1) Refuse sacks (2) Cemeteries (3) Disposal of TDC assets (4) Appledore Fish Dock.

(Vote: Unanimous)