Minutes of a meeting of the Town Council held in the Council Chamber, Windmill Lane, Northam on Tuesday 27th February 2007


Apologies were recorded on behalf of Cllrs Mrs M Cox and E J Davies

1. Mr John Scott – Rural Housing Officer for the Community Council of Devon

Mr Scott advised the Council of his role with the Community Council of Devon and his involvement in the Devon Rural Housing Partnership. In essence the object was to secure homes for those in housing need in the rural areas. Torridge was rated as having the lowest personal income in the UK and with house prices around £190,000 this was something like ten times the average income. His remit was to work with Councils to find suitable sites to provide homes for local people. He was keen to look at Appledore in particular as whilst this was part of an urban area the community itself was less than 3,000 population, ranking it similar to rural areas. He was suggesting that there should be a working group of Councillors and Officers to look at sites and work with the planners in order to bring forward some concrete proposals.

Cllr Ford considered that with the low incomes it would be necessary to provide social housing and given the topography of Appledore it would probably be essential to give up some land outside the current development boundary.

Cllr Barnes referred to the Parish Plan and also the possibility of setting up a Community Land Trust. Concern was expressed by Councillors at the lack of funding and mention was made of the possibility of more rigorous Section 106 Agreements.

Cllr Eastman pressed the necessity for a local needs survey although Mr Scott was of the view, having taken advice from the District Council, that sufficient evidence existed and that a further survey would only delay the procedure.

It was finally RESOLVED that Mr Scott would attend the Town Council's Local Development Framework meeting where this could be discussed in more detail.

2. Minutes

The minutes of the Town Council meeting held on 30 th January 2007 were approved and signed.

(Vote: 9 For, 2 abst)

Cllr Miller advised that having taken advice from the Deputy Monitoring Officer his interest in Burrough Farm was not prejudicial but personal.

Cllr Waters advised that under minute 7 he thought there should be a record of the grazing.

(Vote: Unanimous)

3. Minutes

The minutes of the Local Development Framework Advisory Committee held 6 th February 2007 were considered.

It was reported that the poster competition under minute 3(a) had been very successful.

The question of the newsletter under minute 3(b) had been discussed at the Planning meeting where it had been resolved to defer consideration until the new Council after May's elections.

It was RESOLVED to support the suggestion in minute 4 that the four local schools be asked to take on a project and Cllr Miller agreed to speak with the appropriate member of staff at each school.

(Vote: Unanimous)

It was also RESOLVED to support the proposal for a Fair in the Square and to provide Christmas trees at Northam and Westward Ho! together with new lights if necessary for Christmas 2007.

(Vote: Unanimous)

4. Notice of Motion from Cllr Barnes – “That Northam Town Council writes to Torridge District Council requesting that the Burrough Farm open space be granted the same status as Blackies in Appledore and on similar terms. After the response from TDC, in the event that this is not granted, we request a valuation figure for the purchase of the site.”

Cllrs Barnes and Brading declared a prejudicial interest and left the meeting for this item. Cllr Miller declared a personal interest.

Cllr Braund outlined the history of the site and expanded on the desire of local people to retain this land for amenity purposes. There was much debate and general agreement that this land should be under the control of the Town Council. Previous requests to have this land transferred to the Town Council had not been successful but it had been indicated by the District Council that the Town Council should put together a reasoned case for its transfer which would be duly considered. It was intended that this matter be further considered at the next LDF meeting.

Cllrs Ford and Tisdale expressed concern that they considered Cllr Brading had not adhered to the Code of Conduct.

5. Notice of Motion from Cllr Brading – “That the Council considers the provision of temporary public toilets in Northam.” (see minute 5 of Local Development Framework Advisory Committee).

Cllr Brading expanded on the proposal which would mean that these toilets would be available from 8.30 am to 5.00 pm Monday to Friday and Saturday mornings. It was RESOLVED to support the notice of motion and to make the necessary arrangements subject to the expenditure being limited to £500.It was also agreed to accept Cllr Ford's offer to clear the land from weeds etc, as a voluntary effort.

(Vote: 10 For, 1 abst)

6. Notice of Motion from Cllr Brading – “That the Town Council obtains an independent structural survey of the Community Hall before any decisions on its future are taken.”

Cllr Brading explained that he understood that the Bridge Hall was being sold by the Bridge Trust to the Devon and Cornwall Housing Association and that the Housing Association were meeting with the Community Hall Committee. He considered it important that there should be an independent structural survey of the hall. Some Members were concerned that as the building is the property of the District Council the Town Council should not, at this stage, be involved. The Notice of Motion on being put to the vote was lost.

(Vote: 3 For, 4 Against, 3 Abst)

7. Notice of Motion from Cllr Brading – “That the Council considers providing support (physical or financial) for the existing Management Committee of the Community Hall in Fore Street .”

Members considered giving financial assistance but were concerned this would set a precedent as no grant application had been received. It was however RESOLVED to arrange a meeting with the Management Committee of the Community Centre and Cllrs Brading and Braund were elected as Trustees in place of ex Councillors Eastwood and Sturges.

(Vote: Unanimous)

8. Notice of Motion from Cllr Waters – “That the Town Council requests the District Council to adopt and implement the Good Neighbourhood Act in a similar manner to North Devon .”

Cllr Waters advised that North Devon District had adopted this Act which enabled local authorities to help sort out local disputes and bring a calming influence. It was generally agreed that this was a good thing and that the District Council should be encourage to implement this Act and it was so RESOLVED.

(Vote Unanimous)

9. 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.

(Vote: Unanimous)

(b) Planter in the Square – The Town Clerk reported on the response from Traders on the proposal to provide a planter on the site of the fountain. It was RESOLVED to proceed with the provision of the planter

(Vote: Unanimous)

10. Northam Burrows

(a) Minutes

The Minutes of the Burrows Grazing Advisory Committee held 21 st February 2007 were circulated.

Cllr Miller reported on the minutes and it was RESOLVED to accept the recommendations.

(Vote: Unanimous)

(b) Bassetts Bridge

Members considered the request of the Senior Ranger for the Town Council to undertake Bassetts Bridge and replace it with a design more suited to the conditions. It was RESOLVED to support this request in principle on the understanding that the Town Council would organise the contract and that full costings be reported back to the Council before a commitment was finally made.

(Vote: Unanimous)

(c) Members' items

Cllr Bradford MBE expressed his concern that the Golf Club had been using the 1st and 18th fairways when the ground conditions were unsuitable due to excessive flooding from the sea.

Cllr Mrs Mounce reported that recent tides had encroached onto the Burrows and there was concern about the integrity of the tip.

Cllr Ford, as the local County Councillor, would be referring this matter to the appropriate officer at the Waste Disposal section of the County Council.

A number of Councillors expressed their concern about the damage done to the sand hills and pebbleridge with the recent high tides and ground sea conditions.

Cllr Waters reported that grazing on the Burrows for January was 60 sheep and 30 horses and for February, towards the end of the month, there were 80 sheep and 30 horses. With respect to the horses it would appear that 10 are being taken off at night.

11. Streetworks and related matters

(a) Vehicle Activated Signs

Cllrs Miller and Ford reported on the proposals to provide vehicle activated speed restriction signs at sensitive sites in the parish. Ideally each site required two signs and it was thought appropriate to identify Richmond Road in Appledore, Churchill Way in Northam and either Golf Links Road or Atlantic Way at Westward Ho! Each sign would cost £2,000 giving an overall cost of £12,000. It was RESOLVED to provide the signs at the sites indicated.

(Vote: Unanimous)

Due to the lateness of the hour further items on the agenda were held in abeyance for the next Council meeting and the meeting was drawn to a close.