Minutes of a meeting of the Town Council held in the Council Chamber, Windmill Lane, Northam on Tuesday 29th May 2007.



PRESENT:   Chairman - Town Mayor Cllr A Eastman

                         Members - Cllrs Mrs A J Boyle, Mrs S G Collins, Mrs M Cox, J Braund,

  B M Edwards, P Hames, R J Johnson, C K  Langton,  

  R W A Miller, R H Osborne, S R Robinson

  together with 3 parishioners


1.      Public Contributions

Mr R Callaghan, of 4 Tudor Close, addressed the Council on his concerns about the state of Northam Square and in particular the weeds that were being permitted to grow at the back of the pavements abutting the properties.  He was concerned, as the Square was the central point for Northam, and the lack of action by the authorities and residents and shopkeepers to deal with the weeds was giving the impression that nobody cared.  There were a few exceptions and he highlighted Memories Restaurant as an example where the owners of the property had taken action.  He was asking the Council to take the necessary action to have the Square tidied up by the removal of the weeds.  He thought that weed spraying alone would not be sufficient.  The Town Mayor, Cllr Eastman, thanked Mr Callaghan and advised him that the Council would consider his complaint and report back to him.


2.      Local Constabulary and PCSOs


PC Mike Tricker, the Neighbourhood Beat Manager for Northam Parish, introduced John McGovern as the new PCSO for the whole parish plus Hartland.  PC Tricker advised on the crime figures for the past month and compared them with this time last year. 


Councillors expressed a number of points to PC Tricker and in particular expressed concern about problems with the Youth Centre and young people causing problems in the Bone Hill area.  Other problems identified were materials being thrown into the river at Boat Hyde, thought to be an environmental health problem, and cars racing around Churchfields car park Appledore late at night where it was necessary to obtain the registration numbers to assist the Police. 


With regard to the youth, John McGovern reported that he would be visiting the Youth Group on a regular basis.  He was in contact with the Youth Leader and if necessary anti social behaviour letters would be issued.  He advised on his powers which, in the main, allowed him to deal with anti social activities.  He would be undertaking foot patrols in different areas and attempting to disperse groups that could be intimidating.  He is in contact with the various shop owners in the area through the shop radio system.


3.      Shoreline Management Plan


Cllr Humphrey Temperley, in his role as the Chairman of the Shoreline Management Group, reported on the Taw/Torridge Estuary and River report which had been prepared by Professor John Pethick, a world-renowned expert in this field.  He advised that the Shoreline Management Group cover the coast of the Bristol Channel from Hartland Point in the south to Anchor Point in the north.  The Group membership consists of representatives from the Coastal District Councils, the County Councils, the Environment Agency and DEFRA.  With regard to this part of the coast Professor Pethick was appointed in order that the Group had a proper understanding of the natural processes taking place.  It was considered that until these natural processes were fully understood it was not possible to consider what, if any action, needed to be taken.  In general terms Professor Pethick was indicating that the Taw/Torridge estuary was a closed system with virtually no new sediment being inputted.  The dominant wave patterns from the west were, over time, re-aligning both Saunton sands and the pebbleridge.  This gradual re-orientation would, for the pebbleridge, result in the ridge at the Westward Ho! end being pushed landward whilst at the northerly end there would be an accretion.  This re-alignment would eventually stop when the ridge was parallel with the waves.  Another consideration of the report was his advice in respect of the re-alignment of the ridge as it enters the estuary mouth and there are concerns that this could eventually impinge on the landfill site.  The report now being considered by local interested parties was being brought to the attention of the public in order that there was as much involvement as possible and for this purpose a public meeting was to be held at Tantons Hotel on 13th June at 7 pm. 


4.      Bridge Hall site


The Town Clerk advised that the owners of the site, the Bridge Trust, had agreed terms with Devon and Cornwall Housing Association, their intention being to develop the site with social housing.  However, the site was identified in the Local Plan under Community Services Policy HSC22, which advised that planning permission would only be granted where adequate alternative arrangements for the community service has been made.  At the present time the District Council's Planning Officers were to investigate the current uses of the Bridge Hall and the Northam Community Centre in order to ascertain whether planning permission for the development of social housing would be appropriate and if so under what terms. 


5.      Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting held 18th April 2007


          The minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting held 18th April 2007 were approved as a correct record and the following items were considered as follows:-


          (a) With regard to minute 8(a) regarding the old refuse tip Cllr Robinson reported that the Environment Agency were pressing Devon County Council to be more specific as to the make-up of the landfill material.


          (b) With regard to minute 8(c) Blackies Plantation at Appledore, the Town Clerk advised that this was something the Town Council still had to consider.


          (c) With regard to minute 8(d) the state of the sea wall at West Quay, the Town Clerk advised that this was a County Council matter and he would write to them accordingly.


6.      Minutes of the Town Council meeting held 24th April 2007


The minutes of the Town Council meeting held on 24th April 2007 were approved and signed.


(Vote: Unanimous)

On a question from Cllr Hames regarding response to correspondence, Cllr Robinson undertook to press for replies from the District Council. 

7.      Minutes of the Annual Town Council Meeting held 16th May 2007

          The minutes of the Annual Town Council meeting held 16th May 2007 were approved and signed.

(Vote: Unanimous)

8.      Town Clerk's Report

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)    

9.      Northam Burrows


(a) Letter from Torridge District Council


The letter from Torridge District Council in connection with the SSSI and the Good Neighbourhood Act was noted.


(b) Overgrazing Surveillance


A letter from Natural England advising the Council of the repeat of their surveillance survey was noted.  

(c) Members' items


Cllr Miller reported that it had been the intention of the previous Council to undertake works at Bassetts Bridge and to clean out the Burn at the Appledore Bridge end and that there had also been discussions about cutting the great plain.  Cllr Miller undertook to contact the responsible officers at the District Council and report back on how this work could be implemented.


10.    Streetworks and related matters

          (a) Speed restriction signs

The Town Clerk reported that two of the six speed restriction signs ordered by the Town Council were to be erected shortly.  These would be at Churchill Way near the Burrough Road junction and Richmond Road near the corner with Richmond Green.

          (b) Planter in the Square

The Town Clerk reported that the planter for the Square would be put into position on Monday 4th June.  He expressed his concern regarding possible vandalism and

Cllr Miller reported that it would be possible to set up a web cam which would give a view of the Square for a sum not exceeding £200.  It was RESOLVED to agree to the expenditure of not more than £200 to provide a web cam in Northam Square.

(Vote: 10 For 1 against)

          (c) Members items

          Cllr Langton referred to the need for street signs to be cleaned.

Cllr Robinson considered that Northam Town Council should produce comprehensive proposals for the car parking in the parish and he would be tabling this for a future Council meeting.

Cllr Mrs Collins was concerned about the tidiness of the area and the need to empty the dog bins.

Cllr Braund, in reference to Lords Meadow play area, advised that the children were looking for the football pitch to be properly marked out and the basketball court extended.  This to be a request to the District Council.

Cllr Mrs Cox requested that regular cleaning of the bus stop area by the Bridge Hall is required as so much rubbish seems to get trapped.   The District Council be requested to attend.   She also advised that it would be sensible if the car parking bays marked out for disabled drivers were situated next to the payment meters, the site she was particularly thinking of was the Westward Ho! car park.   A letter to be sent to the District Council.

Cllr Osborne raised his concerns regarding the blind bend at the entrance to Appledore before Richmond Green.  A letter to be sent to the County Council requesting a sign to the effect that there was a right hand bend with vehicles in the middle of the road and the word SLOW marked on the surface of the carriageway.

Cllr Edwards advised that he would be investigating a problem at The Mount with steps and also raised his concern with regard to planters on the Quay, opposite the Seagate Hotel, which are full of rubbish.  It was agreed to write to the District Council.

Cllr Miller raised his concerns regarding cleaning of the streets and also advised that he had heard that the County Council were to carry out works on the pavements in Cross Street.  It was agreed to write to the County Council for more details.  He also advised that more research was required on the provision of dog bins as he thought a lot more were needed.  This to be an item for a future LDF meeting.

It was RESOLVED to action Members' requests as necessary.

(Vote: Unanimous)

11.    Grant Aid to local schools

Councillors considered a letter from St Margaret's Junior School who set out details of one of their major projects which they hoped to undertake this coming academic year, the idea being to enhance the school grounds by developing two major areas.  The first being a pond/bog garden which can be used as an external classroom and secondly a garden area which will provide a quiet area for children and would have raised flower and vegetable gardens.  The Council agreed that this project met their requirements and RESOLVED that the Council in accordance with its powers under Sections 137 and 139 of the Local Government Act 1972, should incur the following expenditure which, in the opinion of the Council, is in the interest of the area or its inhabitants and will benefit them in a manner commensurate with the expenditure of £2,000.

(Vote: Unanimous)

12.    Request for funding

Members considered a letter from Tom Vinall, a fourteen year old who had gained a place at the National Youth Theatre for a two week residential course, seeking

financial aid.   It was RESOLVED to award a grant of £200 towards the cost of the course and accommodation.

(Vote: Unanimous)

13.    Maintenance of play area at Burrough Farm

Members considered a letter from the Secretary of the Moorelands Residents Association who were concerned about the maintenance of a small play area and a piece of open ground on the Burrough Farm estate.   The play area and open piece of ground is privately owned and maintained by on offshoot company of the developer and residents make annual payments to this company for maintenance of the areas concerned.  The Association were requesting that the Town Council take over the maintenance of the areas.  The Council were sympathetic but considered that as the land was privately owned it was not something that they should entertain at this time. They RESOLVED to advise the Association that should Meadfleet give up their responsibilities then the Town Council would give further consideration to their request. 


(Vote: Unanimous)

14.    Burton Art Gallery

Members considered a letter from the Friends of the Burton Art Gallery who were seeking funding to purchase a large collection of North Devon slipware, which is of major significance in the history of ceramics in Bideford and the surrounding area.  The Friends were seeking a letter of support for their application from appropriate Trusts.  It was RESOLVED to write a letter of support for this application.

(Vote: Unanimous)

15.    Charging for parking at Torridge Pool

Members considered letters from residents who were expressing concern about charging for parking at Torridge Pool.  Members were of a view that this was a rumour as this had not been debated at the District Council level.  It was RESOLVED to respond to the letters accordingly.

(Vote: Unanimous)