Annual Parish Meeting Minutes – 2018-05-09 – DRAFT
Sticklepath Annual Parish Meeting
Wednesday 9th May 2018
Present: 6 members of the Parish, Mrs Alison Cruse in the Chair and Clerk Mrs L Rowlands. Also present: Mr Ian Brooker (Dartmoor National Park Ranger), Mr Derek Webber (DNPA Representative), Ben Shapcott (National Trust – Finch Foundry), Cllr James McInnes (DCC), Cllr William Cann (WDBC), Sgt Pennie Channing (Devon and Cornwall Constabulary)
Cllr Derek Moore.
02/18 Approval of the minutes from the Annual Parish meeting held on 4th May 2017
The minutes were approved and signed by Alison Cruse as a true record of the meeting.
03/18 Reports – Sgt Pennie Channing, Devon and Cornwall Constabulary
Sgt Channing advised she is the neighbourhood team leader for West Devon. The neighbourhood team mainly deal with problem solving and community issues rather than serious crime. She has looked at the crime statistics for the parish for the last 12 months – there have been 19 crimes, 9 of which were at the Whitehouse Services petrol station. All crime in the village has been low level. She wanted to warn people of the risk of leaving valuables in parked vehicles as there has been a spate of theft from cars in other areas recently. A parishioner raised the issue of vehicles speeding through the village. Sgt Channing advised that, although there is the Community Speed Watch scheme in the area, the police do not have any volunteers in Sticklepath to run one. Cllr Cruse confirmed that the Parish Council would imminently be installing a mobile VAS sign which would alert drivers to their speed and, hopefully, this will have the effect of slowing them down.
Sgt Channing concluded by reminding parishioners that they can contact the police at any time and the community team has a Facebook and Twitter account.
04/18 Chairperson’s Report by Cllr Alison Cruse
To start with some thanks
– to Derek Moore, whose support as Vice Chair has been invaluable
– to all our Councillors who offer their time throughout the year,
– and especially to our clerk Lois who gives greatly of her own time and energies to keep me on track.
Thanks to those Councillors who have stepped down in the past year –
– Tania Morrell
– Pam Matthews
We desperately need more councillors to come forward – to be sitting here shows that you have an interest in village affairs; please speak to any one of your Councillors to find out how you can help to build on the strength of your community. Or come along to any of our Parish Council meetings to see what we get up to.
Thanks also to our speakers who have put themselves out to attend today
Looking back on the numerous events of the year, including:
• Village fete
• Flower Show
• Safari Supper
• Big Breakfast
• Open Gardens
• Grey Mare Festival
• Other events such as Leat Clearing work day, Village Work Day and the improvements to Billy Green path
These all remind me of how much support goes into this small but close-knit community, and what an active and friendly village we still are. Only 3 days ago I heard a visitor comment on how nice it is that people talk to each other here.
Community support comes in different guises:
Who has forgotten the snow of earlier this year – thanks go to those numerous residents who came out to clear not only their own paths but also their elderly neighbours, and then cleared the strategic areas within the village. On this subject, we have purchased an emergency store for hydrosnakes, sand and salt. These are located in the Devonshire Inn car park. Mike Johns is our new Emergency Co-ordinator – thanks to Mike for taking this on.
Our Defibrillator now has a volunteer telephone system, with local residents putting their names forward to be called upon should you need some-one to fetch the defibrillator for you. The VETS scheme phone number is 01837 500 523 but you can ask the 999 service to phone them for you.
Following requests by villagers, improvements have been made to the bridge beyond Billy Green – improving the safety of users – thanks to Ian Brooker and StOC members who helped to erect this.
Road safety has been a constant concern. We’ve considered many ways to improve this, and will shortly be installing a Village Gateway at either end of the village, to identify to drivers that they are entering a residential area. Alongside this we will be sharing a Vehicle Activated System of speed warnings, with Drewsteignton Parish Council. You will notice these popping up from time to time at different locations.
Being a small Council with a minimal budget, even the slightest increase in the precept reflects poorly. This year we have asked for an increase of just over 4%, but this equates to less than £2 per household per year, so please look at the monetary value rather than percentage increase. Each year we are being asked to do more with less, and I for one feel proud at what we are able to achieve with such a small budget. We keep on top of grass cutting and weed spraying as far as possible, but if you feel an area needs an early cut just ask one of your Councillors or go through Lois.
The siting of our 3 dog bins seem to have helped clear dog poo from the village, although it still remains a problem along the footpaths around the river. This is a health hazard. There’s no doubt that the matter worsens in the summer, but this is a year-round problem which suggests that there are a number of local dog owners who are not picking up. The Parish Council would ask all dog owners – if you can safely get to it, please pick up after your dog, where-ever you are. If you can see it, so can everyone else and it’s very unsightly.
We will constantly strive to improve the appearance of the village, and one idea we are currently looking at is the planting of wildflower seeds in strategic areas. If anyone has any ideas or wants to know more about this, please speak to Councillor Lyn Daniels. Meanwhile, the planting at Ladywell is looking very impressive and has much improved this corner of the village.
Already this year some residents have been touched by great tragedy; others are facing up to losses yet to come. I trust all will be comforted and carried by the strength of support within this strong community.
At the end of the meeting please make the most of this opportunity to talk not only to your Parish Councillors, but also your District and County Councillors.
And thank you for your support throughout the year – it is invaluable.
05/18 Statement of Accounts for Parish Council
The Clerk presented the accounts for 2017/18, a copy of which was available to attendees at the start of the meeting. She wished to thank those Parishioners who give up their time free of charge to help in maintaining and enhancing the look of our village – without them our expenditure would be much greater. In particular, she wished to thank Steve Matthews for the repairs to the play equipment and Malcolm Brewer for recovering the parish noticeboard, which now looks much smarter. She also wished to thank our eagle-eyed Councillors who spot the opportunity for funding or “freebies” for the village. Cllr Daniel has obtained free wildflower seeds which will be planted in various sites around the village. Cllr Bell swiftly applied for Community Enhancement Funding from Highways which has meant that our budget for verge cutting for 2018-19 is nil as the funding will cover this.
There were no questions from parishioners about the accounts.
06/18 Reports from other agencies
James McInnes – Devon County Councillor
County Net budget 2018/19 £477 million
Council Tax 4.99% with 2% going to Adult Care
If you look at the average funding for Local Government, per resident, Devon is under funded by £161 per person, against their urban counterparts and it costs more to deliver services in rural areas.
This year has seen increases of £13 million extra into Adult Social Care, an increase of 6.1% and £6.5 million into Child Social Care an increase of 5.5%. This reflects the pressure on the two services.
The Highways contractor is Skanska Construction LTD.
We have had the worst winter for many years. It’s even been raining or snowing with few dry periods. This has caused considerable problems with the roads, with many potholes and the road surface just
giving up in some areas. In recognising this we have put an extra £6.5 million into the highways budget for drainage and ditching as these are failing which causes additional water on the roads, leading to more potholes. Some additional money has also come from Central Government for potholes. It would cost about £167 million to bring Devon’s roads up to an acceptable standard. Cllr McInnes apologised for the state of the roads and agreed that they are totally unacceptable.
How Local Government is funded is changing and Devon is part of a national pilot to see how the changes work. Funding will come from Business Rates and the Local Government Grant will disappear. This is a one year pilot and we hope to extend it a further year.
As Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Schools, I continue to campaign for Fair Funding for Devon’s Schools. Currently we are £269 a child below the national average, despite the new school funding formula. There is considerable pressure with education funding and schools have to make some difficult choices. I have joined the executive of the f40 group. A group of poorly funded Local Authorities who campaign for better funding for education. The acute pressure is with Special Educational Needs at the moment.
Devon’s schools are doing well with 89% being good or outstanding rated by Ofsted. This is a slight reduction and reflects national trends. Placements are high with 95% of children getting their parents first preference.
We still have our Libraries, Childrens Centres and Youth Hubs, which have disappeared in many parts of the country.
I continue to be a Member of DNPA and chair the DM committee. DNPA are in the middle of renewing their Local Plan. Please get involved as it is your plan.
Locality Budget. Always happy to look at any applications to the LB. A small bit of seed corn money can often get the ball rolling on a community project.
Cllr William Cann – West Devon Borough Council
Cllr Cann reported that the One Council consultation had been interesting, the result being that WDBC and South Hams DC would remain separate for the time being. However, he feels that cuts in funding to both Councils will mean they will join together, at least in some aspects of their services. They have saved some money by now having one Director across both Councils rather than two.
The Plymouth/South Hams/WDBC One Local Plan consultation does not affect our villages as we are covered by Dartmoor National Park for planning purposes.
He admits there have been some teething problems with the new recycling and refuse collections. He is confident that this will settle in time. A parishioner pointed out that the literature delivered to households had not made it clear that they needed to apply for the new blue box – the impression was given that they would be delivered over time. Cllr Cann advised he would feed back on this.
Cllr Derek Webber – Dartmoor National Park
Derek wanted to draw everyone’s attention to the new Countryside Code for Dartmoor entitled “Love Moor Life” which is to persuade visitors to look after the moor. More detail can be found on page 30 of the “Visit Dartmoor” magazine, which was available at the meeting for parishioners to take away.
He thanked Ian Brooker for all the work he does and that he does a marvellous job of managing the moor in the local area.
The Moor Otters project generated £60,000 of funds for the National Park. Part of those funds will be used for the junior and youth ranger programme – the youngsters involved will, hopefully, become the Rangers of the future.
Ian Brooker – Dartmoor National Park Ranger
The Moor Otters project, which I mentioned last year, was a great success and has raised a net income of £60,000. As you know we have had to look at various ways of increasing our income and something like this was a real test of nerve in exploring something that we have never done before. The funds are to be used to further our Junior Ranger programme including a Youth Ranger scheme; erosion repairs to Moorland paths and to control non-native invasive plants such as Skunk Cabbage and Himalayan Balsam.
Other income generation will include the extension of car parking charges involving places like Haytor, Postbridge and nearer to home, Meldon Reservoir car parks. Charges are reasonable at £1 per car for up to three hours and £2 per car for over three hours. This has been necessary because the money collected in donation boxes in car parks averaged out at 15p per vehicle which parked there.
Sticklepath Moor was grazed again last summer with stock being removed by around mid –October. My thanks to Tony Francis for continuing to bring his animals down from his farm for this purpose and I am hoping that this will continue from July this year.
Our contractor cut a large area of soft rush despite the wet weather conditions and the community event went very well with a further area of gorse being removed. My thanks to everyone involved including the PC for organising such a good turn out and for providing such wonderful refreshments!
I understand that there has been a request for a bench to be sited on the common which, providing it is of a suitable design; it is sited in a sensible location; and that someone takes responsibility for maintenance/insurance/annual inspection, DNPA would not have any objection. Sticklepath PC would also have to agree to this as joint custodian of the land with DNPA.
Also, I understand that a concern has been raised about dog mess being left on the common. I have not been approached about this by anyone else and the grazier has not raised it as an issue either. We would encourage anyone using this area to remove dog mess and either takes it home or uses one of the many dog poo bins situated nearer to the village.
As usual, I would like to express my sincere thanks to my Voluntary Warden, Mike Watson for his never-ending help and encouragement throughout the year; to all those involved with the StOC. Group and to the rest of the community for their continuing support and advice.
Ben Shapcott – Manager, Finch Foundry
Ben confirmed visitor numbers have again increased and were at 20,000 last year. A recent building survey had been carried out and various repairs and painting are being undertaken at the property. The Manager job has been split – Ben’s role now relates to conservation and volunteer work. Another member of staff manages the commercial side.
Events at the Foundry include motorcycle show on 26 May, Tractors/stationary engines day 15 July, rural skills days on various dates and St Clements Day on 24 November.
The National Trust is also running a nationwide programme – Women in Power to celebrate 100 years since the suffragette movement. Finch Foundry is focusing on Emlin and Rebecca Finch who ran the forge at the end of the 1800s. The programme starts on 1 July 2018.
Consideration is being given to the development of the former Fireshow site. Drainage will be installed at the bottom of the field. This can get extremely muddy which prevents vehicles from parking on that area. Also, run off from the field goes down to Billy Green causing flooding and muddy conditions there. A soil analysis will be carried out of the Fireshow site after bird nesting season. One consideration they have is a wildflower garden. Cllr Lynn Daniel explained she has plenty of wildflower seeds which could be planted. She will liaise with Ben.
Cllr Cruse asked if there would be any development of the toilets and the round house café. Ben explained that the existing toilets will be extended. However, for any major capital work to take place, their visitor numbers have to be, at least, 30,000 a year. The down side of that would be they would have to introduce car park charges.
07/18 Matters raised by parishioners
Bench on Sticklepath Moor
Following on from Ian Brooker’s comments in his report, this would be discussed by the Parish Council at their meeting on 13 June.
The meeting was opened to the floor for questions.
Village Gateway sign
A parishioner asked when these would be installed. Cllr Cruse confirmed that the Gateways were in the process of being made and they should be installed within the next couple of months. A donation was given to the Parish Council from the proceeds made by the Safari Supper earlier this year.
There were no further questions and the meeting closed at 18.50.