Combe Martin Parish Council Coronavirus (COVID – 19) Helpline and Community Briefing Note 7.

Issued:  16th September 2020                                            Status: Chairman’s Informal Commentary

  1. Government Advice

Please continue to comply with and support the UK’s response by following Public Health England’s advice and information on the Gov and NHS websites: www.gov.uk and www.nhs.uk.

 

  1. Free Help Combe Martin  (FHCM) – Community help if staying at home

Demand on the service has declined and conversations will shortly take place to ensure that the community can respond to any increase. CMPC remains confident and grateful that Yvette Gubb and Clare Rice and the team will be there when needed. Remember the Foodbank has moved into the Community Centre.

  • Helpline: How to ask for Free Help Combe Martin

The CMPC Office telephone number 01271 883403 is available 10am to 1pm  Monday to Friday. Closed Saturday and Sunday.

The local Pharmacy may be able to access emergency cover, but people must take responsibility for their medication.  CMPC is investing in a second telephone line to ensure that it is better equipped to respond.

 

  1. Requests for help – the usual disclaimer

COVID -19 requests to the Parish Council will be passed to Free Help Combe Martin for action. It is important to recognise when using this service that this is a ‘neighbour to neighbour’ relationship and the normal requirements of data protection and DBS vetting cannot apply. In using this service you understand and agree to your information being shared with volunteers.

4. Business Support

Bryan Cath, Chairman of Combe Martin Business Association (website: www.visitcombemartin.com) continues to provide information and help for businesses.

 

  1. Some Current Parish Council Issues

The official minutes from the Parish council meetings are still being properly recorded, but there is a delay in their production as the part-time Clerk has been instructed to concentrate on keeping the Council functioning. The minutes will appear on the CMPC Website in due course.

The Parish Council continues to hold ‘virtual meetings’, the next monthly CMPC meeting will be Monday 12 October at 7pm using the Zoom platform. Any member of public wishing to join the meeting must inform the Clerk by Midday on Friday the 9th October.  Meeting agendas are posted on the CMPC website and notice board.

The minutes from the virtual CMPC meeting 29.04.2020 were approved.

A virtual Personnel Committee meeting will be held Monday 28.09.2020 at 7pm.

5.1 Public Participation at meetings

Public participation, showed an encouraging interest in the co-option process with a request for clarity on how previous expressions of interest would be handled. The October (and November if needed) meetings are opportunities for co-option.

5.2 County and District Councillors’ Report

Cllrs Andrea Davis and Yvette Gubb, reports will be in the CMPC minutes and on the Website.

5.3 CMPC Planning Comments

Last month CMPC made a number of observations as to the importance of compliance with the planning rules. This month, we learnt that the owner of the Hansons Garage site has obtained planning permission for a supermarket. CMPC had raised significant concerns over this decision and the immediate and long term effects on the community. This and other recent  representations made to NDC has led CMPC to conclude that the central government planning rules are broken and local representations, relevant to the overall benefit of the community and environment are ignored or excluded by the process. CMPC is to write to NDC and our MP to highlight these concerns.

5.4 CMPC Financial Position and internal Audit

The CMPC financial position remains uncertain, but the routine finance reports are continuing to provide information allowing CMPC to manage immediate issues and also to consider some long term options for the community.

Actions for emergency repairs to a hole in Newberry Beach sea wall and a replacement street lantern at Water Lane were approved.

The minutes and recommendations made by the Audit committee 03.09.2020, were approved, subject to a minor clarification on one procedural action.

5.5 Co-option of new Councillors

CMPC agreed to issue a new notice seeking co-option of new Councillors. The recruitment process was delayed as CMPC concentrated on the issues arising from COVID-19 lockdown and the fact that staff were furloughed. It has been confirmed that all previous expressions of interest had been acknowledged and the individuals contacted on the 2nd of April informing them of the delay.

A poster will be displayed shortly. Co-option is an opportunity for you to contribute and promote the interests of this lively community.

Due to the tight timescale, interested parishioners can apply for the October meeting and if there are still vacancies for the November CMPC meeting.

If you are interested, you can speak to the Clerk or any of the current Cllrs:

David Woodbury, tel: 01271 882777

Chris Wyer, mob: 07890 796913

Keith Wyer, mob: 07790 558495

Andy Forgan, tel: 01271 882195

Helen Mallinder, tel: 01271 883220

Celia Withers, tel 02392521398

Please note: A Council is not compelled to fill all vacancies, Co-option is not an automatic right, the submission of an ‘expression of interest,’ means you are entering a simple selection process requiring a vote by the current Cllrs.

One of the most important things to recognise is that ‘the rules are the rules’ and they are there to protect the communities’ rights and interests. They don’t stop good things, but they can prevent bad things happening. Currently, you would be joining a very supportive and positive team of Cllrs.

5.6 Car Parks and car park permits – Review

CMPC understand the current frustrations being experienced over the lack of parking spaces. This is a complicated issued, not helped by the fact that CMPC has to submit any changes to NDC by the 23rd of October for the parking orders to be agreed and in place for next year.

Expect an update on permits and cashless parking in the October CMPC meeting and to see if we have managed to negotiate an extended consultation period following the submission to NDC.

5.7 Combe Martin Community Centre Trustees

This motion, bringing the numbers of Trustees in line with the original scheme of the charity, is sufficient for the effective management of the charity and completes the separation of the Trust from CMPC business.

“The number of councillors required to form the Board of Trustees for the Combe Martin Community Centre Exempt charity (National Schools ref no 4052972) also known as Coombe Martin Girls and Boys School  shall be limited to a maximum of  five named elected Councillors plus the Chairman and Vice Chairman, giving a total of Seven Parish Council councillor trustees”.

The report compiled by the CMPC Finance Officer setting out the current total annual costs of the Community Centre, will be posted on the CMPC website for the October meeting, it will not be included as an agenda item.

5.8 Combe Martin Landmark Tree Planting Ceremony

Subject to COVID-19 restrictions, Cllrs Chris Wyer and Andy Forgan will organise a small public ceremony for planting the Landmark tree at a suitable site,  inviting local residents and  representatives from Parish, District and County Councils to attend. Date and location to be confirmed.

5.9 Correspondence – Conversations -extract.

  1. To note the response from the Environment Agency on flood alleviation and bathing water quality.
  2. To note the enquiry about CMPC’s future intentions regarding the Parade toilets.
  3. To note the continuing complaints from the public, and representations made by the Parish Council regarding Devon County Council’s (DCC) street lighting at Seaside.
  4. To note the complaints about the cleaning of North Devon Council’s public toilets situated in Kiln car park.
  5. To note DCC’s Public Consultation of the Updated Local Flood Risk Management Strategy for Devon. Consultation closes on 15 October 2020.
  6. To note the request from the Leys Charity for a CMPC Cllr representative.
  7. To note the details of the new community orchards grant scheme that the North Devon Biosphere is organising.
  8. To note the correspondence about the Government response to the consultation regarding 5G planning permission.

 

6. Park and Open Spaces

To note the recent report from a member of the public about alleged intimidating behaviour of teenagers using the Arnolds Plot play area. This is clearly unacceptable and future concerns will be reported to the Police. Suitable signage will be sourced and erected so that the ‘zero tolerance’ approach can be seen.

If there is an underlying problem, we need to engage with the village youth and discover what is possible to improve their provision.

  1. Exclusion of Press and Public

Three items were discussed, to be made public as soon as circumstances allow.

This informal briefing is the responsibility of: Cllr David Woodbury, Chair of CMPC.

If you have any concerns over the content of this briefing, please inform the Clerk, Tel: 01271 883403 or on the council e-mail address: info@combemartin-pc.gov.uk

  

Combe Martin Parish Council is seeking new Council Members

INVITATION

To all parishioners registered to vote in

COMBE MARTIN

 

Combe Martin Parish Council is seeking to co-opt new council members at its October and November 2020 Parish Council meetings and is inviting anyone interested to contact the Clerk on:

Telephone: 01271 883403

Or email: info@combemartin-pc.gov.uk

Or you might like to contact one of the existing councillors to find out more about the role. Their names and telephone numbers are on the

Parish Council website and in the Shammickite magazine.

This dynamic village is facing an interesting and challenging future.

Step up and be a part of the action.

 

The closing date for expressions of interest is Monday 5th October 2020.  However due to the short notice, late applications will be considered.

Want to Help Transform our Community and Parish Council?

Here are some points for you to ponder if you are considering becoming a Co-opted Parish Councillor.

Introduction and context

What an amazing place and community Combe Martin is; just look at the content of the July edition of the Shammickite. So much activity, so much goodwill, so much more that needs to be done! Read the inspiring and positive Free Help Combe Martin (FHCM) article by Clair Rice and see the possibilities.

Combe Martin Parish Council (CMPC) has a crucial role to play in supporting the community and co-operating with FHCM activities, but first we have to recognise some Council issues:

12 Councillors elected May 2019

What a tremendous result, a good degree of representation, it is unfortunate how short lived was the benefit and celebration. A sequence of events and personal circumstance reduced 12 Cllrs down to 7 Cllrs by February 2020. Today we have a residual ‘team’ of six (shortly to be 5) committed Cllrs, effective but too few for continuity:

  • Co-option of replacement Cllrs was (and is) a priority, but there was a recognition that potential Cllrs may underestimate the complexity of the Council business and the rules that have to be followed.
  • Whilst some of the business of the Council is complex and rule driven, the role of a Cllr is not, particularly if time is taken to understand the whole picture and what can and what cannot be done in the best interests of the community.
  • CMPC was ready to roll out Cllr induction information, when COVID-19 hit and then it was all hands to the pumps, just to keep CMPC afloat.

Establishing and maintaining a healthy relationship with the community

CMPC has to operate within its powers, provide some services, respond to local issues but also promote the needs and aspirations of our community.

All parishioners have the right to hold CMPC accountable for its actions and check that the decisions made are in the best interests of our community.

 CMPC faces difficult challenges, constant change, and bureaucracy. In a worst case scenario it can also suffer from a lack of leadership, combined with the selection of ineffective, self-interested Cllrs. Parishioners have to keep a grip and participate!  In all cases, CMPC:

  • Makes difficult choices between competing issues and conflicting desires.
  • Sometimes has to make unpopular decisions.
  • May appear slow and unresponsive, (due to the rules).
  • Will never be perfect and always easy to blame.
  • Is what you make it!

CMPC is transparent and accountable

In August 2017, CMPC published a Summary Report on the ‘Internal Operational Audit/Review of the Council’ and agreed to reset and rebuild its operational and management systems:

  • Significant improvements have been made and more needs to be done.
  • A new part-time Clerk was appointed and the accountancy systems modernised.
  • CMPC ambition of being recognised as a good employer, with employee development.
  • A comprehensive sub-committee structure was put in place to action the many areas of interest and deal with the outstanding workload.
  • CMPC has reduced the amount of confidential business which excludes the public to the minimum.

CMPC Limp Mode – safe but reduced performance

Despite the good work being done by the Clerk and employees, CMPC delivery is in ‘Limp Mode’. Nothing to do with COVID-19 but all to do with lack of resources and limited capacity. Despite a successful 2020 Internal Audit and Annual Governance and Accountability Report, the CMPC office cannot deliver beyond the current level of service we have now and satisfy the basic legal requirements. Does this matter?

  • A serious number of unresolved legacy issues remain and present a potential future cost and risk to the community.
  • CMPC may fail to properly deal with existing major issues and ignore future opportunities.
  • CMPC may raise the precept to fund more resources and reduce the risk.

Future challenges and predictable pressure on the community

Like many coastal and rural communities, families and individuals who have a long association with the village and its organisations have experienced considerable change with the influx of new people. Combe Martin has experienced a lot of national media coverage, promoting the beautiful area, life style and its relative low property value. There is a tipping point when communities become unviable for the locals:

  • The physical shape of the valley causes significant difficulties with regard to provision of affordable homes and/or additional car parking.
  • This impacts on availability of workshops and small scale sustainable industry.
  • The continuing influx of people buying into the lifestyle or running holiday homes places further inflationary pressure on existing property prices and the sustainability of parts of the infrastructure.

The old solutions will not fix tomorrows problems

In 2013/14 Free Help Combe Martin came into being “out of a desire to change the world” and stay relevant to the Community. CMPC is now at that same crossroads, and there are a number of things which would start to make a difference.

  • Co-option of forward looking and engaged Cllrs who understand the complexity and leadership role of the Council.
  • The involvement of a younger generation of Cllrs, providing continuity and relevance to new challenges.
  • A restructured CMPC Office and workforce delivering a quality service.
  • CMPC using local individuals and traders to complete Council work.
  • A more active and positive engagement with the Business Association and the wide variety of village organisations and volunteer groups.
  • A framework where individuals can support CMPC with their expert knowledge and time to help deliver community projects.

Vision, delivery, and future proofing

Many of you reading this will already be helping and doing things for the village, thank you for that. Out of all of the successful and thriving organisations in the village, the Parish Council is the one that can tie this all together, invest, transform and deliver a sustainable framework for the wellbeing of the community:

  • The Vision must be relevant and deliverable, is pointless without resources, and commitment.
  • Delivery cannot happen without determination, organisation and resources.
  • Future Proofing is sustaining and protecting the investment for future generations.

CMPC needs more capacity to support existing village organisations

There are several opportunities to strengthen the support and infrastructure of our community that are either not recognised, missed or not possible due to lack of communication or resource, CMPC want to:

  • Employ local people/tradespersons, offer work experience and seasonal work.
  • Promote and facilitate improvements to community assets.
  • Consider a ‘framework arrangement’ that encourages volunteer involvement and partnership working.
  • Establish sustainable, environmentally friendly ways of working.
  • Make Combe Martin a better place.

CMPC has to work ‘smarter’ and if you want to do something interesting and worthwhile, are motivated, care for this community, and want to learn new skills, consider becoming a Councillor, or alternatively offer some skill and time.

Want to know more? Please contact the Clerk, Tel: 01271 883403 or email:  info@combemartin-pc.gov.uk

Combe Martin Parish Council Coronavirus (COVID – 19) Helpline and Community Briefing Note 4.

Issued:  21st May 2020                     Status: Chairman’s Informal Commentary

1. Government Advice

Please continue to comply with and support the UK’s response by following Public Health England’s advice and information on the Gov and NHS websites: www.gov.uk and www.nhs.uk.

2. Free Help  Combe Martin  (FHCM) – Community help if staying at home

The response from the volunteers of FHCM continues to impress and confirms what a caring community Combe Martin is. The Helpline is currently not available on Sundays, but we will keep this option under review.

A ‘virtual’ meeting has been held to discuss the distribution and purchases required from the grant money received. Volunteers are reminded to keep records of their mileage. A future leaflet drop is being considered to ensure we get the maximum coverage and get to vulnerable individuals if their situation changes.

Would all volunteers please note:

You may still be waiting for the call to help, but the fact that you are there and are willing, is a huge reassurance to the community in these uncertain times.     

3. Helpline: How to ask for (non-medical) help

The Parish Council Office telephone number 01271 883403 will be available from 10:00 to 17:00hrs every day (*including Saturday).  

The office is shut but the Council e-mail info@combemartin-pc.gov.uk is available; however, there may be a delay in reading the messages.

*Sunday has had zero use and cover will cease, but be kept under review.

4. Requests for help  – the usual disclaimer

COVID -19 requests to the Parish Council will be passed to Free Help Combe Martin for action. It is important to recognise when using this service that this is a ‘neighbour to neighbour’ relationship and the normal requirements of data protection and DBS vetting cannot apply. In using this service you understand and agree to your information being shared with volunteers.  The Council will note any concerns raised and look for an alternative means of support if needed.

5. Business Support

Bryan Cath, Chairman of Combe Martin Business Association (website: www.visitcombemartin.com) continues to trawl the Govt helplines for relevant information and help for businesses.

6. Some Current Parish Council Issues  

The Parish Council has had to introduce ‘virtual meetings’ and the next monthly CMPC meeting will be Monday 8 June at 7 pm using the Zoom platform. Any member of public wishing to join the meeting must inform the Clerk by Midday on Friday the 5 June.

Meeting agendas are posted on the CMPC website.

6.1 Car Park Charging Reinstated

CMPC had made the decision to suspend charging in its carparks as a way of demonstrating our solidarity and support to our Parishioners. Signage stated clearly that the car parks were for local use only and ‘shut to visitors’. However due to the changes made to the ‘lock down’ arrangements, this is now benefiting people who are prepared to travel considerable distances to make use of our ‘free parking’! Unfortunately, physically shutting/locking the car parks is not an option.

Therefore Car Park Charging is reinstated in all of CMPC’s car parks from first thing Saturday morning, 23 May 2020.

Individuals using the machines will have to take responsibility for their own personal hygiene.

In the longer term once we have the funds we may decide to invest in a cashless system. See below for information on permits.

6.2 Seasonal Beach Dog Ban Enforcement Reinstated

As Parishioners are now able to travel more widely to exercise their dogs and the beach is now ‘open’ for recreational use, the enforcement of the seasonal dog ban is reinstated with immediate effect.   

6.3 NDC Public Toilets Kiln Car Park

CMPC continues to seek clarity over the opening of the public toilets and what enhanced cleaning will be provided by North Devon Council.  In addition the issue of provision of soap (or rather the missing soap) within the dispensers will be strongly pursued until a satisfactory answer is provided.

6.4 Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPO Consultations)

NDC will be issuing the details on consultations on the Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) for Dog controls within Combe Martin in June. The current Dog control orders remain in force until October 2020.

6.5 Financial Impact of COVID-19 – Furloughing of staff

 The Council is facing a significant deficit in its income and members of staff are being furloughed on a rota system, the situation remains under active review, but the office will remain closed and CMPC’s ability to respond to requests is restricted.

6.6 Existing Car parking Permit Holders

Charging within the CMPC car parks was suspended on Monday 23rd March and shall be reintroduced on Saturday 23rd May 2020. Any person holding a valid car park permit which was valid on the 18th of March 2020 remains valid and need not do anything regarding renewal until after the ‘lockdown’ period has ended and CMPC has been in contact. A maximum holiday period of 61 days will be applied pro-rata to those permits still in date. The issue of car park permits will be on the June CMPC meeting agenda. No new permits are currently being issued or renewed.

This informal briefing is the responsibility of:

Cllr David Woodbury

Chairman of Combe Martin Parish Council.

If you have any concerns over the content of this briefing, please inform the Clerk, Tel: 01271 883403 or on the council e-mail address: info@combemartin-pc.gov.uk

Combe Martin Parish Council Notice about its Car Parks in Response to the Coronavirus

With immediate effect and in response to tonight’s broadcast by the Prime Minister, Combe Martin Parish Council (CMPC) has suspended car parking charges in its car parks at Kiln, Parade, and Cormelles.   The ticket machines will be taken out of use and covered or taped over tomorrow.

The regulations covering the parking of vehicles within parking bays will still apply and enforcement action will be taken against those creating a problem.  

Cormelles car park is likely to get very busy, so please give priority to essential NHS workers and other Carers, who may need a space when returning from their shift.

Use the Kiln (and upper Marine Drive) car park if you are taking a vehicle out of use for an extended period.

The issue of permits has already stopped and CMPC will be looking at the implications for current permit holders.  

The Government has issued advice about what people need to do now and that is STAY AT HOME

  • Only go outside for food, health reasons or essential work
  • Stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home

Full details can be found on the Gov website at: www.gov.uk/coronavirus.

Full Council

Combe Martin Parish Council has had a fantastic year for elections. With 13 nominations and only 12 positions available there was always going to be disappointment, but thank you to Stewart Johnston for standing in the first instance. The councillors have now had their first full meeting and all went well. We welcome Keith, John, Katherine, Lee and Martin and look forward to utilising their knowledge base for the benefit of the village.

Apologies to Andy for leaving him off the list of new councillors. We welcome all new councillors to the table.