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.

You may also wish to read the latest e-mail from Selaine Saxby, MP for North Devon, 10 August 2020, this will be posted on CMPC Website

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

Despite some of the volunteers returning to work, the response from FHCM continues to deliver and provide effective support. The Foodbank has moved into the Community Centre.

2. Helpline: How to ask for Free Help Combe Martin

From Monday 24th August, the CMPC Office telephone number 01271 883403 is reducing its cover to 10am to 1pm Monday to Friday. Closed Saturday and Sunday. 

This change reflects the level of current demand, the local Pharmacy may be able to access emergency cover, but people must take responsibility for their medication.   

3. 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.

5. 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’, (13th July and 10th August) the next monthly CMPC meeting will be Monday 14 September 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 11 September.  Meeting agendas are posted on the CMPC website and notice board.

5.1 Public Participation at meetings

Public participation at CMPC meetings is welcome but has reduced most probably due to the ‘virtual format’, but the opportunity to participate is there and encouraged.

5.2 County and District Councillors’ Report

Cllrs Andrea Davis and Yvette Gubb, continue to give positive support to CMPC and inform on the wider County and District issues. Their written reports and comments are posted in the CMPC minutes.

New Baby Alert!

Some new born babies have not been registered due to COVID-19 restrictions, which is ok as long as you: fill in the Child Benefit Claim form CH2 found on line, or if claiming Child Benefit already telephone 0300 200 3100. – Claims can only be backdated for three months.

Electric vehicle (EV) questionnaire.

DCC has launched an on-line questionnaire regarding EV; charging points, attitudes and driving habits. CMPC has identified future EV infrastructure as an issue and suggested Combe Martin would make a relevant case study for the issues.

5.3 Planning Applications

CMPC has no actual planning powers, but seeks to make representations to NDC which are relevant and contribute to the overall benefit of the community and environment. It is therefore regrettable to note the numbers of alterations and works being carried out without the necessary permissions or consultations. In addition to the bad feelings and potential blighting of neighbours’ property there may be future difficulties in selling the altered property. Enforcement action may require reinstatement back to the original condition by the individual owner, but always comes at a significant cost to this community by reducing the overall NDC money available for other essential services.

5.4 CMPC Financial Position

The CMPC financial position requires careful scrutiny, but car park income is recovering due to the unprecedented number of visitors to the village. However like many businesses we are still very vulnerable to a second COVID-19 wave.

  • The routine finance reports are continuing to provide very accurate and timely information and are posted on the Website.
  • The Internal Audit report and Annual Governance and Accountability Return 2019/20 have been completed and signed off.

These reports show that proper procedures are being implemented and continued progress is being made, despite the backlog of historic issues. CMPC thank the Clerk and staff for their hard work and dedication.

5.5 E-mail Reports/Conversations with Police

The Chairman has contacted our very helpful Police team and had discussions on two main issues:

  • Jet Skis

Following reports of Jet Skis heading into and onto the Beach area, the Police confirmed that they would take action on video evidence that showed dangerous or reckless behaviour in the vicinity of other water users.

  • Bonfires on the Beach

In response to reports and emails received of local people having bonfires on Combe Martin beach, the Police have advised that an initial intervention by our local team of firefighters is an effective way forward. CMPC welcome the support of the village team of firefighters and shared concerns over public safety.

These beach bonfires pose a risk to public safety and raise a number of issues including:

  • Anti-social behaviour that’s upsetting to other beach users and nearby amenities.
  • Fires that are not being extinguished properly or turned into an invisible danger when they are buried under the sand, still burning.
  • Associated debris, such as nails from wood, which can then become a hidden hazard in the sand.

Bonfires are not permitted on Combe Martin beach.

Please note: In the recent past CMPC has had to pay compensation to a child injured by running over a sand covered BBQ left on the beach overnight. In these enlightened times, CMPC will look to recover costs from the irresponsible parties.

BBQs need to be restricted to the designated beach area – Which CMPC need to reinstate.

5.6 Car Parks

CMPC have received some complaints from permit holders and understand the current frustrations being experienced by the lack of parking spaces, but there is no easy fix and Parishioners are reminded that CMPC has agreed to review the current parking and permit arrangements.

  • CMPC is zoom meeting (today) with the new provider of the Devon wide cashless car park system and is hopefully close to implementing cashless payments. Thanks to NDC and our staff who have made this a possibility.

5.7 Website and Facebook work still in progress

CMPC have set up a CMPC Facebook page, but like our Website we are struggling to find the resources to fully utilise their potential at this current time. All Facebook enquiries should still be referred to the Clerk.

5.8 Combe Martin Football Club

CMPC applied to NDC, requesting the release of the Section 106 funding that has been allocated for the enhancement of the football club. Cllr Gubb has supported the request which will now go for NDC Committee approval, which be in October.

  • CMPC considered the Structural Engineer Report on the ground conditions at the site of the proposed new all-weather pitch at Hollands Park and have asked for a detailed plan for submission to the Planners along with some more details on the slope retention, drainage, etc.
  • CMPC will write to the Playing Fields Trust to confirm the nature of the application, along with the details of a new grounds maintenance work store and improved car parking spaces to the east of the clubhouse. 

CMPC will shortly submit a request to NDC for planning permission.

5.9 Correspondence – Conversations  -extract.

  • The Combe Martin Water Watch Group:  Continues to work with CMPC over continuing issues and actions required from South West Water and the EA.
  • Email from a Member of the Public: Request  a memorial bench in the Parade area. This raised a number of related issues, including the number of existing benches and their on-going maintenance. CMPC resolved to write a holding reply to the family, whist a policy for this sensitive issue is drafted.
  • Email from a Member of the Public:  CMPC approved a request for a dog litter bin at the Coach/Car Park, High St. Previous requests were noted. 
  • Peter James on behalf of the Combe Martin Coastal Community Team: Green Hill steps. Has confirmed that funding is available for a ‘safety gate’ to be fitted to the top entrance. Site meeting today to identify the final works required for opening of the steps. Steps currently closed.
  • Scar access, The intended concreting of the beach BBQ area is withdrawn from the planning application, the access improvements will be completed. Email from a Member of Public: Regarding overgrowth at Mill Weir Lane, CMPC enquiries are continuing, as a detailed reply is required.

6. Park and Open Spaces

  • CMPC are investigating an unauthorised intrusion and damage to Normans Ham land and are seeking legal advice on the matter.
  • CMPC welcomes the visual benefit of the boat recently moored in Combe Martin bay.
  • Detailed preliminary work and enquiries are continuing over a sustainable strategy for managing the beach, harbour and seafront area.

7. Health and Safety

CMPC removed the unauthorised tree swing at Hollands Park for H&S and Public Liability reasons. CMPC are available to discuss the possibilities of an alternative approved provision at Hollands Park.

  • Street lighting Failure in the Seaside Area

The Parish Council has complained about the continuing delay by Devon County Council and its contractors to repair and replace the defective street lighting in the seaside area.  COVID -19 has obviously had an impact as it has also delayed the installation of the replacement set of Parish Council decorative lights.  In addition, the Parish Council is waiting for an answer to the established historic use of the (new) columns to support the lightweight decorative lighting.

CMPC are looking to identify a local contractor to install the CMPC’s replacement decorative lighting to the existing CMPC poles and make temporary fixings to the DCC Highway lighting standards.

  • Village wide Consultation on new PSPOs -Dog Controls for Combe Martin. All of the Dog control PSPOs for the village lapse in October 2020 unless the authority (NDDC) undertake consultation and replaces them. CMPC have with the help of the Water Watch group completed village wide leaflet consultation on the PSPOs.  The purpose of the CMPC consultation was to draw attention the NDC consultation and to gather local opinion on the local controls. CMPC supports the retention of Dog PSPOs in the Parish. Results will be published shortly.

8. Combe Martin Community Centre

Prior to the start of the July CMPC meeting, the Managing Trustees of the Combe Martin Parish Community Centre Charity, Coombe Martin National Schools (Ref No: 4052972),  met  to agree the governance arrangements and a number of priority actions for the charity.

CMPC then agreed the following related actions to facilitate the separation between the Charity and the Parish Council:

  • To agree to the Clerk being the ‘manager’ of the Community Centre.
  • To set up a separate financial system for the Charity.
  • To identify and recharge all relevant costs to the Charity.
  • To ask NDC for a review of the rate payments made since 2012.
  • To establish the level of financial support provided to the Charity. 

A copy of the agenda for the meeting of the Managing Trustees of the Combe Martin Parish Community Centre charity, is available to view and download on Combe Martin Parish Council’s website at: www.combemartin-pc.gov.uk.

This informal briefing is the responsibility of Cllr David Woodbury, Chairman 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