Draft minutes of the Combe Martin Parish Council meeting,
held on 9th October 2023 at 7pm at Combe Martin Community Centre.
Present: Cllrs. Lethaby, Masters, Optix, Richards, Seldon, Smallridge, Watkins, and Worth.
Also in attendance: Selaine Saxby MP, County Cllr. Davis, Andrew Wyer (Clerk and 11 members of the public.
106/23 Apologies – Apologies were received and accepted from Cllrs. Corner and Cass.
107/23 Declarations of Interest – Cllr Lethaby declared that as a District Councillor, the views he gives (and how he votes) at this meeting will not necessarily be the same as he does at a District Council meeting.
108/23 Public Participation – There were questions raised about the last two bench plaques, missing from the temporary display board at the seafront. (These will be added ASAP) and thanks was passed on to the Council for dealing with the leaning trees near the pumping station.
109/23 Selaine Saxby MP –The questions raised, and answers given are attached as Appendix 1.
110/23 Minutes – The draft minutes of the meeting held on 11th September 2023 were approved and signed by Cllr Seldon as an accurate record.
The Museum have asked me to clarify a statement in the previous month’s minutes – Their loss of income related to the single day when they could not open, due to a water leak from the property above (CMPC’s property). Apologies for any concern caused.
The draft minutes of the Assets and Land Management Committee on 25th September were NOTED.
111/23 Clerk’s Report –The report had been shared with the agenda and it was NOTED.
112/23 County & District Cllr reports – County Cllr Davis had distributed her report ahead of the meeting. She highlighted that the speed activated sign should be erected in the village this week and that part of the North Devon Link Road (A361) will be closed just after the Combe Martin turning.
District Cllr Lethaby had nothing to report.
113/23 Police Newsletter – This had been circulated ahead of the meeting and reported 2 crimes in Combe Martin, 1 in Berrynarbor, and 63 in Ilfracombe. The newsletter was NOTED.
114/23 Planning (NDC Applications) –
The Council NOTED:
77536 – Application for a lawful development certificate for an existing completion of a residential dwelling in accordance with planning consent 6636. NO CONSULATION ON THIS. FOR INFORMATION ONLY.
The Council OBJECTED to:
77617 – Demolition of existing house and replace with new dwelling, with associated landscaping and parking works at Orchard Dene, Western Gardens, Combe Martin., on the following grounds:
Reduced privacy for neighbours, inadequate roadway and junction, and overdevelopment.
115/23 Planning (Exmoor NP Applications) – There were no applications to consider.
116/23 Planning (NDC Decisions) – The following decisions were NOTED:
77218 – Installation of solar panels at Coulscott Cottages, Nutcombe Hill, Combe Martin, EX34 0PQ – Approved
77135 – Extension and garage with loft store at Karino, 5 West Challacombe Lane, Combe Martin, EX34 0HF – Approved
117/23 Planning (Exmoor NP Decisions) – The following decision was NOTED:
62/19/22/004 – Proposed Loft Conversion to include new staircase to the rear. Torcliff, Lester Point, Combe Martin, EX34 0DL – Approved with Conditions
118/23 Planning Correspondence : The request by the ENPA Ranger to store materials in the overflow car park and to widen the entrance way onto the Coastal Path were APPROVED, with a request to make the entrance 2m wide.
119/23 Finance – It was RESOLVED to approve the lists of payments to be made, together with a late invoice (value £174), totalling £12350.51.
120/23 Finance – It was RESOLVED to note the lists of payments made, receipts received (including the 2nd half of the precept – £42673.50) and the September Dashboard report.
121/23 AGAR – The Council NOTED the conclusion of audit and the auditor’s comments. The comment about incorrectly displaying the Notice of Public Rights was due to a typo and the Council can say it was correctly displayed, when asked on the next Audit.
122/23 2 motions from Cllr. Cass – As Cllr. Cass was absent, these items will be deferred to the next meeting.
123/23 Hollands Park / Chapel Lane – The grit bin will be cleared of rubbish and the Council workmen will report how often they have to clear rubbish from here. Council will consider placing a bin there after hearing their report.
124/23 Correspondence – The correspondence was NOTED. The CAB will be asked for figures demonstrating how many Combe Martin residents they assisted before the Council considered their grant request.
125/23 Exclusion of Press and Public – It was RESOLVED to exclude the public and press from the following items as they would likely include the disclosure of confidential information.
126/23 Recommendations from the Assets and Land Management Committee – The Council RESOLVED to offer the Football Club a lease with alternative conditions and a deadline to try and break the existing deadlock which has resulted in the Football Club not having a lease for the past 13 years. It further RESOLVED that additional cuts of the pitch should be charged at cost basis – approximately £50 per time.
Next Meetings –
Personnel Committee will meet on 23rd October at 6pm
Full Council will meet on 13th November at 7pm.
Appendix 1 – Questions and Answers Selaine Saxby MP
(Question from a Councillor and given in advance)
We recently had a visit from the Environment Agency who looked at our storm boards on the slipway down to the beach and wasn’t impressed. Given “global warming” and rising sea levels, there will be quite a few properties and a main A road which will be increasingly vulnerable to rising sea levels, flood and storm damage. What help can the government give to villages like Combe Martin?
(Question from a Councillor and given in advance)
In Wales, local Councils are allowed to meet and use zoom (or similar systems), which is particularly helpful to Councillors who struggle to get to the meeting either due to health issues or work commitments. Why can’t England also allow virtual attendance at meetings?
(Question from the Clerk and given in advance)
I am lucky in that I have a very good relationship with my Councillors, and they respect my qualifications, training and experience. Many of my Clerk colleagues, especially in small Councils have to try and work with Councillors who won’t go on training but still think they know best or worse than that, don’t understand that they are bound by employment rules. As Councillors can be untrained and (even more serious) cannot be suspended or removed if they break rules why hasn’t the Government accepted the recommendations in the Local Government Ethical Standards report from the Committee on Standards in Public Life (Jan 19)?
(Question from a member of the public, raised on the night)
Are you aware about the situation at Ilfracombe Academy, as a lot of families are worried and have concerns about the new systems and rules?
Question from a member of the public, raised on the night)
Thank you for helping to get the Broadband roll out in Devon back on track.
Answers (given on the night and condensed for clarity)
1. The E.A. are a detached body with responsibility for assessing flood risk and their response will depend on the flood risk as it is assessed for the village.
2. It does seem a shame that a “positive” from the Covid crisis (wider use of remote attendance) has not been continued but this is due to concerns about “abuse” and “fraudulent voting”.
3. This is a real issue, but it comes down to trying to balance the need for training and/or sanctions for Councillors, against creating barriers to Councillor recruitment, which is also a very real issue, especially in smaller Councils.
4. Selaine is very aware, both of the issues generally and those currently being experienced at Ilfracombe, having come from a teaching family. She is in regular contact with all of the main players, including the head. Her advice is to raise the issue with the right people, and if not happy with the response, to escalate it. (Raise it with the Academy, then the Trustees, then the Department of Education.)
5. Selaine does head up the All Party Broadband and Digital Communication Group. She has met with the main contractors who have acknowledged the difficulties they are facing in Devon, but they do not believe that previous delays will hold back the roll out, going forward. Broadband upgrades are due to reach Ilfracombe soon, which doesn’t specifically help Combe Martin but she is determined that communities like us are not left behind or forgotten, even if this means the use of satellite technology rather than traditional poles and cables.