Netti Pearson - Ilfracombe Town and District Councillor

 

District Councillor Report to Ilfracombe Town Council

For 13th April 2020 meeting

It would be an understatement to say that this month has been somewhat different from usual, and I know that all councillors and officers have been sharing information and responding to requests for help whenever they can, and that most are either working from, or are simply confined to, home.

There have been no District Council Committee meetings or Full Council meetings since the week ending 14th March, and obviously the main focus for the District senior management team has been, and still is, ensuring the provision of services. They have also provided a central co-ordination function and a helpline for Covid19 support services across North Devon communities: not all communities have local access to the sort of support structure that Ilfracombe Town Council and One Ilfracombe have set up here.

Since, by law, up until now (specifically up until 4th April) all public council meetings had to be held in a physical meeting space, the last month as you know presented something of a challenge to all councils across the country.

The first virtual meeting of all District Councillors took place yesterday (8th April): it was a briefing using Zoom. I shall list some of the key points of interest.

- NDC have had daily briefings and conferences with government ministers and other councils. CEO, Ken Miles, has been in almost daily contact with our MP, Selaine.

- Partnership working has definitely been strengthened.

- The first week of the helpline has had 100 requests for direct assistance; I know from customer services that this is fewer than they expected, which they attribute to the strength of community responses, notably ITC/One Ilfracombe.

- Services are running though there are some changes:

o Waste and Recycling teams are not returning to pick up missed collections; they are not collecting bulky waste; trade waste, inevitably, is down but this has meant teams being able to assist with domestic collections.

o Planning teams are mostly working from home and site visits are not available: this is a problem which has been raised nationally.

o Housing team is working to house the homeless in line with government guidelines: 9 rough sleepers have been housed across the area with 11 still on the street and refusing accommodation.

There has been a spike in the presentation of homeless people who were not on the street but were staying with friends or sleeping on sofas but have had to leave because of the lockdown.

- Car parks are not charging so attendants have been redeployed helping to deliver food parcels and pick up prescriptions in response to requests via the helpline.

- The front office at Lynton House has been closed to the public but they can use the intercom to connect to customer services; an out-of-hours response is also possible – and helpful for anyone who is homeless.

- Reports have been received about people coming down to second homes or holiday properties in spite of repeated requests to keep away (breaches of this regulation can be reported online to 101 or police.uk).

- PPE supply for front line workers is hit and miss: NDC are careful to order only what they need. It is important to stress that in households where people are self-isolating that they store their waste on their property for 72 hours and make sure it is double-bagged when it is put out for collection. Waste & Recycling operatives are reporting that unbagged tissues are being put in bins, which puts them and others at risk.

- The business grant form is live on NDC’s website from today to support:

o businesses who receive Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief; the government has promised to pay £10,000 cash grants to these businesses to help meet ongoing business costs

o retail, hospitality, and leisure businesses operating from premises with rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000; the grant for these is £25,000

o the first tranche of payments should be made next week.

- NDC are helping as much as they can with council tax, business rates and rental payments. They recognise that some people will struggle to pay council tax, and will look at options on a case by case basis. More people are choosing to pay council tax by direct debit; others may wish to start and finish their monthly payments two months later.

- There will be considerable financial pressures:

o Council tax income is expected to be down by 10% as well as business rate income.

o Income from car parks, planning, regulatory, building control etc will be down.

o The government will recompense councils but to what degree is unknown.

o Initial parish precept will be paid as normal. This presumably means that if there is to be a reduction it won’t be until later in the year.

- The beds at NDDH are running at 50% occupancy, which is good to know. There is an hotel in Bideford (Durrant House) with beds for recovering patients if necessary.

- We are lucky that we have 3 pharmacies in Ilfracombe: there were queues taking over 3 hours for Braunton’s single one.

MP’s report

Selaine, at the meeting as both a District councillor and MP, reported that Universal Credit is working well! Police are busy trying to reduce the number of tourists coming to Devon. She reported that 1.3 million items of PPE were expected to be delivered to DCC on 9th April (I can report that they were indeed delivered and information about access to PPE can be found at www.devon.gov.uk/providerengagementnetwork/document/personal-protective-equipment . A Parallel Supply Chain (PSC) to support the normal supply chain has been set up to address capacity constraints and a National Supply Disruption Response (NSDR) has also been mobilised for providers with an urgent requirement for PPE). She also reported that Applegate have set up a COVID19 supply hub which will help businesses to access PPE supplies: www.applegate.co.uk/COVID-19.

It was reassuring to hear that NDDH has all the PPE it needs at the moment, unlike the dental and care services. She is well aware that there is currently no dental hub accessible to North Devon and that is high on her agenda to resolve; she personally raised this with Ministers at the Department of Health and has had confirmation that it is being worked on now. I had heard that the nearest hub was in Bournemouth, but she assured me it wasn’t that far away although it’s not clear where the nearest one is. So don’t forget to brush your teeth as well as wash your hands.

Environment etc

There has not been a great deal else happening for me to report, however it looks as if one of the positive side-effects of the lock-down has been much improved air quality across the world. Something to celebrate.

I have also been approached by someone who is interested in food security in North Devon and I hope to have something to report on this as the year progresses.

Cllr Netti Pearson 9th April 2020

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District Councillor Report to Ilfracombe Town Council

For 9th March 2020 meeting

The report on the following pages is a sort of diary of my month, but this page just extracts and highlights key points.

Climate Change

The first NDC Climate Week runs from 21st March until 28th. In Ilfracombe: on 21st and 28th March at the library watch the Biosphere films “Journey to the Sea”; on 24th March from 4 until 7 drop-in to Cranmer Hall on Fore Street where “Ilfracombe 2040” offers an opportunity for ITC to explain neighbourhood planning and gain ideas for a climate action plan; on 26th March from 7pm at the Blue Lotus there is an art auction; on Friday 27th at 7pm there is a talk, with refreshments, on consumerism entitled “We shop…therefore we are?” ; during the week the museum has an exhibition on the history of consumerism in Ilfracombe: “From stores to doors”.

Parks and gardens

NDC will be joining in with climate week and sowing a wildflower meadow in Bicclescombe Park with Community Resources.

Missed bin and recycling collections review

Progress is being made, albeit slowly. There are fewer missed rounds and fewer complaints. Investment in new vehicles will be taking place over the coming year. Recycling rates need to improve: it is likely that a recycling advisor will be recruited to help the only one currently in post.

Public Toilets

ITC are looking to have an interim solution to toilet provision pending NDC’s review.

Waste & Recycling

I’ve spent a bit of time learning about waste and recycling: Viridor are building a facility at Avonmouth to sort and convert plastics to pellets for recycling; non-recyclable materials will be incinerated in an energy from waste plant whose heat is used in the plastic processor. The idea is to promote a circular economy, where ‘waste’ is a local resource (local being South Wales and South West).

Strategy and Resources

The main point of interest to Ilfracombe is that there is to be a consultation on extending restrictions on anti-social behaviour via Public Space Protection Orders in Barnstaple and coastal communities of North Devon.

Duty Holder Training

I attended a training session on the accountability, duties and powers of a Harbour Duty Holder, which NDC is: district councillors need to know what their responsibilities are.

This report is a narrative reflection on my month as a District Councillor.

Climate Change

Climate Action Week

Schools have started to let NDC know what they are arranging for the week: quite a few are taking advantage of the offer of free wildflower seeds, including Ilfracombe Academy.

Interest in the events in Ilfracombe is gathering momentum.

The library is showing the Biosphere films (as a single film I believe): at 10 am and 11 am on the Saturday mornings of 21st and 28th March.

Ilfracombe councillors are welcome to come and encourage participation from residents in expressing their views on how they see Ilfracombe in 2040, both from a neighbourhood planning perspective and a climate change one, at a drop-in event on Tuesday 24th March from 4pm until 7pm at Cranmer Hall (table tennis club) on Fore Street. We have an interesting map showing which parts of North Devon are likely to be under water by 2050 if no mitigating actions are taken.

The Ilfracombe 2040 stand will also be in the Ilfracombe Centre reception area during the week to allow for wider engagement.

There will also be: a waste, recycling and energy corner - come and sign up for an energy assessment or find out how to reduce your waste and increase your recycling; a make do and mend corner which will include youth councillors discouraging fast fashion; a kid’s climate corner; and a place to sit down for a cuppa, a bowl of soup and/or a piece of cake prepared by the Waste Not team.

There are some really lovely works of art donated by local artists for the Art Auction (Thursday 26th 7pm at Blue Lotus). I shall certainly be bidding.

Why not book for Antigone Neaum’s talk on how consumerism has contributed to climate change (Friday 27th 7pm for 7.30 pm at Ilfracombe museum. Tickets £10 to include refreshments).

Also at the museum, inspired by the Friday talk, is a look at Ilfracombe’s shopping habits over the last 100 years at an exhibition called ‘From Stores to Doors’; the exhibition is set to start on 24th March and run for a little while.

NDC are promoting Climate Week on Facebook and Instagram (North Devon Climate Week). Please like and share the pages and events and there is a tag you can use, @northdevonclimateaction.

Environment

Waste and Recycling (W&R)

Recycling remains the biggest challenge. Black and green waste collections have improved: there are fewer missed collections and fewer complaints. Upgrades to the in-cab computer application haven’t resolved all the technical problems. Ricky McCormack, Head of Service,

has handed in his notice: options from direct replacement to employing a temporary resource are being considered.

I visited Exeter’s Energy from Waste plant: it is appalling just how much waste is processed and what people throw away. Far too much waste which should be repaired, reused or recycled is incinerated. And far too much waste should never have been created in the first case.

I attended a conference organised by Viridor who are building an energy from waste facility in Avonmouth alongside a plastics processing plant; waste heat from the energy facility will be used by the plastics plant to make pellets for recycling into other plastic products. There were some really interesting presentations at the conference. Tom Heap who hosts Radio 4’s Costing the Earth, and is a presenter on Countryfile and Panorama, talked about plastic in a positive way: plastic is not evil, plastic in oceans, fields and hedgerows is.

There was much talk of circular economies, keeping and processing waste locally. Traditionally design of plastic products has not considered disposal and that must change; there are too many different types of plastic and inconsistency in disposal methods is confusing and contributes to poor recycling rates. If we are to improve our recycling service then we need to make it simple for people to recycle.

Toilets

ITC F&GP committee have been considering options for supplying temporary public toilets until the NDC review process has taken place. A meeting between NDC & ITC to consider practicalities and costs will take place shortly.

Parks and gardens

The removal of part of the hedge at Oxford Park has opened up the area giving more parking space and a bigger play area: it looks much better. The team will be planting wildflowers in Bicclescombe Park in Climate Week.

Strategy & Resources

NDC has the powers to address anti-social behaviour. There was agreement to approve a consultation exercise to enable additional restrictions to be imposed using a PSPO to tackle anti-social behaviour. The consultation is divided into 4 parts addressing intoxicating substances, public urination, ant-social behaviour and aggressive begging. Barnstaple and Ilfracombe are considered to merit year round regulation.

EV charging points

I mentioned last month that NDC signed up to the DCC Electric Car Charging Points Collaboration, to get an electric vehicle charging point in Wilder Road car park. I learnt today that the roll out of these won’t start until next year! Fortunately we have a new member of the economic development team who has experience of getting them installed in Torridge so we are rather hoping that all suitable NDC car parks will have a point installed significantly earlier. ITC may be interested in following his recommendations for Ropery Rd.

Cllr Netti Pearson 6th March 2020

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District Councillor Report to Ilfracombe Town Council

For 10th February 2020 meeting

The report on the following pages is a sort of diary of my month, but this page just extracts and highlights key points.

Climate Change

The climate change lottery funding bid made by the CANDo partnership didn’t get through to the next stage. There was intense competition with 650 bids for 15 funded projects. I believe there will be another chance to bid next year.

The NDC climate action team are promoting & co-ordinating a North Devon climate action week from 22nd March. Parishes across North Devon have been invited to take part. We have some events planned in Ilfracombe.

Missed bin and recycling collections review

The review has helped to identify the problem areas and plans are being developed to see if we can make improvements. It is likely that changes to rounds and collections will be trialled over the next few months.

Parks and gardens

NDC are removing part of the hedge at Oxford park and erecting fencing this week: this will make the play area more visible and easier to maintain. Planting schemes will also be considered this year.

Strategy and Resource

We were reminded last month that NDC has a duty to support neighbourhood planning: a briefing note to be produced. Another notable point was that the committee supported a 2-year lease agreement for ITC to run the Dotto with a review after a year.

This month’s meeting was dominated by the budget: the recommended increase in the NDC precept is 2.73%. A response to the government’s Future Home Standard consultation on changes to building regulations for new dwellings was also agreed.

Southern Extension

There was a Design Review Panel held last week to review the design for the Southern Extension at Channel Farm. It is clear that the design needs to be high quality and appropriate for a fantastic, rural, hilltop, setting in sight of AONB and Exmoor protected landscapes.

Watersports Centre

NDC are considering ITC’s idea for the centre: it should solve the problems of boat storage, be less costly, and provide the necessary facilities with reduced environmental impact. The designs should be put to Strategy & Resources in April.

This report is a narrative reflection on my month as a District Councillor.

Climate Change

Lottery bid

The climate change lottery funding bid made by the CANDo partnership, and supported by NDC, didn’t get through to the next stage. There was intense competition with 650 bids for 15 funded projects. CANDo, nonetheless, will continue and take every opportunity to strengthen partnership working. There will be other chances to bid for funding and the more evidence that we can produce of effective action the stronger the bid.

Climate Action Week

The NDC climate action team, comprising elected members with officer support, are co-ordinating a North Devon climate action week from 22nd March. Parishes, schools, and low carbon organisations across North Devon have been invited to take part.

So far, in Ilfracombe we have an event being planned for Cow Green, a talk and exhibition at the museum on mass consumerism, an art auction in aid of a climate change advice centre, and outline plans for an event at the Lantern celebrating our local community, economy, Council and OI projects: this is also an opportunity to explain about neighbourhood planning, and engage wider interest. All ideas for activities are welcome.

The week will kick off in Barnstaple on the Sunday with a youth march from the Market Square to the Pannier Market where there will be stalls from local producers of food and crafts.

We will start to advertise the event more widely as we get confirmation of activities being planned.

Environment

Waste and Recycling

The biggest problems with collections are with recycling. A trial to pick up glass in a separate box is taking place in Fremington: it is hoped that this means the rounds will be quicker and more effective.

The review process continues with changes planned to take place over the coming months.

Toilets

Nothing to report this month.

Parks and gardens

This coming week the team will be removing part of the hedge at Oxford Park. Whether we win pocket park funding or not, the park needs a facelift. It is generally

accepted that the enclosed nature of the play park means it is not used as much as it might be.

Strategy & Resources

Planning

At the January meeting it was reported that NDC’s Statement of Community Involvement needs reviewing to reflect changes to statutory requirements significantly in respect of neighbourhood planning.

The intention is to make clear the roles and responsibilities of the local community and NDC at each stage of neighbourhood planning. It doesn’t change the level of support from NDC.

The committee requested a briefing note to be issued to local communities to make sure that they know what help and resources are available.

They agreed the Statement of Community Involvement be approved for 6-weeks public consultation.

Dotto

The committee resolved that ITC be permitted a lease to run the Dotto train for 2 years with a review after the first year (it was also agreed that failing agreement on the lease that the Chief Exec could dispose of the train and earmark proceeds for capital projects in Ilfracombe).

EV charging points

NDC signed up to the DCC Electric Car Charging Points Collaboration, which means that we will get an electric vehicle charging point in Wilder Road car park.

Budget

This month’s meeting was the longest one I have experienced yet; it was predominantly concerned with financial reporting and setting the budget (a 3.5 hour meeting!). The commitment to the Watersports centre was reaffirmed, I’m glad to say. The precept increase was set to 2.73%.

Future Homes Standard Consultation

The Government has set out a plan for achieving the Future Homes Standard by 2025 for new build homes to be future-proofed with low carbon heating and ‘world-leading’ levels of energy efficiency.

Energy efficiency requirements for new homes are set by Part L (Conservation of Fuel and Power) and Part 6 of the Building Regulations. NDC has replied to the consultation document on the plan, including proposed options to increase the energy efficiency requirements for new homes in 2020 as a stepping stone to the Future Homes Standard.

NDC’s response is mostly supportive, but there are aspects which they feel are not ambitious enough or with which they don’t agree, e.g. restricting local authorities

from setting higher energy efficiency standards for dwellings. Along with other planning authorities they think that Local Authorities should retain the ability to plan positively for energy efficiency in their areas.

Southern Extension

There was a Design Review Panel (DRP) held last week to review the design for the Southern Extension at Channel Farm. The aim of a DRP is to improve design quality in the built environment. Its role is to review development proposals and provide feedback to developers, clients and local authorities.

The DRP panel drawn from Creating Excellence (see their ten principles of good design review: http://creatingexcellence.net/design-review/principles-of-design-review/) comprised practitioners with experience and expertise in design and construction: there was a landscape architect, an engineer and transport planner, an architect, an urban designer.

They started with a site visit. It was a glorious day with not a cloud in the sky which made it easy to see the lie of the land and the extensive views all round.

Back in the Ilfracombe Centre we received a presentation of the proposed design from FPCR, design and environmental consultants. There was no-one attending from the developer, Inox Group.

The panel then made observations and asked questions. The councillors who were present were also invited to speak.

All the members of the panel thought the site to be exceptional and in need of careful, and sympathetic, design taking into account its position and topography. The landscape architect felt it was a shame there should be a development at all!

It is clear that the design needs to be high quality and appropriate for a fantastic, rural, hilltop, setting in sight of AONB and Exmoor protected landscapes. Careful consideration needs to be given to the placement of housing and green spaces, the planning of the resource ‘hub’, and the height of buildings with respect to the ridgelines. There was also quite a bit of discussion about how to connect to the town, planning for public transport and footpaths and cycle ways.

It was a fascinating day.

Watersports Centre

It does sometimes feel as if the development of the Watersports centre is doomed because it has been almost there for such a long time. It was encouraging, therefore, to have a presentation from NDC which resulted in the Town councillors in accord about what we would – and would not – like to see developed.

Until recently we had understood that no development was to be permitted on the Cove yet the alternatives we were offered were a hideously expensive development at Larkstone or an apparently more reasonably priced development on the Cove with a possibility of future development at Larkstone.

Armed with this information ITC have put forward a scheme which we believe will obviate the need for an expensive, and environmentally damaging, sea wall (the main reason for the cost difference and needed because the gig boats need to be accommodated); this scheme stores the boats on the Cove and requires a building with a smaller footprint at Larkstone. I tried to get this suggestion put forward to the S&R March meeting, but it cannot be given sufficient consideration by then so should be ready for the April meeting: I believe that all 3 designs will be included.

Cllr Netti Pearson 8th February 2020

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District Councillor Report to Ilfracombe Town Council

For 9th December 2019 meeting

The report on the following pages is a sort of diary of my month, but this page just extracts and highlights key points.

Climate Change

NDC continues to develop its action plan and calculate its carbon footprint along with the other Devon statutory councils.

They are also involved in a bid for climate change lottery funding in cooperation with various environmental and energy groups.

Missed bin and recycling collections review

Everyone involved in the review has been out on a waste or recycling run and reported back with their observations. I went out for a few hours on a waste collection in Ilfracombe. Understanding of the problems has improved; I guess the next step is to identify solutions.

Public toilets

I have managed to get the review of public toilet provision in the service plan for Operations. It is due to start in Quarter 1 and finish in Quarter 3.

Parks and gardens

NDC staff with a little help from me and local residents planted a dozen fruit trees and loads of daffodils in Greenways Park.

I am working on a bid for ‘pocket park’ funding to improve Oxford Park.

I’ve had a few queries about tree management and removal, specifically as regards planning and the removal of trees: see the responses from NDC at the end of my report.

Strategy and Resource

The key items were the introduction of a new Council Tax Reduction Income-banded Scheme for residents on low incomes or universal credit (UC). The previous system was no longer fit for purpose, complex, and with high administrative costs.

Barnstaple are forging ahead with their vision for Barnstaple’s High Street…I will be looking for an opportunity to interest NDC in Ilfracombe’s High Street.

Watersports Centre

I had a query about environmental destruction as a result of the watersports centre development. There have also been a number of enquiries about what is happening and whether it is going ahead at all: see the response from NDC at the end of my report.

This report is a narrative reflection on my month as a District Councillor.

Climate Change

The District Council climate response is being led by the Head of Place, Michael Titchford; we have a draft action plan and are organising into teams to take the various aspects of the plan forward. The District has been working with County and other District councils in Devon on calculating a carbon footprint, which will mean we‘ll be able to monitor progress.

The Devon Climate Emergency team has opened a call for evidence which closes early next year. They are looking for evidence and ideas on how we can decarbonise Devon as rapidly as possible: what are the barriers and what are the opportunities. You can add your ideas here: https://www.devonclimateemergency.org.uk/devon-carbon-plan/call-for-evidence/

The District council is also partner to a recently formed group of climate and biodiversity organisations. This group (working title Climate Action Northern Devon Organisation – CANDo) is working up a bid to the Lottery to show how we intend to combat the effects of climate change. The bid is primarily focused on behaviour change and practical solutions to reduce energy usage and cost. It is really quite an exciting project involving Plastic-Free North Devon, the Devon WildlifeTrust, Resurgence, 361 Community Energy, the Biosphere and many others.

Environment

Waste and Recycling

I had another trip on a bin lorry, this time on a domestic black bin run in Ilfracombe (still waiting to organise a recycling trip). Everyone involved in the Vanguard review of missed bin collections has been on a waste or recycling run in order to see for themselves the sort of problems the collection teams encounter. The results of their reports will be reviewed at a meeting in the next couple of weeks, although it is clear where some of the problems lie.

My trip took me along the High Street. The waste was mixed up with a significant amount of recycling: if we could make significant reductions in our residual waste and increases in our recycling we would all benefit. Mind you, the best solution would be to reduce the packaging in the first place.

Some of the rounds defy logic with multiple lorries criss-crossing across town. It will be interesting to see if things improve as we implement changes next year.

Toilets

A review of public conveniences in North Devon has now been included in the Operational Services service plan: due to start in Quarter 1 and finish in Quarter 3. It’s a shame that the Bill removing the burden of business rates from public toilets fell with the end of the last Parliamentary session: let’s hope it gets revived in the next one.

Parks and gardens

I joined a group of residents with Mike Jones and Mark Kentell from NDC in Greenways park on 30th November to plant a dozen fruit trees and rather a lot of daffodil bulbs. We were lucky with the weather and celebrated with tea and cakes afterwards: it was a good opportunity for local residents to meet up. I’m hoping it will give a real boost to the park.

I am in the process of applying to a ‘pocket parks’ fund to improve Oxford Park. Much of the play equipment is not fit for purpose. A number of youth council members have expressed an interest in updating it as an ‘eco’ park, with less play equipment but some features that make it that little bit different.

I received a request to explain the District council policy on tree removal and management, especially wrt planning. At the end of this report I attach the responses I received from the relevant officers for those who may be interested.

Strategy & Resources

At S&R we agreed to implement a new Council Tax Reduction Income-banded Scheme. This is for those residents on low incomes or universal credit (UC) and was triggered because of the overhead involved in re-issuing council tax calculations every time UC changed for an individual (often).

Barnstaple are forging ahead with their vision for Barnstaple’s High Street…I will be looking for an opportunity to interest them in Ilfracombe’s High Street.

Watersports Centre

I have attached a reply I received from the NDC officer who is managing the watersports project. This was in response to a question about trees taken down to facilitate development of the watersports building and concern over the environmental impact of creating a slipway at Larkstone. It is useful information about the project over all.

Cllr Netti Pearson 8th December 2019

 

 

NDC Policies on Tree Management

 

Response from Parks and Gardens to my request for information on NDC policy about preserving trees, especially ones which are 50+ years old with an important role in combatting atmospheric carbon.

 

We fell very few trees a year, perhaps 15 - 20 each year, mainly because they are becoming unsafe, some because they are causing a nuisance to neighbouring owners, others as part of a woodland management plan (e.g. Whiddon Valley where we are slowly removing larch which are starting to fail in strong winds to encourage broadleaved woodland), and we probably have between 4 – 8 tree failures on top of these each year. Where we can we carry out work rather than felling. This can be veteranisation, creating monoliths, pollarding or other forms of reduction work which provide niches for invertebrates and fungi that would otherwise have been removed. This is out of a tree stock of around 38,000 trees on NDC land. We always replant trees where we can or allow natural regeneration to fill the gaps depending on the circumstances.

 

We have 74 hectares of parks and open spaces and 73 hectares of conservation areas and woodland including 4 Local Nature Reserves.

 

At Yeo Valley Woodland in Barnstaple we have planted 12,000 new trees and 3,000 hedge whips between 2008 – 2010.

 

Going forward we have now signed up to the climate emergency where increased tree planting and habitat creation is going to be at the core of what we do in terms of our parks and open spaces.

 

I have also been looking at the Urban Tree Challenge Fund to see if we can submit a bid for funding more trees in our urban parks for next year.

 

One note of caution is Ash dieback which is now prolific across North Devon. We will be removing these trees as they die, but looking to replant or allow natural regeneration, again, depending of circumstances. We will be using advice supplied by the Devon Ash Dieback Resilience Forum to guide our work in this area as well as the Devon Ash Dieback plan produced by Devon County Council.

 

I hope this goes some way to answering any queries.

 

Response from Strategic Development & Planning to my request about what criteria we use for tree preservation and planning.

 

In general but in terms of Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) I can advise that we do not have any formal policies in place in respect of Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) but we operate in accordance with best practice set out at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/tree-preservation-orders-and-trees-in-conservation-areas#tree-preservation-orders--general and in line with good arboricultural / silvicultural practice in general.

 

Tree Preservation Orders are not intended to provide general protection to all trees, but are used to protect selected trees and woodlands if we as a local authority

consider their removal would have a significant negative impact on the local environment and its enjoyment by the public.

 

Essentially applications to carry out works to trees that are subject to a TPO will be judged on their individual merit and we consider;

 

i) The public amenity value of the tree(s) or woodland and the likely impact of the proposed tree works on the amenity of the area (For a wide number of reasons – many historic- not all trees that are subject of TPO’s are worthy of protection proposals for their removal would be unlikely to have any significant adverse impact on the wider area.)

 

ii) In light of the above consideration we then consider whether or not the proposed works are justified, having regard to the reasons and additional information put forward in support of the proposal

 

iii) whether any loss or damage is likely to arise if consent is refused or granted subject to conditions

 

iv) whether any requirements apply in regard to protected species

 

v) other material considerations

 

So, if for example we receive an application to remove a tree (of relatively low public amenity value) due to it being inappropriate for its location (for example by blocking light/preventing reasonable use of an adjacent property) and we consider that we could secure an appropriate replacement planting (that might provide greater public amenity value in the medium to long term) we may well consider it in the public interest to grant consent for tree removal subject to replacement planting and that this would be a better solution than ‘management’ consent for pruning that might have both adverse impact on public amenity (pruning may actually destroy the public amenity value of a tree if its left in poor form) and might be unsustainable in terms of the costs use of resources involved in frequent pruning.

 

Essentially most applications come down to a professional judgement on a case by case basis rather than trying to work to a prescriptive policy. We maintain a public register of tree work proposals and our considerations and determinations and I am happy that this enables effective public scrutiny of our decision making process.

 

On a final note Tree Preservation Orders are only one way in which we have a degree of control over trees within planning legislation – trees are also a material consideration in determining planning applications and we can impose conditions in relation to retention and protection of existing trees and provision of new trees and we also have a degree of control over works to trees within Conservation Areas.

 

I trust this information is of assistance.

 

The officer has already raised the issue of potentially developing a trees, hedgerows and woodland strategy/policy document as part of the wider corporate environment priority.

 

Watersports Centre

 

Response from NDC on the environmental impacts of the Watersports Centre

 

I’m replying to your enquiry regarding trees at Larkstone Cove and the proposed slipway. Firstly I’ll give you a summary of where we are regarding the construction of the watersports centre.

 

Following a significant delay in acquiring a ‘Harbour Revision Order’ (legislation needed to build a slipway and extend the sea wall) the watersports centre construction is now well over budget with a funding gap of just over £1 million. North Devon Council’s Senior Building Surveyor ‘Andrew Wilson’ is now leading on the project management and Andrew is currently compiling a report to take to Strategies and Resources Committee in early January. Andrew has been undertaking further investigations into value engineering at the Larkstone site to try to reduce construction costs. The results of these investigations will be in the report with a clearer financial position to enable Members to make an informed decision.

 

Andrew has also been investigating the possibility of moving the watersports centre building to the Cove area on Ilfracombe Harbour (between S&P Fish and the RNLI). He’s currently costing up potential savings and evaluating pros and cons of moving to this site. Again, this will be in the report so that we can get a corporate decision as to next steps regarding the centre.

 

The trees at Larkstone Cove were removed in March 2019 as per the planning permission (see proposed planting plan which highlights trees to be removed with dotted lines) . They were removed at this time as it was expected that construction was to begin imminently and we wanted to avoid tree work during the main bird nesting season. The trees were all within the construction zone. Unfortunately, as you know, construction still hasn’t begun on the centre. If it goes ahead we will adhere to the planting plan which was submitted with the planning application. We have had input on the natural environment element of the site from Natural England, AONB, Environment Agency as well as the planning authority and North Devon Council’s own officers.

Landscape and Countryside Officer Andrew Jones was consulted before the tree work began. We also ran a press release before the works and I was present on-site for the full first day of tree work to talk with members of the public. In total 3 mid-size Sycamores were completely removed and two multi-stemmed Sycamore had a couple of limbs removed. There was also one elder bush removed. We will look further into replanting here once we have a definite corporate decision as to where the watersports site will be.

 

Regarding the slipway, we undertook several years of consultation on this and had input from Natural England, Historic England, Environment Agency, Marine Management Organisation, Planning Authority, NDC Officers, Aquatonics Consultancy, user groups and architects. The construction is concrete, but there are numerous mitigation measures in place to reduce impact and indeed enhance biodiversity elsewhere (such as the slipway being raised on support posts so that the water can move across the seabed underneath. Also, the finish on concrete can be manipulated to create micro-habitats and allow marine plants and animals to anchor/live). There are a huge list of conditions regarding the slipway and sea wall

which have an environmental focus. There is also a report on the impact on the inter-tidal habitat of the slipway and sea wall from a consultancy called Aquatonics . Please see this report attached (Intertidal Habitat Report Larkstone Cove) and more is available under the planning application https://planning.northdevon.gov.uk/Planning/Display/64472 ). You can see a summary of suggestions for mitigating impact on habitat loss in the planning conditions (attached as ‘DN Redacted Conditions’) under ‘Notes to Applicant’.

 

We also have conditions to meet regarding the Marine Licence from the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) which was needed alongside the Harbour Revision Order before and during any construction (please see the Marine Licence Schedule 4 letter attached). The Marine Licence also has a raft of conditions relating to construction. For example, the construction company has to inform the MMO at certain times before particular works are undertaken. The MMO will also need to see a Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) well in advance of construction beginning. This CEMP outlines all of the mitigation procedures in place to reduce the impact of construction on the environment.

 

All of the conditions mentioned will be attached to any future procurement process so that construction companies understand the commitment needed to meet these conditions before they tender.

 

I hope that answers your questions.

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District Councillor Report to Ilfracombe Town Council

For 11th November 2019 meeting

The report on the following pages is a sort of diary of my month, but this page just extracts and highlights key points.

Local Democracy week provides an opportunity every year for schools to find out about how local councils work. I was on a panel answering questions from students on plastic pollution and climate change. It might be something ITC could consider next year.

Climate Change: the 361 Energy workshop held on 26th October for parish councils went well and should mean that parish and district councils benefit from sharing ideas. There was also a suggestion that they could club together to agree energy procurement to get the best price.

Missed bin and recycling collections continue to be a key focus for District. I will be joining members of the waste and recycling office team this month, who have each been given a date to go on a waste collection round.

Public toilets: the review of public toilet provision will be raised at the next Strategy and Resources meeting.

Parks and gardens: local residents are preparing to join NDC in planting a small orchard on 30th November as part of Woodland Trust’s national tree-planting event. They will also be planting daffodil bulbs. There are opportunities to apply for ‘pocket park’ funding to improve small parks or create new ones and there are three small parks in Ilfracombe that could benefit.

Strategy and Resources

The quarter 2 report on performance and financial management was presented. This is quite a detailed report and is readily available on the NDC website.

The temporary accommodation programme has meant that NDC can house individuals and families in decent temporary accommodation instead of B&B and can support them and help them to find permanent accommodation. This has had health benefits for those in the temporary accommodation and for the finances of the council.

Increased funding for Disabled Facilities Grants underpins NDC new Home Assistance Policy which improves services for those in need.

Improving the quality of housing can contribute to reducing health inequalities so this new fund and policy are welcome.

 

 

This report is a narrative reflection on my month as a District Councillor.

Local Democracy Week

October provides an opportunity for schools to get involved with local democracy week, an annual occurrence with events organised by District Council. I was invited to join a panel to answer questions on what the council is doing about plastic pollution. It also prompted me to do a bit of research into just what we collect at the kerbside and what we don’t collect. There were children from 3 secondary schools (which did not include Ilfracombe – perhaps they will join in next year) who asked some interesting and challenging questions, inevitably covering wider issues with climate change as well as plastic pollution.

I was due to join in a political ‘speed-dating’ event at West Buckland, scheduled to take place in November although still part of the local democracy initiative, but that has had to be postponed because it would fall during purdah.

Climate Change

The climate action planning workshop for Parish Councils which took place on 26th October was a major focus for me. Although hosted by 361 Energy and intended to get Parish Councils working together to agree a common approach it was also supported by District Council: a number of District councillors attended, as did the Head of Place who is the officer in charge of co-ordinating the district climate action plan.

Steve Seatherton also attended, and as well as participating in the workshop took photos and film throughout the day. It was a very good day, with lots of interest and sharing of ideas. There was enthusiasm for councils to continue to keep in contact with each other, helping to reduce duplication of effort, and where possible to take advantage of shared procurement.

One of the positive outcomes for Ilfracombe Town Council is that we have had help in assessing our current energy usage and how we can reduce our bills and improve our energy efficiency.

Environment

Waste and Recycling

Members of the waste and recycling office-based teams are scheduled to join a waste or recycling round in November so that they can get first-hand experience of what the problems are that lead to missed collections. I have asked to go on a recycling round.

Toilets

There will be a proposal at the next Strategy and Resources meeting for a review of public toilet provision.

Parks and gardens

It is generally accepted that planting trees is good for the environment, helping to take carbon from the atmosphere. District is looking to plant trees: this is especially important given that we have so many incidences of ash dieback in North Devon.

In Ilfracombe they will be planting a small orchard in Greenways park on 30th November with help from the local community – we are expecting a good turnout. They are also going to plant daffodil bulbs, and over the next two years will be establishing a wildflower verge there. Local residents have expressed interest in growing vegetables in the park so the team are looking to create an area of raised beds too.

There is a fund available for ‘pocket parks’ intended to improve existing small parks or create new ones. There are three possible candidates in Ilfracombe and Lee and I am hoping we’ll be able to improve at least one of them.

Strategy & Resources

The Strategy and Resources committee received the quarter 2 report on performance and financial management. This is quite a detailed report and is readily available on the NDC website agenda reports pack for 4th November.

It was agreed to remove parish grants (which are not paid to either Barnstaple or Ilfracombe) and replace them with a small funding pot available to councils with a tax base of 1,000 or fewer for activities which promote biodiversity or adapt to climate change effects.

The temporary accommodation programme has performed well against the original objectives of better addressing the needs of the community and saving money. It means that NDC can house individuals and families in decent temporary accommodation instead of B&B and can support them and help them to find permanent accommodation. The people housed in this accommodation feel more secure, have their belongings with them instead of in storage, and have fewer mental health problems. Healthier people and healthier finances: what’s not to like?

The government has increased the funding for Disabled Facilities Grants this year and the council has also benefitted from a reallocation of uncommitted funds from other local authorities in Devon. As a result NDC has developed a new Home Assistance Policy which improves services for those in need. It means that urgent repairs can be dealt with more quickly; that a specific grant for stair lifts has been put in place; that top-up funding is available to improve energy efficiency.

Improving the quality of housing can contribute to reducing health inequalities so this new fund and policy are welcome.

 

Cllr Netti Pearson 10th November 2019

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District Councillor Report to Ilfracombe Town Council

For 14th October 2019 meeting

September has been quite a busy month for me, partly because in addition to my District Council activities I have been helping to organise a climate action planning day with 361 Community Energy: this is aimed at Parish councils – and we will have representation from Ilfracombe - but there will also be District councillors present.

The report on the following pages is a sort of diary of my month, but this page just extracts and highlights the key points.

Missed bin and recycling collections continue to be a problem across North Devon. NDC are working to identify the problems and improve the process: this is likely to take a few months, but if all goes according to plan we should end up with a much-improved system.

Public toilets: a review of public toilet provision in N Devon is due. NDC may well be open to Ilfracombe managing provision for the town.

Parish Forum turnout was good to see with councillors from across N Devon. The hot topics of the evening were local council basics and planning. If the agenda continues to be as interesting then I would recommend that Ilfracombe councillors attend. The next one is planned for before Christmas if possible and will be dedicated to planning and climate change.

Civil Penalty Notice Policy (Housing & Planning Act 2016): this was adopted by Strategy & Resources and allows for a civil penalty notice to be served on landlords who fail to comply with regulations or who commit licensing offences. The maximum penalty will be £30,000.

Homelessness & Rough Sleeping: NDC have a good record on preventing homelessness. The policy of purchasing temporary accommodation for homeless people will continue. This keeps people out of B&B accommodation and is more cost-effective for the council.

A National Tree-planting event is taking place on November 30th. NDC Parks & Gardens team are planning to plant trees at Barnstaple Football club, in Ilfracombe’s Greenways Park, and possibly on the Cairn. They will be encouraging community participation on the day. I believe that Ilfracombe Town Council’s Rob Townsend is also keen to get planting trees in town.

 This report is a narrative reflection on my month as a District Councillor. 

 

Environment

Early in September I joined a trade waste bin lorry on a round. I was interested to find that we collect trade waste in parts of Torridge as well as North Devon. I did not, however, take part in loading the waste onto the lorries: I would almost certainly have been a hindrance rather than a help had I tried.

Trade waste collection differs from domestic obviously, with the customers for a single bin lorry being over a much wider area. During the summer there would have been many more pick-up points because holiday accommodation would have been included, but September saw a return to picking up from mainly resident customers.

The team I was with had been working together for quite some time so it was a slick operation with the only hold-ups being the occasional delay caused by some sort of obstruction in front of the bin.

All in all it was an interesting and informative day. I am now planning to join a recycling round for a day, which will be much more complicated.

Waste & Recycling Review

It is well known that there are too many missed waste & recycling collections and NDC have adopted the Vanguard method to improve systems and performance. This is very much a customer-focused approach, which is the reason it was chosen.

A Vanguard practitioner was engaged for two days to work with members of different teams, including representation from workers with front-line experience, to identify why collections were being missed and what actions they could take to improve performance.

It is not a quick fix but a systemic and culture change which is needed: they call it ‘beyond command and control’ and it is where ‘thinking governs performance’. I attended for an hour at the start of the first day and again on the second and it was really interesting to see how engaged the staff were with the process and their enthusiasm and ideas for tackling the problems.

I shall write up my notes separately if anyone is interested in knowing a bit more.

 

Toilets

I’ve had a couple of meetings about public toilet provision in North Devon, expressing my particular concern with the problems in Ilfracombe. I have recommended that NDC initiate a review – I get the feeling that they will not be averse to ITC taking them over, but the policy needs to be agreed first.

AONB

The North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty celebrated their 60th anniversary on 19th September. They told us about their Coastal Heritage project: this is about the history and archaeology of the North Devon coast with a particular focus on hill forts and World War II. They also talked about the work they are doing with the flora and fauna along the coast.

The Devon Wildlife Trust told us about the work they are doing to mitigate the effects of climate change and how they are protecting and restoring habitats: there is a diverse range of habitats between Devon’s two coastlines and climate changes are likely to have a devastating impact even with the protective measures being taken.

Parish Forum

NDC hosted a Parish Forum on 19th. This was the best-attended one I had ever seen, which could be something to do with the agenda: the NDC corporate plan; North Devon policing; the basics of Local Councils; Planning; Climate Change.

The presentation on Local Councils given by Cara Stobart from DALC led to quite an interesting Q&A session; Planning also gave rise to much discussion. Climate Change was squeezed into a few minutes at the end. The upshot is that there will be another Parish Forum, before Christmas if possible, to concentrate on planning and possibly climate change.

Strategy & Resources

The Strategy and Resources committee agenda was quite interesting.

The committee agreed to adopt the Civil Penalty Notice Policy (Housing & Planning Act 2016). Penalties will be imposed for: failure to comply with an improvement notice; offences relating to HMO licensing; offences relating to licensing of houses; offences of contravention of an overcrowding notice; failure to comply with management regulations in respect of HMOs; breach of a banning order. The maximum penalty that can be imposed is £30,000.

It is hoped that this process will lead to poor quality housing being improved and properly licensed, where licenses apply.

The committee also received a copy of the statutory review of homelessness and rough sleeping prevention and the council’s strategy for preventing homelessness and rough sleeping.

NDC have had a strategy in place to prevent homelessness since 2002 which has been largely successful. There are, however, a greater number of cases going into temporary accommodation. The council over the last few years have purchased properties for use as temporary accommodation, which has reduced their need to rely on bed and breakfast accommodation and which has been much more cost-effective. This strategy is likely to continue.

The council will continue to work with partners to prevent and address rough sleeping and to provide support and recovery services. They will also continue to work with registered providers and the private sector to increase the availability of good quality rented accommodation. NDC are exploring the feasibility of establishing a Local Housing Company to increase the delivery of affordable housing.

The council have been granted funding to prepare for the effects of Brexit. Ken Miles will be the lead officer. The key issue for the council is to ensure that waste collection won’t be affected should fuel supplies falter: they will need an extra fuel tank so that they can continue to operate for 20 days on reserve supplies if necessary.

It was interesting to note that Plymouth is seen as a non-priority port; it is the main fish export port in the South West. One concern is that food banks may have less food but additional demands, especially if there is a spate of panic-buying.

Trees

There is a national tree-planting event planned for 30th November. The Parks and Gardens team are planning to get community involvement in planting trees at Barnstaple football ground and in Ilfracombe’s Greenways park. The idea for Greenways is to plant a community orchard so we are hoping for a good turn-out. There is also the possibility of planting more trees in an area on the Cairn. I know a number of individuals who are also hoping to plant trees on the 30th and I believe that Rob Townsend is also keen.

 

Cllr Netti Pearson 11th October 2019

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District Councillor Report to Ilfracombe Town Council

for September 2019 meeting

August tends to be a quiet month with officers taking their annual leave.

A couple of highlights for me were attending the raising of the Green Flag once again at Bicclescombe Park and meeting the student climate change protestors at the council offices: they may have been on holiday from school but that didn’t stop them from letting us know their concern about the effects of climate change on their future.

I also attended a mental health awareness training session, which was really interesting. There are some new self-referral services, one of which is in Barnstaple and will be open for support from 6pm until midnight from Thursdays to Sundays every week (it is known as The Moorings@Devon). Small steps…

CCTV

The Strategy and Resources committee discussed options for CCTV and agreed a proposal which communities across N Devon will be able to join.

Environment

As part of my role as environment lead I am meeting the Head of Place and the climate change lead this week to discuss environment priorities.

I will be going out on a bin lorry to collect trade waste; I intend this to be the first of a series with recycling and green waste trips to be organised. I feel that if I am to understand the process and the problems it’s a good place to start.

I am also meeting Ricky McCormack to discuss waste & recycling, and toilet provision in N Devon. Later in the month there will be a review of the waste collection processes with assistance from Vanguard’s system approach to management – what works and what doesn’t – and I am looking forward to finding out more.

Miscellaneous

The Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service will be presenting a briefing for District Councillors this week: it will be interesting to hear what they have to say about the consultation so far.

 

Cllr Netti Pearson 9th September 2019

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District Councillor Report to Ilfracombe Town Council

June 2019

The Chief Executive, Mike Mansell, retired at the end of June and Ken Miles is now formally in place as Head of Paid Services.

The Conservative win at the bye-election on 13th June has affected slightly the distribution of seats on committees, with the Strategy and Resources committee increasing to 11 members.

Strategy & Resources Committee

Waste and Recycling

In the July meeting last week we received an update on a pilot scheme to get people to recycle more and reduce the amount of general waste, meaning collections could extend to 3-weekly. This has doubled the rate of recycling in most areas and led to recycling actually happening in places where it hadn’t before. Communication is key to the effectiveness of this scheme so it is likely to take time before it can be rolled out across the area; in particular it was made clear which plastics are not collected (black plastic, plastic bags, hard plastic). A plan is needed for vegware, which is compostable, rather than belonging with conventional plastic recycling. The Council is also looking to update its recycling facilities so that even more can be collected and processed.

Community composting was also mentioned in the meeting so I decided to visit Bratton Fleming’s community compost scheme to see if it could be something we could do locally. They have been going for 20+ years, are run by volunteers, provide free compost, and have attracted a recycling credit payment per ton from DCC for keeping and managing the waste locally: this has enabled them to fund many community projects over the years. Unfortunately the credit payment is due to halve and may result in the scheme folding. There are other models so I intend to have a look at those too at some point.

Housing Infrastructure Fund

We were briefed on the Housing Infrastructure Fund. This is where the cost of the infrastructure agreed as part of a residential development may be available for councils to make sure the infrastructure is in place early in the development.

The District applied for two developments: one at Westacott and the other for the Ilfracombe Southern Extension. The original intention in Ilfracombe was to include the building of a primary school, but the Department for Education won’t support a school where demand doesn’t exist and Homes England would not allow time for consulting on moving from an existing Ilfracombe school to a new building.

Instead of a new school the funds are likely to be used for roads, drainage, and community facilities including a serviced school site. This means that it is still the

intention to deliver a school, but in the traditional way rather than at the beginning of the development.

Receiving the funds is not straightforward and there will need to be safeguards in place with a legal mechanism for recovering the money from the developer: this is not a grant it is a loan.

Ropery Road Car Park

I was pleased to see this on the agenda because I had pushed NDC for a response to Rachel’s request for a quote she made earlier in the year. The outcome is that they are willing to undertake patrols and management of Penalty Charge Notices and it looks like a good deal for Ilfracombe.

IT

Ilfracombe are part of District Council’s Wide Area Network (WAN). The contract has been extended for a year as it is needed for connections and services to continue. ITC are currently looking at our IT provision but in the meantime we are dependent on being part of this network.

Fire & Rescue

Concern was expressed at the proposed cuts to North Devon’s services, and the increased public risks. It was agreed to hold a public meeting to debate the options; the meeting to be arranged via the Policy Development committee.

NDC Corporate Plan

We had further discussion on the Council’s priorities: financial security, customer focus, environment, and the future for North Devon.

It was agreed that NDC should strengthen their relationship with the “Heart of the South West” (Local Enterprise Partnership). As long as there is a North Devon presence we cannot be ignored, otherwise there is a danger that we miss out on investment.

NDC is looking to work closely with DCC and other District Councils on mitigating the effects of climate change and I expect to see debate on this at the next Full Council meeting – if not a declaration of an emergency.

 Cllr Netti Pearson 8th July 2019

 

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District Councillor Report to Ilfracombe Town Council

May 2019

 

Since this is my first report to Ilfracombe Town Council as a District Councillor I thought it might be worth explaining something of the organisation of North Devon Council, as well as what has been happening this month.

For a number of years the Council operated with a Leader and cabinet/executive model, but starting with this term of office, that has been replaced with a traditional committee model with each committee reflecting the political make-up of the Council.

Each councillor will be on one or more committees and be able to make a contribution to the decision-making process, even if their party is not in the majority, which is a key difference between the two models. The allocation of councillors to committees, and as representatives on external bodies, was essentially sorted out before the Annual Council Meeting, held on 16th May, with negotiation over one or two particular roles taking place during the meeting. There were definitely a couple of party-political tussles but they didn’t unduly prolong the meeting.

The different committees are: Governance; Licensing and Community Safety; Planning; Policy Development; Strategy and Resources. There are also two joint committees: Building Control is a North & Mid Devon committee; North Devon Crematorium is a North Devon and Torridge committee. There is also, of course, the Harbour Board, which this year includes Lynmouth in addition to Ilfracombe.

Ilfracombe Councillors are on the following committees:

Governance: Jim Campbell

Planning: Geoff, Paul (Jim on reserve list)

Policy Development: Paul; Jim

Strategy and Resources: Netti

Harbour Board: Geoff; Dan; Jim

Representation on outside bodies: Geoff on Ilfracombe & District Tourist Association; Netti on Devon Waste Reduction and Recycling Committee.

The Leader of the Council is Cllr David Worden (LD) and Deputy Leader is Cllr Malcolm Prowse (IND).

The Chair of the Council is Cllr Frank Biederman (IND) and Deputy Chair is Cllr Julie Hunt (LD)

There are 4 ‘groups’: Conservative, Liberal Democrat; Independent, Green.

The Chief Executive, Mike Mansell, retires at the end of June and Ken Miles will be replacing him as Head of Paid Services.

There are 18 newly-elected councillors out of a current total of 41, so quite a significant change; there is one vacancy which will be contested at a bye election on 13th June which will make it 19 newly-elected councillors out of a total of 42. There are 17 female councillors making up 41% of the council (which may be 18, or 42%, after 13th June): the previous administration had 12 female councillors, i.e. 28%.

The first month for me has been about learning the ropes: in fact there is a considerable amount of training available over the next 3 months and I will take in as much as I can.

Strategy & Resources Committee

These meetings are held at 10.00 am on the first Monday of the month. This month’s meeting was quite long with half of it taken up with a presentation on finances. The biggest budget item by far, agreed by the previous administration, is the new N. Devon leisure centre: it is estimated as costing £14m, although the intention is that the money will come from sources other than NDC.

The committee agreed the corporate priorities, which are:

- Financial security: protection from further reductions or withdrawal of central funding; diversifying income to protect core services.

- Customer focus: ensuring improved delivery of Council services, reflecting the needs of local people.

- Environment: ensuring North Devon remains a high-class and internationally recognised environment; tackling issues such as climate change and plastic pollution. Climate emergency declaration.

- North Devon Future: developing long term plans for the development of North Devon for the benefit of residents and businesses; ensuring North Devon features in County and regional initiatives; developing visions for the main towns of North Devon.

General observations

Wildflower meadows are definitely in vogue with NDC: they have transformed two areas of grass outside the Brynsworthy offices which are now blooming with daisies, buttercups, clover, cowslips, poppies. I’m sure our TMO, Rob, would approve.

Recyclable materials are processed at Brynsworthy, separating plastics from metal; green waste gets converted to compost; residual waste is sent off for incineration, producing energy from waste. No more adding to landfill.

I attended the Ilfracombe Regeneration Board in my capacity as District Councillor. The topics under discussion were improved access to Capstone with a viewing platform at the top, as part of the planned seafront improvements; the rugby club planning progress; the water sports centre.

The latter has suffered somewhat from the preoccupation of government departments with other issues: in order to pursue development of Larkstone cove there had to be a harbour revision order for the new slipway, which took much longer than expected resulting in the proposed development costs more than doubling. We are now awaiting a Marine Traffic Safety Report. A new tender process was undertaken and a new proposal accepted; there is however an increased cost which means that the Coastal Communities funding falls short by approx. £1m. Of course, it may be that NDC can be persuaded to contribute towards development costs…

Various options are being considered on how best to progress the project, from using a staged approach, splitting to slipway/sea wall/ groundworks, building, and canoe club, to building the centre with prefabricated modules, and refurbishing the toilet block for the canoe club rather than building a new facility. It is unlikely that we will see the centre completed before the end of 2020.

Cllr Netti Pearson 7th June 2019

 

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