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Minutes of the Westleigh Parish Council Meeting held on the 6th October 2021 at the Village Hall – 19.30hrs

Attendees – Cllr David Fairbrother (Chair), Cllr Chris Heard (Vice-Chair), Cllr Lyn Gear, Cllr Lesley Burgess, Cllr Colin Frajbis, Cllr Kevin Farrell-Roberts, Devon CCllr Frank Biederman, and Parish Clerk

1. Apologies received in respect of the meeting – NDCllr (&MP) Selaine Saxby

2. Declarations of Interest – to receive Declarations of Interests from Councillors of any disclosable, pecuniary, or other Interests in items on the agenda – none received

3. Minutes – to confirm and agree the signing of the minutes of the meeting held on the 1st September 2021 - unanimous

4. Correspondence and Communications – to include a summary of C&C received by the Chair and Clerk – an email from John Metcalfe regarding the low hanging branches outside the Old Vicarage. Chair agreed to speak to occupants to obtain permission to trim them back. Email from Mike Hudson regarding the standing water at Westleigh Woods. This had been forwarded to DCCllr Biederman who registered it on the following portal:- https://bing.com/search?q=devon+county+council+report+it&cvid=954531a66db4d0081814cfd001c3c73&aqs=edge.0.012j69i64.12099j0j3&FORM=ANABO1&PC=U531 and urged all to use this medium to report such issues. A remote Parish Forum will be held on the 14th October at 6.30pm by NDC – details available from the Clerk. Cllr Burgess reported that she had been made aware of a very bright light from Westleigh by a Northam Councillor, who seemed to think that it was too bright. Council suggested that if this was a real concern, then the said Councillor should get in touch directly with the Parish Council, detailing the issue. With the start of the hedge cutting season, and bearing in mind the Council’s firm opinion that hedges do not need to be ‘savaged’, but treated carefully in order to allow tree growth, the Chair forwarded the following link regarding ‘regenerative farming’ The link is https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/sep/17/why-not-start-now-on-the-track-to-regenerative-farming It’s worth a read!

5. Public Session – 15 minutes where Parishioners can raise any issues of concern within the Parish, or concerning the Parish – no members of the public attended

6. County and District Ward Members reportsNDCllr (&MP) Saxby via email urged the Council to start working on a Local Plan as soon as possible, and sent many useful ‘links’ to help. Cllr Burgess proposed and Cllr Heard seconded that the Council send their congratulations to her on her promotion to PPS in the latest Government re-shuffle – unanimous. DCCllr Biederman was also congratulated on being appointed to the National Fire Services Management Committee. He reported that the 21/21A bus service was an ongoing concern, with the possibility of industrial action taking place – also that Devon CC seemed to be dragging their heels on implementation of 20mph zones – the housing crisis in North Devon with over 2000 on waiting lists for accommodation, and only 20 available properties. In fact, the Council were having to accommodate Carers in hotels, such is the problem – 2 Afghan families had been re-housed in North Devon, owing to the kindness of a private individual who had come forward on seeing the devastation in Kabul – the Planning Dept at NDC had received a motion of support, for continuing to operate in extremely difficult circumstances (this prompted the comment that they do not always help themselves)

7. Finance – to receive an update on the current financial position of Westleigh Parish Council, and also to confirm authority for payment made to J Harris (£90) during September. Additionally, 2 further payments needed authorising, Clerk’s salary and holiday pay (£841.89) and stationery costs (£56.99). Agreed. Effective Balance of £5652.57

8. Village/Neighbourhood Planit was agreed by the Council that a sub-committee consisting of the Chair, Vice-Chair, Cllr Frajbis, and the Clerk would start the process, once they had received an example of what a good plan should look like

9. Planning mattersnothing yet heard regarding Stoney Barton, but DCCllr Biederman assured the Council that he was keeping it ‘on the radar’. (App subsequently withdrawn)

10. Defibrillator trainingit was proving difficult to find appropriate training. The Clerk had tried St John’s Ambulance, who wanted £2440 for a 3-hour session for 24 people. As the Clerk had been a First Aid Instructor in the Army, and was also a qualified Adult & Further Education Teacher, he would explore the costs of re-qualifying, and would then take on the instruction of defibrillator use.

11. Highway issuesJohn Metcalfe emailed to enquire as to whether the Council could introduce traffic calming/safety measures in Westleigh. As this comes under Highways, the Council have no authority to do so, and would suggest referring it to Devon Highways. Because of the stringent requirements and costs of such measures, the Council felt that they could not support his suggestions.

12. Councillor training and refresher training – this will be implemented once DALC have finished their annual meetings.

13. Update regarding the ground behind the War Memorialfurther exploration of potential costs is necessary before any decisions can be made

14. Environmental issuessee appendix for bullet points of meeting with Christie Estates

15. Agenda items for the next meeting (Wednesday 3rd November) – The Ramblers need of volunteers to walk unused rights of way

16. Any other businessCllr Burgess reported that she had been able to contact the Taw & Torridge Forum at last, and the lack of communications latterly had been due to family issues from senior figures in the Forum

17. The meeting closed at 21.15


1. West Living Lane builders waste – Christies will call in to speak

2. Green plastic fence across a ‘track’. The track is not a footpath or right of way, and the fence has been put there to stop people effectively trespassing on the farmer’s land. It will be replaced by a permanent gate at some time. Christies commented that although the fields and area in and around Westleigh are really lovely, it is not open season for anyone to walk where they want, and would like WPC to emphasise that parishioners need to keep to footpaths and rights of way.

3. Hedge trimming – a different contractor is in the process of being appointed, and Christie’s will ensure that the principles of the Sympathetic Countryside Stewardship scheme are adhered to

4. The overgrown ‘hedge’ between the Churchyard and Cricket Club entrance, will be taken back to the wall, which will open up parking for 4-6 cars. Christies will undertake the work.

5. Christies emphasised that as in all areas of land and geographical management, there has to be ‘give and take’ from both sides. If Westleigh PC want Christies to ‘give’ something, then there also has to be a benefit for them as well. It was noted by Selaine Saxby that Westleigh PC had no Parish Plan, therefore there was nothing in place to ‘trade’. It was agreed that a Parish Plan should be proposed, and properly planned out as to possible housing sites, ground for an Orchard, and so on.