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Minutes of Westleigh Parish & Parish Council Meeting AGM 2024 – Wednesday 22nd May 2024

Attendees – Cllr David Fairbrother (Chair), Cllr Chris Heard (Vice-Chair), Cllr Lyn Gear.

Min 1 AGM 2024 - Apologies – DCCllr Frank Biederman, & NDCllr Renshaw.

Min 2 AGM 2024 - Declaration of Interests – none

Min 3 AGM 2024 - Chairman’s report – see appendix 1

Min 4 AGM 2024 - Environment report – see appendix 2

Min 5 AGM 2024 – Tapeley report – see appendix 3

Min 6 AGM 2024 – Finance spreadsheet – see appendix 4

Min 7 AGM 2024 – Election of Chairman and Vice-Chairman. Cllr Gear proposed and Cllr Heard seconded the motion that if the current Chair and Vice-Chair are willing to continue in their roles, that they continue throughout 2024/5. Carried unanimously

Min 8 AGM 2024 – Approval of the minutes of the AGM held on the 23rd May 2023 had already been given in June’s 2023 meeting

Min 9 AGM 2023 – Nominations for positions will remain open until more Councillors are appointed, as the resignations of Cllrs Frajbis & Burgess, leave the Council only just quorate

Min 10 AGM 2024 – Approval of 2023/24 accounts – Cllr Heard proposed and Cllr Gear seconded the motion that the accounts be accepted as a true and accurate representation. Unanimously approved.

Min 11 AGM 2024 – Annual Governance & Accountability Return 2023/2024 can be approved and signed by the Chairman once prepared. All agreed

Min 12 AGM 2024 – A provisional date for the 2025 AGM was agreed as May 15th. (This is of course dependent on many outside factors yet unknown)

Min 13 AGM 2024 – The AGM closed at 7.22pm

Appendix 1 – Chairman’s report

Welcome to my Third Annual report for Westleigh Parish council for the year ending 31st March 2024.  

In no particular order I would like to mention the following;


Year-end accounts have been provided which show we have a bank balance of £3433.71which is slightly down on the balance last year which at 31st march 2023 was £4354.20p. Further details can be found on the finance report.

Environmental issues

The Flora and Fauna survey being carried out by David Paull is ongoing with reports to come in due course.

The £2000 grant we obtained last year has been spent with the wildlife habitats we purchased being distributed between members of the community for installation and a large number of bulbs and pollinators planted. (further details in the Environment report produced by Councillor Burgess)

The new solar farm at Lovacott is now operational with the first monies due from Infinis later this year. A working party has now been established to oversee the distribution of the funds.


The proposed development by Christie Estates below the village hall is on hold at the moment, due to other priorities, although discussions are still being held with parishioners as there is a significant amount of objection to the scheme.

 Village Fete

I was hoping to include and full update with details of the proposed village fete, but it is proving more difficult than first thought to get it off the ground. We will however persevere.

And Finally

And finally, thanks again to our County Councillor Frank Biederman, our Councillors for their hard work this past year and particularly our Clerk Roger Levick.

Appendix 2 – The Environment Final Report -  Investment In Nature This year, Westleigh Parish Council has been involved with its own project, Investment in Nature with the aim to improve wildlife habitat and the environment in our parish. In April 2024, the Parish News featured a double page spread and included photos of some of the main contributors, Jez and Mike, our gardeners, David Paull and Lesley Burgess during their nature survey at Tapeley in January. Through our application to the Climate and Environment Fund, we were awarded the full £2,000 available from the North Devon Council. The grant provided funds for Jez Harris to plant 2,750 bulbs in Westleigh and Eastleigh. In addition, 3 crab apple saplings to be planted at St Peter’s Church and the grass verge at Langmead, on the approach to the village. Jez’s spring meadow planting in Instow is much admired. His plan was to follow the same themes in Westleigh and Eastleigh. Jez’s plan for St Peter’s Church was already in evidence early in the year, when, in March, daffodils, crocuses and snake's head fritillaries were evident. Some of the verges, already planted with bulbs are now enhanced by snake’s head fritillaries, crocuses and camassias, whose fragile flower heads can be seen in May, above the long grass. Unfortunately the roots of the Alexanders have proved a problem. At Westliving, they were deep growing and persistent. The Parish Council financed Jez and his partner, to dig them out to provide a more compatible planting area. Jez has continued his planting scheme outside the Village Hall and at the signpost, below. The CEG also financed equipment for habitat for birds and hedgehogs, selected on the advice of Billie Gillett, Orbis Ecology. Thanks to Billie for providing her services for free. Thanks to the many residents who became involved and offered enthusiastic support for the project. Brian found a home for a hedgehog house in the churchyard. Six bat boxes have been installed in and around the villages – see final tally.  John Grigg provided sites in his barns for 2 bat boxes. 1 Barn Owl Box and the remaining swallow cups. John was happy to install the equipment himself. Cllrs. Dave Fairbrother and Chris Heard managed the budget. Many thanks to both -all finances now finalised. Thanks also to Sara, Brian, Janet, John and Anne for their invaluable support and helpful contributions. Also thanks to the nature lovers who have supported the project. – please see Final Tally. WPC has agreed to be looking in the future for schemes for free trees. Roger has delivered 4 tree saplings to Tapeley Park. Devon Local Nature Partnership has adopted a Tree and Woodland Strategy to help achieve an increase in the counties tree cover from 14% to 16.5%, UK’s national target. Nature Surveys at Westleigh and Tapeley Park with David Paull/ Lesley Burgess. David and Lesley aim to survey each month. David records all his observations and will report to the council in due course. Sometimes weather conditions are bad and surveys delayed. 24th November 2023 recorded an abundance of fungi on the front lawn. A validation for Hector Christie’s no glyphosate policy on the estate. 26th January 2024 violets, celandines and an abundance of snowdrops recorded (see photos March Edition Parish News). February – no survey due to the wet conditions. 19thApril 2024 recorded drifts of wild garlic, also blue bells and a tiny pasqueflower In the Permaculture Garden. It has been a privilege to have the freedom to roam Tapleley, Eastleigh and Westleigh . Many thanks to Hector Christie for his cooperation and Cllr Lyn Gear who has been key in making these surveys happen. Many thanks to David Paull who provides his memory bank for free. In contrast, access to fields has been even more restricted, field gates with bolts and chains. Westleigh is surrounded by fields and paths but access has been restricted. The field margin below the village hall has disappeared and despite Hector’s anger at the possible use of glyphosphate on the margins and despite an apology, the margin has not been reinstated. Investment in Nature/ Destinatons Final tally of animal and bird habitat- accounted/ confirmed by Sara Cheesman and Lesley Burgess 6 Hedgehog houses x6 - Brian and Jan- St Peter’s churchyard x1 Sara – garden x1 Al and Allie x1 Ester & Stef x1 (RC) Jackie & Andrew x1 Lesley Burgess x1 Beaumaris Bat boxes x6 John Grigg- x2 Heather & Steve x1 Al & Alison x1 Dave x1 Lesley Burgess x1 Barn Owl Box x1 John Grigg Eco Swallow Nest Bowls x4 John Grigg x2 Al & Allie x2 House Martin single nests x6 Heather & Steve x2 Westliving x2 Julie Grigg x2 Small bird nesters x10 Brian & Jan x2 Al and Alison x2 Stef & Ester x1 (RC) Heather & Steve x1 Tim x1 (L.H.) Lesley x3 Cllr Lesley Burgess 17th May 2024

Tapeley Report – Cllr Lyn Gear The past year has been relatively busy for me as the Tapeley representative on Westleigh Parish Council.

With Hector's declining health he has relied on me more to give him assistance and feedback relating to Parish matters.  This I have tried to do in a neutral manner, due to being a Tapeley resident and a Parish Councillor.

We have managed to plant more trees in some of the spaces on the estate cleared by recent storms, although both Hector and myself agree that there is much more to do.

We are very lucky to have a few marvelous volunteers helping with the land, and of course David Paul continues to be a staunch supporter.

Hector and I are delighted that our close liaison with the Council continues, and I know how pleased he is with this continued relationship.

Tapeley has become an increasingly popular visiting place each season, and together with Nigel Mann at the helm, the events business thrives.

As discussed at recent WPC meetings, we need to further our arrangements for a combined WPC, Tapeley and Instow Parish fair, which we hope to hold in August.

I know that Hector would like to pass his thanks to the Parish Council for the hard work it has carried out in continuing to protect the environment.

Lyn Gear

Westleigh Parish Councillor