Minutes of Whitestone Parish Council held at Whitestone Parish Hall on Thursday 14th March 2019 at 7.30pm.
Attendance: Chairman – Councillor L Hickman
Councillors Ms T Baird, Mrs M Belt, Mrs L Fairley, D Munro, Mrs B Netherway, R Phillips, A Reed, A Rose
Mrs P Vaughan, Clerk to the Council
Ms T Lines, Mrs M Dyer, Ms L Dyer, Mrs P Moody, Mrs L Hickman, Mrs S Greenfield, Mr J Crouch, Mr S Gibbons, Mr N Martin. Mrs V Bryant – left after giving her report
The following members of the public left after the discussion concerning the application for funding for an environmental assessment regarding the planning application for Lower Hare Farm:- Dr D Jones, Mr and Mrs Robinson, Mr and Mrs Hunt, Mr T Oliver, Mr P Saxby, Mr A Galton, Ms R Oliver, Ms S Lleweln, Mr G Fielding, Mr D Marsden, Ms J Rose, Mr and Mrs Lee, Mr and Mrs Harding, Ms S Emotage, Mr P Hanson, Mr J Kennedy, Ms M Durrant, Mr and Mrs Bryant, Ms A Birchall, Mr N Thom, Mrs M Nierop, Ms P Shanks.
Apologies District Councillor P Bromell
Cllr Hickman welcomed everyone to the meeting stating that he was aware that some of the public and those wishing to speak had other commitments and therefore he was willing to amend the order of the agenda. He wished to advise all present and record that the planning application for Lower Hare Farm was not on the agenda and would not be discussed as this application had been decided upon at the February meeting. However, the Parish Council would indeed consider the request for monetary help for the “RMA Environmental Consultation” which had been organised by the Stop Another Whitestone Landfill Group.
Councillor Mrs P Moody from Tedburn St Mary spoke to the meeting as their Parish Council had concerns regarding the aforementioned and had written to Devon County Council with their objections.
Cllr Hickman invited any other public participation, in particular relating to the request for monetary help whilst a majority of the public were present.
Mr Tom Oliver then gave the following address to the meeting which had been circulated to the Parish Councillors.
“My name is Tom Oliver and I have lived in Halsfordwood Lane for over 20 years. My family has lived locally for over 200 years. My children hope to settle here and raise their families in this same wonderful community. But the Planning Application for a massive landfill site within a few hundred metres of this room and the children’s playpark means that this community and environment is under threat.
All of us are grateful that, as a Parish Council, you have taken the lead in opposing this and that individual Councillors have publicly stated their personal opposition on the DCC website. Our survey shows that the community supports the Parish Council’s lead in objecting to this plan. 97% of the nearly 250 respondents to the survey oppose or strongly oppose the landfill site. And nearly 200 objections to the application have been submitted to Devon County Council by the March 9th deadline for public comment. Clearly, as I am sure the Council will agree, nobody wants another Springdale Farm.
We all know that the deadline for public comment on this application was tight. Some of us met on 2nd March and, with no time to consult with this Council, agreed to seek professional assistance from RMA Environmental Consultants to look at the application and its impacts. Their report on our behalf was submitted to the Devon County Council website just before the deadline on the evening of Saturday 9th. Their report identifies a number of weaknesses in the application and so will be of benefit to everyone opposed to it. Above all, It shows, as the Council had already identified, that the community is right to be concerned.
This review has cost £1400 + VAT. We have come here tonight to ask the Parish Council for a grant to meet some or preferably all of these costs.
People who are not normally engaged in local issues are clearly concerned and energised to oppose this application. I have lived here for over 20 years and this is the first Parish Council meeting that I have ever attended. As I’m sure you will agree Mr Chairman and members of the Council, this landfill proposal is a major threat to our community, to our health and to our environment. This may be a difficult fight to win but it is winnable if all of us pull together.”
Cllr Hickman thanked Mrs Moody and Mr Oliver for their comments and again invited any further public participation. No further requests were received and thus he formally opened the meeting.
Cllr Hickman said that in view of the large number of parishioners in attendance regarding the application for a grant towards an environmental assessment for the infill site at Lower Hare Farm, Lane from Higher Hare towards Alderbed Copse he made the decision to bring this item forward on the agenda.
Cllr Hickman stated that he had been advised that the Parish Council had the authority to use funds as they saw fit, however he had also received advice from the Devon Association of Local Councils regarding the impact of Parish Council funding in relation to ensuring a balance of views and unbiased decisions. As a result he advised the Councillors that it was necessary for the Parish Council to be impartial, particularly relating to financially supporting one group of Parishioners in opposition to other Parishioner(s) actions. He had also been advised that if behaviour of the Parish Council was seen to be unfair, then potential action by an aggrieved party could be a consequence.
After obtaining views from Councillors the request for a grant was placed before the Council. The vote resulted in a majority decision not to support the application, with only one vote in favour of granting any donation.
Cllr Hickman therefore proposed that a helpful way forward may be for the Parish Council to commission an independent Environmental Assessment based on the Parish Council setting its own terms of reference and this would be a public document for use by all current and future parishioners.
The Council meeting continued and the Chairman decided to allow members of the public a further opportunity to contribute to the discussion regarding commissioning an environmental assessment. He reiterated that the discussion should not be centred on the Planning Application.
Several members of the public disputed this proposal as they understood that the Parish Council had indicated at the February meeting that it did not support the planning application, thus could not understand why the Parish Council would not then finance the environmental assessment for the S.A.W.L. group. Cllr Hickman explained that as part of both Teignbridge District Council and Devon County Council planning process, the Parish Council were asked for their comments on planning applications. The Parish Council comments, in this case, were that they did not support the application, and this is recorded on the Devon County Council planning website. However if the Parish Council were to financially support a specific group against another this would not be appropriate, as this would no longer be Councillors views but would constitute a biased approach, and furthermore, be one that could lead to the process being challenged by the Ombudsman.
As a positive way forward for the Parish, Cllr Hickman placed the proposition of a Parish Council commissioned environmental report to the Councillors. Following discussion, a majority of councillors voted not to support the motion, with two councillors in support.
Following the ensuing heated reactions from some members of the public the majority of the members of the public left the meeting.
Cllr Hickman said that he was aware of the fact that Mrs Bryant wished to leave in order to attend Whitestone Choir Practice and asked her to give her report on the Parish Plan Action Group which was as follows:-
“The planning section of the Whitestone Parish Plan continues to be regularly read through and consequently quoted in relation to planning applications made within our parish. As a result of an enquiry to the Planning Office at County Hall it transpires that Devon County Council were not aware that we have a Parish Plan. Teignbridge District Council however do know we have one and have been informed that a copy is kept in the Green Room/Library at the Parish Hall. With this in mind I would like to ask the Parish Council if they would consider changing the wording in their monthly agendas and also in their minutes when referring to the Parish Action Plan I would prefer to see this item headed ‘Parish Action Plan’ and then to use subheadings when referring to individual actions. ‘Parish enhancements’ as part of the title makes this action appear far more important than the other actions. There are 21 Actions and parish enhancements is part of Action 4.
Action 3 – this Action relates to exploring the feasibility of setting up a shop/post office within the parish. An update of the progress made by this steering group was reported in the March Parish Magazine. A produce sale is to be held in the Billiard Room on Saturday 20th April from 2pm to 4pm to test the water. They would still welcome any additional volunteers to join this steering group. The contact is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Action 10 – This action relates to road maintenance throughout the Parish. I have received an update from Nick Thom this week who has passed his online exams and now has to attend a two day course on the safe erection of signs. He has booked a slot in April to do this and once completed he can then access the tools and tarmac needed. He will then be in a position to take up the offer of those who volunteered to help him. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Nick for his time and effort.”
Cllr Hickman thanked Mrs Bryant for her report and indicated that he has purchased the necessary timber for the erection of flower beds within the village and will be completing these soon and she then left the meeting.
Application for Planning Permission
The following planning application was examined and discussed and the subsequent observation was confirmed to be relayed to Teignbridge District Council
17.1 19/00202/FUL Formation of a slurry pit to work with the approved shed at Upper Kingswell Farm, Longdown. The application was not supported because information in relation to the proposed replacement hedge banks and trees is not adequate.
18.1 School Houses
Cllr Reed reported that the insulation of the back extension at No 1 has now been completed and the account together with that for the electrical work which was necessary is included in the expenditure section of the minutes.
18.2 Crossway Park – Playpark enhancements
Cllr Rose circulated a spreadsheet and reported that following the February meeting he has negotiated a better price of £9,951.82 with Wickstead for the wooden climbing frame and in conjunction with Cllr Fairley recommended Caloo to supply the outdoor gym equipment at a cost of £9,000.00 and it was resolved that this be granted.
18.3 Parish Plan
Request for reimbursement of expenses of £10 for the hire of the Parish Hall from 2pm to 4pm on
Saturday 20th April for Parish Plan Action Group. It was resolved that this be granted.
As previously mentioned Cllr Hickman reported that sleepers had been purchased to provide flower planters and would be negotiating with the Clerk for the replacement of the filing cabinet at the Parish Hall which had been broken for some considerable time.
20.1 1 School Houses rent to 30th March 2019 £725.00 - £69.60 (includes £11.60 VAT) = £655.40
20.2 2 School Houses rent to 1st April 2019 £800.00 – £76.80 (includes £12.80 VAT) = £723.20
20.3 Devon County Council (Highways) £100.00
The following expenditure was proposed and seconded for payment. All in favour and the cheques were signed by Councillors Belt and Phillips.
20.4 Clerk’s quarterly salary/expenses £315.91 (Cheque 446)
20.5 Whitestone Parish Hall Management Committee (hire of hall for Council meetings) £78.75 (Cheque 447)
20.6 Exeter Bookbinders £65.00 (Cheque 448)
20.7 S McCarthy and Son £640.00 (Cheque 449)
20.8 H M Revenue and Customs £70.20 (Clerk’s Income Tax) (Cheque 450)
20.9 N Davis £10.00 (Cheque 451)
20.10 A S Down £60.00 (Cheque 452)
20.11 Buildbase (sleepers for flower planters) £190.32 (includes £31.72 VAT) (Cheque 453)
21.1 Thanks from Handbell Ringers Group for donation for insurance made in January
21.2 Devon Highways notification of road closure on 16th May on road past Copperwalls Lodge to enable replacing water pumping kiosk.
22.1 It was noted that the pothole at Heath Lane had been filled
22.2 Clr Belt reported that the salt bin at Trillow Corner had been removed. As the Council’s representative on the Parish Hall Committee she reported that the telephone installation is being organised and that improvements to the disabled access is also being organised.
22.3 Cllr Fairley reported there had been further road traffic accidents near the Brookside Garage.
22.4 Cllr Phillips said he was going to be in touch with the Teignbridge Enforcement Office regarding development taking place that may not have been passed through the appropriate planning process.
In response to concerns in respect of potholes Cllr Hickman confirmed that there is a process in place. The most effective methods of having potholes addressed was to report the potholes via the Devon County Council website.
Ms Dyer expressed concerns regarding the placing of the outdoor gym equipment within Crossway Park commenting that it would pose a risk to children using the football pitch.
The meeting closed at 9pm.