Chair – Councillor T Miles.
Councillors M Belt, V Bryant, L Dyer, A Evans, L Fairley, C Galton, P Lee, S Llewelyn, M Smith.
District Councillor A Swain
Mrs P Vaughan – Clerk to the Council
Mr M Harris, Mr N Hiscock, Mr D Hiscock
Cllr Miles opened the meeting
Mr N Hiscock was in attendance with his brother to speak regarding the plans for 21/00422/NPA for change of use of two agricultural buildings into two residential dwellings at Hackworthy Farm as following the comments made by the Council for this application he wished to give explanations regarding some of the issues raised in particular the access to the site and traffic problems in the narrow roads. After considerable discussion he answered some of the queries raised by both Councillors and by Mr Harris. Cllr Miles thanked him for his comments and both gentlemen left the meeting at 7.56pm
Cllr Swain gave apologies for Cllr Connett and assured Cllr Miles that the situation regarding parking problems at Crossway will be investigated as it was brought to his attention there have been complaints from residents living there. Cllr Belt gave some information that this has been an ongoing problem for many years.
28.1 21/00546/VAR Variation of condition 2 on planning permission 20/01443/FUL (Two storey side extension) to amend the approved design at Royal Oak, Nadderwater.
Response:- The application 21/00546/VAR at The Royal Oak, Nadderwater EX4 2JH has been discussed and considered by Whitestone Parish Council. This application is a variation condition 2 on planning permission 20/01443/FUL (Two storey side extension) to amend the approved design. In response to points raised by the TDC Conservation Officer the applicant wishes to change the location of the toilet block from the rear of the building (South West elevation) to the North West side of the building. The Whitestone Parish Council have no objections to this amendment and therefore support this application.
28.2 21/00440/OUT Outline – dwelling (all matters reserved for future consideration at Higher Rowhorne, Rowhorne Road.
Response:- It is not clear from the application the current classification of the land at Higher Rowhorne and whether it is classified as agricultural or equestrian but the activity described by the applicant is of an equestrian nature. Typically agricultural buildings on farms are not to be used for keeping and breeding horses (as distinct from stabling work horses) and in general turning horses out on agricultural land with additional feed, rugging and riding on the land is not considered consistent with agricultural use.
This application is for outline planning to explore the possibility of building a Class C3 dwelling on this plot of land for the owner of the past 18 years. The application form section 11 confirms that it is not a commercial business and therefore must be considered recreational.
The application does not meet the Teignbridge Local Plan 2013-2033 Strategy Policies; S1A Presumption in favour of Sustainable Development, S1 Sustainable Development Criteria, S2 Quality Development, S22 Countryside, EC3 Rural Employment, WE9 Rural Workers’ Dwellings or EN2A Landscape Protection.
The application site is located outside any defined Settlement Limits as defined within policy S21A therefore this proposal is considered as development in the open countryside where provisions of policy S22 apply. The local plan seeks for development to be directed to sustainable locations with policies S1A, S1 and S22 not permissive of open market housing in the open countryside. The proposal seeks permission for a new 3 bedroom dwelling to be built in an isolated location where there are no other residential dwellings which is not supported within Policy S22.
The site is not easily accessible by foot, cycle or public transport and requires the use of a private car for access and therefore the proposal is not sustainable and does not accord with policy S1a or S1 of the Local Plan.
Given the nature of the proposal provisions of policy WE9 would not apply as there does not appear to be an essential functional need arising from the activity for a full time worker to be housed on site at all times as this is not a commercial business. A possible permit for a temporary caravan may suffice for the occasional periods of additional attendance on site.
Teignbridge Local Plan policy EN2a sets out that development proposals within an AGLV should conserve and enhance the qualities, character and distinctiveness of the landscape and have regard to the Districts Landscape Character Assessment. This proposal site lies within the Exeter Culm Slopes landscape character area, a part of the district’s landscape that is recognised as being a remote, strongly rural and where settlement is strongly vernacular in character. The landscape is recognised as being tranquil, largely unspoilt and of high quality. It is also locally valued and recognised as an Area of Great Landscape Value (AGLV) with several recent decisions by the planning inspectorate protecting the area from unsuitable development. Views are afforded toward the undulating countryside with visual impact across the valley towards Newton St. Cyres, Newton Wood and Whitestone Wood.
In conclusion, having reviewed the application Whitestone Parish Council feel that the development proposal of a private dwelling in this location would not meet local policy and therefore cannot be supported.
28.3 21/00634/FUL Erection of hay storage building and formation of hardstanding at Bickhams Farm
Response:- Whitestone Parish Council have reviewed the application for a new barn at Bickhams Farm and make the following comments:
the highway in a single sweep is ideal.
In conclusion, we have no objection to the planning application as it helps maintain local agriculture and use of local land/hay. If it were to be permitted, we would encourage that additional tree/hedge planting and also placing of bird/bat boxes would be part of the conditions necessary for the granting of the application. A further condition would be that no future housing change under class Q conversion applications could be granted.
28.4 Redhills 20/1380/OUT – Exeter City Council
Following concerns over access and impact to Whitestone Parish a written response has been sent to Exeter City Council and Cllr Miles urged all parishioners to also send their comments to Exeter City Council in order to spread their concerns over this proposed development. This report will be sent to Jock Kirkpatrick for publication on the Whitestone website. Cllr Llewllyn wished it placed on record the Parish Council’s appreciation of the effort that Cllr Miles had put into compiling this document to the City Council. Cllr Smith mentioned that the Police had been called at 7.30am one morning in response to sheep straying onto the road near the Royal Oak Inn and they had commented on the amount of traffic which used this stretch of the road.
28.5 Grant of Conditional Planning Permission
20/01623/FUL Erection of agricultural building and associated works on land at Rebecca Springs, Nadderwater,
28.6 Refusal of Planning Permission
20/02344/FUL Conversion of disused business unit to a dwelling at Unit 2,Rebecca Springs
29.1 Electrical works at 1 School Houses
A quotation of £430.00 had been obtained by Carter Geering for necessary electrical work at 1 School Houses and it was proposed by Cllr Belt and seconded by Cllr Evans that this should be authorised. All in favour.
29.2 Bridge over Nadderbrook by Brook Cottage
A letter had been received from parishioners regarding this bridge and Cllr Smith will investigate to see what imorovements could be made. Whilst discussing this the water pump which is on the Nadderwater road was also discussed as the fencing is deteriorating. It is not clear who owns this land and therefore this needs to be investigated.
29.3 Parking at Crossways
A parishioner has requested that the Parish Council investigate turning some of the Green into additional parking as the area is under pressure from so many cars in the area . As this area is under the jurisdiction of Teign Housing Cllr Swain volunteered to make enquiries regarding this issue.
29.4 Boat Naming
Following requests for a name for the new boat installation at Crossway Playpark a decision has been reached that it should be named “HMS Whitestone” and arrangements will be made for the name to be painted on.
29.5 Review the siting of the dog bins
Cllr Swain has obtained some pricing for dog bins and discussion took place regarding where this could be placed, i.e. at Heath Cross (near the post box), near the bridge at Nadderwater and this will be investigated further. It was agreed to place waste bins next to the dog bins too. Highways will be approached for permission to site the bins and then Teignbridge will be approached regarding installing the dog bins and arranging emptying them.
29.6 Review of DCC Lower Hare Farm – Judicial Review
It was confirmed that this Review is still ongoing and Cllr Llewellyn reported that the DCC decision still showed pending and it was still unclear for Whitestone residents what was happening..
29.7 Vehicle Activated Speed Signs
Cllr Evans has been investigating where the signs could be placed in conjunction with Cllr Galton and has two locations which would need approval from Devon Highways. It was agreed that Cllr Evans should contact Devon Highways with these proposals.
An offer had been received from Mr Peter Hanson regarding a speed gun which he has in his possession and would be willing to sell to the Parish Council in order that they could possibly make use of this. It was, however, after discussion agreed that this offer should not be accepted and the Parish Council will thank him for all his efforts regarding speeding. There is an organisation called Community Speed Watch that is linked to the Police and training is offered to parishioners who then can report incidents and registration numbers to the Police under the scheme. The Parish Council cannot undertake this – it would be a community initiative.
Action on Climate Change
Thanks was expressed to Councillors Llewelyn, Fairley and Galton for their efforts in encouraging support for this action and it was agreed that this should continue through social networking in the hope that more parishioners might become involved.
It was noted that the Annual Parish Meeting would take place on Thursday 29th April at 7.30pm via Zoom and it was hoped that all Councillors would attend and reports would be given for progress over the past year within the Parish Council. In addition Parish organisations will be contacted in the hope that they could provide some input as to what has happened within their meetings (if any).
Cllr Miles reported that the planning application for Chants Cottage will be looked into and Mr Harris requested that he be informed.
31.1 1 School Houses rent/insurance to 29th April 2021 £750.00 - £102.00 (includes £17.00 VAT) = £648.00.
31.2 2 School Houses rent/insurance to 1st May 2021 £825.00 - £109.20 (includes £18.20 VAT) = £715.80.
31.3 Teignbridge District Council Grant £100.00
The following expenditure was proposed and seconded for payment. All in favour and the cheques were signed by Councillors Miles and Belt and Mrs Vaughan as Responsible Financial Officer
31.4 Devon Association of Local Councils £18.00 (includes £3.00 VAT) (Councillor Training) Cheque 565
31.5 Devon Association of Local Councils £144.00 (includes £24.00 VAT) (Councillor Training) Cheque 563
31.6 Mr L Blades £419.13 Cheque 564
31.7 W Kirkpatrick £47.99 (Krystal Hosting Ltd £47.99 – includes £8 VAT). Renewal for Whitestone website. Cheque 560
31.8 Parsons Landscapes Ltd £6,030.00 (includes £1,005.00 VAT) Cheque 561
31.9 The Play Inspection Co Ltd £81.00 (includes 13.50 VAT) Cheque 562
32.1 Cllr Bryant reported that the lane is subsiding on the Oldridge turning and was requested to give the exact location in order that the Clerk could write to Highways regarding this.
32.2 Cllr Belt reported that the telephone box on the green has now been painted by Mr Blades, and also reported that the tree roots in this area are cracking the pavement and this should be reported to Highways for damage investigation.
32.3 Cllr Fairley reported that as the weather has now improved that mud in the playground has now subsided and Mr Blades has laid some of the mats but a proposal was made for further mats to be purchased from Mole Avon at a cost of £25. each. It was reported that in view of the repairs necessary to the baby swings it might be better to replace rather than repair and Cllr Fairley will be making further enquiries regarding pricing.
32.4 As advised by the Devon Association of Local Councils it was noted that the May Parish Council meeting will be a physical one (socially distanced) and will be held in the Main Hall at the Parish Hall at 7.30pm on Thursday 13th May 2021.
The meeting closed at 10.07pm.
Attendance: - Chairman of the Parish Council – Councillor Tanya Miles, Councillors Mary Belt, Linda Fairley, Vicky Bryant, Susan Llewelyn, Pam Lee, Lou Dyer, Maggie Smith, Alwyn Evans. Pat Vaughan (Clerk to the Parish Council), Marian Durrant, Bryan Durrant, David Lee, James Bryant, Guy Fielding, Liz Watkins
Apologies:- Councillor Carol Galton, Dr Jane Richards,
Public Participation – Nothing raised
Parish Council Chairman’s Report Report by Councillor Tanya Miles
This is the first Annual Parish Meeting held by this council since April 2019 which was chaired by the outgoing Chairman, Cllr Les Hickman so I would like to say a very warm welcome to you all and thank you for joining the meeting.
As a quick recap, going back to the Parish Council Election in May 2019 this saw a change to the Council members due to the parishioners electing a new team. Amongst the new team, two existing members remained which were Cllr Mary Belt and Cllr Linda Fairley and the other eight new members. We were extremely grateful to the existing members especially Mary who had a wealth of knowledge to be able to share spanning several decades of her work with the Parish Council and of course Linda who continued the good work at Crossways Park overseeing the new adult fitness equipment and the playpark equipment. We were a very enthusiastic team and were keen to get cracking, we were blessed with the continuing help and support of our lovely clerk Pat to steer us safely on our way and we are completely indebted to her and can’t thank her enough for her unwavering support to the Parish Council and her service to the Whitestone community. Our team has changed slightly since then with a few members resigning and new members being co-opted onto the Council. We were very lucky to have Cllr Nick Thom take the helm from the outset and he was a great leader whilst we all found our feet and our areas of expertise. We have experienced many challenges along the way and a lot of hard work and it is true to say that it definitely is not all about one meeting per month. There is an awful lot of ground work and activity going on behind the scenes to make things happen. We are very fortunate that the current group of Councillors come from different backgrounds and experiences and are fairly well spread across the Parish to enable true and fair representation. Our mission from the beginning was to provide a truly transparent council and which represented a fair and honest account of our activities and finances and above all we wanted to encourage everyone to get involved and to feel we were accessible to provide whatever help and support that we were able to offer. We quickly forged links with our Teignbridge District Councillors and Devon County Councillor, Alan Connett. I think it is fair to say that even though we are only a fairly small parish we have participated well with Teignbridge and specifically we owe our massive thanks to David Jones, who has now left the village who enabled Whitestone to respond to the consultation response on the Teignbridge District Council Draft Local Plan 2020-2040. This Council has, throughout its time in office, persevered to represent all Parishioners in a fair and balanced manner whilst maintaining our professionalism and working within the strict regulations imposed by the Town and Parish Council legislation. In addition to dealing with specific matters arising there are always the operational and fiscal issues that Councillors have to address with the best interests in mind of the parishioners.
Planning An unprecedented amount of the Parish Council’s time each month is spent considering planning applications to ensure the views of Parishioners are known and to provide a fair and balanced response to Teignbridge District Council or Devon County Council. Planning responses can create some extremely strong and passionate views and the Council has a responsibility to represent the whole community bearing in mind the views expressed in the Parish Plan and also the Parish at large. Over our term in office we have seen several very contentious planning applications which have been fought long and hard alongside parishioners and we have stood united. We have been seriously challenged by the Landfill application at Lower Hare Farm which saw the majority of parishioners unite in fury and anxiety over this unacceptable scheme and the Parish Council were able to work with the members of STAWL to present a great case to try and win the Development Management Committee vote but we were sadly let down by Cllr Jerry Brook who used his casting vote to vote for the application. All is not lost and we are continuing to fight this unfair and unjust decision so watch this space. We were then bombarded again with the application at Devon View, where we successfully defeated another contentious application for an industrial estate in the heart of our countryside. It is ongoing with outsiders constantly wanting a piece of our beautiful rural countryside and changing it introducing pollution, traffic or noise, we must continue to stand united to protect what we have. During this Council’s time in office we have noticed a trend with an increased number of applications involving Class Q permitted development and converting agricultural buildings to habitable dwellings. As a rural community this would be expected to a degree, but it has been continuous and even though the regulations are tightening, sometimes the 1 permitted development legislation leaves us nowhere to go. Our planning responses are very thorough and provide Teignbridge with information based on local knowledge and material planning considerations. Occasionally we receive funds from C.I.L. (Community Infrastructure Levy), which we are able to use to purchase things for the benefit of the community.
Finances We have once again had a successful financial year and have ensured that the Parish is financially viable, due to the good fiscal handling of all available Parish funds. As can be seen from the statement of accounts, our revenue expenditure continues to exceed the Precept however the income provided by the School Houses as our sole asset continues to allow for the projects to be funded. In our first year we reduced the precept as our funds were healthy and this year we raised the precept back up to the previous 2019 level at £6,100 annual Precept to cover any rising costs. This has given the Parish the ability to be resilient against financial demands, and to actively respond to maintenance issues and continue to work with community groups to enhance the Parish positively for the benefit of all residents. The Parish Council is taking legal advice and cautiously moving towards a possible Judicial Review of the decision to create a Landfill at Lower Hare Farm in order to protect the village from harm. We have continued to use a management company, Carter Geering, to manage the School Houses which ensures that we are completely legal as landlords with the ever changing raft of legislation and all work is carried out by authorised contractors that protects the Parish Council from any liability. Our accounts continue to be subject to annual audit. They are formally audited, both internally and by independent external auditors.
Parish Hall The Parish Council is pleased to continue to support the Parish Hall as the focal point for events within the Parish.This year by working in partnership with the Parish Hall Committee we have awarded a grant to facilitate a new disabled access ramp and we are hopeful when things get back to normal to contribute to a hearing loop for the billiard room.
Grants Unfortunately with the Covid Lockdowns most community groups haven’t been able to meet and there has been an overwhelming feeling of loss across the community and we are all anxious to be able to get back together to re-establish our connectivity, thus supporting opportunities for parishioners to meet through mutual interests. The Parish Council will be delighted to consider any new applications for grants that will provide valuable opportunities for our health and well-being.
Parish Plan The Parish Council continues to support the ongoing actions being undertaken by Parishioners and Councillors alike and we constantly refer to the Parish Plan for reference.
Conclusion The Parish Council has strived to develop good relationships and strong links with both the District and County Councils, to ensure we receive the best service possible for Whitestone Parish residents. This Council has made representation on behalf of Parishioners to many external organisations to resolve issues raised. We are happy to be able to signpost residents to enable them to achieve the best outcome. This has ensured that Whitestone Parish Council is heard alongside larger parishes and town councils by developing and maintaining good working relationships.
Following her report Cllr Miles invited parishioners to give their reports.
Crossway Park Report by Councillor Linda Fairley
Crossways Park Playground and Adult exercise equipment was quite quiet at the beginning of 2020 and was then closed down in March due to the National Covid Lockdown.
We continued to check the Playground a couple of times a month and the Annual Safety Check was carried out during this time which showed problems with the Baby swings that Nick Thom and Laurence Blades rectified before the gradual reopening as Lockdown was released. Further checks by us revealed a big problem with the Bear Springer which was the taken out of commission while we pursued advice on its repair. Unfortunately it turned out to be too expensive to repair so we then looked for a replacement which was found and finally a Boat Springer was installed on the 12th of March this year. It has proved to be very popular and the children were invited to name the Boat and the name HMS Whitestone was chosen.
As Lockdown was released in July, two of us took on the responsibility for opening up the Playground on 4 afternoons a week, checking the equipment and sanitising it before and after each session. Notices were put up with advice for parents and carers on the use of the playground following Government guidelines and we kept Track and Trace records at each session. This continued until early August when it was opened up completely. Sanitising the equipment continued regularly until the New Year.
It was a very wet start to this year and mud became a big problem which was sorted out by Laurence with some honeycomb mats found surplus to requirements on previous work done at the playground, but with the increased use of the equipment through the winter and the likelihood of heavier rain due to Climate Change we are hoping to purchase more mats. The outside toilet also had to be cleaned regularly because of the rain and the popularity of the playground the mud was being transferred to it from the playground.
The Playground has proved it's worth in the past year both for providing exercise opportunities for the local children and their parents and helping their mental health. The Playground is greatly valued by both the local community and families from further afield because of the facilities and it's setting.
Whitestone Parish Paths and Bridleways Report by Councillor Vicky Bryant
Every February, Devon County Council receive Whitestone Parish Council's Summary of the work completed on our parish footpaths and bridleways over the past year carried out by either contractors or by the P3 Councillor who has taken on this role. They also receive Survey Comment Sheets completed by the P3 Councillor describing the condition of each of the 13 paths and whether they have passed or failed the inspection, an Annual Grant Form whereby the P3 Councillor applies for money to cover the work and materials for projects identified to be done during the year and a Summary of Expenditure for the last financial year. In Whitestone we have 8 footpaths and 5 bridleways which all have a number that can be clearly seen on the large parish map displayed in its new waterproof casing outside the Parish Hall. Hopefully all the jobs identified will be completed over the coming financial year. At present I have the role as the P3 Councillor on the Parish Council. This year, as reported in the February 2021 Parish Magazine, I failed 7 paths and passed 6. Passing and failing paths is based on criteria I am provided with from Devon County Council. Most of our failed paths are due to relatively small problems like stiff gates or missing or loose signposts.When I go out to inspect them I take secateurs to cut back foliage around the signposts or around gate fastenings. I check that the little waymark discs are all present and visible. If not I remove what is left of an existing one and nail on a new one. If the signage on the signpost arms need renewing I put up a new sticky label. Being on the short side, I usually need to take a small step ladder with me! In addition, I keep a record of the condition of each path and note any work that might need to be done. Evidence collated is entered into my correspondence with Devon County Council in February each year. The reported fallen split branch that was deemed as dangerous along Bridleway 16 (Ford Cottage, Nadderwater up to Rowhorne Road) was removed very quickly. I hope to put up a portion of the large parish map in the telephone box in Nadderwater once it is cleaned up so that people can consult it before embarking on their walks through Nadderwater and beyond.
Whitestone Band of Bell Ringers – St Catherine’s Church Report by James Bryant
Bell ringing in the period April 2020 to April 2021 has been minimal due to the COVID 19 Pandemic and associated restrictions. Bell ringing of a single bell was undertaken by the Tower Captain during some of the period of the first lockdown to show support for the NHS on Thursday evenings for around 15 minutes for a number of weeks. The Tenor Bell was tolled by the Tower Captain for a short period on Remembrance Sunday 2020 to commemorate the fallen during the World Wars. In line with the recommendations of the Central Council for Bell Ringers, 3 different, single half muffled bells were rung in turn, with the door to the bell tower open, by Herb Piper, Mary Eyre and James Bryant between 2pm and 3pm for an hour on Saturday 17th April to commemorate the death of HRH Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh. St Catherine’s had been due to host the 2020 Kenn Deanery Bell Ringing competition in September 2020, however this had to be cancelled due to COVID 19 restrictions. The Deanery competition will now not take place again until September 2023. In the mean-time it is planned, subject to COVID restrictions being lifted, that St Catherine’s will host a Deanery Ringing Festival instead on Saturday 25th September 2021. At present Bells 3 and 5 are not available for ringing due to the bell clappers having worked loose. This is a particular issue for Bell 3 as it was quarter turned and re-hung on a new metal headstock by Taylors of Loughborough, Bell Hangers only a few years ago. We are awaiting a visit from a Taylors representative to determine how this can be remedied. Many thanks to parishioners who have passed kind comments on hearing the isolated bells on the few occasions they have rung out this year. We are looking forward to the possibility of getting back to ringing in peal in the near future.
Church House Educational Foundation Report by James Bryant - Chairman
The Trustees successfully held meetings in May and November 2020 as usual. These were held virtually via Zoom because of COVID 19 pandemic restrictions. Over those two meetings a total of 18 grants were awarded amounting to £5,557.26 in aggregate. The total income for the year was £6,485.09 leaving a surplus for the year of £928. These are provisional figures from the draft accounts to be considered at the AGM on 12th April 2021. Over the course of the year the Trust has reviewed its management of personal data and adopted a data privacy statement in line with guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office and Charities Commission. The main provisions of this Statement are included within a new application form that is available via the Village Website or directly from the Secretary. The Trust has also reviewed its Investment, Conflict of Interest and Paying Beneficiaries policies this year and draft guidance has been produced to aid consistency in decision making in relation to applications. This will be subject to review on an ongoing basis.
Whitestone Social Club Report by Bryan Durrant, Secretary
Due to the Coronavirus restrictions the club has not met since February 2020. It is currently envisaged that meetings will recommence at the end of June 2021 with an outside picnic.
Social Club meetings normally consist of a guest speaker followed by the opportunity to socialise and to share food and drink brought by members. The Club currently has 31 members. Members pay £12 oer annum and visitors now pay £3 per visit. Members who paid for the year 2019/20 will have their membership extended by 15 months (the period the Club has not met for)
New members are always welcome, events and contact details are in the Parish magazine, on the Whitestone website and on the village noticeboards.
Cuban Airwaves Report by Dave Lee
The last meeting was held on Friday 21st February 2020. The next meeting will revert back to Cuban music. The music that gave us our name “Cuban Airways” and it will be in the Parish Hall at the earliest possible date. I hope to get back to regular meetings on the third Friday evening of the month 7.30pm to 9.30pm. The songs will get back to our Cuban music roots and to date will be:- Guantanemera – Quizas, Quizas, Quizas – Mamba Ni 5 – Piel Canela and the music, guitar chords and lyrics will be sent to members. When we get into the swing of things again we will move onto new songs and tunes. We welcome new members to come along and give it a try. It’s a good place to start playing a new instrument or singing with others. There will be plent of help and encouragement for new musicians. Contact Dave Lee on 01392 811579 or email email@example.com
Village Voices March 2020 to 2021 Report by Liz Watkins
In the year leading up to “Lockdown 1” we had enjoyed singing at the Crediton Folk Festival and a Christmas Concert in the Parish Hall. At the first lockdown Village Voices abruptly stopped meeting and owing to my lack of confidence delivering choral singing and training “virtually”, we did not meet up online until Christmas. I was concerned that less confident singers would lose heart singing on their own. Because of the vagaries of the internet everyone has to “mute” (apart from the Musical Director) and “sing along” with the accompaniment.In order to learn some new songs however, ready for return to normal rehearsals, I began Zoom sessions after Christmas this year. We have three sessions on Zoom every Wednesday. Each group (Sopranos, Altos and Baritones) have an individual session of 40 minutes free of charge and we look forward to meeting face to face in July, hopefully without masks and trying out our new repertoire which includes Finlandia to words by Joan Baez, A Seekers Medley and O can ye sew Cushions, a Scottish folk song. The choir remains committed to accepting all singers of all standards. No reading of music is necessary.
Whitestone Parish Hall Book Group Report by Pam Lee
The Book Group meets on the second Monday of the month from 2 – 4 pm and we have a maximum of 13 members. The library supplies us with a set of books of their choice each month which we read then discuss at the following meeting. We each score the book out of 10 so at the end of the year we can see which books have been the most popular. The books are returned to the library and a new set supplied. We pay £2 per person each month towards costs.
STAWL (Stop Another Whitestone Landfill) Report by Guy Fielding – Chair
STAWL (Stop Another Whitestone Landfill) is an informal coming together of people who are opposed to the proposal to locate a large landfill on Yonder Hare Down, at Lower Hare Farm(EX4 2HW). It has no formal structure or standing orders (nothing to read nor to understand) and consists of a large proportion of the residents of Whitestone Parish, as well as many people from Pathfinder and Tedburn St Mary and beyond. To the extent that we have an organisation this consists of a small group of people who form a Co-ordinating Group in order to monitor and organise the response to Planning Application DCC/4101/2018. As Chair of this group, I would like to very sincerely thank the members of this group for all of the time and effort that they have contributed over the last 2 and more years. Thank you to Andrew (Freddie) Hawkins, Paul Taylor, Matt Harris, Martin Fairley, Pat Moody, Philip Neirop, David and Carole Jones, and Tanya Miles and to all of the other people who have contributed so much to opposing this application.
At the Whitestone Parish Council meeting in December 2020 Cllr Alan Connett noted how active and united the people of Whitestone, together with people from Pathfinder, Tedburn St Mary and further afield have been in their fight to prevent this landfill going ahead. In his experience had never come across a parish in which so many people had been so unanimously opposed to an application. To recap briefly, in late November/early December 2018 an application was received by Devon County Council (DCC) purporting to be a proposal to improve a (very) small area of land at Lower Hare Farm. The proposed so-called “improvement” consisted of tipping 700,000 tonnes of inert sub-soil (obtained from building works on green field sites) across a much larger site, indeed, the whole of Yonder Hare Down, in the process completely changing the existing landform, the whole project to take 15 or more years (and incidentally achieving absolutely no improvement whatsoever to the land).
As this application was obviously not about agricultural improvement, but in fact was an application to establish an industrial scale landfill, the application was allocated to DCC’s Development Management Committee to decide whether or not it should be approved. When an application is received by the planning authority, the first step in dealing with it is tocheck that all the information required to be able to make a decision (determination) is actually present. If it is, the application can be “validated” and notices are issued to the public inviting them to comment. However, this application could not be validated because it was inadequate in a large number of fundamental ways. Having asked for, and received additional information from the applicants DCC eventually validated it some six weeks later, in mid- January 2019. When people became aware of the application STAWL was quickly established as a way of co-ordinating Whitestone’s response.
STAWL quickly demonstrated that the application was still seriously inadequate and in March 2019, DCC issued a Reg 25 letter to the applicants. (A Reg 25 letter spells out all of the information that is still missing from an application, and whose absence means that the Committee is unable to make a determination, and requires the applicants to provide that information). After a considerable delay the applicants eventually responded to this letter in February 2020. However, STAWL again showed that the application was still lacking essential information, and in April 2020 DCC issued a second Reg 25 letter. The applicants eventually responded to this in October 2020.In our opinion, despite these repeated requests in the Reg 25 letters, the applicants had still not provided all of the necessary information that was required to allow a proper determination to be made, such as a thorough treatment of the limitations and uncertainties of all of the methodologies and models used in the application eg the forecasting of future need/availability of inert subsoils in the Exeter area. Nonetheless, despite our protest on this and other grounds DCC moved to consider the application at the meeting of the DMC on 2ndDecember 2020.
Throughout the two years of the application’s existence, literally hundreds of people had submitted over 400 hundred objections to the application citing a wide variety of reasons why this proposal should be rejected. At the meeting itself four people were allowed to speak on behalf of STAWL and Whitestone Parish Council summarising these objections. Thank you to Rob Murdock, Principal of RMA Environmental Limited, to Bertie Hawkins, Philip Neirop and to Penny Mills, Director of CPRE Devon who so ably represented our position. Thank you also to Cllr Alan Connett who presented a powerful case arguing that the application had to be rejected. Despite all of our efforts, the DMC voted to approve the application after a motion to reject it was tied 7 votes to 7 votes, and the Chairman, Cllr Jerry Brooks then used his second, casting vote to prevent the refusal of the application. Obviously, this was a desperately disappointing outcome, and one which we continue to think is profoundly wrong, both because Yonder Hare Down is simply the wrong place for an industrial scale landfill, and because the way in which this application has been handled is flawed in many different ways. On that basis, we have consulted solicitors about the possibility of seeking a Judicial Review of the decision. They have advised us that we have a very strong case, and in association with both the Whitestone and the Tedburn St Mary Parish Councils we have therefore taken the first step to initiate a Judicial Review. This involved serving a “Letter Before Action” on DCC, which outlines the case we will put before a judge when we seek permission to present our case in court. (I should add that since December we have discovered further significant and serious anomalies in the handling of the application by DCC which further strengthens our case.) However, we have not yet been able to take the next step in bringing the case to court. Why not? Before you can ask a judge for permission to review a decision, you have to have a decision to review. If you go to the DCC website (https://planning.devon.gov.uk/PlanDisp.aspx?AppNo=DCC/4101/2018), you will see that, more than 5 months after the decision being made, the website still states that the “decision is pending”. We are unclear as to the reason why DCC have yet issued their consent, although a delay of this length appears to be unusual. It is the case that DCC are aware that,if and when they issue their consent to this application, we will immediately seek a Judicial Review. It is our belief that a Judicial Review will result in their original decision being overturned. It would be a dreadful blight on our environment if this landfill were ever to go ahead, and STAWL will continue to fight to prevent this happening in every way that we can.
Cllr Miles thanked Mr Fielding for his report and his dedication to the issue
Cllr Miles read the following reports which have been received with apologies for non-attendance:-
Whitestone Garden Club Report from Gill Oakey
Garden Club will hopefully resume our monthly meetings in September. With lockdown our last meeting was in January 2020, such a long time ago !
We will have missed our Garden visits and the Annual Plant Sale and Cream tea afternoon, which has always been extremely popular with the Whitestone Community.
Our program will continue to cover all aspects of gardening, and hope this will draw in more members.
A few dedicated members continue to maintain the Community Garden, it's still work in progress - a few new sleepers have been put in, and more wood chip around the paths will enhance the area greatly.
Whitestone Handbell Ringers Report from Jennifer Kellagher
The Handbell Ringers have not met for over a year due to the lockdowns. It is not practicable to ring outside unless you can be sure of the weather and sufficient numbers at short notice. We are short of ringers and hope we may attract more when we can meet again.
Arts and Crafts Group Report from Marian Durrant
We normally meet in the Billiard Room on the second Thursday of the month from 9.30am to midday. Our members are engaged in a variety of crafts, including drawing, knitting, weaving, crocheting and card marking. Tea and coffee are included in the cost which is £1.50. Due to COVID 19 we have not had any Arts and Crafts sessions in the Parish Hall since March 12th 2020. We are hoping to resume again in September 2021 if there are no COVID restrictions in place.
Pilates Group Report by Judy Sanford and Martin Fairley
Pilates classes have continued very successfully on Zoom during Covid times. Caroline Dodd’s excellent classes have kept the Group mobile and motivated. We look forward to returning to “live” classes when the Hall re-opens.
Table Tennis Club Report by Philip Nierop
There have been no meetings of the Table Tennis Club this year. It not yet known when club activities will recommence.
Whitestone Parish Hall Management Committee Report by Dr Jane Richards
As the Hall has been closed for the greater part of 2020 due to the COVID 19 pandemic there is very little to report. The cleaners have taken advantage of the closure to do a deep clean of the hall and in particular the kitchen and its contents. We had a very large water bill during the year, despite there being no use of the hall. This is being monitored with our own meter to determine the amount of water used by the outside toilet and the surveillance is on-going.
The door to the outside toilet is rotting so we have asked for quotes to replace and refit it.
All policies of the management committee have been reviewed at due times and the fabric has been regularly checked. The Committee is grateful to the Parish Council for continuing financial support
Annual Report for St Catherine’s Church Report by Dr Jane Richards
Mission and Evangelism
After the closedown in March the church was locked and only open for private prayer on Sundays. The usual Lent activities, the free Lent Lunches and the weekly Lent Course at Pathfinder were cancelled. Posies from the congregation’s gardens were delivered to as many families as possible in the parish on Mothering Sunday. There were no services in Holy Week or over Easter. In July there was a slow resumption of “normal” services, sing and ringless, carefully socially distanced. The church can hold between 30 and 40 people two metres apart and the pews are appropriately marked. Harvest was well supported, but without the usual hymns and the produce went to St Petrocks. In December with the number of cases of COVID in the country rising the parishioners were increasingly unwilling to venture out and attend services. The Carol Service and the Christmas Eve Mass were held with singing provided by a quartet of voices but very small congregations. However, a ZOOM Carol Service was most successful.
Throughout these months the Rector, The Revd Martin Wood has telephoned as many members of the congregation as possible every Friday when he would have been in the church saying the Daily Office, and giving spiritual and pastoral support to all. This has been greatly appreciated. Revd Wood has been supported by Revd Tim Gorringe in taking services through the year. Electoral Roll 36 (same as last year).
Church Fabric (including Churchyards)
After our successful projects in 2019 we had hoped to be progressing the roof repairs but this has not been possible. We have had a very comprehensive report from a specialist architect enumerating all the repairs and replacements necessary and will need to address the funding as soon as the pandemic is past. Meanwhile there have been leaks into the body of the church and missing tiles dealt with by a local craftsman. The alterations to the access have been much appreciated
Cllr Miles then thanked all those who had supplied such interesting reports
Guy Fielding and Sue Llewelyn felt that thanks should be given to Jennifer Kellagher and Jock Kirkpatrick for their input into the Parish Magazine which keeps residents in touch with local matters and also to Jock for the Village Website. In addition Peter Hanson was mentioned for his Email communication and Kathryn Coombes for her Facebook communications.
Cllr Llewelyn wished thanks to be recorded to Cllr Miles for chairing the Parish Council throughout the past year and for her unstinting work regarding the planning applications which have gone forward.
Cllr Miles thanked everyone for their reports and informed the meeting that the next Parish Council meeting will be held in the Parish Hall at 7.30pm on Thursday 13th May and she then closed the meeting at 8.45pm.
These Minutes were presented to the Parish Council Meeting in May 2021 and duly signed by the Parish Council Chairman as a true copy.
____________________________________ 13th May 2021