Parish Council meeting: Tuesday, 1 March 2022

Key information

Meeting location: The Church of St James, Avonwick

Meeting time: 7.30 pm

Sound Recording You can download the audio recording for this meeting or use the player embedded in this page after the download link. Download the audio file here.

Agenda for the Parish Council meeting on Tuesday, 1 March 2022

Agenda for the NHPC meeting to be held at 7.30pm on 1st March 2022 at St James’s Church, Avonwick

1: Open Forum

For parishioners to raise matters of concern relevant to the work of the Parish Council

(NB matters concerning other bodies e.g. SWW, SHDC and DCC should normally be referred directly to such bodies.  The Parish Council would try assist where difficulties arise after such a referral has taken place.)

2: Present

3: Apologies for absence

To receive apologies for absence (if any)

4: Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations of interest (if any)

5: Previous Minutes

To agree the Minutes of the meeting held on 1st February 2022

6: Matters Arising

To discuss items arising from those Minutes

7: Reports

To receive Reports from

  1. County Councillor Thomas
  2. District Councillor Pannell or Smerdon
  3. Play Park inspection
  4. others (if any)

8: Planning

To consider Planning Applications and to note decisions:

Planning Application ref 3808/21/AGR Construction of barn and new track

9: Correspondence

To consider correspondence received.

10: Finance

To note recent and future income and expenditure.

11: Highways

To consider Highway matters.

12: Next meeting

To consider items for future meetings

To agree upon a date for the next Meeting. (5th April 2022?)

Approved Minutes

Approved Minutes for the Parish Council meeting on Tuesday, 1 March 2022

These minutes were approved on 5 April 2022

Please noteEvery care has been taken to present this accessible copy of the minutes with accuracy, but the formal record of the meeting remains the signed paper copy of the minutes.

Minutes of the NHPC meeting held on 1st March 2022 at St James's Church, Avonwick.

1:      Open Forum

There were many members of the public present.

A parishioner raised concerns about development at Butterford, in particular linked to a new track. He questioned the location of the track, its impact on the environment and the landscape and questioned consent from the council. Another parishioner also raised concerns linked to the track, noting that mud is escaping into the river and the road. He questioned the granting of the existing planning permission and its suitability for the site. Parishioners have also contacted Cllr Hunt raising concerns about this application.

Cllr Bell confirmed that several potholes have been reported in the local area. Some have been surveyed, but any others may be reported on the County Council website (

Road markings are also very poor from one end of the village to the other. County Cllr Thomas explained there is an annual schedule for white lines to be repainted. This parish is not on the list for this year to be repainted in full. However, if there are any specific areas of concern these should be raised with the clerk via email.

Cllr Grevatt remarked that the quality of repairs is poor, leading to repeated repairs. This isn’t cost effective for the council. The Horsebrook repair only lasted one week. Cllr Thomas advised that similar complaints have been received from elsewhere: details should be passed to him to follow up with Highways.

County Cllr Thomas has put in the request for the cleaning of road signs and this is pending.

The 30mph speed interactive sign is still not working in Avonwick.

The 20’s Plenty Campaign was raised by a parishioner who had attended an online meeting. County Cllr Thomas informed the council that areas will invited to be part of trials of 20mph zones. Applications may be made to DCC. Parish specific reasons would need to be provided as part of the application. Cllr Thomas stated that he is happy to support an application, but noted that it must be an appropriate location. Cllr Thomas noted that in other areas local residents have formed groups to support.

Actions/Next Steps:
  • Potholes to be reported direct to DCC through their website.
  • Any concerns about white lines can be emailed direct to the PC clerk.
  • Initial report details with report numbers for substandard potholes may be emailed to County Cllr Thomas.
  • Clerk to report 30mph speed awareness interactive sign to the council.
  • County Cllr Thomas will send information to the Clerk about applying to be part of 20mph zone trials.

2:      Present

Cllrs Grevatt, Hunt, Steer, Bell, Seager-Berry, Luscombe

County Cllr Thomas and District Cllr Pannell

Clerk Laura Gogola

3:      Apologies for absence

Cllr Gabriel

4:      Declarations of Interest

No declarations of interest

5:      Minutes

The minutes of the meeting held on the 1st February were confirmed (proposed Cllr Seager Berry, Seconded Cllr Steer, unanimous) and signed.

6:      Matters Arising

Parking in Avonwick seems to be working quite well: the junction is generally being kept clear.

7:      Reports

Devon County Council

County Cllr Thomas supplied a generic report (included with these minutes) including: budgets linked to council tax; children's services; adult care and health; highways and locality schemes.

South Hams District Council

District Cllr Pannell supplied a written report (included with these minutes) covering: council tax.

Brown bin collections are also anticipated to be starting again soon.

District Cllr Pannell believes a stop has been made to the work in reference to the earlier discussion about the barn and track.


The February inspection was completed, very wet and muddy. Can John Widdicombe clear the entrance to make access easier for children and parents? Subject to budget.

Tree Warden

Cllr Bell attended the Tree Warden AGM. Everyone to be aware that if they would like to plant trees within the parish to contact him as he can provide links and advice around funding.

A free tree is available to mark the Platinum Jubilee, but a location would need to be found.

Actions/Next Steps:
  • Check if funds available for Mr Widdicombe to attend to park entrance.
  • PC to consider location for jubilee tree and determine if any local landowners would be able to support this.

8:      Planning

Butterford (no current application)

To note we have received many concerns from the public about the barn/ track/ path work at Butterford. As far as we are aware at present there is a stop order in place for this work. A parishioner expressed strong feelings about the length of time it has taken for this stop order to be put in place.

Action: A letter of complaint to be written to SHDC about the length of time it has taken for the stop order to be put in place for this work.

Lawful Development of an Existing Building to use it for Equestrian Purposes (0294122/CLE)

Evidence is sought that this building was used for equestrian purposes in the past. Cllr Bell confirmed that horses, paddocks/stables etc. have been seen on the site historically.

9:      Correspondence

Jubilee celebrations

Jubilee celebrations have been planned in Diptford on Sunday (5th June). They are looking for donations from the parish council for support the event, with no specific amount requested. There are also events being discussed in Avonwick as well. Request to be deferred to the next meeting when we might know more about all local events.

Let's Talk Teenagers Campaign

Councillors agreed that information may be placed on the website.

Community Composting

South Hams are setting up 6 community composting schemes.

Actions/Next Steps
  • Jubilee celebrations to be put on the agenda of the next meeting
  • Link to Let’s Talk Teenagers Campaign to go on Parish website

10:   Finance

Balance c/f  81577.70
Income (int)  0.07
Income (vat refund)  559.28
Exp (printer ink)  40.99
Balance  9,096.06

11:   Highways

There is a lot of mud on the road from Stretchney, possibly coming from the track.

Concern over state of the white lines on unclassified road between Charford and St James’s Church.

NHPC to apply for 20mph zone (proposed by Cllr Steer, seconded by Cllr Seager-Berry, unanimous).

Actions/Next Steps:
  • Clerk to contact the land owner at Stretchney and see if they would be willing to organise cleaning the road.
  • Clerk to contact DCC re. white lines.
  • Clerk to forward details of 20's Plenty
  • Application to be submitted to DCC for 20mph

12:   Next Meeting

Tuesday 5th April 2022 at 7.30pm at St James's Church, Avonwick.

Items for next meeting:

  • Notice Boards - what materials and costings
  • Expenses Policy
  • Jubilee Tree Planting
  • Jubilee Celebrations
County Council Report

County Councillor's Report March 2022

(Cllr Dan Thomas)

Just one item this month to report:


Council tax increase of 2.99%, meaning a rise of £45.18 for a Band D – the total for Band D now being £1556.46 for the year.

Extra £29.6 million on adult care and health (up 10.5%)

Extra £17.1 million in Children’s Services (up 10.8%)

Highways – no change in real terms which is going to cause us a significant headache with local requests going forward, I’m sorry to say, as I had hoped for an increase here too.

Much of this extra money is going to have to be found out of Council reserves. Not only is the Govt not giving local authorities enough cash to carry out their statutory duties, but it is also actively insisting that all Councils raise Council Tax by the highest amount allowed. I believe this to be the wrong approach, not least because it (Council Tax) is a regressive tax which takes no account of income and bases everything on outdated property values.

The other piece of very bad news is that the locality budget given to each County Councillor to support your local schemes has been reduced from £10,000 to £8,000. This reduction, representing saving of £120,000 - or 0.0024% of the Council’s total spending power (some £600 million) seems difficult to justify, in financial terms, in meeting our requirement to help communities stay strong, connected and resilient, but most of all in supporting local projects that do not attract other funding streams. All opposition councillors voted against this but were defeated by the ruling administration.

District Council Report

District Councillor's Report March 2022

(Cllr Guy Pannell)

Council tax

At the February meeting South Hams Council voted to increase Council Tax by £5 a year for Band D properties – equivalent to 10p a week. The Government has factored in this increase – the maximum allowed without a referendum – into funding presumptions for the coming year. An Opposition amendment to make no increase this year was defeated. The SHDC budget includes a £200,000 fund for investment in community composting.

When the precepts for Parish, District and County Councils, and Police and Fire authorities are added together the average yearly demand for a Band D property will be £2,155.30. That’s an increase of £64.75, or 3.1%, on last year.

Levelling Up and County Deal

The long-awaited Levelling Up White Paper has finally been published. It sets 12 ambitious goals for Levelling up by 2030, covering areas such as economic growth, digital connectivity, transport and education. The pan-Devon area (including Plymouth and Torbay) has been identified as a pilot area and invited to develop a ‘county devolution deal’. This is an opportunity to make the case to Government for the things our residents and communities need e.g. affordable housing. This is not about structural change (local government reorganisation) or a directly elected mayor.

We would be able to build on the successful collaboration of DCC and Devon Districts throughout the pandemic and now during the recovery phase (Team Devon). The White Paper also includes the following:  Councils will be given the power to require landlords of empty shops to fill them if they have been left vacant for too long. All homes in the Private Rented Sector will have to meet a minimum standard – the Decent Homes Standard.

£150 payment towards energy bills

The Chancellor announced that households in council tax bands A to D will receive a one-off payment of £150 towards the rising cost of energy bills, excluding second homes and empty properties who are not eligible for the payment. The Government has said that they expect residents who pay by Direct Debit to receive this money in April, with Local Authorities using bank account details to credit their account with a one-off payment of £150. For households in Bands A to D who do not pay by Direct Debit, and for those who wish to claim a discretionary grants, information will be sent out with the Council Tax bills in March. £144m will be provided to support vulnerable people and individuals on low incomes who do not pay Council Tax, or who pay Council Tax for properties in Band E to H.

Separately, the Energy Bills rebate will provide around 28 million households with an upfront discount on their bills worth £200. Energy suppliers will apply the discount to domestic electricity customers’ energy bills from October, with the Government meeting the costs. The discount will then be automatically recovered from people’s bills in equal £40 instalments over the next five years.


Performance by the contractors is slowly improving but we can’t yet say when the switch to recycling boxes will resume.

The temporary suspension of the garden waste (Brown bin) service is due to end on 31 March. At a series of meetings between SHDC Executive and the contractor FCC it has been very firmly expressed that our expectation is that the garden waste service should resume by April at the latest. FCC have confirmed that they are committed to ensuring that they meet their contractual obligations.

We will update residents as soon as further information is available.

Funding for wellbeing projects

Voluntary groups in the South Hams  are invited to apply for their share of a £50,000 funding pot to support wellbeing projects across the District. South Hams District Council has launched a new grant for local voluntary and community groups. Worth up to £2,500 per group, the money can be used for any project or scheme that makes a positive difference to the health and wellbeing of local people. Community groups should apply for a grant at by 7 March 2022. The £50,000 funding has been sourced via Devon County Council. It is part of the District Council’s stated commitment to take positive, practical action to improve health and wellbeing.

Applications are welcomed from all voluntary community groups in the South Hams, from local youth groups and befriending services to community transport organisations and sports clubs. Grants worth up to £2,500 will be made to those groups who can demonstrate that the money can be used to improve health and wellbeing. This could include, but is not limited to, projects to make it easier for more people of all ages and abilities to:

  • Develop new friendships and reduce loneliness; Learn new, healthy cooking skills; Gain confidence or a sense of belonging; Explore our natural environment and countryside; Play a new sport or physical activity; Enjoy gardening; Get creative with art and crafts