Annual Parish Meeting: Tuesday, 9 May 2023

Please note Annual Parish Meeting: please note new location and earlier start.

Key information

Meeting location: Avon Vale Tennis and Croquet Club, Black Hall Lane, Avonwick, TQ10 9EJ

Meeting time: 6.30 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 Annual Parish Meeting on Tuesday, 9 May 2023

To approve the minutes of the previous Annual Parish Meeting held on Tuesday 3rd May 2022

Reports from:

  • Chairman of North Huish Parish Council
  • District & County Councillors reports
  • The Trustees of North Huish Feoffees
  • Church of St James, Avonwick
  • South Devon AONB
  • Avon Vale Tennis & Croquet Club
  • Avonwick and North Huish Community Hall Project
  • Primrose Trail group

Questions from the public are welcome.

The meeting will be preceded by the Annual Parish Council Meeting and followed by the monthly Parish Council meeting

Approved Minutes

Approved Minutes for the Annual Parish Meeting on Tuesday, 9 May 2023

These minutes were approved on 7 May 2024

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 Annual Parish Meeting held on 9th May 2023 held at Avon Vale Tennis and Croquet Club, Black Hall Lane, Avonwick. TQ10 9EJ.

The minutes of the previous Annual Parish Meeting held on Tuesday 3rd May 2022 were approved unanimously and signed by the Chairman.


Chairman of North Huish Parish Council’s report

David Gabriel gave the report and explained that the council had to say goodbye to Marigold Seager-Berry this year, who has served as a parish councillor for over 40 years, and expressed his sincere thanks on behalf of the council and parishioners for what she has achieved in this time. He also explained that the council we will be holding their monthly meetings in a new venue, and the Avon Vale Tennis Club have kindly agreed to let the council use the club for monthly meetings, subject to discussion under the finance section of this monthly meeting.

He advised that the council had benefitted from the long and sterling service of Tony Luscombe, the previous clerk, up until last year, when a locum stepped in temporarily, and a new clerk was appointed, then left, and another new clerk was recruited in October, and has covered, but has found that the role demanded more hours than she could give, so she has handed in her notice. A new clerk has now applied for the job who attended this meeting, however missed the previous meeting through illness unfortunately. Recruitment for the parish clerk will be discussed in the monthly meeting following this meeting.

The council also gave thanks to another parish councillor, Maggie Luscombe for her long and sterling service for over 20 years, who has also stood down this year.

An expression of thanks must also go to John Widdicombe, our lengthsman, who clears the buddleholes and drains in the lanes around the parish.

Planning – there have been a few contentious planning applications this year, and a couple of enforcement cases are ongoing, the details of which are confidential, the chairman said in his long experience it has been the case that when they get to enforcement stage, they disappear completely, however the council continues to register their objections in the usual way.

The new chairman Rob Steer expressed his thanks to the outgoing Chairman David Gabriel, for everything he has done for the council as well.

District report

New District Councillor David Hancock read out the highlights of the written report submitted, details of which are below:

Waste collection

One of the biggest issues we had to face in the year was the appalling service provided by our waste service contractors FCC. Many attempts to improve their performance failed and in the Summer South Hams Council voted to take the waste collection, street and toilet cleaning services back in house. The Council reached a mutual agreement with FCC to terminate the contract from the start of October, since when there has been a significant improvement. The Council also took the decision to suspend the brown bin garden waste collection scheme over the winter and to reinstate it from March, with the introduction of a charge of £49 per year. Currently more than over 11,000 residents have signed up. Due to FCCs poor performance under the contract SHDC were able to withhold substantial sums from them, these funds will help us as the decision to take the service back under SHDC management plus rising energy costs is likely to add significantly to the council’s costs for this service, possibly up to £3m over the next few years. At a Special Council meeting on 13th April SHDC Members debated and unanimously approved a report detailing how the Waste and Recycling service will be updated to ensure all SHDC residents receive the full Devon Aligned Service (DAS) including glass and food waste collection from the doorstep.

We have been waiting for the Governments delayed Environment Bill to be published which should detail improvements to waste collection particularly around food waste, however for reasons of expediency the Council has decided to put underway changes now ahead of this.

Currently approximately 22,500 households receive the full DAS, 15,000 are on a weekly co-mingled collection which allows all materials to be recycled at Chelson Meadow, Plymouth, except food waste, and a further 8,000 (including most of the South Brent Ward) are still on the old blue and clear sacks. These households have to recycle glass using bottle banks (if they have them) and have to put food waste in the black bin for incineration.

Plans have been drawn up to ensure that the waste and recycling service both remains within the revenue budget 23/24 and provides the full DAS to all South Hams residents by October 2023. This will involve two main strands:

(1) The purchase of additional vehicles (8x7.5 tonne narrow access and 2x12tonne kerbside sort trucks) £2.16million funded from earmarked Vehicle and Plant Reserves. Due to massive demand within the waste industry it has proved impossible to hire or lease these vehicles.

(2) The use and upgrade of SHDCs site at Torr Quarry, Kingsbridge as an additional offload site for the Kingsbridge/Salcombe/Dartmouth area to relieve pressure on Ivybridge and ensure faster turnaround of trucks, £0.5 million funded from internal borrowing. The Torr Quarry site will need upgrading to meet new Environment Agency rules around the bulk storage of waste and recyclates, mainly relating to access and additional new fire protection measures such as a massive water tank etc.

Street Cleaning, a key priority, has been remodelled to ensure that all key areas are covered by a large mechanical sweeper on a 6 weekly schedule while the small mechanical sweepers are used in the main towns and close areas. Frequent emptying and unreliability mean use of these small vehicles are being reviewed against newer technology.

Aldi scheme for Ivybridge shelved

The South Hams Council Executive agreed to stop work permanently on the Aldi supermarket proposal in Ivybridge. Originally planned in 2018 to help regenerate Ivybridge town centre, the proposal at first received support from Ivybridge Town Council and a residents’ survey. However, following the Covid pandemic and a return to local shopping in the town, support for the development waned, particularly when it became apparent there would be a loss of car parking spaces during construction. The decision to stop came after the South Hams' Development Management Committee, having considered all the relevant planning matters, unanimously refused the planning application, citing possible harm to town centre businesses, tree loss and unsympathetic design.   The council incurred costs of approximately £480,000 in developing the scheme.

£1m to Support Community Net Zero Targets

South Hams District Council was granted funding of over £1m to help reduce carbon emissions in the district. The money will allow the Council to deliver targeted business and community support programmes. The award comes from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities as part of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF). The Council is using the money to achieve the most sustainable outcomes possible to support its Climate Change and Biodiversity promise to become net-zero by 2050. By working closely with specialist organisations, businesses and community groups, the Council can improve sustainable travel infrastructure, begin to decarbonise our marine sector, and help our farming community to adopt innovative approaches to farming that are better for our climate and ecology. The programme will run until the end of March 2025.

Solar Panels on South Hams Leisure Centres

The Council approved the investment of £500,000 in the installation of solar panels at all four leisure centres in the district – Ivybridge, Totnes, Kingsbridge and Dartmouth. A study on greenhouse gas emissions caused by Council activity was commissioned in 2021. It showed that the biggest proportion of the organisation's emissions relate to its activities from leased assets, franchising and outsourcing. That includes the four leisure centres. The installation of the panels will reduce the carbon emissions of the centres by 131 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCOe), equivalent to the annual energy emissions of 38 homes. The investment was originally to have been carried out by a loan to the operators, Fusion, but the council has now decided to fund the work direct.

Plymouth Freeport application approved

The Full Business Case for the Freeport was approved by the Government and the tax sites at Sherford, Langage and Oceans Gate (Plymouth) went live on July 4. This means that the opportunities for businesses to invest and create jobs can start in earnest, taking advantage of the benefits of the Freeport. Plymouth City Council, South Hams District Council and Devon County Council have worked with private sector organisations and landowners to create Plymouth and South Devon Freeport Limited, a private company limited by guarantee without share capital.

Ukrainian refugees

By Summer the total reported number of Ukrainian guests residing in South Hams under the Homes For Ukraine scheme was 120 over 51 properties (and the team were also supporting another 121 guests in West Devon). The Support for our Ukrainian Guests is continuing in the form of essential financial support and assisting with the building blocks of sustainable living in the UK. This has also evolved into working with guests and hosts where relationships are breaking down, and planning for any moves from accommodation as required.

Local elections

Cllrs. Smerdon and Pannell are coming towards the end of our four-year term of office as elections for the District Council take place on Thursday 4th May. We are both standing for re-election, and regardless of the outcome would like to thank our Parish Councils and their members for their welcome, co-operation and friendship over the past four years.

County Councillor’s report

County Councillor Dan Thomas read out the annual report as follows:

New Chief Executive

March was Donna Manson's first full month as Devon County Council's new Chief Executive. Donna has set out her first impressions of the county and the council, and her focus on engagement in a message to our staff and Members. As a result of her appointment – and many other changes of personnel at senior levels, the County is now undertaking a comprehensive Governance review. This will deal with the massive Special educational Needs and Disabilities budgetary shortfall as well as the Council’s scrutiny functions and how it deals with other partner bodies.


DCC will be spending 18.5 per cent more on children's services, and 8.8 per cent more on adult social care services. Overall, the Council is budgeting to spend 10.5 per cent more on services than last year. The average Band D householder will see the County’s proportion of their council tax bill increase by £1.49 a week to pay these increases. Spending this much on priority services to meet growing demand without national support means having to make savings in the region of £47.5 million from elsewhere in order to balance the books.

20mph schemes

4 applications were passed and begun in 22/23, with around £100k allocated. With over 100 parishes having expressed interest, County has given itself a 25 – 30 workbook of jobs before all parishes are satisfied.

Children’s Services

This area, worryingly, continues to have an official rating of ‘Requires Improvement’. Parents delivered DCC a strong message during the year in protest over failings within services that support children who have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Significant problems and delays are occurring across the County. I would urge parents who feel that they are not receiving a timely or appropriate level of service should contact me for support.

Pot Holes

These remain a huge issue across the County. The good news is that DCC has doubled the number of pothole teams, introduced weekend working and extended working hours across the network. That resulted in up to 2,200 potholes being repaired each week.

Local Issues

I have been delighted to support the Parish from my locality budget this year and will be happy to continue to do so next financial year.

County Councillor Dan Thomas 07917 877706 April 2023

The Trustees of North Huish Feoffees report

Jonathan Bell explained to members of the public and councillors who may not be aware, that the Feoffees was originally set up to help the poor and needy of the parish, and its funding comes from the ownership and rental of Mary Park. All the rental income is then distributed by charitable donations, which meet the rules of the charity by providing help to the poor and needy within the parish.

He explained that during the last couple of years they have tried advertising this service in the parish but have not received any requests for help, so all income generated, which has been in excess of £300, has been donated to South Brent Caring who do a lot of work for parishioners in this parish, as it was felt that this was the best use of the charity’s funds. If any parishioner needs any help, please contact the trustees of North Huish Feoffees. It was also discussed and agreed that it would be a good idea to signpost this service on the Parish Council website

Church of St James, Avonwick report

St James Church Avonwick has continued to support and be supported by a small but loyal congregation, some are local and some from other parishes as they appreciate The Book of Common Prayer which is mostly used at St James. St James is also a paid-up member of the national/international Prayer Book Society.

During the summer the new Bishop of Plymouth (Bishop James) requested a visit to St James on his pilgrimage tour from Exeter to Plymouth. He was greeted here and provided with tea. He prayed with us and we with him as he began his new ministry as a suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Exeter.

Every Sunday, and the usual Church of England calendar of services, were observed throughout the year. We were pleased to be able to return to normality after the Covid restrictions.

Prebendary Paul Hancock who has taken services once a month at St James in his retirement died this year. We looked back with thanksgiving for his 55 years of ministry and were able to have a special service and party for him last year for this anniversary which he celebrated with his family and St James congregation.

Last year we sadly had to have a large copper beech felled due to storm damage and honey fungus. A new tree has been planted in memory of the late Queen and was blessed on the 27th November. The tree was donated by the Steer family who have supported the church for many years.

We manage to maintain the fabric of the church without any outside funding and give outwardly to Combat Stress, The Children’s Society, The Local Food Bank and this year we supported the appeal for Ukraine. The church also supports people from the parishes of Diptford and North Huish providing a chest in the porch for daily newspapers which are delivered from South Brent.

Meetings for the Church Council, Feoffees and for the Parish Council have been held in the church or vestry over the past year.

Marigold Seager-Berry

Chairman of the Trustees of St James

South Devon AONB report

Peter Sandover attended the meeting and gave a full report as follows:

He explained that he has recently been elected as the chairman of the AONB partnership – it’s a 3 year term, he introduced himself, and talked about what the partnership does, and discussed their plans for the future as follows:

To improve engagement within our communities

Make the area more inclusive and accessible, but not to the detriment of our beautiful landscape in South Devon AONB.

The single statutory purpose of the AONB is to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the designated area including its landscape and scenic beauty.

He explained that there are 3 strands to the AONB -

  1. Official designation of the area
  2. The partnership that oversees a 3rd element which is the staff team. The partnership is made up of stakeholders such as DCC, SHDC, PCC, Torbay Council, The National Trust, The Forestry Commission, Devon Wildlife Trust, and Maritime organisations to name a few.
  3. Staff team

The statutory duty to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the AONB is a shared responsibility with other partners and stakeholders.

He explained that the funding for the partnership is running at approx. £200K per year, and 75% of this is from DEFRA, and the rest from local authorities.

Some of the projects being worked on currently include the living on the edge project, which includes identifying, protecting and enhancing all the biodiversity in the AONB, this is a 4 year project which has recently started.

There is a project to support and fund the farming community as well, and a nature recovery plan for the area, as well as a climate recovery plan.

There is also advice provided on planning applications to local authorities within the AONB. He iterated that the AONB is not a statutory consultee, so there is a limit to what they can do on this.

They are running a series of improving access to the countryside projects as well.

Avon Vale Tennis & Croquet Club report

Neil Millward who is the Chairman of the trustees of the Avon Vale Tennis & Croquet Club introduced himself and thanked the council for allowing them to host the Annual Parish Meeting. He said that two years ago this would not have been possible, due to improvements that were needed, it had no mains electricity then.

In the last two years a program of modernisation was started which included mains electricity connection, this cost £25K, which was higher than expected due to not being able to agree a wayleave with the landowner of the surrounding fields. Changing rooms were built which they secured a grant of £15K for. They have also had a roof resurfaced externally, and insulated internally, and a new ceiling. Club membership has covered these costs. The floor in the clubhouse has also been sanded and professionally sealed. They hope to be able to host more meetings and events for the benefit of the parish.

Deirdre Pope advised that altogether the costs to make the above modernisations to the clubhouse came to £66.5K, and most of this was funded by the club’s own resources. They have overspent against budget by approx. £5K. She explained that there was more to do in terms of installing heaters, this is estimated to cost approx. £3K, and they need to install a sewage system as well. At present, they are using a soakaway system.  All in all they need to find £18K to fund these improvements. The Chairman of North Huish Parish Council congratulated them for the improvements made thus far. Deidre did say that they are willing to share more details on these plans to any interested parties.

Avonwick and North Huish Community Hall Project

Councillor Grevatt read the report as follows:

Unfortunately, over the last year, we have lost a committee member bringing the committee back down to four members.

However, with the help of residents from Avonwick, a fabulous Jubilee event was held last year, which again saw our Marquee being put to good use.

As reported at last year’s AGM, whilst there remains an interest in building a village hall for the Parish, this does not seem viable at this time, and the prospects or doing so are very limited due to parking and HGV turning requirements.

Therefore, we are looking into restructuring our funds with a view to distributing them to local community groups and organisations.

The ANHCHP constitution documents make it clear that: “All funds must be applied to the objects of the Group and for no other purpose”, and the specified objects are:

  1. To provide a steering committee to facilitate community engagement regarding the provision of a new Community Hall within the Parish of North Huish.
  2. To carry out initial project research in terms of the project planning and development, funding and grant opportunities and regulations by working in partnership with all relevant interest groups, voluntary organisations, Government Departments, statutory authorities, and individuals and to establish the feasibility of the construction and sustainable operation of a new Community Hall.
  3. The Management Committee seeks to provide for improvement in the local environment for an involved and valued community.
  4. To improve community facilities and foster community spirit for the residents and visitors to the area.

Once we have established our criteria, we will be inviting formal applications, and will be seeking an independent adjudicator selected for their good standing within the community.

An AGM will be held over the Summer, as normal the residents will be invited to give their views as part on the agenda.

Gudrun Wiersum, Chairperson ANHCHP. May 2023

Primrose Trail Group report

A written report was submitted to the council as follows, although a spokesperson was not present at this meeting:

Report on the activities of Primrose Trail Ltd

Objects of the Primrose Trail project as published in its Articles of Association (item 4) and as shown on its Charity Commission website page:

For the public benefit to preserve, maintain, and develop the Primrose Trail ('the trail') as a long-distance public footpath and multi-use trail, so securing the trail as a public amenity and a facility for recreation and other leisure-time occupation in the interests of social welfare with the object of improving the conditions of life for the public at large, including walkers, cyclists, equestrians and those with disabilities.

Background/history (roughly chronological)
  • Project inception 2017  ➢ Steering group formed. Regular meetings held. The steering group is made up of volunteer representatives of the local cycling, walking and horse-riding community and includes a range of expertise including planning, finance, engineering, IT and media.  ➢ Website and Facebook pages created.
  • Collaboration with John Grimshaw of Greenways & Cycleroutes, founder of Sustrans o Collaboration with Graham Cornish, former Cycleways Officer of Devon County Council, and Project Manager for the National Cycle Network in Devon.
  • Drafting and publication of Feasibility Study/Proposal Outline in 2020. Successive later editions were published in response to feedback. Last edition was June 2021, now out of date.
  • Incorporation January 2020: Primrose Trail Ltd. Company number 12412535
  • Registered with Charity Commission October 2022. Charity number 1200824
  • Fundraising is continuous. Public donations are received via the GoFundMe website. Other donations have been received from corporate bodies and The British Horse Society. Grants have been received from Devon County Council and South Hams District Council’s Climate Infrastructure Fund.
  • The Primrose Trail project is included in Kingsbridge, West Alvington & Churchstow Neighbourhood Plan, published November 2022.
  • March 2022. Walking survey of proposed route carried out for route clarification and potential signage locations.
  • Schedule of Work produced detailing signage, drainage and long-term major projects.  o July 2022. Decision to concentrate initially on Stage 1, South Brent to Gara Bridge.
  • Project Manager. Appointed March 2023.
Significant meetings

Note: progress was hampered during 2020/2021 by limitations imposed during the Covid pandemic but some online meetings took place.

  • 11 Feb 2021 Meeting with Jamie Hulland, (Transportation Strategy and Road Safety Manager, DCC), Devon County Councillors and Anthony Mangnall MP (Zoom).
  • 24 Feb 2021 Meeting with Local Enterprise Partnership and Anthony Mangnall (Zoom).
  • 12 March 2021 Presentation to South Devon AONB Partnership (Zoom)
  • 19 March 2021 Meeting with Sarah Gibson (Head of Placemaking) and Chris Brook (Director of Place & Enterprise), both from SHDC & West Devon Borough Council, and with Anthony Mangnall (Zoom)
  • May 2021 Liaison with Devon Wildlife Trust (Ed Parr-Ferris) for advice and guidance.
  • 18 May 2021 Meeting between Tasha Green and Liz Montague of SAVG and two representatives of the PT (George Mahood and Debbie Board).
  • 12 December 2022 Meeting with Gemma Bristow, Digital Connectivity and Active Travel Lead, SHDC & West Devon BC (Microsoft Teams).

8 May 2023


Questions from the public:

A member of the public asked if the Primrose Trail Report will be available for the public to see, the Chairman advised it will be published as part of this meeting, on the parish council website.

A member of the public raised a concern about the transparency and openness of the discussion of the Primrose Trail’s plans possibly being held in a closed session with the parish council and not held in a public session. The Chairman gave his assurance that this will not happen.

Councillor Bell suggested that Anthony Mangnall be contacted by parishioners if they so wish,  and the council to get his opinion on this either way, as his name has been included in an early meeting with the Primrose Trail meeting in 2021 above.

Peter Sandover confirmed that as it stands, the South Devon AONB partnership could not support the plans for the Primrose Trail, in its current form.

Other members of the public voiced their concerns about it, namely car parking issues along the planned trail, also the environmental impact on wildlife, and one also stated that people in other parishes felt out of the loop as well.

Councillor Grevatt suggested that it may be a good idea to use the parish council to contact the Primrose Trail group with specific questions to which they would like an answer to, as well as an opportunity to discuss this in an open session in a more transparent way.

Councillor Bell also suggested that it would be a good idea to contact SUSTRANS to ask how much influence and involvement they have had with the Primrose Trail plans.

County Councillor Dan Thomas paid tribute to District Councillor Smerdon for his hard work in the parish and his ward over the years and wanted to thank him personally for his help.

The Annual Parish Meeting then closed, and some members of the public left the meeting, and the ordinary monthly meeting started.