Parish Council meeting: Tuesday, 2 April 2024

Key information

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

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, 2 April 2024

Agenda for the NHPC meeting to be held at 7.30pm on Tuesday 2nd April 2024 at Avon Vale Tennis Club, Black Hall Lane, Avonwick. TQ10 9EJ.

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 to 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 5th March 2024.

6:             Matters Arising

  • Co-option
  • Defibrillator training
  • North Huish noticeboard
  • Posthumous Community award for Cllr David Gabriel

7:             Reports

To receive Reports from

  1. County Councillor Thomas
  2. District Councillor Pannell or Hancock
  3. Play Park Inspection
  4. Tree Warden Report
  5. P3 Co-ordinator Report
  6. Defibrillators Report

8:             Planning

No new planning applications this month, or decisions.

9:             Correspondence

  • Primrose Trail Group correspondence including two parishioners’ emails.
  • Email from Habitat group re: gardening for wildlife leaflets.

10:      Finance

  • To note recent and future income and expenditure.
  • Tender for grounds maintenance at Avonwick Playpark.
  • Lloyds forms to be signed off for change of signatories.
  • Citizens Advice Bureau request for funding of £300.
  • To approve Invoice ref 2224 from J Widdicombe for £184.80 for clearing drains in February.

Opening balances at Bank as at 14th February 2024

Treasurers Account  2,151.36
Business Bank Instant Account  7,937.72
Balance 10,089.08


11th March Interest received  8.76


16th February R Northmore grass cutting April-October 2023  730.00
23rd February AVTCC  22.75
1st March Clerks salary & expenses  145.48
1st March HMRC PAYE  33.80
6th March Mr J Widdicombe – Inv 2207  105.60
6th March Defib Store Ltd  268.80

Closing balances as at 11th March 2024

Treasurers Account  844.93
Business Bank Instant Account  7,946.48
Balance  8,791.41

11:      Highways

To consider Highway matters.

12:      Next meeting

To consider items for future meetings.

To agree a date for the next Meeting (Tuesday 7th May 2024 at an earlier start time of 6.30pm to include the Annual Parish Council Meeting and the Annual Parish Meeting.

Approved Minutes

Approved Minutes for the Parish Council meeting on Tuesday, 2 April 2024

These minutes were approved on 2 April 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.

The meeting was opened at 7.30pm, and there were three members of the public in attendance for this meeting.

1:      Open Forum

The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting.

A member of the public raised concerns about the proposed waymarking of a revised Primrose Trail. Whilst having nothing against enjoyment of the countryside, they noted local opposition to the trail. They queried whether Devon County Council (DCC) and South Hams District Councils (SHDC) endorse and/or support the plan. They had seen little involvement of the local community; are concerned about the safety implications of encouraging more walkers and cyclists on local roads; felt it unnecessary to add signs to existing rights of way; and asked that NHPC request that permission for markers be revoked.

Cllr Dan Thomas (DCC and SHDC) suggested it was a matter of interpretation. He stated that SHDC had provided the Primrose Trail Group (PTG) with funding – partially returned - for signage and their website from the Green Infrastructure Fund, which might be seen as endorsement; but it should be seen only as a grant towards a project that aimed to champion green energy [sic]. DCC had been asked for permission to add markers to public right of way signs, and no objection was raised; but this should not be taken as active support. The project is not a District matter, and it is not a priority for the County to develop the scheme.

The member of the public asked about the County’s attitude to route markers: could new trails be created without formal approval? Cllr Thomas indicated that new routes can in theory be created without formal approval; felt that the move to use existing rights of way was a step in the right direction; and noted a difficulty in the contrast between the stance of the Save the Avon Valley Group who rightly wish to preserve private property and the County’s positive attitude towards promoting active travel.

Cllr Grevatt noted that that the PTG’s letter to NHPC stated only that there had been liaison with the DCC and SHDC. Cllr Snoxall queried whether the British Horse Society had been consulted. DCC has written to NHPC with the same information as Cllr Thomas presented, confirming that there has been no active endorsement of the scheme.

It was noted that the Primrose Trail had recently begun to engage with NHPC, supplied a route map that used only roads and bridleways, and had agreed to attend the May meeting.

Cllr Bell noted that the current plans use only ways that already exist. The member of the public queried the need for a marked trail when rights of way are on maps; Cllr Grevatt noted that many similar trails are designed to draw attention to existing ways. The member of the public suggested that the trail could mutate over time from the initial route.

2:      Present:

Cllrs Steer (Chair), Cllr Grevatt (Vice Chair), Cllrs Hunt, Bell and Snoxall.

County Cllr Thomas.

3:  Apologies for absence

Cllr Ring due to holiday, and District Cllrs Hancock and Pannell.

Apologies were accepted by the council.

In the absence of the clerk due to illness, Cllr Grevatt took notes.

4:  Declarations of Interest

None declared.

5:  Previous Minutes

The minutes of the meeting held on the 5th March 2024 were confirmed as a true record and signed, this was agreed unanimously.

6:  Matters Arising


We have advertised for people to express an interest in being co-opted to the council by the end of April.

Training for defibrillator use

No responses have yet been received from the public, and we are awaiting a response from the Diptford Clerk. A member of the public visually expressed an interest at the meeting: they were asked to contact the Clerk.

North Huish noticeboard

Cllr Grevatt advised that weather has prevented work on the board. Ongoing.

Community Award

Permission will be sought from Cllr Gabriel’s widow to put him forward for the award.

7:  Reports

County Council

County Cllr Thomas attended the meeting, and advised he has sent a report to the clerk today for circulation, this will be published with the minutes.  Cllr Thomas summarised the report, which indicates that the finances of DCC are better than expected. He commented that this has been achieved by savings in areas such as road maintenance.

In reply to Cllr Thomas’s comment, the defective work, particularly drainage, at the new Kitterford Cross Roundabout was raised, as was the need for better information at advance “Road Ahead Closed” notices.

Cllr Thomas also stated that he would be happy to fund a replacement reflector as discussed at the March meeting, and that the defective road drains near the Old Bridge have been added to the 2025/26 works programme.

District Council

A report has been circulated to the council prior to the meeting. No district councillors were present at the meeting. Cllr Thomas commented that there is a disparity between the size of districts and the number of voting members proposed in the Devolution plan and there is scepticism about the proposal.

Playpark report

Cllr Grevatt reported this is in its usual condition, though wet.

Tree Warden’s report

Cllr Bell said that trees suffering Ash Die-back should be monitored near public highways and rights of way.

P3 Report

An application for funding is being prepared by Cllr Snoxall and the Clerk, with an extension to the deadline agreed.

Cllr Steer raised the issue of flooding on the unmetalled road through Broadley.

Defibrillator Report

Cllr Grevatt reported that new pads have now been fitted to the Avonwick defibrillator.

8:  Planning

There were no new planning applications this month.

9:  Correspondence

Specific items were noted as follows:

  • Primrose Trail Group correspondence including two parishioners’ emails.
  • Email from Habitat group re: gardening for wildlife leaflets: Rather than printed leaflets, hosting a copy on-line to be suggested.

10:  Finance

Receipts and payments as stated on Agenda.

Tender for grounds maintenance at Avonwick Playpark.

Two quotes received: lower quote from current contractor RCN Landscapes & Maintenance to be accepted; agreed unanimously.

Lloyds forms to be signed off for change of signatories.

Forms not present, so will need to be signed between meetings.

Citizens Advice Bureau request for funding of £300.

As per usual NHPC policy, it was agreed not to provide funding.

To approve Invoice ref 2224 from J Widdicombe for £184.80 for clearing drains in February.

Agreed unanimously.

Balance c/f at 14 Feb 2024  10,089.08
Interest  8.76
R Northmore  -730.00
AVTCC  -22.75
Clerk’s salary & expenses  -145.48
HMRC PAYE  -33.80
Mr J Widdicombe – Inv 2207  -105.60
Defib Store Ltd  -268.80
Balance at 11 Mar 2024  8,791.41

11:  Highways

See also comments under Item 7 Reports: County Council

Visibility at crossroads by Avonwick church

Further complaints have been received. Tennis club have moved their sign, but vegetation is still blocking visibility. Cllr Steer declared an interest, but will ensure that the vegetation will be cut.

Blocked drains

There is a blocked drain in North Huish, and the ditch next to the Old Bridge has not yet been cleared. John Widdicombe will be asked to clear them by Cllr Steer.

12: Next Meeting

The Annual Parish Meeting, the Annual Parish Council meeting and the monthly Parish Council Meeting was agreed to be held on Tuesday 7th May 2024 at the earlier time of 6.30pm.


County Council Report

County Councillor's Report April 2024

This year has seen dire warnings about local authorities “going bankrupt”, slashing services and imposing double digit council tax increases. A new report by DCC Director of Finance, Angie Sinclair, predicts that the revenue budget of just under £700 million will effectively break even in April with a small overspend of £291,000 currently being forecast.

Her report covers the current financial year to the end of January with two more months to go. She says:

“Financial risks within adult social care and children and young people are still being experienced but the work underway across the authority to support these pressures continues to ensure the whole organisation is focused on achieving a break-even position for the end of the year.

“The position has improved significantly since Month 8, with the forecast overspend reducing from £4.5 million to nearly breakeven, and demonstrates strong financial management.

“The forecast break-even position is a huge achievement and the result of a continued focus on financial control and would not have been possible without the authority pulling together as One Devon and our work with our partners.

“This is mitigating and responding to in-year pressures, delivering planned savings and providing services within the budgets agreed.”

Councillors heard the figures included the £10 million savings that were needed to create a reserve to satisfy the Government on their offer of financial support for our spending deficit on special needs education or SEND.

District Council Report

District Councillor's Report April 2024

Parish report from your District Councillors, 02 April

Peer Review

South Hams and West Devon Councils were visited by a team of Officers and Members from other local authorities in England in March to carry out a Corporate Peer Challenge  -  or Peer Review.

The feedback from the peer team has been extremely positive about how we work together as a single organisation to support both councils to deliver for our communities. The team were extremely impressed with the speed with which the new political administrations have formed; the collaborative way in which members work with each other and the very constructive member and officer relations; our overall financial management and resources; the way in which we have developed our new Council Plans; performance management and governance arrangements; and most important of all the quality of the services we are delivering to our residents.

The team also identified areas where they think we can build on our strong base to go further, including, to further embed our plans for community development; build upon our already strong place-leadership role to ensure we are fit for the future and can influence the Devon-wide partnerships including being clear about our strategic objectives for the economy; enhance our engagement and influence on health partners;  and importantly to tell our story better to our communities.

The full feedback from the peer team can be viewed here

The next step will be to receive the full report back from the LGA, which will be reported to the Executive/ Hub Committee in due course.


At our March meeting the Council voted to express concerns over the proposed Devon and Torbay Devolution Deal (creating a new Devon and Torbay Combined County Authority). These include:

  • The proposal risks making local government more complex by adding a layer of bureaucracy
  • The proposed £16m capital funding was only for the next two years
  • The fact that spending plans must be signed-off by central government disqualifies the plan from being true devolution of powers
  • The proposed combined authority’s remoteness and lack of democratic accountability, including the lack of voting rights for District Councils, further disqualifies it from being described as “devolution“
  • The government’s document indicates that this is the first step in the reorganisation of local government in Devon and Torbay. We are concerned that the intention as stated threatens the existence of district councils, the loss of effective local governance and may establish rule by a body that is remote and out of touch.
  • The cost and additional layer of local government will in itself hamper any improvement in the local services it is intended to improve and may result in their decline.

The Council called for the process to be postponed pending the outcome of the forthcoming General Election and 2025 County Council elections.

If and when the devolution deal proceeds the council proposes that an element of the Small Sites Green Investment programme be allocated to support community-led housing developments to improve energy efficiency, reduce embedded carbon and improve biodiversity.


At the same meeting Council voted to not allow meetings of hunts on land it owns. Among the reasons were concern over public safety from gatherings of horses and hounds.