Annual Parish Meeting: Tuesday, 7 May 2024

Please note Annual Parish Meeting: please note earlier start time

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, 7 May 2024

North Huish Annual Parish Meeting 2024

You are invited to attend the Annual Parish Meeting on Tuesday, 7th May 2024 at 6.30pm at Avon Vale Tennis and Croquet Club, Black Hall Lane, Avonwick, TQ10 9EJ.


To approve the minutes of the previous Annual Parish Meeting held on Tuesday 9th May 2023

Reports from:

  • Chairman of North Huish Parish Council
  • District & County Councillors reports
  • Primrose Trail Group
  • The Trustees of North Huish Feoffees
  • Church of St James, Avonwick
  • Avon Vale Tennis & Croquet Club
  • Local Police representative
  • North Huish Community Group

Questions from parishioners are welcome.

This meeting will be succeeded by the Annual Parish Council Meeting and ordinary monthly meeting.

Draft Minutes

Draft Minutes for the Annual Parish Meeting on Tuesday, 7 May 2024

Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting held on 7th May 2024 held at Avon Vale Tennis and Croquet Club, Black Hall Lane, Avonwick. TQ10 9EJ.

These minutes are DRAFT until approved.

The minutes of the previous Annual Parish Meeting held on Tuesday 9th May 2023 were approved unanimously and signed by the Chairman.

There were approx. 20 members of the public present.



PCSO James Bolton – Neighbourhood Beat Manager – Totnes Rural introduced himself and gave a brief report on crime statistics in the parish, and explained this is a very low crime area and a safe place to live. He left his contact details with the clerk if anyone should wish to speak with him as follows:


Chairman of North Huish Parish Council’s report

The Chairman explained that the meeting is being recorded.

We’ve sadly lost our ex-Chairman who died earlier this year, he served as Chairman for many years, and did a lot for the parish. He was a trusted and true parishioner, was well known and liked, and he was a very good vet. He is missed by all who knew him.

There have been a few planning issues that are ongoing this year, and enforcement cases seem to be dragging on. It was felt that South Hams Planning don’t seem to take much notice of what we say and that we are only a consultee in the process.

Play Park – The Chairman expressed his thanks to Mr Northmore for doing a good job of cutting the grass in the play park, and that it’s in good condition.

He also thanked Mr Widdicombe, the lengthsman who also does a very good job of clearing the drains in the parish.

He thanked his fellow parish councillors also for their work this year.

District report

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

Local Elections 2023

At the Local Elections in May 2023 control of South Hams District Council passed to the Liberal Democrats for the first time since the Council was formed in the 1970s. The only other period when the Conservatives were not in the majority was in the 1990s, when members of the Liberal Democrats, Labour and Independents formed a coalition ruling group for four years. There are now 19 Liberal Democrat Councillors, seven Conservatives, three Greens, one Labour and one Independent. One Conservative member and one Green accepted invitations to join the Council’s Executive Committee. Guy Pannell and David Hancock are the two Members for South Brent Ward.

Council Plan approved for 2024-5

At their February meeting this South Hams District Council voted to accept the Council Plan setting out priorities for the next four years in response to the challenges and opportunities faced by communities across the District. Members also supported the Year 1 delivery plan, and the funding needed to deliver the plans. The Council Plan includes four key policy areas: to tackle the housing challenges, address climate change and biodiversity loss, support the economy and deliver good quality services to our communities. The plan is funded by an investment of £4.59m. This is made up of £1m of money released from reserves and capital schemes that are no longer needed together with £3.59m from the realignment of core budgets and government grants such as the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. To complement the housing priorities in The Council Plan, the Executive also approved a specific action plan focused on Housing and Homelessness prevention. Another of the Council’s key priorities is to do all it can to respond to Climate change and Biodiversity loss . It will do this with a budget of £500,000 to support a wide range of environmental initiatives, including supporting changes to agricultural practices and decarbonisation of the marine economy. The four priorities will be underpinned by providing good quality core council services. The Council will do this by working closer with our communities, improving customers access to services, making sure it is financially sustainable and putting good governance in place.

Grants for climate and ecology projects

District Councillors have been given a budget of £2,000 each to enable them to support a wide range of projects to help us tackle our Climate and Ecological Emergency Declarations. The project should meet one of the objectives in the South Hams Climate Change and Biodiversity Strategy. These are:

  • Reducing carbon emissions from households, businesses or organisations, including community and voluntary groups
  • Supporting behaviour change and sustainable living
  • Projects which will result in removal of carbon from the atmosphere through nature-based solutions or supporting improvements in biodiversity
  • Providing education and awareness of the Climate and Ecological emergency through direct engagement with hard to reach groups and individuals
  • Projects which aim to help communities and species adapt to the effects of Climate Change
  • Projects to help reduce organisational carbon footprints

Each Councillor has a budget of £2,000 to help not for private profit groups or organisations to deliver community projects that benefit their Ward or the wider local area. This is in addition to each Councillor’s yearly budget of £2,000 for their Locality Fund to support local groups and initiatives on other projects.

Devolution Deal for Devon

Devolution for Devon and Torbay has taken a step nearer with the publication of Government proposals for a ground-breaking deal that could re-draw the future relationship between local government in Devon and Torbay, and Whitehall. The plans, announced by Levelling Up Minister Jacob Young at an event in Paignton in January, would enable more decisions to be taken locally on issues such as building more affordable homes, investing in new quality jobs and skills, and improving public transport. The proposed Deal sets out proposals that could see the transfer of a range of powers and funding to a Devon and Torbay Combined County Authority (CCA), subject to public consultation. This body includes representatives of the District Councils in Devon. Under the proposals the new body would have direct control of adult education to create up to 50,000 new training and retraining opportunities by 2030.

Through Local Skills Improvement Plans, the proposed CCA will work with business and education leaders to create a stronger relationship between employers and schools, colleges and universities.. The Government .s proposing to transfer over £16 million of new funding to invest in new green jobs, homes, skills, and business growth and accelerate Devon and Torbay’s transition to a net-zero economy.

The Government is offering a stronger partnership with Homes England, capitalising on the Affordable Housing Programme and Brownfield Infrastructure and Land Fund to create a joint action plan for affordable housing schemes for local people and reduce homelessness. The proposal includes additional land assembly and compulsory purchase powers and would facilitate greater Community Land Trust-led delivery.

On transport, the proposed Deal builds on Devon County Council and Torbay Councils’ long history of working well together on local transport planning. The proposed Deal will strengthen this joined-up approach with Devon and Torbay working as equal partners on a CCA and improving the efficiency and co-ordination of public transport. There is an ambition to introduce a single ticketing system for travellers and investment in services to provide greater access to public transport.

The Government is also offering to transfer responsibility for developing, designing and delivering the next stages of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund from 2025.

The CCA would be responsible for working with Devon County Council, Torbay Council, District Councils and the business and education sectors to support high growth business sectors such as advanced marine engineering, defence, photonics and digital, and improve the look and feel of local communities with street and town centre enhancements.

Waste/recycling collection on track

The final reorganisation of the waste and recycling rounds in areas not previously covered has gone much more smoothly than can have been hoped for. Managers have worked closely with the collection staff to ensure the rounds are planned as efficiently as possible, and the introduction of more smaller collection lorries has worked well. In January only 191 collections were missed out of 100,00 – a failure rate of less than 0.2 per cent. The recycling rate for all waste collected is currently 45% but this is steadily improving.

Question from a member of the public: With the Lib Dems manifesto being implemented at the district council, are the planning issues mentioned by the Chairman earlier going to be tightened up?

Answer: There is a party of councillors currently working on enforcement issues, this is an ongoing process.

Cllr Bell commented that the consultee process needs to work both ways, ie he suggested that when planning officers are looking to enforce, they need to discuss the case directly with parish councils.

County report

Another tricky year for DCC with Adult and Children’s Services under tremendous pressure and the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) section of the latter in special measures under OFSTED criteria.

The other core part of the Council’s service – Highways – has not fared much better, with numerous issues with damaged roads and blocked gulleys. In the South Brent and Yealmpton Division, of which North Huish is one of 12 parishes, we have not done too badly, mainly thanks to Nick Colton, our local highways engineer. As long as potholes are reported, they are generally being mended reasonably quickly, and when that hasn’t been the case, Nick and I have put pressure on Milestone, the external contractor in question. Whether this crucial service should be privatised to a third-party company is a matter of political debate.

From a Governance point of view, we have the new Combined County Authority to look forward to. It remains to be seen exactly how this will benefit the residents of Devon.

The small piece of good news is that Locality Funding seems to have gone back up to £8k per Cllr. North Huish hasn’t asked for support this year that I can recall, but I would certainly look kindly on match funding any projects in the Parish for the 24/25 year.

Primrose Trail Group report

Three members of the Primrose Trail Group attended the meeting and gave a report on their plans for their group, ie to improve non-motorized access along a route between South Brent and Kingsbridge, following – where possible – the route of the old Primrose Railway line. They explained that they have consulted various parish councils and other bodies regarding this, and their plans in the next few months will be to put up some way markers along existing public rights of way between South Brent and Gara Bridge as part of their overall plans.

Question from a member of the public who resides in Gara Bridge: “There is very little parking around, are you planning to advise people to start and end in South Brent?” he made a further point to state that car parking for people travelling to the trail in cars would be a problem. Another question regarding ensuring cyclists follow the way marker signs at Gara Bridge was raised.

Answer:  Yes, in South Brent and in Kingsbridge. We will be publicising this in due course, and we are aware that there is little space available to park at Gara Bridge. Local people using the trail will already be aware of parking limitations, and a lot of people may not choose to travel in cars at all to access the trail. The way marker signs are planned to indicate a safe route on the trail in the correct direction.

A discussion followed regarding a published figure of 50,000 people expected to use the trail, the members of the Primrose Trail Group explained that this was a guesstimated figure for funding purposes, and this figure actually works out to be just over a hundred people a day over the course of a twelve-mile route, or just over ten people per mile only.

A resident of Avonwick spoke in support of cycle trails in general, her family regularly use them within the local area, and wanted to reassure people that in her family’s experience trails like this are not used by great numbers of people.

Question: She asked if there were plans to use any signage for safety purposes for users of the trail, especially where the route of the trail is along lanes shared by car drivers for example?

Answer: Yes, absolutely this is something that will be looked at as parts of the route will be on lanes – it was pointed out that there are currently a lot of cyclists and horse riders using existing lanes and that this in itself encourages drivers to slow down and even use the main busier roads instead in some cases.

Members of the Primrose Trail Group explained that they have no interest in being confrontational with anyone regarding their plans, including land owners, their sole purpose is to improve access for non-motorized users along a route between South Brent and Kingsbridge, for the benefit of everyone.

Question: Another resident also spoke to voice his concerns over multi use of the trail along roads and lanes, specifically he wished to state that horses may become spooked by cyclists or drivers, and this would make it less safe than if the route was off road as was originally planned. There will be an increased number of people using the route as well, and he said that cyclists and horses don’t blend well. Does this back up the argument that you’re in effect traffic calming by allowing horses on the route?

Answer: Horse riders tend to know the best and safest routes to follow with experience.

Question: (Same resident) If there are an increased number of accidents as a result of encouraging multi users along roads, who is ultimately responsible for this?

Answer:  The responsibility lies with the person who has caused the accident, it would not be possible to determine this in advance, and each case would be different in any case.

Cllr Bell asked the Primrose Trail Group to clarify their immediate plans of placing way markers on the first stage of the route between South Brent and Gara Bridge, using existing rights of way. They explained that their plan is to place small way marker signs on existing signs along the route to inform users. Cllr Bell asked if they had any plans to spend any money on the existing bridle ways etc, or change anything or whether it’s just waymarking at this stage. The Primrose Trail Group explained that they will be reviewing this, subject to people feeding back any issues to them on using the trail in due course.

Question: Another resident of Avonwick noted that the proposed original route, which was all off road, has changed now, and asked how this came about. He also wanted to understand why the route will need to be signposted at all now, as it’s using existing rights of way? He also raised an issue of being “barraged” by the group in the past to try and gain access to part of the old line that he now owns. He raised a further issue of safety for children using roads to cycle parts of the route, particularly at the New Bridge, Avonwick.

Answer:  The Primrose Trail Group explained that when they originally consulted with landowners about sections of the old line that they own, the response was mainly positive, but that pressure has since been put on them to object to the plans, which has made them listen to the landowners and the public and go with what the public would like to see happen. They also explained that the public like to be informed by signs of where to go, and the safest routes to follow along any trail.

Question: Cllr Grevatt said that the group must be aware of particular points along the route which may cause particular dangers – do you have active plans to work with the County Council to address these particular risks?

Answer: They explained that had already been in consultation with the local highways officer from Devon County Council regarding this, however they have not had the engagement they were hoping for recently regarding this. This is ongoing.

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. This has been done by South Brent Caring more recently.

Church of St James, Avonwick report

The church continues to provide worship and support to the community and wider afield with services every Sunday as well as occasional services for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the annual Carol Service of 9 lessons and carols.

Although the church is not licensed for weddings as it is not a parish church, we had a wedding in the summer under the provision of The Archbishop’s License. The church was beautifully decorated, and the bride and groom and guests had a happy day.

We have a regular choir and 2 organists who cover all the services between them.

The church council provides support with caring for the church in cleaning and decisions on the fabric of the building along with flower arranging and brass cleaning.

Over the last year the congregation has given collections to The Childrens’ Society, Combat Stress, and the local food bank.

The retired priest who has been with us for last 7 years will be fully retiring in June this year and we are in the process of looking for a newly retired priest to help cover services for us.

We are fortunate to have a Reader and 2 lay people who are able to lead Mattins and services of The Word when we have no priest.

Marigold Seager- Berry, Chairman of the Trustees

Avon Vale Tennis & Croquet Club report

A representative from Avon Vale Tennis club gave a brief report to say the club has been experiencing wet springs in the last couple of years, and that they are doing very well. They have now sourced appropriate heaters which will be installed by next winter, and they are open for business if any groups or organisations within the parish should require a meeting place or for any events etc. There is an open weekend next weekend planned for anyone who may be interested in joining the club. The Chairman thanked the tennis club for the use of their clubhouse for the Parish Council monthly meetings.

North Huish Community Group report

The North Huish Community Group was set up early in 2023 with the purpose of organising community events for the residents of North Huish and surrounding villages. The venue is St Mary's Church, now closed for regular worship but kept open to the public, providing a meeting space for social functions with the permission of the Churches Conservation Trust which maintains the building. During 2023 the following events were held: a coffee morning and cake sale, a spring celebration concert, a cream tea, an act of remembrance on Armistice Day and Carols by Candlelight. These events were well attended and appreciated and as a result the group was able to make several donations towards the work of the CCT. There are plans to hold similar events during 2024 with the addition of a harvest lunch. Dates and details are advertised locally in advance, and everyone is welcome to attend any of these events.

The Annual Parish Meeting then closed at 7.20pm, and some members of the public left the meeting, and the ordinary monthly meeting started.