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Full Council Meeting - 27 March 2006

Town Hall, Bideford 27th March 2006

TORRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL

MEETING OF THE COUNCIL

Town Hall, Bideford

27th March 2006

PRESENT: Councillor A G Gould (Chairman)

Councillor T Sillifant (Vice Chairman)

Councillors J Allen, H R Barton, A I Bewes, P S Christie, P R Collins, J W E Cowle, E J Davies, A J Eastman, Mrs P A Ferguson, L S Ford, R H Hicks, F Howard MBE, W G Isaac, K J James, R E Johns, Mrs C L March, Mrs S A Mounce, J Morrish, Mrs P J Paddon (left meeting 7.00pm and returned 7.10pm), W W Pillman, J Rawlinson, D H Shadrick, P J Sturges and R M M Tisdale.

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors R D Bond, H M Bone, G Boundy, Mrs M Brown, G C Broyd, Mrs S E I Bushby, S E L Clarke, D J Daniel, A Eastwood OBE and A T Inch.

134.

MINUTES

The Minutes of the meetings held on the 13th and 27th February 2006 were presented.

In response to a question relating to the Notice of Motion detailed under Minute 129, the Chairman of the Constitution Working Group confirmed that as this related to a constitutional matter then it had been appropriate for Council to consider the item.

Thereafter, it was;

Resolved: That the Minutes of the meetings held on the 13th and 27th February 2006 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

135.

PUBLIC CONTRIBUTIONS

(a) Mr Zyg Gregorek of Anglers Paradise, Halwill addressed Members in response to the concerns expressed at the last Council meeting in respect of the current proposals for his business, which fell within Local and County policies. Mr Gregorek advised that the comments made by the objector at that time contained many inaccuracies, and had grossly exaggerated the number of planning applications submitted by his business in the past.

Information was provided on the whole concept of Anglers Paradise, and it was confirmed that the current proposals did not bring anything closer to his neighbours, did not increase the number of villas at the site and remained within the existing boundaries of Anglers Paradise. Mr Gregorek also pointed out that the road leading to his business and the other eleven residential properties belonged and was maintained exclusively by his company. He further explained that the reason for the current planning application was to allow the business to improve the amenities over the next four years avoiding making numerous individual planning applications.

Mr Gregorek ended by advising of the achievements of Anglers Paradise in the last twenty years; the contribution made by the business to the economy of Devon; and the aspirations of the business to re-invest to encourage visitors to holiday in the area.

(b) Mr Keith Bines

Mr Keith Bines, the joint Chair of the Torridge Branch of UNISON, referred to the strike action called for the following day (Tuesday, 28th March 2006). He explained to the Council that Members of UNISON were seeking to protect their pension rights, in the same way as other Public Sector workers already in an existing scheme had been afforded protection. Mr Bines concluded by confirming that UNISON recognised the need for the pension scheme to be examined, but was seeking parity with other Public Sector workers for their Members.

(c) Mr David Bruce

Mr David Bruce addressed the Council again with regard to his concerns relating to the increased car parking charges, and the subsequent effect on the economy of businesses. He referred to the reply received from the Chief Executive following the last time he had addressed the Council on this topic, and reiterated that the increased charges continued to produce a decline in trade for local businesses.

Mr Bruce asked why the Council did not introduce parking concessions for local businesses, and why car parking charges implemented by Torridge were more than those charged by North Devon District Council? He also asked for a response to the question previously raised relating to what the Council were doing to generate business for the towns in the District.

Mr Bruce concluded by referring to proposals to encourage large retail shops to the area with free parking, and questioned how people could be encouraged to visit the towns in the District.

(d) Mrs Z Avery

Mrs Avery addressed the Council with regard to her involvement in the preparation of the Northam Parish Plan. She advised that those parishioners questioned in respect of the Plan had expressed dissatisfaction with parking provision. In this respect reference was made to the car parking problems associated with Appledore, particularly in the summer and during the annual arts festival, and the proposals to seek planning permission for residential development on the Seagate car park. Mrs Avery felt the redevelopment proposals were not conducive to Regeneration, and pointed out that the Parish Plan emphasised the importance of open spaces. She also referred to the cost to the Local Authority of employing consultants and the fact that nothing seemed to happen after they had conducted their business.

Mrs Avery concluded by asking the Council to consult with local people on proposals in the future, and also requested that the Northam Parish Plan should be included in any Supplementary Planning Document.

(e) Mr C Phillips

Mr Phillips addressed the Council in connection with the effect of the increased car parking charges on local businesses. As a business man he had experienced the problems associated with the implementation of the new car parking fees. He asked if the Council were monitoring the current situation and asked if consideration had been given to the impact of these charges on local businesses.

136.

CORRESPONDENCE OR OTHER BUSINESS ESPECIALLY BROUGHT FORWARD BY THE DIRECTION OF THE CHAIRMAN

(a) Development and Trading Services Committee - 4th April 2006

The Chairman reported that the meeting of the Development and Trading Services Committee scheduled for the 4th April 2006 would be held in the Sports Centre, Winkleigh at 4.00pm, following the special meeting of the Plans Committee to consider the Biomass planning application.

(b) Local Government Reorganisation

In response to a question the Chairman confirmed that he would make enquiries of the Chief Executive and the Leader with regard to Members receiving any available information on Local Government reorganisation proposals.

137.

QUESTIONS SUBMITTED UNDER PROCEDURAL RULE A9

Questions were submitted under Procedural Rule A9 from Councillor P S Christie. Copies of the questions together with the written answers are attached at Appendix A. In accordance with the Constitution Councillor Christie asked supplementary questions and replies were given.

The Leader referred to the Minutes of the Executive Committee of the Devon County Council dated the 9th March 2006 in respect of affordable housing. This Minute stated that the money received by this Authority in respect of Council Tax payments on second homes would not be given back to Local Authorities in pursuit of affordable housing.

Councillor Christie also drew attention to the anecdotal evidence of second home owners re-registering their properties for business rates rather than Council Tax to save money. He pointed out that business rates were paid direct to Central Government and if property owners did re-register their second homes then the Local Authority should give consideration to other means of receiving income on these properties e.g. charging for refuse collection.

138.

DEVELOPMENT AND TRADING SERVICES COMMITTEE - 21ST FEBRUARY 2006

Councillor W G Isaac declared a personal interest in Minute 81 (Petition) (Member of Chamber of Commerce which has made representations on this issue).

The Minutes of the meeting were presented and their adoption moved and seconded.

(a) Petition (Car Parking) (Minute 81)

The Chief Executive responded to a Member's comments relating to his views on the car parking issues raised during the period of public consultation. Confirmation was also sought that the proposed debate of the Overview and Scrutiny 2 Committee relating to the effect of the implementation of the new car parking charges would be dealt with in public.

The Chief Executive advised that car parking was not the whole answer to reviving trade in Bideford. The District Council were endeavouring to drive the economy of the town to increase opportunities and shoppers. He also referred to the Working Group of Members and Officers which had formed to address the issues put forward relating to car parking and which would be working in parallel with the Overview and Scrutiny 2 Committee.

Other topics debated at this time were the recent introduction of parking charges after 4.00pm and the effect on local businesses; the pressure being experienced by the retail sector in small towns; the need for hard facts and evidence relating to car parking issues to be submitted to the Overview and Scrutiny 2 Committee; the fact that car parking machines did not supply change and the additional income this raised for the Authority, and recognition that decisions on budget/income were taken with a view to regenerating the whole of the District.

Thereafter, it was;

Resolved: That the Minutes be received and to the extent necessary adopted.

139.

PLANS COMMITTEE - 2ND FEBRUARY 2006

Councillor P R Collins declared a personal interest in Minute 94 (Footpath Diversion Order - Footpath Seven - Great Torrington) (Parents live close by)

Councillor R H Hicks declared a prejudicial interest in Minute 90 (Shute Lane and Exeter Road, Winkleigh) and left the meeting before the discussion and vote. (Acted for owners).

Councillor R H Hicks declared a prejudicial interest in Application No. 1/1614/2005/FUL (Lambing Shed, Long Lane, Northam) and left the meeting before the discussion and vote. (Applicant is a client).

Councillor R H Hicks declared a prejudicial interest in Application No. 1/2257/2005/FUL (replacement of existing bungalow with two storey house, Beech View, Woolsery) and left the meeting before the discussion and vote. (Applicant is a client).

Councillor R H Hicks declared a prejudicial interest in Minute 89 (Application No. 1/2213/2005/COU - Milford Farm, Hartland) and left the meeting before the discussion and vote. (Applicant's family are clients).

Councillor P J Sturges declared a prejudicial interest in Application No. 1/1379/2005/OUT (land adjacent Royal North Devon Golf Club, Golf Links Road, Westward Ho!) and left the meeting before the discussion and vote. (Member).

The Minutes of the meeting were presented.

Resolved: That the Minutes as presented be noted.

140.

PLANS COMMITTEE - 23RD FEBRUARY 2006

Councillor R H Hicks declared a prejudicial interest in Minute 105 (Modification of Condition - Application No. 1183/2005/FUL - land between Shute Lane and Exeter Road, Winkleigh) and left the meeting before the discussion and vote (Acted for owners).

Councillor R H Hicks declared a prejudicial interest in Minute 96(a) (Application No. 1/1814/2005/FUL - Holsworthy Biogas Plant) and left the meeting before the discussion and vote. (Acted for objector).

Councillor R H Hicks declared a prejudicial interest in Application No. 1/257/2005/FUL (Site visit in respect of replacement of existing bungalow with two storey house, Beech View, Woolsery) and left the meeting before the discussion and vote. (Applicant is a client).

Councillor P J Sturges declared a prejudicial interest in Application No. 1/1367/2005/FUL (Amended proposals for phasing provision of 50 holiday lodges, ponds, ancillary buildings including passing bays and widening at A39 junction with road to Hartland Forest, Marshall Farm, Woolsery) and left the meeting before the discussion and vote. (Member of Golf Club).

Councillor P J Sturges declared a prejudicial interest in Application No. 1/1380/2005/OUT (Golf driving range, Atlantic Estates and Royal North Devon Golf Club, land adjacent to Royal North Golf Club, Golf Links Road, Westward Ho!) and left the meeting before the discussion and vote. (Member).

The Minutes of the meeting were presented.

(a) Representations received against confirmation of Tree Preservation Order St Mary's Church, High Bickington (Minute 102) On behalf of the village of High Bickington

Councillor J Morrish thanked Members for the time given to the site visit and dealing with the above matter.

(b) Planning Application No. 1/1367/2005/FUL - Amended proposals for phase 2provision of 50 holiday lodges, ponds, ancillary buildings including passing bays and widening at A39 junction with road to Hartland Forest, Marshall Farm, Woolsery for Atrium Leisure Ltd (Minute 103a)

Councillor R E Johns expressed his views with regard to the above application which had been refused at a subsequent Plans Committee meeting. He pointed out the effects of this decision on the site in question and the employees concerned.

Councillor W W Pillman advised Members of the need to support existing businesses, and to encourage visitors to promote the economy of the District.

Thereafter, it was;

Resolved: That the Minutes as presented be noted.

141.

PLANS COMMITTEE - 16TH MARCH 2006

The Chairman advised that the Minutes of this meeting were not available for presentation at this time.

142.

HOUSING COMMITTEE - 1ST MARCH 2006

The Minutes of the meeting were presented and their adoption moved and seconded.

(a) Housing Corporation Allocation (National Affordable Housing Programme)

Councillor P R Collins referred to the work of David Couttie Associates in respect of the provision of affordable housing in the District and made reference to the work of the Local Development Framework Steering Group in the preparation of the Supplementary Planning Document. He advised that the draft document had now been produced and there was a need to expedite this matter. He suggested that Officers should be asked to give this document top priority and asked the Chief Executive to expedite the completion of the Supplementary Planning Document.

In response the Chief Executive advised that he saw this as a critical issue which was part of the Council's Strategic Plan to take the Council forward, and that he would pursue the resource issues.

(b) Torridge Landlord's Forum (Minute 80)

The Council's attention was drawn to the new format for the Torridge Landlords Forum detailed in the Housing Minutes.

Thereafter, it was;

Resolved: That the Minutes be received and to the extent necessary adopted.

143.

ENVIRONMENTAL AND LEISURE SERVICES COMMITTEE - 8TH MARCH 2006

Councillor R H Hicks declared a prejudicial interest in Minute 116 (Update on Old Town Cemetery, Bideford) and left the meeting before the discussion and vote. (Acted for free churches).

The Minutes of the meeting were presented and their adopted moved and seconded.

(a) Burton Art Gallery and Museum Forum (Minute 106)

Councillor A I Bewes asked that consideration should be given to sourcing local food as far as possible for use in the Burton Art Gallery.

(b) Bideford Football Club (Minute 110)

In response to a Member's request the Solicitor provided an update in respect of the proposed dates for a meeting with the Football Club.

(c) North Devon Food Fayre for Local Producers (Minute 112)

Councillor A I Bewes drew attention to the dates for the above Food Fayre, and also referred to the English Markets which were to be introduced during the summer months on Bideford Quay. It was felt that perhaps one of these markets could coincide with the opening of the new Quay Building. In this connection the Leader confirmed that a date for the opening of the new Quay Building of Thursday, 1st June 2006 had been floated, but nothing had yet been finalised.

(d) Clovelly Estate Grants and Cleansing (Minute 120)

The Vice Chairman, who was presenting these Minutes, advised that this item was to be deferred and would be the subject of a further report to the next Environmental and Leisure Services Committee.

Thereafter, it was;

Resolved: That the Minutes be received and to the extent necessary adopted with the exception of Minute 120 (Clovelly Estates Grants and Cleansing).

144.

OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY 1 COMMITTEE - 23RD MARCH 2006

The Minutes of the meeting were presented and their adoption moved and seconded.

Resolved: That the Minutes be received and to the extent necessary adopted.

145.

OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY 2 COMMITTEE - 7TH MARCH 2006

The Minutes of the meeting were presented and their adoption moved and seconded.

(a) Bideford Port (Minute 66)

Councillor J Morrish advised that he was pleased to hear of the support for the continued use of Bideford Port.

(b) Planning Policies (Minute 67)

The Chairman of the Committee drew Members' attention to his report attached to the Minutes relating to planning policies. This report had been prepared following his Committee's scrutiny of affordable housing provision and had been circulated to all Members of the Overview and Scrutiny 2 Committee for comment prior to it being submitted to Full Council.

Members discussed the report before them, particularly in relation to the work of the Local Development Framework Working Group, and it was suggested consideration should be given to including the work of the Overview and Scrutiny 2 Committee in the Supplementary Planning Document being prepared by David Couttie Associates.

The Leader urged Members to attend the Local Development Framework Working Group meetings so that they might have a better understanding of its work, and also urged Members to read all relevant documentation supplied to the Authority.

Thereafter, it was;

Resolved: That the Minutes be received and to the extent necessary adopted.

146.

STANDARDS COMMITTEE - 10TH MARCH 2006

The Minutes of the meeting were presented and their adoption moved and seconded.

Resolved: That the Minutes be received and to the extent necessary adopted.

147.

NORTHAM BURROWS COMMITTEE - 9TH MARCH 2006

The Minutes of the meeting were presented and their adoption moved and seconded.

Resolved: That the Minutes be received and to the extent necessary adopted.

148.

POLICY AND RESOURCES COMMITTEE - 20TH MARCH 2006

Councillor R H Hicks declared a prejudicial interest in Minute 162(ii)(a) (Old Town Cemetery) (acted for free churches).

Councillor W G Isaac declared a prejudicial interest in Minute 153 - (Grants to voluntary sector) and left the meeting before the discussion and vote. (Member of Board of Management of Torridge Voluntary Services).

Councillor H R Barton declared a personal interest in Minute 153 - (Grants to voluntary sector) (Trustee of CAB).

Councillor T Sillifant declared a prejudicial interest in Minute 153 - (Grants to voluntary sector) and left the meeting before the discussion and vote. (TVS Committee Member).

The Minutes of the meeting were presented and their adoption moved and seconded.

(a) Substitutions

The Chairman reported that at the next Committee meeting the substitutions would be amended to read that Councillor A J Eastman substituted for Councillor S E L Clarke and Councillor R M M Tisdale substituted for Councillor A Eastwood OBE.

(b) Plans Committee (Minute 149)

In response to a Member's question the Leader provided details of the programme for consideration of the Winkleigh Biomass Planning Application on the 4th April 2006. Discussion ensued on the proposed site visit to be held on the 30th March 2006 and the anticipated size of the Committee report.

The meeting also discussed the implementation of qualifications and competency for Plans Committee Members. In response the Chief Executive advised that if the Authority was to achieve its aim of becoming an excellent Council Members required some form of training/competency and that in his view this was a matter for debate by the Constitution Working Group.

(c) Grants to Voluntary Sector (Minute 153)

The Chairman of the Committee responded to a question raised by Councillor J Morrish in respect of the allocation of grants.

(d) Realm and Asda Ltd (Minute 160)

Councillor P S Christie advised that in his view the survey conducted in respect of the above was flawed. He further advised that he served as Chairman of the Bideford Bridge Trust and that the consultants concerned had never approached this body.

Thereafter, it was;

Resolved: That the Minutes be received and to the extent necessary adopted.

149.

URGENCY PROCEDURE

Resolved: That the Urgency Procedures relating to the Business Accommodation Study and the final draft of the DAWN Regeneration Framework be endorsed.

The meeting commenced at 6.30pm at ended at 8.30pm.