Horrabridge Parish Council was back to a normal monthly meeting this week, although with only five members – all waiting to find out, any moment now, whether they can co-opt former colleagues and other volunteers to get back up to working strength or whether they will have to wait for a laborious election process to deliver new members by public approval.
Last night (Thurs June 14) was the deadline for at least 10 voters in the village to tell the West Devon Returning Officer if they want to force an election.
STOP PRESS (friday pm)
No application for an election received.
The June meeting of the parish council, on Tuesday, was a test run for a new policy designed to limit time spent on questions from the public on subjects which have not been listed for discussion. Some regular attenders have complained that this is an un-necessary restriction on democracy. The councillors say it is fair practise, common elsewhere. On Tuesday night, chairman Paul Beard said he would relax the rules for that session but only for 10 minutes before the council agenda took over.
The Horrabridge Times said some villagers had questions in the pipeline, although not on this agenda, about amplified music in Weir Park and whether locals had any say in how often it happened.
The council owns the park and Cllr Beard said his Open Spaces Committee usually gave the nod to some noise from occasional fund-raising events. He offered no further comment and there is no longer an Any Other Business at the end of the council meeting.
West Devon councillor David Cloke chipped in, however, to say that the licensing authority was West Devon and it was up to them to grant special licences or enforce licence conditions.
The next event in the park is the church’s Summer Fair, Saturday week, June 23, and nobody seems aware of any proposal to run a disco then. But six weeks later, on August 4, the council will be running its own Party In The Park, an attempt to do something a bit different which was launched before the council had half its members temporarily disqualified. Radio Walkham may well be pencilled in for a part in that but it would require a special event licence. The organiser, Paul Mouncher, an occasional DJ, is a lost councillor and was not at the meeting. Cllr Beard said he would get the programme and circulate it to councillors later.
Another lost councillor, Andrew Collins, was working on a renovation for the village war memorial when he resigned and said he would not be back. His last report said he had failed to get a grant but he had got a quote from a specialist architect for repairs amounting to £5,500. The remaining councillors decided to get some quotes from local stonemasons and appointed Doreen Keane to take the issue forward.
Some doubts were expressed about the proposal to instal a swing for wheelchairs in Weir Park, as a gift to the village from the profits from sale of land at Walkham Meadows. Although it is already agreed on, Cllr Andy Moorhead said it had become clear there was a safety problem to consider – because a ground-level swing needs a pit underneath it, where a child could get trapped, fooling around. Cllr Beard added he had heard of a similar swing being out of action most of the time since it was installed and was checking on why.
Reporting on borough council affairs, David Cloke said West Devon accepted responsibility for the upkeep of the old “closed” half of the church graveyard and he had got them to commit to a maintenance schedule which should improve matters soon – “or I am sure I will be told about it”.
The local delegate to the Dartmoor National Park Authority, Diana Moyse, said she was keeping an eye on the possibility of more housing on the rising ground above Youldon Way. She said it all still seemed to be some way off but the planners were listening to local objections.
Horrabridge planning chairman Steve Roche was clearly still fuming about the Dartmoor NPA’s failure to challenge the new phone mast at the village crossroads but Mrs Moyse could not offer much explanation, except workload in the planning office, and Cllr Roche said it was probably best he said nothing anyway.
Looking ahead to the council taking back ownership of the Fillace Park fields and pavilion, Cllr Beard wanted approval to hire an architect to draw up some plans for the pavilion, so the council could estimate costs in preparation for looking for grant aid. He said it might be a £250,000 job if they could get the money and “might as well be done properly”. But other councillors were cautious about getting committed to a design just yet and Cllr Doreen Keane said she had a niece who might come up with some free ideas while they were waiting.
Cllr Keane asked whether Wildwood Arts should be allowed to keep a sign chained to the village boundary sign on the A386. Cllr Beard said he did not want to discourage a growing business and it could be considered later. He said the next meeting would be July 10 and he was giving notice that he wanted Japanese Knotweed on the agenda for then.
The council then went into private session to discuss personnel and finance issues. The clerk, Andrea Taylor, is working out her notice and the council is looking for her successor.