The village council rebuilt on Tuesday night and started work on an interesting agenda for the rest of the summer.
The new clerk, Shane Honey, was introduced and promised to hold a weekly “surgery”, two hours a week, when members of the public can drop in with questions while she is working in the parish hall office (Thursdays, 10.30 am to half past noon, upstairs).
It was confirmed that the barrel race up the river is back, next Sunday (Aug 26) and will go up over the new weir – a challenge yet to be tried.
It was revealed that the Magpie caravan and chalet park has changed hands and wants to expand.
And the council officially took back responsibility for the playing fields and pavilion and made a start on organising a business relationship with the football club.
But some village politics also went on and the council put some backs up on the public seats by turning down one of the applicants for co-option, retired teacher Alan Berry, resident of the Manor Estate, an observer of council affairs who has had the minutes corrected a couple of times recently.
Above: Alan Berry
Four members of the old council opened the meeting – Paul Beard, Steve Roche, Tracy Lear and Andrew Moorhead.
They officially co-opted former councillors Eric Hemsil and Adam Minns back on board and they recruited two new volunteers, Christine Edmondson, representing the disabled and various other causes, and Mike Huda, team leader at the London Inn for the past nine years.
But none of the four raised a hand in favour of Mr Berry, so they are back to nine councillors, as before, with three vacancies, which will have to be advertised again, and next time will be considered by the new council line-up.
Mr Berry will probably try again.
He said after the meeting: “I’m not surprised. I got some hints this might happen. I am not hostile to them but some people insist on seeing it that way.”
His application letter said he thought the council was good on practical services but kept making “totally avoidable errors” in procedure and public relations.
One example, he says, is the council’s new Public Participation Policy (PPP), which he supports in some ways but says it was rushed in without proper thought. This week, chairman Paul Beard said the policy was suspended for now and he took questions before and after the meeting. He said the new council would be asked to discuss the PPP again next month.
David Cloke, the local councillor for West Devon, raised a question about knotweed on Whitchurch Road and was told Devon Highways had treated the area. More spraying happening in Fillace Park this weekend.
There was mention of tables and chairs outside the Leaping Salmon – due to open next Saturday (see separate story) – but that is a matter for Devon Highways, who are in discussions with the pub.
Sean Lakeman of Bedford Green corner said he and his kids were willing to repaint the wheelbarrow planter on the green if the council could supply some paint – which the chairman said he would deliver.
Sharon Ellis of Walkham Meadows complained about cars going too fast through the estate and past the school and Cllr Beard said it might be time to make a case for a 20 mph limit from Church Corner to Knowle Down, but that would be one for the local county councillor.
Former parish councillor Paul Mouncher reported back on the Party In The Park, two weeks ago, and said everyone seemed to have enjoyed it and he had heard no complaints. He paid particular tribute to the London Inn team, for the catering, and Paul Hillier of Radio Walkham, for organising energy. The drought killed off the idea of furnishing Weir Park with straw bales but most things went to plan, at almost no cost to the council, and he would do it again next year if asked. He got a round of applause for that.
He also gave notice of the next event planned for the park, with parish council assent – see poster below.
Eric Hemsil gave notice that he wanted the refurbishment of the park playground back on the agenda for next meeting. The council is committed to the spending but there are details still to be talked out.
David Cloke said there had been a worry that West Devon would ask Horrabridge Parish Council to take over the running of the public toilets at Bedford Bridge. But it has turned out they are Buckland Monachorum’s problem.
Steve Roche, chairman of planning, said Dartmoor Country Holidays had sold the Magpie Leisure Park and the new owners (Barton Park Estates, based Plymouth) were asking Dartmoor Park Authority to give a “certificate of lawfulness” for up to 80 caravans. They were trying to get official approval for the park as it has evolved so far, on the basis of planning permissions in the 1980s, and make room for more mobile homes as required. It looked like good news for trade in Horrabridge and the council was happy with it. The planning application is on the Dartmoor authority site, reference 0411/18. It wants permission for “human habitation” and leaves it open how many sites would be for holidaymakers and how many for long-term lets.
Andy Moorhead said it was time to consider renewing some village signs, mainly to re-enforce the No Dogs rule for Weir Park, except for party days. It also looked like the council would have to replace the fence by the river opposite the Salmon, because nobody else would take responsibility for it. Quotes to be got.
New man Mike Huda said he would like to get involved in liaison with the football club over the future of fields and pavilion.