SOME IDEA WHAT’S GOING ON?
Some clarification possibly required on the subject of annual parish meeting (everyone) and parish council annual meeting (new council line-up) …
Both are now postponed to Tuesday May 21 – the parish meeting to 6.30 pm; then HPC agm, to elect chairperson and committees, from 7 pm; then HPC monthly business. The usual monthly meeting will not now take place next week but in June will be back to the usual timetable of second Tuesday in the month.
The decision to postpone was made after Alan Berry, a regular in the council’s public seats, raised a complaint with the West Devon authority about notices for the planned May 14 meetings being published a day too late. But the clerk, Shane Honey, says she wanted to postpone so there was time for an auditor’s approval of all the procedures, in view of the trouble caused by an innocent mistake last year.
Mr Berry says the new date is also wrong – being not soon enough after election day. It looks like the argument is over until the meeting convenes, but watch the parish council noticeboard before booking a babysitter.
The agenda for the council agm includes a motion to exclude press and public at the end, for a “county court claim update”. This is likely to be news on the council’s long-running row with Joe Sweetinburgh. Our understanding is that HPC has been advised by its insurance company lawyers to say nothing until it is all over, which it is not yet.
Meanwhile, the local democracy event of the week in the village was the annual meeting of the Horrabridge Community Association, which was set up to look after visiting users of the school hall. It has run for some time with two people, chairman Chris Tear and clerk and treasurer Wendy Eldridge, doing nearly all the work. They warned a while ago that they would both be resigning at this meeting.
They got thanks from a dozen quarters for leaving bookings healthy and books in good order, with £23,000 in reserve and no need to raise fees But nobody wanted to take over. It was agreed to hand over the HCA’s functions to the school governors, because they are already responsible for the hall’s other life, as part of the school. The governors have a sub-committee leader in waiting for the chairman’s job – parent governor Chris Butterworth – and he was approved as a name to put forward to the Charity Commission, who will have to okay the new arrangement.
School head John Clarke promised to help with some complaints about one club’s furniture interfering with the next club’s activities. And to look into the possibility of repainting floor markings during school holidays. Meanwhile, his school administrator, Mandy Parkes, will handle all booking admin.
On the wider stage, the go-ahead for another election to the European Parliament, on May 23, set a complicated new challenge for the West Devon electoral officers. After announcing new councils last week, they are still getting everyone sworn in before turning to a challenge nine times more complicated – the choosing of six Members of the European Parliament to represent the South West of England & Gibraltar until Brexit is done, or dusted over.
Looks like 42 candidates are standing under 11 different labels in this region – including a number of well-known names. For starters, Ann Widdecombe is standing for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party and Rachel Johnson, sister of Boris, and former editor of The Lady, has come out against her brother on the Brexit issue by standing for Labour and Tory remainers campaigning as Change UK. Also playing are UKIP, now cut loose from Mr Farage, and they are fielding a controversialist who blogs under the title Sargon of Akkad;. Also running are another radically right-wing group called the English Democrats, calling on England to separate from Scotland and Wales; the mainstream Greens, Cons, Labour and Lib Dems; and three lone independents.
What will the ballot paper look like? How will the counting be organised? Good questions, to be answered here next week by the Kilworthy Park elections team in Tavistock, who will be involved along with all other available polling personnel. Horrabridge Parish Hall will be a polling station as usual – apologies for some confusion last week, when we said it was closed but it actually opened for one ward in Sampford Spiney.
Meanwhile, deposed Tavistock councillors (including some good sorts) might have taken some comfort last weekend from an article by Sherelle Jacobs in The Times, on the deep changes which are happening in politics.
She recalled the author Virginia Woolf noting that the world had changed in December 1910, when her household cook suddenly started talking to her as an equal.
Ms Jacobs said:
“Woolf was hitting on the end of the era of deference. The country was racked by strikes, from the miners of Tonypandy to the chain-makers of Cradley Heath. People whose ancestors had shruggingly accepted docile submission to the establishment were questioning the patrician elite’s ability to represent them. Such developments help explain the meteoric rise of the Labour Party, which within a few years permanently overtook the Liberals. Perhaps ‘human character’ is changing once again. Like the working class in 1910, many are now convinced that the system is rigged and the venal establishment does not speak for them.”
£100 BOUNTY ON OFFER FOR CITIZEN CHAMPS
Horse riders turned out in force for a West Devon meeting about reclaiming forgotten rights of way before a deadline of New Year’s Day 2026.
“On January the Second that year, the gates will be going up,” predicted Sarah Buck, co-author of a campaign guide called Rights Of Way: Restoring The Record, which members of the British Horse Society have made good use of.
A Devon & Cornwall offshoot of theirs, the South West Riders, have done especially well, with the help of Devon County Council, and they are now trying to help other off-road interests get organised.
Their meeting at Bridestowe, two weeks ago, drew about 70 people and started with the formal election of Gretta Madigan of Brentor as chairwoman of South West Riders.
She opened proceedings by announcing their latest result – the opening of the second half of the Pegasus Way, a 15-mile cross-country link between Dartmoor and North Devon, including main road crossing points, reclaimed bog and bits of old footpath upgraded to be legally accessible to cyclists and riders as well as walkers.
The riders helped with some of the research but much of the work was done by Devon Council, which has been unusually active in the job of updating old maps and repairing broken links between areas.
Devon officers have been working their way round 400 parishes for years, getting parish councils to organise local consultations to identify missing links in their “definitive maps” of rights of access. Horrabridge was covered in 2003.
Since then, however, it has become clear that some paths were missed even by the official trawl – especially old drove roads. And a lot were only mapped as footpaths when they should have included rights for riders and other traffic The South West Riders have successfully upgraded dozens and the British Horse Society will give £100 towards the expenses of anyone who can add another to the official county maps before 2026. Credible claims will be provisionally mapped until any legal disputes are over and that is enough to qualify for the bounty.
Sarah Buck told the meeting that in her experience, it cost at least £100 to put a case together, because it would involve at least one visit to the National Archives at Kew, to look at church tithe maps, tax inspectors’ records of estates and so on. But it is getting easier as more and more resources come online and the Horse Society now has freelances who will copy a record at Kew for £10 and “flying applicants” who will act as front persons for difficult arguments.
Mrs Buck warned: “Don’t do it yourself if you have an aggressive landowner and your kids go to the same school. But most of the paths we want are already currently ridden. We are trying to put the record straight legally, not to steal farmland.”
The Devon County Council map of public rights of way can be found at
The National Library of Scotland is a good source of old maps at
A website called Know Your Place allows different maps and satellite images to be overlaid on each other for comparison purposes and Devon is now included at
DARTMOOR WILDLIFE CRISIS FACTS
A national newspaper report on the ruin of wildlife habitats, even in the national parks, said that the last curlews on Dartmoor had died. But when we looked for details, the RSPB told us there were still two pairs in the Haytor area – just about hanging in at the same endangered level they have been at for some years.
The problem for them, apparently, is too much drainage. Even on Dartmoor, the perfect bog for a wading bird is becoming a rare thing. But some rewetting is going on and has already done wonders for the dunlin communities of the moor – the most southerly in Europe, we are told.
THIS FRIDAY NIGHT (May 10) two veteran jobbing Plymouth bands, The Cuckoo Collective and The Wireless, get together at Tavistock Wharf for a run through their bit-of-allsorts repertoires.
Sample Cuckoo Collective
Also this Friday:
Reginald D Hunter at Exeter Corn Exchange.
SATURDAY: Start of the Ten Tors Challenge at Okehampton Camp.
SUNDAY: Bluebell Walks from 2.30 pm, Foxhams House, Horrabridge.
TUESDAY & WEDNESDAY: Bill Bailey at Plymouth Pavilions.
THURSDAY: Born To Mince, the new Julian Clary show, at Barnstaple.
THURSDAY, FRIDAY, SATURDAY: Devon County Show.
NEXT FRIDAY: The Little Unsaid at Calstock Arts –
NEXT SATURDAY (May 18): Lightsaber Battle School is the latest event from the ever-inventive Clearbrook Wild Child, founded by Jamie Lee and wife Zoe to keep their daughter and her friends entertained – now supported by a grant from Yelverton Co-op, whose customers voted it local charity of the year last year. The sabres won’t actually cut through metal but otherwise are film-set standard and suitable for serious fighting. Most places already booked but a couple of spaces left in the morning at time of writing. See
ORIGINALS: Jamie Lee and wife Zoe with Peryn, aged 6 – “the original wild child”.
Angus Deayton is back on tour, with friends and formats from his radio show Radioactive, getting to the Red House Theatre, Plymouth, a student venue open to all, on May 19.
Last 10 days of this month, the Plymouth Conservatoire, theatre group made up of Plymouth University performance students, runs its May Festival. Find various events at
Meavy Fair on June 15 includes the Burrator Horseshoe Run. Also on the competitions calendar this summer: The Buckland Bounder on June 8. Open-water swimming at Roadford Lake on June 16 – Google Dartmoor Swim. The Dartmoor Yomp, with the Royal Marines, on June 22 – see Horrabridge Combined Service Group on Facebook.
Launceston Town Hall, becoming an interesting comedy venue, has Andy Parsons and Griff Rhys Jones lined up for November. Plymouth Pavilions has a new double act, Dick & Angel from Escape To The Chateau, booked for March 2020.
For more what’s on, see the Horrabridge Times calendar, updated constantly, at
And never go (please) without checking out our local Postboard page
* The Times recently spent a couple of columns inquiring into what is the healthiest way to fry –
Coconut oil or sesame? Hemp or flaxseed?
With the help of a professor of food science, a heart specialist and a celebrity chef, the reporter worked her way along the shelves at Waitrose and came up with two best all-rounders – olive oil and lard. Thanks to the Mafia, the olive oil might not be as pure as the label says. But lard (pig fat) is as good as almost anything if you use it sparingly, according to the experts.
* On the subject of healthy diets, the Amazing Grace Hedgehog Centre, sponsored by retired guitar legend Brian May, has been stirring things a bit by arguing that too many people competing to feed the same hedgehogs is producing a weaker animal – fat and lazy, with soft spikes. In Surrey, where they work, it is apparently quite common for people to hire in a carer for their hedgehogs when they go on holiday, so they don’t defect to a neighbour. Trouble is, the little blighters just take a can of Whiskas off everyone. As a spokeswoman for Amazing Grace said: “They do what you would expect. They live in hedges and eat like hogs.”
* Closer to home, a south west equine charity, the Mare & Foal Sanctuary, is trying to teach people not to take their lawn cuttings onto Dartmoor to feed to the ponies. First, they are quite likely to have some poisons in them. Second, they have started fermenting from the moment they were cut and can cause serious colics.