Parish council chairman Eric Hemsil stood down this week, after the council’s latest monthly meeting.
He will continue as a councillor but resigned as chairman because he felt he no longer had the confidence of all members.
Eight out of nine existing councillors, including two of the three recent recruits, attended the Zoom meeting on Tuesday. They still have three vacancies and they were asked to consider another volunteer for co-option to join them – Chris Benfield, editor of the Horrabridge Times (and writer of this report).
Some councillors were worried about “conflict of interests” between HPC and reports in the Horrabridge Times . After some discussion, the applicant offered to withdraw if they were still uncomfortable. That offer was accepted without further argument.
One issue involved was a requirement to sign a redraft of the standard Declaration of Acceptance of council rules, with an emphasis on confidentiality, drawn up on the advice of the Devon Association of Local Councils. Cllr Hemsil saw no good reason for it. But he narrowly lost a vote on the issue. And in other business of the evening, two more votes on matters of wording, in minutes and policy documents, went against his recommendations.
He resigned the next day and a new chair is likely to be appointed at the March meeting. He has been chairman of HPC for six of the past 10 years, with a couple of breaks.
Devon County Council has booked the village hall for an election on May 6.
The local county councillor, Philip Sanders, said it was unlikely to go ahead. But the booking means that Team Horrabridge must be given notice to move their food bank out of the hall by May 1.
Council Clerk Shane Honey gave warning that the government has scheduled a new national census on March 21 – probably to be conducted mainly over the internet but details to come.
HPC decided to raise no objection to a planning application by the school, for a new all-weather surface on its sports ground. Councillors were told it would be bad news for Horrabridge Rangers, because the new pitch would not be suitable as a match venue. But the school would get better use of the space.
Councillors voted to spend £700 on eight new grit bins fot the village.
They also agreed to invite six applicants for the handyman position to an interview session before the end of February. But the job specifications might change before an appointment is made. Cllr Mike Huda, who is filling the position temporarily, said it was time to reconsider the number of hours of work the council needed during winter months, when there is not much mowing and weeding to do.