NEW PARISH CHAIRMAN TAKES ON NEW PARISH PROBLEMS

Weir Park is likely to be half-shut during the spring, for repairs to the salmon ladder built seven years ago.

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Cllr Christine Edmondson told the parish council on Tuesday that the Environment Agency had promised to pay attention to a piece of tree stuck in the ladder and had also booked a repair for the big hole in the stonework which is threatening to collapse the in-stream wall of it.

The EA has provisionally booked end of March for a repeat of the complicated work in the river which required a big piece of park for machinery and access construction for some weeks when it was last done.

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The council meeting started with thanks to Eric Hemsil for his service as chairman until he resigned last month. He remains in place as a councillor. The only councillor prepared to take his place on Tuesday night was Mike Huda, landlord of the London Inn, and he was proposed by Dawn Farrar, seconded by Chris Edmondson and voted for by all present except Cllr Hemsil, who abstained.

Cllr Huda then took over the chair for some tricky subjects.

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First was a decision to suspend advance bookings for cemetery plots, because “people don’t die in order” and complications are arising over access to plots which remain undug while others are filled in around them. There are legal complications to changing the usual deeds of sale and the clerk has to investigate what solutions are possible. The councillors voted to buy a little time but Cllr Andrew Moorhead said it was important to people to be able to book places next to family and there was not much point in a reservations service which did not allow it.

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The council was also unanimous in reluctantly rejecting an application by Team Horrabridge to book their upstairs rooms as a permanent base for the food bank. It would have meant the council losing other possible bookings, when lockdown lifts. And with local elections now almost certainly going ahead on May 6, it was decided that the food bank would have to be moved in good time for that.

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Allotment fees were frozen at last year’s rates. Burial fees and hall hire charges were put on the agenda for next month.

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Cllr Steve Roche reported that Barton Estates of Plymouth had lodged an appeal against Dartmoor Park Authority’s refusal of permission for 80 new chalet-style homes at Magpie Bridge. Cllr Roche said it was time all the park authorities got together to tackle a loophole in the 1962 Caravan Act which meant prefab homes delivered by trailer could be called caravans. County Councillor Philip Sanders said he would ask questions at the DNPA but they were struggling on the case at the moment, due to the loss of the legal officer at Devon County who had been advising. Meanwhile, it was possible a Stop order could be made on the development but the lawyers would be reluctant to risk it. West Devon and DNPA councillor Diana Moyse promised to try the MP, Geoffrey Cox, who has expressed sympathy but nothing more so far.

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Cllr Sanders said he was mainly busy with mounting concern over the impact on Dartmoor of the easing of travel restrictions. There was chaos at Two Bridges, Hay Tor and Bellever, before Christmas, and dog mess around car parks is a growing issue.

The dog problem in Horrabridge itself also cropped up, with complaints from Station Road. Some old “kerb your dog” stickers might be tried on lamp posts as a reminder of the old etiquette for emergency situations.

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Cllr Sanders said Devon Highways was in dispute with its road repairs contractor over pothole repairs which did not last but it was not clear the contractors were entirely to blame. The switch from using the council’s own labour force to contracting jobs out had meant job specifications needed o be very carefully written, to allow for the kind of problem-solving which was done automatically under the old system but never fully factored into privatised costings.

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allfornow …

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Editor of The Horrabridge Times.