Town & Parish Newsletter - July 2020
I have just had a really strange week off. Having barely ventured outside of my home town and also now working from home I thought I would use the opportunity to get out and about a bit. Full of excitement we set off for a trip to West Bay in Dorset only to find most of it closed. The beach was crowded and the roads full of ‘gangs’ of middle aged luminous yellow Lycra clad cyclists taking up all of the road and glaring at anyone who drove past.
There is also a covid testing station in West Bay with no takers and two very bored looking soldiers sitting under camouflaged tents who looked like they would rather be anywhere else. Honestly you couldn’t make it up.
We ventured into Bridport, everything apart from the butchers and Boots was closed.
After a quick trip to Morrisons to pick up some lunch, a pork pie to be precise, we set off on the journey back. Honestly at the moment there is no place like home and I’m staying put for a while.
firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel: 01884 234209
Town and Parish Council Vacancies during the Coronavirus Pandemic
When a casual vacancy arises, a Notice of Vacancy still needs to be published, as the parishes can go ahead and co-opt if an election is not requested. Notices should be published electronically only. Co-option can be carried out via remote parish council meetings (Zoom etc), so long as the meeting is open to members of the public and the co- option is on the Agenda.
If a minimum of 10 registered electors from the parish request an election, the election cannot take place before 6 May 2021, in accordance with the Coronavirus Act 2020.
For all enquiries about parish vacancies, please contact the Returning Officer’s staff at email@example.com or 01884 255255 (email is better as staff are mostly working from home during the pandemic).
Consultation on the new model code of conduct
The LGA is consulting on a new model code of conduct, which could be adopted at all levels of local authority, including parish councils. However it is not compulsory – a council can devise its own, although in our area there is a clear benefit to having harmony across the board, including up to county level. The consultation will run for 10 weeks and ends on the 17 August 2020.
Any councillor can respond to the consultation individually online via the following link: https://www.local.gov.uk/code-conduct-consultation-2020, or your Council can make a joint submission – if this is the case then it would be helpful to us if you could summarise your points and feedback to the Monitoring Officer ( firstname.lastname@example.org) so that our Standards Committee can be made aware in general terms of the concerns of Parish Councils.
A copy of the draft model code and a sample of the questionnaire is available as an attachment for your consideration.
We would encourage you to take part in this consultation and would be grateful if you could circulate this amongst your members.
Latest LGA Briefings and Responses
On behalf of its members, the cross-party LGA regularly briefs parliamentarians of all political affiliations on issues of concern and relevance to local government ahead of debates in Parliament.
Councils want to work with the Government to develop post COVID-19 recovery options.
The economic, social and environmental recovery our communities need will look different in different areas of the country and only a locally coordinated response will be effective.
Debate on ensuring seaside resorts can respond to any increased demand for holidays in this country, House of Lords, 22 June 2020
The sector has taken one of the biggest financial hits due to the COVID-19 crisis. Gaps in support packages alongside the absence of the seasonal boost the industry usually sees over the summer means the impact will be felt in the weeks and months to come, even as social distancing measures are eased.
Reopening the High Street and COVID 19 guidelines
This week will see the return of a number of Mid Devon’s much loved high street shops across all the main towns. Tiverton, Crediton, Cullompton, Bampton, Bradninch and many village businesses look forward to welcoming shoppers safely back to their stores.
In order for shops to open their doors, there are specific COVID-19 Secure guidelines they need to meet to protect their staff and customers. We have pulled all the workplace guidance together which can be found here https://www.middevon.gov.uk/BusinessReopeningHelp . We hope this will be a useful resource for our businesses.
With the announcement of non-essential shops allowed to reopen, the Council has put temporary changes in place to the public realm across our larger towns in order for the local economy to reopen safely. Please see the latest press release for more information about these changes https://www.middevon.gov.uk/reopening-your-town-centre-changes-to-how-you-shop/
Funding to support the safe reopening of high streets was received from the European Regional Development Fund. Officers will be reviewing the safety processes in our larger town centres over the coming days and weeks. If you have any questions or concerns please contact us via email@example.com
Discretionary Grants Scheme
In May 2020, the Government announced additional funding to target small businesses with high fixed property-related costs that weren't eligible for the previous grant schemes For more information, see our New Discretionary Business Grants Funding Scheme page.
Inspector’s report confirms soundness of Local Plan Review with Main Modifications
The Council has today received a report from the Planning Inspectorate, confirming that the Mid Devon Local Plan Review 2013 – 2033 provides an appropriate base for the planning of the District and with a number of main modifications (MMs), is sound and capable of adoption.
The MMs all concern matters that were discussed at the examination hearings and which were subject to public consultation over a six-week period, together with an updated Sustainability Appraisal (SA), Habitat Regulations Assessment (HRA), and Equalities Impact Assessment. The Inspector has amended the detailed wording of the MM and made consequential modifications where necessary in relation to the provisions for Gypsies and Travellers, and Junction 27.
The Inspector’s Report and adoption of the Plan and SA (with the Strategic Environmental Assessment), will be considered by the Council at a meeting to be held in the near future. Further information about this will be provided as soon as it becomes available.
LTA targets park tennis revolution as players flock back on court after coronavirus lockdown
The LTA is launching a major drive to grow participation in tennis in parks in local communities throughout the country, supporting local authorities with a comprehensive cost-free offer to improve the health and wellbeing of their communities through tennis, and ensure their tennis venues are sustainable for the future.
'Park tennis facilities are absolutely crucial to us achieving increased and sustained participation'
The governing body for tennis in Britain has developed a package of initiatives to support park tennis facilities and open up the sport to more people, including over 1,000 priority target parks across Britain. The strategic programme of activity includes the roll out of free technology solutions to improve accessibility and the player experience, exciting parks- based competition and programmed activity to drive regular play, development of a range of sustainable operating models and interest free quick access loans for facility improvements. This is complemented by the LTA’s regional delivery team, who can help Local Authorities take advantage of and implement these opportunities.
'Tennis is a brilliant sport for the whole family to enjoy'
Tennis plays a unique role in keeping the nation active, as a sport that can be played by all, no matter their age, gender, background or ability, and as both an entry point to tennis and a hub for regular social play, park courts are central to this. The sport provides significant proven physical and mental health benefits to participants, brings individuals and communities together, tackling loneliness and encouraging social cohesion, and helps develop important life skills and resilience. Read more here
Council’s Continued Support for Tenants Receives Praise
Tenants of MDDC have been supported throughout the pandemic by both the Housing and Repairs Teams.
The Housing Service, with support from colleagues from our Leisure and Building Services, made a staggering 2,977 calls to vulnerable people since the restrictions began on 23 March. Additionally, 514 tenants requested regular contact and the housing team is continuing to contact them to ensure they are well and have the necessary food and support they need.
Meanwhile the repairs team has continued its work, albeit with changes to their working practises. In the first month of lockdown the team carried out around 500 essential and outside repairs and now that figure has risen to approximately 1600.
Nathan, a repairs operative who has worked for the Council for five years, has continued to work on emergency repairs since the Government introduced the lockdown measures.
Equipped with personal protective equipment, (mask, gloves and suit) Nathan was based from home but would receive a list of emergency jobs to his tablet and then arrange a safe visit, direct with tenants.
“We had a good system in place that enabled myself and the tenants to feel safe, but still get the jobs done. Tenants would clean the area in advance, then I’d arrive and let them know I was there, they would then open the door but wait in another room until I’d finished the job, before the area was cleaned again.”
The routine was unusual but also welcomed by people, especially those who were vulnerable, or sometimes just lonely.
Nathan added: “I would work away and some people would like to have a chat from the next room. Many people hadn’t seen anyone for weeks so while the works were about emergency repairs there was also an element of welfare to many of the recent jobs. People were happy to see us and felt we were there for them and there to protect them. ”
When not carrying out repairs the team completed online training modules and were busy planning for a return to business as usual.
Rosie Wills, Building Services Office Manager, said: “From the beginning of lockdown we carried out more than 500 essential and external repairs, which included a number of disabled adaptations to support hospital discharges. We also created videos to explain to tenants what to expect from a repairs visit, which includes what we will do to keep them safe, and also what we expect them to do and these were really well received. We’ve had some really good success with the changes to the way we contact tenants and diagnose repairs, which we’ll probably take forward, post Covid-19 to provide better customer service to busy working tenants.”
Both the housing and repairs teams have been buoyed by the positive feedback from customers both in person and through messages left for the team.
Comments received include these recent messages:“ Well Done Mid Devon! You have been brilliant throughout this terrible time. I have really appreciated the weekly phone call to ensure that I’m safe and offers of help! Thank you.”
“I would like to express my gratitude on the performance of both the plumber and his ap- prentice, and the electrician for the work carried out in my home this morning. Social distancing was observed throughout their visit, and work carried out efficiently.”
“Very happy with the outcome, he was very considerate and social distanced perfectly! Thank you again, it is very much appreciated!”
“I had a full wet room installed as an adaptation and the worker was called George. He was a really good worker, worked really hard and was very clean. He listened to my needs and I would like to thank him.”
Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Simon Clist, said: “Our Housing and Building teams have performed exceptionally well under very difficult circumstances. The working environment is challenging but our officers have adapted the way that they do things and have still been able to reach out to tenants and respond to their needs. It’s another example of how Team Mid Devon has risen to the challenge this pandemic has set us.”
Meet the Parishes
Down St Mary
Down St Mary parish is in Mid Devon, some fourteen miles from Exeter and about twenty-five miles from Barnstaple. The nearest town is the market town of Crediton with a good range of shops. Our parish comprises the settlements of Morchard Road and Chaffcombe as well as the village of Down St Mary itself. The parish has some eight farms set in the rolling hills of the Devon Countryside. There are 169 dwellings and a population of approximately 360. The parish is served by the A377 and A3072 roads on which there are regular bus services and we have our own railway station at Morchard Road on the Exeter-Barnstable Tarka Railway Line.
The centre of the village is dominated by the fine Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, in which can be found some of the most ornate wood carvings, with the pews dating back to the Elizabethan period and the screens to Victorian Times.
Halberton was once important enough to be a Hundred, an administrative division of a shire. This included the parishes of Halberton, Sampford Peverell and Willand, as well as parts of Uplowman and Burlescombe. Many of the farms date back to Doomsday or shortly after and Halberton is still largely a farming community. Halberton village is divided into two parts, Higher Town and Lower Town, separated by the mill stream and pond. The pond is fed by warm springs and never freezes.
The Great Western railway once had a branch line running through Halberton to Tiverton, but this has now gone. However, the Grand Western Canal still runs through the village and this is now a country park. It is 11 miles long running from Tiverton to Loudwells.
There are several old houses in the village, the most notable being ‘The Priory’, believed to date from the 14th century, when it was part of a college called St. Jude’s. This was occupied by monks of the order of St. Augustine. Townsend House dates from the early 18th century, and several other houses in the village date from the 17th and 18th centuries.
The parish church dates from the 14th century and stands at the centre of the village. It is thought to have been constructed on the site of an earlier Saxon church. There is also a Methodist Chapel at which John Wesley preached, first in 1760, and again between 1779 and 1789.
Let’s all drink to lockdown—Jan Beaumont
I’m normally a social girl
I love to meet my mates
But lately with the virus here We can’t go out the gates.
You see, we are the ‘oldies’ now We need to stay inside
If they haven’t seen us for a while They’ll think we’ve upped and died.
They’ll never know the things we did Before we got this old
There wasn’t any Facebook So not everything was told.
We may seem sweet old ladies Who would never be uncouth But we grew up in the 60s –
If you only knew the truth!
There was sex and drugs and rock ‘n roll The pill and miniskirts
We smoked, we drank, we partied And were quite outrageous flirts.
Then we settled down, got married And turned into someone’s mum, Somebody’s wife, then nana,
Who on earth did we become?
We didn’t mind the change of pace Because our lives were full
But to bury us before we’re dead
Is like red rag to a bull!
So here you find me stuck inside For 4 weeks, maybe more I finally found myself again Then I had to close the door!
It didn’t really bother me I’d while away the hour I’d bake for all the family but I’ve got no bloody flour!
Now Netflix is just wonderful
I like a gutsy thriller I’m swooning over Idris
Or some random sexy killer.
At least I’ve got a stash of booze For when I’m being idle
There’s wine and whiskey, even gin If I’m feeling suicidal!
So let’s all drink to lockdown
To recovery and health
And hope this bloody virus Doesn’t decimate our wealth.
We’ll all get through the crisis And be back to join our mates Just hoping I’m not far too wide To fit through the flaming gates!