Cllr Moore (Town Mayor)
Cllr Mrs Lidstone
Cllr Mrs Bricknell
Police x 2
District Councillors Coulson and Carter
County Councillor Sir Simon Day
Four Members of the public
The Minutes of the Annual Town meeting prepared and presented by the Mayor and held on 21st May 2012 were approved and duly signed by the Mayor as a correct record.
2. VERBAL REPORTS
The Mayor welcomed Cty Cllr Sir Simon Day and acknowledged he was retiring and therefore thanked him for all he had done.
Sir Simon noted he had been a councillor for 48 years and attended Salcombe when Cllr Wallace and Cllr Coulson’s father in law were mayors. Being 28 years old when he was elected in 1964 he decided to have go at entering Parliament. Following this he decided to remain in Devon and when they merged Modbury and Salcombe he became the County Councillor here and had constantly been re-elected. He had been Chief Whip, Deputy Leader then Leader of Devon County and Leader of the Association of County Councils based in London.
One event that caused most problems for him was when closing old peoples homes in Devon. He felt thought that there were lots of run down homes and the private sector were willing to take them over so it was the right thing to do at the time. His greatest achievement was as Leader of the Association when there was a great move to have Unitary Authorities and he fought very hard to keep the County and they remained. Sir Simon said he liked Salcombe enormously and had always tried to protect it from developers and opposed certain planning applications and persuaded others to follow suit. He always had a good relationship with councils and town councils and also liked looking after people so he thanked Salcombe for their support.
The Mayor passed a resident’s letter to County Councillor Sir Simon Day noting concern that the railings at Devon Road had still not been repaired for two years and requested his assistance.
Dist Cllr Coulson noted it had broadly been a good year and there had not been so many affordable housing issues coming to him but the Data Protection issue with regard to information on such had still not been answered. He still insisted that as elected representatives District Councillors should have access to local information relating to housing in their area and those people in housing. Salcombe Housing had a local policy but he could not access details to assist this implementation and he had no means of ascertaining whether or not local people meet criteria due to Data Protection. Possibly by the time he retired he might have an answer.
Waste, street cleansing and toilets seemed to have had lower levels of petty vandalism in the last year against preceding years. Courtney Park had been treated relatively well and with respect also. District were hoping that the rubbish collection issues were being moderated and although there was a dog fouling problem they were working towards dog control orders and sub orders for parishes and towns. Enforcement of these however would probably be down to parish and towns so it would be down to local people and training for such.
The main issue had been planning with 186 applications this year. Per capita this number was probably a great deal higher than anywhere else in the South Hams. About few planning applications had gone to committee over the year and Salcombe had come out on top on just under half of these but it should have been higher as he usually had a strong case before going to committee. The ordering of the district agenda for committee sometimes appeared unfair as when a meeting finished at 6.30-7p.m. with Salcombe late on in the alphabetical listing people were tired. Now District was holding morning sessions so hopefully this would improve. The proposed Neighbourhood Plan needed to stay on the priority list as, he felt, Salcombe was almost without protection in town. If town council wanted control on building in back gardens and building density within old style house plots a Neighbourhood Plan and Article 4 Directions could do such. The Master Plan for Batson Cross was progressing and whilst there had been issues with the Steering Group the group at this point was satisfied with the process so far. The group had put up information boards, had open consultations with the town even if perhaps in hindsight the last venue was not suitable. Dist Cllr Coulson said they could offer consultation but you cannot make local people join in consultation and the first draft of the Master Plan should be out this week. He stated he was disappointed with input to this consultation from Town Council but the Mayor responded that Isaac Kibblewhite had stated that Town Council were so far behind them in survey preparation on town land he did not want to speak. It was noted that six draft copies of the Master Plan were given out last meeting and then collected back in. Dist. Cllr Coulson advised that this new form of pre application discussion was brought in to get people involved earlier on and comment during the process. The Mayor also noted that at the first consultation meeting all town councillors were in attendance and put forward their comments so they had engaged. District Coucil were aiming for 30/40% affordable housing and Bloor were currently talking about 33%.
Dist Cllr Carter noted in his Habour Board role that since the police had moved into the Harbour Office this had been working very well. They had also achieved construction of the shower block this year. With regard to the work on the fish quay this was coming along although there had been delays but the Harbour Board was still anticipating mid to end of July 2013 for completion. The planning application was in for new pontoons at the Kingsbridge end of the Estuary so this was hoped to be put in place over winter to make things easier. Interviews were to be held this Friday for four new members to join the Harbour Board and they had 10 applications to consider.
The Mayor thanked both for their assistance during the year. Dist Cllr Coulson noted that if he felt the town council was not in agreement with District on a response and he had no material grounds for refusal he would let town council see his response. The National Planning Policy Framework states if it is sustainable District have to permit development so it must be a sound objection and defendable at any subsequent appeal as there would be costs.
Police – Pc Mullen advised that the figures for 2012/13 were 13 criminal damage; one down from last year, 38 theft; 29 down on last year, 12 burglary; 9 down on last year and 13 other which was 6 down on last year. Therefore the overall crime figures were significantly lower than the previous year.
With 81 crimes Salcombe were less than 10% for the whole area. There was also a decrease in reported crimes across the board. Recent problems in town were burglaries on building sites with power tools etc taken. The late shift and night shift were patrolling sites and stop checking vehicles at night. During the last 12 months the police had done a lot of work with regard to marine crime and he thought that a lot of small outboard motors taken were opportunist. Quite a few large engines were taken in the last few months and were organised teams who sold outside the country with the last one being in Canada. He was to retire 19th June and was uncertain what replacement would happen. PCSO Dave Gibson would continue and Rachel Ward would act as Sergeant during the summer period and would police community events and night club buses. From a personal point of view he noted he was possibly one of the luckiest policemen in the country. He started working for the police in 1983 and when he got married the only police house was in Kingsbridge so he took the house and then when he was introduced to the Chief Superintendent at the time said he would move area within 2 years to Torbay, but here he was still waiting. In 1991 he became Community Constable for Salcombe but since then had continued the same job under several different titles. He felt privileged to have had Salcombe as there was a real community and it was a fantastic place and he thanked all there and those he had met along the way for their support over the years.
The Mayor thanked Pc Mullen for all he had done and was sure councillors would agree that he was the old style bobby that all still remembered with fondness, appreciated and respected.
3. TOWN MAYOR’S REPORT
The Mayor noted that the local government economy was now firmly in its second year of cut backs with both County and District cutting budgets on things like, road side verges cuts down to minimum and weed spraying gone. Footpaths would only to be cut once a year now and District was also reducing costs but in a slightly less arbitrary manner and he saw this at the last Mayors and District CEO meeting. South Hams District had passed the Government precept rebate on to towns and parishes but other District had not. Car park charges were to be held steady but there would be some winter toilet closures next year. There may also possibly be some payment toilets put in place and District were llooking at discretionary services first to reduce. Cutting £7000000 out of £11million was difficult and they were getting some officers sharing with West Devon employees. Street cleaning and litter collection was being re arranged but at least District was trying to have a dialogue with parishes.
One major problem was infrastructure due to repairs needed on Victorian services/utilities. Most projects implemented were fairly large and County had repaired the wall at North Sands and wall at School Boy Steps. District also repaired the wall in Cross Garden and Town Council repaired the Shadycombe Cemetery wall with reserve budget left to refurbish the council hall. Such ongoing maintenance probably represented a challenge to all councils across the country but especially around the cost.
On community projects town council had concentrated giving the precept out in terms of grants. They also now had firmly got a hand on the tiller with regard to any section 106 monies received by District for Salcombe. Town Council had monitored these and done very well over the last few years with solar panels on the swimming pool, St. Dunstans Play area, rugby club practice lights and Ember Road play equipment. They must continue to do to maximise any input.
This was the Mayor’s last meeting as well after six years and this he said was a great community and acknowledged the councillors put the effort in even though it was a difficult job and always contentious, these councillors give up a lot of their own time. He thanked all councillors past and present for their contribution and judgment of Solomon. He thanked past councillors Mark Long who put Salcombe as number one in planning at District and Les King for his personal support.
4. OPEN FORUM
Mark Long was in attendance and wished to comment as a resident. As it was the annual meeting he noted the report from Sir Simon on what he had done as a County Councillor and acknowledged that he had not personally always agreed with his politics. However Sir Simon had always achieved things for the community and he thanked him and also gave thanks to the District Councillors for their work during the year. He gave a big thanks to Pc Mullen for what he had done as somebody everybody in the community could relate to and who had the heart of the town wherever anything was being done. His retirement was well earned from all his time and energy. As the Mayor had indicated he was stepping down as a councillor and Mayor. Four years Mark Long acknowledge was a long time as mayor and he acknowledged his energy going around town talking to people and things unseen by other people such as head knocking of district officers and county officers and those relationships that had assisted this town. Thanks were given for his for term of office. The Mayor acknowledged and appreciated this but felt as a second home owner for 30 years he had put something back in.
Dist. Cllr Coulson said thanks to Sir Simon and noted his retirement was also well earned and personal acknowledged Pc Mullen. He also gave thanks to town council because it was getting very difficult nowadays in local government but there was genuine goodwill coming out of this council. His offered his personal thanks to the Mayor as he felt they had worked well together. Dist Cllr. Carter echoed these sentiments. The Mayor noted as a final statement that because of time constraints democratic bodies would change and future things would change but things would be just as well run.
Meeting closed : 7.10p.m.
Town Mayor of Salcombe Town Council