COUNCIL MEMBERS PRESENT
* – Attendance; A- Absent; N – No Apologies Received
Cllr. M. Fice – Mayor (in the Chair) – *
Cllr. A. Biggs – *
Cllr Mrs C. Bricknell – *
Cllr T. Lang – *
Cllr R. Whitfield – *
Cllr Mrs L. Sinnott – *
Cllr Mrs M. Kemp – *
Cllr K. Baker – *
Cllr N. Rudd – *
Cllr G. Lennox – *
Cllr Mrs N. Turton – *
Cllr P. Armstrong – A
Also in attendance:
Dist. Cllr S. Wright – A
Dist. Cllr Mrs Pearce – *
Cty. Cllr. R Gilbert – A
Gill Claydon (Clerk) – *
Pete Robinson (Cemetery Manager and Project Officer) – *
Sgt D. Green – *
WPC Jo Pengilly – *
Chris Derrick Kingsbridge Gazette – *
The Minutes of the meeting held on 12th May 2016 were considered and duly AGREED for the Chair to sign as a true and correct record.
2. TOWN MAYOR’S REPORT
The Mayor was pleased there was a now a full compliment of councillors and thanked all for their contributions during the year. He also gave his thanks to the District and County Councillors. The Cemetery and Project Manager and the town clerk were acknowledged for their expert assistance.
During the year there was the planning application for proposed works at Whitestrand car park which was following by a public meeting. Fortunately due to the District Councillors intervention this had been shelved and if anything further came forward they had promised there would now be full consultation with the town. There was also an issue with changes to street cleaning notably by Chad Benson being moved out of the town and the community was actively against this. It was apparent that Chad would not be returning but town council continued to work to ensure there remained a good quality of street cleaning and had been promised a full 12 hour facility throughout summer operating from 7a.m – 7p.m. Town Council had also obtained funding to create a hard surface path from the boat park to Batson so that it remained passable during the wet season for prams and wheelchairs. This path had been well received after some initial reticence of it blending in. Benches had been installed with one removed and replaced at Courtney park. The Fairweather Fountain works had been carried out with a huge thank you to Cllr Mrs Bricknell for all her hard work on this project. The Mortuary building in Shadycombe cemetery had roof structural problems and this was to be discussed within the full council meeting following. The building had been weatherproofed but the ongoing intention was to ask the community what they thought this building could be used for in the future. At the last Annual Town meeting a questioned was raised as to a replacement Parade Marshall for the Remembrance Parade. This had been taken up by the Harbour Master Adam Parnell and he had done a superb job. The Salcombe Neighbourhood Plan was proceeding with the core five people team putting a lot of work in and at the stage where policies were being created and they were considering obtaining a consultant to write the actual plan.
The new website had gone from strength to strength and a former town council Facebook page had been resurrected and was in its infancy. Many thanks were offered to Cllr Whitfield for maintaining the website and finding a route into rekindling the Facebook page. Town Council had recently managed to obtain further funding to install street lighting from Onslow Road to the Batson Hill development and this was being worked on. Other funding obtained by town council had come from the Town and Parish Fund to assist with the renovation of Cliff House.
3. VERBAL REPORTS
District Cllr Mrs Pearce – Noted under District Finance that only 9% of the council tax bill collected from residents ended up at District. Further the Government grant currently paid was going to stop a year earlier than Government said before meaning that next financial year there would be a shortfall of £600,000. Ways to fill this gap would need to be addressed this year. The Local Authority Company proposed by District had been intended to answer this shortfall but the payback time for pensions was too long so it had been agreed not to go ahead. However the LAC could come back in a smaller form to cover part of the council services. Dist Cllr Mrs Pearce believed this was a better solution if a business case that was sensible could be made. It might include building council houses or putting a whole department such as waste collection into it.
Whatever was decided District must find some other way of getting over this budget gap and was looking into investing a large sum of money into commercial property to then let out to create a revenue channel. Dist Cllr Mrs Pearce noted that on this she was concerned as other councils were already doing this and therefore South Hams would be on the back of the wave rather than ahead and therefore it might not return a good enough investment.
Planning was proving extremely difficult as nationally there was a lack of planning officers so the South Hams office was not staffed with enough adequately qualified officers. One ingenious idea was to perhaps employ graduates on a day release scheme as she had seen this done elsewhere. This brought in keen and intelligent people who could continue their Masters at Plymouth or Exeter Universities. It had been agreed in enforcement there should be another full time officer but whether this would be enough cover she did not know. There were currently 785 enforcement investigations and when this was measured against planning applications this was 30% of their workload on two officers. Often enforcement cases had to be considered but were merely neighbour disputes or they were not expedient to enforce. On balance however this year had more to recommend it than to be critical about and she ran through illustrative statistics. On the performance side online transactions increased by 17% and though initially there were hitches in the IT back office but a lot had now come on and it was the best way for public to report concerns or pay council tax etc. This was also a safe, efficient and cheap way for the council to assist communities. If a refuse bin was not collected an online report went straight to the dust cart cab and they could return. Another positive note was that missed waste collection was 50% down on what was expected. Also 98% of minor planning applications were determined on time.
POLICE: WPC Jo Pengilly advised that the crime figures in comparison to last year were 1st April 2016 till this meeting 111 crimes in Salcombe alone. Of these 71 were thefts including marine crime plus other incidents of assaults etc. This was against only 70 recorded crimes in Salcombe last year. From their investigation works they had obtained a lot of intelligence with regard to where boat engines were going but to date had not made any arrests or retrieved the goods. On the whole though it had been a positive year working with the fisheries and MMO towards stopping illegal fishing. Traffic operations and prosecutions had been carried out dealing with motorists with no insurance and forward to the summer months they would continue crime prevention for marine crime.
Sgt Green noted that there had been an uplift theft related crimes in Salcombe, a trend which reflected around the whole country. On the subject of crime figures WPc Pengilly had mentioned before that crime was only one aspect of what police dealt with day to day. Nationally for every crime reported police received 4 or 5 calls for assistance in other areas. Of the 111 crimes in Salcombe there would be another 400 or so non crime related calls from Salcombe. These could be road traffic matters but increasingly a lot of police work was about safeguarding vulnerable people and working with partners in health and social care. In such an older age area there were adult mental health difficulties just keeping people safe. There was a whole range of non-crime related work with an A – Z of remit that could befall people from unexpected death to community issues. With regard to police resourcing in the future imminently Kingsbridge was to lose PCSO Dave Gibson as he had been successful in joining as a police officer. However his training course was delayed for a few months so he was temporarily back until mid-June. He would then be replaced by PCSO O’Dwyer so they were overlapping at present to share knowledge. Sgt Green assured that Salcombe needed and would continue to have a PCSO. These changes however had come about because Devon & Cornwall Police was reducing the amount of PCSOs provided, to be achieved over 4 years. So as they went to be retrained as full time police, were redeployed or retired they would lose PCSOs over 4 years. Many communities were asking where the remaining 150 PCSOs would be placed within South Hams in the rural or urban areas. Within the police organisation this was being discussed but Sgt Green wanted to retain them locally as currently he had four that will go down to 3. In South Hams it was an inconvenient truth that this was a low crime area sandwiched between two of the highest crime areas, Torquay and Plymouth. His role was to constantly remind his police organisation that there was a need in the South Hams and that the geographical distances must be taken into account. Such geographical distance and time travelling was a problem particular only to Devon and Cornwall.
WPc Pengilly and Sgt Green left the meeting.
4. OPEN FORUM
Although three members of the public were present no one raised any issues.
Meeting Closed: 18.29p.m.