At the recent annual parish council meeting, Alison Young was re-elected as chair, with Bill Thirtle as vice-chair of the parish council. Alison’s report on her first year as chair is published below.
Five enthusiastic walkers have walked nearly all the Bridestowe footpaths and any details of faults/defects are to be reported to the DCC footpath Inspector who will then organise any necessary repairs.
The annual RoSPA safety report for the children’s play area in the Sporting Green has been received with a few low-risk items identified that require attention. In addition to this the play equipment is also checked weekly by councillors.
The internal auditor has approved the council finances for the last financial year. The Annual Governance Statement and the Annual Accounting Statement has been approved by the parish council prior to submission to the external auditor.
A new bench is required in the cemetery as the previous one has fallen into disrepair. A donation has been offered towards the cost of replacement. There have also been a number of offers from villagers to plant trees on the boundaries of the cemetery. The parish council is delighted to accept this generosity with many thanks.
Agendas and also minutes from the previous council meeting are displayed on the noticeboards in the parish, or on the Bridestowe web site at www.bridestowe.org.uk
Contact details for Bridestowe Parish Council: Pete Daniels (Parish Clerk), 4 Trescote Way, Bridestowe. EX20 4QB. Tel: 01837 861244. Email email@example.com
Chair’s Annual Report May 2021
Throughout the last year Bridestowe Parish Council has had to deal with the constraints put on it by the pandemic and meetings have been carried out via Zoom. Although this may lead to shorter meetings it does have an inhibiting effect on open discussion; nonetheless the routine business has been conducted and Zoom meetings are well attended. We have a full complement of councillors with Gayle Leando joining us in October last year.
The Covid 19 support network set up by the council when Bill Thirtle was Chair has served parishioners well and the PC remains the point of contact for anyone experiencing difficulties.Thanks go to the 30 odd volunteers who have delivered support during periods of lockdown.
The council has received grants from Devon County Council and West Devon Borough Council for pandemic support. We also have DCC to thank for a grant expedited by Kevin Ball for a new bench positioned outside the Methodist Chapel.
The council continues to maintain the churchyard, cemetery and Sporting Green. Grass cutting is a major outlay but the contractor offers an excellent service and costs have been kept constant over several years. He and his team carried out the felling of the 8 diseased ash trees around the edge of the Sporting Green. This was essential work and it is reassuring to know that at least in this area the ash trees no longer pose a danger. Parishioners benefitted from the wood and the wildlife from the brash piles.
The entrance to the Sporting Green has been resurfaced with tarmac to a high standard by the DCC Public Rights of Way team; similarly the footbridge at the far side of the Sporting Green has been repaired, this despite the financial constraints of DCC’s reduced budget. An annual safety check by ROSPA of the Sporting Green play equipment is carried out annually as well as weekly checks. The deteriorating condition of the surface beneath the multiplay has been flagged up and has led to discussion on the way forward. Rather than a short term repair a more ambitious upgrade of equipment is contemplated subject to successful grant applications.
With such effort made to maintain this valued, green community space, it was depressing and frustrating that it should have been a target for vandalism. The nest swing was destroyed and damage done to casing at the foot of the DAAT mast. Fortunately the cost of replacement and repairs, in the region of £2.5k, was fully covered by insurance. The council tries to ensure that the cemetery remains well maintained and tidy and income from burials contributes to upkeep costs. The hedge on the roadside has been trimmed and it is hoped to keep it at a manageable height.
A new Exclusive Rights of Burial register was needed and a generous donation from a relative of William Prescott, who is buried in the cemetery, covered this cost.
When it came to setting the budget and precept for 2020/21 in November, the council was mindful of the financial difficulties inflicted by the pandemic and did not increase it. However cemetery fees were increased as these had not been raised for several years and still remain much lower than other parishes.
The negotiation of a three year insurance contract for the council, which includes £10.000,000 public liability, has helped keep costs down.
We ensure that the council complies with the latest codes of conduct, data protection and financial regulations; relevant documents can be found on Bridestowe’s website that demonstrate this. The council’s finances are audited both internally and externally and Phil Down is our new internal auditor. The external audit too can be viewed on the website
A grant of £100 was awarded to Okehampton Ring and Ride whose volunteers have continued to drive throughout the pandemic, ensuring everyone was able to access their appointments.
The council continues to provide sand and sacks for flood defence.
The council monitors footpaths within the parish although it is local volunteers who do the leg work and report any deficiencies to the clerk and then these are addressed by DCC Highways.
The council appraises all planning applications and submits comments on each to WDBC. Site meetings are arranged in most cases to gain a fuller appreciation of the intent and impact of the application.
Bridestowe Parish Council welcomes the completion of the joint Neighbourhood Plan as the working group awaits a date for the referendum.
The council has responsibility for the defibrillator attached to the outside wall of Riverside Stores. A new metal casing was installed as the plastic one had become brittle, new pads bought and the 5 year batteries renewed.
The Bridestowe Emergency Plan has been reviewed and updated and can be accessed via the village website. Entitled ‘Home Emergency Plan’ it gives basic information and contact details but also encourages householders to think through their response in the case of an emergency. It is an appendix of a much more detailed document which, when completed, will be held locally and centrally so that it can be shared with the emergency services if required. The council is supportive of the recent initiative to make Bridestowe a more wildlife friendly village and the hope is this will be a community- led project.
My thanks to the many volunteers from the community who are always there to lend a hand with maintenance work, with clearing
and tidying and helping to make the area a pleasant place to live.
My thanks to fellow councillors for their contribution and for their support, advice and encouragement to me in my role as Chair and to our two ward members for their support and input. My particular thanks go to our clerk for his diligent hard work.