Recent round-up

I met on Tuesday 18 August with Pannier Market Manager, Simon Curry, to discuss market issues. The council has identified work that is likely to be needed at the market and we’re now putting together a plan maintenance programme for the next four years. I’ll keep you informed of progress.

On Wednesday 19 August, I met with Cllr Faye Webber to discuss a couple of Barnstaple town centre issues (unfortunately, Cllr Adam Bradford was unable to attend). One matter related to Anchorwood Bank. The other thing was to discuss the way we provide temporary accommodation and a proposal for moving away from bed and breakfasts to something the council can provide itself. We’ll be putting some proposals to Executive in due course.

Then, on Thursday 20 August, there was a Leaders and CEOs Cross Boundary Collaboration meeting. We discussed how a more collaborative approach might lead to a better funding deal for Devon and Somerset. This was very productive and you can read more on Devon Council Council’s newscentre website.


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20 to 24 July

On Monday 20 July, Councillors Glyn Lane, Richard Edgell, John Mathews and I had a meeting with the Larkbear Action Group (LAG), along with planning officers, county officers from highways, the bus company Stagecoach and the police. We are still trying to resolve an issue around Lake Lane. However, I am hopeful we are close to a possible solution. If not, it will return to the Planning Committee to review and resolve.

Tuesday 21 July, I met with the developer of Anchorwood Bank so that he could bring me up to speed on the development and way forward. One of the issues for them is to help fund a pedestrian and cycle bridge between the site and the town centre. This (if it comes to fruition) would start in the middle of the site and terminate near the Queen Anne buildings, so there was a direct link into Cross Street and the High Street.

This was followed by a Local Plan meeting, which was a debrief and way forward discussion, following on from the meeting that Cllr Jeremy Yabsley, Cllr Pat Barker and officers had with the Minister at Westminster a couple of weeks ago. Our planners have been given a clear steer to get the plan ready for submission in September 2015!

Wednesday 22 July, we had an Executive workshop to review portfolios and to see if they match what we are trying to achieve. This was a useful exercise. We looked at corporate objectives with a view to the growth agenda for North Devon. We also looked at the organisation development agenda. We agreed that to be too reliant on central government would be a mistake, given the economic situation we as a council need to ensure that our growth agenda with regard to housing is robust and in keeping with our lovely area.

On Wednesday afternoon I had a meeting with Head of Environmental Health and Housing, Jeremy Mann, and Community Protection Manager, Amanda Palmer, to discuss one of my areas of responsibility – emergency planning.

On Thursday 23 July, Cllr Dick Jones and I had a meeting with North Devon Theatres Trust representatives and our officers, including the CEO. This is to ensure we keep up to date with them as the theatres are an asset of the council.


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Friday 17 July

Hello everyone. Here’s a brief update on my week.

On Monday 13 July, I met with Cllr Pat Barker and Ellen Vernon and Sally Nelson from our Economic Development team to discuss regeneration issues in Ilfracombe. This was followed by a flood defence meeting, involving town and district councillors and partner organisations. You can read more information about this on our news website.

Tuesday 14 July, Executive met and there were two main issues that were agreed. One was the Woodlands Centre at Pathfields, South Molton. The agreement was to purchase the Home and Communities Agency interest of 39% from them, so that North Devon Council will then have full control of this in the future.

The other item, which is exceptionally important, is the leisure centre and it was agreed by Members that we should have a new centre. The Leader of the opposition was there and fully supported this direction of travel. Our task now is to draw down funding and work up a plan of both funding and a detailed architectural plan, plus of course we need a project management plan.

Following Executive, I met with Ben who is on work experience with our Member Services. He is a student at South Molton and he was a well informed young man who grasped the answers to his questions and was able to probe in more detail. I hope he has enjoyed his time with us.

On Thursday 16th July, I visited South Molton and had a very productive discussion with South Molton Mayor, Town Clerk and members of the council. The ward members were also there, as was Cllr Jeremy Yabsley. I toured the town hall, the market and went to the Amory Centre for a briefing.

Friday 17 July – I had an early start to arrive for a meeting at County Hall, Exeter of the South West Councils. There were many topics discussed, from the cost of the living wage to combined authorities, as well as school funding in the region.

Have a good weekend!

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A look back at the last week

On Tuesday 7 July, Cllr Dick Jones and I were shown around the Queen’s Theatre by Director Alan Dodd. This was a very useful exercise and we have arranged to visit the Landmark Theatre also, which will probably be in August.

On Tuesday afternoon, I met with the Chairman of Barnstaple Football Club to discuss parking issues around the club site. Our Head of Property and Technical Services, Diana Hill, will now look at ways we can try to assist this club. As you may know, Cllr Jasmine Chesters is the Chair there and she has steered them through some sticky times and is to be commended for that, along with the fact that the team has performed brilliantly this year, earning promotion.

On Wednesday, we had a busy evening at Full Council. You can read the full agenda on the council’s website. The minutes of the meeting will also be published on our website soon.

Then on Thursday, Cllrs Pat Barker, Dick Jones and I had a meeting with John Evans at their depot in Bideford. It was a constructive meeting where they wanted to show us around their new training facility for apprentices and explain the scheme they have running in Exeter for Heavy Goods Drivers.

Friday was a catch-up day and a chance to review the forthcoming Executive meeting. This was followed in the afternoon by a visit to Ilfracombe for the One Ilfracombe events day, followed by the One Ilfracombe AGM.

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Round-up of the week

Monday 29th June  – I had an early start, arriving at Brynsworthy at 6.50am to brief the Waste and Recycling staff prior to them starting their respective rounds. It was a very convivial meeting, just to introduce myself to the crews, to give them a council update and to ask if they had any questions for me.

This was followed in the afternoon with a very useful meeting with Martyn Gimber at North Devon Homes, where we discussed a variety of issues, specifically how we could help one another in the coming months.

Tuesday 29th June – Chief Executive Mike Mansell and I went to the Ilfracombe Centre to brief our staff there on the way forward and for me to re-introduce myself to them.

Wednesday 1st July – The council’s ICT section and I went to the Woodlands Centre at South Molton for an away day with the IT section of Mid Devon District Council. This time was used to discuss the future of IT and to let the two respective IT sections get to know one another. It was a very successful day.

Thursday 2nd July – I had a meeting with our Economic Development team, along with Cllr Paul Crabb and Cllr Pat Barker. This was to discuss the Ilfracombe Regeneration Board and the way forward. We have now set a date for the end of the month to look at future projects in and around Ilfracombe.

After this meeting, the Chief Executive and I carried out four more staff visits, once again to meet our officers and to give them a council update.

Friday 3rd July – I attended a final staff visit, which means we have now completed all sections of the council and it seems they have been a success. This was followed by a meeting between myself, Mike Mansell, Economic Development Manager Ellen Vernon, North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones, Cllr Pat Barker and representatives of the Local Enterprise Partnership in the form of Chris Garcia and Heidi Hallam. This was a very useful meeting where we discussed how best the LEP could help us. The MP also advised us on the Link Road from his perspective.

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Monday 29 June

On Monday 22 June I had a very amiable meeting with Andy Lobato and Sue Gear of North Devon+. We discussed a general way forward to help ensure we in North Devon are receiving value for the money that is being paid, so that this can be demonstrated to our residents.

On Wednesday 24 June the Chief Executive and I met with Devon County Council Leader John Hart and his CEO. This was to discuss the details around the Civic Centre, now that we have vacated this building. The meeting was very worthwhile and I am currently awaiting the finer detail that we discussed. I do not want to give the wrong information, however, suffice to say it appears to be a fair settlement for both parties.

On Thursday 25 June Cllr David Luggar and I met with our communications team to explore various ways in which we as a council can communicate. In particular, we discussed ways we might be able to communicate with the residents of our area.

Friday 26 June, we had a joint meeting with Mid Devon between myself, Mike Mansell, Kevin Finan CEO of Mid Devon, the Leader of Mid Devon Cllr Clive Eginton, the IT portfolio holder at Mid Devon Colin Slade and Christina Cross our IT specialist for new platforms. We were setting the parameters for the future of our IT. We have some way to go and we have asked Christina to bring a paper back by the end of October 2015, so that we can review this and see if we are able to recommend the outcome to our Executives.

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Thursday 18 June 2015

Just a quick update to let you know the CEO and I had a very positive meeting with the Mayor of South Molton Cllr David Goodman and the Clerk to the Town Council Andrew Coats today.

We discussed the future of South Molton Swimming Pool and the way forward. We also had a long conversation about the South Molton car park and how it might be beneficial for both councils cooperating to come to an understanding on how best to handle the provision of the car park in the future.

I will keep you posted of any further updates.

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