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Introduction

INTRODUCTION

We have divided our Parish Plan into five main sections, each with a separate header page to present a general overview. This is followed by a report on each of the topics. You will note that many topics begin with comments written in italics. These are brief summaries of what your data provided. On each header page some of the speech bubbles are also printed in italics. These are all quotes submitted by you in the ‘Have Your Say’ page at the back of the questionnaire. The speech bubbles not in italics present information derived from our analysis.

Every topic finishes with three boxes: one for the issues, the second for the action that needs to be taken and the third for the partners or the people and organisations who will be involved in working with the community to meet our objectives.

You will see from all of the ‘Partners’ boxes that there is a great deal for the Parish Council to do. The Parish Council has formally accepted the Parish Plan and we are sure they will do their best to address the issues and make every effort to see things through.

It is also important to acknowledge the invaluable support the community has already given to this project. 82% of households filled in our questionnaire and returned it, which, of course, is all the more reason to see that we achieve things from it. That is why the Steering Committee will continue to meet to monitor progress. We must be realistic, however, and acknowledge that much of what we wish to do is going to be very difficult to deliver, but that should not stop us from making the effort.

To ensure that we do progress, our next step is to invite everyone who is interested or wishes to make observations about our Parish Plan to meet. We have booked the

Burlescombe and Westleigh Community Hall for Friday Jan. 13th. 2006

at 7.30pm

It will be an informal get together over refreshments to exchange views about how we carry out the Parish Plan in order to satisfy the demands expressed in the questionnaire.

Many people expressed a willingness to help with projects but because of our system of confidentiality we have been unable to trace most of them. If you are unable to attend the meeting but wish to be involved please contact one of the people mentioned below or any member of the steering committee, which is listed at the back of this booklet

If anyone is visually impaired and would like a copy in bold print please contact David Beard on 01823 672907 or our Parish Clerk Chrissie Palmer on 01823 672913. Both will also be happy to address any comments you may have about this booklet.

1


Introduction

CONTENTS

Overview 3

Community Support Header Page 4

Policing 5

Neighbourhood Watch 5

Provision for young people 6

Farm Watch 7

Neighbourhood Care 7

Shops and Shopping 7

Affordable Housing 8

Local Facilities 9

Mobile Library 9

Parish Council10

Environment Header Page11

Energy Conservation12

Re-cycling and Waste Disposal12

Community Compostiing13

Grand Western Canal13

Footpaths14

Planning and Development15

Our Community’s Environment16

Local Industry and the Environment17

Roads and Transport Header Page18

Public Transport19

Conditions of the Roads in the Parish19

Speed Limits20

Parking on the Highway20

Environmental Problems20

Communications Header Page21

Notice Boards22

E-mail Information Service22

Parish Web Site23

Parish News23

Welcome Pack24

The Children's Parish Plan25

Acknowledgements29

2


Introduction

PARISH OF BURLESCOMBE PLAN

Burlescombe Parish stretches from Fenacre in the north to Leonard Moor Cross in the south and from Maidendown in the east to Holbrook in the west.

It includes Burlescombe, Westleigh, Canonsleigh, Westcott, Waterloo Cross, Junction 27, Tiverton Parkway, Appledore, Southdown and Ayshford.

The parish has a long history with several properties mentioned in the Domesday Book. Canonsleigh Abbey, whose 11th century gatehouse still stands, was a wealthy and influential institution until its dissolution in 1536. The manor house at Ayshford, with its chapel of ease, was the seat of the Ayshford family who owned much of the parish until as recently as 1939. The Ayshfords were benefactors of the parish church of St Mary, well-established by 1324. Elizabethan and Jacobean family memorials are features of the interior. More recently the family was instrumental in building Burlescombe School which opened in 1859, eleven years before the great Education Act of 1870 which saw the establishment of so many village schools.

Although the parish is largely agricultural it is also surprisingly industrialised. The limestone quarry at Westleigh has been worked since medieval times and is still active. The Grand Western Canal crossing the parish from Waytown tunnel to Holbrook and now a Country Park, is evidence of the industrial past. The tile factory, opened in the late 1960s is evidence of more recent industrial development. Brunel’s Great Western Railway was built in the 1840s and, although Burlescombe’s station disappeared in the 1960s, still serves the parish at Tiverton Parkway. A more modern transport link, the M5 motorway follows Brunel’s route through the parish.

The Parish Plan project sets out to paint a picture of the Parish of Burlescombe as it is at present, to identify those aspects which are of concern to residents and to set out ways in which these concerns may be addressed. It will inform local authorities at Parish, District and County level and should help them to make better decisions for those whom they represent. Future long term planning decisions made by District, County or Regional authorities will have to take into account views expressed in Parish Plans.

The Household Questionnaire, delivered to all 345 households in the Parish, produced a comprehensive picture of the community, its hopes and aspirations. Some of the information produced is presented below.

Out of 345 questionnaires delivered, there were 285 completed returns, answered by a total of 768 people (398 males and 370 females) from the age of eleven upwards.

There were 33 homes with a disabled person living there, and of those, 6 accommodated more than one disabled person.

Work. 37% of us are full-time employed, 17% are self-employed. 10% in part-time work, just 0.2% on a Government training scheme and thankfully, only 1.5% are unemployed. 21% of us are retired, 8% are homemakers, 9% in full time education, 1.5% in part-time education and 3% of us are carers within the family. Remember a number of us ticked more than one box.

Have your say. 92 people took the trouble to pass on their concerns with 171 different comments. Of those 40% were concerned with roads (in particular safety), traffic, lorries and the quarry. Other concerns expressed were housing needs, public transport, Broadpath landfill, Post Office and shop, the Parish Council, litter, newsletters, footpaths and many others.

The Working Parties set up by the Parish Plan Steering Committee have considered the results of the questionnaire and their conclusions form the main part of the Parish Plan. Their findings are split into four sections: Community Support, Environment, Roads and Transport and Communication. There is also a section prepared by the children of our primary school who have analysed their own questionnaire and drawn their own conclusions

3


Introduction

COMMUNITY SUPPORT

88% of respondents expressed concern about the provision of policing in the parish

  • Issues

  • Policing

  • Neighbourhood Watch

  • Provision for young people

  • Farm Watch

  • Neighbourhood Care

  • Shops and shopping

  • Affordable Housing

  • Local facilities

  • Mobile library

  • Parish Council

  • Actions

  • Promote better communications between the police and the community

  • Re-establish the Neighbourhood Watch

  • Promote all youth activities such as clubs and CAP-BW

  • Publicise Farm Watch

  • Investigate the establishment of Neighbourhood Care

  • Investigate the provision for community shopping, supermarket bus, internet shopping

  • Pursue the provision of affordable homes

  • Ensure the survival of our village halls

  • Promote the use of the mobile library

  • Promote better communications between the Parish Council and the community

‘Even after a year the lack of a Post Office is still keenly felt in Westleigh.’

‘I think people of the area should have new houses to keep the young married people in the village’

‘The opinion of individuals seems to count for little with Parish Councillors’

  • Partners

  • Parish Council

  • MDDC

  • Agencies to MDDC

  • DCC

  • Youth Groups

  • Devon and Cornwall Constabulary

  • Local organisations

Over three quarters of respondents use the community halls

‘Mobile library arrives at lunchtime. Could it be after school for the children’s use?’

4


Introduction

Policing.

No less than 88% showed dissatisfaction with the service provided by the Community Police Officer.

The questionnaire highlighted concerns about the way in which we are policed. It may well be that better communications between the police and the community would answer many concerns. Only 7.5% of residents considered the present system satisfactory and a further 4% offered no opinion.

  • Issue

  • Lack of confidence in police support

  • Actions

  • Parish Council to foster good relations with the police

  • Report to the police any criminal or anti-social behaviour

  • To follow-up the police action on such reports

  • To seek ways of giving the police a more visible profile in our area

  • To improve communications between the police and the community

The Parish Council have already begun to act by appointing a Police Liaison Councillor,Roy Bakehouse, who is now taking on board the community’s concerns and having regular meetings with the local constabulary. If you wish to contact Roy you can do so on 01823 672815

Partners: Parish Council, Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, MDDC, local communications.

Neighbourhood Watch

107 people expressed an interest in helping with a neighbourhood watch scheme

This is one way in which we can improve matters for ourselves although there still remains the criticism that the police do not feed back their information from data that has been provided by neighbourhood watch. We are already in the process of resurrecting some schemes within the area and we would hope to achieve cover of the entire parish in time.

  • Issue

  • To expand the coverage of Neighbourhood Watch in our parish

  • Actions

  • To promote the advantages of NW

  • To encourage new schemes to develop within the parish

  • To keep the advantages of NW in the public eye

107 people said they were prepared to help with schemes. There is one established scheme on the east side of Burlescombe village and we are in the process of beginning a scheme in Westleigh. However, there is room for more as much of the parish remains uncovered by Neighbourhood Watch.

Anyone wishing to be involved can contact Olive Pearce on 01823 672382

Partners:DCC coordinator, Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, local NW coordinators, Parish Council, local communications.

5


Introduction

Provision for young people

18 people offered to help with a youth club.

29 families have children either at the nursery school or the mother and toddler group, 31 households had children attending our local primary school and 24 whose children are educated elsewhere. 31 families have children at Uffculme School, 6 at other secondary schools. 22 families had children in further education.

97% of all families who responded to the questionnaire found the standard of education at Burlescombe Primary School to be satisfactory or better. 62% considered it excellent.

We have a thriving youth club in Westleigh for our children of primary school age. We now have a new play area at Burlescombe and an established area at Westleigh. Both are designed to cater for the younger children and are widely used. There is a problem with inadequate grass cutting which is addressed on page 16. However, we have no club and few facilities for teenagers. The demands for running such a club for older children are many. Attempts have been made in the past but all have faced difficulties that have resulted in their demise. We conclude that a club would be of benefit to the community but it would require professional help and advice to be run successfully. We need to investigate how this can be achieved.

CAP-BW (Children’s Action Programme – Burlescombe and Westleigh) was formed to create a BMX track on the old rail track adjacent to the main line. Although the group has been successful in gaining support and raising money there have been long-term problems in obtaining a satisfactory lease for the area and as a result the scheme is on hold. The group have also concluded that it would be of greater benefit to our youngsters if the area had a general-purpose surface rather than for one specific use. We should give every encouragement to CAP-BW to achieve their aims and to provide these facilities.

  • Issues

  • How to maintain the present facilities and organisations

  • The need for more facilities, in particular for older children

  • Actions

  • Strive to see that MDDC secures better grass cutting contracts

  • Give support to the youth club organisers

  • Give support to CAP-BW

  • Investigate ways of raising money to improve our present facilities and create new ones

Partners:the young people of the parish, parents, youth club organisers, CAP-BW, MDDC, DCC, Parish Council. Burdensome CPS, Nursery Group.

6


Introduction

Farm Watch

32 people expressed an interest in helping with Farm Watch

Isolated homesteads are particularly vulnerable to crime and a Farm Watch scheme would provide a valuable service for many. Farm Watch is usually generated by a group of neighbouring farmers with the help of the NFU (National Farmers Union). It is important to state that the initiative for such a scheme comes from the farmers, not the NFU. There is already a scheme involving around thirty farmers. Anyone who wishes to find out more can contact David Sprague on 01823 672269

  • Issue

  • To give greater protection to isolated farmsteads

  • Actions

  • To publicise regularly the opportunities to develop such a scheme

  • To support existing schemes

Partners:local farmers, NFU, local communications.

Neighbourhood Care

16 people expressed an interest in helping with neighbourhood care

Such schemes are usually centred around doctors’ surgeries. They provide help for people who have difficulty in getting to a surgery or for collecting medicine. Some groups provide a ‘call-in’ service to provide neighbourly support for the housebound, the old and infirm. From the questionnaire responses, 16 people indicated they would be interested in helping. We need to encourage such a service as voluntary care in the community is a measure of the community’s quality.

  • Issues

  • Help for local residents who cannot get to a surgery on their own

  • The collection of medicine for people who cannot collect their own

  • To give support for those who are housebound and/or alone. To include them in community activities

  • Actions

  • To investigate the possibility of setting up a Care Group

  • To publicise any facility that is set up

Partners: doctors’ surgeries,Parish Council, MDDC.

Shops and shopping

Only 10% were interested in using a supermarket bus. 35% said they would be interested in using a community run shop and 61 people declared an interest in helping with community shopping projects.

Like many small rural communities we have now lost our shop and post offices. From the ‘Have your Say’ returns and from anecdotal evidence there is real concern that these facilities are no longer available. The reality is that it is extremely unlikely that such shops will be resurrected or be viable business enterprises in the foreseeable future. If we are to receive some sort of service, we must look for alternatives.

Some supermarkets provide complimentary bus services to isolated areas and this is something we need to investigate. 55 people declared they might use it.

7


Introduction

There are communities countrywide that have set up community shops, non-profit making schemes run primarily by volunteers. Many have proved to be very successful. Some, of course, have failed. 104 people responded that they would use such a facility and 61 said they would be prepared to help with such schemes. It seems that this is a basis for further investigation but we must not underestimate the difficulties.

Our community is widely spread and without a natural centre. It may be difficult to decide where to site a community shop even if premises can be found. It is imperative to seek help and advice from the various national bodies that have been established to help such schemes and to be well versed in the vagaries of the retail trade. One thing is clear; the more the voluntary help the greater the chance of success.

Because of the layout of our parish another alternative may be a mobile shop, but this too brings its own problems. It will be of limited service for each area and there is the matter of expenditure on a suitable vehicle, its garaging and its maintenance.

The experience of other communities is that it is possible to solve the lack of shopping facilities by one of these methods and, as the survey’s responses suggest there is sufficient interest, we should investigate how to proceed and encourage such action.

  • Issues

  • No Post Office in the parish

  • No shops in the main population areas

  • Difficulties in finding a suitable location

  • How do we begin to address these problems?

  • Actions

  • To bring together those who expressed an interest to help

  • To identify whether some solution is possible

  • To seek professional advice about how to proceed

Partners:The Community Council for Devon, The Rural Shops Alliance, Parish Council, MDDC.

Affordable Housing

The Housing Needs Survey that accompanied our questionnaire identified a need for five affordable homes, either for rent or shared equity. The main problem in achieving low-cost housing is the price of building land. The way in which many local authorities and housing associations solve this is by offering above agricultural rates for land outside the settlement areas where there is no prospect of that land becoming available for other kinds of development. However, this is being compromised by a general trend to speculate on land in the hope of change in the distant future. At least the need is now identified and the main consideration is where the houses might be built

It is understood that MDDC are looking to identify land of their own that may meet the criteria for building affordable homes.

  • Issue

  • To find suitable sites to build the houses already identified as needed

  • Action

  • Parish Council to work closely with the Rural Housing Officer MDDC and the Housing Associations

Partners:Parish Council, MDDC, DCC, Housing Associations, local landowners.

8


Introduction

Local facilities

222 use the Community Hall, 169 the URC Hall at Westleigh, 177 attend church and 44 the chapel either often or occasionally. On a similar scale for the younger generation, 48 use the Burlescombe play area and the field and 92 use the Westleigh play area. 237 of us enjoy a pint at the local.

The Community Hall averages around 15 to 18 bookings each month and the URC Hall between 8 and 10. Between them they host about six events each week. They are clearly very important facilities, they are well used and ones we must preserve. Such halls are under pressure nationwide as they must provide facilities for disabled people, which is proving costly. Both of our halls also require maintenance and the Community Hall is raising money for a much-needed refurbishment.

The questionnaire returns indicate a whole range of leisure activities which people travel outside the parish to enjoy. Some of these could happen in the parish if the facilities were available. If the participants’ enthusiasm were combined with efforts to improve the halls the advantages to the community would be clear: local clubs using local halls. The more diverse the use of our halls the more likely they are to attract funding for maintenance and improvements.

It is in our interests as a community to continue to use our halls and to support the many money-raising activities to pay for their upkeep and improvements.

Partners: the hall committees, Parish Council, MDDC, funding agencies, local communications

  • Issues

  • Cost of maintenance

  • Cost of updating the facilities for the disabled

  • The need for refurbishment

  • Actions

  • To give full support to the hall committees  

  • To look for ways of funding improvement and maintenance costs

  • To publicise the facilities we have

Partners: the hall committees, Parish Council, MDDC, funding agencies, local communications.

Mobile Library

Only a small number of residents use this facility but its importance to them should not be under-estimated. It is felt that better publicity for its visits may broaden its appeal and it is proposed that we seek to publish its timetable in the Parish News.

  • Issues

  • Is this facility used by everyone who might wish to?

  • Are its visits well known?

  • Action

  • To publicise the timetable for the library visits

Partners:Parish Council, DCC Library Services, local communications.

9


Introduction

The Parish Council

35% of the responses were in the ‘No opinion’ box but only 5% ticked ‘Parish Council doesn’t interest me’. 27% complained of poor communications. However, a number expressed some forthright negative opinions about the council in the ‘Have Your Say’ pages which would indicate that the council has much work to do if it is to gain greater interest and support within the community.

From the responses it would appear that most people were either unaware that they could attend meetings or did not have the time to do so.

It is encouraging that only 27 respondents declared no interest in the Parish Council but it is sobering to acknowledge that it suffered very negative criticism in the ‘Have Your Say’ pages. Clearly there are issues to address when it is accused of being ineffective and self serving.

In the present local government framework it is true to say that parish councils have very limited powers and one reason for producing a Parish Plan is in order to give the council evidence of the community’s wishes when making demands upon the local authorities. For instance, without a survey there is no means of knowing what the housing needs for the parish may be and therefore no means of presenting a good and winnable case.

With regard to its integrity, all councillors now have to sign up to a rigorous code of conduct, have to declare their interests (which are then placed in the public domain) and continue to give of their time voluntarily. Our Parish Council is unpaid and its members do not claim expenses. It is clear, like so much this report has investigated, that there is a serious lack of good communication between the Parish Council and the community it serves. There is also a misunderstanding about its role and what it can realistically achieve.

What has become apparent however, is that the greater the community support for Parish Council action and the more concrete evidence there is, the greater the prospect of achieving success.

  • Issue

  • Effectiveness of the Parish Council

  • Actions

  • To better inform the community of its actions

  • To publish minutes and agenda

  • To investigate ways of better consultation with the community

Partners:Parish Council, local communications.

10


Introduction

ENVIRONMENT

  • Actions

  • Seek support and grants for energy conservation

  • Monitor the progress of the new rubbish collection service

  • Investigate ways of setting up a composting group

  • Support and inform the canal management of our local needs

  • Improve communications with regard to all planning applications

  • Work closely with the local industrialists to improve our environment

  • Give support to the maintenance of our footpaths

  • Monitor and inform the local authority of any concerns with Broadpath landfill or re-cycling

  • Issues

  • Energy conservation

  • Re-cycling

  • Community composting

  • Canal preservation

  • Footpaths

  • Housing development

  • Dog fouling

  • Local industry and the environment

  • Planning

‘The canal banks should be kept cut all through the summer’

‘Dog fouling and general litter makes Westleigh look shabby’

‘How is the planning system for commercial development implemented in the parish?’

  • Partners

  • The community

  • Parish Council

  • MDDC

  • DCC

  • Local organisations

  • Local industry

  • GW Canal management

‘More should be done to control dust from the quarry and the tile plant’

‘A few years ago the smell of the countryside air was a joy. Now we have the stench of the Broadpath landfill’

11


Introduction

Energy Conservation

Our returns from the questionnaire showed that most homes use a variety of heating fuels. Oil, LPG gas, wood, solid fuel are the main sources but there are also a few homes with solar panels, heat pump or grain/wood chip burner. 60% of homes use oil, 40% electricity, 29% have wood burners, 25% solid fuel and 14% LPG gas.

92% of homes have loft insulation, 75% have their hot water tank lagged, 85% have double-glazing, 40% have cavity wall insulation and 50% of households use low energy light bulbs.

From time to time the Local Authority has a drive on energy conservation and grants are made available to help with the cost. It is important that these activities are well publicised so that those with need can take advantage of the schemes on offer. At the time of publication the ‘Heat Devon’ team are available on 0800 093 4050 They offer a free survey which covers all aspects of heat insulation to anyone living in a private property. There is a grant of £275 towards the cost of insulation (this rises to £2500 if you are in receipt of benefits). ‘Warmfront’ offer a similar scheme that covers heating and they can be contacted on 0800 3016 6011.

  • Issue

  • To reduce heating costs and conserve energy

  • Actions

  • The Parish Council to monitor Local Authority initiatives

  • To publicise developments through the local communication network

Partners:Parish Council, MDDC, local communications.

Re-Cycling and Waste Disposal

Recycling. 136 of us use the recycling facilities at the Community Hall. 115 people already use a recycling box and 110 more would prefer to use one if it were made available.

There are major changes taking place throughout MId-Devon and the country with regard to waste disposal and re-cycling. A new re-cycling centre is being developed at Broadpath on the border of our parish with Uffculme. A new system of collection for re-cycling has already been introduced in the Westleigh area but other parts of the parish have not been included. There is a re-cycling collection centre in the car park by the Community Hall at Burlescombe. It is hoped, in the near future, that the whole of the parish will have the new re-cycling service and this is something that the Parish Council should strive to achieve.

The landfill site at Broadpath is giving cause for concern to many residents who live in the area. There is a serious problem of smell that sometimes permeates as far as Burlescombe village. Adverse comments were submitted on the ‘Have Your Say’ pages. Again this is a matter for the Parish Council and the local authorities and local environmental groups. Efforts must be made to alleviate this problem.

Sadly, there have been issues of fly tipping in the area, mainly garden waste. It is hoped that the new re-cycling system of collection which includes garden waste will help to reduce this problem. There are some pieces of derelict land that need tidying.

  • Issues  

  • Upgrading of all household collections for re-cycling

  • Broadpath landfill site

  • Fly tipping

  • Keep Burlescombe Parish tidy

  • Actions 

  • To monitor the progress of the new re-cycling centre

  • To monitor and inform the local authorities of any problems with the Broadpath Landfill site

  • To encourage all initiatives to improve our environment

  • To press for re-cycling collections for all

Partners:waste disposal businesses, Parish Council, MDDC, DCC, BEL, Uffculme Environmental Ltd.

12


Introduction

Community Composting

160 of us expressed an interest in using a community composting scheme and 16 said they would be prepared to assist in its management.

Many communities have set up community composting projects. The benefits are manifold but there are two main reasons for its importance. Firstly, it provides a way of using all garden waste in the area and secondly it can provide a good income for the parish. Neighbouring parishes have had considerable financial benefit from their efforts.

There are a number of difficulties in setting up such a scheme. Land has to be found and the enterprise has to be efficiently managed. The government is introducing a system of monitoring composting schemes to ensure they do not fall into bad habits. There is a danger of fungal infection and also, if the compost is seriously neglected, rodent infestation.

From our survey 160 people expressed an interest in using a composting scheme and 16 people stated that they would be prepared to assist in its management. This appears to be sufficient support to justify an investigation as to how a scheme could be established.

MDDC Operational Services oversee these schemes locally. It is possible to gain a start-up grant from DCC. Currently the MDDC pay around £40 per ton for finished compost.

The new waste collection system being introduced may affect the viability of local composting schemes.

The first action must be to identify those people who are interested in managing a scheme. Anyone who is interested in taking part should contact the Parish Clerk in the first instance.

  • Issues

  • To find a suitable site

  • To assemble a management team

  • To fund the set-up

  • To manage the site

  • To publicise its availability

  • Actions

  • To identify those who wish to help

  • To assess public interest

  • To investigate the viability of a composting a scheme

  • Seek assistance from the Mid Devon Operational Services

Partners:Parish Council, MDDC, DCC, local communications network.

The Grand Western Canal

Of those of us who use our local facilities either occasionally or often, 86% walk the canal and 59% cycle along the towpath. 16% of us either run or jog, 10% fish and 4% boat.

The canal and its towpath are widely used by the community. 36% of our community walk the towpath regularly and a further 50% do occasionally. 15% of our respondents cycle on the towpath regularly and 44% occasionally. Others use it for jogging, fishing and boating on the canal. It is used by the wider community and is a good tourist attraction for the area.

The canal management team are making great strides in improving the facilities. The canal is now open to motorised boating. The culverts have been cleaned, large sections of the towpath have been re-surfaced and there is a regular programme of hedge trimming, grass cutting, fence mending and weed control. There is also a continuing programme of dredging. Despite this 49% felt there was room for improvement of the maintenance of the waterway. The Health and Safety Executive now insist that two people man the weed boat which means that there is less time for other maintenance work and the canal team have to operate within their resources. In order to keep the canal open for boating a large part of the summer activity is now devoted just to waterborne weed control.

13


Introduction

The majority of residents (80%) want the vegetation to continue being cut back in the Autumn and there were some comments in the ‘Have Your Say’ pages which also suggested it should be cut in the summer months. The canal team are exploring the botanical implications of early cutting schemes for spring/summer.

The preservation of flora and fauna on the canal is paramount and in 2005 a small population of Scarce Chasers, a very rare dragonfly, was sighted between Westcott and Ebear Bridges. This was only the second recorded sighting in Devon. Black Bridge is the only site in Devon where the Lesser Sandwort grows. There is also a small population of otters on the canal and efforts are being made to provide them with an ideal habitat for breeding. Concern has been expressed over the sudden decline of coots, which may be due (not proven) to the disruption of their habitat by dredging.

The canal authorities have applied for Local Nature Reserve status (LNR), which is being looked upon favourably. It is hoped to use this new status to promote future community involvement and events.

  • Issues

  • To ensure the preservation of the canal as a leisure facility

  • ·To protect its wildlife

  • Actions

  • To support the Canal Management team in all their endeavours

  • To promote the canal’s potential and its value to the community

Partners:Parish Council, The Grand Western Canal Authority, The Grand Western Canal Advisory Committee, DCC, MDDC, local communications.network.

Footpaths

Footpaths are a community’s historical resource and it is important for our heritage to see that they are preserved and maintained. At present there are around thirteen miles of footpaths in our parish (plus four and a half miles of the eleven mile canal towpath which stretches from Lowdwells in Holcombe Rogus to the Tiverton Canal Basin). Practically all of our footpaths are on agricultural land and the community has to share this amenity with the needs of the landowners, most of whom are supportive of public access. Within the last year we have had the good fortune to have added two new permissive footpaths to our list, one of which runs from Ayshford through to Tiverton Parkway and the other along the old quarry railway.

From our survey 52% said that our footpaths are satisfactorily maintained or better. Of the rest there were concerns about farm animals, the maintenance of stiles, poor signposting, barbed wire and overgrown vegetation (which will vary according to the time of year). The children’s answers to their questionnaire showed concern about animals, in particular bulls and unruly dogs.

From our survey we see that 302 people use our footpaths (not including the towpath) occasionally and a further 136 use them regularly. The vast majority use them for leisure purposes but a significant number (56) use them as a regular access route although it must be pointed out that this last observation included the towpath. All of this emphasises the importance of this leisure resource in our parish. The Parish Council receives money each year for footpath maintenance and our Footpaths Officer works hard to maintain them.

  • Issues

  • To preserve our footpaths as a leisure resource

  • ·Footpath maintenance

  • ·Liaison with landowners

  • Actions

  • To continue to seek funding

  • ·To address the concerns highlighted in the survey

  • ·To publicise the resource

Partners:Parish Council, Footpaths’ Officer, MDDC, DCC, Uffculme Environmental Ltd.

14


Introduction

Planning and Development – Housing and Commercial

64% of us did not support large scale commercial development and 42% of us were opposed to small scale commercial development.

Only 1% of us were totally satisfied with the planning system for domestic development although 40% had no opinion. 14% felt it was too restrictive and 5% that it was too lax. 52% wanted new buildings to harmonize with the existing surroundings.

The result of our survey on people’s attitude to the planning system, both for housing and commercial premises, proved to be inconclusive (with one exception) as many people abstained from answering the questions and of those who did 50% offered no opinion.

However, a number of points were raised in ‘Have Your Say’ and much data was received with regard to affordable housing, which has already been addressed in the Community Support section.

Anecdotal evidence would suggest that most people are reasonably content with the system but there is concern about the lack of publicity with regard to planning applications. It also suggests, and is supported by those who answered the question, that commercial development would be better along the A38 ribbon or at Junction 27.

The one exception was with regard to large-scale commercial development where a meaningful response was received. Here 20% supported the notion, 64% were opposed and 16% offered no opinion.

It is understood that MDDC have no plans to alter the settlement areas in our parish in the foreseeable future but there is much evidence in recent times that development in-fill is being encouraged. The Parish Council’s view that our community should be looking to the future must be encouraged. It should continue to support housing development within the settlement areas providing it is in keeping with the environment and does not impinge upon existing residents’ welfare.

  • Issues

  • Planning system

  • Housing development

  • Commercial development

  • Actions

  • To provide better communications concerning planning applications

  • To support housing developments which are seen to be of benefit to the community

  • Parish Council to consult with the community on matters of commercial development

Partners:Parish Council, MDDC, local communications.

15


Introduction

Our Community’s Environment

37 people reported they have flooding problems.

The general perception from the response to this question is that the public are reasonably happy with our local environment apart from effects of local industry, which are addressed later. We can only assume therefore that the difficulties that are recorded are from small, localised areas. This lessens their impact and it does create extra problems in finding solutions. For instance, we know from anecdotal evidence that dog fouling is a problem on the towpath despite the presence of dog-litter bins. This would suggest a programme of education to alert people to the dangers. ‘Have Your Say’ pages also highlight this problem in Westleigh.

A number of people are concerned about the lack of litter bins whereas others are concerned that those installed are not being emptied frequently enough! There is some evidence of anti-social behaviour and isolated cases of vandalism in both Westleigh and Burlescombe. 35% of respondents are concerned with low-flying aircraft.

Although it was not addressed in the questionnaire, the Parish Council is constantly asked to improve the poor road verge maintenance and grass cutting particularly in the play areas. MDDC has difficulties with their contractors on these issues and it is hoped they will resolve matters shortly.

Burlescombe and Westleigh have entered the ‘Best Kept Village’ competition and perhaps more publicity would bring a greater response from the community as a whole.

  • Issues

  • Dog fouling

  • Litter

  • Vandalism

  • Anti-social behaviour

  • Low-flying aircraft

  • Actions

  • Encourage vigilance with regard to dog fouling

  • Investigate the need for provision of litter bins and how they will be serviced

  • Encourage good relations with young people, the community and the police to reduce anti-social behaviour and vandalism

  • Address the issue of low-flying aircraft with the MOD

  • Promote participation in competitions such as ‘Best Kept Village’

Partners:Parish Council, MDDC, Uffculme Environmental Ltd., MOD, Devon & Cornwall Constabulary.

16


Introduction

Local Industry and the Environment

Answers came from 119 detached, 74 semis, 44 terraced houses and from 29 detached bungalows, 13 semi-detached bungalows and 13 mobile homes.

There are major concerns with road traffic and of course, the problems vary according to the district in which you live. For example, Westleigh residents are more concerned with local industries’ operational noise (42%),and dust(25%). Burlescombe is concerned with traffic noise(38%), traffic dust (33%), fumes (29%). In Canonsleigh there are concerns with operational noise (52%), dust (62%), traffic noise (52%), traffic dust (62%) and road safety features prominently in all areas.

The responses to the environmental effects of local industry fell largely into two groups: operational and traffic. It is also apparent that different areas suffer different problems. The main operational concern is dust and this affected Westleigh and Canonsleigh. The traffic problem affects Burlescombe village and Canonsleigh. These problems are not exclusive to the affected areas but highlight pockets of special concern.

There is at present on-going research regarding dust, which should identify both the seriousness of the problem and its source. A local pressure group, Burlescombe Environmental Lobby (BEL), was initially set up to address the traffic issue but has since expanded its brief to look at all environmental issues, a number of which have already been addressed elsewhere in this report.

The Parish Council meets regularly with the largest industries, (the quarry and the tile works) the DCC, Holcombe Rogus Parish Council and locally elected representatives in Liaison meetings, which are organised by DCC. The two environmental problems outlined above constitute a major part of each meeting. The Liaison Committee has formulated a declaration of intent with regard to traffic and awaits the report on the dust problem.

  • Issues  

  • Operational dust

  • Operational noise

  • Heavy Goods traffic.

  • Road safety problems

  • Night working

  • Actions

  • Maintain good communications between local industry and the community

  • Monitor the on-going study of air pollution and press for action where necessary

  • Give support to local interest groups

  • Investigate ways of ensuring DCC contracts take our problems on board with particular attention to night and weekend work

  • Support BEL in its campaign to alleviate traffic problems through Burlescombe village

Partners:Parish Council, MDDC, DCC, local industry, BEL, neighbouring parish councils.

17


Introduction

ROADS and TRANSPORT

‘Buses – not enough/ poor frequency. I cannot get to Wellington or Taunton.’

  • Issues

  • Bus and Rail transport

  • Condition of the roads

  • Parking on the highway

  • Speed limits

  • Environmental impact of traffic

‘Why does the quarry traffic have to pass through Burlescombe at all?’

  • Actions

  • Increase awareness of public transport provision

  • Liaise with the Highways Authority to improve road conditions

  • To investigate ways of increasing off-road parking

  • Investigate ways to improve road safety

  • Support all efforts to reduce traffic and industrial pollution

‘The roads in this area are appalling. If we had the money we would sue the council for damage to our cars.’

  • Partners

  • Parish Council

  • DCC Highway Authority

  • Devon and Cornwall Constabulary

  • Local Industry

  • Liaison Committee

  • BEL

‘The new junction joining the A38 from Burlescombe – dangerous now!’

18


Introduction

ROADS AND TRANSPORT

The major concerns revealed by the questionnaire reflected the problems of many rural villages in the age of motor transport – lack of public transport, car parking and the condition of the roads – with the addition of heavy goods traffic through the village.

Public Transport

Although 89% of us use Tiverton Parkway occasionally, only 2% use it regularly.. Only 12% use it monthly or more frequently. 20% are put off by car parking fees, 14% by lack of security, 27% by high rail fares and 7% because there are no good connecting bus services. 18% are not deterred. 93% use Taunton station occasionally or often. 55% of us say they would use a bus service to commute to Wellington, 45 to Tiverton and 18 to Tiverton Parkway.

Existing public bus services are under-used and therefore under threat. At the same time residents who might use them either do not know they exist or find the routes or times inconvenient. The possibility of supermarket shopping buses exists; the opening of the new Tesco store in Tiverton may make this a more realistic hope.

Tiverton Parkway station is within the Parish but very few residents use it regularly. Issues about connecting bus services, car parking fees, security and fares contribute to this slight usage.

  • Issues

  • Public bus service availability

  • Rail services

  • Actions

  • Make residents fully aware of existing public bus services by widely publishing timetables

  • Encourage greater use of the currently under-used bus services

  • Seek to extend the Dial and Ride service

  • Investigate the provision of shopping buses

  • Investigate ways of making Tiverton Parkway a more attractive option

Partners:Parish Council, DCC, MDDC, local communications.

Condition of the Roads in the Parish

60% of us considered the condition of the roads to be less than satisfactory.

Devon County Council as the Highway Authority is responsible for the maintenance of the roads throughout the County. The Parish Council has appointed a Highway Authority Liaison Councillor (Roy Bakehouse). By letting Roy know about problems we can ensure that DCC will be kept informed. You can contact him on 01823 672815

DCC’s system of inspection and maintenance of principal roads into small settlements regards Burlescombe and Westleigh as two separate villages, each too small to qualify for the higher level of maintenance. The consequence is that the road from Cracker Corner to the A38 receives less attention than it deserves.

  • Issue

  • Condition of the roads

  • Actions

  • Maintain effective liaison between residents, Parish Council and the DCC via the Liaison Councillor

  • Press DCC to improve its maintenance strategy for the road through Burlescombe village

Partners:Parish Council, DCC.

19


Introduction

Parking on the highway

This is a problem for all villages but there are ways in which we can help ourselves by being prepared to use all available off-road parking sites even though this sometimes means a slightly longer walk to or from the house.

 Finding sites for further off-road parking is difficult but the search must continue.

  • Issue

  • Parking on the highway

  • Actions

  • Encourage residents to use all off-road parking areas including driveways

  • Investigate the possibility of developing a lay by on Station Road adjacent to Bray Close field

  • Investigate the provision of extra parking areas at South View

Partners:Parish Council,DCC, and MDDC.

Speed Limits

Burlescombe School’s Travel Plan has proposed the installation of flashing warning lights at drop off and pick-up times. If this scheme is effective there would seem no need to reduce the speed limit; if not, the imposition of a 20mph limit should be considered. Constant monitoring of this situation is essential.

The road between Fossend in Burlescombe and Westleigh is at present subject only to the 60mph limit. There is some feeling that this road is dangerous enough to require the imposition of a lower speed limit (40mph), which could well reduce speed in Westleigh itself.

  • Issues

  • Road safety

  • Road safety at Burlescombe School

  • Road safety between Burlescombe and Westleigh

  • Actions

  • Monitor improvements at Burlescombe School

  • Press DCC to consider a 40 mph limit between Burlescombe and Westleigh

Partners:Parish Council, DCC, Devon and Cornwall Constabulary.

Environmental Problems

The work of the Quarry Liaison Committee, which includes locally elected representatives (Parish, District and County Councillors), seeks to minimise the disturbance caused by both the industrial processes and the lorry traffic generated not only from the quarry but from other organisations as well. The Burlescombe Environmental Lobby (BEL) has the same aims. The work of these groups should be supported and monitored

  • Issues

  • Disturbance caused by industrial operations

  • Disturbance caused by resultant lorry traffic

  • Action

  • Support the work of the Liaison Committee and BEL

Partners:Parish Council, Liaison Committee, DCC, MDDC, local Industry, BEL.

20


Introduction

COMMUNICATION 

‘A plan to foster better relationships between Burlescombe and Westleigh is needed.’

  • Issue

  • Keeping people informed

‘A new parish notice board is needed.’

‘Parish Council meetings- agendas should be published in the Parish magazine.’

  • Actions

  • Ensure that notice boards are well-placed and well maintained

  • Investigate the provision of an e-mail information service

  • Investigate the provision of a parish web site

  • Increase circulation of the parish magazine

  • Provide a Welcome Pack for newcomers to the parish

  • Partners

  • Parish Council

  • Parish Magazine

  • MDDC

  • Clubs

  • St.Mary’s Church and URC

‘We are a little disappointed that no representative from any organisation has made any attempt to welcome us.’

21


Introduction

COMMUNICATION

Only 18% felt that communication within the parish was good. 38% of people relied on flyers, another 38% on the grapevine and the most, 45%, found information in the parish magazine (Parish News). Remember, we could respond to more than one item.

In many instances throughout this document the words ‘local communications’ appear in the list of partners. This is to remind ourselves of the need to improve how we keep the community informed about what is going on. The questionnaire results indicated that more than three quarters of those who replied felt that communication within and about the parish is unsatisfactory. Only 45% found the information they need from the Parish News. All the discussions of the Parish Plan Steering Committee and the Working Parties eventually returned to the fact that unless residents are aware of issues, events and opportunities within the parish, our community life will not flourish.

Notice Boards

It is an obvious fact that notice boards cannot be read by people travelling in motorcars – and that means most of us! It is important therefore to site notice boards at places where people will be on foot. Burlescombe School, St Mary’s Church, The Community Hall, the Ayshford Arms, The URC Chapel, the bus shelter in Westleigh are examples of such sites. The co-operation of the Parish Council and other authorities must be sought to renew and relocate noticeboards throughout the parish.

  • Actions

  • Investigate ways of funding new notice boards

  • Consider appropriateness of existing sites

  • Investigate provision of other notice boards

  • Consider the design of new notice boards

  • Issues

  • Adequate notice board provision

  • Siting of notice boards

  • Maintenance of existing notice boards

Partners: Parish Council, local organisations.

E-mail Information Service

Many people in the parish use e-mail and this could be exploited as a means of keeping residents informed about community matters. Residents could be invited to take part in such a scheme. However, firstly it is necessary to find out who and how many people would use such a service. If you are an e-mail user and are interested in being on a mailing list that will provide regular information about the parish, contact [email protected]

  • Issue

  • Increasing ways of communicating

  • Actions

  • Find out how many people would use such a system

  • Set up ways of administering it

  • Investigate methods of collecting information for dispatch

Partners: Parish Council, local interest groups, Parish News.

22


Introduction

Parish Web Site

Many parishes already operate web sites which carry much information about local amenities and activities. People thinking about moving to the parish are likely to be users of such a site so it would need to contain useful and up-to-date information.

Maintaining a site needs a committed site manager and also costs money. We would have to be certain that the expense and effort would be worthwhile before embarking on this enterprise.

  • Actions

  • Investigate the popularity of parish web sites

  • Discuss with MDDC the viability of incorporating parish information on the district site

  • Set up a team to administer and maintain the site

  • Issue

  • Communicating with as many people as possible within the parish

Partners: Parish Council, MDDC, local interest groups

Parish News

We are fortunate to have an excellent Parish Magazine which we share with Holcombe Rogus and Hockworthy. However, only 120 homes receive it, which is about a third of our parish. The ideal way to provide information to the whole parish is through the magazine and so it is imperative we look at ways and means of delivering a copy to every household.

At present the magazine costs 50p. per copy and is delivered monthly. If it were free and financed through advertising and sponsorship then it could be delivered to everyone. As we share the magazine with other parishes it is not something we can organise alone.

In any event we must try to increase its circulation.

  • Issues

  • Parish News is circulated to about one third of households in the parish. It is an excellent magazine which, were it more widely read, could be the main means of communication within the parish

  • It is, however, not free and is seen by some people as a church publication which it is not

  • It is not just for this parish and its existence in its present form depends on circulation in Holcombe Rogus and Hockworthy. Any changes in the form or organisation of the magazine would have to be agreed by those parishes as well as this one. Unilateral action is unacceptable

  • Increasing the circulation of the magazine would make it more attractive to advertisers and would increase revenue

  • Some parishes produce similar magazines which are distributed free to all households and are paid for by advertising revenue

  • No one knows how to order regular copies for delivery

  • Actions

  • Discuss with the editor and management committee ways to make the magazine acceptable to a wider readership

  • Consider promoting the magazine by means of a free distribution for one month

  • Monitor the effect of this free issue on circulation

  • In the light of experience consider a change to a free magazine

Partners: local parish councils, Parish News, St. Mary’s Church, URC.

23


Introduction

Welcome Pack

‘Having purchased our property in March 2004, we are a little disappointed that no representative from any organisation, including the Church or the Parish Council, has made any attempt to welcome us to the parish.’ (Comment taken from the ‘Have Your Say’ pages)

It is important that we foster good community relations with all residents but it is particularly important that we welcome newcomers if we wish our community to continue to be a thriving, energetic and caring community.

  • Issues

  • Newcomers to a community should feel the warmth of its welcome

  • Newcomers to a community need basic information about the community

  • Actions

  • Prepare a Welcome Pack for newcomers containing a copy of the Parish News, names and contacts for Doctors’ surgeries, information leaflets from local primary and secondary schools, refuse collection timetable, Mobile Library timetable, map of parish with public footpaths, bus services, milk and newspaper delivery services, etc.

  • Establish an editorial/updating system

  • Set up a notification and delivery system

  • Arrange funding for the project

Partners: Parish Council, local communications.

24


Introduction

THE CHILDREN’S PARISH PLAN

The Household Questionnaire was designed to be completed by all residents over the age of 11yrs. However, the Steering Committee recognised that the future of the Parish belongs to all of the younger generation and that their opinions are very valuable.

The Steering Committee invited Burlescombe Primary School to conduct a survey among its own pupils – by definition those of 11 yrs of age and under.

With the help of their teachers the children designed a questionnaire which was completed individually by pupils in Years 2-6, as a class questionnaire by the Reception and Year 1 pupils and also by a number of pupils from the parish who attend other schools in the area. 

The pupils carried out their own analysis of the questionnaire results and produced an impressive Power Point presentation for Parish and District Councillors and members of the Steering Committee. There followed a question and answer session in which the pupils conducted themselves in a manner well beyond their tender age and articulated their points of view with great clarity.

A digest of the School’s questionnaire responses is given below and on the following pages is a print out of their presentation.

Traffic and Road Safety 

Although 45 children often travel to school by car, traffic and road safety concerned many of them. 29 children said there were hazards on the journey to school – cars worrying cyclists, speed of cars, lorries on the bridge, crossing the road. 

They felt that their journey could be made safer by providing more footpaths/pavements (13%), speed bumps/traffic calming (11%), restricting traffic at the start and end of the school day (10%), 20mph speed limit, school crossing patrol, providing more car parking spaces

 Footpaths and Pavements. 

A substantial number of children were concerned that footpaths were narrow, overgrown with brambles and/or nettles and marred by dog mess. The presence of a bull in the field was a great concern.

The absence of pavements makes walking more hazardous. 

Leisure Opportunities. 

70% of the children attend at least one after school club based in school and 32% attend the Youth Club at Westleigh URC.

74% of the children thought there should be more clubs and facilities in the parish with the BMX track being the most favoured. 16% wanted cricket, 8% a skateboard park and others mentioned rugby, basketball, ballet and athletics.

Those children who had used it reckoned the new Play Area at Bray Close was a great improvement although some regretted that it is only for younger children.

Some children asked for new equipment on the Westleigh field and also that the grass be cut more frequently and the cuttings removed.

Traffic and the lack of pavements and street lighting were seen as hazards on journeys to and from leisure activities.

25


Introduction

Burlescombe CE School

Helping the Parish Council by suggesting ideas on

Changing and improving the world we live in.

  • How can the Parish Council Improve the Canal Path?

  • The canal path needs improvement, the path is messy and it is hard to ride a bicycle on.

  • ●It would help if you could get rid of the stinging nettles and brambles from the canal path.

The Canal Footpath Continued

  • Also provide some more benches so pedestrians can sit down more often.

  • Provide rubbish bins along the towpath.

How can you encourage people to care for our local environment so it is still here when we are adults?

Being green is about helping the environment by reducing the amount of pollution, there are many ways of doing this:

You could encourage people to use the recycle bins and make a compost centre.

26


Introduction

If you have a problem with pollution maybe a village shop is the solution.

Recently we have been given bins in Westleigh to recycle our waste in. We need to improve our recycling skills to improve our environment.

We also need to walk more instead of using cars.

  • How can the Parish Council make Westleigh playing field better?

  • Westleigh playing field is pretty dull and could do with a paint job. The equipment is scratched and rusty. The goal posts are snapped because people climb on them and break them. We need stronger and new goals. The grass is occasionally cut but the cut grass is not raked up.

Introduce What Facilities?

We could introduce new and special equipment, just like a skateboard park, new goals and a BMX track, because then the adults don’t have to keep making sure the children have not gone out on the road. The children would also be having fun.

27


Introduction

  • In Burlescombe and Westleigh

    there are no clubs except

    school and a youth club.

  • A village cricket team would be

    good.

  • Tennis courts.

  • How Can The Community Help to Make Our Journey to and From School Safer ?

  • The new Westleigh footpath was a good start, but there are still many ways to make our journey safer:

  • The other side of the canal could really do with a footpath

  • They could also cut back some overhanging brambles.

  • Try to stop cars from going fast, try to also slow cars down on the big hill by the church by putting a speed camera in.

  • The Bull !

Thank –you for listening.

Oak Class Burlescombe CE School

28


Introduction

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

All the residents of the parish who filled out our questionnaire. Without their co-operation in the collection of data we would have been unable to proceed.

The Parish Plan Steering Committee which was made up as follows:

David Beard(Chairman), Andy Carter, Bill Clark, David Disney, Steve Dyer, Norma King, Pam Lockyer, Dennis Palmer, Barry Stapley, Chris Denner -Stewart Gerard Stewart, Mavis Sellick, Peter Walter, Roy Bakehouse, Pat Cosh, Olive Pearce.

The Steering Committee is grateful to the following for advice and help in the production of the Parish Plan and their work on the working parties:

Roger and Barbara Williams, Helen Richards, Christine Bostock, Sue Brewer, Glenis Beard, Tina Clark, Sue Stapley.

The children of Burlescombe Primary School.

The staff of Burlescombe Primary School.

Burlescombe Parish Council for support and financial help.

Jill James of Culmstock for all her advice and encouragement at the outset.

John Bodley-Scott and Cathrine Simmons of Mid Devon District Council for advice on Household, Business and Housing questionnaires.

Malcolm Macdonald of Devon County Council for analysis of the Questionnaire.

Awards for All Lottery Fund for financial help.

Devon County Council for financial help.

To many others who have given us advice and encouragement.

29


Introduction

A MEETING

WITH REFRESHMENTS

WILL BE HELD AT

BURLESCOMBE AND WESTLEIGH COMMUNITY HALL

ON

FRIDAY JANUARY 13TH.

AT

7.30PM

BURLESCOMBE PARISH PLAN

The way forward

This will be an opportunity to express your views informally about our Parish Plan and to discuss how best we can turn our proposals into actions


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