Agenda and draft minutes

Consultative meeting, Council - Tuesday, 27th July, 2021 6.00 pm

Venue: Online via the Zoom App

Contact: Susan Howl, Democratic Services Manager  01395 517541; email  showl@eastdevon.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

17.

Public speaking

Information on public speaking is available online

 

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed members of the public and Councillors to the meeting and explained that all participants were taking part remotely and the meeting was also being viewed online and recorded.

He outlined that based on the decision of the Extraordinary Meeting of Council held on 26th July, the Council had delegated much of its decision taking power to its Senior Officers. This is for a short period of time only and due to concerns relating to COVID risk. Consequently, the meeting is held on a consultative basis only, and the procedural rules detailed in the Council’s Constitution, will continue to be adhered to.  

However, where the meeting would have normally decided a matter, it will now make recommendation to a Senior Officer. The Officer will then take that recommendation into account, when making their decision.   

 

The Chair then started the meeting by doing a roll call of those present, and confirmed that the meeting was quorate.

 

During the meeting the public would be able to participate if they had pre-registered to speak.  Three members of the public had pre-registered to speak.

 

Mr Del Haggerty wanted ask the Council if it was intending to follow the example of Seaton in achieving the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) status of being coach friendly across the district.

He explained that the scheme worked together with tourism partnerships and local government representatives to develop facilities that will attract coaches.

This in turn generated revenue for businesses across the whole of the East Devon Area, by considering issues such as; coach parking and coach signage; set down & pick up facilities; driver facilities and incentives and facilities for coaches (cleaning & toilet drop facilities).

 

The scheme has been very successful in the South West and after a break during the pandemic, the scheme has restarted with Marlborough in Wiltshire being granted an award on 21st June 2021.

 

Following an inspection and audit, the relevant town or attraction has the right to use the coach friendly logo on all publicity & marketing materials, and cooperation between local councils and the private sector could result in tourist revenue increasing over future years.

 

The Chair thanked Mr Haggerty for joining the meeting and said that the relevant Portfolio Holder would be asked to make contact with him outside the meeting.

 

Mr Gary Sherman wanted to speak on the issue of trees.  He pointed out that we have recently seen violent storms of such destructive force that whole communities have lost homes, possessions and lives.  He went on to say that whilst hearing about global warming and its effect on the environment, not many people make changes to the way they live.  Many support positive action for the environment, but only when it suits them to do so and when it doesn’t impact a holiday, building project or choice of Sunday lunch.

 

He stated that in West Hill trees are chopped down and wildlife is being marginalised. Natural hedging and trees that once allowed free access to the higher order of wildlife is now being replaced by lifeless, sterile fencing.

This fencing prevents deer, foxes, badgers and other garden visitors from accessing the resources they need and once had free access to.

 

He referred to a single garden in which 21 trees were taken out in one week, just to help the sale of that particular property. In the adjoining garden, new owners took out at least 9 fully established trees, only to replace their naturally created boundary with fixed fencing that reached a height of well over 6 feet and was impenetrable to wildlife. 

 

He would like to encourage the development of formal legislation that offers the same protection to every tree in the district, and live in an area in which people understand, legislate, educate and move the environment to the top of the agenda and not the top of the wood pile. But action is required now, with an opportunity to demonstrate leadership on this issue.

Mr Sherman concluded by asking the Council to help stop the wonton destruction of the local environment.

 

The Portfolio Holder for Coast, Country and the Environment, Cllr Jung responded by stating that he shared many of the views of the speaker and intended to work with the District and Parish Cllrs to look at issues facing West Hill, but would also be working to develop a Tree Policy for the whole of the District.

 

The Chair then confirmed that the statement provided by the third speaker, Mr Ed Dolphin, could be taken under agenda item 13, the Motion on Trees, since he was unable to join the meeting at this point.

 

18.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Minutes of the Annual Council meeting on 25th May 2021.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair asked for comments on the Minutes from the Annual Council meeting held on 25th May.

He then invited Cllrs to vote in favour, against or abstaining recommending approval of the Minutes.

 

RECOMMENDATION: to approve the minutes of the last meeting following a vote of those present.

 

DECISION:

The recommendation was approved by a Senior Officer. The Senior Officer Decision Notice is listed above under Additional Documents.

19.

Declarations of interest

Guidance is available online to Councillors and co-opted members on making declarations of interest

 

Minutes:

21a. Minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 5th May 2021.

Councillor Paul Millar, Personal, Specifically in relation to Minute 396 of the Cabinet Minutes. Fully paid up member of LED.

 

21d. Minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 14 July 2021.

Councillor Andrew Moulding, Personal, Specifically in relation to Minute 27 of the Cabinet Minutes. President of Cloakham Lawns and Trustee of Axminster Skate Park.

 

20.

Matters of urgency

Information on matters of urgency is available online

 

Minutes:

There were no matters of urgency.

21.

Announcements from the Chair and Leader

Minutes:

The Chair said that he had a number of announcements to make.

Firstly he wanted to both announce and welcome the election of Cllr Jake Bonetta as an EDDC Cllr and Ward Cllr for Honiton St Michaels, and Cllr Alasdair Bruce as an EDDC Cllr and Ward Cllr for Feniton at the recent By-elections on 8th July.

He also wanted to thank Cllr Hawkins for stepping in as Vice Chair in the absence of Cllr Ranger.

Following the decision made at the Extraordinary meeting of Council held on 26 July at Westpoint, the Chair wanted to confirm that a lot of work had been done with officers subsequently. There have also been a lot of meetings which have not happened due to the inability to meet face to face. He was pleased to announce an aim to move back to a full programme of Council meetings.  He thanked officers for their hard work and for being able to take a great step forward.

 

The Leader echoed the Chair’s welcome to the two new Cllrs, and announced that Cllr Jake Bonetta will now be the Assistant Portfolio Holder on Culture, Leisure, Tourism and Sport.

22.

Confidential/exempt item(s)

To agree any items to be dealt with after the public (including the Press) have been excluded. Thereare no itemswhich officersrecommendshould be dealtwithin thisway, but if confidential minutes from Cabinet and/or the Council’s Committees are being discussed, Officers may recommend consideration in the private part of the meeting.

 

Minutes:

There were no confidential or exempt items.

23.

To answer questions asked by Members of the Council pursuant to Procedure Rules No. 9.2 and 9.5 pdf icon PDF 231 KB

Minutes:

Four questions had been received from Cllrs and all had been responded to in writing and published prior to the meeting.  The questions were all submitted by Cllr Millar, who confirmed that he had no supplementary questions to raise.

 

24.

Reports from the Cabinet and the Council's Committees and questions on those reports pdf icon PDF 275 KB

Minutes:

This item is to recommend whether to approve the minutes of the meetings and recommendations contained therein as detailed in the Recommendation section on pages 38-42 of the agenda. 

The Chair invited the Leader and Chairs of Committees to present their minutes.

24a

Minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 5 May 2021. Minute numbers 382 - 400 pdf icon PDF 362 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Following a vote of those present, the Chair confirmed that the minutes and recommendations contained therein, were recommended for approval.

DECISION:

The recommendation was approved by a Senior Officer. The Senior Officer Decision Notice is listed above under Additional Documents.

24b

Minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 12 May 2021. Minute numbers 401 - 413 pdf icon PDF 212 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Relating to the Minutes of Cabinet held on 12th May 202, there was a called minute.

Called minute from Cllr Bonetta, and Cllr Millar and issues arising

1)    Minute 405 of Cabinet held on 12th May 2021, ‘Public Toilet Review’.

Cllr Bonetta stated that a key topic for residents in Honiton presently was that two blocks of toilets in the town remain closed due to COVID restrictions. He requested that the figures were scrutinised again with a view to taking a more pragmatic approach to the town as a tourist destination and one of the main towns of the District.

Cllr Millar wanted to ask about the consultation on this issue and whether it would rest with Towns and Parishes or be a full public consultation which he would prefer.

 

The Portfolio Holder for Coast, Country and Environment, Cllr Geoff Jung responded by outlining that the Government are insisting that toilets must remain COVID safe, which means more cleaning and more costs. The Council is also currently short of staff able to do this work. Discussions have been held with Town Councils to see if they can help contribute to the opening of the toilets.

Comments made during the debate included the following;

·         That many older tourists need a good public toilet facility if they visit a local town.

·         Lack of such facilities is likely to be one of the causes for a continued decline in footfall on the District’s High Streets.

·         When the review is completed by officers, Cllrs will be able to understand the details before being in a position to make the right decisions for different areas.

 

Following a vote of those present, the Chair confirmed that the minutes and recommendations contained therein, were recommended for approval.

DECISION:

The recommendation was approved by a Senior Officer. The Senior Officer Decision Notice is listed above under Additional Documents.

24c

Minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 9 June 2021. Minute numbers 1 - 18 pdf icon PDF 185 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Relating to the Minutes of Cabinet held on 9th June 2021, there was a called minute.

Called minute from Cllr Parr and issues arising

1)    Minute 18 of Cabinet held on 9th June 2021, Statement by Cllr John Loudoun.

Cllr Parr queried why the statement from Cllr Loudoun had been added to the end of another item about the Council Plan, and was not an item in its own right, enabling Cllrs to be aware that it was arising at the meeting. She wanted to know why this was the case and why the Chief Executive had not been asked to respond.

The Leader, as Chair of Cabinet, confirmed that he had allowed Cllr Loudoun to make a statement given that the topic was a matter of interest. He went on to say that they had been working closely with the Chief Executive since February on matters associated with the statement.

Following a vote of those present, the Chair confirmed that the minutes and recommendations contained therein, were recommended for approval.

DECISION:

The recommendation was approved by a Senior Officer. The Senior Officer Decision Notice is listed above under Additional Documents.

24d

Minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 14 July 2021. Minute numbers 19 - 43 pdf icon PDF 447 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Relating to the Minutes of Cabinet held on 14th July 2021, there was a called minute.

Called minute from Cllr Parr and issues arising

1)    Minute 40 of Cabinet held on 14th July 2021, ‘Developing Member and Staff Relationships’.

Cllr Parr wanted to refer further to the issue of Member and Staff Relationships and a resolution of Cabinet that the Standards Working Group would be reviewing the Members’ Code of Conduct. She asked where she could find minutes of the meeting of that group, and for a progress report.

The Monitoring Officer, Henry Gordon Lennox confirmed that this group had ten members but no formally appointed Chair as yet. He had tried to convene a meeting of the group but it had not been quorate and was having difficulties identifying a date when it could meet. It was a work in progress and would be reporting to the Standards Committee.

Following a vote the Chair confirmed that the above minutes and recommendations contained therein, were recommended for approval.

DECISION:

The recommendation was approved by a Senior Officer. The Senior Officer Decision Notice is listed above under Additional Documents.

 

 

24e

Minutes of the Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 8 April 2021. Minute numbers 140 - 147 pdf icon PDF 185 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Following a vote the Chair confirmed that the above minutes and recommendations contained therein, were recommended for approval.

DECISION:

The recommendation was approved by a Senior Officer. The Senior Officer Decision Notice is listed above under Additional Documents.

 

 

24f

Minutes of the Housing Review Board meeting held on 29 April 2021. Minute numbers 102 - 121 pdf icon PDF 228 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Following a vote the Chair confirmed that the above minutes and recommendations contained therein, were recommended for approval.

DECISION:

The recommendation was approved by a Senior Officer. The Senior Officer Decision Notice is listed above under Additional Documents.

 

 

24g

Minutes of the Strategic Planning Committee meeting held on 27 April 2021. Minute numbers 124 - 134 pdf icon PDF 315 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Following a vote the Chair confirmed that the above minutes and recommendations contained therein, were recommended for approval.

DECISION:

The recommendation was approved by a Senior Officer. The Senior Officer Decision Notice is listed above under Additional Documents.

 

 

24h

Minutes of the Strategic Planning Committee meeting held on 22 June 2021. Minute numbers 1 - 13 pdf icon PDF 334 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Following a vote the Chair confirmed that the above minutes and recommendations contained therein, were recommended for approval.

DECISION:

The recommendation was approved by a Senior Officer. The Senior Officer Decision Notice is listed above under Additional Documents.

 

 

24i

Minutes of the Planning Committee meeting held on 5 May 2021. Minute numbers 255 - 264 pdf icon PDF 165 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Following a vote the Chair confirmed that the above minutes and recommendations contained therein, were recommended for approval.

DECISION:

The recommendation was approved by a Senior Officer. The Senior Officer Decision Notice is listed above under Additional Documents.

 

 

24j

Minutes of the Planning Committee meeting held on 9 June 2021. Minute numbers 1 - 9 pdf icon PDF 178 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Following a vote the Chair confirmed that the above minutes and recommendations contained therein, were recommended for approval.

DECISION:

The recommendation was approved by a Senior Officer. The Senior Officer Decision Notice is listed above under Additional Documents.

 

 

24k

Minutes of the Planning Committee meeting held on 14 June 2021. Minute numbers 10 - 17 pdf icon PDF 59 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Following a vote the Chair confirmed that the above minutes and recommendations contained therein, were recommended for approval.

DECISION:

The recommendation was approved by a Senior Officer. The Senior Officer Decision Notice is listed above under Additional Documents.

 

 

24l

Minutes of the Planning Committee meeting held on 15 July 2021. Minute numbers 18 - 27 pdf icon PDF 163 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Following a vote the Chair confirmed that the above minutes and recommendations contained therein, were recommended for approval.

DECISION:

The recommendation was approved by a Senior Officer. The Senior Officer Decision Notice is listed above under Additional Documents.

 

 

24m

Minutes of the Licensing & Enforcement Sub-Committee held on 21 April 2021. Minute numbers 37 - 41 pdf icon PDF 285 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Following a vote the Chair confirmed that the above minutes and recommendations contained therein, were recommended for approval.

DECISION:

The recommendation was approved by a Senior Officer. The Senior Officer Decision Notice is listed above under Additional Documents.

 

 

24n

Minutes of the Licensing & Enforcement Sub-Committee meeting held on 19 May 2021. Minute numbers 42 - 47 pdf icon PDF 184 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Following a vote the Chair confirmed that the above minutes and recommendations contained therein, were recommended for approval.

 

24o

Minutes of the Licensing & Enforcement Sub-Committee meeting held on 16 June 2021. Minute numbers 1 - 5 pdf icon PDF 163 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Following a vote the Chair confirmed that the above minutes and recommendations contained therein, were recommended for approval.

DECISION:

The recommendation was approved by a Senior Officer. The Senior Officer Decision Notice is listed above under Additional Documents.

 

 

24p

Minutes of the Licensing & Enforcement Sub Committee meeting held on 7 July 2021. Minute numbers 6 - 10 pdf icon PDF 183 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Following a vote the Chair confirmed that the above minutes and recommendations contained therein, were recommended for approval.

DECISION:

The recommendation was approved by a Senior Officer. The Senior Officer Decision Notice is listed above under Additional Documents.

 

 

24q

Minutes of the Licensing & Enforcement Committee held on 21 July 2021. Minute numbers 1 - 9 pdf icon PDF 182 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Following a vote the Chair confirmed that the above minutes and recommendations contained therein, were recommended for approval.

DECISION:

The recommendation was approved by a Senior Officer. The Senior Officer Decision Notice is listed above under Additional Documents.

 

 

 

25.

Changes to Governance arrangements - A report from the Monitoring Officer pdf icon PDF 199 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair invited Henry Gordon Lennox to address his report.  He outlined that following the recent by-elections he was able to confirm the political balance / seat numbers (below) and committee seat allocations (Appendix 1 to the report to Council);

 

Democratic Alliance Group: 25 Members; 41.67%; 47 seats

Conservative Group: 22 Members; 36.67%; 41 seats

The Independents: 5 Members; 8.33%; 9 seats

Independent Progressive Group: 4 Members; 6.67%; 8 seats

Independent (Independent): 1 Member; 1.66%; 0 seats

 

Total 60 Members; 100%; 111 seats.

 

He confirmed the changes to the membership of committees as below;

a.    Cllrs Bailey and C Wright removed from Scrutiny and Cllr Pook removed from Strategic Planning. Cllr Bruce to sit on the Scrutiny Committee. Cllrs Millar and Bonetta to take seats on Scrutiny and Strategic Planning respectively.

b.    Cllr Brown is removed from the Scrutiny Committee to be replaced by Cllr Tom Wright. Cllr Brown replaces Cllr Tom Wright on the Planning Committee.

c.    Cllr Pook takes the Independents seats on Overview and HRB committees and Cllr C Wright takes the seat on the Planning Committee.

d.    Cllr Thomas to sit on the Personnel Committee with Cllr Jarvis being the substitute member.

 

He confirmed the intention for the Chair of the Personnel Committee to be the Chair of Council.

 

He confirmed the intention for the Chair of the Scrutiny Committee to be Cllr Tom Wright.

 

RECOMMENDATION: that the revised political balance, committee seat allocations and changes to the committees and Chairs of Committees as detailed in the report be agreed.

 

DECISION:

The recommendation was approved by a Senior Officer. The Senior Officer Decision Notice is listed above under Additional Documents.

26.

Motion: Role of Chair of Council pdf icon PDF 157 KB

ref Article 5 page 19 to be modified as per section b shown in italics:-

 

b) The Chair shall be elected annually by the Council. The Chair will have the following responsibilities:

1. To uphold and promote the purposes of the Constitution, and to interpret the Constitution when necessary having regard to appropriate advice;

2. To preside over meetings of the Council so that its business can be carried out efficiently and with regard to the rights of Councillors and the interests of the community;

3. To ensure that at the Council meeting Councillors who are not on the Cabinet or who are not Chairmen of Committees are able to hold the Cabinet and Committee Chairmen to account.

4. Generally, to be the conscience of the Council

5. Shall exercise neutrality and be an exemplar of the highest standards of conduct and ethics consistent with the Council’s Code of Conduct and by promoting and maintaining high standards of conduct by Councillors, co-opted Members and Council officers to serve the best interests of the Community

 

Proposed by; Cllr Mike Allen

Seconded by; Cllr Philip Skinner

Supported by Cllrs; Andrew Moulding, Bruce de Sarum, Ben Ingham

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

This was a Motion deferred from the Council meeting in February.

 

There followed debate in relation to the legal necessity for the Chair to have a casting vote and issues about the Chair being an exemplar of the way the Council should act overall in relation to its objectives.

 

An amendment was proposed by Cllr Hawkins and seconded by Cllr Millar.

 

Henry Gordon Lennox confirmed that the amendment was as follows, to paragraph 5 of the original Motion which would read, “shall exercise objectivity and be an exemplar of the highest standards of Codes of Conduct and ethics consistent with the Councillor’s Code of Conduct, and by promoting and maintaining high standards of conduct by Councillors, co-opted members and Council officers to serve the best interests of the Community.”

 

The Chair put the amendment to the vote and confirmed that it was accepted by a majority of those present.

 

He then invited Cllr Allen to give his right of reply before putting the substantive Motion to the vote.

 

Following a vote he confirmed that the Motion was accepted by a majority of those present and recommended it for approval.

 

Recommendation:

That Article 5 section b on page 19 be modified to read, ‘5 Shall exercise objectivity and be an exemplar of the highest standards of conduct and ethics consistent with the Council’s Code of Conduct and by promoting and maintaining high standards of conduct by Councillors, co-opted Members and Council officers to serve the best interests of the Community.’

 

Decision:

The recommendation was approved by a Senior Officer.  The Senior Officer Decision Notice is listed above under Additional Documents.

27.

Motion: Nationally Described Space Standards pdf icon PDF 174 KB

As a district council we are responsible for approving or rejecting planning applications for housing. On 27 March 2015 the central government published the Technical Housing Standards – nationally described space standards (available at

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/technical-housing-standards-nationally-described-space-standard

as part of the housing standards review package. It was left to councils to put in place our own policies to be included with-in the Local Plan. At an earlier Planning Meeting it was pointed out that we do not have a policy on Nationally Described Space Standards. I therefore propose that we put in place a policy to cover this subject as part of our review of our Local Plan.

 

Proposed by Cllr Peter Faithfull

Seconded by Cllr Vicky Johns

Supported by Cllrs; Megan Armstrong, Tony McCollum, Geoff Jung and Mike Howe.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair invited Cllr Faithfull to speak at the proposer.

 

Cllr Faithfull outlined his reasons for putting forward the Motion, including the fact that there is no policy in place for standards in room sizes when applicants are planning to convert employment space to residential units, and often consequently try to put in more units than the building can contain. Such buildings have not been designed for residential use. He gave examples of roof conversions where long sloping roofs can appear to give a generous floor area, but have a low ceiling, making much of the floor area unusable. He was concerned that many such applications may have been passed because there is no policy to reject them on size.

 

During the debate the following comments were included;

·         Previous attempts to get such a policy included in the Local Plan had been rejected which had potentially resulted in housing being built of sub-standard sizes. It would accordingly be helpful to encourage agreeing a common standard which could be recommended to the Chair of Strategic Planning Committee.

·         The Chair of Strategic Planning Committee, Cllr Ledger, confirmed that he fully supported this Motion and it had been adopted into the Cranbrook DPD.

·         Such a policy had been adopted by several London Boroughs and was long overdue.

 

The Chair asked Cllr Faithfull to give his right to reply. Cllr Faithfull thanked members for their support of the Motion and encouraged the Council to get underway on this as soon as possible.

 

The Chair invited those present to vote on the Motion which was accepted by a majority of those present.

 

RECOMMENDATION:

That the Council puts in place a policy on the Nationally Described Space Standards as part of the review of the Local Plan.

 

DECISION:

The recommendation was approved by a Senior Officer. The Senior Officer Decision Notice is listed above under Additional Documents.

28.

Motion: Trees pdf icon PDF 177 KB

This council recognizes the immense contribution that trees make to our District - shaping the landscape, providing a vital habitat for wildlife, sequestering carbon to help combat climate change and playing an essential role in the eco-system by absorbing rainwater and preventing erosion.  

Trees are also vital to our communities enhancing well-being, connecting people with their natural environment, providing shade and peace, cooling the streets, marking the seasons and giving our communities a sense of ‘place’. 

In light of the key role of trees this council will: 

  1. Agree a robust tree policy which includes pro-actively making Tree Protection Orders, particularly in view of unscrupulous developers who remove trees ahead of submitting planning applications  
  2. Commission a detailed district wide report which identifies ways of enhancing and improving the existing treescape 
  3. Implement a community engagement scheme to support town and parish councils in protecting and enhancing trees at the most local level 

This council acknowledges that these proposals will increase the workload of the tree officers and additional tree officer capacity will be required in order to give effect to this motion. The Council will use its general fund balance in the current year and will commit to ongoing costs being met in the 2022/23 budget round.

 

Proposed by Cllr Jess Bailey

Seconded by Cllr Megan Armstrong

Supported by Cllrs; Denise Bickley, Olly Davey, Paul Jarvis, Vicky Johns, Geoff Pratt, Tony Woodward and Chris Wright

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair invited the supporting Officer to read out the statement from Mr Ed Dolphin.

 

Mr Dolphin is a tree warden and treasurer of Sidmouth arboretum, an organisation which wishes to support the Motion calling for the creation of an enhanced tree policy for EDDC.

 

The statement emphasized the importance of trees and hedgerows and quoted from Wirral Borough Council who have already set up a Tree, Hedgerow and Woodland Strategy.  Their Executive Summary corresponds with the preamble to the EDDC motion,

 

“Trees are vital for our environment and for humanity beyond their key role in tackling climate change. Trees, hedgerows, and woodlands are an integral part of nature, supporting a wide range of insects, animals, birds and plant life. Having trees, hedges and woodlands in our local environment is essential for the future health of nature and of people. Trees are a cost-effective way to improve the environmental quality of our urban areas, delivering physical, social and economic benefits as well as mitigating climate change, improving storm water management, air quality, biodiversity, visual amenity and more. In considering trees and planning for the future, we need a fundamental shift in attitude and perspective - to recognise trees as public assets, rather than liabilities”.

https://www.wirral.gov.uk/sites/default/files/all/planning%20and%20building/Wirral%20Tree%20Strategy%20May%202020%20Appendix%201.pdf

 

Sidmouth Arboretum, is a community organisation linked to Sidmouth Town Council.  It has an excellent working relationship with the EDDC Tree Officers but, as a small organisation of volunteers most of its work is involved with promoting community engagement.  EDDC, as a landowner and planning authority with a statutory function to administer tree protection measures, has the opportunity for much greater influence.

Having undertaken surveys of the Sid Valley’s trees and hedgerows the organisation can attest to the decline of the arboreal habitats that is already underway in parts of East Devon.  The threats will increase significantly in the coming decades with the progress of Ash Dieback and other pests and diseases, coupled with the likely effects of climate change.  Whilst the task will be challenging, it does coincide with national and international environmental policy.

 

The Chair then invited Cllr Bailey to speak as proposer.

 

Cllr Bailey was delighted that there had been two public speakers on this issue. As ward Cllr for West Hill, she confirmed that trees were mentioned in the Neigbourhood Plan and particularly how to protect them, whether they are on agricultural, public or private land.

 

She thanked Cllr Jung for his engagement on this issue, whilst having differing views on pre-emptive tree felling. She said that she had done some research into the tree strategies of other Councils and considered that the broad approach taken by the Wirral seemed very appropriate for East Devon, where there was already a lot of expertise both within the Council and in external agencies locally.

She wanted to make an amendment to her Motion and to take an approach similar to the one taken to develop the Poverty Strategy, working collaboratively on a topic basis and inviting experts to contribute to the debate and development of a tree strategy.

 

She confirmed that the amended Motion was as follows;

“This council recognizes the immense contribution that trees make to our District - shaping the landscape, providing a vital habitat for wildlife, sequestering carbon to help combat climate change and playing an essential role in the eco-system by absorbing rainwater and preventing erosion.  

Trees are also vital to our communities enhancing well-being, connecting people with their natural environment, providing shade and peace, cooling the streets, marking the seasons and giving our communities a sense of ‘place’. 

In light of the key role of trees: 

 

This Council condemns the practice of pre-emptive tree felling prior to the submission of planning applications.

 

This Council agrees that there should be a scoping and indicative report for the development of a tree strategy to be brought to the next available Overview Committee meeting.”

 

Comments made during the debate included the following;

·         Cllr Jung confirmed that developing a tree strategy was a priority but felt that there was a lot of work to be done to educate, inform and promote the message to the public and developers about how valuable trees were to the environment.

·         An initial scoping report could be done by EDDC officers and could probably be done in time for an October meeting of the Overview Committee.

·         Cllr Chapman queried if it was possible to put whole areas under a potential tree protection order to prevent random tree felling.

·         Cllr Bickley had a number of ideas from liaising with external agencies, such as how to calculate the equivalent carbon replacement value for trees which developers have felled or intend to fell on sites

·         A number of Cllrs were very supportive of pre-emptive tree felling measures.

·         Cllr Rowland was concerned that associated costs and timescales need to be included in the scoping report from officers.

·         Cllr King pointed out that the focus on urban parts of the District and developers can bypass the issues on farmland, rural areas and the need for landowners and farmers to take responsibility for effective land husbandry. He also warned against developing a policy with unintended consequences, such as requiring people to commission costly consultants to draft tree reports.

·         Cllr Skinner referred to stewardship schemes and the need to prevent people taking trees down without thought now, as well as understanding the longer term issues about developing policy and strategy.

·         Cllr Armstrong confirmed that protecting trees has been an issue many times over recent years. She was concerned about the protection of trees now, which had happened a lot in her ward of Exmouth. Developers try to cut their costs by cutting established, healthy trees before putting in a planning application, because there are no tree protection orders on such trees.

·         Cllr Arnott wanted to thank Cllr Jung for his work on this issue over a short period of time and suggested that the starting point might have been a discussion at Overview Committee before coming to Council, because it will involve a huge amount of work and cross - department and Portfolio Holder collaboration, money and effort.

 

The Chair invited Cllr Bailey to give her right of reply.

 

Cllr Bailey thanked her member colleagues for their support and enthusiasm, and reiterated that a balanced approach would be considered at future meetings.

 

The Chair invited those present to vote on the Motion which was accepted by a majority of those present.

 

Recommendation:

This council recognises the immense contribution that trees make to our District - shaping the landscape, providing a vital habitat for wildlife, sequestering carbon to help combat climate change and playing an essential role in the eco-system by absorbing rainwater and preventing erosion.  

Trees are also vital to our communities enhancing well-being, connecting people with their natural environment, providing shade and peace, cooling the streets, marking the seasons and giving our communities a sense of ‘place’. 

In light of the key role of trees: 

This Council condemns the practice of pre-emptive tree felling prior to the submission of planning applications.

 

This Council agrees that there should be a scoping and indicative report for the development of a tree strategy to be brought to the next available Overview Committee meeting.

 

DECISION:

The recommendation was approved by a Senior Officer. The Senior Officer Decision Notice is listed below.

 

 

 

 

The Chair thanked everyone for participating in or watching the meeting and wished everyone goodnight.

 

 

The meeting closed at 8.28pm.