Moretonhampstead Parish Council visited the local school

Moretonhampstead Parish Council made a school visit last week to explain the work that the council does in the parish and how children can get involved. Read our guest post from the clerk below to find out how it went!

Moretonhampstead Parish Council Chair Cllr Catherine Fileman-Wright and Clerk Sam Parkin visited Moreton Primary School last week to explain what the council does in the parish.

Easdon, Mardon and Beckaford classes listened to Catherine talk about council’s work including looking after the play park, biodiversity projects, restoring the churchyard paths, and organising community events such as the King’s Coronation celebrations and the Christmas lights switch on. The children were very excited to learn that the Clerk has Father Christmas’s phone number!

Catherine explained that there are 12 councillors who meet monthly, and together they make decisions for the benefit of the community. Sam told the children about her role which includes everything from looking after the council’s money to being a project manager.

The children did a quick quiz on how many swings in play park (a very loud 4!); when the council started (answers ranged from 1800’s to 1984); how many allotment plots and public seats are there (variety of guesses). There were lots of thoughtful answers from the children on why people would want to be a parish councillor.

When asked about the council’s work, many of the children told us they were worried about litter and dog fouling, they wanted the council to look after the environment, and to stop cars going too fast. The children had some great questions. Catherine was asked if she liked Christmas to which she replied yes! Both Catherine and Sam were asked how long they had been on the council (two and four years). Catherine was asked what her favourite part of being a councillor was, she explained that it was meeting members of the community and trying to help. The last question was to ask Catherine what she was wearing around her neck. She was wearing the Chain of Office and she told the children that it had a picture of the Cross Tree, Alms House and St Andrew’s church on it, and the names of the previous Chairs.

The children made Catherine and Sam feel really welcome and we hope the council and the school can work together to help do some of the things the children would like us to do. A big thank you to the school for inviting us along.


Thank you so much to Moreton’s clerk Sam Parkin for sharing this article with us. This is a fantastic way to raise the council’s profile, engage with the community and educate young people about the important work of local councils! I’m sure many of them will now feel empowered to reach out to the council to let them know what matters to them in the community in the future.

Sam has very kindly shared the presentation that they used in case any other councils would like to use it as a basis for their own school visit – Primary School Presentation.

NALC also has some resources and guidance on engaging with young people.

We love to hear from all our members what you have been up to, so please do take time to tell us what you’ve been doing and what you’re proud of!

Footpath maintenance at Stokenham Parish Council

Footpath maintenance is a classic example of the important, but often unsung, work that parish councils do that has enormous value to their community.Read below from the clerk at Stokenham Parish Council about their important work in this area.

One of the footpaths in Stokenham parish, showing how their paths are unusual because they have steps down to the beach from inland paths. More photos below show some of the other footpaths that the council maintains. 

Footpaths are a community asset that can be taken for granted but stir up huge emotion if lost, diverted or unkempt.  With walking, running and cycling on the increase they are being used more so the wear and tear is increasing but they remain the focal point for day trips, holidays and local usage alike.

Many records of historic paths places them on the Definitive Footpath map keeping them safe and maintained by the public purse.  Then there are others that are remembered but long lost, whether changes in habits meant they fell into disuse or for some reason a permitted closure or development over them.  Added to these are privately owned ones where people are allowed to walk.  This is why it is important to know where parish paths are, talk to people about ones that used to exist and see if work can be done to reinstate and of course maintain what you have.

Stokenham Parish Council see their whole footpath, bridleway, permissive paths or any connecting accessways as one of the main parish assets.  The reason for this is that these natural corridors provide access to many parish venues without using a vehicle and give real enjoyment to those walking, sightseeing, connecting and learning about nature, travelling to the beaches and using community facilities.  This Parish has a long section of coastal footpath, some 13 miles, which comes under the care of Nature England, along with many inland paths that come under the care of Devon County Council.  These are linked and complimented by Permissive Paths over which access is allowed due to agreements having been arranged between the landowners and Parish Council, who carry out maintenance on them.

As with any well used business or facility it is important that regular checks are carried out to ensure they are safe to use and cared for.  This is why Stokenham Parish Council see their parish footpaths as an asset that needs checking and reports received of fallen trees, overgrown undergrowth or even flooded areas and erosion are highlighted at meetings.  With so many involved in the care of this network it is not always possible to do something immediately but most matters can be dealt with either by a few volunteers or liaising with the Footpath Officer.  The removal of fallen trees often just needs someone to report it to the landowner who may be unaware.  The same goes for overgrown undergrowth.  Sometimes this can be down to County footpath cutting but mostly it is overgrown hedges and the like which belong to the adjacent landowner.  Having a good community understanding of how much revenue locals and visitors bring to the area by being able to walk these paths makes approaching landowners better through a friendly phone call rather than formal letters that can often be taken the wrong way!  Whilst major enhancement works need planning and funding day to day awareness and care can make all the difference with very little cost.  In the hectic world we live in some property owners do not know that at the end of their garden or their field just a little bit of maintenance will make a huge difference and often welcome suggestions.  So one simple task to do is identify the contact details of all adjacent landowners to footpaths and bridleways making a quick call much easier.

Stokenham over the years have put together additional projects to enhance the links where possible and drawn in many grants  One permissive path takes people off the main road and goes across seven landowners land and took inviting all those landowners into one room to discuss a solution.  Another is only about 20 feet long but takes walkers safely along pavements and then through the link to a park without going on the main road, that has no pedestrian provision.  Ensuring that locals and visitors can walk around safely means vehicles can be left behind and people will walk to local facilities rather than taking their money outside the parish.   It also gives the community a chance to meet and chat whilst encouraging healthy exercise.

Another important part of footpaths is the natural wild flowers and vegetation so leaving the sides just a bit more overgrown and rural can provide an important haven as a wildlife corridor!


Thanks to Gill Claydon, clerk at Stokenham Parish Council for sharing their story; we completely agree that footpath maintenance is vital and is often overlooked as a key service that a parish and town council can offer. The Parish Paths Partnership scheme in Devon is used by many local councils to help maintain footpaths.

We always love to hear from our member councils about what they’ve been up to so please do share your stories with us.

A new logo for Buckland Brewer Parish Council!

Buckland Brewer Parish Council has a new logo reflecting the community’s heritage and landscape. This is a project they’ve been thinking about for years and is an excellent way to highlight the council’s work around the parish, raising their profile!

 

The new logo came about because:

  • the council had been discussing having an official letterhead for some time and,
  • councillors had reflected that parishioners weren’t acknowledging projects that the council had carried out which may have been because the council wasn’t highlighting their involvement

The clerk and the council’s webmaster were very keen to make Buckland Brewer Parish Council more visible, with compelling communication for all parishioners. They wanted an eye-catching logo that would be immediately recognisable as a council communication in any medium.

They decided on bespoke branding to reflect Buckland Brewer’s heritage and the webmaster came up with the very effective design you can see above. The design references shapes on key local landmarks (see below), and the wavy lands are a nod to the surrounding landscape and Buckland Brewer’s heritage as a rural farming community. On the footer design for letters or compliment slips (see the bottom of this page), a gold tractor has been added on the hill as a tongue-in-cheek touch reflecting that tractors are constant in the area.

The five petalled flower echoes shaped windows in both the Church of St Mary and St Benedict, and the Methodist Chapel.

A triquetra (celtic knot) appears on the war memorial


All feedback from parishioners on the new logo has been very positive. The council is using the logo on everything relating to the council, which they have found a relatively easy way to raise the council’s profile, especially with newer residents and a slightly younger demographic.

If you’re interested in doing something similar for your council, they recommend using a new design and steering away from the past. The clerk initially starting researching coats of arms, prominent people and other historic references for inspiration, but it quickly became clear that some imagery and personal history could be deemed ‘problematic’ today, especially with a deep delve. Plus, a brand new logo is a great opportunity for creativity and a fresh start!


Thanks to Buckland Brewer Parish Council for sending us this story, we often recommend a logo to councils who don’t have one as an effective way to raise your profile and make sure you get credit for all the great things you do! A logo can go on your benches, bins or buildings, as well as your letters.

If you have a story you’re proud of, then please do send it to us, we love to hear from our member councils.

20s Plenty – guest post from Totnes Town Council

Are you keen to make your city, town or village a safer and more pleasant place to be? Learn more about the 20s Plenty campaign and how you can get involved.

DALC understands that speeding is an important issue for our member councils; road safety and traffic management are common topics raised by communities. We are keen to support councils to have greater influence in resolving local concerns, and recognise that collaboration and information sharing enables councils to explore new approaches.

We’re delighted to feature this guest post from Totnes Town Council in partnership with the 20’s Plenty campaign; read on to learn about the campaign, with details of upcoming webinars, and how you get involved by working with Totnes!


Are you keen to make your city, town or village a safer and more pleasant place to be? Campaigning for 20mph default speed limits is a powerful step in the right direction.

‘20s Plenty for Us’ campaign for a 20mph speed limit to be the norm on residential streets and in town and village centres, unless full consideration of the needs of vulnerable road users allows a higher limit on particular streets.

What are we looking to achieve?

There are many reasons why – here are 4 good ones:

  1. They’re safer: The Department for Transport estimates that a 1mph lower speed in built-up areas reduces road casualties by 6%. Successful 20mph schemes result in 30% fewer casualties.
  2. They’re cleaner and quieter: 20mph reduces tail-pipe emissions by 25% compared with 30mph and are 50% quieter. They also encourage more cycling and walking.
  3. They’re affordable and cost effective: They provide multiple economic, societal and environmental benefits at low cost. Entry signs plus repeaters remind drivers of the speed limit, with no need for physical calming. Even with no additional police enforcement, speeds reduce by up to 6mph on faster roads.
  4. They’re popular: National and local surveys consistently find 70% support in residential streets; such support rises after 20mph limits are introduced. They also rarely affect journey times or bus timetables.

Rather than request that highways authorities implement 20mph zones sporadically across the county, it is much more effective to campaign for counties to change its speed limit policy and make 20mph the default.

Demonstrating widespread local community support for 20mph helps to persuade highways authorities to implement it more widely and cost-effectively. Counties in England, such as Cornwall, Oxfordshire and Lancashire, have agreed 20mph for every settlement, as have counties throughout Wales, and it has been promised by the Scottish Government.  You can find more evidence on the 20s Plenty website.

Are you willing to write to a highways authority to confirm your support for 20mph and to ask them to roll out 20mph more widely?

Keen to know more?

Adrian from the 20s Plenty for Us campaign will be running two webinars for interested Devon town and parish councils on:

Wednesday 21 June 7.30-8.30pm. Register in advance here.

Thursday 28 June 1-2pm. Register in advance here.

Contact the 20s Plenty for Devon campaign to find out how you can get involved. Email 20splenty.devon@gmail.com or find them on Facebook.


Collaborate with Totnes Town Council

Totnes Town Council would like to work with other Devon councils on this issue; please take a moment to complete this snapshot poll so we can gather your views on how important speed reduction is to your community, with a chance to leave your details for Totnes if you’re interested in collaborating.

A very busy 2022 for Kingsteignton Town Council!

Kingsteignton Town Council has had a very busy 2022 with a number of different events and services happening throughout the year to support their community!

Kingsteignton Town Council launched a community food larder (pictured above), situated in the Community Hall and aiming to support residents who are struggling financially who can take what they need and bring what they can. The local Co-op store supported the larder by making donations.

The Kingsteignton Wild group of volunteers held a competition for children to design a sticker for the Kingsteignton Nature Trail, and winners were presented with their prizes at the opening of the new playpark.

Kingsteignton Wild also participated in a Newton Abbot event promoting the need for encouraging swifts to nest; these amazing birds are in flight full time, and only ever land to nest. Kingsteignton Town Council has recently installed six swift nesting boxes on the council office building; although having swifts nesting may take up to five years, the boxes may be used by smaller species such as blue tits and sparrows.

The ancient tradition of Beating the Bounds, walking the parish boundaries, was carried over two weekends in August. Walks were led by Kingsteignton Town Councillors and totalled 17.2 miles. Participants were presented with a medal and certificate.

Mayor Ron Peart said: “I would like to thank all who took part, land owners who gave permission to cross their land, councillors who led the walk, medics who attended and council staff who helped to organise this special event. My wife and I did this walk 8 years ago, 17.2 miles over two days, and decided once was enough!”

Clifford Park was renovated with the new play area being opened in August by Lord Clifford, who previously owned the land. The park also includes a BMX skate ramp, table tennis table, MUGA ball court, ball catcher and a full range of fitness equipment.

Kingsteignton in Bloom awards were presented in August at an event at The Old Rydon Inn, with everyone enjoying a light buffets and winners being presented with cups, certificates and a prize of a voucher for a garden centre.

The council has installed a ‘Happy to Chat’ bench at the Fountain in Kingsteignton, a bench which invites anyone to sit and chat, which can enhance your mood, mental health and promote happiness.

The Town Council, as with many of our member councils, also had a busy year celebrating the Platinum Jubilee and paying their respects to HM Queen Elizabeth II.

Kingsteignton Town Council planted a tree as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy scheme with a plaque, unveiled by Lord Clifford, and marking the Platinum Jubilee 2022.

A royal cake bake competition was held; look at this amazing street party cake with a union jack hidden inside!

The town council helped primary schools marked the Platinum Jubilee by donating a weeping silver birch tree to each of the schools, along with a time capsule which pupils could fill with items. The time capsules were buried by the town council by the tree when it was planted.


Thank you so much to Kingsteignton Town Council for sharing everything they’ve been up to in 2022! They’ve had such a big year, and it’s lovely to see all these photos and information.

Please do share what your council has been up to by contacting us here.

Ivybridge Christmas Festival – lots of festive fun!

The Ivybridge Christmas Festival took place on 25 November and was a well attended event with lots of positive feedback!

Christmas market and entertainment

This year the Ivybridge Christmas Festival was located in Fore Street, Glanvilles Mill and Glanvilles Mill car park, running from 4pm until 8pm.

Miss Ivy Events, a local leading organiser of street food and artisan events with connections to many exhibitors, was invited to manage the Christmas Festival again following the successful event she delivered the previous year.  This year she brought in over forty quality craft gift stalls plus hot food spread throughout the town.  Priority for pitches was given to local people before opening the market up to all traders.

Ivybridge Town Council was successful in securing three main sponsors, namely London and Cambridge Properties who are the owners of Glanvilles Mill, Palladium Building Supplies, and Manning and Company.  Ivybridge Dental Centre, Ivor Jones Financial Planning, Richard Peachey and Christopher’s South Hams also supported the event.  Lawsons donated their electricity supply free of charge, and Manning and Company did a collection and donated funds to the Mayor’s charity for Ivybridge Young Carers.  The Town Council is very grateful to all the above businesses for their generous support.

Miss Ivy Events helped to coordinate the event in an extremely friendly and professional manner. She brought in more than the expected revenue and secured some excellent entertainment, including the extremely popular Paw Patrol and festive Punch and Judy, plus stilt walkers and live music artists.

Christmas Lights

A new Christmas lighting scheme was introduced into the main street, using LED festoon lighting dressed with falling tubes and glittering ball displays.  In January the decorative lights will be removed leaving the festoon lighting in place but switched off.  This allows flexibility for them to be turned on for other events in the town throughout the year.

The running of the event was successful, not only due to the assistance of a professional events coordinator, but also to the management on the day by the dedicated Town Hall team with the help of their families and Rotary Club members plus councillors.  The staff are grateful to all those volunteers as without their help in safely managing the road closures and the car park, plus helping to set up and take down the marquees and staging, the event would not have been possible. We were also grateful to have a strong presence from the police and fire services.

The weather was calm and dry and the town was incredibly busy.  Feedback from residents and businesses has been extremely positive and social media comments were excellent, indicating that the community had found the event very enjoyable.


We love seeing Christmas pictures from our member councils, so spread some Christmas cheer and send them to us!

Regenerating greenspace in Uplyme

Stafford Mount Park is a greenspace at the very heart of Uplyme village. It is a public space but is currently under utilised and Uplyme Parish Council are embarking on a regeneration project.

The Council recently decided to regenerate the space to mitigate against climate change, to make the area more bio-diverse and to improve public involvement with and use of the space. Their aim was to create a destination in the village for the public to meet to sit and reflect, but which was sustainable and supporting local wildlife.

It was important to the council to involve the people in the parish so they could take ownership over the project. Their first step was to get young people involved by working with the school to gather designs for the project.

They asked Mrs Ethelston’s primary schoolchildren to submit designs to be installed within the garden. There were 4 categories: an entrance sign, 3 mosaic panels, a hedgehog habitat and an insect habitat.  The Councillors who judged the designs, Cllr Mrs Claire Wiscombe (who is leading the project) and Cllr Colin Pratt, were extremely impressed with the huge number of designs submitted.

On Monday 14th November, the Chair of the Parish Council, Cllr Chris James and one of the judges Cllr. Colin Pratt, handed out a certificate and prize to each of the winning entrants.  Well done everyone!

The next phase will be for all the children to make the winning mosaic panel designs to become a reality during after-school clubs, collection and donation of materials to make the habitats and creation of a seasonal and pollinator-friendly planting design.

The council has also received donations of plants for the area from the local Rotary Club, which is a great example of how a local organisation can get involved with parish council projects. Their next step will be to start making grant-funding applications, and to create a planting plan in the new year so the community can get involved with creating a sustainable, bio-diverse space to watch nature in action.

See some of the beautiful designs from the schoolchildren below:

 


We love to hear stories from our member councils. If you have a story you would like to share then please contact us.

Fair for South Brent is a resounding success

The Fair for South Brent focussed on issues of community, nature and climate, involving as many local groups and organisations as possible. It was a very successful event with lots of activities, advice and information.

Over 1,000 visitors thronged to the Fair for South Brent on 16th July, for the 50+ stalls, activities, great food and entertainment.  And from the many compliments received and calls to ‘please do it again next year’, people really had a great time.

SSB Chair Andy Harker says: ‘We are delighted that the main aims of the Fair were achieved. We came together as a community and had a lovely, fun-filled afternoon, whilst also thinking about changes we can all make to help nature and respond positively to climate change. Great conversations and discussions were ‘sparked’ across the Fair and lots of really useful information and advice shared in a range of areas, including nature, energy, waste, transport, food and community support.

We also raised around £2,500 to put into SSB’s fund which helps any local group with a good idea around sustainability. We couldn’t have achieved any of this without the support of many wonderful volunteers, far too many to mention by name, but all very much appreciated”.

The initiative of Sustainable South Brent, the Fair was staged in collaboration with South Brent Parish Council and other local community groups, organisations and businesses. It was made possible due to funding from various sources, including South Brent’s Community Energy Society, Parish Council, District and County Councillors, as well as Sustainable South Brent.


We loved hearing this story from South Brent, so glad you had such a successful event! We always love to hear from our members, if you have a story to share then please contact us here.

Beating the bounds in South Tawton!

This year, 2022, was the 160th Beating the Bounds for South Tawton parish, a tradition which dates back to Alfred the Great and happens every 7 years.

Beating the bounds, or beating the parish boundary, dates back to Anglo Saxon times, right back to Alfred the Great (848 to 899), and the tradition happens every 7 years. This year, 2022, is the 160th Beating the Dartmoor Boundary for the parish of South Tawton and South Zeal (served by South Tawton Parish Council). The idea of parish boundaries being “checked out” was to confirm the boundary markers had not been moved or disturbed by neighbours, and also to enable the young members of the parish to learn from their elders where the boundary lies.

The parish route for Beating the Bounds started at South Zeal Victory Hall, to Mill Farm below East Week, Paynes Bridge and then up onto the open moor following Blackaton Brook, past Shilley Pool and out to Raybarrow Pool and Little Hound Tor before dropping down to Taw Marsh, back to Belstone and Sticklepath before returning to South Zeal. It is approximately 12 miles in total, a good day’s walking!

Walkers were encouraged to provide their own drinks and snacks during the walk, with South Tawton Parish Council supplying pasties and water refills at Taw Marsh. Everyone then headed back to the village of South Zeal for a hog roast and refreshments provided by the council.

2022 saw a tremendous turnout of approximately 200 walkers, with the event supported by Dartmoor Rescue to whom the council owes a debt of thanks; they will be making a contribution to the charity. Donations were collected throughout the event for South Zeal Recreation Ground Charity and £567.10 was raised. The council would like to thank Dartmoor Commoners who donated a barrel of beer for the thirsty walkers on their return to South Zeal.

Pictured (right): the walkers setting off from the village of South Zeal on their beating the bounds walk. What a beautiful day for it!


We love to hear stories from our members, please take a moment to tell us what your council has been up to!

Reflective neckbands to protect Dartmoor livestock!

More than 200 animals on Dartmoor were given reflective neckbands this summer to make them more visible to vehicles and help prevent road traffic collisions

The reflective neckbands were issued to farmers of 80 Dartmoor Ponies and 150 cattle following a successful funding bid to the Vision Zero South West Road Safety partnership. The idea came from Dartmoor Forest Parish Council who say collisions and animal deaths have been a major concern for several years. They successfully bid for £6,306 from the Vision Zero South West ‘Call For Ideas’ scheme which paid for neckbands for animals specifically along the B3212 road from Peek Hill to Princetown.

Cllr Mark Williams, Dartmoor Forest Parish Council, said: “The B3212 is the busiest of the two the main roads across Dartmoor and is the arterial route from Plymouth onto the moor and to Princetown and HM Prison Dartmoor. The 3.5 mile stretch between Peek Hill and Princetown is unfenced, with a speed limit of 40mph and runs across Walkhampton Common where around 150 cattle and 80 ponies roam freely.

“Collisions involving vehicles hitting animals are unfortunately frequent. There were 117 collisions involving animals on Dartmoor in 2021 recorded by the Dartmoor Livestock Protection Society. Most result in the death of the animal and heavy damage to the vehicle involved. Some also result in injury to drivers and passengers.”

 

Learn more about the project and its aims in the video from the launch event in June!


Karla McKechnie, Dartmoor Livestock Protection Officer, said “These unfenced roads become death traps unless motorists are animal aware and drive with ‘moor’ care. I am sickened and saddened by the high number of collisions I attend involving dead and dying animals. If you witness an animal being hit, please call me urgently on 07873 587561.”

 

Dartmoor Forest Parish Council worked with a number of stakeholders on the project, including local farmers with livestock grazing the moor alongside the road and also representatives from:

  • Dartmoor Livestock Protection Society
  • Dartmoor National Park Authority
  • Devon County Council Highways
  • Dartmoor Commoner’s Council
  • Devon and Cornwall Police
  • Dartmoor Speedwatch
  • Burrator Parish Council.

Andrew Watson, Head of Recreation and Access at Dartmoor National Park said “The National Park sees thousands of visitors each year, attracted by the vast open areas of moorland with unfenced roads and grazing livestock. The Authority is delighted to be part of this partnership, working to reduce the number of animal deaths and injuries across Dartmoor, and improve road safety for all visitors and residents”.

As well as the neckbands, the funding from Vision Zero South West has also been used to install a new Vehicle Activated Speed sign below Leedon Tor, on the road from Princetown, to alert drivers to excess speed. This is in addition to the one, funded by the Dartmoor Livestock Protection Society, already located by the double car parks on the road from Peek Hill. Improved signage at both Peek Hill and Princetown will be put in place to remind drivers to expect livestock to be on, or near the road, and to reduce speed/ give way to animals.

 

Cllr Williams added: “These neck bands have proved successful in their use in the New Forest. We hope that these measures will raise driver awareness of the need for caution and reduced speed when travelling on this stretch of road, and that traffic collisions and incidents involving livestock will be reduced as a result. If this initiative proves successful the aim is to roll out similar measures on other key routes across the moor, should additional funding become available.”

Vision Zero South West Partnership Manager Natalie Warr said: “We launched the ‘Call For Ideas’ small grants fund to support creative and innovative schemes just like this one. Working together is vital when addressing road safety issues, and no one knows their local roads quite like the communities who live there. Quite often you can big impact with a relatively small amount of money and that’s exactly what I hope we have done in this case.

“Our vision is to halve all fatal and serious road collisions in Devon and Cornwall by 2030 and we can
only do that by working collaboratively and innovatively with residents. I’d like to say a big thank you
to everyone involved in this bid, I think it’s going to make a big difference.”


For councils that want to learn more about how they can have an impact on speeding in their communities, there will be a session at AGM, Conference and Exhibition on Wednesday 5 October with Chris Parkes, Senior Traffic Engineer at Devon Highways.

We always love to hear from member councils; if you’ve been involved with a project that you’re proud of then please take a moment to tell us about it!