CLOSING the unmanned Salmonhutch railway crossing just south of Crediton would cut off one more alternative route at times when Exeter Road is closed and "would add miles to trips into Crediton for its residents."

Because of this and other factors, Crediton Town Council's general purposes committee, at its October meeting, strongly opposed the Network Rail's plan and supported Salmonhutch residents in their protest.

Bob Edwards, who has lived at Salmonhutch for 31 years and is a former Mayor of Crediton and now chairman of Crediton Traffic Action Group, said the proposed closure seemed to be part of a general move by Network Rail to close railway crossings that did not have gates or barriers. There is a flashing light warning system at Salmonhutch when a train is due.

He thought the proposal was "more on safety grounds than improving train times." Mr Edwards explained that there were about 20 houses at Salmonhutch and nearby Uton, so about 50 people could be affected.

He explained that what was now a one mile trip into one part of Crediton by road would become a three mile journey, while twice a day trip, say to Landscore School or Chiddenbrook Surgery, now about four miles, would end up a 12-mile journey, taking drivers over Folly Bridge and out at Moorlake on the Yeoford road, which was a dangerous junction.

Mr Edwards suspected there would be far more accidents at that road junction than there ever have been or would be at the present railway crossing.

Mr Edwards added that walkers, horse riders and farm vehicles often used the railway crossing.

He added: "This is a selfish Salmonhutch user aspect. Devon County Council did a vehicle count there, but on a quiet day."

He also said the road was a popular short cut for people heading for Tedburn St Mary because it led to Venny Tedburn.

"When Exeter Road is closed, this would be yet another alternative route gone," he said. The road infrastructure at Crediton has been untouched for 80 years. Even more development is put forward for the west of Crediton, so it would be so silly to close this road."

Mr Edwards added that there had been one accident at Salmonhutch about 28 years ago, when no-one was injured.

"If Network Rail was seriously worried about safety it should put up single barriers," he said explaining that trains currently have to slow to 15mph to go over the crossing.

When Cllr Peter Finnegan asked if Network Rail had the power to close a road, Cllr Nick Way, also a district and county councilor, said he was checking on this aspect.

"Five years ago we had a fight to stop the crossing then being closed," he said. If plans for a regular rail service from Okehampton came to fruition, he thought these trains would dovetail into the existing service without a need to close the crossing.

"I think it was crazy that we had a big Tesco store built before a link road, so it would be to close one of the alternative routes when Exeter Road is closed

"It would cause great disruption to people who bought homes at Salmonhutch to suddenly find they have lost their road into town; it is not on," he said.

Cllr Richard Adams observed that closing the Salmonhutch crossing might give the railway company only one extra minute. He agreed the railway crossing was well used, perhaps more by pedestrians than vehicles.

Agreeing to protest, the committee asked that a copy of the letter was sent to Crediton Hamlets Parish Council.


Discussions about whether the town council would prefer a big concrete block to hold a Christmas tree at one side of the town square or a have a hole dug in the square for the tree, took 20 minutes.

Joe Ward, who has put up Christmas trees through the town for many years, but stepped down from that job last year, has also put an illuminated Christmas tree on the square each year since it opened.

His suggestion, to improve stability for the tree, was for a hole to be dug to take the base of the tree, covered when not needed. This would cost around £1,000.

He had been grateful for the idea of a concrete block, put forward by Cllr Richard Adams at the September town council meeting, but felt it would not work for a number of reasons.

These included need for a crane to move it, its higher centre of gravity, difference in levels of the site and potential need for storage.

Mr Ward said the hole would be available for other times than Christmas and would make putting the tree up easier.

Saying he was not necessarily asking the town council to contribute financially, Mr Ward said he would "make every effort" to find funding from local businesses.

Explaining that the original quote for the hole had been £1,500, Mr Ward said it had been thought at first it would have to be dug by hand. He had since found the work could be done by a digger.

Cllr Tom Connell thought £1,000 was still a lot of money to be found "in these tightened times". He thought a Crediton company would be prepared to give a suitable concrete block, which would be "a huge saving".

The block with a hole in it for the tree could stay on the square throughout the year and, like the hole in the ground, be available for other events.

Cllr Frank Letch pointed out that the town square belonged to Mid Devon District Council, not the town council, which could only recommend a preference to the district council.

As time was getting on for the work to be done before Christmas, the committee agreed with Mr Ward that, as an alternative, he went ahead with plans for siting the tree as peviously on the town square. This would give time to explore the concrete block idea further and to talk with the district council.


At a previous meeting the town council had been asked if anything was being done to mark May Day next year?

Saying this was not really the kind of thing the town council could organise, Cllr Liz Brookes-Hocking hoped other town organisations might take up the suggestion.

It was hoped there would be an event, probably on the town square and that the town council would give it some thought before discussing this item again.




Cllr Connell remembered that in the early days of Tesco applying for permission to build its store at Crediton, the Chamber of Commerce had been told by Tesco that, if permission was granted, it would receive £20,000 towards town enhancement.

"Has this been swept under the table?" asked Cllr Connell.

Cllr Letch said he thought this amount had referred to the work that would have been done by Costain, then main contractors for building the Tesco store but who had later withdrawn from the work.

Cllr Letch commented that there was also the £5,000 which the town council had been promised by Tesco, which was being followed up. The result will be discussed at a future meeting.


Reporting that the new Food Bank, set up through the town's churches, was to open the following week, Cllr Bob Wright explained that CHAT (Churches Housing Action Team) had been running a Food Bank in Tiverton for some years.

Distribution point would be at Credtion Congregational Church, where people with the proper certificate would receive three-days' food as an emergency supply only, but not on a regular basis. Already five people had been helped.


Cllr Wright, also a district council member, reported that the surface of the town square would be receiving attention this month.

He also reported that climbing equipment in the play area by Lords Meadow Leisure Centre was to be replaced this month.

It was reported that traders at the monthly Farmers' Market at Crediton had been having problems when parking vehicles, particularly trailers, on the edge of the square.

It appeared that traders thought that renting the square included the area around it. It was hoped this was being resolved and a report would be made to a future town council meeting.

For some months the town council has a regular spot at the Market, but it does not have a proper market stall.

Buying a big umbrella with a table at a cost of about £70 was recommended for approval.

It was reported that the ramp to the Barnfield allotments from Cherry Gardens had been put in and was being checked. Also the turning circle inside.

There were four vacant plots which were in process of being rented.


Approval was recommended for the following planning applications: Listed Building consent for internal and external alterations and installation of an air source heat pump at Fordton Cottage; erection of a timber fence after removal of a dead hedge at 40 Exhibition Road.

No objection was recommended for an application to convert the existing building to one flat and one maisonette plus erection of two dwellings and alterations to the existing vehicle and pedestrian access at The Corner House, 113 High Street.

It was regretted that this application included parking for only one car but noted that it was quite close to the big car park where resident's parking permits were available, so there should not be a need for The Corner House residents to park on the road.

Planning decisions are made by Mid Devon District Council.