Sandford council's April meeting held remotely, a first in 126 years of the council

By Crediton Courier Newspaper   |   Editorial   |
Wednesday 29th April 2020 5:42 am
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The Sandford Pulls Together sign in Sandford Square. ()

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FOR the very first time in its 126 years’ history, Sandford Parish Council held its April meeting on April 16 remotely (on Skype) due to the Coronavirus lockdown.

In attendance were eight Parish Councillors, Mid Devon District Councillor, Cllr Elizabeth Wainwright, and the Parish Clerk.

SANDFORD PULLS TOGETHER

For the parish records a report was given of the steps taken by the council during the lockdown.

Following news of the Coronavirus outbreak, a meeting was called, to be held at St Swithun’s Church on Friday, March 20 at 7.30pm, entitled: “To Plan how the Parish deals with the Coronavirus”.

Between the time the meeting was called and the date of the meeting issues had started to arise concerning groups of people meeting, social distancing etc.

The meeting was duly cancelled at short notice due to these issues.

However, as it was felt some parishioners would not be aware of the cancellation, and would turn up, a small group met in the Churchyard at the appointed time, duly “Socially distanced”, and a small number of parishioners did turn out and the following was agreed:

PARISH FLYER

Sandford Community Stores had already drafted a flyer to be sent out to the parish offering to both supply and deliver good (thanks to the band of volunteers).

It was agreed to proceed with this flyer and on the back page include a letter from the Parish Council appealing for volunteers to “help” with telephone calls, collecting prescriptions, posting a letter and anything else to those vulnerable and self isolating in the Parish. Those with a need were asked to make contact.

This letter was then duly printed off and circulated to all parts of the Parish including Upton Hellions.

The service offered by Sandford Community Stores immediately sprang into action with deliveries being made by telephone and email. The goods offered included not only goods sold in the shop but also opened up to bread and cake and meat deliveries from Crediton.

The orders were then despatched either by one of the volunteers or collected from the Store.

The flyer also then brought forward a substantial number of offers of assistance in the parish.

Dom Dunn then took up his roll as Parish Emergency Planning Officer and the Parish Clerk acted as contact point for volunteers, assisted by Jackie Theedom.

H SIGNS

The clerk was made aware that North Tawton Town Council had distributed H signs in its community asking anyone with a need of shopping etc to place the H sign in their window.

On the back of the sign were a number of local contacts to contact for assistance and a request for everyone to keep an eye on their neighbours. On contacting North Tawton Town Council it was confirmed Sandford could copy this idea and personalise the sign and letter to their needs.

The Sandford H sign, and covering letter, was then sent off to the printers and within days was distributed both in the parish and Upton Hellions and also printed in the "Crossing" magazine, using volunteers, taken from the volunteer list who had come forward offering help.

The H signs, it was reported, had already started to be used for shopping needs, posting letters etc.

On the day of the Parish Council meeting (April 16), it was stated that both Sandford Community Stores and Sandford Pulls Together, were serving well the needs of the parish (Sandford, East Village and New Buildings) and Upton Hellions.

It was agreed to support a suggestion from the Clerk to obtain a “Sandford Pulls Together” banner and place this on the railings outside the Lamb Inn.

(The Clerk would submit an application for the costs of printing etc to Devon County Council under the Covid-19 Prompt Action Fund).

Chairman Jim Stephens proposed a vote of thanks to all those volunteers who had come forward to assist and this was fully endorsed by the Parish Council.

LOCKDOWN MEASURES

The Clerk had prepared a schedule setting out “Proposals to deal with Parish Council business during the Lockdown”. This had been circulated in advance of the meeting and was duly adopted and would be signed once the Parish Council met again in person.

Cheques to be signed by the Chairman and Vice Chairman. Planning matters to be looked at by Councillors Unstead, Lee and Dalton.

Whilst it was agreed the Parish Council would not be meeting again, in the near future, in person, it was felt a regular remote meeting by Skype would be beneficial.

It was also agreed that the Annual Meeting wouldn’t take place until that time and Cllr Stephens agreed to remain as Chairman for the time being.

The Parish Clerk would maintain the Parish Council website and Facebook page, with assistance from Cllrs Haley and Hope.

VE BANK HOLIDAY

With regard to the proposed V.E. Bank Holiday Commemoration May 2020 Celebrations – This had been cancelled due to the Coronavirus Emergency.

It was hoped to celebrate both VE and VJ Day with a Parish Festival later in the year once the shutdown had been lifted.

Celebrations for the 125th Anniversary of Sandford Parish Council - The Tree planting, with assistance from pupils at Sandford School, had been a great success and had been well-reported locally.

The Clerk had put together a selection of photos and these would be displayed in the Community Sports Pavilion. Boundary Walk – To be discussed later in the year.

BASKETBALL

The Parish Council meeting was delighted to learn, from Cllr Dave Hope that there was a possibility of grant from the Calor Gas Rural Fund, for the cost of a Basket Ball Hoop. If this was successful a suggestion was made for this to be erected on the Tennis Court.

This would be good news for youngsters, of a certain age, who currently had no facilities on the Playing Field. There had previously been a Base Ball Hoop on the end of the old Football Club Hut and this had been used on a regular basis.

It was pointed out that the Tennis Court, apart from times around Wimbledon, was not excessively used. It was agreed, if the grant award was successful, the Parish Council would consider allocating some weekly slots for use of the Basket Ball Hoop. The Clerk was asked to convey this to the Tennis Club.

SOCIAL DISTANCING

Cllr Steve Haley reported on a recent incident when Joggers, huffing and puffing as they ran through the Square, were very close to a family with children in a push chair, had caused concerns to the parents concerning Social Distancing.

It was agreed that there had been a high increase in the number of cyclists and joggers travelling through the Parish. Also in Upton Hellions where this had been raised as an issue.

This matter has also been reported in the national press.

The government guidelines on exercising remain the same “one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household” - “subject to Social Distancing".

Joggers, walkers, and cyclists travelling through the area were asked to distance themselves accordingly when in built-up areas.

In closing the meeting everyone agreed that the holding of the first remote parish council meeting had been a great success. The next remote meeting (by Skype) was set for May 7 at 7.30pm.

MJV

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