Colyton Parish Council Community Newsletter, Autumn 2020Here we are with our third issue in a year in which there has been much going on in Colyton and Colyford. We hope we are covering the issues of interest to you, but if there are others we are missing do let us know. With this issue, we are also producing a small number of printed copies for those who prefer to read in that format. They will be available at various locations in the town. This digital version remains our main focus for financial and environmental reasons.
Virus: Warning 'don't be complacent'. Latest figures show that coronavirus levels in Devon remain comparatively low. But Dr Virginia Pearson, Director of Public Health Devon and Chair of the multi-agency COVID-19 Health Protection Board, insists that we cannot be complacent. In a statement she said: It's very easy, with the relaxation of restrictions we've had over recent months to believe that life is back to normal. It is not back to normal. The virus is still here and it is very easy to get infected, especially indoors. I am therefore urging all Devon residents, of all ages, but specifically to our younger residents who perhaps do not feel the risk felt by older and more vulnerable residents, to follow the public health advice at all times." Latest figures compiled by Devon County Council show 120 new confirmed cases (and two deaths) in the week to 27 September, bringing the total to 1,668 since the outbreak began. There were no deaths in the week.
Colyton Primary Academy is going from strength to strength as it settles into a new school year with the benefit of new management, complete redecoration, new play equipment and a smart navy uniform. After a disappointing OFSTED the school is now part of the First Federation Trust which consists of 16 schools across south Devon. The Trust's aim is to ensure that member schools are the best that they can be and that every child goes to an outstanding school. The focus this term for the school will first be to settle the children back after the lockdown then to drive forward their learning and instil the school's core values. Head of School, Mrs Mills, says that community focus will be maintained as a priority. Being part of such a supportive town is vital to the school's development. We will retain our excellent pre-school links with Colyton Caterpillars
The CeramTec site progress report
Demolition of the CeramTec works has begun and will last an estimated ten weeks. Site owner Homes England received outline planning permission in June 2020 for the demolition of the existing factory buildings and the development of up to 72 new homes (including 20% affordable housing), six light industrial units and significant open space. Senior Development Manager Sam Gammon told the newsletter that, since outline permission was secured, Homes England and its demolition contractor, Hughes & Salvidge, have been discharging the demolition pre-commencement conditions required by the local authority. Hughes and Salvidge began initial internal preparation work on 28 September and its Project Manager, Dan Byng, said that first stage would be inconspicuous, with the main external demolition getting underway in mid-October. Working hours will be 8am to 6pm on weekdays and 8am to 1pm on Saturdays. He has promised to do all possible to keep inconvenience to a minimum and has provided his phone No – 02392 753733.
Bringing the Coly back to health Experts are using latest techniques to restore life to the River Coly following its devastating pollution from a 100,000 litre farm slurry spillage in May. The Environment Agency told the newsletter that a contractor has completed nearly eight weeks of remediation and gravel rehabilitation on Southleigh Stream from the point of the slurry discharge down to its confluence with the Coly. The work included removal and disposal of slurry based silt, sediment and contaminated agricultural matter.
The EA says that some invertebrates and fish that are more tolerant to fast flowing agricultural pollution will have survived the incident. There are also reports that some minnows have already been sighted in the lower reaches of Southleigh Stream. Meanwhile, the gravel rehabilitation work will enhance the possibility of migratory salmonoids successfully spawning there this winter. Contractor SEED Environmental has recently been additionally commissioned to carry out remediation and gravel rehabilitation on the main River Coly between Bonehayne Farm and Chantry Bridge in Colyton. The EA was unable to comment on possible enforcement action at this stage.
Bashing the balsam Concerned about the proliferation of invasive Himalayan Balsam along the River Coly, a group of local volunteers recently formed to help control its spread. Each plant can produce up to 800 seeds which explode and travel as far as seven metres. Those that land in water travel down stream to form new colonies which crowd out native plants, leaving the banks bare in winter and susceptible to erosion. As a non-toxic annual, controlling it is simply a case of pulling it up by its shallow roots and snapping the hollow stem between root and first node before leaving it to rot in-situ away from water. Inspired by Alison Stenning, a group of volunteers held their first 'bash' at the Peace Memorial Playing Fields in August, with events planned for next June. Information: email@example.com or Coly Himalayan Balsam Bashing on Facebook.
Praise for Neighbourhood Plan team At their September meeting, Parish Councillors praised the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group for its hard work in producing the draft plan tabled for release to public consultation. Opinion was divided on whether a detailed review by councillors should now take place, known errors corrected and any amendments approved by council incorporated prior to its release. Councillors voted 6 – 5 to approve a motion to release the draft plan as presented and without amendment for Section 14 public consultation. Detailed proposals on how to conduct this consultation during the current COVID 19 national emergency in a safe but inclusive and accessible manner were being finalised as this newsletter went to press.
Tramway on track for new station
Travellers on the ever popular tramway to Colyton should be able to alight at Seaton Wetlands from the spring of 2021. Seaton Tramway Chief Executive Jenny Nunn says that planning hurdles should be crossed in the next few weeks to allow work to take place through the winter months. The plan is to create a new timetabled tram stop at the exciting Swan's Nest ‘passing loop'. The work will be done in partnership with East Devon District Council and will use Heritage Lottery funding towards the £100,000+ cost, match funded by the Tramway. The project will improve access to the stunning natural environment of Seaton Wetland Nature Reserve, so enabling passengers to explore its trails, hides and other visitor facilities. In a normal year, the three-mile Tramway delivers up to 90,000 visitors a year into Colyton and employs 50 staff and some 40 volunteers.
Views needed on funding opportunity The Parish Council Working Group set up to formulate costed proposals for new or improved amenities within the Parish has reconvened and is looking for more ideas! The Council Currently has some £13,000 of funding arising from what are known as ‘section 106 agreements' through which developers contribute towards projects that help to manage the impact of their work. If you have a view on how the funds might be used on new or existing amenities, please write to or email the Parish Clerk.
businesses moving forward As a business owner himself, Parish Councillor Crispin Denny is well placed to judge the effects of the pandemic on the trading community. This is his latest assessment: “As lockdown lifts, not all businesses are anticipating a rosy future. On the upside, a loyal public have returned with an understanding that the new arrangements such as social distancing and mask wearing, are an accepted feature. For others, it has been business more or less as usual, with investment in new IT to allow home working to be a permanent feature. Some have experienced a drop in trade as customers return to shopping further afield. However, the picture for others remains bleak. Furlough has ended with redundancies and an uncertainty of how to move forward with confidence. The onset of colder weather adds to the situation as sitting outside becomes rather less inviting. Local businesses rely on our support and we all need to remember to follow the Covid guidance, be polite and show respect.
New beginning for Town Mill site
Work is well underway on a business development that will breathe new life into the derelict Old Town Mill in Rosemary Lane, Colyton. The riverside project is being managed by Axminster Property on behalf of a pension fund client and involves conversion of the historic buildings to create seven units. Managing Director Ian Styles says that three of the 900 to 2,200 sq ft units are already potentially let and there is active interest in a further three. He expects the first to be occupied in the spring to early summer of next year. “We are passionate about quality and about investing local funds and using local labour and materials while also creating new employment opportunities for the long term,” he says. “There is certainly no lack of interest from companies that want to operate in Colyton. Particular care is being taken to cater for wildlife in line with the requirements of a biodiversity study, with provision for bird and bat boxes. A much admired carved oak door from the Rosemary Lane frontage is being preserved for future use either on-site or for display in the town.
Overcoming inconvenience Having been closed since late March, Colyton was greatly relieved when the disabled facility of the Dolphin Street public toilets was reopened for use by the general public from 8am till 8pm daily on July 20th as a unisex loo. Due to the prohibitive cost of reopening public toilets with a Covid-compliant four times daily cleaning schedule and dire lack of funds, the Colyton loos looked set to remain closed permanently by EDDC unless Colyton Parish Council undertook to buy and maintain them. However, EDDC, which is under no legal obligation to maintain public toilets, bowed under pressure from the Parish Council to unlock and pull the chain. Some will say it was not a day too soon given the reopening of Seaton Tramway which brings an average of 90,000 passengers a year to Colyton.
Which bits do you love best? Can you define what's special for you about Colyton or Colyford and capture it in a photo? It might be a wide expanse of countryside, local wildlife or a tiny architectural detail. Send you efforts to the email address at the foot of this newsletter and we will publish the best in our December newsletter.
Drivers needed for hospital car service Colyton Link Hospital Car Service has issued an appeal for new drivers to replace those who have had to step down or reduce their driving commitments. The group completed no fewer than 854 drives last year, and has continued with a reduced team through the pandemic, with drivers adapting to keep themselves and their passengers safe. (Our photo shows driver Jacqueline Moore with passenger Charles Lulham). As demand once again increases, the group needs to attract new volunteers to take people of all ages for medical appointments. The service is a registered charity and would love to welcome a new generation of drivers. Volunteers receive expenses to cover mileage costs, a hospital parking permit ... and great job satisfaction. If you would like to consider volunteering please contact Wendy Cann on 552263.
Colcombe Castle's new future All eyes are on the Colcombe Castle as it moves into a new era under the ownership of Joanne and Eddie Dayment with an extensive renovation. The couple say they want to maximise the potential of the iconic building as a small, family run hotel and to return it to its former glory for locals and visitors alike. Exterior repairs began in July and the scaffolding will be coming down soon. Plans include:
- Bar with seating, eating and serving area
- Function/dining room for weddings, parties and events
- Lounge area to serve coffee/tea/cakes through the day
- Small serviced meeting/conference room/office for hire
- New toilets
- Refurbish basement bar and relocated skittle alley
- New kitchen
- Refurbished courtyard will tables and chairs
- En-suite bedrooms including a family suite
Meet Your Councillor: JOY GARDINER Joy Gardiner joined Colyton Parish Council in 2019. She was born in Lincolnshire in the heart of a farming area with many similarities to Colyton. Living in East Devon for over 40 years, she has been a long-term resident of Colyford since 1990. After attending college in Manchester she worked for the East Dorset NHS before starting her own business and which ran successfully for 34 years until her retirement five years ago. In later years Joy's business operated from Wheeler's Yard in Colyton. She believes there is a need for more small work units in the parish, attracting new businesses and encouraging local employment. Joy was a founder member of the East Devon Dyslexia Association in the 1980s and is a keen supporter and volunteer at the Colyton & Colyford Memory Café. She has a keen interest in public affairs both locally and nationally.
Getting away from it all Colyton's Allotments From very young children to octogenarians – Colyton's Mount Hill Allotments bring enjoyment to a wide range of the local population. During the lockdown of recent months the idyllic hillside spot has been busier than ever as those who have been furloughed have kept both their bodies and sometimes troubled minds occupied. Allotments Association Chairman Jason Goss (pictured) says: “It's been a great place to get away from it all, especially for people with small gardens. It's friendly place for a chat and you can nowadays get just a quarter plot, so it doesn't consume too much time.” While some grow the basic veg and flowers, others enjoy experimenting – Jason is this year growing peanuts and Chinese artichokes while other crops include hops. Currently the site has around ten on its waiting list.
Great footpaths but few circles Have you ever wondered why it's difficult to plan circular off-road walks around Colyton? We asked footpaths expert Hugh Dyer-Westacott (pictured) and his explanation is that public rights of way usually came about by country folk taking short cuts across fields to get to the shops and church. Colyton, however, has no fewer than seven roads radiating from its centre and they then further divide into a dense network of lanes. It was, therefore, usually quicker and more convenient in days gone by for pedestrians to use the roads. A further issue affecting the number of public rights of way is the fact that Colyton has three waterways cutting through it, with only a few crossing points. “It does reduce the number of off-road circular walks,” says Hugh. “But the good news is that most of our public paths are in excellent condition.”
Theatre Group reschedules The world of arts and entertainment has been one of the many unfortunate and disappointing casualties of lockdown, with the closure of venues nationwide and the abrupt suspension of live theatre and rehearsals. Our own award-winning Colyton Theatre Group's production of ‘Hidden Meanings' has had to be rescheduled from April into next year. A one-act farce by Michael Snelgrove and directed by Cherine Hill it is one of several productions to be postponed, including another one-act play, workshops for adults and juniors and this year's annual pantomime. With the theatre group remaining very much intact and open to new members, Colyton looks forward to shouting, “It's behind you!” in 2021. More information from the website or Facebook page.
CONTACT YOUR Parish Council Clerk, Sasha Haines at the Town Hall from 10.30 to 12.00 on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.