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Great Torrington Town Council

Police-think-twice-message

Enjoy our wonderful counties but please ‘think twice’ before you head out – message from Devon & Cornwall Police

The easing of coronavirus restrictions a fortnight ago has given people some welcome freedoms but sadly, here in Devon and Cornwall, has been accompanied by tragedies on our roads and our coastline.
Our counties are among the safest in the country in relation to coronavirus, with just one confirmed case per 1,000 people, and we have less reported crime than all but one of the 43 police forces in England and Wales. However, our beautiful part of the world contains many threats – particularly for those who are not familiar with the risks associated with driving on rural roads or swimming in our tidal waters.
Sadly, while many enjoyed the recent bank holiday and several sunny weekends our emergency services found themselves working desperately to save lives, sometimes in vain, and attempting to advise crowds of people on our beaches.
There were road casualties – the 27-year-old driver of a car in East Devon that came off the road on Saturday, May 23, lost his life, a man died on the A38 and two motorcyclists were seriously injured in a collision on Dartmoor. Last Wednesday (28th) another motorcyclist was seriously hurt in a crash in north Devon. This weekend two cyclists, one of them just 15, were seriously injured in separate collisions involving other vehicles in Cornwall.
The RNLI, which would usually be out in force on our beaches at this time of year, has been unable to train the lifeguards it needs and warned that over the bank holiday our beaches would be unmanned. Nonetheless thousands headed to our shores.
Although the vast majority of coastal visitors were safe, heavy seas and a spring tide made swimming and surfing more dangerous activities than usual on some days. In a few dreadful hours on bank holiday Monday a teenage girl died after the boat she was in overturned at Wadebridge in Cornwall, a man died after being pulled from the water near Padstow and a third incident at Porthtowan left a man in a critical condition. The next day a jet-skier lost his life in an accident in South Devon.
This weekend there were numerous incidents including one where a man was seriously injured when he fell off a sea wall in Torbay, and a kayaker tragically lost his life in an incident in North Cornwall.
My thoughts are with the friends and families of those injured and the frontline staff who have worked so hard in recent and challenging times. Losing a loved one so suddenly is unthinkably terrible. I therefore support the RNLI’s decision, in response to the deaths, to reinstate lifeguard cover at 15 beaches, nine of them in Cornwall, and efforts by the police and partners to promote road safety that include the reintroduction of mobile speed cameras on our roads this week.
The message which I have been supportive of, and I urge others to heed, simply asks people to ‘think twice’ before they take a trip at the moment. A lot of community tension and danger could be avoided if people consider matters like where they are going to park, what toilet facilities they need and how they are going to remain a reasonable distance from others.
At the moment overnight stays are not permitted but the Government’s recovery strategy could see this change in the coming weeks, in normal years we already have more domestic visitors than any other force area. If restrictions are lifted further we can expect a busier summer than ever.
Lockdown, as I have mentioned before, comes with its own costs, to our cultural and sporting lives, people’s livelihoods and perhaps most importantly to people’s mental health, so I cautiously welcome a time when we have more freedom and once again the Westcountry can welcome in the tourists on whom it so depends.
In positive news Devon County Council and Torbay Council have received a proportion of the £300m for the test, track and trace programme to be rolled out. This is an essential part of the Government’s strategy to tackle coronavirus and means that anyone who tests positive for coronavirus will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and required to share information about their recent interactions.
There is some suggestion that unscrupulous criminals will seek to exploit this opportunity so it is worth knowing that if NHS Test and Trace calls you by phone, the service will be using a single phone number which is: 0300 0135 000. The only website the service will ask you to visit is: https://contact-tracing.phe.gov.uk. Contact tracers will never ask you to dial a premium rate number, for bank or password details or to make any form of payment.

Alison Hernandez

Devon County Council Covid-19 update 2/6/20

Please click link below for more information on the following topics:-

  • Children gradually returning to school in Devon
  • Restrictions relaxed for people considered extremely clinically vulnerable
  • Free business toolkit
  • Recycling centre restrictions eased further
  • New advice about accessing green spaces safely
  • Getting around and travelling safely
  • We celebrate National Volunteer Week
  • Help is available from your local district council
  • NHS Nightingale Hospital Exeter update

https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/UKDEVONCC/bulletins/28e95d7

Keeley Allin Mayor

Mayor’s June Crier Article

I don’t know what the state of the national situation will be like once this article reaches you all but I hope you are all well and continuing to stay safe.

I would usually be reflecting on our Mayfair celebrations, but this year had to be different. This did not mean that we let the event go by without joining together (albeit virtually!). So many of you decorated your houses and shops and made the town shine in this moment of darkness: groups such as the Cavaliers, The Torrington Silver Band and even our team at Great Torrington Town Council released special videos and I couldn’t be prouder of you all that we continued to celebrate our special day. This may not have been the Mayfair we are all used to, but it will certainly go down in history and be remembered for bringing us all together at a very difficult time. I was extremely pleased to hear our May Queen was crowned virtually by her family and I sincerely hope Matilda and the rest of her entourage had a lovely day – I look forward to being able to catch up with you all at some point as soon as it is safe to do so.

Our town continues to work hard in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and I again want to thank everyone who is playing their part in ensuring our community is safe and catered for. You are all showing how much ‘Great’ there is in Great Torrington!

Our members of staff at the Town Council have been continuing to work hard for us all. As well as co-ordinating the Coronavirus Task Force, they have been continuing with council business and have worked hard to ensure we can all keep in contact and deal with matters via phone and video conferences. It certainly is a very different way of doing things so I am grateful to them for being able to guide us all through it. Similarly, our two technicians have been continuing to help wherever they can in the absence of some of their usual work.

We also commemorated the 75th anniversary of VE day on the 8th of May. It was very special to see so many displays by local houses and shops and to again see that just because we have to be physically apart, it doesn’t mean we cannot show our appreciation to those who gave their lives for ours. Special thanks also to Nick Megson from Torrington Silver Band for taking the time during his daily exercise to perform the Last Post at the Cemetery at 11am.

I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all the team at the Crier for continuing to put together the monthly edition for us all to enjoy and for giving us the chance to be able to say thank you to those who are continuing to help others and work during this difficult time and to keep connected.

I hope you all continue to stay safe and stay well and please do not hesitate to get in contact if you need any help.

Coronavirus Taskforce Team

This Notice was prepared on 11.05.20

In last month’s CRIER we reported on the new Town Council Coronavirus Taskforce Team which was set up in mid-March to support those members of our community who are self-isolating and do not have family/friends or neighbours locally who can help them with everyday activities such as picking up prescriptions and essential shopping.

At the time of writing this report we are serving approx. 110 homes in a variety of ways thanks to the huge number of volunteers who have selflessly come forward to help across our lovely community. Volunteers are either delivering prescriptions and/or shopping and making friendly social phone calls. We seem to have settled into a rhythm now, although we do continue to have new clients requesting help.

Once matched with a home the volunteer will stay with that home until the scheme is disbanded as and when appropriate. We have had a couple challenging situations as one would expect, but thankfully all have been resolved.

We would again like to thank Matt Whittaker and Helyne Jennings for making additional visors and masks and also to Toni Alexander for offering to make more masks as and when needed.

The Town Council continue to extend a heartfelt thanks to everyone who has put themselves forward to volunteer for this project. In addition the Town Council would like to thank all of the other volunteers throughout the community who we know have been helping neighbours and friends; businesses that have stepped up to meet critical needs and to those businesses who had to close their doors to ensure we keep as many people safe as we can.

If anyone reading this article and is a resident of Great Torrington is in need of any support with the activities mentioned and hasn’t already been in touch, please do not hesitate to call the Town Council on 01805 626135 or e-mail at admin@great-torringtontowncouncil.gov.uk

Karen Chapman
Town Clerk

Environmental Matters

In the past months the Town Council has agreed an Environment Policy and has also activated an Environment/Transport working group to look at various environmental issues (as well as transport) and challenges we currently face as a community, nation and world. At an Environment meeting in early March, (before the coronavirus lockdown) we considered matters in relation to our community maintenance programme and how the way we work could be reviewed, ensuring ongoing safety measures are in place, but also considering the impact we have on the biodiversity of the local area.

With regard to grass cutting, we are currently under contract to cut some of the grass verges for visibility purposes for Devon County Council and these must be cut 4 times per year between April and the end of October. Historically, we have cut these areas more frequently than this. However, to allow ongoing growth and increased insect/wildlife activity Members suggested that going forward we experiment by cutting the minimum amount of 4 times per year. We will keep a close eye on these verges as our first priority must be to ensure clear visibility for road users is maintained for safety reasons.

Devon County Council has confirmed that they do not intend to do any other grass cutting this year (apart from verges via the Town Council). For a number of years, the Town Council has in fact cut some of these areas anyway. Two of the larger plots are the strip of grassland adjacent to Greenbank on the left-hand side as you travel into Great Torrington from Barnstaple and the strip of grass in front of Woodland Vale Nursing Home. Again, Members suggested we experiment here and cut the edges only, leaving the grass in the middle or to the side to grow. We also discussed the possibility of sowing meadow seed and/or bulb planting in these areas after consulting with local experts on such matters. We are mindful that this approach will not result in such a “tidy” picture, however, we hope that the “natural” will be appreciated for what it is and will improve the habitat for nature.

Members also suggested looking into reducing the use of leaf blowers and herbicides and undertake some tasks manually, such as weeding.

The intention was to use this year as a pilot for possible change going forward and were looking to encourage feedback from the community as we went through the year.

Members also agreed the following;

 Consider environmentally friendly options when buying tools and machinery.
 Continue to source as much equipment and supplies as we can locally.
 Create a compost facility at the allotment site for use by the tenants.
 Consider further opportunities to plant new trees, sow meadow seed and plant bulbs across the community.
 Continue to consider various aspects in relation to the environment as an ongoing commitment.

A few weeks after this meeting, we found ourselves in lockdown. Since then, only necessary work has been undertaken, and many of the above plans have started to fall into place anyway as a result of the implementation of the Government’s social distancing guidelines.

However, we look forward to a time when we have moved away from this awful crisis and will endeavour to work to the above plans with a view to encouraging environmentally friendly practices. We continue to welcome feedback from our local community on these matters.

Free Parking in Torridge Car Parks Extended to 15th June to Support Business Reopening Preparations

During recent months Torridge Councillor’s took the decision to suspended parking charges in the district in response to the evolving Coronavirus crisis. The move was in part to support NHS Staff and Care workers as they carried on working and also other residents, who found themselves restricted to their homes, with more cars than usual competing for parking places. It also meant that Council staff could be redeployed to assist with the set up of systems to support the vulnerable. The charging suspension is now being extended to 15th June, to further support shop and business owners as they return to their premises to make preparations for reopening. All Car Parking permits have also been extended for the time business were forced to close.The Government recently announced that all non-essential retail including shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books, and electronics, tailors, auction houses, photography studios, and indoor markets, will be able to reopen from 15th June. However business need to meet the government’s 5 tests and follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines, giving them around 3 weeks to prepare.The extension to free parking is aligned to this new time frame for the safe reopening of high streets set out by the Government. The Councils Economic Regeneration Team are also working hard on this programme in partnership with businesses and local trade organisations such as the Federation of Small Businesses, Chamber of Commerce and Town Councils. Councillor Ken James – Leader of Torridge District Council said:“This will be a busy time for retail and other businesses who will no doubt be able to make good use of the free parking and make it one less thing to worry about as they make their preparations to reopen. Next week we will also be announcing further support grants for businesses and as before we will continue to do everything we can to ensure a successful resurgence of the local economy during these difficult times. It should certainly also be a time when we should shop local, as much as we can, to support the reopening’s.”