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.
The Role of Mayor can be divided into two distinct areas: Chairman of the Council, and representative of the Town.
CHAIRMAN OF THE COUNCIL
- The Mayor is appointed as the first item of business at the Annual Meeting, and remains in office until his/her successor is elected or he/she resigns or is otherwise barred from holding office.
- The Town Mayor must be a Member of the Council.
- The Town Mayor has precedence within his/her Town before all others except the Sovereign or his/her representatives and the Chairman of the District Council.
- If present at a Council Meeting the Mayor must preside and has control of its procedure for enforcing the law and good order.
- The Mayor must prevent decisions being taken on matters which are not on the agenda of the Council Meeting.
- When presiding at a Meeting the Mayor has the casting vote unless presiding over the election of a new Mayor as his/her last act before ceasing to be a Member of the Council. In such a case he/she only has a casting vote.
- Where there is a tie in the election of a Mayor, the presiding Mayor (Chairman) MUST BY LAW give the CASTING VOTE.
- The Mayor may on three days notice convene a Council Meeting at any time.
- The Mayor must call an extraordinary meeting within seven days if he/she receives a requisition for that purpose signed by two Members of the Council.
- The Mayor signs the minutes presented to and approved by the Council Meeting.
- In order to discharge the function of Chairman presiding at Council Meetings the Mayor should understand thoroughly the Standing Orders of the Council.
- The ruling of the Mayor (Chairman) on a point of order or on the admissibility of a personal explanation SHALL NOT BE DISCUSSED by the Council Meeting.
- The Mayor accepts the resignations by Members.
- The Mayor is paid an allowance to meet the expenses of his/her office. Records must be kept to confirm expenditure on Council business.
REPRESENTATIVE OF THE PARISH
- Is the proper person to represent the Parish on ceremonial occasions.
- Designate is responsible for informing the Town Clerk whom he/she wishes to invite to the Annual Meeting.
- Designate is responsible for organising and paying for the celebration function following his/her inauguration at the Annual Meeting.
- Recommends whom he/she wishes to be the Council Chaplain for his/her term of office.
- Informs the Town Clerk of his/her invitations to the Civic Service and recommends to Council when that service shall be.
- Becomes Chairman of the Mayfair Committee at the first meeting of the Mayfair Committee following inauguration as Mayor.
- Visits the local Hospital, Castle House Nursing Home and Woodland Vale on Christmas Day.
- In consultation with the Town Clerk selects the speakers for the May Fair Proclamation.
- Attends with the Council the May Fair proclamation and parade on the first Thursday in May.
- Provides and pays for gifts to the May Queen and attendants, Heralds and Crowner at the Mayfair celebrations in the Square.
- Attends with the Council the Remembrance Day Service and Parade in November.
- Establishes those residents within the Parish celebrating their 100th birthday, Golden and Diamond weddings, visits and offers a card and small gift.
- Accepts invitations on behalf of the Parish and attends events as the Representative of the Parish. In such capacity must maintain the dignity of the Parish at all times. Invitations in the region of 75 might be expected. The majority of invitations are within the Parish.
- Furthers the policies of the Council with outside bodies.
- By custom and practice nominate two Charities for whom he/she will raise money during the year. At the following Annual Meeting, the money raised is then presented to the Charities.
- Is responsible for obtaining the licence from the District Council for the Mayor’s Appeal.
- Is the only Member of Council (along with the Town Clerk) authorised to speak to the Media on behalf of the Council.
- Is responsible for the safekeeping of the Chains of Office which must be protected at all Times.
NOTE: The Mayor is expected to be accompanied by a Mayoress or Consort as appropriate. This is usually the wife or husband of the Mayor but need not be.
There are duties for the Mayoress/Consort:
a)Choose the theme for the May Fair children’s outfits.
b)Select the dressmaker to make the outfits.
c)Meet with the dressmaker and children to measure up for costumes.
d)Dressmaker also makes the cushion for the May Queen’s crown.
e)Attends with the Mayor the dress rehearsal on the Wednesday of May Fair week.
The Beadle is available (by prior arrangement) to drive the Mayor and Mayoress/Consort to official functions and return them.
This “job description” is not meant to be exhaustive but to give as much of a flavour of the role of Mayor as is reasonable so that the duties and responsibilities do not come as a surprise.
Following a visit from a representative of SWW the following information might be helpful:-
a.Priority Services Registration: This is for people with medical conditions or physical limitations. Once registered the individual will be notified of any interruptions in water supply and will have water delivered to them if there is no supply. The individual will receive a telephone call to advise them of any disruption. An application for this can be obtained from SWW or from their Website.
b.Debt Helpline: If customers are struggling to pay their water bill South West Water has a debt helpline on 0800 083 0283 and they will talk through different options available. The individual can also contact the Water Care Team via the email email@example.com, or Emma Phillips directly via firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can arrange a home visit to talk them through the different debt relief options available as well as helping to get them on the most appropriate tariff.
c.The Watercare Tariff: This is for metered customers who are on very low income. To qualify, an individual within the household must receive a qualifying benefit, such as income support or housing benefit. The tariffs offer a discount of between 15-50% off a water bill. An income assessment is carried out to determine eligibility. An application can be obtained from SWW, or a home visit can be arranged with the Water Care Team/ or Emma Phillips.
d.Switch to a meter: Water meters can save people a considerable amount of money. SWW has advisors who help people establish if a meter could save them money and help with initial applications. It is free to switch and if, after 24 months a customer considers it isn’t right for them, they can go back to unmeasured charges. In the Great Torrington area only, we are currently offering customers to go onto a ‘Dual Billing Trial’ whereby they can opt to get a water meter installed without changing to metered charges. SWW will then send letters to the customer every quarter to notify them how much water the household has used and the customer will be able to see which charge will be cheaper for them, i.e. the metered charge or their current unmeasured charge. To get involved with this trial, customers can call our Dual Billing team on 01392 442882.
e.The WaterSure Tariff: This may help a customer reduce their bill if they have a water meter, receive certain benefits and if someone in the home has a medical condition that means extra water is used, or if they have 3 or more children living with them. It works by capping a bill the average annual domestic water and sewerage charges, currently £488.45.
This Council believes:
That we in Great Torrington acknowledge the Climate Change Emergency and aim to support efforts and work with relevant bodies to make Torridge District zero net carbon by 2030.
All governments (national, regional and local) have a duty to limit the negative impacts of Climate Breakdown, and local governments that recognise this should not wait for their national governments to change their policies. It is important for the residents of Great Torrington, Torridge District and the UK that council areas commit to carbon neutrality as quickly as possible. We would be joining an increasing group of councils across the UK (Bideford Town Council and Bristol City Council to name two).
By passing this motion, we will not only heighten awareness of the severity of this situation but with future financial commitments and decisions generally aim to help further reduce carbon emissions.