Category Archives: News issued by a local Council

SPORT ENGLAND FUNDING SUCCESS FOR NEW LEISURE CENTRE

North Devon Council has been awarded £1.75m of National Lottery funding from Sport England towards a project to replace the ageing North Devon Leisure Centre in Barnstaple. This latest news comes hot on the heels of the council’s successful bid for £1.5m from the Coastal Communities Fund.

With this funding in place the council has now requested final tenders from the leisure operators who are currently vying for the contract to design, build and manage the new leisure centre at Seven Brethren. The council has requested tenders to include a minimum of a 25-metre, eight-lane pool, learner pool, sports hall, fitness suite and exercise studios on land adjoining the tennis centre. The exact design and final mix of facilities will be determined by the leisure operator who wins the contract, as long as they meet the council’s minimum requirements.

The contract will also include operating Tarka Tennis Centre and Ilfracombe Pool and Fitness Centre for the next 20 years. The successful leisure operator is expected to be selected in the next month.

Leader of North Devon Council, Councillor David Worden, says: “This is superb news! I’m so pleased to hear we’ve been successful in both our funding bids, which is testament to the hard work of the team delivering the project. Both funders have recognised how important swimming is to our community and we will press on now to deliver a top-notch pool and leisure facilities we can all be proud of at Tarka Tennis Centre. Thanks to Sport England and all the National Lottery players.”

Work has already begun to replace one of the grass football pitches at Tarka Tennis Centre with a full-size artificial grass pitch, following more successful funding bids to The Premier League and FA Facilities Fund and Devon County Council.

Follow the progress of the new leisure centre project by signing up to the council’s blog www.newleisurecentre.wordpress.com/ or look out for updates on Facebook (@northdevoncouncil) or Twitter (@ndevoncouncil).

NOCTURNAL ADVENTURES AT FREMINGTON NATURE RESERVE

A free event for nature lovers is being held in Fremington next week.

The popular annual bat and moth evening at Fremington nature reserve takes place on Thursday 25 July from 8.30pm. As the sun goes down, lots of creatures begin to wake up and you can work with local wildlife experts to explore the nature reserve to find out more about these nocturnal residents.

You will be able to find bats using bat detectors and identify the wonderful array of insects captured in the moth traps, which will be released afterwards.

The event is being run by local wildlife experts in conjunction with North Devon Council, North Devon Biosphere Reserve and Fremington Parish Council.

North Devon Council Leader, Councillor David Worden, says: “The nature reserve is brimming with wildlife and this is a fantastic opportunity to explore and enjoy the area at night, with the added bonus of having a wildlife expert on hand to answer all your questions. It’s free and open to all ages. There is no need to book – just come along on the night!”

Please meet at Fremington village green, bring a torch, wearing clothing appropriate for the weather and sturdy footwear suitable for uneven ground.

For more information please contact the council’s parks team on 01271 388326 or email parks@northdevon.gov.uk. Follow the council’s Facebook page to keep up to date with news and events from the Parks Team.

COUNCIL CONTRACTORS BECOME ‘HEDGEHOG HEROES’

Contractors working for North Devon Council are helping to save hedgehogs by placing special warning stickers on all of their grass-cutting machinery.

In conjunction with the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, the council have provided free stickers to be placed on all grass-cutting machinery which warns contractors to check the area for wildlife before using the equipment.

Leader of North Devon Council, Councillor David Worden, says: “Hedgehogs are in decline in the UK, so we are delighted to partner with the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and Tivoli Group Ltd to help prevent injuries to these lovely animals by reminding our grass cutters to ensure there are none around before they start work.”

Fay Vass, Chief Executive of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society says: “We are pleased to welcome North Devon Council as the latest group to join our Hedgehog Heroes roll of honour, after fitting our warning stickers on their contractors’ cutting machinery to help hedgehogs. Raising awareness of the problem is half the battle, long grasses and the bottom of hedges are both places hedgehogs are likely to be found; a quick check before work begins can literally save lives.”

Brad Cole, Tivoli Regional Director, commented: “Hundreds of hedgehogs are injured every year, sometimes fatally, as a result of grounds maintenance work. Working in partnership with North Devon Council, Tivoli are proud supporters of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, making sure all our operatives are aware of the dangers that mowers, strimmers, hedge cutters, etc. can pose to wildlife. These dangers can be avoided by carrying out a thorough visual check of the area before work commences. By attaching the BHPS stickers to our equipment and raising operator awareness, our aim is to reduce the number of hedgehog injuries and deaths caused by grounds-maintenance activities.”

Contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society for more information at info@britishhedgehogs.org.uk or email the NDC parks team at parks@northdevon.gov.uk.

Photo: British Hedgehog Preservation Society

ILFRACOMBE SCHOOLCHILDREN QUALIFY AS JUNIOR PARK RANGERS

The latest group of Year 4 schoolchildren from Ilfracombe Junior School have made the grade as ‘Junior Park Rangers’.

Earlier this month, 120 children were presented with their certificates after successfully completing the four-week junior Park Rangers course, which covered topics such as orienteering, tree identification, mini beasts and pond dipping.

The course, organised by North Devon Council’s Parks team, is so successful that it has been running for the past 14 years. The course aims to raise awareness about the importance of parks and how we can help look after them. As well as learning practical skills, the children are taught about wildlife, biodiversity and the natural environment.

North Devon Council Leader, Councillor David Worden, says: “It’s great to see so many new Park Rangers.  The idea behind this scheme is to raise young people’s awareness of the importance of parks and why we need to protect them for future generations. So it’s reassuring to know that we have another group of youngsters who will be looking after them. It is also very important to the Parks team that the children enjoy themselves and have lots of fun while they are learning. The children were very enthusiastic in all the activities they took part in and I would like to commend them all for being a credit to both their school and their community.”

Joe Alcock from Ilfracombe Junior School says: “The children at our school really enjoy the Park Rangers activities they get to participate in and the course is a real highlight within the school year. The opportunity to learn more about the park and explore the beauty it offers is a real joy for all involved.”

If you would like to get involved as a volunteer at Bicclescombe Park, there is a very active group on Facebook – contact the council’s Parks team on 01271 388308 for more information.

PHOTO: Back row, left to right: Cllr Netti Pearson, Mike Jones (NDC Parks), Cllr Geoffrey Fowler; front: children from Ilfracombe Junior School Y4.

FOUR NORTH DEVON PROJECTS TO BENEFIT FROM FUNDING BOOST

Over £30,000 has been released for projects which will benefit residents across North Devon.

At a meeting of the North Devon Council Strategy and Resources Committee on 1 July councillors agreed to allocate S106* funding towards four projects which will improve facilities in the district.

  • £20,450 towards improvements to Tomlin Hall in Bickington (pictured)
  • £1,775 towards a shelter at Marlborough Road Cemetery in Ilfracombe
  • £5,000 towards Oakford Villas play area in North Molton
  • £3,520 towards improvements at Victory Hall in North Molton

A survey by Fremington Parish Council identified the facilities in Tomlin Hall as being in need of modernisation.  Funds will be used to improve the kitchen area and provide new plumbing and heating.

Funds in Ilfracombe will provide a shelter at Marlborough Road Cemetery to give visitors a place to shelter from the weather.

North Molton will benefit from improvements to the play facilities at Oakford Villas play area and essential health and safety work to upgrade the electrical system in Victory Hall.

Leader of North Devon Council, Councillor David Worden, says, “I am very pleased that these projects will receive the funding which is vital to help provide much needed facilities across the district. These open space funds, made as part of major planning applications, allow the council to give back to the community in a meaningful way.”

Local ward member for Bickington, Councillor Joy Cann, says, “As Bickington Councillors Helen, Will and I are all delighted to see Tomlin Hall receiving the funding it deserves and desperately needs for improvements.  Bickington is already a great place to to live and improving Tomlin Hall and providing a better community meeting space will enhance the village further.”

Local ward member for Ilfracombe West, Councillor Geoff Fowler, says, “Marlborough Road Cemetery is exposed at the best of times so to be able to get some respite from the elements for folk has to make sensitive visits more bearable.”

Local ward member for Ilfracombe West, Councillor Netti Pearson, says, “I am sure that visitors to the cemetery will be grateful for a place where they can sit in contemplation and shelter from adverse weather. There are too few shelters in Ilfracombe’s open spaces and I would like to see more installed in town in the future.

*Section 106 (S106) is money paid to the council by developers as part of the planning conditions of planning applications. The money can only be used for certain things, but is used primarily for public open space projects.

Photo courtesy of Tony Gussin.

BICCLESCOMBE PARK RECEIVED PRESTIGIOUS AWARD

Bicclescome Park in Ilfracombe has once again received a prestigious Pride in Parks award.

The park has been awarded four out of five stars for demonstrating excellent maintenance and development, good community involvement and care of the environment. Pride in Parks is run by Southwest in Bloom, in conjunction with the Royal Horticultural Society.

Bicclescombe Park is owned and managed by North Devon Council with the help of a dedicated team of volunteers from the Bicclescombe Park User Group.

Mark Kentell, Contracts Delivery Manager at North Devon Council, says: “Bicclescombe is a wonderful park and we are very proud that the judges agree. Of course, none of this would be possible without the volunteers who give up their own time to help keep the park at such a high standard. So I would like to send a big ‘Thank You’ to all of them.”

As well as this award, the park has flown the Green Flag, which recognises well-managed parks, since 2004. Judging for the 2019/20 Green Flag awards take place at the end of May and the results are expected in July.

If you would like to volunteer at Bicclescombe Park, please get in touch with the Bicclescombe Park User Group on Facebook or contact the council’s parks team on 01271 388308 parks@northdevon.gov.uk

BARNSTAPLE MAKES BID FOR HIGH STREET FUND

A new fund to revitalise High Streets across the UK opens this month and Barnstaple is making a bid for its share.

North Devon Council is working alongside Barnstaple Town Centre Management (BTCM) to apply for the government’s Future High Streets Fund, which has been set up to regenerate high streets and make them fit for the future. The first round of applications opened on 22 March and the council will be submitting its strategic vision for the town centre, taking on board ideas put forward at the BTCM meeting earlier this month.

Councils across the country will be submitting similar bids and not everyone will be selected. However, if the initial bid is successful and Barnstaple gets through to the second stage of the process, there will be a wider consultation with local businesses and residents of the town to ensure the vision meets the needs and aspirations of the local community.

Matthew Brend, Chair of Barnstaple Town Centre Management, says: “We all know that our town centre is evolving. Unprecedented changes in shopping habits and the retail landscape mean that we need to think about what function we want our town centre to play in the future. Barnstaple Town Centre has traditionally been the heart of our community, the place where people come to meet and socialise but with the changes in retail and lifestyles we need to ensure that there are still reasons for people to come and spend time in the town and ensure that it remains at the heart for generations to come. BTCM look forward to playing a local leadership role in delivering real change.”

Hannah Harrington, Barnstaple Town Centre Manager, says: “The Future High Streets Fund is an exciting opportunity that could help us turn our visions into reality. This is an initial stage in a very competitive process and Barnstaple will be up against a large number of other towns, who will all produce their own proposals however we believe we have a strong vision and our own unique set of circumstances which will hopefully make our bid successful.”

North Devon Council’s Executive Member for Economic Regeneration says: “This is an excellent opportunity for Barnstaple and any regeneration of North Devon’s largest town will also have a massive knock-on effect on the whole of the district. The High Street Fund isn’t about drawing down money to make the place look pretty, its for bold new visions, projects that will transform High Streets and make them fit for the future.”

If you would like to join Barnstaple Town Centre Management and put your forward your ideas for the town, contact Hannah Harrington (hannah@barnstaple.co.uk).

PHOTO: The Square, Barnstaple – Nos 3-7, built in 1844 by R.D. Gould of Barnstaple; Nos 1 & 2 were added in 1887. Photo by ‘Reading Tom’.

MAJOR IMPROVEMENTS PLANNED FOR ILFRACOMBE HARBOUR

The following is a news release as issued by North Devon Council:

Major improvements are being planned for Ilfracombe Harbour to make it safer and more welcoming to its visitors.

The plans include:

  • creating an official entrance so people know they are entering the harbour
  • improving the facilities for the commercial operators with brand-new, fit-for-purpose, ticket sales kiosks that are modern, inviting and designed in cooperation with the interested boat trip operators
  • removing the 1950s booths which will open up the vista of the harbour entrance to be more welcoming for residents and visitors
  • widening the road, vastly improving the safety of pedestrians and cars
  • creating a larger trading area for the commercial boat operators along the side of the pier, alleviating the cramped and congested area occupied by the old booths, creating a more pleasant environment for all harbour users
  • enabling the underlying pipework that provides fresh water to be upgraded which is currently hard to access.

Chairman of Ilfracombe Harbour Board, Cllr Geoff Fowler, says: “The current booths were never built for their current purpose and do not reflect the image of regeneration that Ilfracombe is striving for. There is now the opportunity to look to the future and bring in a new era of vitality to the harbour for the benefit of everyone.”

Deputy Chairman of Ilfracombe Harbour Board, Cllr Ian Meadlarkin, says: “Ilfracombe Harbour is a wonderful facility but it needs to be made safer and more inviting. These plans are about celebrating the heritage of the harbour but also making it fit for purpose for the future.”

The new kiosks are due to be installed in April with a planning application for the road widening expected to be made later in the year.

A public consultation will take place on what the public would like to see marking the new entrance.

OPPORTUNITY TO RUN ILFRACOMBE’S POPULAR LAND TRAIN

The contract is up for renewal to run Ilfracombe’s popular land train.

North Devon Council will be going out to tender for an operator to take the wheel in April. It is five years since the ‘Dotto’ land train took to the streets of Ilfracombe, following a successful funding bid to the EU Leader 4 programme. Since then it has become an established tourist attraction, providing an all-weather ride for visitors taking a whistle-stop tour of the town and all it has to offer.

The service runs from Hillsborough, through High Street, Church Street, Wilder Road, St James Place to The Pier and back to Hillsborough via The Cove from April to October.

North Devon Council’s Executive Member for Economic Development, Councillor Pat Barker, says: “The land train is now a firmly established seasonal attraction in the town and is very popular with Ilfracombe’s numerous visitors. This is an attractive opportunity for anyone to build on what has already grown into a very popular service. Please get in touch with us for an informal chat if you’re interested.”

The opportunity to tender can be found here. For more information contact Vanessa Harrison in the Economic Development team on 01271 388216 or vanessa.harrison@northdevon.gov.uk. The deadline for tendering is 25 February.

FIVE-YEAR STRATEGY TO RID NORTHERN DEVON OF SINGLE-USE PLASTICS

A five-year strategy and action plan to rid northern Devon of single-use plastics has been agreed by members of the Plastic Free North Devon Consortium.

The consortium, which was set up in April last year to combat the global problem of plastic pollution through local action, consists of representatives from a number of charities, voluntary groups and organisations including:

Barnstaple Town Council
Barnstaple and District Chamber of Commerce
Beaford Arts
Devon County Council
Ilfracombe Town Council
Keep Britain Tidy
National Trust
North Devon Coast AONB
North Devon Council
North Devon’s Biosphere Reserve
Plastic Free North Devon
PETROC College of Further and Higher Education
South Molton Town Council
Torridge District Council
2 Minute Beach Clean
Westward Ho! Business Association

All members have now agreed the strategy for the consortium, which will work across four key areas – communities, tourism, farming and fishing, and other businesses – with the aim of making the biggest and most immediate impacts on the plastic problem in our area.

The consortium’s strategy includes an action plan, which has a number of aims:

  • increase education about the impact of plastic waste
  • reduce plastic consumption
  • remove plastic that has entered the natural environment
  • recycle or dispose of used plastic appropriately
  • deliver projects to ensure their message is reaching the people and businesses of northern Devon

The action plan focuses not only on the shoreline, but also on the problem of plastics in the rural inland areas.

Executive Member for the Environment at North Devon Council, Councillor Rodney Cann, says: “We as a consortium have a lot of work to do over the next five years and beyond, but I’m delighted that we have been able to agree such an ambitious and rounded strategy that will help us to make a huge impact on the circulation of single-use plastics in northern Devon.”

Plastic Free North Devon coordinator, Claire Moodie says: “The consortium is one of the most exciting things to come out the ‘Plastic Free North Devon’ movement. Having a joined-up vision and strategy supported by credible and competent organisations is crucial to engaging with every aspect of our community. Our vision goes beyond reducing single-use plastic; this is about driving and supporting systematic change throughout our communities which protects and enhances the natural environment we rely on.”

For more information on how you can reduce your consumption of single-use plastics and to find out about local events, follow Plastic Free North Devon’s Facebook page.