Category Archives: News issued by a local Council

Lifeline grants for Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon, Landmark Theatre and Queen’s Theatre

The Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon is celebrating with the news that it will receive £58k from the Government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund. Also benefiting from the fund are the Queen’s and Landmark theatres, which together will receive £550k.

The Museum has faced a very challenging year in 2020. It closed in March in line with government guidelines so the grand re-opening, following the refurbishment and the new wing extension, was put on hold.

The Queen’s Theatre in Barnstaple and the Landmark Theatre in Ilfracombe have been unable to operate fully since March as a result of Covid restrictions. But following this week’s announcement that they will be awarded funding, Selladoor – the company that runs the theatres – has announced it intends to lift the curtains and re-open in time for Christmas, with full Covid safety measures in place.

Museum Curator, Alison Mills, says, “This funding is excellent news for the Museum and all the staff and volunteers. It will help to make up for the income we have lost this year to date, and enable us to get fully up and running. Although the pandemic continues to affect all our lives we hope to extend our opening hours soon by recruiting some temporary staff. We will also be investing in digital services, so people can enjoy our exhibitions and learn about our collections virtually.”

Leader of North Devon Council, Councillor David Worden says: “I am delighted that the cultural heart of North Devon is being supported by this much-needed lifeline. Our museum and theatres are very important to our community; as we saw a few years ago when the then theatre operator went into administration. The amount of people who rallied around to save the theatres from closure was astounding. We are lucky to have such fantastic facilities here and we must support them as much as we can during these difficult times.”

David Hutchinson, Chief Executive of Selladoor Worldwide says “Whilst many theatres across the UK are still closed due to the challenges brought by Covid-19, Selladoor are once again opening the doors of The Queen’s Theatre in Barnstaple and The Landmark in Ilfracombe to ensure the local communities of North Devon have access to live theatre, and this festive entertainment will be provided within a safe, socially-distanced environment.”

The museum was able to re-open safely on 12 August. Admission is free, but to ensure the safety of staff and visitors, an advanced booking system has been introduced to help manage visitor numbers so social distancing can be maintained and ensure the museum experience is a safe and welcoming one.

All visitors are being asked to book a timed arrival slot in advance on the Museum website between the revised opening hours of 11am-3pm (last admittance at 2pm), Wednesday to Friday.

Additional events at the theatres are yet to be confirmed so keep an eye out for the latest announcements and for further information or to book tickets visit the Queens Theatre website or follow the Queen’s Theatre and The Landmark on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Work begins on new leisure centre for North Devon

Construction of the new state-of-the-art Tarka Leisure Centre in Barnstaple has moved one step closer this month, as contractors begin work on site.

Parkwood Leisure has been appointed as the official contractor for the £15 million leisure centre, which will be built on the site adjacent to Tarka Tennis Centre in Barnstaple. The project is being funded by North Devon Council, Sport England and the Coastal Communities Fund.

The centre will be constructed by Speller Metcalfe, with an expected completion date of Spring 2022 and will feature:

  • 25m eight-lane competition swimming pool with movable floor
  • 20m four-lane learner pool with movable floor
  • sports hall with four badminton courts
  • large gym
  • two multi-purpose exercise studios
  • spinning studio with virtual experience
  • Devon’s first endless ski slope for indoor skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing
  • indoor soft play
  • outdoor play area
  • new reception area and cafe

Leader of North Devon Council, Councillor David Worden says: “This significant investment will create outstanding new facilities for the town and surrounding communities and there is a real sense of anticipation as we mark the start of this work.

The current leisure centre is now at the end of its commercial life and in need of replacement. The landmark new centre will be a focal point not just for local residents but for visitors from further afield and will add to the area’s tourism offer. I’d also like to reassure people that Tarka Tennis Centre, Falcons Gymnastics Academy and North Devon Leisure Centre will all remain open throughout the build.”

Chairman of the Council, Councillor Frank Biederman, says: One of the council’s key aims is to get more people, of all ages, involved in physical activity to improve and maintain a healthy lifestyle. The new centre has been designed after consultation with existing users and this is reflected in the facility mix. We have movable floors in both pools to cater for the extra depth our surf life-saving clubs and water polo players require and has two additional lanes in the main pool to accommodate more casual swimmers.

We have also improved facilities for disabled users, with state-of-the-art “pool pods” which allow a more dignified form of entry into the pools for those with mobility difficulties.”

Glen Hall, Managing Director of Parkwood Leisure says: “Tarka Leisure Centre is a project that we’re really excited about; we know the local area is in need of improved leisure provision and the new facility will provide a hub for the local community to enjoy for many years to come. We have a long-standing relationship with North Devon Council, and we can’t wait to see our collective plans come together to deliver something truly unique for the region.”

Rob Lashford, regional director for Speller Metcalfe, says: “It is extremely important to us that this scheme benefits the local community, not only as an exciting new leisure centre, but by providing employment opportunities to local businesses throughout its construction – something we know is more important than ever after the challenging few months businesses up and down the country have faced.”

Sport England has provided £1.75m of National Lottery funding towards the project and £1.5m has been granted by the Coastal Communities Fund. Contributions from local housing developments have also been put towards the build costs.

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).

LAUNCH SYSTEM FOR ILFRACOMBE’S HARBOUR WASTE SHARK IS NEARLY READY

The new launch system for Ilfracombe Harbour’s very own waste shark, ‘Sharkie’, is getting closer to completion thanks to the arrival of a new shark cage and a lot of hard work.

The custom-built shark cage, along with a trolley and a waterproof cover, have been presented to Ilfracombe Harbour Staff and The Shark Ambassadors from Commando Logistic Regiment, Royal Marines Chivenor and the North Devon branch of the Royal Marine Association. ‘Sharkie’ is the nickname given to the aquatic drone, designed to clear unwanted debris such as plastics and oil from waterways and a much-loved resident of Ilfracombe Harbour. The items will be used to transport it from its home to the new bespoke launch system once complete and installed at the harbour.

The new launch system for ‘Sharkie’ is currently being  set up specifically for Ilfracombe’s tidal range by harbour staff and The Shark Ambassadors. The Shark Ambassadors are local residents who have volunteered their time to help with the set-up of the system and operating ‘Sharkie’ and also the organising of other volunteers who will be trained up when the system is complete. Once complete and Covid-19 restrictions ease, it will mean that ‘Sharkie’ can be launched on a more regular basis in the harbour.

Lead Member for the Environment at North Devon Council, Councillor Netti Pearson, says: “‘Sharkie’ is a real asset to Ilfracombe and as a resident of the town I look forward to seeing it back in action. I was at the launch last year, it is a novel way to raise awareness of the amount of plastic waste that washes up in the harbour and is a useful tool for measuring and reducing other pollutants in the water. The new equipment will make it easier to launch ‘Sharkie’, and house it safely, so we will be able to see it in action more often.”

Ilfracombe Harbour Master, Georgina Carlo-Paat, says: “I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the Commando Logistic Regiment, Royal Marines Chivenor and the North Devon branch of the Royal Marine Association for all their hard work developing these items for us to house ‘Sharkie’, the resulting cage, trolley and cover are brilliant and have moved the completion of the project a huge step closer.”

Chairman of the Royal Marines Association in North Devon, John Peel, says: “The communities of Ilfracombe and North Devon are very appreciative of the Armed Forces and the work they do and particularly those stationed at RMB Chivenor and the base at Instow.  As chairman, acknowledging the responsibilities we have to our local veterans, it is great to have such a good relationship within the community and we are always very well received when out and about.

“It is a great pleasure to able to support projects when they come around and the ‘Sharkie’ project has, yet again, been an opportunity to collaborate in a positive way and continue to enhance relationships.  We look forward to being able to come back to Ilfracombe for future events.”

‘Sharkie’ was first launched in Ilfracombe Harbour in March 2019 and has been stored away during the winter months. This recent project has been funded with a grant from the AONB along with other local contributors. Once launched, the drone has the capabilities to gather air and water quality data, and filter chemicals out of the water such as oil, arsenic, and heavy metals through filtering pads.

‘Sharkie’ is controlled by harbour staff alongside the Shark Ambassadors and all waste recovered from it will be deposited in the Ocean Recovery Project bins at Ilfracombe Harbour, then collected by North Devon Council for sorting.  Ocean Recovery will then recycle the separated plastic waste into pellets, which can in turn be made into kayaks and composite flooring.

 

BARNSTAPLE PANNIER MARKET REOPENS FRIDAY 3 JULY

The doors to Barnstaple Pannier Market are set to open again to customers at 9am on Friday 3 July.

Following the reopening of non-essential shops earlier in the month, officers from North Devon Council have been working hard on a new layout and Covid -19-compliant trading conditions for the market so that customers and traders can return safely. Measures include:

  • a phased return with the first markets being held on Friday 3 July and Saturday 4 July, opening at 9am
  • a new one-way system with the market entrance off Barnstaple High Street and three exits – one onto Butchers Row, one onto Market Street and another next to the Queen’s Theatre
  • more room between stalls
  • hand-sanitising stations
  • new signs explaining how to move around the market and shop safely
  • contactless payment available where possible
  • risk assessments completed by all traders before opening

Lead Member for Economic Development and Strategic Planning Policy at North Devon Council, Councillor Malcolm Prowse, says: “The reopening of Barnstaple Pannier Market is another step towards getting the economy of North Devon fully open again. Many of our traders have continued trading during the closure, but there is nothing quite like being back in the market with your fellow traders and customers.

“The new regulations in place will ensure the market is as safe as possible, and our friendly market staff will be available to help with any queries customers have. We ask that customers continue to follow social-distancing guidelines and practices when visiting the market, to help with this, at busier times, visitor numbers may be restricted for a short while as customers finish their shopping. Our officers will be monitoring and reviewing restrictions at the market frequently so that any necessary changes can be made so life at the market can return to as normal as possible, as soon as possible.”

Ward Member for Barnstaple Central at North Devon Council, Councillor Robbie Mack, says: “Barnstaple Pannier Market is an important part of the town centre and our local economy. I want to give a big thanks to Hannah Harrington from the Town Centre Management Team, staff members and of course the market traders for making it possible to reopen. Please support local suppliers, keep supply lines short and shop safely in our pannier market.”

Stay up-to-date with news about Barnstaple Pannier Market on the market’s very own facebook page and the North Devon Council website.

 

MINEHEAD SEAFRONT READY FOR THE SUMMER SEASON

Somerset West and Taunton Council’s open spaces and maintenance teams have been busy making Minehead seafront welcoming for residents and visitors as part of its commitment to coastal communities.

The Council has taken on maintenance of the newly planted seafront which also has two new play areas. It will begin clearing sand from the pavements and esplanade this week ready for the return of tourists as lockdown restrictions are gradually eased.

The teams have also started to plant the flowerbeds and put hanging baskets out using bedding plants produced at the Council’s own nursery.

The work complements the Enterprising Minehead initiative which aims to make the most of Minehead’s traditional appeal as a seaside resort while making sure it is fit for the twenty-first century.

Enterprising Minehead is a partnership project involving Somerset West and Taunton Council, Minehead Coastal Community Team and partners including representatives from the business, voluntary and leisure sectors.

It has already helped to revitalise West Somerset’s flagship seaside resort with a number of initiatives including restoring six Edwardian shelters and establishing a new heritage interpretation trail called ‘Minehead Maritime Mile’ which runs the length of the seafront.

Cllr Benet Allen, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Culture at SWT, said: “I am cheered by the work of our open spaces and maintenance teams which has really improved the look of the seafront already. It’s wonderful for residents to appreciate and will reassure visitors that Minehead is ready and waiting to welcome them so they are able to support our leisure and hospitality sector after the impact of Covid-19.”

SWT has also been working in partnership with the Somerset Wildlife Trust to create a number of species-rich wildflower meadows on council owned land across the district including Seaward Way and Culvercliffe in Minehead.

The open spaces team has left these areas to re-wild, and has cut pathways to allow people to walk through them. They will sow wild flowers seed in the autumn.

The initiative is part of the Council’s commitment to protecting and improving biodiversity, identified as a priority in the emerging climate change strategy.

SWT MARKS ARMED FORCES DAY

Somerset West and Taunton Council is commemorating Armed Forces Day on Saturday 27 June in a socially distanced format.

The Council traditionally holds flag-raising ceremonies to show its support for the Armed Forces community from currently serving troops to service families, veterans and cadets.

However, in light of the current guidance around Coronavirus and social distancing it will be taking a slightly different approach to mark the annual event in 2020.

The Armed Forces Day flags will still be flown at both the Taunton and Williton offices from Monday 22 June but SWT will not be hosting flag-raising ceremonies.

Instead, the Council is producing a series of short videos to be shared on its social media feeds in the lead up to and on Armed Forces Day.

It has asked everyone who would usually have taken part in the ceremonies to record a short video clip of the words they would have shared if they were gathered together on the day.

The footage will be used to create a series of videos which will be posted online along with photos of individuals saluting in support of the national #saluteourforces campaign.

The Chair of SWT, Cllr Hazel Prior-Sankey,  said: “The respect and appreciation shown by the local community goes a long way to sustaining the morale of the Armed Forces “family”, particularly 40 Commando Royal Marines and The Rifles who have a long association with Somerset West and Taunton.

“Obviously we are having to do things very differently this year, as has been the case with so many events and occasions. We have all been amazed by the kindness and generosity of people throughout Somerset West and Taunton during this unprecedented time and hope that people would still like to be involved with our commemorations and send the message that we are thinking of our Armed Forces community at this time.”

More information on the #saluteourforces campaign can be found at www.armedforcesday.org.uk/get-involved/saluteourforces/

PHOTO from 2019.

NEW GRANT SCHEME TO SUPPORT THE WORK OF NORTH DEVON COMMUNITY AND VOLUNTARY GROUPS DURING COVID-19 OUTBREAK

Local councils are joining together to provide a new grant scheme to help fund the vital work of North Devon community and voluntary groups during the coronavirus outbreak.

North Devon Council is joining with Devon County Council in the new COVID-19 Prompt Action Fund providing grants of up to £500. Both councils are contributing 50% of the total of the grants awarded to each group with funding partly coming from contributions from each North Devon district councillor’s community councillor grant for the year.

The grants have been introduced to help tackle the social and economic impacts of the virus outbreak and help those who are most vulnerable in North Devon communities, they can be used towards activities including:

  • safe delivery of essential goods and services to people who are isolating, including food and medicine
  • supporting people to access online information and services
  • starting virtual support groups to help people who are isolated to stay connected and to improve mental health and wellbeing
  • transport related projects, including the use of voluntary car schemes to deliver essentials, medicine and meals

Applications are invited from established Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector groups, town and parish councils, charities or businesses, or a combination of these working together.

Groups, small local businesses and individuals without their own separate bank account may also apply, but they will need to have the support of a recognised organisation – such as town and parish council, local Community and Voluntary Services (CVS) organisation, village hall or other established local voluntary groups – acting on their behalf as guarantor or as the holder of the funding.

Leader of North Devon Council, Councillor David Worden, says: “I’m incredibly proud that North Devon Council has this opportunity to work alongside Devon County Council and help further support the vital work of our community and voluntary groups during this really challenging time. The work provided by these groups across the district is absolutely amazing and vitally important to helping our residents get through this difficult time. I am also extremely pleased that each district councillor, whatever their political background, has chosen to contribute financially to this scheme.”

Cabinet Member for Communities at Devon County Council, Councillor Roger Croad, says: “At extremely challenging times like this it is important that we all work together to support our residents, especially the most vulnerable.

“I’m particularly pleased that North Devon Council are joining the COVID – 19 Prompt Action Fund which has received in excess of 260 applications from organisations across the county already, after opening just over two weeks ago.

“This funding will help volunteer groups in Devon continue their vital work to tackle the impacts of the coronavirus in their communities and offer support to those in need.”

More information about the fund and how to apply can be found on the North Devon Council coronavirus support for groups and volunteers web pages.

Keep up to date with the latest coronavirus news, information and support available to residents, groups and businesses on the council websites and by signing up for e bulletins

North Devon Council – coronavirus advice – newsletter sign up

Devon County Council – coronavirus advice – newsletter sign up

 

NEW SOLAR LITTER BIN TRIAL FOR NORTH DEVON

A smart bin is being trialled in North Devon in a bid to reduce littering in the district.

Barnstaple High Street is the first location for the solar-powered bin, which can take up to seven times more rubbish than a standard bin as the waste gets crushed and compacted several times a day, using only energy from the sun.

Even when it’s not a sunny day, infrared technology means that energy can be collected without direct sunlight so the bin will still work. The units are sealed to stop birds and vermin getting in and can be opened using a foot pedal or by the handle on the pull-down door. When the bin is full a sensor sends out an email, so that it can be emptied before it overflows.

North Devon Council’s Lead Member for Environment, Councillor Netti Pearson, says, “This trial is at a fairly low level with just one bin at present, but we will be monitoring its progress to see what difference it makes. We will place the bin in busy areas, and position it in tourist hotspots over Easter, to see how well it works.

“Smart bins bring many benefits, such as lower carbon emissions as they need to be emptied less often, so refuse collection trucks make fewer journeys. The advantages are clear – they cut down on littering, save time and money on collections, deter vermin and best of all they use renewable solar energy.”

Local ward member for Barnstaple Centre, Councillor Robbie Mack, says, “Barnstaple High Street gets a lot of traffic – and therefore a lot of rubbish! Currently, the bins here are emptied daily. A bin like this should mean less risk of overflowing and littering in the High Street, and we all want to see less litter. I’ll be interested to see the results of the trial.”

The bin will also be trialled in other locations in North Devon during the six-week trial, and if it proves successful more of them may be rolled out across the district.

HAVE YOUR SAY ON THE ILFRACOMBE SEAFRONT MASTERPLAN

Local residents and businesses are being invited to take part in a public consultation event to comment on a new masterplan for Ilfracombe seafront. The consultation includes a face-to-face event at the Landmark Theatre on Thursday 30 and Friday 31 January and an online survey an online survey – www.northdevon.gov.uk/Ilfracombe-consultation – which runs until 9 March.

As part of Ilfracombe’s Strategic Plan 2015-2025, North Devon Council and the Ilfracombe Regeneration Board have been working together to oversee the process of a new public realm masterplan for Ilfracombe seafront. Consultants Node were appointed to create a masterplan that will enhance the seafront’s natural beauty, draw tourists and local residents to the seafront area of the town and help regenerate the area.

A stakeholder consultation took place last year, during which members from a wide range of Ilfracombe’s community groups were asked to help shape the masterplan in a way that represented the views of Ilfracombe. Now the public are being invited to examine the ideas and share their own in a six week online consultation, which began on Monday 27 January or by attending a face to face event at the Landmark Theatre on Thursday and Friday (30-31 January).

Some of the ideas that are the subject of the Ilfracombe seafront masterplan consultation are:

  • improve accessibility and connections to the High Street and the harbour
  • more seating, shelter, lighting, interpretation and dog bins are needed throughout the seafront area
  • public spaces need a clear function and purpose in order to make the seafront a better experience
  • the wilderness and natural aspects of Capstone Hill should be protected
  • more activities for all ages including young and elderly should be provided
  • play park precedents from Paignton and Minehead should be looked at
  • the museum should be extended or possibly relocated to the old pavilion site
  • a fitness and/or art trail could be incorporated that also includes sculpture and work by local artists
  • an outdoor amphitheatre / stage should be incorporated with three possible locations: Jubilee Gardens / Capstone Hill top / Old Pavilion site

North Devon Council’s Lead Member for Economic Development and Strategic Planning Policy, Councillor Malcolm Prowse, says:  “We have lots of exciting ideas for how we would like Ilfracombe’s seafront to be regenerated in order to improve the health and well-being of all those who live and work in the town – as well enhancing the enjoyment of the tourists who visit it. We now want to hear from our residents about what they’d like to see happening on the seafront, to make sure we have captured the views of those who matter most. I hope the people of Ilfracombe will help us by sharing their views, either by coming to our face to face event in Ilfracombe or taking part in the online consultation.”

Officers from the council’s regeneration team will be available to chat through their ideas at the Landmark Theatre between 10am and 2pm on 30-31 January. Residents who are unable to attend the event can take part by completing an online survey at www.northdevon.gov.uk/Ilfracombe-consultation between 27 January and 9 March.

CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS FOR CONSERVATION DAY IN FREMINGTON NEXT WEEK

Volunteers are being sought to help at a hands-on conservation day in Fremington next week.

The Practical Conservation Day will take place at the Fremington Local Nature Reserve on Sunday 26 January from 10am.

At this  event, run by local wildlife experts in conjunction with North Devon Council, North Devon Biosphere and Fremington Parish Council, volunteers will have the opportunity to help with  conservation tasks such as clearing the blackthorn scrub and managing the wildflower meadow.

Leader of North Devon Council, Councillor David Worden, says: “This is a great example of how our communities can come together to improve their local area. It’s a free event that is open to all ages, and will give volunteers the opportunity to help their local wildlife whilst meeting new people and getting active in an outdoor environment. There is no need to book, just come along on the day and help out as much as you are able to.”

Local ward member for Fremington, Councillor Frank Biederman, says, “This is a wonderful activity for people of all ages to get involved in, or even do together as a family, and I would really encourage people to take part.”

Local ward member for Fremington, Councillor Jayne Mackie, says, “This is a chance for local people to take an active role in the development of their own natural environment. Here we have an ideal learning opportunity for all ages, so please come along to join in with the activities and then take your new skills and ideas back with you to use at home or elsewhere within the community.”

Anyone wishing to take part in this nature conservation work is asked to meet at the entrance to Griggs Field, off Beechfield Road, bring a drink and a packed lunch, wear clothing appropriate for the weather and sturdy footwear suitable for uneven ground.

Parking for the event is available at Beechfield Road car park.