Posts in category Other
Boat owners and swimmers, please BEWARE
The Devon Avon is becoming increasingly popular for outdoor or ‘wild’ swimming but many swimmers seem oblivious to the dangers posed by their poor visibility to power boat owners, in particular. If you are wearing a dark wet suit, you will be almost invisible to boat users down at water level, especially if the water is choppy.
Please consider your personal safety when swimming in open water that is used for other recreational activities. Although organised events such as the Bantham ‘Swoosh’ are well supervised from a safety viewpoint and wild swimming websites generally offer extensive personal safety advice (see, for example, http://www.wildswimming.co.uk/health-safety/ ) they make surprisingly little mention of the need to make yourself visible by wearing brightly coloured headgear, for example.
Swimmers personal safety is their own responsibility but boat owners should be constantly on the look-out.
05 June 2018
For Immediate Release
Council consults on ways to improve library services to rural and isolated communities
Devon’s libraries attracted 2.7 million visits and welcomed over 135,000 regular library users last year.
Devon County Council and charity Libraries Unlimited, which is commissioned to run Devon’s libraries, says the high visitor numbers are a reflection of the broad range of services that appeal to a variety of audiences.
But while the diversity of services on offer in Devon’s public libraries has expanded beyond the traditional book lending service – with digital technologies such as 3D scanning and printing in FabLabs in Exeter and Barnstaple libraries; support for businesses and entrepreneurs; partnerships with health and wellbeing organisations; a growing range of arts and cultural events; and hosting local community activities – the county’s mobile library and outreach services in rural areas has remained largely unchanged.
Now, the Council wants to consider ways to increase take up in rural areas in order to reach more people who can’t easily access Devon’s 50 public libraries.
So it’s launching a review to find out what people think is most important about mobile and outreach library services, to shape the design of an outreach service that better meets people’s needs and offers access to the wider range of library facilities.
Options could include extending the Home Library Service, which delivers books and audiobooks direct to people’s homes. This service is currently intended for people who are unable to visit a library due to ill-health or disability or are too frail to carry heavy books, but it could be extended to include other people who need it.
Alternatively, there could be transport arranged to take people to their nearest library. The Council could work more closely with local community transport providers to provide regular stops at libraries, so that people from outlying villages can access the full range of library services, including local events and activities.
Another consideration would be to introduce a Good Neighbour Scheme, a new type of membership that would enable friends, family members or neighbours to collect and return books on someone else’s behalf.
Or there could be adhoc, ‘pop-up’ libraries in some villages. The Council could work with local communities to use local venues on a regular basis to make library services available.
And in response to the increase in usage of digital services, the move could involve investing in a wider range of eBooks, eAudiobooks and digital magazines to increase the range of online material, which all library card holders could access at any time.
The Council also wants to consider what to do with their four ageing mobile library vehicles, which have become unreliable, increasingly expensive to run, and carry limited stock. The number of people using the mobile library service has fallen by almost a quarter since 2014/15 and the number of mobile library loans has reduced from over 90,000 to 64,000 in that time.
Councillor Roger Croad, the Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for the library service said:
“While many Councils elsewhere have reduced their library provision, we took steps with Libraries Unlimited that have kept our 50 static libraries open, with longer opening hours and an increased range of services on offer. The result is, we’ve got a far more resilient and innovative library service, which is acclaimed nationally as a good model, and that continuously strives to improve ways to meet people’s needs.
“But Devon is a large rural county that presents many challenges particularly with dispersed communities and an ageing population. And while we have a system of making library services accessible to people who can’t get to their nearest library, it’s dated and it’s time we looked for ways to improve it.
“Everyone should be able to access our library services, and new technology and smarter ways of doing things offer new opportunities for us to think about, that could help us reach more people in Devon’s rural areas.
“We’ve got some ideas that we will share in our consultation, but importantly we’d like to better understand how people use the current mobile and outreach service and how they’d like to use it in future, so that we can come back with a proposal to improve the service and make it more tailored to what they need.”
Ciara Eastell, Chief Executive of Libraries Unlimited said:
“We’re working closely with Devon County Council to look at ways of reshaping our mobile library and outreach service to ensure it is efficient, effective and designed to meet the needs of communities now and in the future. Our mission as a charity is to reach and support as many people as possible with our high quality library services. We know that society is changing, and we therefore need to reflect that in the way that our library service is designed.
“We’re looking forward to hearing from users of the mobile service, outreach services and from users of our network of libraries about what is most valuable to them, so that we can remodel a service that really reflects what people want.
“We know from our latest figures that people are still using public libraries in huge numbers, almost 3 million people in Devon alone. We also know that the number of people accessing our digital services, such as our online catalogue, digital magazines, eBooks and eAudiobooks continues to increase year on year, whilst the number of people using our mobile library has been declining steadily for a number of years.
“It’s important that we use this information to make sure we are serving people in the best way possible and that libraries continue to focus on the needs of local people and communities across Devon.”
People can take part in the consultation by visiting devon.cc/librariesoutreach. You can complete the consultation online in any of our 50 libraries, and paper copies of the consultation are available at all our libraries and at mobile library service stops. The deadline for responses is 28 July 2018.
Subject: RNLI Break-in
Reply-To: Rebecca Fox
Name: Rebecca Fox
Subject: RNLI Break-in
This is a message for the Bigbury Neighbourhood Watch, from the RNLI Lifeguards at Bigbury, that I am hoping could get shared around. The Lifeguard container in the Lower car park at Bigbury-on-Sea was broken into last night (Thurs 31st May), and an IRB (inshore rescue boat) engine was stolen. We think it occurred around 11pm, due to some CCTV footage of the car park, detecting a vehicle near it , but its hard to make out much more. There is also a witness report of a van hanging around, a few hours earlier.
I just wanted to make people aware, and to be extra vigilant. We have passed it on to the local business’ there, but if anyone happened to see anything suspicious during the evening or any information that could help, then please contact Rebecca Fox (RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor) on 01548 521531 or pass it onto the lifeguards there.
Toilets around the South Hams will be kept open thanks to a decision made by the District Council’s Executive this week.
A pay on entry system will now be installed around the District at many toilets; this will go towards their running costs and protect them from closure.
During their recent budget setting process, South Hams District Council agreed to look in detail at what it does with the non-statutory services. Public toilets are one of the services that the Council provides, but are not required to provide. Despite this the Council dearly wants to provide public toilets for the benefit of their residents, tourists and local businesses. This proposal will enable them to do so.
South Hams District Council currently spends close to £1m per annum providing and maintaining public toilets. With a predicted budget gap of £0.3 million, a pay on entry scheme is a way of helping to close the gap but continuing to provide a valuable service.
Cllr Rufus Gilbert, Executive Portfolio Holder for Commercial Services, said: “There’s no doubt that continuing to provide public toilets is important for residents, visitors and businesses in the South Hams. As a result the council was determined to find a way to protect them, despite the enormous pressures on our budget. Many local authorities throughout the UK have had to close their public toilets and rely instead on businesses to provide them – Manchester City Council, one of the largest councils in England, only have one council run public toilet!”
“As the Executive member with the responsibility for public toilets, I take my role very seriously and I have said before that the last thing that I want to do is to be responsible for closing toilets. I visit many of the toilets around the District while I am out and about, when I see something that is not satisfactory I speak to the team to make sure any issues are resolved to the best of our physical and financial ability. Securing additional funding for our toilets will not only help us keep them open but also in good working order.”
The proposed fee is 20p. The busiest toilets have been chosen to have the pay on entry system installed as these have high running costs:
- Creek, Salcombe
- North Sands, Salcombe
- South Sands, Salcombe
- Coronation Road, Totnes
- Steamer Quay, Totnes
- Civic Hall, Totnes
- Fore Street, Kingsbridge
- Slapton Line
- Glanvilles Mill, Ivybridge
- Mill Bay
- Ferry Steps
Councillors also agreed to look again at the Hope Cove toilets which receives a similarly high number of visitors in peak season.
The pay on entry system is expected to generate £16,000 in 2018/19 and £36,000 by 2019/20, income which will be used to continue to run the toilets.
Mill Bay toilets are a recent addition to the list, while Slapton Memorial toilets have been removed. The recent storm damage at these toilets has left the septic tank very close to the beach and at risk of failing in another storm. This could cause a serious pollution incident. Relocating the tank is unlikely to solve the problem, as well as being very expensive and so these toilets, sadly, will have to close.
Cllr Gilbert continued “The decision to close the toilets at Slapton Memorial has not been taken lightly. Storm Emma had a huge impact on the area and the beach has receded a long way inland very quickly. The old septic tank is now dangerously close to the beach. Relocating it would only be a very expensive temporary measure and so reluctantly, we will have to close the toilets to prevent any risk of pollution on the shore.”
Devon Building Control Partnership has launched a new-look website, making it even easier for homeowners and professionals to book site visits, submit applications online, request a quote and much more.
The website has been created to be more accessible and easy to use through desktop computers, mobile phones or tablets. Building professionals and homeowners will be able to access information quicker and will be able to subscribe to newsletters, access a property register for Building regulations, look up fees and charges and find out about business events
Devon Building Control Partnership is made up of Teignbridge District Council, South Hams District Council and West Devon Borough Council. The experienced team of chartered surveyors, building engineers and fire engineers cover all three districts and offers a fast, reliable service for plan checking and inspections through a highly experienced team with vast local knowledge.
The Partnership works closely with the building industry to ensure that buildings are designed to comply through pre-application advice, plan checking and an inspection programme.
Cllr Michael Hicks, Vice Chairman of South Hams District Council and South Hams’ representative at Devon Building Control, said: “This new look website will be invaluable in informing and advising customers of the services provided by Devon Building Control, and is much easier and quicker to navigate. If you’re in the middle of a challenging and stressful building project, a clear and understandable website is essential. I’m certain that customers will be very pleased.”
Andrew Carpenter, Head of Devon Building Control Partnership, said: “I am delighted with the new look website. We know that people now want to use websites on phones and tablets so we’ve revamped the design to make it much easier for people to use on those devices as well as a laptop or mobile. The previous website had served us well but was starting to show its age. We’ve simplified things and made it faster to use and easier to navigate. Information is now much clearer and understandable.
“The redesign is aimed to make sure the site is much more accessible to customers and meets modern expectations as well as being a place where people can find out more about our services. This an online ‘shop window’ will help us improve how we promote and sell activities across the area we cover and operate more commercially and effectively in a very competitive industry.
“Our new website is part of our commitment to providing a great service to customers as well as showcasing the Partnership as a business populated by friendly, qualified surveyors and skilled officers who can offer impartial advice and assistance to homeowners, agents, architects, developers and other professionals on matters relating to building regulations.”
The bespoke website was built by IT professionals working in Strata Service Solutions Ltd, the joint ICT partnership shared across Teignbridge, Exeter and East Devon councils, with expertise and support from officers working for Teignbridge. The look and feel was designed by Made With Maturity, a web design and digital marketing company based in Plymouth.
Laurence Whitlock, IT Director at Strata Service Solutions Ltd, said: “This project gave Strata an excellent opportunity to work with Devon Building Control Partnership to use our experienced web developers to produce a professional and commercial quality web site.”
The website also contains details about the team and a section where people can leave feedback.
Tell your Council what you think
The quality of the air in South Hams and West Devon is generally very good. However, there are three locations in South Hams where the air quality fails to meet the national and international levels for Nitrogen Dioxide. These areas are categorised as Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs).
Both Councils have a legal responsibility to produce an air quality action plan and because of this both South Hams District Council and West Devon Borough Council are exploring ways that we can protect and improve air quality with a focus on the Air Quality Management Areas.
To enable them to do this they have produced a Clean Air Strategy, which brings together all of the councils proposed actions for managing air quality.
The strategy was scrutinised by ‘Executive’ at South Hams and the ‘Hub’ Committee in West Devon, with an agreement to carry out a public consultation before any decisions are taken about what course of action might be the best way forward.
Now the Councils are about to embark on an initial 8 week consultation on the Clean Air Strategy, looking at the proposals and considering what we can do about it together.
Leader of South Ham District Council, Cllr John Tucker said: “We have been working with Devon County and Highways England as well as our own officers to produce this document. If is a really important piece of work that recognise the role that Planning Authorities can have in off-setting the impact of developments.”
Leader of West Devon Borough Council Cllr Philip Sanders added: “This is an opportunity for you to not only tell us what you think of the strategy but also to tell us of any ideas you may have for potential solutions to poor air quality. So please do give us your thoughts and ideas and we will discuss them with our partner agencies after the consultation closes.”
The Councils’ recognise that national policy is promoting ultralow emission vehicles and in light of this the strategy also seeks to support the infrastructure that is required to make this possible, such as electric charging points for cars.
It also recognises the benefits that cycling and walking can have both on air quality and on the health of residents and as a result the councils will also be exploring ways to improve cycling and pedestrian networks between villages, towns and communities.
The consultation starts on the 20 April and runs to the 20 June. All of the comments and ideas will be explored and discussed before a final Air Quality Strategy is presented to both Councils later in the year.
The air quality team are happy to discuss the options available, and hope to attend Town and Parish Councils in the air quality management areas.
To provide feedback please email: air.quality@swdevon.
For more information visit: