Section 106 Money

Under S106 of the amended Town and Country Planning Act 1990, contributions can be sought from developers towards the costs of providing community and social infrastructure, the need for which has arisen as a result of a new development taking place. This is commonly known as Section 106 (or S106) money.

Typically the contributions are made to fund public open spaces, highways infrastructure, primary and secondary education, public transport (generally new bus stops) and car parks.

The Section 106 contributions related to highways, education and public transport get paid to the county council and the other payments go to the district council.

Over the past seven years North Devon District Council (NDDC) has received more than £500,000 from developers in South Molton and spent just £97,000. This leaves more than £400,000 in the kitty.

This doesn’t include contributions which will come from the Gullacombe, North Road and Nadder Lane developments.

The Gullacombe development alone should result in additional payments of about £380,000 to NDDC.

The figure for the North Road development has not yet been finalised as it will be dependant on how many houses eventually get built, and many of those are provided as social housing.

The Nadder Lane S106 agreement is currently being negotiated so no figures are available yet, although Devon County council has requested a contribution of £629,040 for primary school places!

Returning to the NDDC S106 money: over the same period for the whole of North Devon the district council has received £3,327,658, spent £1,804,690 and repaid £7,562 – leaving a balance of £1,515,406.

NDDC seems to be better at spending money outside South Molton than it does at spending money in South Molton – 15.3% of NDDC’s S106 came from developments in South Molton whereas only 5.4% of the S106 money has been spent in South Molton.

Are NDDC saving all the money for the proposed Sports Hub?

They’ve got to be careful because  if the money isn’t spent within a certain period of time it has to be repaid to the developers!


Clever Squirrels

I walked along Cooks Cross on Wednesday to take Max (the dog) to the vets to be weighed – he was 8.3 kg when he arrived from Spain in mid-December and  now weighs 18.1 kg!

Anyway, walking back along Cooks Cross the dog chased a squirrel up a tree. As I carried on walking I noticed a shadow flitting along the pavement. I looked up, and there was the squirrel using a power line as an aerial walkway to the next tree – a distance of about 50 yards!

Later a met a lady who lives in Canada but comes to see her mother, who’s in Eastleigh,  for a couple of weeks most years. She said that the squirrels near her home in Toronto use the power lines to cross the road!

Polling Day

Polling Day is of course on Thursday 7 May. In reality people have been able to cast their vote since about 24 April- almost two weeks earlier.

Postal votes were sent out on 23 and 24 April so the first ones could have been received at the Electoral Services Offices in Barnstaple on Monday 27 April. In fact that’s the first day the postal votes were opened. So, in essence, polling really started then and will finish on 7 May.

Postal voters are crucial to candidates as they tend to vote and there are a large number of them. The turnout for postal voters is generally 70% to 80%  and they form an increasing proportion of the electorate. For example, in South Molton there are something like 3,950 registered voters of whom about 615 are postal voters – 15.5% of the total.

This is more of an issue in elections where overall turnout is low as the postal voter ‘turnout’ remains high. An additional factor in town/parish council elections is the fact there is no duty to send out official polling cards to the electorate. Therefore the only people who will definitely know that there is an election will be postal voters, as they must be sent their ballot papers.

Finally Finished

I actually finished my leaflet drop on Monday morning but haven’t really had a chance to post anything since.

This time round my wife, Alison, delivered to some parts of South Molton, taking a massive load off my shoulders.

Trudging round the pavements of South Molton in the rain (and sunshine) is a very tiring activity and I’ve now got two large blisters, and aching knees  to show for my pains.

Council Tax 2015/2016

The table below shows how the council tax that South Molton residents pay is divided amongst various authorities for 2015/2016:

Authority A B C D E F G H
DCC £774.18 £903.21 £1,032.24 £1,161.27 £1,419.33 £1,677.39 £1,935.45 £2,322.54
NDDC £109.72 £128.01 £146.29 £164.58 £01.15 £237.73 £274.30 £329.16
SMTC £63.25 £73.79 £84.34 £94.88 £115.97 £137.05 £158.13 £189.76
Police £112.98 £131.81 £150.64 £169.47 £207.13 £244.79 £282.45 £338.94
Fire £52.28 £60.99 £69.71 £78.42 £95.85 £113.27 £130.70 £156.84
Total £1,112.41 £1,297.81 £1,483.22 £1,668.62 £2,039.43 £2,410.23 £2,781.03 £3,337.20

DCC – Devon County Council: They take the lion’s share as they are responsible for the big budget items such education, roads, care for the elderly and disabled, child protection, public health, libraries, recycling centres and waste disposal.

NDDC – North Devon District Council: refuse collection and kerbside recycling, housing, planning, street cleaning and leisure.

SMTC – South Molton Town Council: Amory Centre, Pannier Market, Assembly Rooms, cemetery, recreation ground, allotments.

Police – Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall: law and order and crime reduction.

Fire – Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority: fire prevention, fire and rescue.

Compare the  Band D council tax  in South Molton with the Band D council tax in various London Boroughs:

South Molton £1,668.62
Westminster £672.74
Kensington and Chelsea £1,062.33
Tower Hamlets £1,180.52
Camden £1,336.81

The highest council tax band in Westminster (Band H) pays just £1,345.48. That’s £323.14 less than a South Molton Band D property and a massive £1,991.74 less than a Band H property in South Molton would pay it there were any such properties!! Even Snurridge (or Northgate Manor as it’s now called) is ‘only’ a and G.

Town Hall Clock

It appears that whilst the scaffolding is up around the clock tower it won’t be possible to wind up the clock.

The scaffolding is blocking the door that gives access to the clock mechanism and unfortunately Matt (the market manager) isn’t skinny enough to push his way past!

Perhaps it’s time to get an automatic windup mechanism?

Still, the contractors seem to making very good progress, so it shouldn’t be too long before all the scaffolding is down and the town hall is restored to its former glory.

Disabled Facilities

There’s a desperate lack of ‘joined up’ thinking when it comes to providing facilities for the elderly and disabled.

Take the Amory Centre for example.

It’s fully accessible by wheelchair both at the front and back ( where’s there’s a long wheelchair friendly ramp). Inside there’s a special lift to enable wheelchair users to access the upper floors.

Amory Centre Car Park

The parking at the back is completely different:

  • There are no specific, wider spaces for wheelchair/disabled users (or at least none that I’ve seen);
  • The disabled (i.e. blue badge holders) have to pay parking charges;
  • The payment machine is at the bottom end of the car park and can’t be accessed from inside a car. This means that you either have to get out of your car at the bottom, pay the parking fee and then get back in the car to park, or you park first, have to go all the way to the car park entrance to pay and then all the way back to the top to get into the Amory Centre. Quite a trial for the disabled.

It is possible to pay the parking charge by phone, however there are a number of issues with this (not all just affecting the disabled):

  • You have to have a mobile phone in the first place – incredible though it may seem not everyone does!
  • You have to have mobile phone coverage – this is very patchy in South Molton at the best of times;
  • You’ll have to know the code of the car park and how to use the service – this means getting out of your car and reading the instructions!
  • Despite being perfectly capable of driving, people with certain types of disability might have difficulty using mobile phones for such a fiddly task. People with arthritis for example, or those with Parkinson’s.

Not at all well thought out and very unfriendly for disabled users.

Elections 2015

Nominations are over and the candidates have been announced. SMTC: Fifteen candidates for twelve seats – mainly independent: Four Lib Dems, one Green and ten Independents (one who’s standing as a Conservative in the District Elections?!). NDDC South Molton Ward: Eleven candidates for two seats – Five Independents and the Lib Dems, Conservatives and Greens each have two candidates. Parliamentary: One seat with six candidates – Lib Dem, Conservative, UKIP, Green, Labour and Communist.

Lucky Escape!

It was bound to happen again sooner or later – at least this time nobody was hurt! It might have ended completely differently.

Shortly after six o’clock this evening (Tuesday 7 April) a car coming from South Molton along Alswear New Road must have been travelling a wee too bit fast when it tried to take the sharp right hand corner at the bottom of the hill.

Overturned Car on Alswear New Road Looking towards Alswear
Overturned Car on Alswear New Road Looking towards Alswear

It would appear that it touched the kerb, hit the bank on the opposite side of the road and ended up on its roof in the right-hand carriage way.

Luckily South Molton’s finest – fire, police and ambulance service – were very quickly on the scene and did a sterling job.

Car set upright again!
Car set upright again!

It’s amazing what five or six people can do. I wouldn’t have thought they’d have been able to right the car by hand, but they did!

I’ve long believed that the 30mph speed limit on Alswear New Road should be extended beyond all the houses, and that the curve rich stretch beyond should have a lower speed limit than it currently does. Perhaps this latest accident might persuade Devon County Council to put a lower speed limit on this stretch of road.

On the other hand:

Flying Pig