North Devon Council has launched an online portal to help make life easier for those managing their council tax, business rates and benefits.
The portal offers a quick and convenient way for residents and rate payers to access their details and manage their payments in one place, and set up direct debits without having to fill out a paper form.
The council tax portal allows users to easily access their tax account details, view their bills, and arrange to pay by direct debit if they are not doing so already. Residents can also apply for discounts and tell the council about a change of address or circumstances.
Those who pay business rates can log in to view their account details and bills, arrange to pay by direct debit and also apply for reliefs and exemptions.
A benefits portal also allows users to view their Council Tax Reduction and Housing Benefit awards, while landlords can view Housing Benefit payment schedules.
Customers will need their relevant account number to create an online account and set up a direct debit.
North Devon Council leader, Councillor Ian Roome, says: “Our new web portal makes it easier than ever for residents to manage their council tax and business rates accounts, and benefits. With just a few clicks you can now set up a direct debit, view your bill and make payments.
“This is a great step forward in our commitment to providing residents with convenient and efficient online services, while those who prefer more traditional methods are still able to pay using our online and telephone payment systems, at a Post Office or Payzone, or by cheque or postal order.”
The North Devon community are being invited to attend a bat and moth walk which will take place at Fremington Local Nature Reserve. The event which has been scheduled for Wednesday, 23 August at 7:30 pm, invites individuals of all ages to explore the wonders of nature and encounter the fascinating creatures in their natural habitat.
Those wishing to come along are invited to meet at the Fremington Village Green, opposite The New Inn Fremington, before embarking on the experience, led by local nature experts.
With bat detectors in hand, attendees will experience the thrill of detecting bats’ ultrasonic calls and learn more about their behaviour and importance in the local ecosystem.
To make the most of this engaging adventure, participants are encouraged to dress appropriately for the weather conditions and are kindly asked to bring along a torch for added convenience and safety during the walk.
Lead Member for Climate and Biodiversity, Cllr Ricky Knight, says: “Don’t miss this opportunity to immerse yourself in the captivating world of bats and moths at Fremington Local Nature Reserve. Mark your calendars for Wednesday, 23 August, at 7:30 pm, and join us for an evening of excitement.”
The event is open to everyone, from seasoned nature enthusiasts to curious newcomers. The event is free of charge, and there is no need to book in advance.
For any inquiries or additional information, individuals can contact North Devon Council’s Parks team on 01271 388326.
Species Survival Fund – The National Lottery Heritage Fund (on behalf of Defra)
The Species Survival Fund will support the creation and restoration of wildlife-rich habitats in England. It is open to individuals and organisations working to recover nature.
Projects must deliver against the fund theme of habitat creation and restoration, including ecosystem restoration, to support species abundance at a landscape, catchment or local scale, either within or outside of protected sites.
This can include targeted actions taken as part of wider habitat creation or restoration projects.
The Fund are offering grants of £250,000 to £3m for projects of maximum two years’ duration. You are encouraged to contribute at least 5% of your project costs in cash (partnership funding).
Priority will be given to projects that can provide partnership funding from non-government sources such as private investment.
The deadline for expressions of interest is 24 July 2023.
A limited number of small grants are available to established UK registered charities of high repute for arts and social issues anywhere in the world.
Applications may be made at any time in writing by established UK registered charities of high repute operating in any part of the world. Total value of all grants awarded during the year ended 30 September 2020: £63,180 (2019: £44,510).
Although this is a discretionary grant-making Trust with the ability to make donations for a wide range of charitable causes across the world, in practice it prefers to focus its support on established UK charities of “high repute” linked to arts and social issues.
Awards made consisted of a mixture of new and repeat grants ranging from £200 to £15,000 (to Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice and the Royal Albert Hall).
d/Deaf and Disabled people’s organisations – Lloyds Bank Foundation
This programme is for small and local charities with an income between £25,000 to £500,000 which are led by and working with d/Deaf and Disabled people who are experiencing poverty. Organisations can apply for a three year unrestricted grant of £75,000.
The Barnstaple and North Devon Dispensary Fund provides one off grants to people who are sick and poor and who live in the North Devon area.
Grants are provided on a named person basis for non-recurring funding for a specific purpose. As a health related Charity they are in a position to provide funding for a wide range of needs, eg safety & medical equipment/appliances, hospital travel expenses and specialised communication equipment. They cannot provide grants to alleviate financial hardship.
Referrals should be made via Health, Social Service or Voluntary worker. All requests are considered individually according to merit and need, so please do not hesitate to get in touch if such a need arises.
New Stories, New Audiences – Association of Independent Museums (AIM)
AIM know that all museums need to increase and widen their audiences to enhance their sustainability, and to widen participation to groups that are currently under-represented. They want New Stories New Audiences to inspire museums to stay relevant to their audiences and to increase their impact.
Funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund, New Stories New Audiences is open to all AIM members in the small museum category (up to 20,000 visitors).
They will fund projects up to £15,000 that result in a wider range of people being involved in heritage at your organisation. They expect you to have identified a new story that you wish to tell and undertaken some initial research to identify who the new audience will be. They also expect you to work with a new partner, to work differently and to try something new.
Successful projects will be allocated an experienced project mentor and will take part in the New Stories New Audiences network with other successful applicants. At the end of your project, you will be brought together to share learning, contribute to the evaluation of the experience and inform the creation of new resources.
supports the development and practice of the skills, knowledge and experience that underpin the UK’s heritage and crafts sector. This includes support for emerging craftspeople of high quality, craft and conservation projects and training, projects demonstrating creative outcomes by designer-makers, projects with potential for capacity building within the sector, and some special needs projects focusing on the therapeutic benefits of skills development.
The Trustees will consider making occasional grants in other areas of cultural creativity related to their concerns for heritage and crafts, including theatre, performance, and literature, especially where projects can be shown to contribute to the promotion and development of high-level skills among early career practitioners and disadvantaged groups.
Our deadline is 31st July for applications to both the Music and Heritage & Crafts schemes for consideration in December.
If you wish to discuss your application, please contact our Administrator on 01285 841900 or via email@example.com. Any guidance given offers no guarantee of success.
Eat it up Fund – Hubbub & Starbucks
Hubbub has launched a £200,000 fund to support innovative ideas to tackle food waste. Supported by Starbucks, they’re offering grants of up to £40,000.
They’re ready to back initiatives that do one or more of the following:
Address pre-farmgate waste
Prevent food from being wasted at the manufacturing and processing stage
Minimise food waste from retailers
Find creative ways to use surplus food in communities or at home
They can support ideas that are ready to test, or concepts that have been tested and are ready to progress further. Their wider aims are to make a positive impact on our environment and communities.
The fund is open to a wide range of organisations including charities, local authorities, schools, universities and small businesses.
The closing date for expressions of interest is 21 July 2023.
Exhibition: Revealing the Human Form: Sculpture from Leading British Artists of the Last Century
The Burton at Bideford to show sculpture by leading artists in the history of modern and contemporary British art.
A touring exhibition of sculpture by some of the most prominent British sculptors of the last century opens at the Burton Art Gallery and Museum, Bideford on 15 July 2023.
Revealing the Human Form features 30 sculptures by internationally renowned artists including Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Antony Gormley and Rachel Whiteread, who was the first woman to win the prestigious Turner Prize in 1993.
The works on display all form part of the Arts Council Collection and the British Council Collection, and the exhibition was produced in partnership with Banbury Museum and Gallery in Oxford.
Bringing together an exceptional selection of works never previously exhibited in North Devon, this exhibition marks a significant cultural moment for Bideford.
Revealing the Human Form officially opens Saturday 15 July 2023 and runs until Tuesday 5 September 2023. The gallery, museum and shop are open daily.
North Devon Council is taking a significant step towards its commitment to sustainability and reducing carbon emissions by conducting a four-week trial of an electric van.
As part of the council’s wider hopes to decarbonise its fleet, the trial aims to assess the electric van’s performance and suitability for integration into the council’s existing vehicles.
The Ford E-Transit, currently being operated by the council’s parks team, offers a promising solution in the council’s efforts to combat climate change. With a range of up to 142 miles, the vehicle demonstrates impressive capabilities, ensuring efficient and reliable service for the team’s operations. It has been estimated that by converting to this fully electric vehicle, the council could save up to 770kg of CO2 on this van alone, every year, contributing significantly to the council’s sustainability goals.
Lead Member for Climate and Biodiversity, Councillor Ricky Knight says: “The introduction of electric vehicles to our fleet is a crucial step in our commitment to creating a greener and cleaner district. We understand the urgency of addressing climate change, and by trialing this electric van, we are actively working towards reducing our carbon footprint as exemplars of local good practice. The future’s electric – it has to be.”
By undertaking this trial, the council aims to evaluate the electric van’s performance in real-world scenarios. The insights gained during the trial will assist in making an informed decision about incorporating electric vehicles into its fleet. The trial aligns with the council’s strategic objectives, focusing on decarbonising its entire fleet and promoting the adoption of low-emission vehicles.
Welcome to the newest edition of our newsletter on North Devon housing news.
In this newsletter we’ll let you know about:
NDC and Lendology recognised by national award
Update from our Outreach team
Supporting homeowners to keep roofs in good repair
Homes for Ukraine update
Pickwell’s Refugee Week
Chivenor resettlement for Aghan citizens
Short-term lets sector government consultations
Energy efficiency upgrades available for low-income households without mains gas
Calling all landlords
Compliments for our housing team
Empty Homes project update
NDC and Lendology recognised by national award.
Together with social enterprise lender, Lendology CIC, we have been recognised by a prestigious national award. We work in partnership with Lendology to tackle empty homes and revitalise communities, and this has been highly commended in the “Best Partnership Award” category by the Empty Homes Network Awards 2023.
For over a decade, we and Lendology have worked together to address the pressing issue of empty homes in the region. Our collaborative efforts have resulted in significant improvements in living standards, increased accessibility, and enhanced energy efficiency for homeowners.
Lead Member for Housing at North Devon Council, Councillor Graham Bell says: “We are delighted to be highly commended in the Best Partnership Award category with Lendology CIC. We launched our empty homes project last year together with around 12 other projects as part of our Housing and Community Safety Programme, which aims to increase the available housing stock in North Devon to tackle our housing crisis.
“We are passionate about bringing empty homes back into use and our partnership work with Lendology CIC is a vital tool to support homeowners to fund repairs and improvements. Although our empty homes project is still in its infancy, our renewed policy has already allowed us to lend significant funds to renovate a number of long term empty properties. We have received some great feedback from our customers about our innovative partnership with Lendology CIC and that has encouraged us to continue to develop our relationship. We look forward to supporting more owners and helping them to bring their empty homes back into use.”
For more information about the loans available, visit www.lendology.org.uk or call Lendology on 01823 461099.
Update from our Outreach team.
Our Service Lead Housing, Vulnerable Persons and Community Safety, Natasha Rowland says: “We now have a mix of bespoke/exclusive use temporary accommodation for rough sleepers with 17 spaces available at any one time.
“Unfortunately, rough sleeper numbers in and around Barnstaple remain quite high with around 17 people rough sleeping at any one time.
“Despite our best efforts not every rough sleeper will want accommodation immediately. We do not turn our backs on these clients but offer welfare support ensuring all is well and that they are safe, fit and cared for.
“Those in accommodation have different levels of need and some require a lot of support which is why we operate 24 hours a day 365 days of the year.”
Supporting homeowners to keep roofs in good repair.
We are supporting eligible homeowners to assess the current condition of their roofs and seek advice on the maintenance, repair, or replacement work required to keep homes in good condition.
Through our work with Lendology, we subsidise a home improvement loan scheme for eligible homeowners to finance a wide range of home repairs, adaptations, energy efficiency improvements or renewable energy measures.
If you are considering a more significant renovation, such as a full replacement or re-thatch, or even installing solar panels, Lendology may be able to help. For more information about the loan scheme, visit www.lendology.org.uk or call Lendology on 01823 461099.
Together with the local district councils, Pickwell is appealing to residents to help them grow their list of sponsors in the area. If you think you might be able to assist, please firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07951914829 where there is a dedicated advisor on hand to offer support.
Pickwell’s Refugee Week.
The Pickwell Foundation, would love to invite you to their ‘Afternoon of Compassion’ event for Refugee Week 2023.
Date/Time: Sunday 25 June 2-5pm
Location: Landmark theatre, Ilfracombe
There’ll be live music from Small Town Jones, Jules Moberly and M’Larky (The Grampus Inn house band), craft activities, informative talks, food tasting and fun for the kids.
The launch of their new short film – “When the Asylum Seekers Came to Town”.
Filmed on location in Ilfracombe by Dan Atkins Film, it tells the story of both the Pickwell Foundation volunteers and also the sanctuary seekers they met, whilst residing in the asylum hotel in Ilfracombe. It is a highly emotive piece which they hope will show the impact of how love and compassion, in abundance, has on the mental and physical wellbeing of some of the world’s most vulnerable people.
The film will be shown alongside an exhibition of Toby Adamson incredible photographs, Toby is a UK-based photographer and filmmaker who has travelled the world documenting people and telling visual stories. His incredibly powerful images have been woven with words by Mark Read of the Salvation Army, who joined The Foundation throughout this period of support.
The film and exhibition are a powerful reminder of the importance of compassion and hope in a world that so needs that right now. They are a must-see for anyone who wants to be inspired by the human spirit.
In June 2022, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) offered 12 units of family accommodation at RMB Chivenor. This was part of a national scheme, providing up to 550 houses across the country, to assist families who had an association with UK armed forces.
Officers reported to Full Council in July 2022 with a recommendation to lease six of these units under the then Security Force Assistance Scheme (now the ARAP).
The Home Secretary has recently announced that all bridging hotels accommodating Afghan citizens will be closed. Residents will be issued with three months’ notice to vacate. Those who are unable to secure alternative accommodation will be advised to approach a local authority as homeless.
At the council’s recent Strategy and Resources Committee, Members resolved to accommodate more people from Afghanistan under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme in North Devon, by maximising the use of all 12 of the houses at RMB Chivenor.
The local closure of two bridging hotels could impact on housing services in North Devon. Increasing the supply of temporary accommodation at RMB Chivenor reduces the risk of a lack of supply and/or increased costs associated with the council’s statutory homeless duties.
Short-term lets sector government consultations.
Consultation on a registration scheme
This Council, along with others, has been lobbying government about the condition of the local housing market including the impact from short-term holiday lets.
The number of properties operating as short-term holiday let businesses in North Devon has increased from 1796 in April 2022 to 1895 in April 2023 and so this issue is still very much alive in North Devon. These are just the lets that are identified through the business rates system and so there are likely to be many more operating through the council tax system which can not be identified.
There are concerns about inconsistencies within the regulatory framework for the guest accommodation sector: unlike with hotels and B&Bs, it is difficult to monitor compliance with key health and safety regulations by short-term lets given the lack of an authoritative data source. Concerns have also been raised in areas with a high concentration of short-term lets about the impact on the availability and affordability of local rental housing and increased house prices driven by additional demand from owners of short-term lets. There can also be negative effects on local areas of anti-social behaviour, and a broader ‘hollowing out’ of communities.
In recognition of the growing issues and stakeholder calls for further action, a Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCSM) consultation has been launched looking at three high-level possible approaches to a registration scheme with detailed questions about the design.
The register of short-term lets would provide data, which would help to provide local authorities with information about which premises are being let out in their area. This would provide valuable information to help them manage the housing market impact of high numbers of short-term lets (where this is an issue), and apply and enforce the use class changes, should this measure be introduced.
Alongside the introduction of a registration scheme, the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has also committed to consult on planning measures that would help local areas have greater ability to control any future increase in the number of short term lets in their area and support the retention of existing properties to buy or to rent.
This consultation seeks views on the introduction of a short-term let use class. In addition it seeks views on the introduction of new permitted development rights to provide flexibility where short term lets are not a local issue, and which allows for this flexibility to be removed where there is local concern. They are additionally seeking views on how homeowners might be provided with flexibility to let out their sole or main home for up to 30 nights in a calendar year.
The DLUHC consultation is separate but will run concurrently with the DCMS consultation.
We are supportive of both of these consultations. It is clear from our area that short-term holiday lets are beyond saturation point in particular North Devon villages. Schools have been at risk of closure and many people are unable to afford housing in those areas now. The increase in the number of short-term holiday lets has also impacted on the ability to find rental accommodation as many landlords have switched over to holiday letting, which has caused many problems for the community and local businesses whose staff are unable to find accommodation. Regulation in this area will therefore positively impact on those communities and businesses.
Energy efficiency upgrades available for low-income households without mains gas.
Lower-income householders across Devon whose homes are not on the gas grid are invited to apply for free energy efficiency improvements to their homes.
Eligible homeowners will be supported throughout the works and can help decide what improvements are made.
All those supported through the scheme will receive a whole house energy improvement plan which can be used to carry out further, self-funded measures in the future.
The Home Upgrade Grant scheme aims to deliver energy efficiency and low carbon heating improvements to low-income households living in poorly performing homes.
Devon County Council has secured £13.2 million funding to deliver this project over two years from April 2023 until March 2025.
Officers in our Temporary Accommodation and Housing Options teams are working hard to try and find solutions for those at risk of homelessness.
Just a reminder that we are looking for landlords who may have accommodation available for rental. If you’re a landlord or a prospective landlord, please come to us and we can work with you to find a tenant suitable for your property.
We will offer some support at the start of the tenancy for those that may require it and also in some cases financial assistance with rent in advance or deposits.
We are also calling out to landlords for suitable properties that we could use for temporary accommodation under the private rented sector lease scheme. If you’re a landlord with a two or three bedroom unit in the main town areas, please do contact us for further information (01271 388870 or online).
Recent compliments for our housing officers.
Our housing officers are extremely passionate about supporting those in housing need and work very hard to get the best results for their clients. It’s lovely when they receive positive comments, and we thought we’d share a few of them with you…
“I just wanted to say a very big thank you for all your help, support, advice and understanding through this very difficult part of my life, I really appreciate everything you have done for me over the last few months.”
“Thank you for your kind email. Your council has a human touch which not all councils have. THANK YOU!”
“[Officer] deserves a pay rise, so helpful patient and kind.”
“Thank you for arranging to have the ramp installed outside of my house, I am so pleased.”
Empty Homes Project update.
At the end of April 2023 we contacted around 450 owners of homes empty for less than two years to offer support to bring their properties back into use. Around 60 have responded with updates ranging from the property now being occupied, marketed to sell or used as a second home and I have passed those on to council tax to update their records.
I have been working collaboratively with revenues to identify those empty homes with large council tax arrears and we have agreed to consider four for a charging order in August 2023. These could lead to the enforced sale of the properties to recover the debt and bring them back into use.
We have also agreed to target those properties that have been council tax exempt because probate has not been granted on a deceased estate. There are around 300 awaiting probate and whilst most are in the process of being resolved, around 10 are longer term.
We will also begin to target those properties that may be suitable for an empty dwelling management order and will select a few to test the process and build experience.
North Devon Coast Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty – Sustainable Development Fund
Grants for People, Nature, Heritage and Climate are available for projects to be carried out by the end of January 2024.
The grant scheme is open to community groups, schools, businesses and parishes with grants of up to £4,000 for projects within the coastal parishes of the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in North Devon and Torridge.
The fund is supported by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DeFRA). Its purpose is to help deliver the policies and actions in the AONB Management Plan. Last year, 12 new projects were funded with grants averaging £1,800 matched with cash and in-kind time. Supported projects must have an environmental, community, economic or social benefit or connect people with the landscape, heritage and nature of the AONB.
The 14 eligible parishes this grant scheme covers are:
Geoergeham & Croyde
Mortehoe & Woolacombe
Northam & Westward Ho!
You can find a full list of successful projects from last year as well as information on how to apply at the North Devon AONB website. For an informal chat contact Laura Carolan on 01271 388268 or email email@example.com
Landscape Recovery Scheme – application deadline 21 September 2023
£15 million is available for the second round of the Government’s Landscape Recovery scheme which supports landscape and ecosystem recovery through long-term projects. Three Devon projects were successful in the first round of the scheme: East Dartmoor; Killerton Three Rivers; and the Axe Landscape Partnership.
Landscape Recovery forms part of the Environmental Land Management Scheme, together with the Sustainable Farming Incentive and Countryside Stewardship.
The scheme represents a new approach to supporting long-term, significant habitat restoration and land use change, with the aim of delivering a range of outcomes, focussing on net zero, biodiversity and water quality.
For Round Two, the funding is for projects that support net zero, protected sites, and wildlife-rich habitat.
Landscape Recovery is open to all private land managers and landowners, either individually or as part of a group. Your project must be on a broadly connected area of at least 500 hectares (ha) in England.
If successful, you will be awarded project development funding over two years. The aim is to progress to the implementation of the project over a 20-year period.
For full guidance and the criteria for applying, visit the GOV.UK website
Community Ownership Fund – Department for Levelling UP, Housing and Communities
The government is providing £150 million over 4 years to support community groups in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to take ownership of assets and amenities at risk of being lost.
Voluntary and community groups can bid for funding to acquire important assets and run them for the benefit of the local community.
The Fund will run until March 2025 with regular bidding windows for applicants to submit a full application to the Fund.
An updated prospectus for the Fund was launched on 12 May 2023 and the current bidding window for round 3 closes at midday on 12 July 2023.
Information on how to create a strong application as well as links to the prospectus for the fund can be found on the GOV.UK website.
Now the better weather is here it is lovely to be able to enjoy the many pleasant walks around Witheridge, especially part of the Two Moors Way that goes from beside the Parish Hall down to the Little Dart river.
It was a lovely surprise after navigating our way through the nettles just last week to find the path had been cut back and widened to make the walk even more enjoyable.
If you are unsure of the path mentioned it is highlighted red on this aerial view:
The path carries on across and down the side of an open field. At the bottom you pass through a gate into The Woodlands Trust Yeo Copse. Follow the path through the trees and at the bottom of the little hill is the Little Dart where you can sit and enjoy the sounds of the water, birds and other wildlife.
Theatres Trust’s Small Grants Programme, supported by The Linbury Trust, funds small projects that make a big impact to a theatre’s resilience, sustainability, accessibility or improving the diversity of audiences.
This scheme provides grants of up to £5,000 for essential works to enable not-for-profit theatres across the UK to be viable and thrive in the future.
To be eligible to apply to the scheme, applicants must demonstrate that they:
Own or manage theatres with titles or signed leases of more than five years on buildings in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
Run a year-round programme of live performance, of no less than 30 performances a year
Have a UK charitable or not-for-profit legal structure and be able to provide certified or audited accounts for at least two years.
Deadline for applications is noon 12 January 2024. To download a grant application form, terms, and conditions please visit the Theatre Trust website.
Big Bike Revival- application deadline 31 July 2023
The Big Bike Revival is about helping people to begin or return to cycling through a programme of free activities and services, delivered by local community organisations.
If your organisation can help to get more people cycling more often by running events that give people the skills they need to ride a bike safely, you can apply for a grant of up to £2,000.
Grants can be used for equipment to expand capacity, venue hire for learn events or instructors to lead bike rides.
Community-based organisations such as volunteer-led groups, not-for-profit organisations and social enterprises can apply.
For more information on the grant application, process and how to apply visit the Cycling UK website.
Community Grants – Devon Community Foundation
The Devon Community Foundation Community Grants are designed to enable small, local, grassroots organisations across Devon to support, encourage and develop thriving communities.
Applications of up to £2,000 that fall with the following funding themes will be considered:
North Devon Voluntary Service (NDVS) Revitalising Volunteer Events June/July 2023
The NDVS is busy planning an exciting Revitalising Volunteer event which has been made possible thanks to National Lottery community funding. This particular event, which is planned for the end of June/early July, is aimed at supporting and interacting with our younger community members – working with them to understand their needs, and the gaps within our communities to fulfil them.
Also they are looking at how volunteering can help younger community members not only with their future career aspirations, with a solid reference and enhanced CV, but also support their mental and perhaps physical fitness.
The NDVS are looking for:
Any young people that would like to become part of a forum
VCS Groups and relevant organisations interested in attending the event