TORRIDGE has just produced its Revised Contaminated Land Strategy, which although fairly dry reading gave rise to some intriguing discussion.
The largest area of such contamination near to Bideford is the old dump at Westward Ho!. I assumed it was classed as contaminated but was astonished to hear it wasn't, for fairly arcane reasons dealing with "pathways" and "receptors".
When I asked about the liability for tackling this problem again I was surprised to hear how the county council is apparently arguing that as it wasn't the dumping authority for much of its life, it is not responsible.
I referred to a 1967 newspaper report which recorded how Northam Town Council told Bideford it wouldn't take any of the latter's rubbish at its tip.
At this point Roger Johnson pointed out that in 1974 when Torridge was set up, Northam passed all its assets and responsibilities over to the new council.
Incidentally, the officer who presented this report had identified 2,700 potentially contaminated sites in Torridge and although many are small, it gives an idea of the problem.
I have been reading my way through the Journal for 1932 and came across the headline "Appledore as dope smuggler's centre?"
An unnamed Sunday newspaper had published a lurid story which began: "A shabby seaman shuffles along the narrow streets and lanes of the picturesque but peaceful little fishing village.
"He looks furtively to the right and left and seems to know no one. At the corner of a lane a smartly dressed young woman awaits his arrival. In a street near by is a powerful sports car with the engine running, and at the wheel sits a devil-may-care young man."
It goes on to detail a drug deal and quotes a local landlord as saying: "I have known young and once beautiful young women come into my public bar and use the needle in full view of the fishermen who frequent the house."
Needless to say the Journal investigated this story – and found it exactly that – a story, or as the police called it "an absolute figment of the imagination".
The villagers themselves were "highly amused" at the story – and I have to admit to smiling when I read it.
The town council planning committee had another packed agenda this month and although most applications were, as usual, fairly small, there were one or two of wider interest.
The long gestation plan for new premises for Bideford Boxing Club at the Pollyfield Centre came before us.
The drawings showed a large, open-plan, single storey structure, which is only slightly attached to the centre building, being a self-contained unit.
Needless to say we voted to accept this.
The other large one came from local charity Wings South West and was for the erection of a Youth, Sport, Enterprise and Community Centre – on the old Grenville College playing fields at Moreton Park.
Much reduced in height from earlier designs the development is now designed to be in three stages – to allow for a staggered fund raising effort.
Again we recommended that Torridge accept this – though there may well be problems ahead based on what has occurred with this application previously.
Isn't it amazing what people will steal?
In this week's crime report sent to councillors I notice that the recycling centre at Caddsdown was broken into and 100 used car batteries stolen.
Ignoring the effort required to move such a lot of heavy items, one has to wonder how much the thieves expect to get for these things – not a lot I expect – and do think twice before buying a "nice, reconditioned battery" from that casual acquaintance in the next few months.
Bideford seems to be the current scaffolding centre of the West Country given the number of buildings swathed in the stuff over the last few weeks.
Allhalland, Mill and High Streets have all exhibited varying quantities of steel, boards and netting – but the crowning achievement has to be Bridge Buildings, which has disappeared behind festoons of purple safety netting – but what a great job the scaffolders have done in erecting this cladding – I don't think many of us could manage the heights they have been working at.
There have been quite a few complaints about the state of grass verges in this area lately – they seem to be growing wildly without a grass-cutter in sight.
Most it has to be said are the responsibility of the county council, which has set its contractors to work in the south of Torridge to start with – so Holsworthy is looking trim already – but they have yet to arrive in Bideford.
Any complaints should be directed at our new county councillors who, I am sure, will sort it out quickly.