05 May 2015 – Minutes
Minutes of the Annual Town Meeting held on 5 May 2015 at 7.30pm in the Upper Chamber, Thame Town Hall
Present: 34 Residents and Councillors.
The Town Awards was now in its seventh year and had grown year on year with 135 nominations received in 2015. The Town Mayor, Cllr Matelot Green, congratulated all those who had been nominated in the seven categories and thanked ASM Auto Recycling for their generous sponsorship of the event. The Town Awards for 2015 were presented to: Ian McStay for Sporting Achievement, Joseph Lynch for Young Achiever, Mark Thorne for Service with a Smile, Ian English for Creative Arts Achievement, Kathy Thomas for Voluntary Individual, Megan Cooper for Person of Courage and Alan Haig for Lifetime Achievement.
1 Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Humphries and District Cllr Midwinter.
The Minutes of the Meeting held on Tuesday 6 May 2014 were noted to be a correct record and signed by the Mayor.
3 Town Mayor’s Report for 2014-15
Cllr Matelot Green gave her report for the year and stated she had been proud to be Town Mayor, representing Thame at many events throughout the County. It had been a busy year and one in which the Council had said goodbye to Helen Stewart who had taken early retirement and had served the Council for 10 years. Cllr Matelot Green welcomed Graham Hunt as the new Town Clerk.
The Food Festival had been a great day with demonstrations by TV chefs, the Thame Players Theatre provided the venue for the wine tasting and local community groups had the opportunity to raise money for a variety of charities. Other successful festivals had taken place during the year; the Thame Art and Literature Festival, the Carnival and Music in the Park.
The Christmas Light Switch on was particularly memorable with fellow ‘Scouser’ Kerry Katona helping to switch on the lights. Ms Katona had driven from rehearsals in London to attend the event and returned to continue rehearsals afterwards.
In February the Council mourned the loss of Cllr Mike Welply, a great man who showed great courage through his illness and would be greatly missed. Also in February the Market celebrated 800 years since the Market Charter was signed and was honoured by a visit from HRH The Princess Royal who unveiled a plaque to mark the occasion.
Town Mayor’s Report for 2014-15 (cont’d)
The Thame Good Neighbour Scheme was launched in March with the help and hard work of two council officers, Lizzie Spokes and Jane Webster. More recently following the tragic earthquake in Nepal the town had discovered there was a village called Thame (pronounced Tah-Mey) in Nepal which had almost entirely been reduced to rubble.
The objective for the Skate Park this year was to raise £250k and was the Town Mayor’s chosen charity. The project has been well supported with a variety of events including those organised by the Mayor; a quiz, the snooker competition, the golf day and the charity dinner. An announcement from Sports England was expected in the next few weeks on the outcome of the grant application which had been submitted earlier in the year.
Cllr Matelot Green finished by thanking officers for their support during the year especially Rosie Collins. It had been a great year and she had had a wonderful time.
4 Cuttle Brook
Dave Watkins and Mike Furness of the Cuttle Brook Nature Reserve Volunteers gave a presentation. Cuttle Brook was designated a Reserve in 1993 and covered an area of 30 acres. Twenty years ago the Reserve was virtually all scrub land but over time the Cuttle Brook Volunteers had worked to create a variety of different areas such as the flood and flower meadows, woodland, scrub areas, fen land, ponds and the Brook. These habitats encouraged a diverse range of wildlife and plant-life on the Reserve.
The Reserve had a number of entry points which encouraged a natural flow of people through it, from pupils going to and from Lord Williams’s School, ramblers, dog walkers, teenagers and members of youth groups based in and around the town. The Volunteers organise a number of community events, including an annual day to encourage families onto the Reserve, bring a picnic lunch and take part in activities such as pond dipping. An Earth First Fun Day would take place on 28 May 2015 on the Reserve.
The Volunteers planted the woodland 20 years ago and work to maintain this and the other areas is undertaken on a regular basis. Volunteers have also built the new bridge across the Brook and widened the Boardwalk to allow better access for those in wheelchairs and families with young children in pushchairs. Between 12-20 volunteers attend the monthly work parties and 1100 hours are given by the volunteers each year. Recently the volunteers worked with a group from the Environment Agency in a project to assess the water quality of the Brook and carry out a fish survey which had very positive results. Otter footprints and spray had been found on the Reserve, an indication that although not living on the Reserve they were passing through.
The Volunteers actively sought funding from external sources which averaged £3-5k per year and thanked the Town Council for their continued support. The Town was very lucky to have a Nature Reserve located so close to the centre of town which was one of its strengths but also a threat as potential new development could lead to it becoming isolated. Other potential threats from development included increased flooding and light pollution. Opportunities included the potential for land acquisition to create a wildlife corridor which could be achieved through the planning process and funding from S106 monies.
The Volunteers extended an invite to anyone interested in becoming involved to come along to the Reserve on the third Sunday in month.
5 Thame Neighbourhood Plan
A copy of the Annual Update for 2015 was made available to all attendees of the meeting and was also available to view on the Council website.
6 Open Forum – Questions from Electors
A question was asked with regard to the possibility of a traffic warden being reintroduced in the Town. Residents in Queens Road experienced problems with cars parked on the pavement which meant people in wheelchairs and parents with pushchairs having to walk in the road. Increased traffic was generated in the area at certain times of the day by parents dropping off and picking up children from Lord Williams’s School.
The Town Council was aware of a number of issues related to parking in the town and had raised concerns with Thames Valley Police at a recent Council meeting. Cuts to the Thames Valley Police budget meant that funding would not be available to reinstate a traffic warden in Thame. Cllr Carter reported that the whole issue of parking was a bureaucratic nightmare. A consultation would be undertaken after the Election to look at the different options to manage the situation. It was expected that the County Council would assume responsibility for the management of parking but at the present time very little could be done.
Regarding the repair to pot holes Cllr Carter reported that repair work would continue provided funding was received from central government.
Cllr Laver asked if more information was available on The Green Living Plan? The Town Clerk replied that a meeting was scheduled for next week to agree the next steps.
A question was raised with regard to the proposed new development at The Elms with regard to the town houses bordering Elms Park and each being given individual access to the Park. The Town Council had taken action in the past with residents of Park Street who had wanted direct access into the park from their property.
The Council replied that the planning application for The Elms that had been considered by the Council did not give individual direct access from properties bordering the park. The Planning Application had been recommended for refusal by the Town Council.
Comment was made that all houses that bordered the Cuttle Brook Nature Reserve had direct access to it and this had not led to any problems.
Concern was raised with regard to the Park and the movement of the MUGA. The Council stated that no refurbishment of the park would take place until a full consultation had taken place with the residents of the Town.
A question was raised with regard to the progress on the extension of the graveyard at St Mary’s Church? The Town Clerk reported that progress had been slow but that the issue would be discussed with the new administration.
With regard to retail outlets in the town it was noted that there had been some vacant premises. This was unusual and Thame had been near the top of the list for having the least number of empty shops. It was noted that some retail chains required larger premises and the shops that were currently empty in Thame were typically quite small.
Charles Tyson-Taylor gave an update on the situation in Thame (Tah-Mey) in Nepal following the devastating earthquake. 90% of housing in the village had been reduced to rubble and it was anticipated that it would cost around £30k to rebuild the school founded and opened by Sir Edmund Hilary. At the last Council meeting it was agreed a letter of support be sent from the Council to officials in Thame and Charles confirmed this should have been received today so the people of Thame would now know of our existence and willingness to offer support.
A website was currently under construction and Charles invited interested groups in the town such as the Cuttle Brook Volunteers to write a piece about the Reserve to go onto the website. This would enable both towns to see what they had in common. There was also a Facebook group and fundraising events were being planned. Charles thanked the Council for being so proactive and said he was proud to be a part of such a caring community.
The meeting concluded at 9.03pm
Chairman, Annual Town Meeting – 22 March 2016