17 April 2024 – Minutes (draft)


Minutes of the Annual Town Meeting held on 17 April 2024 at 7pm in the Large Barn, Thame Barns Centre.


42 Members of the public
3 Thame Town Council Officers


1) Welcome

The Mayor, Cllr Dite, welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked Thame Barns Centre for allowing the meeting to be held there. After the presentations, the purpose of the meeting is for residents to ask questions to their elected representatives from Thame Town Council (TTC), Cllr Barker from South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC), and Cllrs Champken-Woods and Gregory from Oxfordshire County Council (OCC).


2) Minutes

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 14 March 2023 were noted to be a correct record, and were signed by the Chairman.


3) Town Mayor’s Report for 2023-24

The Mayor’s year had been focused on Thame, and fundraising for the Red Kite Family Centre and Thame Shed. The last year had seen big efforts to change how the council works. More recently, work to refurbish the play area at Elms Park has begun. This has been a long-term aspiration for the council. The play area will be completely reworked and provide a space for 5-12 year olds. Residents can keep up to date via the Town Council’s social media.

There is currently a vacancy on the council. Being a councillor can be serious but fun, and a way to be a pressure group and improve life in Thame. Anyone interested should speak to the Town Council or visit the website.


4) All About Thame Town Council

The Town Clerk gave a presentation all about TTC. Many people do not realise there are 13 office-based staff and a 4-person maintenance team who work to support the 16 elected town councillors. The team are made up of people who are passionate about making a difference.

The Corporate Services team manages all matters relating to finances (income, expenditure and investments), health and safety, managing contracts, policies, procedures and supporting the Mayor in their civic duties and fundraising.

The Planning team manages the review and implementation of the Thame Neighbourhood Plan, provides advice on planning applications and monitors development control.

The Operations team including the Maintenance Team look after all of the Town Council-owned parks, green spaces and play areas, all grass cutting, and work with the Cuttle Brook Nature Reserve volunteers who created and have maintained the reserve for over 30 years.

The Community Services team delivers and ensures the safety of events such as the Christmas Lights Switch-On and Remembrance Service. The team’s the link between community groups and the Green Living Plan and the Town Council, they provide markets, supports council meetings and manages communications, including social media.

The Town Council is excited for our new Business Administration apprentice to start later this month. A horticultural apprentice will be advertised for shortly.

Current projects include:

  • Ongoing flood alleviation and biodiversity improvements for the Cuttle Brook,
  • Opening up Rycote Meadow to the public this autumn in partnership with Thame Green Living and Cuttle Brook volunteers,
  • Providing a new public water drinking fountain,
  • Refurbishing the phone box outside the Town Hall and installing a defibrillator,
  • Repairing leaking roofs at the Town Hall and Museum,
  • Developing a strategy,
  • Upcoming events including a street food market this week, Taste of Thame next month, and the unveiling of 30 new names on the Thame War Memorial on 11 June with thanks to Thame Remembers for their research,
  • Building a new community and youth building at Southern Road Recreation Ground following planning permission being obtained.

The Town Council would like the community to help name the project for the new community and youth building, and suggestions were encouraged this evening.

The community were invited to help with fundraising.

The Town Clerk’s presentation was followed by a round of applause.


5) Open Forum – Questions from Electors

1) Question: As Lloyds Bank will be closing, only the Post Office and Nationwide will be available for banking in Thame. What is TTC doing about this?

Answer: TTC is hoping that Lloyds Bank will use the Town Hall one day a week for their community banking and to provide advice.


2) Question: What is being done to address the poor state of roads in Thame, particularly on bus routes? This was raised by residents on Aylesbury Road, North Street and Wellington Street. 170 buses use North Street daily between 5am and midnight, in addition to Cattle Market traffic, and there have been no repairs in the last three years, despite additional buses following the new X20. On Fix My Street, Highways have responded to say works are due on 30 June.

Answer: County Councillors were unaware of the number of buses using North Street and agreed to investigate this and the works planned for the 30 June. County Councillors would be meeting with the highways inspector next week. The issue on Wellington Street had been chased last week. When reporting potholes, it is helpful to include a photo and reference to the nearest property number to help OCC locate the pothole.


3) Question: Related to the previous question, the number of buses combined with the speed of traffic on North Street is causing cracks on properties within the Conservation Area. How will the new 20mph speed limit be enforced?

Answer: The County Councillors will ask for an update on flashing speed monitors but implementation may take time. The Police are responsible for enforcing.


4) Question: Could a reporting system be implemented for Thames Water to work with SODC / OCC on potholes and sinkholes that are caused by sewage issues? There had been 10 sewer collapses in Lea Park over the past 25 years.

Answer: This suggestion was noted by the District and County Councillors present.


5) Question: Is there an update on the Wellington Street crossing?

Answer: Installation should be done early next week, subject to vehicles being moved to enable the yellow lines painting. County Councillor Champken-Woods will be speaking to parking enforcement. The crossing will have Belisha Beacons.


6) Question: Can anything be done to prevent vehicles parking on the grassed area and flower beds outside the Cattle Market?

Answer: The land is owned by SODC and details of the issue should be sent to them. The company employed to monitor parking in the Town can issue tickets for people who park in this area.


7) Question: Is there an update on the relocation of the Cattle Market site?

Answer: The Cattle Market already have planning permission to relocate to Rycote Lane. The challenge is project managing and raising money for such a large project. The lease continues to extend on a rolling yearly basis. The move may happen in the next 2-3years. SODC are unable to financially help as the Cattle Market is a private business, but do have regular meetings to avoid delays. The future use of the Cattle Market is part of the Thame Neighbourhood Plan and subject to community consultation.


8) Question: Why has the increase for TTC’s precept been 12.5%?

Answer: Over half of the increase is to employ a professional fundraiser for the Community & Youth Centre building, who will also support other community groups / charities in their fundraising and increase revenue opportunities for TTC. The remaining increase reflects rising operational costs and staffing salaries which are set by central government.


9) Question: What is being done to improve signage for cyclists and pedestrians in Lea Park? It would be helpful to know which paths are permissible for cyclists.

Answer: TTC is working on a project to install signage in Lea Park, and will be working with OCC and their consultants to develop a LCWIP (Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan) for Thame.


10) Question: Is there a date for when the planning application at Moorend Lane will be considered? The application is for a permanent aggregate re-processing site for sand extraction.

Answer: The latest update from OCC is end of May for this to be considered at committee, subject to receiving specialist feedback. OCC Councillors are monitoring this and will speak when the application does go to committee.


11) Question: Would it be possible for the section of the River Thame by the Old Long Crendon Road bridge to be given bathing water status? This would be to enable people to swim in this section once again. In the first three months of this year, 713 hours worth of sewage was spilled into the River Thame. Bathing water status requires permission from the landowner and public toilets within 500metres.

Answer: It was noted that bathing water status only covers certain aspects of water quality, and that in Abingdon it has had minimal impact. It was also noted that water pollution is a product of excess consumption. Thame Green Living are keen to see water quality improved and encouraged people to speak to them.


12) Question: With regards to the housing development at The Elms, has development stopped? Is there a timescale for completion? Will the developer be making contributions to Elms Park? Will the developer remove the recently-installed gates to enable public access?

Answer: Some houses are already complete and being marketed, and the developer intends to build the rest. First occupants are expected later this year. Open market homes start at £2.4million, but there will be affordable housing. Vehicle access will be from Elms Road. All footpaths will be open and no permission has been granted to close the paths. The gates have been installed to keep the building site secure, however the matter has been raised with the case officer at SODC. Developer contributions come with a certain number of occupations and stages of competition. TTC has been in conversation with the developer regarding funding the Elms Park play area work. The developer will fund the replacement MUGA and footpaths, but the play area has been forward-funded from TTC’s reserves.


13) Question: Is there an update on the Haddenham-Thame Greenway? It was noted that a family bike ride is being organised around Haddenham on quiet roads with marshalling on 30 June. Everyone is invited to come and show support.

Answer: OCC Councillors continue to chase for the options appraisal regularly, that had been due in July. OCC and Bucks Council remain in contact, with support from the Cabinet Member. TTC agreed to publicise the bike ride via its newsletter.


14) Question: Is there any news on replacing the Boots pharmacy that had closed on East Street? Queues in the High Street Boots were now very long despite staff doing their best.

Answer: The closure was a commercial decision by Boots. TTC has regular meetings with the health centre and Rycote Practice but cannot interfere with commercial decisions. Rycote Practice are actively looking for a pharmacy and realise there is an issue, but their site is not big enough.


15) Question: Is there an update on the former Newitts or Co-Op buildings? The co-op site is a poor state.

Answer: Newitts has been purchased and likely to be a retail unit. There was no update on the co-op building.


16) Question: Is it possible for TTC to include births, deaths and marriages in their newsletter? The former Thame Gazette had covered this previously.

Answer: One of TTC’s Councillors is already looking into this, and this could be suggested to TTC’s communications team.


17) Question: Can the Town Council set a non-commercial rate for hall hire? This would be to repeat the Thame Club Fair which had been a success earlier this year, but getting a hire fee had taken several weeks.

Answer: TTC already has a charity rate, and was unsure on the reason for the delay in providing this information but it would be looked into.


18) Question: Is there an update on the signing-off of the allotments? There is a concern that the developer may be wanting to develop the land instead.

Answer: TTC awaits the developer to finish the allotment sites so they can be handed over to TTC to manage. District Councillors advised that they had been working with enforcement to ensure developers fulfil their commitments. SODC recently put a change in so that infrastructure must be completed before housing is completed, as the system currently does not work well.


19) Question: Will the disabled car parking spaces be reinstated in the car park behind the former co-op following the installation of the electric vehicle charge points?

Answer: District Councillors agreed to follow this up.


20) Question: Is there an update on Thame Neighbourhood Plan?

Answer: Work continues behind the scenes to get the plan ready to send to SODC who will do further public consultation followed by a referendum.


21) Question: Can Kings Close residents obtain parking permits? It has become increasingly difficult for residents to park, and this will worsen when spaces are lost for the Wellington Street crossing.

Answer: The next area to be considered for parking permits will be Wellington Street and North Street, and County Councillors will be meeting with OCC officers next week. TTC will be consulted. Parking permits require a traffic order which takes time.


22) Question: Are there any plans to improve lighting on the Phoenix Trail or Van Diemans? There is increased use on the Phoenix Trail due to the new residential development.

Answer: County Councillors agreed to investigate who would be responsible for this.


23) Question: Is it possible to have increased police presence to address issues of littering and traffic?

Answer: TTC met with the local Sergeant, who is aware of the hotspots and they will be targeted. TTC continues to liaise with the local policing team, noting that they due to have limited resources.


24) Question: Is it possible to have a speed camera on the bypass? This may address issues of anti-social driving and noise pollution.

Answer: This would be a matter for the police, and it was suggested the Police and Crime Commissioner be contacted.


25) Question: Is there an update on the fire-damaged homes, due to the ongoing one-way traffic lighted system?

Answer: Due to the buildings being listed, certain materials must be sourced and they can only be used when the frost has passed.


The Mayor thanked everyone for attending, their questions and contributions. TTC hopes to hold a stall at Thame Market and values input from residents. Thanks were given to councillors from TTC, SODC and OCC. Finally, nominations are encouraged in the Thame Town Awards.



The meeting concluded at 8:55pm



Signed ………………………………                            Date: …………………….

Chairman, Annual Town Meeting