21 April 2009 – Minutes
Minutes of the Annual Town Meeting of Thame Town Council held on 21 April 2009 at
7.30 pm in the Upper Chamber, Thame Town Hall
Present 62 Residents and Councillors
There were apologies for absence from Cllrs N G Champken-Woods (business),
J Matelot Green (holiday) and M Welply (business).
The Minutes of the Meeting held on Tuesday 22 April 2008 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Mayor.
3 Town Mayor’s Report for 2008-2009
The Town Mayor, Cllr D G Butler, presented his report, highlighting the achievement of the Council and other positive happenings in the town.
Demolition work had begun, in readiness for the building of a new library. The new Girl Guides HQ, supported by Thame Town Council, was almost ready to open, and the Southern Road play area had been transformed, re-opened and proved a great success with youngsters and grown-ups. It had been extremely encouraging to learn that £4 million has been allocated by the Department of Health for the improvement of Thame’s Community Hospital.
The Mayor’s charities this year were the Community Hospital and Meadowcroft Residential Care Home. He was delighted to report that his two major charity events – the Mayor’s Charity Golf Day and the Mayor’s Charity Ball – raised over £5,500.
4 Thame Youth Theatre
Mary Stiles gave a brief talk about the Youth Theatre, in place of the original speaker. The Theatre had been through a tough time recently – its home burnt to the ground and they had been without a Coordinator for six months. However, a successor had now been appointed and next week would see their first session in the brand new Phoenix Studio. Theatre members had appeared at Thame Show last year and this year would perform at the Towersey Festival. Everyone had remained optimistic and they had a very good base to build on.
5 New Thame Library Update
Caroline Taylor, County Librarian, together with Brian Mortimer (Architect), and Rachel van Riel (Interior Designer), described a ‘green’, low energy building, with open, busy, flexible space downstairs.
The mezzanine floor will be a quieter area where everything will be moveable, so ideal for meetings. There will be a lift for disabled people and all areas will be accessible for wheelchairs and buggies.
The furnishings had been designed to meet the needs of all ages and types of people. A rich collection of books will be beautifully presented on curved shelving; seating will be modern and easy to get out of; there will be a self-service system (far better than the supermarket type!), computers upstairs and wifi throughout.
A special feature will be the ‘reading hideaway’ for young children, seen from outside and a lot of fun.
Building should commence by the beginning of June, and be complete by March/April 2010. The building then has to (literally) dry out for three months. Their collective aspiration was to make it a building that Thame can be proud of.
The Mayor opened the meeting for questions. Cllr Morbey requested assurance that there would be no piped music in the library and received such assurance very firmly. Cllr Dobie, an avid supporter of the new library from the start, thanked the present library staff, all of whom were coping under difficult conditions.
As to the future of the current library, Caroline Taylor’s understanding was that it would be sold. The proceeds would not contribute to Thame’s new library, but to others in the area. County Cllr Nick Carter added that he will support Caroline Taylor in making sure that the library’s opening hours are generous.
6 Thame’s new Civic Awards Scheme
The Mayor and Democratic Officer Dee Bixley, informed residents about the newly formed Civic Awards Panel, which had selected five categories of award: Young Citizen; Good Citizen; Safer Community; Voluntary Achievement of the Year, and Teacher of the Year. The plan was to encourage one or two students to join the Panel too.
7 That Bit Extra: Mobile Classrooms
Des Wright, Youth Opportunities Chairman, Thame Rotary Club, thanked the Council for the mobile classroom currently moving around the town.
Alan Haigh, Head Teacher at John Hampden School, explained that very young children are taught the importance of healthy eating and physical exercise, about looking after their bodies and what they can do to help themselves. He too thanked the Town Council for the grant that made it possible, and awarded the Council A+ for effort, enthusiasm and for the resources!
8 Open Forum – Questions from Electors
Resident Mary Stiles asked whether the Council had considered renting the empty Woolworths building on a temporary basis, as meeting space? The Clerk confirmed that the Council had made an approach but the agent would not entertain the idea. The Council had, however, asked for first refusal, as well as for the use of the car park.
A query from resident Mr J Hughes about the new waste collection scheme, and the ‘tax by stealth’ charged for the collection of garden waste, could not be answered fully as Cllr Dodds, SODC Cabinet Member responsible, had not yet arrived.
In his absence, Cllr Bretherton explained that the District Council did not have a legal responsibility to collect garden waste, which is why there was a charge.
Resident Val Lomas stated that she had assisted the District Council when they were working on the South Oxfordshire Local Plan 2011. She wanted to ensure that community facilities were actually on the Plan for Thame. Now the 2026 Plan was being discussed and she had been very disappointed to see that all community facilities had been taken out. Groups had to leave Thame to meet elsewhere; NADFAS, for example, used to meet here and its members shop here. What was the Council doing to ensure that local people used the local facilities?
The Clerk confirmed there would be two Core Strategy meetings at the Town Hall and that a working group would possibly be formed, with representatives from different sectors of the community.
A resident proposed that the newly acquired youth meeting point should be removed from the skate park. Users of the shelter were hurling abuse at skaters, taking drugs and pouring sticky liquids on the ramps. This was not fair: the skaters should not feel threatened. One 10-year-old was now too frightened to go there. The Mayor asked the skaters to stay behind to discuss the matter or to leave their contact details.
Cllr Buckland, speaking as Chairman of the Open Spaces in Thame group, confirmed that they had consulted with a lot of young people about the meeting point, including skaters, and he felt that rather than taking the shelter away, it was the ‘undesirables’ who should be removed. The skater added that the police used to visit about once a year but now it was every day.
Resident Arnold Tasker thanked the Council for turning the Fair around: it had lost £6,000 in 2007 and made £3,500 in 2008.
Resident Ken Lomas thanked the Council for the very good action taken following the flooding and asked that his thanks be recorded. The Clerk added that the next step was the creation of a Flood Forum.
Resident Dick Chamberlain also expressed a vote of thanks. The Council had given Stones Close allotment holders fantastic support, enabling them to cultivate some of the spare ground on the site; form a Management Committee and generally make the most of this increasingly popular activity.
Resident Mary Stiles asked County Cllr Carter for an update on the future of Thame’s fire station. He said that the capital funding had been ring fenced and remained a capital plan. They were looking at potential sites that were not in the middle of a busy town. County Cllr Wilmshurst added that the fire station was quite clearly written into the budget but it might be a “moveable feast”.
Cllr Laver asked if there was any progress regarding the cycle links between Thame and the railway station? Cllr Carter said that progress was slow. County officials had walked a variety of pathways and investigated how this could be achieved but funding was just not accessible. He had been pressing for this but it would take some long time.
The Mayor concluded the meeting by thanking residents for their positive feedback and support.
The meeting concluded at 9.10pm Signed…………………………..
Chairman, Annual Town Meeting 2010