22 April 2008 – Minutes
Minutes of the Annual Town Meeting of Thame Town Council held on 22 April 2008 at 7.30 pm in the Upper Chamber, Thame Town Hall
Present: 71 Residents and Councillors
There were no apologies for absence.
The Minutes of the Meeting held on Tuesday 24 April 2007 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Mayor.
3 Town Mayor’s Report for 2007-2008
The Town Mayor, Cllr D W Bretherton, presented his report, highlighting what had been achieved by the Council. His report was noted.
4 Thame Show: Another Hundred Years?
Andrew Duffy, Chairman of Thame Show, stated that there had been a Thame Horticultural Society show since 1847. Then local farmers held the first Thame ploughing match in October 1855. The combined events led to the creation of the Thame Agricultural and Horticultural Society, later to become the Thame Agricultural Association. The first recorded Thame Show was in 1888.
The permanent showground, consisting of 50 acres, was purchased in the late 1970’s, and the name of the Show changed to include ‘Oxfordshire County’. A limited liability company was set up to protect the Directors.
A further 20 acres of land had been acquired within the last 10 years to secure car parking. The word ‘County’ had been placed in front of Thame Show, with the intention of raising the show’s profile.
As a registered charity, the Association’s objectives were to encourage agriculture generally and to educate and improve the care and breeding of all agricultural livestock, domestic animals, pets, produce and horticulture.
Their main ring attraction in 2007 had been the Household Cavalry; all the domestic and agricultural elements continued to feature, such as vegetable growing, ploughing matches, horse-jumping and judging cattle.
There were about 1,000 entries into their premier status dog show (the winners going on to compete at Crufts) and many other attractions. All for the price of £10 for adults and £6 for juniors and OAP’s – yet still people said it was too dear!
2007 had seen a loss of £34,242 – the worst ever – and the result of reduced attendance and increased costs.
The Show could not continue to lose money, could not cut the cost of Health and Safety and had to provide more facilities for exhibitors. They also needed to maintain good attractions and earn a place on the Show circuit.
Mr Duffy listed the many measures they were taking to ensure the future of the Show over the next 100 years, including the possibility of a 2-day Show, better use of the media and tickets available on line.
5 Preserving Our Market Town
Alun Rowe, Chairman of Thame First, talked about the steps he and volunteers from the business community were taking to improve the town, including the introduction of shopping guides and shopping bags.
Thame market town, mentioned in the Doomsday Book, served a high catchment area, with 34,000 people seeing Thame as their main town. There were many independent retailers but the town wasn’t considered big enough for the large nationals.
High Streets were in decline across the UK, with internet buying and supermarkets taking custom away from local businesses. 82% of Thame’s retailers were worse off than they had been last year, due to the credit crunch and greater competition from other large shopping centres. There had been a number of closures on the High Street and the prevalence of charity shops could lead to a lack of quality.
What could be done? The ‘Try Thame First’ message was very important, with more work needed on the internet to promote businesses and widen the marketing of the town. Ideas from residents were also needed – what do they want for the town?
6 Snags and NAGs
Peter Butt, the Facilitator of the Neighbourhood Action Group, explained that the NAG group consisted of volunteers working together to address the community’s concerns. The Group included residents, young persons, and representatives from town, parish, county and district councils, schools, police, fire service and business. The Group acted on the priorities set by community consultation.
In Thame, their priorities were the lack of youth provision, under-age drinking and vandalism. Taking that first priority, their scanning and analysis methods identified groups of youths gathering, causing litter, noise and intimidation in the Elms Park area. They looked at the cause and effect, and were now carrying out what could be done straight away, such as fencing at the Van Diemans end of the park; high visibility patrolling and CCTV coverage.
7 Twinning: Can It Survive?
Cllr Champken-Woods, Chairman of the Twinning Association, explained the ethos and organisation of the Association, underlining that it was not run by the Town Council, was not elitist and it was not a problem if you didn’t speak French.
It is an association with the aim of improving understanding of our European friends and to enable friendships to form between residents of Thame and Montesson.
Montesson is a town very similar in size to Thame, 15 miles west of Paris. It’s main industry is horticulture and it is becoming a dormitory town for Paris.
He explained that two formal visits are exchanged in May and September each year, with a further informal exchange in November/December for the switching on of Thame’s lights and Montesson’s Christmas Market.
Membership of the Association is free and the coach to Montesson costs £70 per person. They were requesting families to play host to visitors from Montesson and to organise fund-raising events. However, the bottom line was that they were skint. They needed more people to join in the fun!
8 Open Forum – Questions from Electors
A resident expressed concerns about the zebra crossing near the Rising Sun roundabout. Although a crossing was needed, this one was too close to the junction. County Cllrs Carter and Wilmshurst would be speaking with County Officers about Highway issues and this would be added to their list.
A resident asked why a health walks coordinator’s post had ended in March – why couldn’t the post have been continued? District Cllr Ann Midwinter said the issue was being reviewed.
The comment was made that very little about Thame appeared in the Thame Gazette.
A request for more litter bins in Lea Park was made. District Cllr David Dodds agreed to take this request back to District.
The sound quality in the Upper Chamber was remarked upon.
The Council was congratulated on the work done at the Churchill Crescent play area. Thanks, too, were received for the bus shelter in Oxford Road and the seat at Spring Path and for the way the Memorial Gardens were being kept.
Clarification was requested and received about what monies had been used to buy the Museum building.
The meeting concluded at 9.40 pm