26 April 2005 – Minutes
Minutes of the Annual Town Meeting of Thame Town Council held on 26 April 2005 at 7.30 pm in the Upper Chamber, Thame Town Hall
Present: 38 Residents and Councillors
There were no apologies for absence.
The Minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday 6 April 2004 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Mayor.
3 The Role of the Police Community Support Officer
The order of events was altered to allow Zoe Eele and Dianne Jackson, Police Community Support Officers (PCSO’s), to speak first.
They explained that their role was funded by the Police, Home Office and District Council, and that they had a wide geographical area to cover. As well as concentrating on particular trouble spots, known for anti-social behaviour, they visited schools and youth centres and chatted to the general public.
Their work shifts covered the hours 8 am to 12 midnight and their powers included such diverse tasks as seizing alcohol from under-age drinkers and stopping cyclists from riding on the pavement. They explained how their presence on the streets had reduced anti-social behaviour and that they were gaining the trust of young people.
Asked whether they could assist with school truancy, they said they could take the children back to school. There was a question about the riding of small motorbikes on the Phoenix Trail. The PCSO’s said that until a place of safety was found for children to ride motorbikes, they would encourage riders not to use the Phoenix Trail. There was a request for the Council to find a place where children could ride safely, and the meeting was informed that both the Town Council and the Community Safety Group were addressing this. There was unanimous support for the work Dianne and Zoe were doing.
4 Annual Report of the Town Council
The Town Mayor, Cllr David Dodds, presented his report. One of the Council’s main challenges had been to address the problems at the swimming pool following the tragedy last year, as well as the subsequent storm damage to the building.
Of the various achievements of the Council this year, Cllr Dodds confirmed that CCTV was to be introduced in the town centre; the old Court House was being transformed into the town’s museum, and water had at last been plumbed in for the allotment holders at Windmill Road.
Working Groups had been formed to look at particular requirements, such as a review of the recreation / playground areas and the future provision of public toilets in the town centre. The Council enjoyed working with such organisations as the Cuttle Brook Nature Reserve volunteers and the Fusion Youth and Community UK organisation, which had recently carried out a survey to identify some of the needs of the town.
The Deputy Mayor, Cllr Champken-Woods, answered a request for a path around Elms Park, for easier access to the multi-sports area, saying that the Open Spaces Working Group would be looking at Elms Park next. He suggested that a Friends of Elms Park group be formed, as this could help with obtaining funding for projects there.
A need for more dog bins was raised, as well as a reminder that the Town Council and Sustrans had jointly agreed to install dog bins on the Phoenix Trail years ago but this had not been followed through. The Council would review this, although the Mayor did point out that dog bins were costly to service and could present access problems for the contractors.
The Council’s audited accounts for the year ending 31 March 2004 were available at the meeting.
5 District Councillors’ Annual Report
Cllr D W Bretherton had compiled a report on behalf of the four District Councillors, who were all present to answer questions.
Concern was voiced about the proposed closure of the Tourist Information Centre. In response, it was explained that the District Council had done a review of the TIC service and as a result would be utilising their funds for tourist information differently. Their research had shown that the majority of users were local, and that there was a national trend towards closing such centres because an increasing number of potential visitors accessed information via the internet. However, there was no doubt that the information centre provided a popular service and the Town Council was looking very carefully at how aspects of it could be incorporated into the One Stop Shop activities at the Town Hall.
Asked what plans the District Council had to increase recycling and reduce landfill, Cllr Dodds explained that instead of green sacks for landfill there was to be a six-month pilot trial introducing strong paper bags (eco-sacks) for the collection of garden waste, which would be composted. This book-able service promised to be an excellent way to help the environment and reduce the amount of rubbish going to landfill. The County Council would be introducing two new composting sites.
Asked what the running costs of the proposed CCTV cameras would be, Cllr Dodds informed that it would be about £30,000 a year, of which one third would devolve to the town.
A resident spoke of how astounded she was that the District Council was giving so little attention to art and cultural events, pointing out that if it weren’t for the individuals in Thame’s own community, nothing would take place locally.
A representative from the Thame Walking & Cycling Campaign said that they were still trying to get more cycle stands in the town, and thanked Cllr Morbey for his efforts at the Scout Hut. It would be very useful to have stands at the Co-op car park, which was owned and managed by the District Council. Cllr Bretherton would further explore the possibilities there.
6 Thame Youth Council’s Charity Rock Gig – a brief report on their first venture
Members of the Youth Council, Ben Lindsay and Hisham Sherif, reported that the Charity Rock Gig, held the previous Friday, had been a great success. More than £1,000 had been raised for Douglas House, a respice for young people. The tickets had sold out before the posters went up and approximately 100 people had been turned away. This had been a fun way to raise money for charity and it was a great shame that there was no good-sized facility in Thame, with a decent stage and good audience capacity.
Ben and Hisham then made a plea for the youth of Thame, emphasising that there was nothing for young people to do. The Skatepark was an indication of what could be done but so much more was needed. The Youth Council wanted a building in Thame that children could go to for entertainment. This was particularly important in the winter months, when it was raining or cold, and it would help the PCSO’s and the community at large.
In response to a query about whether the Leisure Centre had a room big enough for gigs, Michele Pethers (who had organised the rock gig) informed that the hall at the Leisure Centre only held 80 people and that the acoustics were not good. Asked whether young people in Thame would be prepared to share a future community centre with adults, Ben and Archie confirmed that of course they would. A community activity shouldn’t be limited to one group of people.
Cllr Buckland ended the Youth Council report by saying that he had attended the rock gig and been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the music. He said the energy in the room had been amazing, with young people from many different backgrounds. If that sort of energy could be harnessed, the Youth Council efforts would go from strength to strength.
7 21st Century Thame
Keith Slater, Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, spoke of his involvement with 21st Century Thame (previously called Thame in Trust until concern arose about its initials). Funding received from the Countryside Agency had enabled them to employ a project manager, who would determine which projects to pursue, cost them, and find funding for them. One of the advantages of 21st Century Thame was that they could approach sources of funding the Town Council wasn’t able to.
Currently, they were looking at the feasibility of an internet café; a welcome pack for people moving in to Thame, and at placing a Colonne Morris in Montesson Square, where organisations could post their own notices.
They would be forming a limited company so as to control their own finances, with membership open to any individual or organisation. They planned to set up a website and produce a newsletter in the near future.
8 Fair Trade in One World, Thame Festival 2005
Bob Davies, Chairman of the Thame Festival Committee, began by speaking about the 2004 Festival. The theme had been ‘It’s All Greek To Me’ and it had taken place over 1½ days. The beneficiary on that occasion had been Sam Baker, a schoolboy with cerebral palsy. There had been incredible generosity from the people of the town, which meant that Sam had been able to continue a beneficial programme of therapy.
This year the Festival (13-18 June) would have the theme ‘Fair Trade in One World’ and it would run over 6 days. Three organisations would benefit: Thomley Hall College, which was a local specialist facility for students with Autism; The Thames Valley & Chiltern Air Ambulance Trust and Lord Williams’s School World Challenge. Events would include a fair trade fashion show, a Scout Gang Show, quizzes, a teddy bears’ picnic and a performance by the London Community Gospel Choir.
9 Open Forum – Questions from Electors
A resident, who for health reasons walked three miles a day, complained about the state of the roads and pavements in Thame. Cllr Laver assured him that this had been highlighted at County Council level but that their budget was very stretched.
Another resident asked if County Council staff could be persuaded to be more constructive and helpful? Cllr Laver suggested that residents should utilise their County Councillors, rather than approach the County Council direct.
The position of the crossing near Bell Lane, and its dangerous proximity to the roundabout, was of concern to another resident, who stated that it should never have been moved. The Town Council had made it clear at the time that the crossing was being placed too close but County said that the positioning met all their criteria. However, a safety audit would now take place, after which a decision would be made as to the crossing’s future.
The meeting was informed that the proposed 20 mph speed limit for Thame was going to be considered by the Town Council again in the near future.
Finally, it was noted that Thame in Bloom, together with the Town Council, were exploring ways in which the approaches to Thame (including the roundabouts) could be improved by planting. They would, however, need to recruit more volunteers.
The meeting concluded at 9.40 pm
Chairman, Annual Town Meeting 2006