18 July 2023 – Minutes


Minutes of a Meeting of the Community, Leisure & Recreation Committee held on 18 July 2023 at 6.30pm in the Upper Chamber, Thame Town Hall.


Cllrs M Baines, P Cowell (Chairman), A Dite (Town Mayor), M Dyer, L Emery (Deputy Chairman), A Gilbert (Deputy Mayor), C Jones, and T Wyse


M Sturdy, Town Clerk
C Pinnells, Community Services Manager
A Oughton, Operations Manager
L Fuller, Committee Services & Processes Officer


1 Apologies for Absence

Apologies for absence were received from Cllrs Champken-Woods (personal) and Dawson (business). Cllr Bretherton was absent without apology.


2 Declarations of Interest and Dispensations

Cllr Wyse declared an interest in Item 12 as an allotment holder at Stones Close Allotment and abstained from voting on this item.


3 Public Participation and Public Questions

There were no applications to address the Committee.
There were no questions put to the Committee.


4 Minutes

The Minutes of the Committee Meetings held on 4 April 2023 and 16 May 2023 were received.


  1. The minutes of the meeting held on 4 April 2023 are confirmed as a correct record, and signed by the Chairman.
  2. The minutes of the meeting held on 16 May 2023 are confirmed as a correct record, and signed by the Chairman.


5 Budget Summary

Members received the Budget Summary up to 30 June 2023.


6 Reports from Representatives on External Organisations

The reports were noted.

Thame Carnival:-

Cllr Emery reported that the Carnival road marshals had experienced some abuse and that additional support would be required for next year. The Carnival team will speak to the Town Council about options. Next year’s Carnival will be on Saturday 15 June 2024.

Thame Remembers: –

Will planning permission be required to install the plaques on the listed buildings? The Planning Authority have confirmed, in writing and following consultation with the Senior Conservation Officer, that the size of the plaques are deemed ‘de minimis’ in Planning and Listed Building terms and that neither planning permission nor Listed Building consent would be required for installation on any property in Thame. So far plaques have been installed to commemorate 40 men.


7 Community Youth Centre Working Group

Planning permission for the Community Youth Centre was granted yesterday. The Community Youth Centre Working Group will be meeting in August to plan the next phase, including the detailed design phase, as well as a strategy to raise funds. There is no timescale for when the building will be complete, however achieving planning permission is a big step.


8 Open Spaces Working Group / Open Spaces Sub-Committee

The report was noted.

The Elms Park play area needs upgrading, and improvements were due to be funded by the developer of the adjacent The Elms development however this is now not due until at least 2025 due to rising interest rates and cost of living. To avoid further delays and to ensure suitable play provision over the next few years, the council is asked to consider forward funding the project with four recommendations included in the report. Whilst the District Council do not usually like retrospective S106 applications, they can support them if they are minuted via their committee. There is a low risk that the development may not be built out and the Town Council does not receive any S106 funds. The works to relocate the multi-use games area (MUGA) and install new footpaths should be deferred until the play area has been upgraded as a priority.

The play equipment specification has not been defined but it will be as inclusive as possible.

Members are keen to ensure that the project is completed and did not want to request additional funding from council if costs are higher than expected or S106 funding is not available. It was also noted that the cost of play equipment was significant. Whilst grant funding may be available, Members agreed to increase the request to Full Council from £55,000 to up to £100,000.


  1. The Open Spaces Sub-Committee progress with the play area element of the project by drawing down on any available S106 funds and seeking confirmation from South Oxfordshire District Council that further funds can be applied for retrospectively for this project.
  2. The remainder of the project including the moving of the MUGA, installation of the new paths and performance space, be paused until the remainder of the S106 funds are available.

RECOMMENDED to Full Council:

  1. To approve drawing down up to £100k from the investment fund as a loan to forward fund the shortfall to deliver a replacement play park in Elms Park before 2025.
  2. To recommend to Full Council to increase to £400K the delegated spend by CLR/OSSC on the total project for all the alterations to Elms Park.

The minutes of the meeting of the Open Spaces Sub-Committee on 25 May 2023 were noted.

The results of the Thame Verges Plant Survey which took place on 30 May 2023 were noted. The Operations Manager and Mayor had joined the volunteers in carrying out the survey. The survey aims to collect data on what plants are growing following changes to the grass-cutting regime. Members requested that a key be included to show what the letters stand for, as well as justification for the list of plants shown. The survey will be completed twice a year, however this only started since the new grass cutting regime.

Ham Wood, which the Town Council manage on behalf of the Woodland Trust, could be included in the survey if felt beneficial.


9 Thame Fair

The report was noted. The Fair Working Group met earlier today. Negotiations are ongoing with the Showmen’s Guild, who will be meeting tomorrow to discuss the Town Council’s proposals to increase rent with CPI each year. The Town Council is hoping for a positive outcome from the Guild. The price and agreement stipulations have been set and agreed for 2023. The road closure will be submitted this week to give the Town Council protection in the unlikely event that the Fair is cancelled.


10 Taste of Thame and Thame Art Crawl

The report was noted. These two events have been successfully developed and delivered over several years by the Market Town Co-Ordinator (MTCO) in partnership with 21st Century Thame. The MTCO role has concluded, and to ensure the continuity of these events, Officers propose that the events continue to be run as partnership events but that they be brought into Town Council budget lines and delivered by the Community Services Manager and relevant officers. The team of volunteers for both events and the MTCO have successfully achieved sponsorship for both events. Next year’s Taste of Thame may require first aid and security support, which would have an additional cost. Members were asked to allocate £1,500 to cover additional costs if required.

Members were keen to support these fantastic town events.


  1. Officer time to support the delivery of both events for the next year be approved.
  2. £1,500 be allocated to cover the costs of delivery if needed, as a last resort if sponsorship cannot be achieved.


11 Christmas in Thame

The report was noted. Officers propose a similar schedule of events to last year, but with a Snowman theme and a larger stage. The stage last year worked well and removed workload for the maintenance team. The smaller scale event last year compared to pre-covid worked much better as the event had become too large and the road closure beginning at noon was not ideal.

Members commented on the high prices and lack of children’s options at the food market. The Community Services Manager will discuss this with Street Food Market organiser.

It was suggested to include the Romanian Fair on 3 December within the events programme, as well as repeating the Santa’s Grotto ran by Thame Round Table for charity. Any other ideas for Christmas in Thame this year should be sent to the Communications & Events Officer by mid-August.


12 Stones Close Allotments

The report and annual inspection report were noted.

The ground rent of £300 has been in place since the Stones Close Allotments (SCA) Committee were formed in 2011. The site has 165 plots making it the largest in Thame, with 4 plots currently vacant and no waiting list. The committee have a strong community ethos and manage the site very well. The onsite portaloo cannot be insured so £2,000 is set aside for maintenance. The committee ask allotment holders for a £2 donation and around 50% contribute to this. The agreement is due for renewal and will be considered at the next Full Council. Members may wish to consider increasing the rent in line with CPI.

As a trustee at Kingsey Road Allotment, Cllr Cowell advised similar arrangements are in place for management. The cost per square metre works out as around double Stones Close Allotments, and the rents increased in 2019. There is a £5 membership fee.

Members felt that the SCA Committee have demonstrated they are able to maintain and run the allotments efficiently, saving the Town Council money and time. Any increase in ground rent would have minimal impact on the Town Council’s finances.

It was agreed that a discussion to allocate an earmarked reserve for the allotments would be had at budget setting.


  1. The ground rent for Stones Close Allotments be kept as £300 for the agreement 2023-2027.


13 Coronation

The report was noted.

The Mayor had recently planted a commemorative oak for the coronation, and will be planting another for the late Duke of Edinburgh. There was a mixed response to the Coronation events in Thame, with some people wanting more and others content with less, particularly given the weather.

Members requested more bunting. There were challenges with this due to building ownership, business permissions and the Conservation Area. It was agreed to start a discussion with businesses and explore other options such as displaying flags on lampposts. The current bunting will be removed along with the floral baskets to assist the Maintenance Team, and this will be prior to the September Fair. It was suggested that future window display competitions should be held via a public vote.


14 Thame Town Charities Fair

Cllr Emery called for volunteers to assist with the annual Charities Fair, which had been run in partnership with Ann Midwinter who stood down at the recent elections. It begun as an event to showcase the Mayor’s charities alongside other charities in Thame. The Mayor and Deputy Mayor offered to support Cllr Emery.


15 Skate Park Events

The dates of the following events at Thame Skate Park were noted:

  • Skate for Theo – Saturday 29th July 2023. An event supported by Thame Youth Projects raising funds for Little Hearts Matter.
  • Summer Skate Jams – Monday 31st July 2023 and Thursday 24th August 2023. These events are organised by South Oxfordshire District Council. Thame Youth Projects will be at the August date.


16 Maintenance Report

The report was noted.

Could anything be done about the recent graffiti around the town? Graffiti is removed in line with the Town Council’s Graffiti Policy. Any graffiti on private land must be removed by the owner. The Town Council will speak with the relevant authority to arrange graffiti removal on other property. Members would support an education campaign through the school which could include a graffiti wall, as previously successfully used by Thame Youth Projects alongside a graffiti artist. It was noted that the permanent graffiti wall at the Skate Park is not well used.



The meeting concluded at 7:34pm



Signed ………………………………

Chairman, 31 October 2023