20 October 2020 – Minutes
THAME TOWN COUNCIL
Minutes of a Meeting of the Community, Leisure & Recreation Committee held on 20 October 2020 at 6.30pm by Zoom Conference Call.
Cllrs N Champken-Woods (Chairman), P Cowell (Deputy Mayor), A Dite, M Dyer, K Gregory, C Jones (Deputy Chairman), A Midwinter (Town Mayor), J Tipping and T Wyse
C Pinnells, Acting Town Clerk
A Oughton, Asset Manager
L Fuller, Committee Services Officer
1 Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence received from Cllr Deacock (personal). Cllr Bretherton was absent without apology.
2 Declarations of Interest and Dispensations
There were no declarations of interest or dispensations.
3 Public Participation and Public Questions
There were no applications to address the Committee.
There were no questions put to the Committee.
The minutes of the meeting held on 11 February 2020 were approved and signed by the Chairman.
5 Budget Summary
Members received the Budget Summary up to 30 September 2020.
6 Reports from Representatives on External Organisations
The report was noted. Further verbal updates were given as follows:
Thame Town Cricket Club:-
Cllr Champken-Woods reported that the Thame Senior Friendship Centre were now meeting again in the Cricket Club Clubhouse.
Cllr Dite added that due to the recent ingress of rain, particularly over the weekend of 3 & 4 October, a small amount of scaffolding had been erected to gain access to parts of the roof and dehumidifiers installed in the museum. Repair work is being progressed with Town Council Officers.
Cllr Wyse noted the email correspondence from Mike Ashford, who was driving the project. The group sought funding from the Town Council particularly to assist with other grant funding applications. Members supported the proposal and indicated they would support a funding request. The Acting Town Clerk advised that this request would go to Council.
7 Tree Condition Report
The Tree Condition Report was noted. The Asset Manager explained that there had been an identified need for a tree condition survey for some time. The Asset Manager and Maintenance Supervisor had helped with the survey which was carried out in July and August 2020 by John Morris, who was available to answer any questions.
Mr Morris, who used to work for the Chiltern’s Woodland project, had been commissioned to undertake the survey. 19 sites were visited and 363 trees were tagged. In addition to this, around 2000 trees had been identified at Ham Wood and 3000 at Cuttle Brook Nature Reserve. It was recommended that the trees were checked on an 18-month cycle to account for seasonal changes and that action should be taken where problems were identified.
The report had prepared a comprehensive schedule of tree work depending on urgency and nature of the issue, which included highways safety, deadwood, diseases and ash dieback. Only a few trees had been highlighted as needing urgent attention. It was noted that all trees were subject to storm damage.
Regarding work on trees that had a Tree Preservation Order, Mr Morris advised that consultation with the District Council should always take place initially as there are rules and regulations to follow, and the tree may be subject to a protected species survey. For urgent works, photographic proof should be obtained.
A question was raised as to whether intervention was necessary on trees which were not a public safety issue, undermining building foundations or spreading disease. Ultimately each tree would be risk assessed on its own merit and consideration of where people, buildings and footpaths were located would be taken into account. Methods to reduce the risk could be used such as signage and not mowing the area around the tree, however this did not remove the Town Council’s responsibility.
It was noted that some of the Maintenance Team had the relevant chainsaw training to undertake tree work on smaller trees.
The Chairman thanked Mr Morris for his comprehensive report.
8 Service of Remembrance & Armistice Day
It was noted that due to Covid-19, the usual Service of Remembrance event could not take place on Sunday 8 November 2020. After speaking to other local Clerks, it was decided that on Armistice Day, up to 30 (of the usual 50) wreaths would be laid at St Mary’s Church, which would then be moved to the War Memorial, in line with Government guidelines. Those who usually laid a wreath could lay it themselves at St Mary’s Church or the Memorial Gardens, or ask the Town Council to lay a wreath for them. The ‘event’ would have a track and trace system, hand sanitisers and a risk assessment. The Acting Town Clerk advised that the Town Council had not been charged cancellation fees for the screen that is usually installed for the Remembrance Sunday event.
It was noted that also on Armistice Day, a Bugler will perform The Last Post and Reveille in a Town Centre location adhering to the 3m distancing rules. The alternative Town Centre location will be chosen to prevent encouraging a crowd in front of the Town Hall or at the Memorial Gardens, where there would be signage advising people not to gather on Remembrance Sunday or Armistice Day.
9 Christmas Event
The Acting Town Clerk reported that the Market Town Co-Ordinator and Committee Services Officer were working to organise a Christmas Advent Calendar and virtual festive celebrations given that the Christmas Lights Switch-On event scheduled for 4 December 2020 had unfortunately been cancelled due to Covid-19. The town’s Christmas Lights would be switched-on on 1 December. The Advent Calendar would give 24 events from 1 to 24 December, incorporating activities already taking place, as well as including a ‘selfie station’ and shop window trails. The events would follow covid-19 guidelines.
The committee expressed their thanks to Officers for their inventive ideas to make the best out of the situation for the residents of Thame.
10 Music in the Park
The Acting Town Clerk advised that the request for the closure of Elms Park and event support was in preparation for the event to take place in 2021, however the event was subject to Covid-19 guidance and may be deferred.
- Elms Park be closed to the public between the hours of 10am and 10pm on Sunday 2 May 2021 for the Music in the Park event.
- Event support for Music in the Park 2021 and associated expenditure of up to £80 be approved.
11 Thame Carnival
The same as for Music in the Park, Thame Carnival on 12 June 2021 is subject to Covid-19 guidance at that time however approval of the operational support from the Maintenance Team was required if the event is able to be held.
- The Carnival for 2021 is supported and, if the event goes ahead, that associated salary expenditure up to £350 be released from General Reserves.
Cllr Midwinter left the meeting after this item.
12 Open Spaces Working Group
The Asset Manager reported that the Open Spaces Working Group (OSWG) had met twice in recent months and discussed grass cutting. An additional meeting had been held with Cllr Champken-Woods, the Asset Manager and Maintenance Supervisor who shared 18 years of grass cutting knowledge. The Asset Manager had attended a helpful webinar by Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust on the matter, where it was identified that Chesham Town Council had started a similar project 4 years ago which had been successful. It was hoped that members of the OSWG and Maintenance Team would be able to meet with Chesham Town Council to learn from their experiences.
The proposal, as put to the OSWG, was to adopt a new grass cutting regime to trial allowing some areas to be treated like a meadow and cut only twice a year. This would require monitoring by volunteers and would be reported back to this committee after one year. The changes would need to be carefully communicated to residents to explain what the vision was. The areas that have been chosen, as outlined in the report, were chosen as they were generally away from residential homes and play areas. Areas near junctions would continue to be cut to allow sight lines to be retained.
It was recognized that this would be a long term project and would require community support to be a success. Cllr Dite requested to join the OSWG and the Acting Town Clerk agreed to progress this.
- The new grass cutting regime and management of areas listed in Section 5 of the report be approved.
13 Farmers Market
It was noted that work continues on ensuring the continued survival of the Farmers Market. The Acting Town Clerk advised that the Farmers Market was doing well with 9 traders currently and that they preferred the new space which was more integrated with the Tuesday Market. The Farmers Market started paying rent again in August and it was noted that the market manager, Debbie, had been working hard to set up online payments for the traders.
14 Freedom Parade
It was noted that the rearranged RAF Halton Freedom Parade date has been confirmed as 9 May 2021, subject to any Covid-19.
15 Themed Markets
The Acting Town Clerk explained that all themed markets in Thame had been cancelled this year due to Covid-19. Discussions would be held with the organisers of the French Market and World Village Market to identify suitable dates in 2021, and approval was sought to enable the markets to take place and to give the Acting Town Clerk carte blanche to progress this. The market would need to follow Covid-19 event guidance from SODC and be laid out in a way that did not interfere with queueing systems of businesses.
- Holding two Themed Markets in 2021 be approved.
16 Maintenance Report
The report was noted. The committee unanimously expressed their thanks to the Maintenance Team for their continued fantastic work. The Asset Manager advised this would be passed on, and added that the Maintenance Team had received a Business Champion Award as part of the Thame Lockdown Love Awards for their work during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The meeting concluded at 7:13pm
Chairman, 9 February 2021