25 May 2023 – Minutes


Minutes of the Meeting of the Open Spaces Sub-Committee held on 25 May 2023 at 3.30pm in the Upper Office, Thame Town Hall.


Cllrs N Champken-Woods, A Dite, H Fickling, C Jones, H Richards


M Sturdy, Town Clerk
A Oughton, Operations Manager


Election of Chairman

In the absence of the Chairman and Deputy Chairman, it was proposed and unanimously agreed that Cllr Jones be elected Chairman for the meeting.


1  Apologies for Absence

Apologies for absence were received from Cllrs Cowell (Personal) and Emery (Personal).


2 Declarations of Interest and Dispensations

There were no declarations of interest.


3 Public Participation and Public Questions

There was no public participation.
There were no public questions put to the Committee.


4 Minutes

The notes of the Open Spaces Working Group meeting held on 23 March 2023 were approved and signed by the Chairman.


5 Terms of Reference

The Open Spaces Sub Committee’s (OSSC) Terms of Reference were discussed.  It was agreed to add Cllr Champken-Woods to the Committee.  It was further agreed that the Open Spaces Working Group (OSWG) become a sub-group of the Committee.  The OSWG will progress specific items which must then be approved by OSSC.  The OSWG will act under the same Terms of Reference except for delegated powers to authorise or spend money.


6 Elms Park

The Town Clerk provided some background on the Elms Park Refurbishment project.

The Environmental Partnership (TEP) were awarded the tender to carry out a consultation process and deliver the project in 2016.  The project was paused when a further planning application related to the Elms development adjacent to the park was submitted.  In 2019 Full Council approved that the OSWG be reformed to progress the project with a £40k budget.

In addition to £300k identified s106 funds the Town Clerk has pulled together a list of further possible s106 funding that may be used to fund the project.  There is also £16,700 held in Ear Marked Reserves.  To date £19k has been spent with TEP which will need to be claimed from s106 funds.

TEP has been contacted and are happy to be involved.  Virtual meeting with TEP / Town Clerk / Operations Manager to be arranged.  Will need to do due diligence around finance, etc in case anything has changed in the interim.

The original layout for the park was reviewed.  The following was agreed: sweeping paths (rather than ‘square’), MUGA and performance area location correct, keep play area where it is now rather than location shown on the plan.

Agreed to check with SODC whether planning permission is required.


7 Webster Close

A resident in Webster Close put forward a proposal to plant five trees (2 x ornamental pear and 3 x cherry blossom), along with commemorative plaques to the base of two of the trees (1 for the Queen’s Green Canopy and 1 x to celebrate King Charles III Coronation).  The proposal also included the removal of paving slabs followed by grass seeding.  The resident is prepared to fully fund the work and to water and maintain the trees.  The resident had drafted a consultation letter and distributed it to residents whose properties front or back onto the site in Webster Close, Cromwell Avenue and Chalgrove Road.

The proposal along with responses to the consultation were presented to the Committee.  After considering the scheme alongside the responses from residents and taking into account advice from a local expert, with over 30 years’ experience in woodland and tree management it was agreed that only three trees should be planted on the site and that small growing fruit trees will be better suited to the area.  It was also agreed to remove the paving slabs, and grass seed will further improve the appearance of the plot.


8 Community Drinking Fountain

Discussion took place on provision of community drinking fountains on Town Council owned land to refill water bottles. It sends a good message, encourages children and adults to drink less sugary drinks. On average people buy three bottles of water per day, refilling water bottles will reduce plastic waste and help with the cost-of-living crisis.

Agreed to seek sponsorship from companies including Thames Water.  Company logo can be put onto drinking fountain.  Possible locations: outside the Town Hall, Elms Park, Southern Road Recreation Ground.


9 Smoke Free Parks

Oxfordshire County Council has an aspiration to create a smokefree Oxfordshire by 2025.  A Smoke Free Community fund is currently open to voluntary, community, social enterprise organisations and parish councils to apply for financial support to hold smoke free events or create smoke free areas.

Witney Town Council has just made all its play areas smoke free places, applying to the fund to create signage, designed by local school children, encouraging people not to smoke around children playing.  The OSSC agreed that it was a good idea and further investigation is done into making Town Council owned play areas smoke free places.


10 Rycote Meadow

Phase 2 to open up the meadow to the public is moving forward, a meeting with a representative from the Environment Agency took place in March which provided some useful information on what may or may not be done related to the proposed path.  The Environmental Project Officer and Operations Manager are working with volunteers from Thame Green Living and Cuttle Brook Nature Reserve to deliver the plan.  The next step is to meet on site and mark out the path.  


11 Lenthall Green

It was noted that in erecting a boundary fence to the rear of their property, a resident had encroached onto public open space known as Lenthall Green.  The Town Council has written to the resident to ask that the boundary fence is moved back to its original position.


12 Wilding Areas

It was noted that a group of volunteers will carry out a survey of the wilding areas on Tuesday 30 May gathering information on wildflowers, grasses and wildlife found in five of the wilding areas.


13 Date of Next Meeting

Agreed date of next meeting will be set once further information related to the Elms Park project is available.



The meeting concluded at 5.10pm.


Signed ………………………               Date ……………………