01 March 2016 – Minutes
THAME TOWN COUNCIL
Minutes of the Meeting of Thame Town Council held on 1 March 2016 at 6.30pm in the Upper Chamber, Thame Town Hall
Present: Cllrs B Austin, D Bretherton, D Butler, P Cowell, M Deacock, N Dixon (Town Mayor), D Dodds, M Dyer, L Emery (Deputy Mayor), H Fickling, C Jones,
P Lambert, A Midwinter, M Stiles and T Wyse.
M Robinson, Office Administration Manager
A Oughton, Committee Services Officer
1 Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Champken-Woods (Holiday), District Councillor Matelot Green and Graham Hunt, Town Clerk.
2 Declarations of Interest and Dispensations
Cllr Emery declared an interest in item 18 as a member of the Rotary Club.
3 Civic Announcements
Cllr Dixon had attended a variety of events since the last report in October. The visit to RAF Uxbridge and the WW2 bunker had been very interesting. The Didcot Charity Dinner had taken place shortly after the collapse of the building at Didcot Power Station and Cllr Dixon had signed the book of condolence on behalf of the Town Council.
4 Public Participation and Public Questions
There were no applications to address the Council.
There were no questions put to the Council.
5 Thames Valley Police
Inspector Mark Harling began by introducing Sgt Vicky Hoskin who had taken over the role of Community Sergeant from Aiden Donohoe and had been in post just a few weeks.
When Insp Harling attended the Council meeting a year ago he talked about the various aspects of policing and what Thames Valley Police (TVP) would look like in the future. Some funding cuts were expected last November but as yet had not materialised. TVP were still going through the process of change as a result of the previous round of funding cuts and were now looking slightly smaller and leaner. The cuts had been achieved mainly by moving to smaller, cheaper premises where possible and looking at ways of doing things differently.
Next month officers would be issued with smartphone technology to access databases from any location rather than having to make the journey back to a police station to access a computer. The introduction of smartphone technology would allow officers to become more efficient.
Had this presentation taken place 10 years ago the main focus would have been on robbery and crime. The picture had now changed and in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of the White Horse there had been 10 years of continued reduction in crime figures. However, this had been replaced by the increasing involvement of TVP with vulnerable people, some with chaotic life styles and the risk and threat to them. TVP worked closely with organisations to address some of the problems and where possible prevent vulnerable people getting involved in the criminal justice system.
Although crime figures had continued to fall there had been a rise in reports of sexual offences and historic sexual offences. The nature of policing work continued to change and TVP were always mindful of potential terrorist threats. Thame officers attended the incident at Didcot Power Station last week to aid the operation.
Insp Harling reassured Members that Thame had police cover 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. He couldn’t say how many officers would be in Thame on any given shift but there would always be adequate cover. TVP had taken a view on Front Counter Services and as a result the Front Counter in Thame would close for good on 1 April 2016. It had not been an easy decision to take but the small number of people visiting the Front Counter did not justify the cost of continuing the service.
Sgt Hoskin reported that over the last three months incidents involving the vulnerable and those with mental health issues had been relatively low. Ten people had been reported missing from the Thame, Chinnor and Watlington areas and 20 adult protection orders issued. TVP worked closely with the mental health team and child protection issues were referred to social services.
Burglaries to dwellings were down by minus 62% and overall crime figures down by minus 4%. With regard to parking, 84 tickets had been issued for parking offences in the Town since November.
Cllr Dixon thanked Insp Harling and Sgt Hoskin for attending the meeting.
6 Report from County Councillor N Carter
Cllr Carter referred to his previously circulated report in January and to the most recent report dated February 2016. An Ofsted Inspection was taking place on the whole of the children’s services in the County and the report was expected to be published in April.
With regard to the budget, in November it was believed the worst case scenario would be additional budget cuts of £51m. As a result of Government changes to the funding formula Oxfordshire’s settlement was worse than expected which had resulted in additional savings of £69m. At the County Council meeting on 16 February 2016 the three main parties thrashed out a happy medium and agreed the £2m additional cuts relating to Early Intervention Hubs and Children’s Centres would be ‘paused’.
Cllr Carter reported that very difficult decisions had to be made but that it was the County Council’s intention to investigate alternative funding models and to be involved with meetings to discussion succession plans for the future of the Children’s Centres. Cllr Carter would forward updates to the Town Council as they became available.
7 Reports from South Oxfordshire District Councillors
Cllr Matelot Green had sent her apologies but forwarded a report for information.
Cllr Dodds referred to the announcement that Oxfordshire District Council Leaders had asked the Government to agree their plan for the creation of four new Local Unitary Councils. Support had been received from the clinical group that responsibility for adult social care be transferred to the NHS. The childrens care aspect was yet to be decided. It was early days but the press release had generated a great deal of interest.
The District Council along with four other councils had agreed to combine back office functions to be carried out in various locations. The effect of this would not be felt by members of the public but it would result in efficiency savings amounting to just over £1m per year.
A consultation had opened with the District inviting people to comment on the draft low emission strategy. Seeking feedback and suggestions on what could be done to reduce air pollution. Wallingford and Watlington suffered particularly with traffic queuing in tiny streets in the centre of the towns. Comments on the consultation could be made via the District Council’s website.
8 Notices of Motion
There were no Notices of Motion.
9 Members Questions (under Standing Order 11)
There were no questions.
The minutes of the Council meeting held 2 February 2016 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Mayor.
11 Policy & Resources Committee
The minutes of the meeting on 16 February 2016 were noted.
Item 18 – Town Hall Secondary Glazing
i) £2,800 be released from the Capital Rolling Fund to install the secondary glazing as detailed within the report be approved.
Item 19 – Thame Museum Building Improvement Project
i) The request from Thame Museum Trust for additional funding up to £5,000 for professional fees, as detailed in the report be approved.
ii) £5,000 be released from the Capital Rolling Fund be approved.
Item 21 – Depot Maintenance Work
i) £2,274 be released from the Works Depot Capital Fund to undertake the works detailed in the report be approved.
12 Community, Leisure & Recreation Committee
The minutes of the meeting on 9 February 2016 were noted.
Item 8 – Christmas Lighting Scheme
i) Option b in the report – the lights on the Town Hall and Market house operate 24 hours and all other lights to be timer controlled to operate from 15:00 hours to 23:50 hours be approved.
ii) The additional cost of £132 associated with the proposals be met from General Reserves be approved.
Item 9 – Cuttle Brook Nature Reserve
i) The purchase of three litter bins for Cuttle Brook Nature Reserve be approved.
ii) £1,400 be released from the Rolling Capital Fund to purchase the litter bins be approved.
Item 10 – St Mary’s Flower Festival
i) The Town Council participates in the 2016 Flower Festival be approved.
ii) Cllr Dixon be nominated to organise the display with Officer support as required be approved.
iii) The additional cost of £125 be approved and met from General Reserves.
Item 11 – Capital Items
i) The purchase of the equipment, as identified in the report be approved.
ii) The cost of the equipment up to £3,826 be approved and met from the Rolling Capital Fund.
Item 12 – Skate Park Signage
i) The proposed Skate Park signage and associated costs of up to £500 from the Rolling Capital Fund be approved.
13 Planning & Environment Committee
The minutes of the meetings held on 10 November 2015, 1 December 2015, 22 December 2015, 12 January 2016 and 23 February 2016 were noted.
14 Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Committee
The minutes of the meetings held on 1 December 2015, 12 January 2016 and 23 February 2016 were noted.
15 Effectiveness of Internal Control / Financial Risk
There was a statutory requirement that the Council conducted its business in accordance with the law and proper standards and that public money was safeguarded and properly accounted for and used economically, efficiently and effectively.
Members were asked to approve the measures taken to mitigate financial risks and to review the effectiveness of internal control.
i) The measures taken to mitigate financial risks be approved.
ii) The effectiveness of internal control be approved.
16 Internal Audit Programme
Good corporate governance required an annual review of the Internal Audit Programme to ensure it was appropriate to the needs of the Council.
i) The Annual Internal Audit Programme of Work for 2016-17 be approved.
17 Branding and Web Specification
The website and re-branding project update report was noted.
18 Rotary and Inner Wheel Request for Sponsorship
The Council had received a request to sponsor a number of tickets for young people aged 15-19 to attend a speaker event organised by Rotary and the Inner Wheel.
After discussion Members felt there was insufficient information on which to make an informed decision and that such a request should be made through the grant application process. It was regrettable that support could not be given to the young people but it was an inappropriate use of Council funds to provide sponsorship which would result in upward funding to raise money for charitable organisations.
i) The request for sponsorship from Rotary and Inner Wheel be refused.
The meeting concluded at 8.03pm
Chairman, 26 April 2016