05 March 2024 – Minutes


Minutes of the Meeting of Thame Town Council held on 5 March 2024 at 6:30pm in the Upper Chamber, Town Hall, Thame.


Cllrs M Baines, N Champken-Woods, P Cowell, D Dawson, A Dite (Town Mayor), H Dollman, D Dodds, M Dyer, L Emery, H Fickling, A Gilbert (Deputy Mayor), C Jones, H Richards, and P Swan


M Sturdy, Town Clerk
L Fuller, Committee Services & Processes Officer


1) Apologies for Absence

Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Bretherton (personal).

District Councillor Barker gave his apologies (business).


2) Declarations of Interest and Dispensations

There were no declarations of interest.


3) Civic Announcements

The civic attendances were noted.

The Mayor’s Quiz Night had been a success. Thanks were given to the Administration Officer & PA to the Mayor for their support in organising the event, and to Sue and Phil Boyle for being quizmasters. The next fundraising event will be ‘Mamma Mayor’ on 13 April, with tickets on sale now.

The Mayor acknowledged that this was the first Council meeting since Tom Wyse resigned from the Town Council. Thanks were given to Mr. Wyse for his 10-year service on the Council. He was co-opted in 2014 and successfully stood in the subsequent local elections. Mr. Wyse was Mayor in 2017/18 and during this time he raised over £11,000 which was split between two charities – Red Kite Family Centre and the Thame Senior Friendship Centre. His time as Mayor also saw him fly the new town flag, undertake the groundbreaking at the new Cricket Club Clubhouse, and host the 10th Town Awards ceremony. Mr. Wyse was a representative for, and supported the launch of, Thame Shed and Thame Town Music Festival, as well as campaigning for a new pedestrian crossing on Wellington Street. The Town Council wishes him all the best.


4) Thames Valley Police

Mr. Adam Hooley, Neighbourhood Police Constable for Thames Valley Police (TVP), gave a verbal update on policing in Thame. The South Vale area of TVP covers a wide area including Thame, Stadhampton, Chinnor, Wheatley and the outskirts of Oxford. The Thame area is managed by an Inspector, alongside a Sergeant, two other PCs and a PCSO.  The area also benefits from TVP’s wider resources including the Joint Operations, Assessment and Investigation units, the latter being a newer unit that handles lower-level crimes. Response policing is for emergency calls and has 24/7 cover. Neighbourhood policing has a slightly slower response time and handles problems such as anti-social behaviour and burglary.

The Thame Neighbourhood Policing area received 1,500 calls over a 6-month period to its response policing unit. This equates to 1,700 crime occurrences, or 10 daily. The main proportion of this is road traffic incidents, followed by domestic issues, vulnerable people, concerns for someone’s safety, anti-social behaviour, criminal damage, drugs, and burglary.

Shoplifting has been a hot topic, locally and nationally. The local policing team has, and continues to, do intensification weeks which has seen some success and sends a deterrent message to school children. A similar approach is being undertaken regarding low-level drug dealing and possession in hotspot areas in Thame which has had success in disrupting county lines.

What incidents have fallen down the priority list? Nationally, the impact of less police staff and the priority to always preserve life, means incidents such as property damage or shoplifting are not prioritised as high.

With the Neighbourhood Policing team not working 24/7, any incidents reported when they are off duty are assessed based on various criteria. Following this, the incident will be handled by the response officers, allocated to a different force or department, or allocated to the Neighbourhood Policing team to respond to on their return.

How can the Town Council support the Police? It was felt there is a good rapport between the council and the police, for example with town events. People can help the Police by understanding the pressures they’re under, and also reporting anything suspicious to the Police.

How often is Stop and Search used in Thame? The police are assessed on their performance, and Thame is one of the highest performing areas.

Children are being exploited through involvement in low level drug-dealing. There are teams in place to support those who have been exploited. There is a Schools Officer for Oxfordshire, and the local police work with the local schools.

Parking on zigzag lines is a problem, particularly around the schools and in the high street. The local police have requested the areas around the school have increased patrolling to monitor parking and possible low-level drug dealing.

The council thanked Mr. Hooley for addressing the Council and answering their questions, and offered support to the Police.


5) Public Participation and Public Questions

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


6) Reports from County Councillors

The report was noted. After a lengthy discussion, the County Council’s budget was passed and includes additional funding for social care, SEND service improvements and highways. Funding has been approved for a new SEND school in Didcot, and for improvements to Fix My Street. A new podcast has been launched covering a variety of topics. Various surveys and consultation are open.

Completion of the Wellington Street pedestrian crossing has been delayed until UK Power Networks connect the cables to the network. Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) continue to chase for this work to be completed.

It was noted that the town’s car park signage needed improving, especially to highlight the Electric Vehicle charging. Funding may be available through the Councillor Priority Fund, subject to costs and the Town Council scoping the project although some work may have already been done.

Would additional funding be available for the SEND services provided by Red Kite Family Centre or Thame’s schools? There is funding to improve SEND services generally and there are programmes in place for Early Years. The new SEND school in Didcot will be funded by S106 monies.

How far does the SEND funding go to address the issues raised in the OFSTED and Care Quality Commission reports? The detail of the £1.5million one-off budget this year is being worked through, with the aim to ensure the priority action plan has the intended impact and issues are resolved within 18months. There is a national funding issue across councils which national government needs to address.


7) Reports from South Oxfordshire District Councillors

The report was noted. The District Council’s budget has been approved and includes an extra £500,000 for community project support, £60,000 for arts, and £450,000 to improve facilities at the Cornerstone Arts Centre. A new Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Grant Fund has been launched. South Oxfordshire district has been named the top recycler in the country.

It was noted that there was a short turnaround to submit an expression of interest for the new CIL Grant Fund.


8) Members Questions (under Standing Order 11)

No questions were raised.


9) Effectiveness of Internal Control / Financial Risk

Officers had reviewed the financial risk assessments with only minor changes proposed, as highlighted in red text.


  1. The measures taken to mitigate financial risks be approved.


10) Internal Audit

Members received the latest Internal Audit report. Officers were thanked for their continued hard work.


11) Pensions Discretions

Additional mandatory wording has been added to the Pensions Discretions Policy as per the requirements from the Oxfordshire Pension Fund. The Council was asked to approve this wording.


  1. That the new mandatory LGPS Pensions Discretions wording be agreed.


12) Precept 2024-25

It was noted further to the Full Council meeting on 16th January 2024, the final budget precept value for 2024/25 is £1,020,616 – equivalent to an 11.43% increase.  The revised budget summary and detailed budget are attached.

In line with the requirements of the Internal Auditor’s report, it was:


  1. To approve that the precept for 2024-25 be set as £1,020,616.


13) Committee Review

The report and attached presentation were noted. A summary of feedback was presented. The Council is asked to approve the proposed committee structure, committee names, and high-level committee responsibilities. There had feedback noting the absence of health and climate change. These were both topics that could be incorporated into the proposed committees, or new working groups could be created if the council felt this to be appropriate.

The council was asked to approve process for handling planning applications at the Planning & Environment Committee as outlined in the presentation.


  1. To approve the draft, high-level, committee structure and responsibilities – to be implemented from May 2024.
  2. To agree the names of the committees as: Corporate Governance, Community Services, Planning, Environment & Assets, and Personnel – to be implemented from May 2024.
  3. To approve the process for determining whether planning applications require an Officer report and subsequent discussion at P&E – to be implemented as a trial for the April/May 2024 P&E committee meetings.


14) Councillor Resignation

The report was noted. Members agreed that due to the proximity to the Annual Meeting, all vacancies left by Tom Wyse should not be filled until the Annual Meeting.


  1. The Planning & Environment Committee should elect a Deputy Chairman at its meeting on 12 March 2024.
  2. All other vacancies should not be filled until the Annual Meeting on 14 May 2024.


15) Cuttle Brook Flood Mitigation

Cllr Champken-Woods left the meeting during this item.

The report was noted. The flood remediation works at Cuttle Brook have required swift action. The initial quote received was around £12,000, which exceeded the Town Clerk’s delegated authority for emergency expenditure. The Policy & Resources Committee last week resolved to authorise £10,000 expenditure. Since that meeting, three further quotations have been received and the works have been awarded at a cost of £5,941 which the Council is asked to retrospectively approve. The works are due to start on 12 March. This will be an ongoing project with further expenditure. The council was also asked to authorise that the Town Clerk be authorised to spend within the remaining earmarked reserves for the ongoing flood alleviation works in line with the advice of the flood risk engineers.


  1. To approve spend of £5,941 as outlined in the report.
  2. To authorise the Clerk to approve further spend up to the maximum available within earmarked reserves for ongoing flood alleviation works in 2024/25.

The council was asked for feedback on increasing the Town Clerk’s delegated financial authority from £5,000 to £10,000. There was a suggestion that this should apply to emergency / urgent works only and these should be defined. In line with current Standing Orders and the Delegations Policy, any emergency expenditure would need to be reported to the next suitable council meeting, and done in consultation with the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, and Chair of the Policy & Resources Committee. This will be brought to the Annual Meeting in May.


16) Annual Town Meeting 2024

Work is ongoing to establish the format of the Annual Town Meeting, to be held on Wednesday 17 April at Thame Barns Centre. The intention is to create a positive video, showcasing the work of the Town Council. Members agreed it is important that the Town Council communicates the actions it has taken following feedback from the public.


17) Charitable Incorporated Organisation

The application had been submitted and accepted but further information needed to be provided. The Town Clerk will keep Members informed.


18) Councillor Information Stall

The report was noted. The idea is to have a regular stall at the market run by Councillors, to provide an opportunity to communicate what the Town Council does for residents by going to them rather than expecting them to come to us. It was agreed that having a theme for each session would help initiate and focus discussions. Overall Councillors agreed to support the idea as a way to be more visible in the community.


19) Lord Williams’s School

It was noted that there will be a presentation from the current Headteacher, and his replacement, from Lord Williams’s School at the Full Council meeting on 30 April 2024.

Cllrs Gilbert and Dyer, and Town Council Officers had met with a teacher and the students from Lord Williams’s School’s School Council. The meeting aimed to progress discussions regarding a Youth Council. The students, two from each year group, were all very engaged and highlighted a range of issues affecting them. These issues include traffic / roadworks making students late for school, the burst water main, school buses idling and their use of diesel, and a request for safer crossings on Oxford Road and for students coming from Long Crendon. The students were interested in the new Youth Centre. Feedback on the Street Fairs included a request for a safe/quiet zone. Officers are looking into using the Town Hall for this as part of the 2024 Street Fairs. There was also a suggestion on the weekly market, which has been passed to the market traders. Overall, the meeting had been positive, and another meeting has been scheduled for the summer term.

It was agreed that the Council needs to maintain a two-way conversation with the school, to ensure the students receive feedback on their ideas.


20) Minutes

The Minutes of the Council Meeting held on 13 February 2024 were received.


  1. The minutes of the meeting held on 13 February 2024 are confirmed as a correct record, and signed by the Chairman.


21) Policy & Resources Committee

The minutes of the meeting held on 27 February 2024 were noted.

There had been a recommendation to Full Council, however this has been superseded by the resolution passed by Full Council (agenda item 15).


22) Community, Leisure & Recreation Committee

The minutes of the meeting held on 20 February 2024 were noted.


23) Planning & Environment Committee

The minutes of the meeting held on 20 February 2024.


The meeting concluded at 8:22pm.


Signed ………………………
Chairman, 30 April 2024