08 August 2023 – Minutes


Minutes of the Meeting of Thame Town Council held on 8 August 2023 at 6:30pm in the Upper Chamber, Town Hall, Thame.


Cllrs M Baines, D Bretherton, 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, P Swan, and T Wyse


M Sturdy, Town Clerk
C Pinnells, Community Services Manager
G Markland, Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Officer
L Fuller, Committee Services & Processes Officer


1 Apologies for Absence

Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Champken-Woods (personal). Apologies were also received from County Councillor Gregory.


2 Declarations of Interest and Dispensations

Cllr Bretherton declared an interest in Item 12 as treasurer of Thame Community Land Trust and abstained from participating and voting on this item.

Cllr Dodds declared a family relation with regards to Item 8 and left the room during this item.


3 Civic Announcements

The civic attendances were noted. The Mayor added that he and the Deputy Mayor had been involved in lots of interesting events recently.


4 Public Participation and Public Questions

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


5 Thame Market

The report from the Chairman of Thame Market Traders Co-Operative (TMTC) Limited was received. The Chairman, Mr. Chris Hurdman, answered Members questions on behalf of the TMTC.

Does the TMTC monitor reasons for stallholders leaving? There are a number of reasons for leaving, examples include financial pressures following Covid-19, retirement or expanding their business. One complained about the poor state of the toilets and felt dismissed by SODC’s response.

Could the fruit and veg stalls leave later to maximise trading? It was felt that these traders know their business best, and that trading has changed since covid-19 with people tending to shop earlier. It was noted that traders work long days to set up/down, and many fruit and veg traders have to be in London by midnight.

Would the market benefit by being located closer to Montesson Square and the Local Produce Market? The current linear set up works well as it avoids group pitches and maintains a flow.

Would gazebos or benches be beneficial? It was noted that this would take a lot of resources from the council’s Maintenance Team to set-up/down and monitor, although if the resources were there it would be supported.

How is the market responding to increased working from home practices and changing demographics? The market has continued to serve an older demographic.

Is Tuesday still the best day to operate? Yes, Thame has an 800year old Royal Charter and we have to make it work, which the TMTC has done over the last 40 years. Traders often go to other markets on other days. Again, changing shopping / working habits were noted.

Was there an effort to attract more food traders? The TMT use social media pages and groups as well as email to attract traders. TMTC are in the best position to maintain a mix of traders in the interests of benefiting all traders and customers.

Has TMTC approached the Thames Valley Market Cooperative? Thame Market benefits from their trade and traders, but feels it would not be beneficial to work with them.

Do traders trade at other markets, and if so, how are those markets performing? One day of trading requires two days work, so most traders only trade at 2-3 markets a week. Some markets locally are thriving, but others – particularly the smaller ones – are suffering.

What is the age of the traders? There is a range of ages amongst traders. Greater flexibility post-covid with regards to trading hours has attracted traders who have family or caring responsibilities.

What is causing market fragility? Nationally, the number of traders has declined, however TMTC is doing what it can to fill vacant plots. Mr. Hurdman is content with the current working arrangements and rent agreement with the Town Council, and thanks officers for their support.

What are the market’s main priorities? Electricity, which market traders feel they have paid for, and the poor market surface, as traders only pay for their pitch floorspace. What electricity requirements would be required? This would require further research, however at least 8 traders would like electricity.

The Council thanked Mr. Hurdman for his report and answering Members’ questions.

The report from the Community Services Manager was noted. In order to assist, support and enhance Thame Market, Officers propose reforming the Market Working Group with up to 6 members, or appointing a Councillor to be a ‘champion’ and report to the Policy & Resources committee. It was felt that a working group would be the best option to establish how the Town Council can support the market. It was suggested that the market traders also be members of the working group. Cllrs Cowell, Dawson, Dollman, Dodds, Dyer, and Emery volunteered to join the working group.


  1. The Market Working Group be reformed with Cllrs Cowell, Dawson, Dollman, Dodds, Dyer, and Emery, and market trader representatives, which reports to the Policy & Resources with any recommendations.


6 Reports from County Councillors

The report was noted. In the absence of the County Councillors, the following questions would be sent to them via email:

  • How can Thame avoid repeating the inefficient installation of fast broadband infrastructure in future? Many of Thame’s pavements and roads were dug up multiple times.
  • Is the Hardship Fund working in partnership with Citizens Advice?


7 Reports from South Oxfordshire District Councillors

The report was noted. District Cllr Barker was pleased to report that the District Council has received funding from Changing Places and CIL to refurbish the Market House toilets. There was no timeframe for this, but Cllr Barker would keep the Town Council informed. Cllr Barker was disappointed to hear that issues regarding the cleaning of the market toilets are ongoing and agreed to take this back to the team. It was noted that of the summer activities for children which SODC advertise few are held in Thame.


8 Thame Fields (Reserve Site C) – P23/S2269/RM

Reserved Matters application seeking approval for the appearance, landscaping, layout and scale pursuant to Condition 1 of planning permission P21/S0917/O.

The report was noted. The application site is an allocation site for 57 homes and 2.7 hectares of publicly accessible open space under Thame Neighbourhood Plan (TNP) Policy HA7. Figure HA14 within the TNP outlines the key principles of the site. The site currently has outline permission, with 33 conditions attached. This permission established a parameter plan for the site based on established principles from the adjacent site (‘Site C’). The parameter plan from the outline permission shows proposed building height, densities, siting of the SUDS scheme and access, and is a material matter for the current Reserved Matters application.

The current application has good aspects but many issues where it is not policy compliant. Firstly, Policy HA7 requires ‘breathing space’ on the site’s frontage given the industrial site opposite and busyness of Wenman Road. The adjacent site has delivered this well, with houses set back from the road, and planting. The proposals for Reserve Site C show too narrow a frontage and fail to continue the wide avenue from Site C, and therefore are contrary to TNP Policy HA7. Secondly, the proposed parking bays will directly adjoin a footpath / cycle lane, which is dangerous due to the possibility of doors being opened into the path of bicycles. The proposed tree planting will not add much to the scheme. There are several design issues, including that many of the homes have blank elevations. Both TNP and the Local Plan require affordable homes to be “visually indistinguishable”. The proposals show the affordable homes as having shorter windows and plots, and that none of them are detached. In terms of the surveillance, the proposed play area and parking are not overlooked or have natural passersby.

Cllr Dodds left the meeting.

What are the plans for the open space to the south of the site? It was noted that the Cuttle Brook Nature Reserve Volunteers are interested in getting involved in increasing the biodiversity of this area. Some land will be retained for agricultural purposes, however the remainder will include public open space and a footpath connecting to the other sites to the West, although it was noted the surface of the path was unknown so it may not be suitable for a parkrun.

Why was the play area disconnected? The Town Council expected that the play area would follow on from the landscape corridor to the west, however the path now runs along the east of the side. It is disappointing there is no connection from this play area to the south of the site.

Members commented on the small size of the front elevation windows on the affordable homes and lack of side windows on the semi-detached units, given the importance of natural lighting on mental health.

The energy statement is noncommittal on solar panels and air source heat pumps. Can the Town Council request a greater environmental commitment? The Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Officer recommended that the Town Council focus on building efficient and better-quality homes, as it is harder to do this retrospectively. The District Council also have an energy efficiency policy that encourages efficiency built into the house. It was noted that prices of PV panels continue to fall, making it relatively affordable for a future occupant to purchase, especially if done through schemes such as the Thame Solar Streets.


  1. The Town Council objects to planning application P23/S2269/RM for the reasons set out in the report.
  2. A comment is added regarding the size of the windows on the affordable homes and lack of windows on the semi-detached units.

The Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Officer left the meeting. Cllr Dodds returned to the meeting.


9 Strategy Project Working Group

The report was noted. The Town Clerk reported that the first SPWG meeting had been successful in establishing a process. The strategy work must not be confused with the Thame Neighbourhood Plan. Communication around the strategy also needs to ensure that we promote what the Town Council does and is, before asking for action from the community. With next year being 50years of the Town Council, this seemed a good time to launch the strategy. All Staff and Councillors will be invited to a Strategy Workshop Day, which will be facilitated by an external experienced facilitator.


  1. The Council pool their knowledge and experience to raise the profile of the Town Council though a focused communication exercise linked to the 50th Anniversary of the Council.
  2. The Council supports holding a one-day strategy meeting on 10 November 2023 for all members and staff.


10 Town Council 50th Anniversary

The report was noted. All suggestions in the report need consideration and should be done in line with the strategy, but other ideas are welcome. Members supported the ideas but felt it important that this does not become a vanity project. Rather, the focus should be on delivering existing projects that will benefit the town, as well as engaging the community and celebrating Thame. Some additional ideas included drinking water fountains, engaging the schools in a historical project, and shop window displays. It was noted that there was a wealth of knowledge within the council that could be drawn on.


11 Travel Plan Working Group / Community Interest Company

The report was noted. Officers are seeking support from Councillors, particularly those with relevant experience, to scope and investigate setting up a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) (or similar appropriate organisation) and the resources required. A CIO (or similar) could enable the Council to run a hopper bus and the community youth centre building, which it currently cannot do under legislation. The General Power of Competence only applies where another power does not prohibit the activity. Cllr Bretherton offered to assist.


  1. The project to identify a suitable charitable organisation / structure and associated costs is fully scoped.
  2. That volunteer councillors with suitable skills and support from officers are identified to deliver the recommendations to Full Council.


12 Thame Community Land Trust Loan

The report was noted. Members fully supported the project.


  1. The Council approves that the first repayment amount due on the Thame Community Land Trust second loan agreement is deferred until 29th February 2024 or to the date of the Trust’s acquisition of the Windmill Road site if earlier.


13 Stones Close Allotments Partnering Agreement

The report was noted.


  1. The Council authorises the signing and sealing of the updated 4-year Stones Close Partnership Agreement.


14 Thame Fair

The report was noted. Questions were asked regarding ride safety inspections, first aid cover at the October Fair, and possible utilisation of electricity if available in the Upper High Street car park. The rides are tested through ADIPS, which is a machine test. No first aid cover is provided at the October Fair due to the scale of the event and in agreement with the Showmen’s Guild. Town Council personnel also monitor the event. It is unlikely that if electricity was installed for the market, it would be powerful enough for the town fairs.


  1. The Council authorises the signing of the September and October Fairs one-year Agreement 2023.


15 Community Youth Centre

The Community Youth Centre now has full planning permission. Earlier today, a positive first kickstart meeting had been held with Thame Youth Projects with lots of actions to take away. For continuity and cost benefits, the architects will remain throughout the project. The next steps are to work through various streams including communication, funding, and project.


16 Mayor’s Consort Badge

The report was noted, which outlined how the Mayor’s Consort Badge was being adjusted so it could be worn as either a necklace or badge.


17 S106 Update – Chinnor Rugby Club

It was noted that that the Chinnor Rugby Club have applied to SODC for the remainder of the S106 funding available in the Sports Strategy (totalling £91,697.71 from S106 contributions from planning obligations P13/S2330/O (14S17) and P14/S1619/O (15S12)). The Town Clerk has expressed support for the application as it conforms with the funding available in the Sports Strategy.  

It was clarified that this related to expansion of the female changing rooms. The money allocated in the Sports Strategy cannot be used on other projects. The Town Clerk continues to negotiate with the S106 Officer to ensure Thame receives all S106 money due.


18 External Audit / Annual Governance and Accountability Return (AGAR) / End of Year Accounts 2022-23

It was noted that due to an accounting error, by our accounting services, sections 2 and 6 have been updated, and section 11a has been ticked, on the Accounting Statements 2022/23 which were approved by the Council on 13 June 2023.


19 Members Questions (under Standing Order 11)

No questions were raised.


20 Minutes

The Minutes of the Council Meeting held on 13 June 2023 were received.


  1. The minutes of the meeting held on 13 June 2023 are confirmed as a correct record, and signed by the Chairman.


21 Policy & Resources Committee

The minutes of the meeting held on 25 July 2023 were noted.


22 Community, Leisure & Recreation Committee

The minutes of the meeting held on 18 July 2023 were noted. There was one item for Full Council’s consideration, regarding Elms Park and the Open Spaces Sub-Committee (OSSC) (Item 8). £300,000 is available in S106 funding, but this won’t be received until 2025. The Community, Leisure & Recreation (CLR) Committee were asked to forward fund the play park replacement element of the project by £55,000, but agreed to recommend £100,000. The District Council have agreed to minute that they support the Town Council forward funding the S106 funds. They, and the developer, recognise the need to replace the play equipment. The second recommendation relates to increasing the delegated spending authority for CLR / OSSC to £400,000. There is a risk that the Town Council does not receive the S106 funds. Members agreed that Elms Park play area urgently needs replacing.


  1. The Council approves 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. The Council increases to £400K the delegated spend by CLR/OSSC on the total project for all the alterations to Elms Park.


23 Planning & Environment Committee

The minutes of the meetings held on 20 June 2023 and 11 July 2023 were noted. The minutes of the meeting held on 1 August 2023 were not available to note.


24 Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Committee

The minutes of the meeting held on 20 June 2023 were noted.

The Community Services Manager left the meeting.


25 Exclusion of the Public

MOVED that:

  1. Under Section 1, Paragraph 2 of The Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960 the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business because publicity would be prejudicial to the public interest by reason of the confidential nature of the business to be transacted.


26 Personnel Committee

The minutes of the meeting held on 24 July 2023 were noted. There were two recommendations for Full Council. Firstly, to approve the changes to the Personnel Committee’s Terms of Reference, to reflect what the committee actually discuss. Secondly, to consider supporting and funding the Town Clerk to study the Level 4 Community Governance qualification. This course will support the Town Clerk’s continuous professional development and make the council more professional. A studying agreement will be put in place and the Town Clerk is aware of the commitment required.


  1. The Council approves the revised Personnel Terms of Reference.


  1. The Council supports the clerk in undertaking the (Level 4) Community Governance Course.
  2. The Council funds the costs of the course by up to £6500 over two years.
  3. The Council approves setting up a training agreement between the council and clerk to include that the clerk must remain in employment with the council for 2 years following completion of the course or otherwise refund, pro rata the costs of the course.


The meeting concluded at 8:21pm.


Signed ………………………                                       Dated ………………………