13 June 2023 – Minutes


Minutes of the Meeting of Thame Town Council held on 13 June 2023 at 6:30pm in the Upper Chamber, Town Hall, Thame.


Cllrs M Baines, D Bretherton, P Cowell, A Dite (Town Mayor), H Dollman, D Dodds, M Dyer, L Emery, H Fickling, A Gilbert (Deputy Mayor), and T Wyse


M Sturdy, Town Clerk
A Oughton, Operations Manager
L Fuller, Committee Services & Processes Officer


1 Apologies for Absence

Apologies for absence were received from Cllrs Champken-Woods (personal), Dawson (personal), Jones (personal) and Richards (personal).


2 Declarations of Interest and Dispensations

Cllr Baines declared an interest in Item 9 as a family member is employed by Citizens Advice, and abstained from voting on this item.


3 Civic Announcements

The Mayor announced his charities as the Red Kite Family Centre and Thame Shed.


4 Public Participation and Public Questions

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


5 Co-Option

There had been six applicants for the co-option – Chris Hatton, Hazel Coey, Kenneth Meek, Mark Goodall, Paul Swan, and Thomas Wyner.


  1. To assist with administration, the Council uses a ballot system to elect the co-opted Councillor.


To ensure fairness, the Council considered each candidate in turn, with the remaining 5 being removed from the room. Each candidate was given a timed 2 minutes to speak, followed by a timed 3 minutes to answer the following questions:

  1. Why did you not stand in the recent elections?
  2. What capacity do you have to be a Town Councillor?
  3. What do you think is the biggest challenge facing Thame and the Town Council?
  4. What is the best thing about Thame?

Dr. Chris Hatton has lived in Thame for 6 years with his wife and two children. Chris works as a pharmacist, but is also passionate about his community, as a volunteer for Thame United, member of the Thame Meadows Residents Association and involvement with the Thame Neighbourhood Plan (TNP). Chris has a passion for the environment, enjoys being outdoors, and is involved in the Open Spaces Society and Thame Green Living Plan (GLP). As a father of a young family, Chris represents a younger demographic of parents in Thame. With a PHD, Chris can offer thorough research and digital experience as a complimentary skillset. In not being politically affiliated, Chris had previously not considered what was involved in being a councillor, however now seemed the right opportunity. Despite working full-time, this is primarily home-based, and Chris is genuinely interested in Thame matters so is willing to find time. Representing Thame’s people and keeping them happy is a challenge for Thame. The charm of the town is in its water, open spaces, countryside, and the TNP and GLP, so it is important not to lose those.

Hazel Coey felt it would be a great privilege to be a Town Councillor, with three generations of her family living in Thame. Hazel aspires for Thame to be one of the best places to live in the country. Hazel is involved in Thame Museum and can offer interpersonal skills and committee experience. Hazel had recently become involved in the planning process as a neighbour to the Pearce’s Yard planning application. Hazel would welcome training and mentoring. Much consideration had been given to applying to join the council. Hazel has capacity to get involved and is keen to challenge herself. The biggest challenge for Thame is the planned increase in housing, particularly given the potential flood risk, and impact on healthcare, schools, and infrastructure. Thame is a wonderful town, with welcoming, community-spirited people.

Kenneth Meek moved to Thame to get a house that could accommodate his medical needs. Kenneth has experience as a Councillor at Cuddesdon & Denton Parish Council, as well as being a school governor and qualified internal and external auditor. Kenneth had missed the deadline to stand in the local elections. Kenneth is retired and able to give as much time as required. As a disabled person, the biggest challenge facing Thame is accessibility and getting around. The best thing about Thame is the corner shop!

Mark Goodall has a longstanding interest in Thame and a passion for local issues. Mark was educated at Lord Williams’s School, was a conservative councillor in the 1990s, lives in Thame and ran a business in the town centre for 40 years. Mark is now politically affiliated with the Liberal Democrats and would like to return to the Town Council to make a continued contribution. The Town has a vibrant economy, a strong high street business base and is a friendly place to live. The TNP should support the community and young people, and ensure development happens in an environmentally friendly way. Mark had only considered becoming a Town Councillor upon seeing the vacancy. Although Mark works, he has time to dedicate to being a Town Councillor. The biggest challenge is the high street – the retail environment has changed drastically. The council has done well to introduce town events, such as Taste of Thame, that attract people into the town and maintain the town’s vibrancy. New development should be accompanied with new facilities. The best thing about Thame is that it is an active friendly place to be, with a thriving high street environment.

Paul Swan moved to Thame 9 years ago with his wife and two children. Paul works within the NHS, but previously worked for Canterbury City Council, and has experience with a range of professions in different sectors. Paul has stood in 3 local elections, and in the May 2023 elections missed out on being elected by a few votes. Paul believes in public service and working effectively with all staff and Councillors. Important matters to Paul include protecting the environment, sustaining the Red Kite Family Centre, supporting the GLP and Community Land Trust, ensuring sustainable development, and promoting health and wellbeing. In terms of commitment, Paul has discussed this with the Town Clerk and other Councillors, and considered it carefully, to ensure he is able to contribute effectively if co-opted. Thame’s greatest challenge is maintaining a sustainable, affordable, and cohesive community whilst considering the environment and delivering additional housing. The best thing about Thame is that it is a welcoming, cohesive community that work well together. The Town Council is forward thinking with its Neighbourhood Plan and GLP.

Thomas Wyner grew up in London and spent his career living and travelling abroad, however 4 years ago he retired and settled in Thame, which is a wonderful place to live. Thomas chairs the Rooks Lane Residents Association. Thomas was not aware of the recent election. He has capacity to get more involved. The biggest challenge for Thame is keeping the town as it is, and to resist building houses where they are not wanted. Thame is small and kept its character, whilst providing all the amenities of a bigger place.

Following the six presentations, a ballot was conducted. The Chairman announced the result that Paul Swan had received a majority and was therefore co-opted onto the council, which received a round of applause. The Chairman thanked everyone who had applied and hoped the Town Council could capture their enthusiasm.


  1. Subject to confirmation from the co-opted member, that they be appointed to fill the vacancies on the Planning & Environment and Policy & Resources committees.


6 Internal Audit

The Internal Audit Report 2022-23: Final Update was received. No issues had been identified, and thanks were given to the Responsible Financial Officer & Corporate Services Manager for her work.


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

The report was noted. Members highlighted a few unexplained disparities. The Town Clerk explained that Officers had highlighted these too, but that the Town Council’s accountant was running behind and had not yet provided an explanation for the disparities. Officers would be following this up.

It was noted the Notice of Public Rights and Publication of Unaudited Annual Governance & Accountability Return will be 15th June 2023 – 26th July 2023.


Annual Governance Statement 2022-23


  1. The Annual Governance Statement for 2022-2023 be approved.


Unaudited Financial Statements for the year ending 31 March 2023

The Unaudited Financial Statements for the year ending 31 March 2023 were received.


Accounting Statements for 2022-2023


  1. The Accounting Statements for 2022-2023 be approved.


8 Sycamore Rise Allotments & Community Orchard

The report was noted. In April 2021, the Town Council agreed in principle to take on the management responsibilities of the allotments on this site. 12 allotments are proposed along with a brick building, rather than a wooden shed. If the Town Council sign the Deed of Variation (as presented), the District Council will sign it along with the developer, meaning the site will be signed off as practically complete. The Town Council will receive a commuted sum of £80,000 when the allotments are transferred which will be earmarked for maintenance.

Although there is a long list of people waiting for an allotment, there is a risk that local residents may not form an allotment association. The Town Council will provide initial support to assist.


  1. The Council approves the draft Deed of Variation between the developer and South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC), to allow transfer and ownership of Sycamore Rise allotments and community orchard to the Town Council.
  2. The Town Council issues the Practical Completion Certificate with the assistance of the S106 Officer at South Oxfordshire District Council.


9 Grants

The report was noted. The Grants Panel had considered the 14 applications. More funding had been requested than was available, with the panel’s recommendations shown in the Grant Award Summary (Appendix 1). The Council was asked to consider approving the panel’s recommendations and secondly to consider awarding an additional grant to Citizens Advice.

Members commented that it may have been useful if the Grant Award Summary had summarised what each award is for. The panel have the full grant applications and account statements when considering the applications in line with the Grant Award Policy, and the summary shows whether the award is capital, seed-funding, or revenue. It was also noted that the panel has been given delegated authority to determine grant awards, and that it may not be helpful to provide a summary of the award without the context of the full application.

Citizens Advice had not made a formal grant application but had requested financial support in addition to their annual £4,000 grant. The Town Council had previously increased its precept to enable this grant. There is £7,000 in reserves for grants, however some of this should be withheld for emergency grants. It was suggested that the Town Council award £2,500 to Citizens Advice and agree to review this for future budget-setting. It was noted that this may set a precedent for other organisations to request interim financial support, and it was agreed to review all annual grants at budget setting.


  1. The grant awards as recommended by the Grant Awards Panel be agreed in accordance with the powers identified in Appendix 1.
  2. The Council agrees to award Citizens Advice with an additional award of £2,500 from the Grants Ear Marked reserves for 2023-24.


10 Strategy Working Group

The report was noted. The council was asked to approve the initial membership for the first meeting. All Councillors will be involved after this, and decisions will come to Full Council. The second recommendation is to allocate a budget if an external facilitator is required, and the Council is asked to consider delegating this expenditure to the Town Clerk so the procurement process can commence. The Strategy Project Working Group will link with the TNP and GLP and involve a range of stakeholders. The aim is to have a full-day workshop with the whole TTC team.


  1. The Council approves the initial members of the Strategy Project Working Group as Cllrs Dite, Gilbert, Cowell, Dyer, Jones, and Dawson.
  2. An initial Budget of £4,000 be set from General Reserves for this project, with the authority to spend within the agreed budget delegated to the Town Clerk.


11 Schedule of Meetings 2023-24

The report was noted and contained an update on work to review the committee frequency as requested by the council in January 2023. The Committee Services & Processes Officer explained that that work is ongoing, and will include a wider review of committee terms of reference, responsibilities and delegations. In the meantime, in order to balance this work alongside other workloads and to confirm meeting dates, Members were asked to consider approving the proposed Schedule of Meetings up to January 2024, which will see a trial of 4-weekly Planning & Environment committees from September.


  1. The proposed Schedule of Meetings for May 2023 – January 2024 be approved.


12 BT Phone Box

The Town Council had already agreed to purchase and refurbish the Phone Box outside the Town Hall, and was now asked to authorise the signing of the contract with BT.


  1. The Council authorises the signing and sealing of the contract with British Telecommunications plc to purchase the Phone Box outside the Town Hall.


13 Nelson Street

Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) had asked the Town Council to consider endorsing the proposal to introduce a one-way system on Nelson Street, so that a consultation can be carried out with residents, the fire service, the Player’s Theatre, and other relevant businesses.


  1. The Town Council supports the proposals to consult on a one-way system on Nelson Street.


14 Report from County Councillors

The report was noted.

County Councillor Gregory explained that the County Council is working with the Oxfordshire Association of Local Councils to develop a Town/Parish Council charter to create a holistic communication framework.

The Councillor Priority Fund is now open for applications, with Cllr Gregory and Champken-Woods each having £15,000 available for not-for-profit organisations within the Thame & Chinnor division. Could this be used for entertainment / leisure projects, and are audited accounts needed? Cllr Gregory advised as long as the project is not-for-profit and supported Thame, then it would be eligible. Details about the required information is available on the link in the report.

Why were OCC moving offices? This is not definite. OCC is consulting and exploring options due to the under-utilisation of some of its offices and buildings. OCC needs to retain its heritage assets whilst meeting its climate emergency goals and making best use of its property portfolio. Members raised some questions / suggestions, which Cllr Gregory noted and agreed to follow up.

Was there a timescale on the Haddenham-Thame cycleway? Cllr Gregory advised that the options analysis was being undertaken by an external company on behalf of Buckinghamshire Council in partnership with OCC. This was expected to take a year and be complete by July, so Cllr Gregory would follow this up and hopefully would hear something soon.


15 Reports from South Oxfordshire District Councillors

The report was noted.

District Councillor Gregory noted that following the recent elections, the Liberal Democrats have overall control, however the District Council continues to be run in partnership with the Green Party following the success of the previous administration.

Applications for the ‘Everyone Active’ grants are open, and the report contained a brief update on the Joint Local Plan 2041.

With the time approaching 8:30pm, it was proposed, seconded, and moved to suspend Standing Order 5 to allow the meeting to continue and conclude the remaining items of business.


16 Red Kite Family Centre

The reports were noted. Members were asked to read and understand the reports, which explained how the organisation is making changes to become more financially sustainable.


17 Mayor of Thame’s Charity Trust

The annual technical summary of the Mayor of Thame’s Charity Trust for the year 2022-23 was received.


18 Members Questions (under Standing Order 11)

No questions were raised.


19 Minutes

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 16 May 2023 were received.


  1. The minutes of the meeting held on 16 May 2023 are confirmed as a correct record, and signed by the Chairman.


20 Policy & Resources Committee

The minutes of the meeting held on 16 May 2023 were noted.


21 Community, Leisure & Recreation Committee

The minutes of the meeting held on 16 May 2023 were noted.


22 Planning & Environment Committee

The minutes of the meetings held on 16 May 2023 and 30 May 2023 were noted.


23 Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Committee

The minutes of the meeting held on 16 May 2023 were noted.


The meeting concluded at 8:39pm.


Signed ………………………
Chairman, 8 August 2023