14 November 2023 – Minutes


Minutes of the Meeting of Thame Town Council held on 14 November 2023 at 6:30pm in the Upper Chamber, Town Hall, Thame.


Cllrs M Baines, D Bretherton, 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), H Richards, P Swan, and T Wyse


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


1 Apologies for Absence

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


2 Declarations of Interest and Dispensations

There were no declarations of interest.


3 Civic Announcements

The Mayor and Deputy Mayor’s civic attendances were noted. It had been a busy time with a range of activities.


4 Public Participation and Public Questions

Cllr Richards entered the meeting during this item.

Mr. Edwards spoke as a student at Lord Williams’s School on behalf of the school’s Eco Club and his fellow students regarding Item 10 (20mph). Their main concern relates to Oxford Road remaining 30mph and not being included in the 20mph speed limit proposals. There are safety issues, particularly as there is no pedestrian crossing for students to cross the road to access the bus stop. Another issue is for cyclists, as the single white line for the cycle lane is insufficient and poses a danger for cyclists with drivers often passing too close when overtaking. Overall, it is felt that including Oxford Road in the 20mph zone would be safer for pedestrians and cyclists, particularly benefiting students at Lord Williams’s School.

If 20mph was only imposed during school hours, with signage, would that work? It was felt that variable speed limits would be confusing for drivers.

Mr. Hack spoke as a resident of Lea Park regarding Item 10 (20mph). The main concern relates to the Tythrop Way speed limit, which is set to remain as 40mph. This has been raised with Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) who felt 40mph was appropriate given the CrashMap data which shows six slight incidents in the last 5 years. The CrashMap data does not show that there has been two fatalities and several incidents on the road over the years, as well as five breaches of the perimeter wall including one incident where a property suffered significant damage. The bends and dips in the road make the road particularly hazardous. The 20mph consultation provides the council with an opportunity to request that the 40mph speed limit on Tythrop Way be reduced to 30mph.

Would mini roundabouts make turning onto Tythrop Way less hazardous? Anything to slow traffic would be welcomed. It was confirmed that Mr. Hack’s request was just for Tythrop Way to be reduced to 30mph, not the rest of the bypass.

It was moved and seconded that Item 10 be brought forward and discussed immediately next.


5 Reports from County Councillors

The report was noted.

Regarding earlier discussion of 20mph in Thame, it was noted that the cabinet member would make the final decision and Thame representatives will be invited to make representation.

Within the report, County Councillor Gregory highlighted various topics including the change in political control to a minority administration (Liberal Democrats and Greens), a new cabinet position had been created for SEND improvement, OCC plans to decarbonise its vehicles, grants are open for Ukrainian hosts, boundary review, bus fares capped for December, budget review and the Councillor Priority Fund is open. Members congratulated Cllr Gregory on her appointment to the cabinet for SEND improvement.

OCC are consulting on plans to give them more powers to act if utility companies are not complying. Can anything be done to prevent utility companies repeatedly digging up the same section of highway? There appeared to be a requirement for contractors to work together. The high-speed broadband project was Government controlled and, whilst OCC had requested trench sharing, the companies refused to cooperate.

The boundary review consultation seeks changes to some of the County Council boundaries. For Thame and Chinnor, the proposals suggest a Thame & Chalgrove Ward (South Thame and Moreton), a Thame ward and a Chinnor & villages ward, in order to ensure Thame and Chinnor are both represented. Members were encouraged to review the proposals.

Regarding the SEND report, there is a national funding issue and other authorities had received reports highlighting systemic failures, although some are providing a good service. The SEND improvement board will be meeting later in the week to go through the OFSTED recommendations. The Red Kite Family Centre will be a strategic partner of OCC, amongst other voluntary partners across the county.

Concern was raised about traffic resulting from the proposed relocation of the Kassam Stadium. The application had received mixed consultation feedback and will be subject to the planning process.

It was noted that to date, the County Councillors had awarded £1,481 to Thame through the Councillor Priority Fund, with just over £22,000 still to award. Applications from Thame organisations are encouraged.


6 Reports from South Oxfordshire District Councillors

The report was noted.

District Councillor Barker highlighted that the Local Plan is due to go Regulation 18 in January / February 2024, which will be the first of three public consultations. The papers will be available this Friday. The new Local Plan requires no additional housing across the District. All parish and town councils are encouraged to comment.

External repairs are due to be carried out at the Market House and the Town Council’s input will be welcome, although it was noted that as this is a listed building it may take some time. The works will include the refurbishment of the whole toilet block and installation of a Changing Places toilet, and will be funded through developer contributions.

Regarding the allotments, is there any update on when the developers will sign the agreement to hand the allotments over? This is being chased regularly and Officers are being asked to change policies to give the District Council more power and influence to get developers to deliver their site requirement.


7 Members Questions (under Standing Order 11)

No questions were raised.


8 Thame COP28

Volunteers from ThameCOP presented to the Council their plans for this year’s event, as well as a summary of previous events.

ThameCOP launched in 2021 with COP26 as a local version of the COP Climate Summit, to reduce emissions, increase biodiversity, connect Thame to global issues, and build a community around environmental change. COP26 saw a local commitment campaign, engaged the schools, held local tours, and concluded with a social event highlighting local achievements. As a result of ThameCOP26, the Town Council created an environmental forum to provide support for groups working together. ThameCOP27 was similar, focussing on film and conversation to connect local and global issues surrounding farming, energy, and indigenous communities, and recognising those impacted first by climate change. Both events have involved engaging with people on the street to understand the community’s views, which will be repeated for COP28. ThameCOP offer training sessions and have trained 20 people on having productive conversations about climate change and biodiversity loss. This has been important in building relationships and to the success of ThameCOP.

This year’s event, ThameCOP28 begins on 1 December 2023 and runs for two weeks. The global COP agenda for this year is to move from agreement to action. The first global stocktake on implementation will take place, with the last two days involving final negotiations. A key theme will be loss and damage on a local and global scale.

In Thame, the first weekend will focus on the personal impact, worries, loss, and damage from climate change, and the second weekend will focus on youth innovation, nature, oceans, biodiversity hotspots, food, water and improving resilience.

As the launch coincides with Thame’s Christmas Lights Switch-On, the Christmas spirit will be embraced with plans for some bicycle-powered festive lights and a bauble colouring activity with a QR code connecting to a charity supporting people affected by deforestation. ThameCOP28 will be an energising and uplifting event. Councillors are invited to get involved and have conversations with the public.

Members gave Thame COP a round of applause and thanked them for their presentation.

The order of business returned to Agenda Item 5.


9 External Audit

Members received the External Auditor’s report for 2021-22 and noted that there are no matters identified for further consideration.


10 Thame 20mph

The report was noted. OCC are consulting on proposals for 20mph in Thame. Last year the Town Council unanimously recommended to OCC that all areas within the ring road be made 20mph. Under the latest proposals, some roads within the ring road have been kept at 30mph, citing objections from bus operators.

The council thanked the speakers earlier for their presentations and agreed with the points made about Oxford Road and Tythrop Way. It was confirmed that Lord Williams’s School had been made aware of the proposed 20mph consultation. Previous attempts to install a pedestrian crossing on Oxford Road had been unsuccessful, so 20mph would make the road safer. The Council felt it was important that areas around the schools are prioritised for 20mph, although concerns about enforcement were noted. Regarding Tythrop Way, the current 40mph was not adhered to or safe, and proposals at Moorend Lane could worsen this. The Council would welcome speed enforcement measures if the speed limit cannot be reduced.

Overall, the latest 20mph consultation provided an opportunity to reiterate the request for all roads within the ring road to be 20mph, particularly given the concerns regarding the schools, and to request that OCC consider reducing the speed limit on Tythrop Way to 30mph. There was discussion as to whether these comments would delay the implementation of 20mph, however it was agreed that the Town Council is just being asked for a consultation response.


  1. That the Council requests all roads within the ring road to be 20mph and that OCC considers reducing the speed limit on Tythrop Way from 40mph to 30mph.

It was moved and seconded that Item 8 be brought forward and taken immediately next.


11 Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO)

The report was noted. A small group of Councillors met and recommended that forming a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) would be the best approach to enable projects to progress that sit outside of the Town Council’s powers, such as running the Community Youth Centre. A draft constitution had been circulated. The CIO membership would include Councillors, the Town Clerk, Thame Youth Projects Group and members of the public, with Cllr Bretherton offering to be treasurer given his relevant experience. The activities of the CIO would be reported back to council as per other external organisations. Some Officer time will be needed to set up the CIO, and any additional costs will be brought back for approval.


  1. That the Council approve the application to the Charity Commission to create a CIO which will include the Clerk and two Councillors as Trustees.

Four names for the CIO were suggested: ThameCo, Thame Action, Thame Enterprise, and Future Thame. It was noted that the name would be subject to approval from the Charity Commission. It was agreed to vote on each name in turn and on being put to the vote, it was:


  1. That the name of the CIO be agreed as Future Thame.


12 Community and Youth Building Project

The report was noted. The three recommendations all link together, hence being presented in one report. The project needs funding and needs to know how to access the funds. The first recommendation from the working group will enable the project to progress tendering for the construction of the building. The second recommendation, regarding the business case, the procurement for this will adhere to the Council’s Financial Regulations. Finally, substantial research had been carried out into the position and job description of a Funding Lead.

A question was raised as to the order of doing the RIBA stage 4 and business case. Ideally this work would be done in parallel, and the commissioning of the latter should be relatively quick. The Council agreed that these recommendations should be approved in order to allow the project to continue progressing.


  1. That the Council approve to forward fund £180,000 from their investment funds to allow the next phase, RIBA Stage 4 of the Thame Community and Youth Centre project.
  2. That the Council approve procurement and commissioning of a specialist to write a business case and funding strategy for the Community and Youth Centre project with a budget of £12,000 to be paid for from available CIL funds.
  3. That the Council support starting the recruitment process to employ a full-time Funding Lead with the Job Description and contract details to be approved by the Personnel Committee and Full Council in January.


13 Green Living Plan – Update Report

The report was noted. There was an amazing list of projects, which Councillors were invited to get involved with.


14 Strategy Working Group

The Town Clerk thanked everyone for attending and their contributions at the recent Strategy Workshop Day. It had been a powerful day with lots of input from Councillors and Staff. Recognising that the Town Council’s primary role is to deliver projects within its power. Data is being gathered to plan the next steps and establish priorities, with proposals being brought to the next Full Council. The next Business Forum will be used as a consultation exercise. Councillors and staff will be sent a short feedback form. There is a suggestion to repeat the day annually, on a smaller scale, to assist with budget setting and review the plans for the year ahead.


15 Schedule of Meetings

The report was noted. The council was asked to agree three matters. Firstly, that the Annual Town Meeting be approved for Wednesday 17 April 2024 at Thame Barns Centre and that Officers be delegated to plan this meeting to maximise community engagement. Secondly, to approve the proposed schedule of meetings for the remainder of 2023/24. Thirdly, to consider the options outlined in paragraph 11 of the report regarding 2024/25 meeting dates. The options were to approve as proposed or to just approve the dates so that the outcome of the committee structure review can be implemented depending on committee requirements.

Members questioned if the Barns Centre would charge a hire fee for the Annual Town Meeting. It is intended that the Town Council’s one annual free use be used for this event, and that the Town Awards 2024 may be a different format with it being the 50th anniversary of the Town Council next year, and regardless that event’s hire fee could be covered by sponsorship.

It was noted that the Travel Plan Working Group (TPWG) needed to have a place to report into and to obtain relevant permissions from, if the Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Committee (NPCC) meetings are cancelled. It was noted that relevant Officers are consulted before NPCC meetings are cancelled to ensure that no projects are impacted. In terms of a timeline for the committee review, it is hoped that this will be completed in time for the Annual Meeting in May where committee appointments are made.


  1. To approve that the Annual Town Meeting for 2024 be held at Thame Barns Centre on Wednesday 17 April 2024 at 7pm, and that Officers be delegated to determine the format / theme of the meeting in consultation with the Mayor.
  2. To approve the proposed Schedule of Meetings for the remainder of this civic year (February – May 2024).
  3. To approve the meeting dates only for 2024/25, to ensure that Councillors/Officers/Town Hall are available. To approve the following Full Council meetings for 2024/25 as fixed: 14 May 2024 (Annual Meeting), 18 June 2024 (Annual Return), 21 January 2025 (Precept) and 29 April 2025 (Mayor Designate), and the Annual Town Meeting on 18 March 2025.


16 Minutes

The Minutes of the Council Meeting held on 8 August 2023 were received.


  1. The minutes of the meeting held on 8 August 2023 are confirmed as a correct record, and signed by the Chairman.


17 Policy & Resources Committee

The minutes of the meeting held on 7 November 2023 were noted.


18 Community, Leisure & Recreation Committee

The minutes of the meeting held on 31 October 2023 were noted.


19 Planning & Environment Committee

The minutes of the meetings held on 1 August 2023, 22 August 2023, 19 September 2023, and 17 October 2023 were noted.


20 Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Committee

The minutes of the meeting held on 19 September 2023 were noted.


21 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.


22 Personnel Committee

The minutes of the meeting held on 2 October 2023 were noted.

There was a recommendation within Item 8 of the draft minutes to Full Council to approve a 3% cost-of-living pay increase within the 2024/25 budget. Since the draft minutes, the unions have agreed a higher pay increase, and on the accountant’s advice, it is recommended that 5% be included in the 2024/25 budget to ensure budgets reflect reality. The draft 2024/25 budget will be considered later this month by the Budget Working Group. The Town Clerk provided further financial context, noting that inflation is falling.


  1. That up to 5% cost-of-living increase, including any incremental scale point adjustments, be allowed for in the 2024/25 salary budget.


The meeting concluded at 8:30pm.


Signed ………………………                           Date ……………..