15 November 2022 – Minutes


Minutes of the Meeting of Thame Town Council held on 15 November 2022 at 6:30pm in the Upper Chamber, Town Hall, Thame.


Cllrs B Austin, D Bretherton, N Champken-Woods, P Cowell (Town Mayor), M Deacock, A Dite (Deputy Mayor), D Dodds, M Dyer, L Emery, H Fickling, A Gilbert, K Gregory, A Midwinter, H Richards, and T Wyse


M Sturdy, Town Clerk
L Fuller, Committee Services Officer
B Bennett, Communications & Events Officer


Before the meeting started, the Mayor thanked the Community Services Manager and Asset Manager, and their teams, for an excellent and well-organised Remembrance Service on Sunday. Members congratulated the Town Clerk who had been with the Town Council for one year today.


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 civic attendances were noted.

The Town Council had been asked to support White Ribbon Day, a campaign against violence towards women and girls. A short video would be recorded after the meeting expressing the Town Council’s support for the campaign which all Councillors were invited to be a part of.


4 Public Participation and Public Questions

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


5 Thame COP27

Roberta Eardland and Lisa Meaney gave a presentation on Thame COP27. Last year’s Thame COP26 was a great success engaging the community, businesses and organisations to make pledges and commitments to help the environment. Thanks were given to the Town Council for their response, in appointing an Environmental Project Officer and establishing an environmental forum.

The focus of COP27 is reducing emissions, mitigating climate change impacts, and addressing the imbalance between the causers of environmental damage and those who suffer the consequences. Thame COP27 has a focus on social justice, which has involved new partnerships with local groups to enable the whole community to flourish. A key focus is to ensure that those most vulnerable to the effects of climate change do not suffer the most. Thame COP27 will be holding a social and information evening tomorrow (16 November) which all Councillors have been invited to.

Thame COP organisers asked the Town Council to consider making a commitment that all council decisions consider the environment, nature, and the wellbeing of future generations of Thame, particularly those most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. This commitment could be made as part of the review of all committee’s Terms of References.

A Stitch in Thame, a partner organisation of Thame COP, had handcrafted small canary birds for each Councillor. Canary birds used to accompany coal miners to warn them of dangerous gases, as they would be the first to suffer from toxic air. It was hoped that the handcrafted birds would serve as a reminder of the depth of feeling from Thame COP, but also as a reminder of those most vulnerable in society.

Members thanked Ms. Eartland and Ms. Meaney for their presentation and agreed to take the proposed commitment into consideration. It was suggested that they consider standing in the local elections next year, given they are passionate, offer new perspectives and could make a real difference on current and upcoming projects.

The Town Clerk added that the Town Council had made a positive start with the appointment of an Environmental Project Officer, and all job descriptions have been updated to include consideration of environmental impacts. The Town Council continues to support Thame COP27 through offering free use, partnership working and ongoing work to review policies.


6 Reports from County Councillors

The report was noted.

Concern was raised about the proposals by Oxfordshire County Council to restrict travel in Oxford by creating six 15-minute neighbourhoods, as reported in a recent Oxford Mail news article. The proposals would limit travel outside of each neighbourhood area to 100 times a year via a permit, with the alternative being a fine or travelling via the ring road. It was felt this would be an authoritarian and coercive policy that could have dangerous social consequences and should not be prescribed. Thame’s County Councillors are not part of the cabinet and were unaware of the proposals but agreed to look into this.

Was there an update on the Haddenham-Thame Cycleway? Cllr Gregory advised that an options appraisal was underway with next steps likely to be mid next year. The project was still progressing, but the frustrations were understood.

Thanks were given to the County Councillors for supporting various initiatives in Thame via their grant scheme. Cllr Champken-Woods added that he had visited the grant-funded sensory room at Barley Hill School which was fascinating and appreciated.


7 Reports from South Oxfordshire District Councillors

The report was noted.

District Councillor Barker was pleased to report that South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) had approved developer levy funding to Thame & District Housing Association to deliver affordable housing.

The Councillor Grant Scheme is now open until early February and applicants are encouraged.

The results of the Call for Land and Buildings Available for Change have been published. At this stage, SODC are establishing different potential land uses proposed by developers, and the sites have not been approved by SODC. There will be a public consultation on the potentially suitable sites once they have been assessed by SODC.

Members commented on the new large employment development at Rycote Lane, which sits in the parish of Great Haseley despite requests by the Town Council to bring the site within Thame’s boundary so that it could have some control over the design of the site. There appeared to be a lack of joined up thinking between departments at SODC. The District Councillors advised that they had made representation supporting the Town Council’s suggestion to alter the parish boundary, however the committee could not support the proposals as Great Haseley Parish Council objected.

A question was raised as to whether there were other areas adjacent to the parish where this could happen again, and if there was anything the Town Council could do about this? This question would be passed to the Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Officer.

Was there an update on replacing the disabled bays that had been removed at Southern Road for the Park and Charge scheme? Cllr Barker agreed to follow this up.


8 Members Questions (under Standing Order 11)

No questions were raised.


9 Minutes

The Minutes of the Committee Meeting held on 30 August 2022 were confirmed as a correct record, and were signed by the Chairman.


10 Policy & Resources Committee

The minutes of the meetings held on 30 August 2022 and 1 November 2022 were noted.


11 Community, Leisure & Recreation Committee

The minutes of the meeting held on 25 October 2022 were noted.


  1. Concept designs are approved and submitted as part of the planning application.
  2. The additional £15K funding from general reserves to cover the additional costs to planning are approved.


12 Planning & Environment Committee

The minutes of the meetings held on 6 September 2022, 27 September 2022, 18 October 2022 and 8 November 2022 were noted.


13 Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Committee

The minutes of the meetings held on 6 September 2022 and 18 October 2022 were noted.


14 Personnel Committee

The minutes of the meeting held on 4 October 2022 were noted.

As mentioned earlier under Item 5, all staff job descriptions have been updated to include reducing the Council’s environmental footprint wherever possible. The cost of living pay increase has been agreed by the unions and pay will be backdated to April. The Town Clerk reported that the staffing review is ongoing, including investigating apprenticeships and providing extra support for the Maintenance Team. The Town Clerk welcomed any questions.


15 External Audit

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


16 Civility and Respect Pledge

The report was noted.

Councils are being asked to sign up to the Civility and Respect Pledge to encourage better standards of behaviour within the sector. The Town Council already meets the requirements of the pledge and therefore there are no resource implications of signing the pledge.

Whilst all Members were supportive of the pledge and the importance of being civil and respectful, some Members raised concern regarding the training programme element. On the website of the pledge, the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) had listed various training courses. Some Members would not support the pledge if these courses were mandatory.

Officers explained that an important part of the pledge was making all staff and councillors (existing and new) aware of issues relating to civility and respect. The pledge requires that a training programme is put in place, but Officers understood the implementation of this to be at the Town Council’s discretion and that the Council’s Training and Development Policy should be sufficient.


  1. This item be deferred to the next Full Council to allow time to understand the training programme requirements.


17 Oxfordshire Code of Conduct

The report was noted. The Oxfordshire Monitoring Officers Group were recommending that all town and parish councils in Oxfordshire adopted the new Code of Conduct which incorporates some recommendations from the Committee on Standards in Public Life 2019 report. If the code is adopted, Councillors will be required to complete the new Register of Interests form. Officers have undertaken training from SODC and recommend that the new Code of Conduct be adopted.

It was clarified that the training requirement relates to the Code of Conduct training, which some Councillors have already completed. A copy of the slides was provided for information.

It was suggested that this be delayed to May when the administration is in place. However, Officers advised that given there may be 16 new Councillors, it would be best to adopt the Code with experienced Councillors so it is in place for the new administration.


  1. The Oxfordshire Code of Conduct is adopted, and all Councillors complete the Training and updated Register of Interests Form.


18 Dispensations Policy

The report was noted. The Committee Services Officer explained that a recent review of the Dispensations Policy had highlighted that Town Councillors who are also County Councillors are not given the same general dispensation as Town Councillors who are also District Councillors. Other minor alterations are highlighted in red on the policy.

A question was raised as to whether SODC have a similar dispensation for their Councillors who are also Town Councillors. District Councillors Bretherton and Gregory advised that they were not aware of such dispensation, but procedures were in place for planning applications.


  1. The updated Dispensations Policy be approved.


19 Delegations Policy

A minor update, as shown in red text and outlined in the report, was proposed to the Delegations Policy to reflect that the Council had previously agreed that the Town Clerk had delegated authority to grant dispensations.


  1. The updated Delegations Policy be approved.


20 Councillor Drop-In

Cllr Gregory reported that she had been in discussions with the library to use the venue monthly for drop-ins with a representative from each of the Town, District and County Councils available to answer queries at the drop-ins, which Members supported.

The Town Hall could be made available if there was more than one Councillor at the drop in. It was noted that, subject to staffing resources, the intention is to open the Information Centre on Saturdays from April.

Pre-Covid, staffing the drop-ins was a challenge. Cllr Gregory advised she would create a rota and circulate.


21 Windmill Road – Stones Close Allotment Site

There was nothing to report.


22 Boundary Commission Review 2023

The Boundary Commission Review seeks to rebalance parliamentary constituencies. The current review began in 2021 and was now in its third round of consultation ahead of parliament considering the changes next year. A new constituency has been created in Oxfordshire (Bicester and Woodstock) to ensure that all constituencies have the minimum number of voters. The Henley constituency remains largely unchanged. Cllr Dyer had campaigned for the last decade for the constituency to be renamed ‘Henley and Thame’. Within the current boundary commission review, the argument had been acknowledged but as the boundary was not changing, it was considered that the name should not change. As part of the latest consultation, Cllr Dyer had responded with evidence supporting the name change, and had prepared a letter for Councillors to sign if they wished to show their support.


23 Community Governance Review

It was noted that the District Council’s Community Governance and Electoral Issues committee agreed on 10 October 2022 the following decisions:

  1. To make no change to the parish boundary between Thame parish and Great Haseley parish.
  2. To amend the town council ward boundaries.


24 Bledlow Household Recycling Centre

It was noted that Buckinghamshire Council are planning for the Bledlow Household Recycling Centre to re-open by the end of November 2022. Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) are not contributing to the operating costs. There will be fees for Oxfordshire Residents to use the facility and the fees can be viewed on Buckinghamshire Council’s website.

Members were disappointed with the high fees for Oxfordshire residents. Cllr Gregory advised that Buckinghamshire recycling centres receive a lot of cross-border users due to the positioning of the recycling centres on the border of the county, compared to Oxfordshire’s which are more central. There are also challenges with the existing waste provider contract that prevent OCC paying other councils for waste collections.

Both County Councillors Champken-Woods and Gregory are challenging the fees and campaigning on behalf of Thame and Chinnor residents.


The meeting concluded at 7:52pm.


Signed ………………………
Chairman, 17 January 2023