16 January 2024 – Minutes


Minutes of the Meeting of Thame Town Council held on 16 January 2024 at 6:30pm in the Upper Chamber, Town Hall, Thame.


Cllrs M Baines, D Bretherton, N Champken-Woods, P Cowell, 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
K Slater, Corporate Services Manager & Responsible Financial Officer
L Fuller, Committee Services & Processes Officer


1 Apologies for Absence

Apologies for absence were received from Cllrs Dawson (personal) and Jones (personal).


2 Declarations of Interest and Dispensations

Cllr Bretherton declared an interest in Item 9 as a Trustee of Thame Community Land Trust and did not partake in the debate of this item.

Cllr Swan entered the meeting.


3 Civic Announcements

The civic attendances were noted. As the first Full Council meeting of the year, the Mayor wished everyone a Happy New Year. The Christmas period had been reasonably busy, and the Romanian Fair had gone well.


4 Public Participation and Public Questions

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


5 Members Questions (under Standing Order 11)

No questions were raised.


6 Budget and Precept for 2024-2025

The report was noted.

Following discussions with the Budget Working Group the draft 2024-2025 budget represents a 15% increase on last year. This reflects a budget available for replacement play equipment, a Fundraiser Role, fixed pay increases, training, and other adjustments up and down. The annual grants to the Red Kite Family Centre, Thame Senior Friendship Centre, Youth Worker, and Citizens Advice are retained. This 15% increase would equate to an additional £79,598 in the budget. In 2024/25, a 15% increase would mean the amount paid by a Band D household towards Town Council services would increase from £3.43/week (2023/24) to £3.95/week, and the annual increase would be £27.20/year.

An alternative option would be to suspend the annual community grants scheme (equating to £10,500) and reducing other budget lines which would reduce the increase from 15% to 12%. The Fundraiser, once appointed, may be able to assist community groups in obtaining grants. A 12% increase would result in an annual increase per Band D household of approximately £21.50/year. The 12% figures as presented are approximate.

Officers highlighted that the Town Council is running to the legal minimum of 3 months contingency funds, ideally this would be closer to 6 months to provide funds for emergency situations.

Members asked whether the removal of the community grants scheme year would impact on community organisations? As TTC’s grants scheme is for capital, not revenue, grants, it is unlikely that there would be a significant impact.

There is a surplus of grant budget due to an underspend in previous years of approximately £4.8k, which does not show on the draft budget as it will not be ‘available’ until the 2024/25 financial year, but this could be put towards offsetting the overall 2024/25 budget. It was agreed that Officers would see if this would be possible, and therefore the council recommended that the budget increase be approved up to 12% to enable this possible further reduction.

Officers have been mindful of expected staffing changes whilst presenting the budget figures. It is expected that the apprentices will start in April. The Fundraiser Role reflects an increase of 5.8% in the budget, therefore the remaining increase (approximately 6%) is in line with inflation during 2023-2024.


  1. The budget for 2024-2025 be approved.
  2. An increase of no more than 12% be raised and approved for the 2024-2025 precept.


7 Internal Audit

Members received the First Interim Internal Audit Report 2023-24.   


8 Strategy Working Group

The report was noted.

The Strategy Working Group met on 8 January 2024 and received presentations on the work to date regarding the committees review and strategy. The committees review work is based on thorough research of TTC’s committees and comparisons with other councils and best practice. The aim is to draw on the knowledge and experience of all Councillors and Staff to ensure the committees function effectively and efficiently in line with the needs of TTC now with flexibility to meet future needs and aspirations in line with its strategic objectives.

To enable progress and to meet the timeline set out in the presentation, the Council is asked to consider holding an additional Full Council meeting on 13 February 2024, likely on the rising of Planning & Environment, to discuss the committee review and strategy review work in more detail. This section of the meeting will be closed to the public and be proceeded by two agenda items – the planning application at Land North of Oxford Road and the Joint Local Plan 2041 Consultation.

Members commended the work undertaken by the Committee Services & Processes Officer.


  1. An additional Full Council meeting be held on Tuesday 13 February 2024.


9 Thame Community Land Trust

The report was noted. The Thame Community Land Trust (CLT) project continues to move forward however due to delays in obtaining S106 funds and other external factors, the Thame CLT is requesting an extension to both of their loan repayments and zero interest phase to August 2024. The project had been a big learning curve and experienced repetitive delays, however building work is hoped to start in Spring 2024 and the S106 agreement should be signed soon.


  1. The second repayment due on the Thame Community Land Trust’s first loan agreement is deferred until 31 August 2024 or to the date of Thame Community Land Trust’s acquisition of the Windmill Road site, whichever is earlier.
  2. The first two repayment amounts due on the Thame Community Land Trust’s second loan is deferred until 31 August 2024 or to the date of Thame Community Land Trust’s acquisition of the Windmill Road site, whichever is earlier.
  3. The interest free period is extended until 31 August 2024 for both loans.


10 Oxfordshire Council’s Charter

The consultation on the Oxfordshire Councils Charter is now open until 11 February 2024. Town and parish councils are invited to comment. Overall, Members supported the principles of the charter and felt it would help hold councils to account. It was suggested that comments be included in the Town Council’s response highlighting Thame’s position on the county border and its position as a rural market town. Individuals were encouraged to make responses too.


11 20mph

It was noted that 20mph proposals for Thame were considered at a meeting of Oxfordshire County Council’s Delegated Decisions by Cabinet Member for Transport Management on Thursday 14 December 2023. Cllr Gilbert provided representation for the Town Council.

It was noted that at that meeting, OCC have approved the introduction of 20mph in Thame as advertised (Appendix A) and agreed to reassess speed limits on Oxford Road, Kingsey Road, Youens Drive, Thame Park Road (consider reducing these from 30mph to 20mph) and Tythrop Way (consider reducing from 40mph to 30mph). The speed limit reassessment would be subject to a consultation, likely in February, with implementation later in 2024 subject to power supply being available for the illuminated signs.

It was confirmed that Churchill Crescent was covered within the Town Council’s request to include Kingsey Road within the 20mph scheme. There was support in Moreton for 20mph, and this is supported by the Town Council.

The Town Council remains in contact with OCC Officers on the matter and will keep Councillors informed.


12 Local Government Boundary Commission for England – Oxfordshire Review Consultation

The Town Council response to this consultation, as submitted via email, was noted.


13 Cuttle Brook Nature Reserve

It was noted that following advice from the Cuttle Brook Volunteer Committee the Thame community will be asked to refrain from using the nature reserve until the end of March 2024. The prolonged spell of wet weather and high use of the reserve has left the paths in a very poor state; reducing the footfall will expedite its recovery.

This will be communicated through some signage and social media.

When would the flooding issue be addressed where the Cuttle Brook passes under Oxford Road? Officers had met with engineers at South Oxfordshire District Council to discuss a holistic approach to tackle flooding at Cuttle Brook following a property adjoining it being partly flooded recently. One option the council hope to have explored is increasing the size of the culvert under Oxford Road.


14 Minutes

The Minutes of the Council Meeting held on 14 November 2023 were received.


  1. The minutes of the meeting held on 14 November 2023 are confirmed as a correct record, and signed by the Chairman.


15 Planning & Environment Committee

The minutes of the meetings held on 21 November 2023 and 19 December 2023 were noted.

The Planning & Environment Committee had been made a recommendation to Full Council (Item 5 of the minutes from 19 December 2023) that the Travel Plan Working Group (TPWG) report into the Planning & Environment Committee rather than the Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Committee whilst the latter is not meeting as frequently. This is just an interim measure whilst the committees are under review to ensure TPWG projects can continue to progress.


  1. The Travel Plan Working Group report into the Planning & Environment Committee.


16 Open Spaces Sub-Committee

The minutes of the meeting held on 11 January 2024 were noted. As the minutes had not been available in advance, the Chair of the Open Spaces Sub-Committee gave a verbal update of the meeting. Nine tenders had been received for the refurbishment of Elms Park. Four were shortlisted and considered at the meeting. All scored very similarly; however, a tender was awarded. A clarification meeting will be held next week with the chosen tenderer. The intention is to start the refurbishment in Spring 2024.


17 Personnel Committee

The minutes of the meeting held on 9 January 2024 were noted.


The meeting concluded at 7:31pm.



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