16 November 2021 – Minutes
THAME TOWN COUNCIL
Minutes of the Meeting of Thame Town Council held on 16 November 2021 at 6:30pm in the Upper Chamber, Thame Town Hall.
Cllrs B Austin, D Bretherton, P Cowell (Town Mayor), N Champken-Woods (Deputy Mayor), M Deacock, A Dite, D Dodds, M Dyer, H Fickling, K Gregory, A Midwinter, and T Wyse
M Sturdy, Town Clerk
C Pinnells, Community Services Manager
L Fuller, Committee Services Officer
Before the meeting started, the Mayor welcomed the new Town Clerk to her first council meeting.
1 Apologies for Absence
Apologies were received from Cllrs Emery (personal), Jones (personal), Richards (personal), and Tipping (business).
2 Declarations of Interest and Dispensations
There were no declarations of interest.
3 Civic Announcements
The civic attendances were noted. The Mayor added that the number of invitations was growing. The Deputy Mayor advised that he had been unable to attend Thame’s Act of Remembrance on Armistice Day.
4 Public Participation and Public Questions
There were no applications to address the Council.
There were no questions put to the Council.
5 Report from County Councillors N Champken-Woods and K Gregory
The report was noted.
A question was raised as to how the figure of replacing one in three car trips was derived, with regards to the Local & Transport Connectivity Plan. Cllr Gregory advised that she could find this out, but the plan was about enabling more cycle paths, buses, and walking.
Regarding Nelson Street, this related to reconfiguring the junction at Southern Road to improve safety and the County Councillors were working on obtaining S106 monies to assess feasibility. There had been previous discussions to make Nelson Street one-way, but this was not supported by the residents.
A question was raised with regards to social care funding from the Government. Cllr Gregory advised that the tranche of Government money had left a shortfall, and the County Council were requesting further funding from the Government.
On the new 20mph policy, would the Town Council be consulted? How would the speed limit be enforced? The process was that residents would request the 20mph speed limit to the town council, who would then pass this to Oxfordshire County Council who would formalise the request. At this stage the intention was to gauge interest. The speed limit would be enforced as per all other speed limits; however, it was noted that the Town Council now had three speed detector radar guns for local groups to hire, which would result in a fine to the driver after three speeding offences. A report on speeding offences in Thame would need to be obtained from the Police.
6 Reports from South Oxfordshire District Councillors
The report was noted. District Councillor Barker added that the District Council had contacted parish and town councils to notify them of the Community Governance Review, which was now open for consultation and sought views on any changes for the 2023 local elections.
A question was raised as to what was involved with retrofitting homes for energy efficiency, and whether there were grants available for this? Cllr Barker advised that this involved converting existing housing stock to low-carbon or carbon neutral through insulation, sustainable energy generation and replacing gas boilers. There had previously been national grants available, but it was hoped that working through local councils would be less piecemeal.
A question was raised with regards to the District Council’s new offices and what would happen to the former offices at Crowmarsh? Cllr Barker advised that the proposed new offices at Didcot would form part of a wider regeneration scheme, but at this stage it was still subject to consultations. The Crowmarsh site has a covenant, but this only applies to part of the site. With regards to the estimated cost of the new offices, this was embargoed however there would be a cost saving of over £1million per annum on rent at the current offices.
Cllr Gregory added that Thame Community Land Trust’s planning application was due to be considered by the District’s Planning Committee on Wednesday 24 November 2021.
7 Members Questions (under Standing Order 11)
Cllr Bretherton asked whether a Community Governance Review working group could be created as part of the District’s Community Governance Review consultation? This was in light of the short notice of the consultation which meant it could not be discussed at this evening’s meeting, and the next Full Council meeting was just four days before the consultation period ended. It was suggested that a meeting be held on 7th December 2021, subject to confirmation from the Responsible Financial Officer & Office Administration Manager that there would not be a budget drop-in meeting then, and all Councillors would be invited as part of the Terms of Reference. Cllr Bretherton offered to Chair the meeting or suggested the Mayor may be more appropriate. Members who were unable to attend the meeting were asked to submit their comments in advance.
- The Town Council form a working group in relation to the District’s Community Governance Review, formed of all Members, with the first meeting on Tuesday 7th December 2021.
8 External Audit
Members received the External Auditor’s Report for 2020-21. Members thanked the RFO & Office Administration Manager for all her hard work in getting a clean audit.
9 Civil Parking Enforcement
Members noted the update from the Cabinet Member for Highway Management received 7 October 2021 and the Town Council’s formal response.
10 Schedule of Meetings
Members were reminded to put the meeting dates in their diaries.
- The Schedule of Meetings for 2022-23 be approved.
The minutes of the Council meeting held on 5 October 2021 were approved as a correct record, and signed by the Mayor.
12 Policy & Resources Committee
The minutes of the meeting held on 2 November 2021 were noted.
13 Community, Leisure & Recreation Committee
The minutes of the meeting held on 26 October 2021 were noted.
Members commented on how successful the Service of Remembrance had been on Sunday, adding that there had never been a round of applause. Members thanked Officers and the Maintenance Team for all their hard work in delivering the event which had been appreciated by the people of Thame. Cllr Midwinter thanked the community on behalf of the Royal British Legion as the local poppy appeal had raised £20,000 this year.
14 Planning & Environment Committee
The minutes of the meetings held on 17 August 2021, 7 September 2021, 28 September 2021, 19 October 2021, and 9 November 2021 were noted.
Regarding Item 7 of the minutes from 9 November 2021, Cllr Bretherton strongly disagreed with some of the names that the committee had recommended to the District Council for use as street names. Cllr Bretherton requested that this recommendation was not agreed, and the names be considered by a different group of Councillors against an agreed criterion. Members of the Planning & Environment Committee were disappointed at Cllr Bretherton’s comments.
The Chairman noted the minutes as a correct record of the meeting on the 9 November 2021 and there was no further discussion.
15 Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Committee
The minutes of the meetings held on 17 August 2021, 28 September 2021, 19 October 2021, and 9 November 2021 were noted.
Items 5 and 8 of the committee meeting on 19 October 2021 had recommended two matters for Full Council to resolve. Regarding Item 5 (Transport Plan Working Group), Cllr Austin advised that the cost of the transport needs survey would be £2,350 plus an allowance to account for distribution that was unlikely to exceed a total cost of £3,000.
- Expenditure of up to £5,000 be authorised for the Transport Plan Working Group to undertake a transport needs analysis survey with Community First Oxfordshire (CFO) for the Hopper Bus.
- To go back out to public consultation with the housing sites, giving the pros and cons for each of the sites and a reasonable indication of numbers.
- To proceed with the employment land allocation of a minimum of 3.5hectares, with two sites on offer, in going back out to public consultation with the pros and cons of each.
16 Transport Plan Working Group (TPWG)
There being no nominations for Chair of the TPWG, this item was deferred to the next Full Council meeting.
17 Personnel Committee
The minutes of the meetings held on 13 August 2021, 12 October 2021, and 26 October 2021 were noted.
18 Councillor Drop-In
Cllr Gregory advised that prior to the pandemic, the monthly Councillor Drop-Ins were taking place and provided an opportunity for the community to engage with the Town Council and vice versa. Cllr Gregory was looking to gauge whether the Council was interested in restarting drop-ins. There was an opportunity to combine these with the Neighbourhood Police’s drop-ins, for safety reasons, which were currently taking place monthly 10am – 12pm on Mondays.
There were mixed feelings as to whether coordinating with the Police’s drop-ins would work. On the one hand it could be a good opportunity to restart the drop-ins, however, Saturdays were preferred as less people would be working, but this would be subject to identifying a suitable venue.
There were also mixed feelings about the future of the drop-ins, as they were often attended by the same people asking the same questions, which largely did not relate to Town Council matters. The public had the opportunity to book an appointment with their Councillor through the Town Council’s website. It was acknowledged that the pandemic was not over and due consideration to this was needed.
Overall Members felt the drop-ins should be restarted and several Members volunteered to help with this. Cllr Gregory asked Members to contact her so she could prepare a rota. The drop-ins would be publicised through the Town Council’s usual media channels.
- The Town Council restart the Councillor Drop-Ins alongside the neighbourhood police drop-ins for a trial period of 3 months with associated publicity.
19 P20/S4693/FUL – Land to the West of Windmill Road – Additional Information received 27 October 2021
It was noted that having reviewed the additional information (bat survey) received 27 October 2021, it is considered that it would not change the Town Council’s recommendation to support the application.
20 Land North of Rycote Lane Near Thame
It was noted that additional information had been received for planning applications P21/S1511/FUL and P21/S1632/RM relating to Land North of Rycote Lane. Having reviewed the additional information, which related to Highways and Landscaping, Officers consider that it would not change the Town Council’s recommendations / response for either application.
21 Town Hall Roof and Clock Tower
The Community Services Manager advised that under emergency powers, a company had been employed to repair the missing tile on the clock tower costing £1,800 which included the licence, scaffolding and repair work. As part of the inspection, it had been established that there was further damage to the clock tower, with a quote of £5,200 to repair including the necessary licences. The Community Services Manager was now seeking approval from the council for £1,100 for a structural engineer to undertake a survey to review the clock tower whilst the scaffolding is in place, which would be reported back to council. It was hoped this would take place at the end of December to avoid interference with the town’s Christmas activities. As this was emergency work, it was not subject to the tender process.
- Emergency expenditure of £1,100 be authorised to undertake a structural survey of the clock tower, with the findings reported back to Full Council.
The meeting concluded at 7:28pm.
Chairman, 23 November 2021