19 May 2020 – Minutes (Draft)
THAME TOWN COUNCIL
Minutes of the Virtual Meeting of Thame Town Council held on 19 May 2020 at 6.30pm by Zoom Conference Call.
Cllrs B Austin, D Bretherton, N Champken-Woods, P Cowell (Deputy Mayor), A Dite, D Dodds, M Dyer, L Emery, H Fickling, S Francis, K Gregory, C Jones, A Midwinter, J Tipping and T Wyse
J Cole, Town Clerk
C Pinnells, Community Services Manager
L Fuller, Committee Services Officer
1 Apologies for Absence
Apologies were received from Cllr Deacock (Personal). All Members who were present were able to be seen and be heard.
2 Declarations of Interest and Dispensations
Cllr Emery declared an interest in Agenda Item 13 as a volunteer at Thame Youth Café. Cllrs Bretherton, Midwinter and Austin declared an interest in Agenda Item 14 as members of Thame Community Land Trust. The Town Clerk advised that as these were all non-pecuniary interests, members would be able to speak and vote on these items.
3 Civic Announcements
Cllr Midwinter thanked everyone who had been involved in Thame’s VE Day 75th Anniversary Celebrations on 8th May 2020. In the morning, Rev Graham Cholcroft gave the prayers, Oliver Fraser from Thame Concert Band performed the Last Post and Oscar Butt of Thame Air Cadets read the Kohima. A special thanks was given to Tony Long of Thame Players who recorded a wonderful and moving version of Churchill’s Speech from 1945. Cllr Tipping provided photography and videos, and Cllr Bretherton raised the Toast in the afternoon. Everyone involved had received a thank you letter from the Town Council. The events that had been planned to celebrate VE Day were cancelled, however the efforts made by everyone were very much appreciated and helped to make the day more of an occasion.
4 Public Participation and Public Questions
Ms Ansell thanked Members for the opportunity to address the Council on the ongoing flooding issue at Lord Williams’s Upper School Coach Park. The issue has been there for at least 30 years and appears to be worsening. County Cllr Carter had advised that it is the responsibility of the school to resolve. The school are aware of the issue and in 2017 conducted an independent survey which identified that the problem was partly due to poor drainage on Oxford Road. Therefore the solution needed to involve County Highways.
The issue was also a safety concern for pedestrians who have to move out of the way to avoid being splashed, and for road users who are using the entrance to the car park as an exit to avoid the flood area.
Ms Ansell reported that Highways have recently starting working on the drainage but had not consulted the school. The Premises Manager at Lord Williams’s School was hopeful that this might resolve the issue.
Cllr Midwinter thanked Ms Ansell for addressing the Council and hoped that as Cllr Carter was present, her comments would be noted and pursued.
5 Report from County Councillor N Carter
Cllr Carter reported that the reopening of the Household Waste Recycling Centres in Oxfordshire yesterday at a reduced capacity had gone smoothly. The Government have given strategic authorities ‘emergency powers’ to increase the safety of pedestrians and cyclists whilst the roads are quieter, such as widening pathways. A proposal had been prepared in the short timeframe given and a copy sent to the Town Clerk. Two ideas for Thame included moving the Co-Op bus stop as currently the queues for the Co-Op and the bus were unable to be socially distant. The other idea included closing a section of Park St from the roundabout to the crossing at John Hampden School as the pavements were too narrow to allow for 2m social distancing, a problem which would worsen when the school re-opened.
Cllr Carter reported that a backlog of problems reported on Fix My Street over the winter had almost been cleared and improvements were being made to the website. A road closure on the A40 through Tetsworth from 22 June for at least five months was necessary due to the road surface collapsing.
Oxfordshire County Council had spent £1million on PPE on the Covid-19 response to date for social workers and care homes, with an additional £1million budgeted for further PPE expense. A forum has been set up for schools when they re-open. Although all 44 of the County’s libraries were closed, e-book borrowing had more than doubled and so had OCC’s investment in the service. OCC were expecting a £30millon hole in their finances as a result of additional expenditure above budget and lost income, due to the crisis.
Concerns were raised about the impact of closing Park Street on the buses and where they would turn around. It was felt that East Street and Chinnor Road were not practical solutions due to their width and weight restrictions. It was also suggested that Park Street pavements could operate on a one-way system for pedestrians. Cllr Carter noted these suggestions and agreed that alternatives for the buses to turnaround needed consideration.
Regarding the two proposals for alterations to walking / cycling routes, it was felt that they were limited and more could be done, such as widening pavements, creating a one-way route around the town centre and adopting a holistic approach to transport in Thame. Cllr Carter was supportive of reducing car numbers in the town centre and the longer-term ideas to improve traffic flows, however the recent powers given to OCC by the Government were limited in their funding and time, and were intended for ‘quick fix’ solutions.
Cllr Tipping joined the meeting during this item.
6 Reports from South Oxfordshire District Councillors
The report was noted and there were no questions for the District Councillors.
7 Members Questions (under Standing Order 11)
Cllr Jones reported that Thame Sports Club had requested a loan from the Town Council as part of their Clubhouse rebuild, and were awaiting a response. Cllr Jones asked if this could be discussed as matter of urgency? The Town Clerk acknowledged the request had been received and advised it would be discussed with the Budget Working Group as soon as possible.
Cllr Wyse asked for an update on the re-opening of Bledlow Tip? Cllr Midwinter advised that a meeting was scheduled for tomorrow and will provide an update after that. Progress had been put on hold due to the current situation.
Cllr Champken-Woods asked for update on the phased return to working for staff? The Town Clerk advised that this had been discussed at the management meeting and the consensus was that staff were not ready to return yet. However in the meantime plans, such as creating a rota and controlling distancing, would be prepared so that it would be done safely in line with Government guidance. The Cleaner had been deep cleaning the office in preparation. The Town Clerk would be discussing with all staff at the next team meeting.
It was suggested that the Budget Working Group meet within the next week. This meeting could be followed by an informal meeting with members of the BWG to further discuss staff returning to the Office and to continue the discussion about traffic in the town centre.
The minutes of the meetings held on 28 April 2020 and 4 May 2020 were approved.
9 Annual Meeting of the Council
It was noted that the Annual Meeting of the Council will take place when Government guidance permitted for it to be held in the Town Hall. It was also noted that, until an Annual Meeting of the Council can take place, the current Town Mayor and Deputy Mayor will remain in post.
10 Committees and External Organisations
It was noted that whilst the Town Council’s committees were not meeting, their membership and associated documents would be unchanged and reviewed at the Annual Meeting.
11 Standing Orders and Financial Regulations
It was noted that, due to Covid-19, the Council’s Standing Orders and Financial Regulations will be reviewed at the Council’s Annual Meeting in May 2021
12 Planning Applications
The following recommendations from the Planning & Environment Committee were noted:
P20/S1254/LB – STEAMER TRADING COOKSHOP, 109 HIGH STREET
Redecoration of the existing timber shop front and installing a Specsavers fascia and new hanging sign and undertaking internal fit-out with de-mountable partitioning and replacing the hvac units (see design & access statement)
Thame Town Council SUPPORTS this application and has a RESPONSE to this application:
- No Objection subject to no objection from the District Conservation Officer
- It is suggested that the external projecting sign is non-illuminated, rather than externally illuminated which does not conform to Conservation Area Policy. A full planning application should be required for the change of use from A1 to D1 use as the shop is within the Thame Conservation Area.
Neighbourhood Plan Policies: WS2, WS7, WS12, ESDQ15, ESDQ16, ESDQ20
SODC Local Plan Policies: G6, CON3, CON4, CON5, CON7, CON8, D1, AD1
Core Strategy Policies: CSQ3, CST1, CSEN3
P20/S1460/FUL – HAMPDEN HOUSE, LANE RUNNING SW FROM MORETON
Change of use of land from agriculture to residential garden.
Thame Town Council RESPONDS to this application for the following reasons:
- The immediate neighbouring property owners have acquired the other half of the old access track into the field behind for the parking of household vehicles. The Town Council wish to ensure that the proposed new perimeter fence for Hampden House will allow for safe access and egress to vehicles using the proposed new parking area.
Neighbourhood Plan Policies: ESDQ16
SODC Local Plan Policies: G4, G6, C1, C9, D3, D4, H18
Core Strategy Policies: CSEN1
P20/S1449/HH – 35 MORETON LANE
Demolish existing detached garage and remove shed Construct part 2x storey/part single storey side extension. Construct front porch Alterations to window/door openings Provide additional parking space at front.
Thame Town Council SUPPORTS this application and has a RESPONSE to this application:
- The committee regret the loss of the garage for its original purpose.
Neighbourhood Plan Policies: ESDQ16, ESDQ29
SODC Local Plan Policies: G6, D1, D2, D4, H13, T2
Core Strategy Policies: CSQ3, CSEN3
13 Thame Youth Projects – Youth Hub
Cllr Cowell explained that, following discussions with the architect, the size of the proposed Youth Hub at Southern Road Recreation Ground would have to be reduced due to financial constraints. One option to save costs was to reduce the number of changing rooms from 4 to 2. Cllr Cowell explained that it appears Sports England guidance related only to the size of the changing rooms and not the number in relation to the number of pitches. Changing rooms could also be incorporated into the Youth Hub building so they could be used by different groups.
A second option was to reduce the length of the football pitches so the building was less confined. The current pitches could be reduced in length and still be compliant with the Football Association’s parameters. Cllr Cowell added that the football pitches were not being used, although there was an enquiry just before lockdown measures were introduced.
Sports England would be consulted on any changes to the pitch and changing rooms as a statutory body, and could refuse planning permission. The football pitches are classified as a pitch in the District Council’s Core Strategy and although there are other, better-used football pitches in Thame, the football pitch provision is allocated across the District and not just for Thame.
Regarding the possible provision of dementia care within the Youth Hub, Cllr Cowell advised this would be considered as part of the building design however they were now working to a smaller size.
- The Town Council supports Thame Youth Projects’ proposal to reduce the number of changing rooms from 4 to 2 and the size of the football pitch to no less than the minimum requirements of the Football Association.
14 Thame Community Land Trust
Members received the proposed Partnership Agreement between Thame Community Land Trust (TCLT) and Thame Town Council. Cllr Austin thanked the Town Council for their moral and physical support on behalf of the TCLT team.
A question was raised as to why the Partnership Agreement did not include ‘in perpetuity’? Cllr Austin explained that the site will always remain an exception site by definition. Another question was raised as to why the Town Council would act as the planning agent? This would give TCLT a substantial 50% discount on the planning fees. The Town Council would consider the planning application in the usual manner.
- The Partnership Agreement between Thame Community Land Trust and Thame Town Council be approved.
15 Exclusion of the Press and Public
- 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.
16 Appeal Challenge
The Town Clerk provided an update on the barrister appointment, preparation of a public statement and that the Town Council had not yet heard if it had been granted limitation of costs.
The meeting concluded at 7:57pm
Signed ……………………… Date ………………..