19 November 2019 – Minutes
THAME TOWN COUNCIL
Minutes of the Meeting of Thame Town Council held on 19 November 2019 at 6.30pm in the Upper Chamber, Thame Town Hall
Cllrs B Austin, D Bretherton, N Champken-Woods, P Cowell (Deputy Mayor), A Dite, M Dyer, L Emery, H Fickling, S Francis, K Gregory, A Midwinter (Town Mayor) and T Wyse
G Hunt, Town Clerk
C Pinnells, Community Services Manager
L Fuller, Committee Services Officer
1 Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were received from Cllrs Deacock (Personal), Dodds (Personal), Jones (Business) and Tipping (Business).
2 Declarations of Interest and Dispensations
Cllrs Dyer and Bretherton declared an interest in Agenda Item 22 as members of Thame Remembers.
Cllrs Fickling and Cowell, as trustees of Thame Youth Projects Group, and Cllr Emery, as a volunteer, declared an interest in Agenda Item 5. The Town Clerk reminded Cllrs that a dispensation was in place which allowed Councillors declaring such an interest in their register of interests to partake in debate and discussions relating to Thame Youth Projects Group.
3 Civic Announcements
The Mayor’s civic attendances were noted.
Cllr Midwinter had officially launched the new community group OX9ERS at the Thame Town Charity Fair earlier this month. The OX9ERS is mainly made up of former members of Thame Lions Club with the aim of Thame people helping Thame people.
Cllr Midwinter reported that in the Poppy Appeal this year Thame had collectively raised over £23,000 and Royal British Legion were very grateful for the generosity of Thame people.
Cllr Midwinter had visited the Freemasons last night as the guest of the Provincial Grand Master of Oxfordshire. Cllr Midwinter was amazed at how much money the Freemasons give to our town but without recognition and so wanted to bring this to the attention of Members.
4 Public Participation and Public Questions
There were no applications to address the Council.
There were no questions put to the Council.
5 Thame Youth Projects Group
Linda Newton, Chair of Thame Youth Projects Group, and James Edney, Thame’s new Youth Worker, gave a presentation to introduce the new Youth Worker, on plans for the future of youth in Thame and how Thame Town Council can assist in the future.
James had started in September as the new Youth Worker. He is an Oxford Brookes graduate with qualifications and wide ranging experience in working with young people and is keen to make a lasting difference to the young people of Thame.
James reported that the Youth Café was doing very well with potential leaders identified in the older group. The Youth Projects Group were actively building relationships with groups in the community, such as local schools, 21st Century Thame and businesses, in order to reach out to young people not engaged in the town. A bid for resources for an outreach project had been submitted and the group were looking forward to building on this. James reported that Thame represented a leading example of youth work in the county, with Oxfordshire Youth referring to Thame as key example.
The proposed Youth Community Hub at Southern Road Recreation Ground was a critical facility in achieving the group’s vision. Linda recognised there was a need to provide a safe space for young people to develop their skills and get advice. It is important that young people own the space and are actively engaged in the consultation, alongside other key groups such as the police. Linda hoped that the new hub would be up and running by the end of 2021. The group are committed to working alongside the Thame Neighbourhood Plan and Green Living Plan objectives.
Linda requested the Town Council’s support in terms of sources of information, experience and funding. The group needed commitment of S106 funding and a partnership agreement. The group will be consulting architects, community groups and funders, as well as formalising the committee roles to ensure governance and accountability. Linda concluded that whilst it was a big project, it was an exciting and needed one that the group were fully committed to delivering. The group hope to report back in early 2020 hopefully with some plans.
The Town Clerk clarified that the proposal and associated funding for the hub at Southern Road Recreational Ground had been agreed by Council in January. TYPG representatives are due to meet with Officers on Friday to discuss this further.
After answering a number of questions, Linda and James were thanked for their very informative presentation.
6 Reports from County Councillor N Carter
Cllr Carter introduced his report which had been circulated to Councillors and summarised Oxfordshire County Council’s recent activities.
A number of questions related to the item on school admissions were raised, particularly relating to the capacity and catchment of Thame’s primary and secondary schools. Cllr Carter advised that the county’s priority was on areas with substantial housebuilding
Cllr Carter then answered a number of questions relating to the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway, risk of flooding on Churchill Crescent and County Lines.
Cllr Carter advised that he would report back to Full Council with further detail on all matters discussed at the next opportunity.
7 Reports from South Oxfordshire District Councillors
Cllr Gregory introduced the report which had been circulated to Councillors and highlighted the main points relating to the Local Plan, new Council Offices, Climate Committee, Oxfordshire Waste Strategy, and EU Citizens. Cllr Gregory hoped that the Town Council would support the District in assisting EU Citizens. Cllr Bretherton then answered a couple of questions relating to the new Council Offices.
The Chairman noted that it would be good to see Cllr Barker at a future Full Council meeting.
8 Members Questions (under Standing Order 11)
No questions were raised.
The minutes of the meeting held on 6 August 2019 were approved and signed by the Mayor.
10 Policy & Resources Committee
The minutes of the meeting held on 12 November 2019 were noted.
11 Community, Leisure & Recreation Committee
The minutes of the meeting held on 29 October 2019 were noted.
12 Planning & Environment Committee
The minutes of the meetings held on 13 August 2019, 3 September 2019, 24 September 2019, 15 October 2019 and 5 November 2019 were noted.
13 Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Committee
The minutes of the meetings held on 13 August 2019, 24 September 2019 and 5 November 2019 were noted.
14 Personnel Committee
The minutes of the meeting held on 22 October 2019 were noted.
15 External Audit
Members noted the report and that the information submitted within Sections 1 and 2 of the Annual Governance and Accountability Return for the year ended 31 March 2019 were in accordance with Proper Practices. No matters have come to the External Auditor’s attention giving cause for concern.
i) The External Auditor’s Report 2018-19 be received.
16 Investment Management
Rathbones Investment Management Ltd (Rathbones) were re-appointed in 2015 to manage the Council’s Investment Portfolio. As detailed in the Council’s Investment Strategy the choice of Investment Company must be reviewed within the first year of every new administration following an election. A question was raised as to why the Council were re-appointing Rathbones in light of a commitment at the Policies & Resources Committee to investigate alternative investments? It was explained that the Investment Strategy is reviewed annually by the Policies & Resources Committee.
i) Rathbone Investment Management Ltd be re-appointed to manage the Council’s Investment Portfolio for the duration of the civic administration be approved.
17 Schedule of Meetings
Members were reminded to put the dates in their diaries.
i) The Schedule of Meetings for 2020-21 be approved.
18 Monthly Councillor Drop-In
Cllr Gregory updated Members that she was looking to resume the drop-ins in January on the first Saturday of every month, and it was hoped that a District and County Councillor would also be able to attend each drop-in. Cllr Gregory was preparing a schedule based on Councillor’s availability to be sent out soon.
Cllr Midwinter thanked Cllr Gregory for all her hard work in relaunching the Drop-Ins. A question was raised as to how the drop-ins would be publicised, particularly since the closure of the Thame Gazette? Cllr Gregory said that social media would be the key channel to try and reach those who might not usually engage with the council, however all available channels would be used such as local news outlets and the Town Council’s newsletter. A suggestion was made to contact the resident’s associations to publicise.
19 Bledlow Household Recycling Centre
Cllr Midwinter reported that good progress was being made. A planning consultant had been appointed as the planning application needed to be submitted before the Unitary Council is created in Buckinghamshire. Those who have made a financial contribution will receive a copy of the business plan.
Questions were raised with regards to timescales and possible charges for use? Cllr Midwinter advised that a company had expressed an interest in running the centre, the risk assessment was ready and the Councillors in Buckinghamshire leading this campaign were working hard to maintain progress. There was a possibility of a charge to use the centre initially but it was hoped that costs would be recouped through income from the recycling.
20 Elms Park – Outline Planning Application – P19/S2785/O
The report was noted. The Town Clerk explained that the Outline Planning Application had been submitted but had no purpose following the refusal of the appeal at The Elms, other than to assist with that appeal. It was an unusual and confusing situation that had probably not happened before.
i) The Town Council should provide a response of “No Objections Plus Comment” with the Officer’s report as the supporting comment.
21 Midsomer Plaques
Members noted that Helen Johns, acting as the Town Council’s agent, had submitted an appeal in relation to the refused planning application P18/S2735/LB.
22 Bench for Memorial Gardens
Members noted the report. Thame Remembers had approached the Town Council to install a metal memorial bench in the Memorial Gardens to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of VE Day in May 2020.
It would be positioned on paving slabs, rather than the concrete base exemplified in the report, to match the other benches in the Memorial Gardens. The bench design will not be unique to Thame, as several others have been produced by the supplier including one in Oxford. Cllr Dyer had met with the supplier at the recent NALC Conference and confirmed that the bench was of high quality.
Cllr Dyer asked that the proposed resolution in the Officer report be reworded to reflect that the bench was a gift from Thame Remembers to the Town Council.
i) The Town Council accepts the gift of a metal memorial bench sponsored by Thame Remembers to be installed in the Memorial Gardens in time for VE Day 2020.
23 Thame Players Ticket Agency
The Community Services Manager introduced the report which explained that Thame Players had contacted the Town Council’s Information Centre Officer to ask if the Town Council would consider taking on the opportunity of being an alternative ticket agency for Thame Players. This would generate additional footfall to the Information Centre and Members felt it would be a positive opportunity.
The Community Services Manager confirmed that the opportunity complies with the Council’s Financial Regulations and the 2% ‘commission’ on card payments would not be charged to the customer, but to Thame Players in order to recover the costs of using the card machine.
i) The Town Council take on the opportunity of being an alternative ticket agency for Thame Players.
The meeting concluded at 7:55pm
Chairman, 21 January 2020