21 July 2020 – Minutes
THAME TOWN COUNCIL
Minutes of the Virtual Meeting of Thame Town Council held on 21 July 2020 at 6:30pm by Zoom Conference Call.
Cllrs B Austin, D Bretherton, P Cowell (Deputy Mayor), A Dite, D Dodds, M Dyer, L Emery, H Fickling, S Francis, K Gregory, C Jones, A Midwinter (Town Mayor) 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 Cllrs Champken-Woods (Business), Deacock (Personal) and Tipping (Business).
All Members who were present were able to be seen and be heard.
2 Declarations of Interest and Dispensations
There were no declarations of interest.
3 Civic Announcements
Cllr Midwinter reported that she had enjoyed the cellist at the market earlier in the day who had been fundraising for the arts. There was currently space for these kind of performances to take place weekly due to the layout required for social distancing.
Cllr Midwinter thanked Cllrs Emery and Francis for inviting her to send a video message to Montesson welcoming their new Mayor, Nichol Bristol, and saying farewell to the outgoing Mayor M. Jean Francois Bel. Thanks were also given to Cllr Tipping for assisting with the video.
4 Public Participation and Public Questions
There were no applications to address the Committee.
There were no questions put to the Committee.
5 Members Questions (under Standing Order 11)
No questions were raised.
The minutes of the meeting held on 14 July 2020 were approved.
7 Planning & Environment Committee
The minutes of the meeting held on 14 July 2020 were noted.
8 Financial Update
This item was deferred as the information had not been provided with enough time for Members to review prior to the meeting.
9 Thame Youth Projects
Cllr Cowell provided a verbal update. Firstly, an apology was given on behalf of the project team to the council over the embarrassment of the wording used on the consultation flyer, which may have given the incorrect impression.
The changing rooms had presented major challenges to the design. Sports England had confirmed that the pitches are allocated for possible future use by the Football Association (FA), either for a district team to play competitively or if Thame Football Partnership (TFP) need additional space. Changing rooms are required for adult football teams. It is unlikely that the size of the current changing rooms would meet FA requirements. Two changing rooms, requiring approximately 100sqm of space and costing between £200,000 and £250,000, had been suggested to the FA to accommodate male and female teams. FA approval of this would be subject to viewing the plans and it may be the case that South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) request a like-for-like. There were now three options regarding the changing rooms: demolish and rebuild; upgrade the changing rooms and incorporate it into the Youth Centre; or build the Youth Centre and leave the changing rooms until they are required in the future, as recently suggested by Sports England. The decision on the preferred option would be made by the Town Council, SODC and the community.
Cllr Cowell reported that a difficult decision had been made to terminate the contract with the selected architect as it was felt that they were not able to deliver the facilities.
The ongoing consultation reached out to the young people and community of Thame and the wider area too. With the support of Lord Williams’s School, students had been surveyed generating a positive 36% response rate. Students had also been asked to design what they would like to see in the building and, although the response was low to this, the designs were valuable. The survey had been publicised via the TYP website, flyers, social media and through contacts with the local police. The Town Council would continue to be engaged. The group would be speaking to TFP to identify their growth plans, and with the local FA Manager on their return to work in September. The consultation is open until the end of July 2020, and the group were keen to collect as many views and concerns as possible, as the facility needed to cater for a broad range of needs.
Finally, the ‘Keep it Thame’ Facebook Group had been engaging with young people and finding out how they were coping during lockdown. They had proposed to run a graffiti day at Southern Road Recreation Ground in August for all ages to express their experiences of lockdown on a temporary board that would either be attached to the changing rooms or freestanding. The activity would be supervised and funded by the Youth Projects group. Approval was sought from the Town Council to take it forward.
Members raised concern regarding the third option for the changing rooms, as it was felt that as the pitches were reserved for future use then the changing rooms could be required at any time but the Town Council would not be able to upgrade / replace them in time. Concern was also expressed that the Town Council may be breaching a duty / bylaw to maintain the building. Cllr Cowell advised that the changing rooms could be used short-term but ultimately work was required, and the subject of bylaws had not been broached. There was no certainty if / when the changing rooms would next be required, but a community team had enquired about using the pitch earlier in the year and the pitch was included in SODC’s Sports Strategy. Cllr Cowell added that the youth centre would be 300sqm, but it may be logical to increase that to 500sqm, meaning the cost would be between £1.5m and £1.8million.
Regarding the proposed graffiti day, it was felt that as this was not on the agenda it should not be discussed further and should rather be progressed via the Town Clerk, who had expressed no concerns at proposals for the activity.
Members had been asked to agree the partnership agreement at the meeting, however the Town Clerk had had technical difficulties in getting it out to Councillors. The terms in the partnership agreement had previously been agreed by Full Council, but amendments to the document were welcome. Members felt that as they had not had time to properly review and scrutinise the partnership agreement, it could not be approved. It was suggested that a working group needed to be formed to review the agreement and monitor other matters relating to the project, and then bring the final partnership agreement to a future council meeting.
i) A Working Group be formed to finalise the Partnership Agreement.
10 Open Spaces Working Group – Terms of Reference
The Town Clerk presented the Terms of Reference which had been updated and amended, in consultation with various Councillors. Cllrs Dite and Fickling volunteered to join the Working Group.
i) The Terms of Reference for the Open Spaces Working Group be approved.
ii) The Open Spaces Working Group be re-formed with the brief to advise on all open spaces within the civic parish of Thame.
iii) Cllrs Champken-Woods, Dite, Emery, Fickling, Jones and Francis form the Open Spaces Working Group.
This item was deferred until more information was available to enable an informed decision.
The meeting concluded at 7:07pm.
Chairman, 11 August 2020