22 June 2021 – Minutes
THAME TOWN COUNCIL
Minutes of the Meeting of Thame Town Council held on 22 June 2021 at 6:30pm in The Fothergill Hall, Spread Eagle Hotel, Thame.
Cllrs B Austin, D Bretherton, M Deacock, A Dite, D Dodds, M Dyer, L Emery, H Fickling, K Gregory, A Midwinter, H Richards, and T Wyse
C Pinnells, Acting Town Clerk
K Slater, Office Administration Manager / Acting Responsible Financial Officer
G Markland, Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Officer
L Fuller, Committee Services Officer
Due to the receipt of apologies from the Town Mayor and Deputy Mayor it was agreed that Cllr Dyer take the Chair for this meeting.
- Cllr Dyer acts as Chairman for the meeting.
2 Apologies for Absence
Apologies were received from Cllrs Cowell (personal), Champken-Woods (personal), Jones (personal), and Tipping (business).
3 Declarations of Interest and Dispensations
There were no declarations of interest.
4 Civic Announcements
The Chairman, on behalf of the Council, presented the outgoing Mayor, Cllr Midwinter, with a photobook to remember her time as Mayor over the last couple of years. This had brought its fair share of challenges, but Cllr Midwinter had shone as an ambassador for the Town throughout.
5 Public Participation and Public Questions
Mr. Jake Collinge spoke as the agent for planning application P21/S1632/RM (Item 22) and was available for any questions from Members. Planning permission had been granted in March 2020 for the Outline application. Mr. Collinge was aware of the contentious matters regarding local employment. The Reserved Matter application had been submitted to enable the scheme to be delivered in a whole phase. The application reflected the details within the site masterplan and comprised of a mix of 14 commercial units, eleven of which would be under 1,500 sq.m. The application was supported by a range of technical information that covered cycle provision, electric vehicle charging points and highways matters. Mr. Collinge hoped that the Town Council would support the scheme which supported employment in Thame.
There being no questions for the speaker, it was moved and seconded that Item 22 be taken after this Item 9.
6 Report from County Councillors N Champken-Woods and K Gregory
Cllr Gregory presented the report and advised that she would be working collaboratively with fellow County Councillor Champken-Woods with residents coming first. Within the report, it was highlighted that the County Councillor Grant Scheme was now open and that each County Councillor had £15,000 to allocate to projects that will benefit the community over the next two years. Eligible organisations were encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Further details of which organisations could apply could be found on the County Council’s website; however, the grants were for non-for-profit organisations that will benefit the community.
7 Reports from South Oxfordshire District Councillors
The report was noted and there were no questions for the District Councillors.
8 Internal Audit
Members received the Internal Audit Final Update Report 2020-21. The Acting Responsible Financial Officer (RFO) advised there were no issues identified following the Internal Auditor’s visits that warranted formal comment.
9 External Audit / Annual Governance and Accountability Return (AGAR) / End of Year Accounts 2020-21
The Acting RFO presented the report and supporting documentation in relation to the AGAR. It was noted that the Notice of Public Rights and Publication of Unaudited Annual Governance & Accountability Return will be 23rd June 2021 – 4th August 2021.
Members expressed a vote of thanks to the Acting RFO in recognition of the hard work involved in undertaking the audits over the last couple of years. There being no questions the following items were agreed:
Annual Governance Statement 2020-2021
- The Annual Governance Statement for 2020-2021 be approved.
Unaudited Financial Statements for the year ending 31 March 2021
- The Unaudited Financial Statements for the year ending 31 March 2021 be received.
Accounting Statements for 2020-2021
- The Accounting Statements for 2020-2021 be approved.
10 Members Questions (under Standing Order 11)
No questions were raised.
Cllr Dite presented a Special Motion, that had been signed by five Councillors in line with Standing Order 17.1, to change the resolution of Item 10ii) within the Council minutes. This was to remove Cllr Midwinter, at her request, from the membership of the Community, Leisure and Recreation Committee as she was appointed to all four standing committees. A new Deputy Chairman for the committee would be appointed as the first agenda item at the next meeting of that committee.
- Cllr Midwinter be removed from the membership of the Community, Leisure and Recreation Committee.
Cllr Dite nominated Cllr Emery to join the committee. There being no other nominations, it was:
- Cllr Emery be appointed to the Community, Leisure and Recreation Committee.
The minutes of the Council meeting held on 18 May 2021 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
12 Policy & Resources Committee
The minutes of the meeting held on 18 May 2021 were noted.
13 Community, Leisure & Recreation Committee
The minutes of the meeting held on 18 May 2021 were noted.
14 Planning & Environment Committee
The minutes of the meetings held on 18 May 2021, 25 May 2021 and 15 June 2021 were noted.
15 Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Committee
The minutes of the meetings held on 18 May 2021 and 25 May 2021 were noted.
16 Personnel Committee
The minutes of the meeting held on 15 June 2021 were noted.
17 Working Groups Vacancies
Due to a Councillor resignation earlier in the year, there was a vacancy on the Open Spaces Working Group and the CCTV Working Group.
It was agreed that:
- Cllr Richards join the Open Spaces Working Group, alongside Cllrs Champken-Woods, Dite, Emery, Fickling and Jones.
- Cllr Deacock join the CCTV Working Group alongside Cllrs Dite and Wyse.
The Acting Town Clerk reported that 20 grant applications had been received, with one withdrawn and the total amount requested totalling £30,781. The Grant Panel had thoroughly assessed and scored each application and had awarded £15,158. Appendix 1 showed the breakdown of the grant awards, as well as the panel’s comments and relevant legal powers.
- The grant awards as recommended by the Grant Awards Panel be agreed in accordance with the powers identified in Appendix 1.
19 Transport Representative
The Acting Town Clerk asked Members to resolve that the Transport Representative should report to the Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Committee. The Transport Representative usually reports to the Planning & Environment Committee, but Cllr Bretherton does not sit on this committee. It was added that transport matters relating to planning applications would continue to be considered by the Planning & Environment Committee.
- The Transport Representative reports to the Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Committee with immediate effect.
20 Mayor of Thame Charity Trust
The technical summary of the Mayor of Thame’s Charity Trust for the year 2020-21 was noted. The Mayor’s Charity Account had not been very active due to Covid-19 limiting fundraising opportunities, however Members thanked Cllr Midwinter for her valiant efforts and the funds she was able to raise for the Lord Williams’s School Young Carers.
21 Local Authority Remote Meetings: Call for Evidence
The Town Council’s response, submitted by Officers on behalf of the Council, to the Government’s Call for Evidence on Local Authority Remote Meetings was noted.
22 1420 – P21/S1632/RM – Land North of Rycote Lane Near Thame
Reserved matters following outline permission (P17/S4441/O) for appearance, landscaping, layout and scale. The erection of up to 180,000 square feet (up to 16,722 square metres) of B2/B8 with ancillary B1(a) and B1(c) together with parking, drainage, landscaping (structural and incidental) and highway works.
The Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Officer’s (NPCO) report summarised the Town Council’s comments made on the Outline application in relation to this Reserved Matters application. Regarding traffic and the Moreton Road junction, it was considered that the proposals to realign and widen the main road and retain the junction at Moreton would address concerns relating to highways matters. With regards to parking, the Reserved Matters application was proposing fewer parking spaces than the outline application and no explanation was given for this, however it was noted that 51 covered bicycle parking spaces and sensible footpath routes were provided on the site. The proposals were compliant with Local Plan Policy EMP2 and supported by the District’s Economic Development team. The Town Council was aware, through Thame Business Forum, that there were many companies interested in the site. It was unknown whether the District Council could request compliance with Local Plan Policy DES10 given the extant outline permission, but there will be twenty electric vehicle charging points on the site. It was considered that the design was simple but modern and it was beneficial that the site would be delivered in one phase. Although the site was outside of the parish boundary and therefore the Town Council could only make comments, it would be a boost locally for employment.
Concern was raised regarding car parking as it was expected that most employees would drive given the site’s location and that this may result in cars parking on surrounding roads, in Moreton and on the grass verge which would further degrade it. The NPCO advised that this would be included in the response, particularly given the unexplained reduction in parking provision. It was noted that provision of pedestrian and cycling routes would help to encourage those methods of travel. It was suggested that a low-level two-storey car park could be provided to help mitigate the parking concerns, but this would only be an option if County Highways requested it to the developer.
Concern was raised regarding the proposed ghost island on Rycote Lane; however, it was explained that the road would be widened to accommodate it and enable pedestrians to safely cross the road.
A question was raised as to whether the Town Council request that Moreton Road be widened and made safer with lighting as it was felt that most cyclists would access the site via Moreton? The NPCO advised that this was noted, but that the site was more likely to be accessed from the Phoenix Trail. It was also noted that the applicant has stated that they would rather use S106 public arts funding linked to the site to make off-site improvements to connections to the Phoenix Trail.
It was noted that there had been several concerns raised by residents with regards to the Moreton junction, and that a junction on Rycote Lane appeared to be missing from the plans. The District Council would be looking to County Highways on whether any changes are required for the Moreton junction, but this could be added as part of the Town Council’s response. With regards to the missing junction, it was noted that this access point had always been there and had only been renewed, therefore this could not be commented on.
- The Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Officer summarises the Town Council’s comments and submits the response to planning application P21/S1632/RM.
23 1440 – P21/S2404/D – Former Daf Trucks Ltd Kingsmead Business Park Howland Road
Demolish existing office and warehouse buildings. The proposed demolition is to facilitate the provision of a care home, office and residential development as approved through Planning Permission (P20/S1852/FUL). The demolition will allow for detailed ground investigations, beneath the existing buildings to occur at the earliest opportunity.
The NPCO had reviewed the application and advised that the proposed methodology raised no concerns regarding the hours of working. The proposals would remove buildings that were a tempting target for thieves. If any asbestos is identified, the methodology would ensure it is handled with paramount safety. A question was raised with regards to footpath 13 and when it will be reopened? The NPCO advised this was a separate matter covered under the Reserved Matters application, which was still under consideration at the District Council, however as part of the building demolition the footpath would not be left in an unsafe state.
Concern was raised regarding the number of trees that were being removed. The NPCO advised that this could be added into the response provided that it did not contradict any previous comments made, although it was noted that the Tree Officer and Countryside Officer had not raised concern.
- The Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Officer summarises the Town Council’s comments and submits the response to planning application P21/S2404/D.
24 Planning Application Updates to Note
The various planning application amendments / updates were noted.
The NPCO advised that with regards to Item 24a, he had submitted comments on the amended plans due to the consultation period ending on 9 June 2021. The amended plans were largely welcome, with improvements to the open space offering, however not all concerns had been addressed. It was considered that an intensification of the site would have enabled better open space, and there was scope for a bolder design that would better respond to the character of the site and surroundings. The NPCO had since spoken to the case officer who had taken the Town Council’s comments into account but advised that the District Council could not ask the applicant to deviate significantly from the outline application. Overall, it was felt that, despite the Town Council’s objections, the amendments were closer to a good scheme.
25 Thame Neighbourhood Plan Revision (‘TNP2’) – Task and Delivery Group
The NPCO was seeking a small number of Members to join a Task and Delivery Group to support him and Troy Planning in working to the tight timeline associated with TNP2. The group would be asked to review evidence-based documents for errors / sense-checking and provide an initial steer on matters, but not pre-judge any decision. This would often be on a short turnaround but would enable immediate feedback and a range of opinions to be inputted. All Councillors would continue to be involved in the TNP2 review process and the new group would not be a decision-making body, as any decisions would be made through the Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Committee (NPCC). The Acting Town Clerk advised that the group would need to be dedicated and that it would provide regular reports.
In Cllr Jones’ absence, the NPCO advised that she had volunteered to join the group as Chair of NPCC.
- Cllrs Bretherton, Dodds, Fickling, Jones and Richards be appointed to the Task and Delivery Group to support the Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Officer and Troy Planning with the delivery of TNP2 by December 2021.
26 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.
27 1253 – P20/S0928/FUL – Land at The Elms, Upper High Street
With the time approaching 8:30pm during this item, it was proposed and agreed to suspend Standing Order 5.0 in order to conclude the remaining business on the agenda.
The NPCO had prepared a report, summarising the possible options for the Town Council following the refusal of its call-in request to the Secretary of State and granting of planning permission earlier in the month.
A lengthy discussion ensued, with Members taking careful consideration of the risks and benefits involved and the possible outcomes with each course of action.
A motion to take no further action was put forward, but on being put to the vote the motion fell.
- Officers seek further legal advice to explore the undertaking of a Judicial Review and an additional emergency Full Council meeting is called within 3 weeks to make a decision based on this legal advice.
- An expenditure limit of £2,000 is authorised to seek legal advice.
The meeting concluded at 8:43pm.
Chairman, 10 August 2021