23 June 2015 – Minutes
THAME TOWN COUNCIL
Minutes of the Meeting of Thame Town Council held on 23 June 2015 at 6.30pm in the Upper Chamber, Thame Town Hall
Present: Cllrs B Austin, D Bretherton, N Champken-Woods, P Cowell, M Deacock,
N Dixon (Town Mayor), D Dodds, M Dyer, L Emery (Deputy Mayor),
H Fickling, C Jones, A Midwinter, M Stiles and T Wyse.
G Hunt, Town Clerk
A Oughton, Committee Services Officer
1 Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were received from Cllrs Butler (Holiday) and Lambert (Business). County Councillor Carter and District Councillor Matelot Green.
2 Declarations of Interest
There were no declarations of interest.
3 Civic Announcements
Cllr Dixon had attended various engagements since her appointment as Town Mayor. Plans for fundraising for her two chosen charities this year were taking shape and included a parachute jump provisionally booked for Saturday 29 August 2015. A personal fundraising website had been set up through which donations could be made.
4 Public Participation
There were no applications to address the Council.
5 Open Doors Event
Nicky Stallwood spoke on behalf of Thame in Business with regard to the Open Doors Event to be held on Saturday 11 July 2015. Nicky was a member of staff at Lord Williams’s School and worked closely with pupils at the school and businesses in Thame encouraging participation in the annual FutureFest event, promoting work experience opportunities and other career related activities.
Thame Business Forum was formed two and half years ago to enable businesses without a shop front in the town to come together to network and identify common issues. One goal was to raise awareness, within the local community, of the businesses in the town and what they did and from this initial idea the Open Doors Event was conceived.
A small working group, Thame in Business, was formed from members of the Forum to organise the event. To date a project officer had been appointed and links established with Thame4Business. Twenty Five businesses had registered to take part in the event which would be held in the car park in front of the Town Hall and the Upper Chamber. An event of this type had not taken place in South Oxfordshire before and the Economic team at the District Council were watching with great interest.
The cost of running the event had been budgeted at just over £1,500 of which £1,000 in grant funding had been received from the District Council and a grant application for £500 had been submitted to the Town Council for consideration. One of the larger items of expenditure was the event insurance. It was unfortunate that subsequent to obtaining insurance cover it was discovered that 21st Century Thame could have assisted. Nicky said the group had learnt a lot from organising the event and would certainly approach 21st Century Thame if a similar event was held in the future.
6 Report from County Councillor N Carter
Cllr Carter had given his apologies and would submit a report to the next meeting.
7 Reports from South Oxfordshire District Councillors
Cllr Dodds reported that the relocation of the District Offices from Abbey House in Abingdon to Milton Park was progressing well and would be completed by the end of the week.
8 Notices of Motion
Proposed by Cllr Stiles and seconded by Cllr Cowell – The Re-Introduction of Saturday Surgery.
“That Thame Town Council re-introduce the monthly Saturday morning drop-in surgeries, which used to take place until replaced by an appointment system during the last Council.”
During the election campaign, several residents raised the issue, stating that they missed the opportunity to be able to speak to councillors by simply dropping into the Town Hall. I propose the re-introduction as an addition to the appointment system, if that has proven to be successful, so that we make it as easy as possible for constituents to contact councillors. The proposal is for Town Councillors only, but obviously does not exclude District and County Councillors, if they wish to be included.
Discussion took place on the merits of re-instating a monthly Saturday Surgery. The Clerk reported that in his experience Councillor Surgeries worked best when organised by the Councillors with one Councillor responsible for producing a rota. Cllr Stiles stated that she would be happy to take on the organisational responsibility if it was agreed that Surgeries were re-instated.
The consensus of feeling was that although the majority of items brought to the attention of Councillors related to either District or County issues with only a small proportion related directly to the Town Council it was important that residents had the opportunity to meet with Councillors on a regular basis.
i) Cllr Stiles work with the Town Clerk to produce a draft procedure by which Saturday Surgeries would operate for consideration at the next Full Council meeting.
There were no questions.
The minutes of the Council meeting held on 19 May 2015 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Mayor.
11 Planning & Environment Committee
The minutes of the meetings held on 19 May 2015, 26 May 2015 and 16 June 2015 were noted.
12 Internal Audit
The report confirmed that the Council operated a good system of internal control and there were no matters for concern.
i) The Internal Audit Final Report for 2014-2015 be duly received.
13 External Audit
Members received the Financial Statement (un-audited) for the year ended 31 March 2015 and the Annual Return for 2014-2015.
Having reviewed the figures in Section 1 of the Annual Return and agreed the responses to the Annual Governance Statement in Section 2 the form was duly completed.
i) The Financial Statement (unaudited) ending 31 March 2015 be received.
ii) The Annual Return for 2014-2015 be approved and signed by the Mayor and the Town Clerk.
14 Grant Awards
The grant procedure enabled local organisations to apply to the Town Council for grant funding. Provided the organisation met certain prescribed criteria the application was put forward to the Grants Panel for consideration.
The Grants Panel also considered applications from organisations for free use of Council premises and outside space. It was felt that the free use of the meeting room to the Conservation Area Advisory Committee should not come from the Grant Awards Budget and requested the Town Clerk investigate which budget would be more appropriate.
It was agreed that the Citizens Advice Bureau would be invited to present at the next Full Council meeting before their grant was released.
i) The grant awards as recommended by the Panel be approved.
15 Thame Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Group
The report, together with the proposed Terms of Reference, potential membership and topics for the Neighbourhood Plan Continuity Group formed the basis of the discussion. It was now urgent that the criteria and Terms of Reference be agreed to ensure the Neighbourhood Plan moved forward and that the community was involved.
The alternative idea of a fourth Town Council Committee set up specifically to monitor the Neighbourhood Plan with the ability to draw on expertise from outside when required was discussed. There was equally a strong feeling towards a NP Continuity Group which would operate outside of the Town Council with membership drawn from different sections of the community and include a small number of nominated councillors. Whether a Standing Committee or Continuity Group it was imperative that any recommendations put forward would need to be considered and approved by the Town Council before adoption.
Following the discussion it was suggested that Cllrs Austin and Cllr Dyer work with the Town Clerk to formulate a proposal for Council to consider at the next meeting.
i) Cllrs Austin and Dyer work with the Town Clerk to establish a way forward for consideration at the next Full Council meeting.
16 Sports Facility Strategy
The Town Clerk reminded Councillors that the Sports Facility Strategy was being reviewed with a view to the final version being presented for approval at the next Full Council meeting. The deadline to submit comments to the Town Clerk was 30 June 2015.
17 The Elms
The two items of correspondence sent to the Planning Officer at SODC, one which clarified the position of the Town Council with regard to the three separate Elms related planning applications and one with regard to the Elms Park consultation were noted.
The meeting concluded at 7.35 pm
Chairman, 28 July 2015