24 February 2015 – Minutes


Minutes of the Meeting of Thame Town Council held on 24 February 2015 at 6.30pm in the Upper Chamber, Thame Town Hall

Present: Cllr D Bretherton, D Butler, N Champken-Woods, A Dite, D Dodds, M Dyer,
L Emery, H Fickling, V Humphries, P Lambert, D Laver, J Matelot Green (Town Mayor) and M Stiles
H Stewart, Town Clerk
A Oughton, Committee Services Officer


Prior to the start of the meeting Council observed a minute’s silence in memory of Cllr Mike Welply.


1 Apologies for Absence

Apologies for absence were received from Cllrs Dixon (Personal) and Wyse (Personal).


2 Declarations of Interest

There were no declarations of interest.


3 Civic Announcements

The Civic Announcements were noted.


4 Public Participation

Clare Nickless spoke on behalf of Thame Centre First a community campaign group working with Thame 4 Business to ensure the town centre continued to thrive. The group had undertaken a survey of independent retailers asking the question: What do you believe would be the impact of an edge of town superstore to your business and the viability and vitality of the town centre? To date 36 retailers had responded and the results were overwhelming against an edge of town supermarket.

In conclusion the group felt the uncertainty surrounding an edge of town supermarket had already had an impact on retail businesses in the town centre and called for an independent impact assessment to be carried out.


5 Thames Valley Police (TVP)

Sgt Donohoe and Inspector Harling gave a report on the work of Thames Valley Police (TVP) in the town. Sgt Donohoe gave a brief summary of the area (which included Thame) that he was responsible for as the Neighbourhood Sergeant and supported by four police constables and ten PCSOs.

Whilst parking and traffic issues were a significant problem for the town, TVP covered six major categories of crime and had to prioritise resources. This led to parking enforcement falling to the bottom of the list and was carried out when time allowed. Two days had been dedicated to parking enforcement in the town in January and February and 30 fixed penalty tickets had been issued. However, a regular commitment to this level of enforcement could not be guaranteed.

Inspector Harling was responsible for policing in Thame, Didcot, Henley and Wallingford which was delivered against the backdrop of austerity measures. TVP had experienced a £40m reduction in budgets and expected another £40m cut in future. Set against this crime figures were falling with an 18% drop in the Thame sector. However, this drop had been offset by an increase in calls classified under the headings of risk, harm and threat such as child exploitation, domestic abuse, missing persons and people with mental health issues.
Inspector Harling reported Thames Valley was going through an incredibly difficult time and did not know what the Force would look like in the future. Whilst he appreciated the Council’s concern regarding parking enforcement in the town his officers provided the best service with the resources available to them.


6 Report from County Councillor N Carter

Further to the comprehensive report submitted to Council in January Cllr Carter had three items to add. Firstly the budget had been agreed resulting in an increase in council tax of 1.99%. The County Council was under attack from all directions with regard to funding and there was a gradual reinvention of the organisation taking place from top to bottom.

The Tri-County Alliance, comprising Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire County Councils, had been formed to manage major infrastructure projects across the three counties.

The independent Serious Case Review into Child Sexual Exploitation in Oxfordshire would be published tomorrow.

In answer to the question raised regarding the maintenance of trees and shrubs on County Council land in Thame. Cllr Carter reported that the County Council operated a five year full inspection cycle and that Thame was due for inspection this year. Work identified as a result of the inspection would be carried out. Any problems that related to trees and shrubs should be reported to the Highway Enquiries Team who would then forward the problem onto the appropriate officer. Residents could report problems directly to the County Council by using the ‘Fix My Street’ tab on the website.


7 Community Charter

Mr Stratton thanked the Council for the opportunity to present the findings of the research carried out to date on a Community Charter for Thame. A leaflet had been prepared and sent to interested parties and key stakeholder groups, copies were also put in the library and onto the Council website together with presentations to the Thame Alliance Group, churches and businesses.

As a result of the consultation five key statements had been produced under the heading ‘We want Thame to be…’. It was hoped that the Charter would be included in Town literature and would bring clarity as to why Thame was a good place to live.


i) The Town Council would support the Community Charter for Thame.


8 Reports from South Oxfordshire District Councillors

Cllr Dodds reported that his role as Cabinet Member for Thame was mainly a co-ordinating one liaising with District Council Officers offering an opportunity to discuss problems and proposals that involved Thame. The months of January and February had been difficult for the District Council following the fire at the offices at Crowmarsh. Cllr Dodds paid tribute to the District Council staff for the continuity of work following the fire. All information could now be accessed accept for any paperwork that was on desks on the night of the fire.

The budget had been agreed resulting in a 3% cut in District Council tax for the year 2015-16. The first stage consultation on CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) charging had just opened. Thame would get 25% of CIL as it had a Neighbourhood Plan, whereas those parishes without a Neighbourhood Plan would only receive 15%.

Cllr Bretherton reported that the consultation on the Core Strategy had just opened.

Cllr Midwinter paid tribute to Cllr Welply stating he would be sorely missed at the District Council. Following the fire 400 members of staff had to be found alternative office accommodation, despite the huge task staff were relocated and communication was reinstated very quickly. The aim was for everyone to be under one roof, at Milton Park, by the middle of May. Cllr Midwinter thanked the Town Council for their offer of temporary office space which had been appreciated.


9 Notices of Motion

There were no Notices of Motion.


10 Questions

Cllr Stiles reported that residents were upset that the Dovecote Day Service had merged with the Group from Wheatley who met at Holton leaving no provision in Thame. Cllr Stiles asked if the Dovecote Day Service had approached the Council for a grant to help finance the cost of continuing to meet at the Barns Centre? Cllr Matelot Green replied that the group seemed determined to merge with Wheatley and that the Dovecote Day Service had successfully applied for grant funding from the Council in the past. It was a great shame that the group had moved to Holton.


11 Minutes

This item was deferred to the next meeting.

12 Community, Leisure & Recreation Committee

This item was deferred to the next meeting.


13 Planning & Environment Committee

The minutes of the meeting held on 4 November, 25 November and 16 December 2014 were noted.

The minutes of the meeting held on 6 January 2015 were noted.


Item 6 – Thame Conservation Area Advisory Committee


i) Free use of the Meeting Room at the Town Hall by the Thame Conservation Area Advisory Committee be approved.


The minutes of the meeting held on 27 January 2015 were noted.

The minutes of the meeting held on 17 February 2015 were noted.


Item 8 – Hopton Road


i) Work to fell and stump grind the two remaining Maple trees at a cost of £1,350 from the General Fund be approved.

ii) Two trees, suitable for the area, be planted centrally on the green be approved.


Item 9 – Tree Grilles


i) The project to install tree grilles around the base of the trees in the Upper High Street be supported. £7,690 be released from the Capital Rolling Fund be approved.


14 Personnel

This item was deferred to the next meeting.


15 Sports Facilities Strategy

Anna Kocerhan presented the draft Sports Facilities Strategy. The Strategy was almost finished and was presented to Council for final comments. The Strategy had been developed on behalf of the Council and presented a framework for the development of high quality and accessible sports facilities in the future. The vision was for the Council to work with sports providers in the town to research current and future need and the Strategy set out the Council’s key objectives of how this would be achieved.

The main conclusion was that the current level of sports facility supply largely met the demand and was considered commensurate to the size of the local population. Albeit some of the existing facilities were ageing and in need of replacement. If the future housing development planned for Thame was delivered this would generate a demand for additional facilities.


16 Rugby Club

Following a presentation by the Rugby Club to Council in 2013 and approval of the terms of the Community Loan in July 2014. Documentation was now presented to Council to support the application and gain approval to draw down on the loan facility.


i) The draw down on the loan to a maximum of £135,000 be approved.


17 Financial Management

This item was deferred to the next meeting.

18 Pensions

This item was deferred to the next meeting.


19 Internal Audit Contract

This item was deferred to the next meeting.


20 Predetermination

This item was deferred to the next meeting.


21 Nelson Street – Proposed One Way Traffic Order

This item was deferred to the next meeting.


22 Emergency Expenditure

This item was deferred to the next meeting.


23 Retail Study

Discussion took place on whether the Council should commission an independent study of the impact of a supermarket development on the viability of the High Street. Initial discussions had taken place at a meeting of the Neighbourhood Plan Monitoring group on an impact study for all the development sites.

Members agreed that an independent study should be undertaken and a brief be drawn up together with costings and brought back to Council for approval.


i) An independent study be undertaken.
ii) A brief together with costings be brought back to Council for approval.


24 Investment Strategy

This item was deferred to the next meeting.


25 Social Media

This item was deferred to the next meeting.


26 Town & Parish Forum

This item was deferred to the next meeting.


27 Town Crier

This item was deferred to the next meeting the Community, Leisure and Recreation Committee.


28 Neighbourhood Planning

This item was deferred to the next meeting.


The meeting concluded at 8.32pm.

Signed …………………………..
Chairman, 17 March 2015