07 November 2023 – Minutes


Minutes of a Meeting of the Policy & Resources Committee held on 7 November 2023 at 6.30pm in the Upper Chamber, Thame Town Hall.


Cllrs D Bretherton, N Champken-Woods, P Cowell, A Dite (Town Mayor), D Dodds (Deputy Chairman), H Dollman, M Dyer (Chairman), H Fickling, P Swan


M Sturdy, Town Clerk
K Slater, Corporate Services Manager & Responsible Financial Officer (RFO)
A Oughton, Operations Manager
L Fuller, Committee Services & Processes Officer


1 Apologies for Absence

Apologies for absence received from Cllrs Dawson (personal), Gilbert (personal), and Richards (personal).


2 Declarations of Interest and Dispensations

Cllr Dyer declared an interest in Item 12 – Thame Youth Memorial as a trustee and Town Council representative for Thame Youth Memorial.


3 Public Participation and Public Questions

There were no applications to address the Committee.
There were no questions put to the Committee.


4 Minutes

The Minutes of the Committee Meeting held on 25 July 2023 were received.


  1. The minutes of the meeting held on 25 July 2023 are confirmed as a correct record, and signed by the Chairman.


5 Investment Portfolio

Mr Weston-Davies of Rathbones provided Members with the annual investment portfolio review. The discretionary service level means the Town Council inform Rathbones how to manage the portfolio, and Rathbones manage it on a day-to-day basis. The objective is capital growth and income from investments. The risk level is 2 out of 6. The fund value is just under £1.8million, with an estimated income of £35,463 and estimated yield of 2.0%. This figure is estimated as it does not consider the portfolio’s capital appreciation.

The consolidated portfolio performance table compares the portfolio’s performance over the previous 1, 3 and 5 years to 31 October 2023, after Rathbones’ fees, in line with key benchmarks. Overall the portfolio has performed well, however this is not hugely positive given it has been another dramatic year in light of high interest rates and the current conflict in Gaza and Israel. The uncertainty within the market is problematic. Over the last year, the FTSE All Share has performed well, and overall the portfolio’s steady performance is pleasing and reflects the use of different asset classes. Over the last three years, the impact of rising inflation can be seen. Over five years, the bigger picture is shown, particularly the impact of Covid-19 and aggressive inflation in the last 18months. These issues are reflected in more polarised economies and politics. Looking at total returns on the best and worst performing investments, these reflect what would be expected during a volatile period. Rathbones seek to protect capital within the portfolio and review it to ensure there is not too much money in the wrong place.

In terms of risk management, the Town Council uses a lower risk strategy (2) to provide cash plus 2%, and this is reflected in the choice of asset classes. The aim is to find a balance between risk and return, and to grow the portfolio over time.

Rathbones are concerned about the state of the global economy, as well as a potential recession and the outcome of elections in 2024 for the UK and US. Rathbones aim to be responsible investors and environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors form part of the investment process.

Would there be any barriers to divesting from a particular risk within the portfolio, if the council felt it did not align with its aim and had reputational risks? No, but this needs to be discussed and decided by the council. Cllr Swan requested that it be minuted that he does not support the Town Council investing in fossil fuels, weapons, tobacco, or companies that violate the UN Global Compact.

What would be the impact of divesting in these areas? Although they represent a low percentage in the portfolio, there would be an impact, but it would be difficult to do a projection. Rathbones aim to be transparent, responsible and provide the council with all the information to make an informed decision.

The committee thanked Mr. Weston-Davies for his presentation.

Following the discussion about investments, it was advised that a meeting of the Investment Strategy Working Group would be convened shortly to consider all views and the council’s portfolio risk profile.


6 Investment Update

The committee noted the summary of the investment performance. The portfolio’s performance reflected the market.


7 Financial Update

The committee received the budget summary and balance sheet up to 30 September 2023. The remaining precept instalment had been received and put into the council’s higher interest account. Regarding the Balance Sheet, it was confirmed that ‘Assets Under Construction’ related to the Community Youth Centre building, and that the Rathbones Investment Fund figure reflected the original investment, not the current selling value of £1.8million.


8 Financial Overspends

The committee noted the financial overspends.


9 Utilities Update

The committee received a 3-year data analysis report and noted these figures will be updated quarterly to improve monitoring and budgeting. 2022/23 saw a big increase in utility and unit costs, however a lower fixed-rate tariff had been negotiated since which should reduce costs for this year and next.

The electricity use at the Depot had seen a significant increase from 2021/22 to 2022/23. This would be followed up as there was no obvious explanation for this.


10 Council Policies

No substantial changes were proposed to any of the policies.

Would the Environmental Policy apply to contractors? The policy requires sustainability to be given weighting during procurement.

Given recent flooding issues, it was noted that Officers will be working with Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) to update the Town Council’s Emergency Response Plan.


  1. To approve the updated Environmental Policy.
  2. To approve the updated Severe Weather Policy and Appendices.
  3. To approve the updated Members Allowance Scheme.


11 Livestreaming Meetings

The report was noted and provided context for the committee to decide whether to support, in principle, the provision of livestreaming equipment in the Upper Chamber.

From experience at the District and County Councils, who live stream their meetings, it was noted that viewer numbers were generally low, and livestreaming required a trained Officer to operate and monitor the streaming.

Overall, the committee felt livestreaming council meetings would make it easier for people to engage with the council and its meetings. It was agreed that Officers needed to establish the details, including a cost-benefit analysis, and bring the matter back for further consideration in due course.


  1. To consider supporting, in principle, the provision of livestreaming meetings and associated replacement audio / visual equipment in the Town Hall Upper Chamber, subject to a full specification and tender exercise in line with Financial Regulations.


12 Thame Youth Memorial

The report was noted. As per the partnership agreement, the Council must authorise any works to the Youth Memorial. Further details of the proposed works can be found in the Thame Youth Memorial external organisation report (Item 14h).


  1. To authorise Thame Youth Memorial Trust to undertake improvement works to Thame Youth Memorial.


13 Town Hall

The report was noted. Secondary glazing is being requested for the upper office, first floor kitchen and ground floor toilets. This is to improve the energy efficiency of the building and working environments, particularly as more officers are working in the upper office. Three well-regarded local companies have been approached for quoting, however only two have provided quotes despite chasing the third.

It was agreed that Officers need to establish the supplier’s lead times and warranties, and whether listed building consent is required. The committee considered options to enable the works to progress without waiting for the next committee meeting.

The upcoming Town Hall closures were noted.


  1. To approve the purchase and installation of secondary glazing units to be fitted to windows within the Town Hall.
  2. To delegate to Officers the choice of supplier, based on who offers the best value for money and shortest lead time.


14 Reports from Representatives on External Organisations

The reports were noted.

Thame Senior Friendship Centre:-

It was noted that due to a broken lift, the centre was unable to operate temporarily. This should only be for a few weeks but will impact on the centre’s finances.

Red Kite Family Centre:-

It was noted that OCC will be ending the rent holiday for the Red Kite Family Centre and imposing £10,000 rent. The Town Council gives the Red Kite Family Centre an annual grant, but will make enquiries with OCC to see what else can be done.

15 Thame Museum

It was noted that remedial work to the glass lantern on the museum roof has taken place following further rainwater ingress into the main exhibition gallery.  The work was believed to be successful, and the roof watertight, however water is entering again through the lantern and damaging the ceiling.

It was also noted that quotations are being sought for a contractor to carry out a Building Condition Survey, the results of which will identify future work and approximate costs. The Operations Manager will progress this as a matter of priority.


16 Councillor / Staff Nameplates

The committee noted the report and intended purchase of replacement Councillor / Staff Nameplates for council meetings. Members requested that the font size be readable from a distance.


17 Community Engagement

The committee noted the report. Regarding the replacement North Street bench, it was noted that OCC had paid the grant award to the Town Council.


18 Free Use / De Minimis Delegated Authority

The committee noted the report of the Free Use 2023-24 (and equivalent cost) granted by the Town Clerk through Free Use / De Minimis delegated authority.



The meeting concluded at 8:03pm



Signed ………………………………                            Date ……………………..