12 April 2022 – Minutes


Minutes of a Meeting of the Policy & Resources Committee held on 12 April 2022 at 6.30pm in the Upper Chamber, Thame Town Hall.


Cllrs D Bretherton (Deputy Chairman), P Cowell (Town Mayor), A Dite, D Dodds, M Dyer (Chairman), H Fickling, and A Midwinter


M Sturdy, Town Clerk
A Oughton, Asset Manager
L Fuller, Committee Services Officer


1 Apologies for Absence

Apologies for absence received from Cllrs Austin (personal), Champken-Woods (personal), and Jones (personal).

Cllr Gregory was absent without apology.


2 Declarations of Interest and Dispensations

There were no declarations of interest or dispensations.


3 Public Participation and Public Questions

Mr. Steve Conrad spoke as the resident of 22 Pickenfield in relation to agenda Item 8. Following the previous committee meeting, he had resubmitted his plans showing two options with measurements, as well as some commentary that addressed comments made by the committee. Mr. Conrad hoped these would enable the committee to now support his proposals.


4 Minutes

The Minutes of the Committee Meeting held on 15 February 2022 were confirmed as a correct record, and were signed by the Chairman.


5 Financial Update

Members received the budget summary and balance sheet up to 28 February 2022.

It was noted that there was a typo error on the Income section, which Officers would resolve.

A question was raised with regards to the figures which were showing as zero for the current financial year’s expenditure and income relating to Thame Football Partnership. The outstanding S106 monies which were due, as reported to the last Community, Leisure & Recreation Committee, were not showing. The Town Clerk advised that she would check this and report back.

The Chairman asked the committee whether the Balance Sheet was a useful document and if Officers should continue to produce it for this committee? It had been introduced by a former Town Clerk to help Members understand the figures however he had never received any questions relating to it. The Town Clerk advised that she found it useful.


6 Financial Overspends

It was noted that there were no financial overspends against budget line items (greater than the agreed de minimis of £100 / 5%) that have been recorded since the last meeting of the Committee on 15 February 2022.


7 Investment Update

The portfolio summary of the investment performance was noted. The portfolio had recovered from the challenges a year ago, however there continued to be various challenges in the market.


8 Disposal of Amenity Land at 22 Pickenfield

The report was noted. The applicant had submitted two options, with dimensions shown this time. Members were asked to consider whether the requests would meet the criteria set out in the policy and, if so, decide whether to dispose of the land. Within the policy, the Council is asked to consider whether the disposal of the land would have an impact on individuals who currently benefit from the land that cannot be accommodated elsewhere. It was noted that in 2017, a resident on Cheshire Road had applied to purchase part of the same area of land, which Officers felt did not meet the criteria. There was concern that in approving this request, it could set a precedent for other properties adjacent to this piece of land to do the same which would cumulatively result in a large loss of amenity space.

Overall, it was felt that the disposing of this piece of land would not result in public benefit and would reduce the amenity space which is a resource to the community. In light of the information regarding the previous request at Cheshire Road, it was felt that disposing of this land would result in a precedent and could not be supported.


  1. This piece of land does not meet the criteria for disposal within the Land Acquisition and Disposal Policy and should not be disposed of.


9 Disposal of Amenity Land at 28 Pickenfield

Following discussions at the previous meeting, the Asset Manager had sought a valuation for the land from the District Valuer’s office. The response, in February and again in April, was that they had no capacity to take on new work. The Asset Manager had contacted local property / specialist surveyors, who confirmed that there was no set formula for calculating the value of the land and that it was a case of what the seller was willing to sell for, and the buyer willing to pay. One surveyor had offered to undertake a marketing appraisal, which would provide a second valuation, at a cost of £500-£750.

It was noted that the applicant had stated they were not willing to pay £5,000 for the land or for an additional valuation. It was felt that the Town Council should not invest any further funds or time into the matter, and that the Town Council must secure the best value for the land.


  1. The Town Council offers £5,000 for this piece of land plus any costs that have been incurred by the Council.


10 Disposal of Amenity Land at 28 Youens Drive

It was noted that the applicant obtained planning permission on 15 February 2022.

This land disposal had been supported by the Town Council last year, and the applicant would now need to seek a valuation for the land. It was noted that applicants are clearly informed of the process from their initial enquiry. Members discussed whether to create a set formula for calculating the value of land. Whilst a fair idea in principle, the value of the land would be subject to the market at the time and would also need to take into account the value added to the property, which would cost the Council in terms of obtaining professional advice to ensure the Council’s formula satisfied the auditor and District Valuer. Overall, it was felt that the current process of requesting a valuation was appropriate.


11 Thame Museum

The Asset Manager advised that the original work was almost complete and there had not been any leaks, however damp had been identified on the archway by the kitchen area. The contractor has since inspected this and advised that the window putty would need re-doing and the gulley along the flat roof would be cleaned, which would mean the scaffolding would need to be in place for a little longer. The Asset Manager would continue to push for this to be completed as soon as possible.

A question was raised as to whether all of the gutters had been checked? The Asset Manager advised that all gutters will be checked before the scaffolding is removed and that the Maintenance Team undertake routine checks on the gutters that they can access.


12 Reports from Representatives on External Organisations

The reports were noted.

21st Century Thame:-

Cllr Fickling advised that there was no report as 21st Century Thame were meeting tomorrow.


13 Fees and Charges

The report was noted. Officers had sought comparisons of local room and facility hire rates and were recommending that the current rates for the Upper Chamber (£27/hour for commercial, £14/hour for non-commercial) and Football Pitch (£18 per game) be kept the same for this financial year. The hire of the Upper Chamber was recovering from the impact of covid-19 with new businesses now hiring the space. Officers will be looking at how to improve and report on the utilisation of the Upper Chamber.

It was suggested that the hire charge for the football pitch be increased to £25 per game to be in line with Long Crendon. The Asset Manager advised that the current rate of £18 per game reflected that the changing rooms were not useable. It was suggested that any increase should be smaller, at least until the facilities are improved. It was noted that the increased cost when considered per player was relatively small.


  1. The charge for hiring the Upper Chamber remains at £27.00 (commercial) and £14.00 (noncommercial) per hour.
  2. The charge for hiring SRRG football pitch be increased to £25 per game (inclusive of VAT).


14 Town Hall Clock Tower

The structural survey was received. The contractor would be fitting bespoke boarding and fascias, and it was hoped that the work would be completed by the end of the month.

Members asked for the expected cost of the repair work? The Asset Manager advised that it would be £5,200 which was authorised under delegated urgent matters and reported to Full Council in November 2021, where the emergency expenditure for the structural survey was approved.

The structural survey had recommended that PVC boards be used, which was of concern given the Town Hall is listed. The Asset Manager advised that traditional like-for-like materials would be used, not PVC, and no planning permission would be required.

Concern was raised about timescales, given the upcoming town centre events such as the Jubilee celebrations and that this was the same contractor as for the Museum work. Would the contractor be charged for delays beyond the end of the month? The Asset Manager advised that she would continue to chase the contractor, particularly as it was hoped that the scaffolding would be removed before the Freedom Parade on 15 May. If this hadn’t been emergency work, the Council would have sought three quotes, although it was noted that there appeared to be a shortage of available contractors to undertake the work at present.


15 War Memorials – Additional Names

Officers now had capacity to progress this project and had prepared a timeline within the report with the proposed date for the unveiling event as 2 September 2022. The intention is to submit a pre-application in the next week to see if full planning permission is required. Officers will seek updated quotes for the production of the plaques, as well as quotes for the cleaning of the memorials. It will be tight as to whether the timeline is met, as this is dependent on the planning process and lead times on the plaques.

As the War Memorial is listed, it was expected that planning permission would be required. Therefore, the Asset Manager advised that Officers would submit a full planning application as this would have no cost to the council.

It was suggested that, given there was uncertainty as to whether the timeline could be met, a date (perhaps in June) be set by which a decision on the unveiling event would be made. This would assist with commitments to road closures, invitations, and publicity, none of which could not be left to the last minute.

Had the companies, who provided the quotes for the plaques, visited the War Memorial to ensure the font size and style would be an exact match? The Asset Manager advised that they had not, however photographs were supplied, and it was expected that samples would be provided.


16 Town Council Website Support & Hosting Contracts

It was noted that Officers have obtained quotes for the hosting and support of the Town Council’s website. These are not directly comparable to the current service and have highlighted some matters which Officers need to discuss with our existing supplier in order to enable a fairer comparison and smoother transition if it is decided to move suppliers. It is intended to renew the current contract with the existing supplier for 6 months to enable Officers time to resolve these matters. Members felt this was a sensible approach.


17 Staffing Update

It was noted that the National Joint Council for Local Government Services agreed a 1.75% increase for staff pay which will be backdated to 1st April 2021. It was noted that the Town Council had budgeted for this.


18 Compliments and Complaints

The report for October 2021 to March 2022 was noted.


19 For Information

It was noted that Officers at South Oxfordshire District Council were working on the CCTV report, which would be circulated by email after the meeting.



The meeting concluded at 7:19pm



Signed ………………………………

Chairman, 19 July 2022