25 July 2023 – Minutes


Minutes of a Meeting of the Policy & Resources Committee held on 25 July 2023 at 6.30pm in the Upper Chamber, Thame Town Hall.


Cllrs P Cowell, A Dite (Town Mayor), D Dawson, D Dodds (Deputy Chairman), M Dyer (Chairman), H Fickling, A Gilbert (Deputy Town Mayor), P Swan


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


1 Apologies for Absence

Apologies for absence received from Cllrs Bretherton (personal), Champken-Woods (personal), Dollman (Personal), and Richards (personal).


2 Declarations of Interest and Dispensations

There were no declarations of interest or dispensations.


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 Meetings held on 18 April 2023 and 16 May 2023 were received.


  1. The minutes of the meeting held on 18 April 2023 are confirmed as a correct record, and signed by the Chairman.
  2. The minutes of the meeting held on 16 May 2023 are confirmed as a correct record, and signed by the Chairman.


5 Financial Update

Members received the budget summary and balance sheet up to 30 June 2023 and noted the financial updates. There were no overspends to report. The 100% expenditure on the Town Hall is due to recharges that will average out over the year.

The ‘Car Parks’ budget line relates to the former income / expenditure relating to management of the town centre car parks. The leftover budget has been transferred to a public transport fund which can be used for any community transport projects.

It was noted that the Town Hall income is lower than expected. Officers will be looking at ways to increase hirings and setting targets to better utilise the space.

Regarding the outstanding Public Work Loan Board loans, the smaller amount will be repaid in a few years, and the larger concludes in 2039.


6 Investment Update

Members noted the investment performance summary and received the tables detailing fees associated with the investment account. The data, which Members welcomed, showed that income was higher than budgeted, expenditure lower than budgeted and overall, the Town Council has recouped almost all the £1million withdrawn since 2010. Officers hope to include information on loans on the next Investment Summary.

Members discussed the Rathbones investment portfolio. Questions were raised about the different investment funds and the environmental and ethical considerations. The Town Council is pleased with Rathbones and their management of the portfolio, although it was noted there has been differing views on some investments. Rathbones will be giving their annual presentation to the committee in November, and to ensure all Members are informed, it was noted that previous presentations and subsequent discussions are available on the Town Council’s website. It was also noted that work to update the Investment Strategy can resume following an increase in staffing capacity, and a working group will be convened to assist with this.

Members also discussed interest rates on loans to community groups. The Town Council’s Loans Policy fixes the interest rate as that set by the Public Works Loan Board at the time the loan is issued. Changing this to a variable rate could create challenges for the community groups. The high interest rates presently may explain why no recent loan applications have been made to the Town Council.


7 Reports from Representatives on External Organisations

The reports were noted.

Red Kite Family Centre:-

Following a successful fundraising campaign, the centre has secured funding and is no longer facing imminent closure. Members raised concern about the centre’s accounts, and agreed the Town Council should continue discussions with the centre to ensure their fantastic work can continue.


8 Driving & Towing at Work Policy

The Driving & Towing at Work Policy was presented with only minor changes.


  1. The Driving & Towing at Work Policy be adopted as presented.


9 Tree Management Policy

The Tree Management Policy was presented with only minor changes. Members suggested including a section about consulting neighbours on tree planting. Officers agreed they would add this section.


  1. The Tree Management Policy be adopted subject to the addition of a section about consulting neighbours.


10 Council Safety Policies

The four safety policies were presented with minor changes following advice from the council’s Health & Safety consultants. Members questioned a few procedures relating to first aid, fire marshals and fire risk assessments, which Officers confirmed were all being followed correctly, although it was recognised that a fire alarm test was due during a council meeting. With the Fire Safety Policy, section 6.1. should read ‘every two years’ not annually.

Following the recent team visit to the Maintenance Depot, Members commended the Maintenance Team on their professionalism, pride in their work, and commitment to Thame’s community.


  1. The First Aid at Work Policy, Health & Safety Policy, Fire Safety Policy, and Fire Safety Management Policy be adopted.


11 Procurement Policy

The Procurement Policy was presented with no changes.


  1. The Procurement Policy be adopted as presented.


12 Publication Scheme

The report was noted. The council is legally required to publish a Publication Scheme under the Freedom of Information Act. The Publication Scheme uses the format provided by the Information Commissioner’s Office. It is good practice for the Publication Scheme to presented to Members regularly, however it was last presented to council in 2013. It is suggested that the Publication Scheme be reviewed every 4 years in line with most other policies. Matters relating to freedom of information requests and data protection are covered by their respective policies.


  1. The Publication Scheme be adopted as presented.


13 Health & Safety Update

The report following the Legionella Water Risk Assessments was noted.

It was clarified that a ‘dead leg’ refers to a pipe that has a section cut off from supply and may contain standing water. Regarding section 9, all public buildings must have a legionella risk assessment. The Town Council is a landlord for various community buildings and is therefore responsible for ensuring that legionella risk assessments are being undertaken. The Town Council will support these organisations to be compliant as this should not be an onerous task but has benefits for the Town Council and the community.


14 Town Hall Broadband

It was noted that the new BT broadband lines have been set up and the Town Hall is now awaiting to be connected by BT. Final installation works are due to happen next week, to ensure maximum signal strength within the building.


15 Work Experience

It was noted that the Town Council provided work experience for one student from Lord Williams’s School for the week commencing 10 July 2023. The student had been superb, fitted in well and helped with a range of tasks.

With support from Officers and Councillors, the Town Council also hosted Year 7 pupils during the week commencing 10 July 2023 by facilitating council-meeting style workshops on the environment and planning topics within the Thame Neighbourhood Plan and Green Living Plan. Lots of beneficial feedback had been received, and the students were well versed in town issues.

Both the school and Town Council are keen to continue engaging young people in local politics.


16 Free Use / De Minimis Delegated Authority

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


17 Grants

The reports / accounts from Grant Award recipients in 2022-23 who received more than £2,000 in that year were noted. The letters of thanks received from the 2023-24 Grant Award recipients were noted.



The meeting concluded at 7:25pm



Signed ………………………………

Chairman, 7 November 2023