Woodstock Town Council

Incorporated by Royal Charter of Henry VI in 1453

                   

Report of District Councillors for Bladon, Blenheim and Woodstock to Woodstock Town Council Tuesday 12th March 2019

Council Tax

The District Council finally agreed the budget and thereby the Council Tax for the District. The rise for Woodstock is slightly lower than in most other communities and keeps Woodstock as the town with the lowest Council Tax in Oxfordshire. The constituent parts of the Tax paid by a ‘bench mark’ Band D property are listed below:

Oxfordshire County Council                            £ 1468.83 (↑ 2.9%)

Thames Valley Police                                      £   206.28 (↑13.6%)

West Oxfordshire District Council                  £     99.38  (↑ 5.3%

Woodstock Town Council                                £      66.05  (↑3.5%)  

West Oxfordshire District Council have increased the Council Tax levy by the permitted £5.00 to protect its overall position ahead of the central government review of local government financial support. Currently WODC gets the equivalent of about £8 per household from the Rates Support Grant. The future of this and other central government grants is uncertain. The overall budget means the WODC balance should remain roughly the same as at this year end.         

The services to Woodstock listed below remain part of the WODC budget for the financial year 2019/20. 

·         Shipton Road Open Air Swimming Pool

·         Garden waste collection at £30 pa per bin

·         Community Facilities Grants as accessed recently by the Youth Club

·         Licensing services for events including those at Blenheim

The Budget includes a £10 million loan to Cottsway Housing Association to develop social (‘affordable’) housing but Cabinet and Council rejected the proposal to borrow a further £10 million to extend this policy to other housing associations. The proposal that WODC takes up the offer of a free stall at CountryFile Live at the end of August so as to promote the attractions of West Oxfordshire/Cotswolds to those from outside the district, was disappointing and, in our view, lacking foresight.

West Oxfordshire Citizens Advice

Councillors remain concerned about the continued time and money consuming processes whereby Citizens Advice tenders for services. When there is continual change in policy over items such as Universal Credit, the experience of Citizens Advice should be acknowledged by allowing them a lump sum grant to enable them to concentrate on advising the public without having to dedicate resources for grant applications.

WODC Cllrs Julian Cooper & Elizabeth Poskitt

 

Oxfordshire County Councillor Ian Hudspeth's March 2019 Report
 

COUNCIL BUDGET PASSED ON 12TH FEBRUARY

COMMUNITIES TO BE OFFERED HELP WITH YOUTH SERVICES

Youth Provision across Oxfordshire was given a £1 million boost by the Conservative Independent Alliance at the budget-setting meeting on February 12th. It was disappointing that both the Labour and Liberal Democrat groups voted against this proposal, which could have had cross-party support. Young people and their families in Oxfordshire will now benefit from improved community-run youth services. Youth groups will be invited to bid in to a £1m fund over two years, with encouragement to find match-funding from their local communities. Details of the application process will be published shortly.

COUNTY COUNCIL TO INVEST IN SCHOOLS, TRANSPORT AND STREETLIGHTING

Other measures that form part of the approved Budget include highway improvements, new school buildings and energy-efficient street-lighting thanks to a £1 billion investment over the next ten years. However, the county council is also warning that funding pressure on services remains as demand for social care for vulnerable children and adults continues grow and continued financial prudence is required to meet those demands.

Transport schemes across the county will improve journeys for drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users. Nearly £20m will be invested to increase the provision of school places for children with special needs in the county, including rebuilding Northfield School in Oxford with more pupil places.

Capital funding is for large one-off projects such as highway repairs or building work to assist the council meet its obligations, such as creating extra school places – as opposed to the normal revenue budget which covers funding for the costs of day-to-day services. Most of the funding for capital programme is made up of government funding and developer contributions, which cannot be used for any other purpose.

The capital programme includes a £41m street-lighting improvement programme with traditional lanterns being replaced with more energy efficient LED lighting, saving money in the long-run.

Pressure on funding for day-to-day council services continues as the council increases funding to support of Oxfordshire’s most vulnerable children and adults. To make sure the growing number of children at risk of abuse and neglect are protected, the children’s social care budget has increased annually. It was £46m in 2011 and is forecast to be £95m in 2022/23 – more than doubling in ten years. The council’s budget for adult social care will increase by £5m in 2019/20, with further annual increases reaching nearly £6m by 2022/23.

The planned redesign of the council around the changing needs of residents and communities will maintain or improve services, with investment in digital technology enabling us to save money in the process – OCC is now reviewing the digital technology needed to make the council run more effectively and efficiently, including improving customer service by making it easier to access services online. The council has identified savings of £50m from changing the way services are delivered and has already started implementing these changes, including improving online ‘self-service’ HR and finance systems used by staff. As part of the partnership with Cherwell District Council, legal services for the two councils are being joined up.

WOODSTOCK LIBRARY

The library has moved into The Oxfordshire Museum on a temporary basis after the building in Hensington Road was found to have suffered structural damage. Problems with some of the walls were uncovered during routine maintenance and health and safety inspections. Now further extensive surveys have revealed the building is damaged beyond economic repair and will be demolished. Various items have been retained such as the window and brass plaques. We are looking at all options for a permanent solution to retaining the Library in the town.

INVESTMENT IN REPAIRING OXFORDSHIRE'S ROADS CONTINUES

OCC will be spending an extra £13m on capital funding on road maintenance in the coming financial year. This is on top of its existing £18.5m programme of work and follows last year’s additional £12m boost which saw more than 37 extra miles of road being resurfaced through a range of methods including surface dressing and micro-asphalting – both of which make road surfaces waterproof and extend their life. This year’s additional money will be spent across Oxfordshire on resurfacing, drainage, bridge repairs and footways. One of the major projects confirmed for later this year will see the A40 from Thornhill to Headington Roundabout (inbound) resurfaced, benefitting thousands of road users every day.

HEALTHWATCH OXFORDSHIRE PUBLISHES FINDINGS OF DAYTIME SUPPORT REVIEW

OCC’s Adult Social Care department asked the health and social care watchdog to undertake an independent review of the services after major changes in how they were delivered in October 2017. On that date, OCC’s Health and Wellbeing Centres and Learning Disability Daytime Support Services were replaced with a new Community Support Service as planned, securing the services for the future. The services are located in Abingdon, Banbury, Bicester, Didcot, Oxford, Wallingford, Wantage and Witney. They provide daytime support for both older people and those with learning disabilities. The review focused specifically on user experiences during the process of change to help evaluate the impact it had on people. The service has been working hard since the launch to ensure that people are at the centre of all service developments. The review found that people said that daytime support made a difference to their lives and they valued it for: social connection and friendships; meaningful activity; independence; reducing isolation and loneliness; and supporting carers to continue caring.

DELAYED TRANSFER OF CARE IMPROVEMENTS

The latest published figures on people who are unnecessarily in hospital while they await care have been published. The figures for December 2018 show that on average 85 Oxfordshire residents had their hospital discharge delayed. This is five fewer than in November and 20 less than the same time last year. Oxfordshire’s improvement remains better than nationally. In the last 12 months delays have dropped by 19% locally compared to 11% nationally.

 

Cllr Ian Hudspeth
07956270 318

Ian.hudspeth@oxfordshire.gov.uk