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
13th November 2018

Personal Statement from Julian Cooper

At the last normal full Council meeting I took a personal decision to resign as Leader of the Liberal Democrats on the Council. I should emphasise at this juncture that I will remain until 2022 as a District Councillor for Woodstock, Bladon and Blenheim.

The reason to vacate that particular office was that I objected to a speech from one of the group. In presenting a motion calling for WODC to support a People’s Vote, my colleague strayed from the matter under consideration to be disrespectful to the anti-European Councillors who have served this area with dedication over many years. I should like to put on record that I strongly support the People’s Vote campaign but I do not wish to appear to be lacking in proper regard for Brexit supporters and other anti-Europe characters I have known over nearly fifty years, most particularly the late Sir Neil Marten, MP. Sadly, neither the case for a People’s Vote nor that for what I refer to as a third referendum (1975, 2016 & ……?) was made although, to me, the cases for both of these are unquestionable and they may still come before us.

Council meeting October 24th: Motions To Council

As well as the motion on the People’s Vote at Council several other motions were debated.

Young Care Leavers. Council was addressed very impressively by a young man who led the local care leavers group. The period of adjustment for young people leaving care at the age of 18 can be problematic. Too often these individuals run into financial difficulties when setting up home for themselves for the first time. It was proposed that care leavers should be exempted from paying Council Tax until the age of 25. The expectation is that this could help these young people avoid running into debt. Councillors were very sympathetic to the young care leavers but felt that they – the Councillors - did not know enough about the implications of the motion and therefore forwarded the matter to Committee for further scrutiny.

Plastic Waste. Council was also supportive of a resolution to work towards elimination of all avoidable plastic waste calling upon the Cabinet Member for Environment to bring forward proposals by Spring 2019 to:

·    Phase out the use of avoidable Single Use Plastics (SUPs) in all District Council premises

·    Work with Ubico, Publica and their contracted partners to end purchase and procurement of avoidable SUPs   through the Council’s supply chain

·    Incentivise traders on District Council sites to avoid SUPs as a condition of their event permission

The matter will be considered further at the Environment O&S Committee.

Modern Slavery. Council was unanimously in favour of the motion to adopt the Modern Slavery Charter and to ensure that the employees of partners that deliver services on Council’s behalf are trained to recognise the signs of modern slavery and the need to report any suspect cases. The motion, which was far reaching, also required Council’s partners to follow the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply on-line course on Ethical Procurement and Supply and, when dealing with particularly low bids for contracts, to ensure that the company is not relying on contractors who are practising modern slavery.

Fat traps for new homes. A motion was proposed that property developers should be obliged to install fat traps and solids screens with settlement sump facilities in all new homes to prevent discharge of insoluble matter, fats and manufactured items beyond the curtilage each new property. Council was uncertain about the exact requirements of this motion and the matter has been put on the agenda for the Development Control Committee on December 3rd. (The Development Control Committee meeting was originally called to discuss the proposed development of a Garden Village at Barnard Gate but this proposal has now been withdrawn.)

Mobile phone coverage. A recent Oxford Times article referred to an Ofcom claim that more than half the homes and businesses in South and West Oxfordshire do not have full 4G coverage. Council approved a motion calling upon the Government to introduce legally-binding targets which would force mobile phone contractors to work to extend 4G coverage.

The National Budget.
The October Budget has impact on the work of the District Council in a number of areas although the Local Government final settlement will not be published until December. Some of the changes impacting on WODC are:

  • An additional £50 million being given nationally to speed up hospital discharges through the Disabled Facilities Grant administered by District Councils.

  • The Housing Infrastructure Fund - that is funding allocated towards the construction of social housing - increased by a further 10%.

  • Changes to the Land Value uplift - that is andowners' contributions when there is development on land - providing more s106 funding in association with new housing developments.

  • Cuts in business rate for properties below £50,000 rateable value.

  • Continuation of the supported housing grant when there had been concerns that it would be cut

  • A small addition of £20 million nationally to further new projects on recycling.

  • Another year's funding of £120 million nationally for science clusters, that is the initially small commercial enterprises arising in relation to scientific research and innovation in and around Oxford.

  • Abolition of rates for public toilet buildings.

WODC Cllrs Julian Cooper & Elizabeth Poskitt


Oxfordshire County Councillor Ian Hudspeth's November 2018 Report

Our thoughts for November will be of those service men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country as we commemorate 100 years since the end of the First World War. I can remember talking to my grandfather about his time in the war but to new generations its history; we must make sure that we do not forget the horror of the war.

I attended the dedication of trees planted in Oriel College Meadows to commemorate the 163 men from the college who died in the First World war, I was honoured to plant one of the trees

The library has had to close due to a structural problem making it unsafe for staff and users; we are looking at all options to provide a temporary service whilst the work is going on.
In terms of Woodstock Library users, there is a book drop box located in Fletcher’s House. It’s been noted that surrounding Libraries in Eynsham, Kidlington, Witney and Charlbury are reporting an increase in Woodstock users.  I can assure everybody that there will be a Library in Woodstock in the future and thank you for your patience during these short-term measures.

The £315,000 carriageway maintenance project on Shipton Road has been completed thanks to some good weather. The contractors wanted to thank all the residents for their understanding during the works which allowed them to get with the job. The works were planned to coincide with half term to minimise the disruption. This scheme was originally in the capital programme for the year 2019-2020 but has come forward into this year as part of the additional in year £10 million highways programme following the decision by cabinet in the summer to invest an additional £120 million in infrastructure over the next 10 years. I will be pressing more schemes across the division to be completed.

As mentioned above the extra £10m effectively doubled the amount of money invested in repairs and crews are out and about every day in all types of weather doing the job. Their work has already resulted in £1.6m worth of surface dressing with around 33km of roads being surfaced. Work is also under way on a £700,000 programme of surfacing sealing projects around the county.
As well as the extra cash which is going into some larger projects, the county council has also increased the amount of relatively small-scale work it does to put right local roads that are suffering from potholes, cracks and worn out tarmac. The number of completed defect repairs between January and September this year is 35,127.

OCC is committed to keeping the network of major roads free from ice to minimise the risk of accidents and ensure the smooth flow of traffic. Precautionary salting (sometimes called 'gritting') helps achieve this aim. OCC usually salts between 2 November and 5 April. Live updates can be found here:
https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/residents/roads-and-transport/street-maintenance-z/salting-and-snow-clearance Details about how community groups can request salt bins can be found here: https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/residents/roads-and-transport/street-maintenance-z/salt-and-grit-bins

Plans to completely overhaul the county council were given the go-ahead by the county council’s Cabinet on 16 October. They agreed a major investment in digital technology to improve customer service and reduce council running costs. The redesigned council will enable residents to report faults or book appointments online, freeing up staff time to help to service users who cannot go online or have complex care needs. Staff will be given the tools they need to do a better job and spend more time on delivering services to residents. Outdated ICT systems make it hard to join up services and will be replaced, with admin tasks automated to save money and make the council run more smoothly. The changes will support the county council’s long-term vision of ‘thriving communities for everyone in Oxfordshire’. The redesign is also needed to secure the council’s long-term financial stability as demand for services continues to rise – particularly for children and adult social care.

Cllr Ian Hudspeth
07956270 318