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County and District Reports

County and District Reports

West Oxon District Councillor’s Report to Town Council Meeting 19.07.22

Council Action Plan

The ‘new’ West Oxfordshire administration is reviewing the current Council Plan 2020-2024 established under the previous administration. A change of administration, the passage of time and the pandemic are a few of the reasons why the review is needed. Discussions have led to nine draft priorities providing a framework for discussions with stakeholders and revision of the current Council Plan. The Council Plan review will initially run alongside revision of the WODC Local Plan 2011 – 2031 although, as the aim is to present a Council Plan at the full Council meeting in October 2022, it has a shorter planning period and no requirement for formal inspection as will be necessary for the Local Plan.

The nine priorities providing a framework for discussion with stakeholders all involve working with others to:

  • Protect restore and enhance the quality of the natural and built environments
  • Develop urgent actions to address the climate and ecological crisis
  • Provide opportunities for all West Oxfordshire residents to achieve their full potential
  • Support businesses to create a vibrant local economy
  • Enable everyone to live healthy and fulfilling lives in thriving communities
  • Help everyone to live in homes that meet their needs
  • Develop a culture of openness giving residents voice, choice, priority and access
  • Secure WODC’s financial future so as to deliver priorities and improve services
  • Work in partnership to influence and deliver more effective results for our communities

Engagement with the public will be through

  • Joint Council Plan and Local Plan Digital consultation: July/August 2022
  • Town and Parish Forum: August 2022
  • Stakeholder event: August 2022
The revised Council Plan, when adopted, will lead to an Action Plan containing information about specific actions; the role of the Council and others towards achieving these; resources required; anticipated outputs with defined measures of success to show the priorities are being delivered.

Climate Action Biennial Report

The Council is in the process of completing its carbon account for the financial year 2021-22. It is also working to reduce energy and water use in the Council offices. Efforts to do this are incorporated within the Agile Working Strategy. CO2 and energy savings can be modified by staff commuting. Estimates are that if all staff in Publica and the three associated Councils took only one return journey from home to work, using average petrol  and diesel vehicles, this would be around 10.000 miles and equivalent to 3.480kg CO2e. If this takes account of part time working, a broad estimate could be as much as 775t/CO2 per annum. A move to more agile working could reduce this figure by perhaps as much as 50%.  Publica has launched a ULEV (ultra-low emission vehicle) lease scheme which is designed to incentivise staff moving to electric vehicles and ULEVs.

Energy assessment and decarbonisation reports have been completed for Carterton Leisure Centres in Carterton and Witney. The main gas fired system at Carterton Leisure Centre is close to needing replacement. Funding has been secured from the Government Public Sector Decarbonisation Service to complete this project. The existing gas boilers will be replaced by an air source and water source heat pump systems and solar PV array.

Efficiency measures with vehicle use and service delivery are also being implemented. Removal of ‘Bring‘ sites and the introduction of the new street litter/dog waste bins have reduced fuel consumption and delivered carbon savings. Replacing the vehicle fleet with alternatively fuelled equivalents is underway.

Biodiversity enhancements on site by site basis will be part of the revised ground maintenance schedule implemented by Ubico. The changes are planned to be cost neutral with reduction in annual grass cuts on Council owned public spaces; creation of new wildflower meadow areas; additional support for volunteer groups managing some of these areas.

Council has secured funding to deliver ‘sustainable warmth’ and the Council’s Climate Team, ERS Team and Citizen’s Advice Change scheme may collaborate (within existing resources) to consider the best way forward in what Council can offer to help residents manage and find support on the current cost of living crisis, to achieve maximum benefit to communities

As Woodstock residents will already be aware, WODC has installed EV charging points in the car parks it owns. It is interesting that data collected over the past three months shows usage of the EV chargers in Woodstock rising month by month and in June Woodstock EV charging points had the highest usage in wests Oxfordshire, that is 3118.76 kWh over 185 sessions in June 2022 and with average length of charging (? length of stay) of 3.13 hours.

Council has produced a Net Zero Carbon Tool Kit which it is encouraging developers to follow. It is disappointing that the Inspector for the Eynsham Garden Village (Salt Cross) asked that the ambition for Net Zero Carbon Development be modified to ‘an ambitious approach to the use of renewable energy, sustainable design and construction methods’ on the grounds that Net Zero was not compatible with national policy nor, in the Inspector’s view, justified.

Council is also developing plans to increase the reach, scale and urgency of climate action through greater partnership with other councils, the wider community, businesses, community action groups, schools and residents directly.

May all these very positive activities develop further and achieve their goals!

WODC Cllrs Julian Cooper & Elizabeth Poskitt