Oxfordshire County Councillor Ian Hudspeth’s March 2021 Report

The County Council set the budget on 9th February with investments in key priority areas for residents despite all the challenges of the pandemic. There is £200,000 for the roll out of 20 mph speed limits for towns and villages that want to work with the council and see this as a way for safer streets. I have registered the request that all councils in the Woodstock division are part of the programme.  Also, there was an additional £200,000 for drainage and vegetation clearance targeting particular areas prone to flooding. I have asked that the additional funds be targeted in areas that are prone to flooding as we recently saw over the last few months.

There is an investment of £1m long term funding in expanding the youth offer in Oxfordshire with an additional £500,000 one-off accelerator funding to develop sustainable long terms approaches and help tackle the impacts of the pandemic on young people. The Liberal Democrat County councillors voted against these proposals to invest in the future of Oxfordshire.

There was a 1.99% increase to ‘core’ council tax along with a levy of 1% for Adult Social Care making the total to 2.99%. Given the level of uncertainties, including around COVID-19, we will continue to take a cautious and measured approach towards managing our budgets. We are very conscious that the need for extra funding must be balanced against the pressures on residents’ incomes during the pandemic. This is not an easy time financially, or otherwise, for businesses, residents and families.

The road resurfacing programme will be starting soon with (hopefully) the better weather. There are the following road closures, although local access will be allowed:

12th April – 15th April     The Woodstock Road in Stonesfield & Castle Road and Castle Street in Wootton

15th May – 19th May        A4095 in Bladon

The reduction in the number of COVID-19 infections is welcome news as there is then a reduction in the number of hospital admissions reducing the pressure on the NHS. The vaccination programme is being rolled out at pace and again I want to thank those helping to ensure everybody gets a jab. Oxfordshire County Council is working with its partners to assist where required and will continue to help protect vulnerable residents across the county.

The road map set out by the Government gives us a view of the way forward which is welcome news. However, we must all continue to play our part by observing the guidelines so that life can return to what will be a new normal as quickly as possible.

Please do not hesitate to contact me and keep safe.

Ian Hudspeth
07956 270 318
Ian.hudspeth@oxfordshire.gov.uk

Report of District Councillors for Bladon, Blenheim and Woodstock to Woodstock Town Council Tuesday 9th March 2021

COUNCIL MEETING 24TH FEBRUARY

Budget and Council Tax 2021/22

Council agreed the 2021/22 budget and Council Tax at its February meeting. The process of setting the 2021/22 budget must be has been the most unusual of all such processes since West Oxfordshire came into existence in 1974. The last ‘normal’ Council meeting was in February 2020. Since then Council and committees have been working virtually with the time and efforts of Officers and Councillors often diverted by the pandemic. There have been nearly one thousand covid-related deaths in West Oxfordshire and the pandemic is not yet over. The costs of the past year and the loss of revenue are not fully replaced by national government support. Further, the future remains uncertain both in how the present situation will resolve and what the long-term financial effects of 2020 will be. At the time of writing the national budget has not been made public. We know the review of the New Homes Bonus has been postponed for this year, as has that for business rates. But when these changes are imposed, particularly loss of the New Home Bonus, they will have a major impact on Council finances. So, with challenging years ahead, Council has produced a cautious but balanced budget which does include an increase in Council Tax and increases for a number of the services Council offers,  including an increase in the charge for green waste collections from £30 pa to £35 pa per bin. This particular waste collection has had enormous support from residents and we hope the support will continue despite the increased charge.

The Council Tax at Band D for Woodstock 2021/22 is as follows:

Oxfordshire County Council                £1573.11

Thames Valley Police                          £  231.28

West Oxfordshire                                £  109.38

Woodstock T.C.                                   £     78.56

Total Per Annum                                 £1992.33

Climate Action Bi-Annual Report

The Climate Action Bi-annual report, WODC Climate Change Strategy and a Sustainability Standards Checklist in Planning were presented at Council. The Climate Change Strategy is interesting and challenging reading with Council pledging to shape a district working for:

  • Restoration of natural ecosystems
  • Enabling all to have access to wildlife rich sites to benefit health and well-being
  • Housing-energy refit and reduced energy consumption for all
  • Providing local communities with energy independence and resilience
  • Promoting active forms of travel
  • Development designed to highest standards of energy performance and environmental sustainability
  • Partnership with others across the country to progress clear, positive climate action
  • Enabling all to feel enabled to have a positive input to climate action at work or home

The Sustainability Standards Checklist is ambitious in what it expects from planners in the future. It will be important Officers and Planning committees ensure the Checklist has force and does not become just a ‘tick box’ exercise for developers.

OTHER MATTERS

Planning Appeal:Ref APP/D3125/W20/3261610 24 Park Street Woodstock Oxford OX20 1SP

Council will recall recommending sending WODC a forceful response to refuse this planning application. Although Officers’ recommendation had been for approval, Uplands Planning sub-committee rejected the proposal on the Chairman’s casting vote. It is gratifying that the appeal against that decision has been dismissed by the Inspector who expressed particular concern for: the preservation of the burgage plot layout of a listed building and garden in the conservation area; the protection of the old wall which lent much to the ambience of Chaucer’s Lane; and loss of light from the garden of a neighbouring residence. The outcome of the appeal is gratifying and shows the significance of well-founded refusal reasons for increasing the chances of a refusal withstanding the appeal process. We are grateful too for the well thought out and argued submissions to WODC from some of the site’s neighbours and the many objections from residents throughout the town.

Variations in Licensing at the Kings Arms Market Street & Kings Head Park Lane.

Neither of these applications has been determined at the time of writing the report. If either has been decided by the 9th March, we shall inform you.

Hensington Road site meeting.

The meeting on February 26th for Council (WODC, OCC, WTC) and Blenheim to discuss the whole Hensington Road site in relation to car parking, possible relocation of the Park Lane surgery and other facilities such as a new Library, did not take place due to staff sickness. The WTC representative (the Town Clerk) will attend when the meeting is rescheduled – hopefully before Easter.

WODC Cllrs Julian Cooper & Elizabeth Poskitt