District Councillors’ Report to Parish Councils

Update from Simon Howell & Elaine Ware

The following update from our District Councillors is intended for Parish Councils but contains information likely to be of interest to villagers:

Vale of White Horse District Council

The Vale Communications Team continue to provide regular updates to all Town and Parish Councils.

As mentioned previously most Vale staff are working from home and this is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. Obviously working from home doesn’t provide the same support as in the office and it would be appreciated if there is a need to contact officers please do so by Email rather than telephone.

Climate Emergency Advisory Committee – The Committee met on 7 September. The Committee acknowledged that following the restructure of Cabinet roles Cllr Catherine Webber is now the Cabinet Member responsible for Climate and Environment. The Committee agreed to hold public meetings on a quarterly basis rather than monthly but task and finish groups will continue as required. Agendas and minutes for this Committee are available on the Vales website.

Civil Parking Enforcement – A report is due to be presented to Vale Scrutiny in November.

Corporate Plan – This has been considered by the Vale Scrutiny Committee and will be considered by the Cabinet on 2 October it is also an agenda item for the full Council meeting on 7 October.

Council Meeting 7 October – The agenda includes changes to the existing budget 2020/21, an update on Oxfordshire’s Growth Board, a review of the Council’s constitution and a Motion on the Governments Planning proposals.

Yellow Letter – Please remind your residents if changes have taken place to return the completed form asap.

Planning – The Government consultation – Planning for the Future has caused a great deal of controversy. The Vale will be making a formal response and Town and Parish Councils and residents are encouraged to reply. Part 1 of the consultation – Changes to the current planning system closes on 1 October but Parts 2 and 3 on 29 October. Details of the consultation are available on the Vale’s website and the Governments website –  www.Gov.uk

In the last few weeks a number of planning applications have been submitted from within the Ward. Three of these have caused concern. Should these applications be recommended for approval by officers Simon and Elaine have requested that they be called-in for the Vale Planning Committee to consider.

Swindon Borough Council- New Eastern Villages – The Southern Connector Road through the NEV to Commonhead roundabout has been agreed and work is expected to commence in spring 2021. These works together with other works affecting the A420 will obviously have a knock on effect to all villages in the Ward. Simon and I work closely with our County Council colleagues and the impact of the NEV on the Vale cannot be underestimated. It is hoped that a steering group will be set up in the near future with Swindon Borough Council, the County Council and Simon and I as District Councillors to ensure that the A420 is recognised as the local road it is and not another trunk road like the A34.

 

Although we don’t hold surgeries we are always available to deal with any issues.

Simon Howell – 01793 784491 – simon.howell@whitehorsec.gov.uk

Elaine Ware – 01793 783026 – elaine.ware@whitehorsedc.gov.uk

 

 

District Council update

Update at 27 August

Here’s a quick update on news around our districts and further afield.

Rising Covid-19 cases 

The numbers of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Oxfordshire continues to rise. In the 7 days up to 14 August, there have been 65 confirmed cases in Oxfordshire, which is an increase from 44 cases in the previous week.

The majority of the new cases are in Oxford, where the number has risen from 16 to 28. The increase is predominantly among young people in the 18-30 age bracket. The rise is being seen across the city and is not focused on one particular area. The increase can be partly attributed to people returning from holidays in Europe, where cases of the virus are rising, and partly to lower levels of adherence to social distancing among young people.

Oxfordshire’s Public Health Surveillance Unit has picked this up at an early stage and is not considering any local control measures at this stage. But if the situation does escalate, then local control measures will be considered.

Clear systems are in place through Oxfordshire’s Local Outbreak Plans to manage any local hotspots. However, prevention is by far the best way to manage the situation and we are therefore supporting the county council with its extended and targeted communications in the run-up to the August Bank Holiday weekend to raise awareness of the situation and urge people to continue to follow protective measures to protect themselves, their families and friends.

Business Grants 

A reminder that tomorrow (28 August) is the last day for businesses to submit their details if they wish to claim a COVID-19 Small Business Grant or Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant.

Businesses which are yet to submit their details are urged to do so immediately, otherwise they will miss out – this includes any receiving full rate relief, as they may still be eligible for a grant.

For more details, or to apply businesses should visit southoxon.gov.uk/businessrates or whitehorsedc.gov.uk/businessrates.

 

 

Housing update – ban on evictions  

The ban on landlords evicting their tenants in England and Wales has been extended until 20 September taking the total ban to six months. Our housing team continue to work with residents and advise them of their rights in this ever-changing situation.

You can find the full government guidance here

 

Leisure Centres phased opening plans  

We’re opening the district’s leisure centres in phases with our partners at GLL– it’s worth bearing in mind that given the changing national situation with the Covid-19 pandemic, the activities and facilities available at a given leisure centre may need to change, be temporarily closed or have occasional changes to opening hours and/or services.

 

These changes are made in accordance with the latest guidance from the government, Sport England and Swim.  GLL’s “Better” website lists the latest information on opening hours and services. Residents are advised to visit the website and follow GLL on twitter for the latest information.

Opening times will not be different over the bank holiday.

 

Bank holiday waste collections 

As normal following a bank holiday, waste collection days are different next week. The time of day the crews arrive to empty bins might be also different than usual.

We’ve attached the August bank holiday waste collection schedule, which follows the usual pattern of the bins being emptied the day after the normal collection day, with Friday collections next week taking place on the Saturday.

Lockdown Lifestyle Survey 

Our Lockdown Lifestyle survey closes two weeks today.

The results from this survey will help the team to focus on activities that residents want to see in the districts, to help support those who have struggled over the last few months and to help families and those who are vulnerable to take those first steps back into the community and keeping healthy. The feedback will also contribute to the future plans for leisure activities in the districts as part of the councils’ Active Communities Strategy.

 

To take part in the survey please click here

 

Didcot Gateway 

Homes England received 900 comments on its proposals for the redevelopment of the Didcot Gateway site opposite the station.

Homes England is now reviewing the comments and considering any changes, which they will feed back to officers next month. Following this, Homes England will submit a planning application outlining the proposals for Didcot Gateway.

 

Communications

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils

01235 422400

www.southoxon.gov.uk | @southoxon

www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk | @whitehorsedc

Coronavirus – District Councillor update

Weekly update from Simon Howell

The following is the weekly communication from our local District Councillor, Simon Howell.  Some of the issues raised are specific to Parish & Town Councils (eg the planning application process) but we’ve included the full email for completeness.  

You can get in touch with Simon on 01793 784491 or simon.howell@whitehorsedc.gov.uk

Dear All,
Please find below a rather belated update for last week. We will aim to send these out once a week to avoid clogging up your inbox, but any urgent changes or very important information will be sent round asap. Thank you all for your continued hard work. We still have a long way to go, but every moment helping really makes a huge difference.
 
Waste collections
This week all our waste collection services will be back up and running – from today crews will be collecting batteries, textiles and small electrical items once again. These collections had to be paused at the outset of the pandemic as the centres we take these items for processing had closed but have now reopened.
 
Business grants
The government will be extending its grants scheme to small businesses that don’t currently pay business rates – for example, businesses operating from serviced offices. Guidance will follow shortly, but we encourage all those who have not yet applied to please put their application in.
 
A quick update on the current scheme:
  • We’ve paid all of the straightforward requests we’ve received
  • We’re processing all straightforward grant requests on the day we receive them (it takes a couple of days for payments to reach bank accounts)
  • We’re putting all available resources into working through the remaining requests that require additional checks as a matter of urgency.
Government business loans scheme
You may be aware that the government has announced a business loans scheme, which we are promoting to our local businesses. Here’s what we know from the government so far:
  • The scheme will go live from Monday 4 May and cash will be released within days for eligible businesses.
  • Businesses can borrow between £2,000 and £50,000.
  • Loan terms will be up to six years.
  • The government will guarantee the entire loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months.
  • The government hasn’t yet announced what interest rates will be for the remaining period of the loan but says it will work with accredited lenders to agree a low rate.
  • The loan scheme will be delivered using the accredited lenders.
Update on fly-tips
There has been a lot of coverage in the local and national media about fly-tipping in the lockdown, particularly while household recycling centres are closed. Locally it’s had a lot of focus since a press release earlier this week by Oxford City Council on the subject.
Here are our figures for February to April this year, and the same period last year for comparison. We haven’t seen the significant increase in fly-tipping in the Vale that is being reported in other parts of the country.
2018/19
2019/20
February
40
33
March
53
32
April
28
39*
*The figures for April this year are provisional
Community hub
Our Community Hub teams have had a busy week providing help to those in our communities most in need, although we believe the amount of need out in the district is stabilising. This indicates that we are successfully handling urgent referrals and are now managing ongoing support for our vulnerable residents. We have increased our staff numbers to help us tackle some of the more complex referrals we’re receiving.
We’ve now referred over 590 residents to our network of volunteers across South Oxfordshire and the Vale since the service began. We’ve also called over 800 residents on the shielded list in the last week to check if they needed additional or ongoing support.
Food and assistance with shopping remains the main area people require support. We’ve noticed that we are delivering more food parcels to residents who are in financial hardship as the weeks go by.
Last week we provided 41 food parcels to residents of both districts that had nobody else to turn to and where we couldn’t immediately refer them to a volunteer group. This takes the total number of food parcels to 128 since launching the service, which has helped to feed 139 adults and 32 children.
 Please make sure you’re using the correct details (below) to contact our Community Support service and please share these details widely.
Good practice for community support
We know you are keen to do as much as you can to support your local communities throughout the pandemic, and so we wanted to share some examples of good ideas happening around the district and further afield in case any of them are things you’re able to do in your areas.  If you have any examples of good things you’re doing or that your volunteer groups are doing, please share them with our Community Hub team using the details above, so we can share them more widely.
One recent good example is being carried out by Horspath Parish Council in South Oxfordshire – they are launching a hardship fund for residents in the village allowing them to get assistance in accessing food and medicine. This would be supported by a local charity that will make a contribution to household food and medical costs, with payments being made in the form of vouchers for high street stores or NHS prescriptions.
Clinical Lead urges people to use Emergency Departments
Staff at OUH are encouraging people whose health may be at risk to come to the Emergency Departments at the John Radcliffe and Horton General hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Attendances have been significantly lower since the pandemic started and the Trust is concerned that people are putting their health at risk by not accessing life-saving services. Staff will treat any serious conditions or ailments. There are systems in place to triage patients with suspected COVID-19, so everyone who comes to hospital will be treated in a safe way. More information is available on the OUH website.
Pregnant women encouraged to attend important appointments
Pregnant women in Oxfordshire are being reminded that medical help is still at hand during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Like many providers of maternity services, the OUH has made a number of changes to how maternity care is provided during pregnancy, to keep both women and staff safe. This has included carrying out some appointments by telephone or video. However, maternity services are still open 24/7 for births, urgent care, and clinical advice for women who have concerns about their health or their unborn baby. Some face-to-face appointments with a midwife or doctor are essential, and it is important for women to attend. It is understandable that many people have anxieties around their health during this very unusual time – especially pregnant women.
Women are reminded care is still available and it is important that they stay in contact with their maternity team and attend their scheduled appointments. Appropriate measures will be taken to keep
Mental Health Helpline 24/7 for all in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire
People of all ages living in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire can get mental health support for themselves or a loved one round the clock by using the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Mental Health Helpline, launched by Oxford Health with third sector partners earlier this month. This service is open to all and it’s not just for those in crisis, but for anyone who is concerned about their emotional or mental wellbeing at the current time.
· Adults: 01865 904997.
· Children and young people: 01865 904998
An update on our grounds maintenance work
 Here’s a quick update on how our grounds maintenance work has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
 Our contractor is continuing to work, but only on essential work. They are still maintaining our parks and gardens, the land around play areas, and other open spaces so nearby residents can exercise safely within them. In line with government guidance we closed all play areas and exercise equipment from 24 March.
Crews are observing the social distancing measures while they cut grass, clear litter and weeds. The teams are also undertaking urgent tree work, regular site inspections, maintenance checks and essential repairs of play areas – they may be closed but people can still physically get to some of them, so we need to make sure they’re safe.
A Planning update
Our Planning department has put together a comprehensive overview of how the service is currently running in the attached letter from our Head of Planning – there’s lots of important information in there, so please do give it a read.
Here are a couple of bits of latest news featured in more detail in the letter that you might not yet be aware of:
New neighbourhood plan workshops
We’re planning to introduce a new workshop for neighbourhood plans once they’ve formally been adopted. The workshops will give the people who made the plans the opportunity to discuss the policies with our officers who consider planning applications to give them a better understanding of why policies were made.  We’ll be offering these workshops for all currently adopted plans in due course.
New planning application comments template
We’ve attached a new template [n/a] that you can use to provide comments on planning applications if you would find it useful. The template is based on feedback you provided us at the last Town and Parish Council planning training session. (Parish Councils should have received this earlier this week, if not please let me know)
 
Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award (iDEA)
South and Vale Business Support has launched the Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award,(iDEA) .
With schools currently closed due to COVID-19, parents will be looking for ways to keep their children engaged and stimulated, as part of supporting their learning and development.  iDEA is about lifelong learning, for anyone who wants to develop their skills. Through a series of online challenges, users complete interactive modules known as ‘badges’, which can be accessed for free on any device connected to the internet. The badges vary in length and difficulty and there is a huge range to choose from.  Find out more here www.svbs.co.uk/idea and do share with family and friends.
Testing
Staff testing Guidance from NHS/Local Resilience Forum was circulated on Thursday 23 April setting out the national arrangements for staff testing. This guidance included information for employers and staff about how to access the testing service. Two testing arrangements are now in place: one is for health and care staff, who will be tested at local NHS testing sites; the other is for staff identified as key workers and their household members who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, who will be tested at Government-run regional testing centres. For Oxfordshire, the regional testing centre, now open, is at Thornhill Park and Ride.
Policing
I have had several people get in touch about breaching and enforcement of CoVID measures by Thames Valley Police. I spoke with Deputy PCC Matthew Barber and he has passed several specific issues onto the local policing team. TVP are patrolling our local areas as much as they can during this difficult time. If there are continued issues that are coming up, and have been reported, please do get in touch.
As ever, any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Best wishes, and stay safe
Cllr Simon Howell
Watchfield and Shrivenham Ward
Vale of White Horse District Council
For Data Protection purposes I am registered as a data controller with the Information Commissioner’s Office under reference number A1085003
For more detailed information about how I will look after your personal data please click on this link

 

Traffic calming in the village

Build out on Bishopstone Road

There has been progress with the proposed ‘build out’ on the Bishopstone Road, intended to slow traffic coming into the village. Details of the design and the associated consultation process can be accessed from the Oxfordshire County Council website here.

The cost of the project is being met with a generous donation from Pinewood School.

Waste Recycling

Which bin to use?

Have you ever wondered which bin to use when disposing of your old socks, unwanted soil and used teabags? If so, help is at hand with the Wheel of Recycling – a handy gizmo from the Vale. Look out for one with the delivery of the Parish magazine over the next couple weeks (when you’re finished with it, it goes in the green bin!).

The wheel of recycling

Also, for more information, try out the Vale’s ‘Bin Zone’ here. And there’s also an app available…

Parish Council & Village Hall

Annual Assembly – Tuesday 28 May

Parishioners are invited to attend the Village Hall AGM on Tuesday 28 May at 7.00 pm in the village hall followed by the Annual Parish Assembly  at 7.30 pm.  Do come along to hear what has been happening during the past year.

The agenda for the Parish Council Annual Assembly is available on the village website in the parish council section.

Roles at the election

Apply now for a job at the local elections

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils have a range of roles available for those 18+ at the local elections on Thursday 2 May and overnight into Friday 3 May.

The councils are looking for people to work as:

  • Overnight count assistants – £14 per hour – at White Horse Leisure and Tennis Centre, Abingdon
  • Overnight runners – £14 per hour – at White Horse Leisure and Tennis Centre, Abingdon
  • Poll clerks – £145 / £155 total – various locations
  • Presiding officers – £200 / £225 – various locations (previous polling station experience required).

To find out more and to apply please visit whitehorsedc.gov.uk/electionjobs orsouthoxon.gov.uk/electionjobs

Outline planning application

Eastern expansion – 2,500 houses at Lotmead

We’ve received notification from Swindon Borough Council (SBC) of an outline planning application relating to 2,500 houses, retail, community and employment facilities, schools and road access at Lotmead – this is part of the Eastern Villages expansion of Swindon.

The notification letter is shown below and details of the application can be viewed on the SBC website here using the reference number S/OUT/19/0582 in the search box. Note that the deadline for sending comments is 14 May – contact details of the SBC Planning Dept are given below.

The contact person is Mrs Kimberly Corps

European Elections

Notice of Election from District Council

VWHDC has published the notice for the European election next month – details can be found on the Council’s website here.

In brief, polling is on Thursday 23 May with the results announced on Sunday 26 May. Those who are already registered to vote at their current address do not need to register again.  For those not currently registered the deadline for registration is 7 May – visit gov.uk/registertovote.