Minutes of the Meeting of Standlake Parish Council, held in the Youth Club, Church End, on 11th April 2023 at 7.30pm
Mr. B. Parnham Chairman
Mrs. A. Knipe
Mrs. J. Macdonald
Mr. D. Jeffcoat
Mr. J. Clements
Mr. D. Bevan Clerk
WODC Cllrs. C. Maynard and L. Nicholls, and 1 member of the public.
Cllr. Maynard noted that the Standlake Sewage Works had been discharging into the Windrush on a constant basis for nearly 400 hours and also asked what Thames Water (TW) had done in the village. Mr. Parnham said that he was in touch with TW following the recent very heavy rainfall and he had not received as many complaints from residents as in the past. TW have carried out lining of 2.5 km of sewer, sealed many manholes and installed new pumps at the High St. pumping station. Mr. Parnham said that tankers were in attendance, and he had asked TW for results of their flow monitoring system.
Part of the High St. flooded during the rain and Mr. Parnham has been in touch with OCC as this is a road surface water problem and not a TW responsibility. The work done by OCC in Woodlands has alleviated the problem there, if not totally. Mr. Jeffcoat noted that, in his dealings regarding the new bus shelter opposite Lincoln Farm Park, a resident has complained that, in heavy rainfall, water running off the road can cause flooding in his driveway. Mr. Jeffcoat has reported this on OCC’s Fix My Street, and they have responded saying that drains across the A415 are blocked; hopefully they will act quickly to remedy this.
Both Cllrs. Nicholls and Maynard highlighted the imminent electoral boundary changes described in Cllr. Levy’s report (see below).
Cllr. Nicholls said that it was possible that the refused planning application for land opposite 48 Abingdon Road may be submitted again. Cllr. Nicholls will monitor developments.
Sewage/Flooding – See item 4 above.
Environment – Nothing to report at this meeting.
Buses/Bus Stop/Shelter – Mr. Jeffcoat was pleased to announce that OCC had now agreed to pay for the new shelter hardstanding as well as the shelter itself.
Coronation – Mrs. Macdonald produced a sample of the poster, advertising the event in the Village Hall on 7th May, to be distributed throughout the village; this will also be placed on Facebook and Standlake News. There followed a discussion regarding celebratory mugs. The school children received mugs for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee last year, which were much appreciated. However, another celebratory mug for the Coronation, would seem an unnecessary expense and a duplication of last year. However, it was agreed that a mug commemorating such a major event should still be commissioned.
Mr. Parnham said that the local company, who produced the mugs for the late Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, can produce mugs to the council’s design at short notice and in any quantity required. It was agreed that a short run be ordered initially, and these would be put on sale to the public at the event on 7th May. It was agreed that any profit would go to FOSS. The design would be the official logo on the front and the reverse will be a drawing of St. Giles church with the name St. Giles Church Standlake. Mr. Jeffcoat produced 2 drawings of the church and the one by a local artist, Mandy Poll, was chosen. Also suggested, as a more permanent commemoration, is the setting of several raised planters – with a suitable plaque - on The Green and other locations to be decided. This will be investigated further.
Litter Pick – Mrs. Macdonald said the event was very successful with 30 volunteers taking part, though more would have been welcome, and their efforts were much appreciated. The possibility of another event in the Autumn is being considered.
Request to allow a dog show on the recreation ground during the School Fete in June. FOSS have requested permission to hold this event having noticed that there is a by law prohibiting dogs on the ground. It was agreed that this request should be granted on the strict understanding that all mess was cleared and disposed of properly.
The following accounts were approved: (paid*)
HMRC – clerk PAYE £368.00*
Oxon Playing Fields Assn. - subs £345.00*
OALC – annual subscription £307.39*
Wileman & Sons – bus shelter cleaning £30.00*
Absolute Sols- mowing, repairs £410.00*
10. DATE OF NEXT MEETING - Mr. Parnham said that the next meeting will be held in the Youth Club on Tuesday 9th May 2023 at 7.30 pm.
11. There being no further business, the meeting closed at. 8.40 pm.
Dan Levy, County Councillor Report, April 2023
As most people will know, the neat West Oxfordshire arrangements, in place since 1983, where the parliamentary, district and county council boundaries all match is coming to an end. This is to ensure that each seat has roughly the same number of residents, and reflects the significant population growth in many places, including where we live here. It is a shame that the neatness will go, but we have been very unusual up to this point. Most other parts of Oxfordshire have a much more complex setup.
For parliamentary purposes, Standlake will remain in the hugely reshaped Witney constituency in any election after June this year. Eynsham moves into the new Bicester and Woodstock constituency.
The Electoral Commission is also reviewing the County electoral divisions. The recommendations from the County Council, established by an all-party working group chaired by an Independent member, will now go to the Electoral Commission. There will be a public consultation by the Electoral Commission after the May deadline. The proposal is that the new Eynsham Division will be largely as today, but with the two parishes of Standlake and Aston, Cote and Chimney becoming part of a new South Carterton and Bampton division. The detail is all in Item 14 of the March County Council agenda. (Public Pack)Addenda Agenda Supplement for County Council, 28/03/2023 10:30 (oxfordshire.gov.uk)
Regardless of the new boundaries, I will of course continue to give my attention to all residents in the division I am honoured to represent. The new boundaries will be in place in time for the next set of County Council elections, in 2025.
Home to School Transport
Arrangement for school transport matters to all affected pupils and parents. Standlake has of course been in the forefront of this issue, because of it having two secondary schools almost equidistant. I don’t think the County Council has handled recent changes well, and we have apologised to parents who have been affected. The County Council provides more than it is required to do by law, and more than its funding permits, but then the law doesn’t reflect the real needs of residents or the unfairness that a fixed policy creates.
A working party has recommended some substantial changes to some aspects of the policy. Where there are issues, we are committed to finding solutions.
I am pleased that the First and Last Mile service, run by a brilliant volunteer team, acts as a key provider of school services into Bartholomew from the south. And I am grateful that parents entrust their children to the service. That provides a win – win: a good school service and a regular timetabled bus. They are always on the lookout for volunteer drivers.
The County Council has adopted a new verges policy and is urging other councils including parishes to consider whether they might adopt it to. It was developed by researchers at the University and aims to promote biodiversity and reduce carbon emissions. https://www.biodiversity.ox.ac.uk/publications/urban-meadow-and-verge-guidelines-poster/
Retrofitting insulation and upgrading houses.
The County Council has been awarded £6.4 m to support residents to upgrade their houses. The start date for applications was 1 April and details are on the County Council’s website.
Suite of cost of living measures agreed for 23/24:
A range of measures, totalling £9.5m, to support residents with the cost of living was agreed by cabinet for 2023/2024. The measures are funded mostly through national grants, but with £2.3m contribution from OCC. National government funding does not cover the full range of measures that councils are encouraged to take. The measures include, council tax support, practical support for those leaving hospital, and significant funding for children in receipt of free school meals during school holidays. A new Local Crisis Fund (administered by district councils) has also been established, which will support people during periods of financial crisis.
Roads and transport.
You will have noticed the appalling state of the roads. The County Council is fixing them as fast as it can. The annual spend on core capital roads maintenance is approximately £35m, of which c £16m has been covered by a capital grant from central government, and an additional £3m was awarded in the last budget. We estimate that it would cost about £45m pa to provide what is required, but this money is not available. There is as you can see a large annual shortfall which recent government announcements have not filled.
Can I remind residents that Botley Road will be closed at the railway bridge for approx. 6 months starting April 11, and then again from March 2024 until October 2024. This is because Network Rail are rebuilding the station.
Buses will continue to run, and the final stop on Botley Road will be at St Frideswide Church. There will be pedestrian, bike, scooter, mobility scooter, etc, access under the railway except for a very brief period in August 24.
Stagecoach are intending that the S1 will run from Eynsham via the A40 and Woodstock Road, and there will be a new, less frequent E1 service through Farmoor to Botley Road. I have suggested to Stagecoach that they might want to keep this under review during the closure periods
Trains will continue to run from Hanborough into the station, except for a brief summertime period.
You may also have heard that the line from Oxford to Didcot is currently shut for emergency bridge work near Radley. It isn’t clear how long this will last.
Freight strategy engagement:
The county council is engaging with parish and town councils as it develops its freight strategy further. Parishes have been invited to input via LetsTalk. This is not a public consultation, but rather an opportunity for key stakeholders to input early, local knowledge on areas that would benefit from area weight restrictions and identify areas challenged by HGVs. The strategy seeks to keep HGV movements off inappropriate roads and keep them on the strategic road network (e.g. M40). Responses should be sent by 10th April.
No update I am afraid. We are still waiting for proposals on how to fit the A40 upgrade plans into the money available. You will recall that this is money from Homes England, relating to the development of Salt Cross, in the deal inherited from the previous administrations in the city and district, and that the grant no longer covers the original plans.
The County Council has approved a local cycling and walking plan for Witney. It is designed to set out where improvements ought to be made to make active travel safer and easier. When funding is available, having an LCWIP makes it more likely that competitive bids are successful, and sets guidance as to where money can best be spent. There is also work going on to develop a strategic bike network between major villages and market towns and the city. Clearly most people will still drive, but we want the option to choose to cycle to be there for those who want it.