Minutes of the Meeting of Standlake Parish Council, held in the Youth Club, Church End, on 14th February 2023 at 7.30pm
Mr. B. Parnham Chairman
Mrs. A. Knipe
Mrs. L. Burton
Mrs. J. Macdonald
Mr. D. Jeffcoat
Mr. D. Bevan Clerk
Naming of development of 5 dwellings behind 77 Abingdon Road 'The Meadow'. No objection.
22/03475/FUL: Erection of dwelling and detached garage along with creation of parking area and amenity space.: Gaunt Mill Standlake Witney: Chris Glynn. No objection but comment re potential flooding issue.
Sewage/Flooding - Mr. Parnham reported: There have been no reports of flooding, sewage issues or tanker activity. This is very encouraging especially with the high rainfall we have experienced and even though some fields were flooded, the river was running high, and the ditches were about 75% full. Hopefully the various remedial and clearance works are having a positive impact. Disappointingly though, some of the recently replaced manholes (by the Church and Old Rectory) are rattling again. This has been reported to Thames Water who are investigating, and the situation will continue to be monitored.
Playground/Recreation Ground & Maintenance – Nothing to report at this meeting.
Environment – Mrs. Burton said It has been relatively quiet over the winter period. However, in March we intend to assist the Cubs in the making of bird nest boxes. Many thanks for funding this community event. Looking forward to the spring weather.
Buses/Bus Stop/Shelter – Mr. Jeffcoat said that the planned January installation of the bus shelter opposite Lincoln Farm Park and moving the stop at The Bell to opposite Woodlands has been delayed with work expected to start in week commencing 20th February.
The following accounts were approved: (paid*)
BNBG - bird boxes £50.00*
B Parnham chair expenses £53.40*
C Cleland - bike rack installation £148.52*
CPRE – annual subscription £36.80*
Cottsway – Windrush Way ground rent £10.00*
Abs Sols - Hornsway clearing £60.00*
Darke & Taylor – resite defibrillator box £150.00*
Dan Levy, County Councillor Report, February 2023
The County Council budget for 2023-24 is being finalised, and will go for approval to the next full meeting of Oxfordshire County Council on 14th Feb. There are huge pressures in key areas, caused by inflation and by increasing demand. The County Council is responsible for adult social care (in which HM Govt has suspended its reform of financing), children’s services including supporting Special Educational Needs, and highways.
The settlement from central government was reasonably generous, but there is still far less money than we would need to be able to do all the things that residents ask for.
The County Council (like all other councils) is permitted to increase council tax by only 2.99% (or £5 if that is higher) and in addition has been told by HM Government to charge a precept of 2% for adult social care.
Assuming that the budget is approved, then the following will be put in place:
Children’s Services & SEND: I am delighted to say that children’s services will see an inflation busting boost of 12.3% (£18.8m). In this climate, providing a real terms increase (+1.6%) to children’s services, including for special educational needs and other vulnerable children in care, has been difficult to achieve, but reflects the priorities of the administration. £500,000 will be spent to speed up needs assessments (EHCPs) for children with SEND.
Adult social care: Accounts for approximately half of OCC’s budget and is particularly sensitive to inflation due to the labour intensive nature of care. Because of the size of the budget, it is difficult to provide an inflation matched rise, however, adult social care will get a 6.8% (£14.4m) increase to support its work, which will soften the impact of inflation. The ‘Oxfordshire Way’ reforms, to help people remain in their own homes where appropriate, also support more efficient use of budget.
Highways and travel: We will be investing an additional £1.6m to reduce flooding on roads – clearing ditches and cutting through red tape (riparian rights!) that prevent action on the ground. Monies will also be used to clean signs and improve road markings. By investing in flooding prevention, we can reduce damage to road surfaces and save taxpayers money. However, it remains the case that successive grant reductions from government means that we have too little money to manage such a large network.
Climate: It’s easy to talk the talk on climate – but walking the walk is much harder. Amongst other initiatives, there is increased funding for trees planting (essential not only for carbon capture, but also localised climate resilience). Voluntary organisations, libraries, and other services: Library services will be supported as they account for the loss of income from DVD rentals etc. Voluntary organisation will also again be given a year’s rent holiday where they pay rent to OCC.
Highways maintenance and developments.
I am sure anyone who walks, cycles or drives will have noticed the huge number of potholes, following the rain and frost. They are being fixed as fast as is possible with the limited number of people available to do the work. Please do keep reporting issues on Fix my Street.
Work is going on to revise the A40 plans, to ensure that they can be fitted within the pot made available by central government. The original plans, drawn up several years ago, exceeded this limit because of the recent inflation pressures.
The Access to Witney scheme, to make the junction at Shores Green better, with access to and from the A40 heading west, will be going to the planning committee within the next few months. Assuming it is approved, it may have an effect on the quantity of traffic coming through villages south of the A40 - South Leigh PC (and I) are keen that this be restricted as much as possible, via 20 mph speed limits and through the introduction of a weight limit in South Leigh.
Botley Road closure at the station.
There is still no news from Network Rail about when the bridge under the station will be shut, even though they have been going ahead with the work to demolish the buildings which to be removed to permit the building of the new station.
The closure of Botley Road to cars and buses will have huge impact on residents, and has a knock on effect on all the other roads, and on plans to make bus journeys quicker.
First and Last Mile, who run the service from Standlake, Northmoor and Stanton Harcourt to Eynsham and from Eynsham to Freeland and Hanborough, have just had their first anniversary of being in service. It is an invaluable service, not least for the large number of pupils who use it to get to Bartholomew School.
They are always in need of more drivers to go on their roster, and would be delighted to hear from any volunteers.
Meanwhile, the government gave money to the County Council, on the back of its commitments to improve bus travel times, to provide electric buses to be used in Oxfordshire by Stagecoach and Oxford Bus Company. The first of the 159 electric buses should be in service in September.
Charlie Maynard, WODC Councillor Report February 2023
Sewage / Thames Water
Have a look here for Thames Water’s new sewage map - https://www.thameswater.co.uk/edm-map. Standlake STW (which also takes Northmoor’s sewage) is the single worst performer in West Oxfordshire in 2023, with the STW dumping sewage non-stop for 23 days.
Lidia Arciszewska and Alaric Smith (fellow district councillors) met with them on January 6th and on February 3rd. Here are some of the actions we are pursuing:
1. WODC has now implemented a “Validation Check List” which requires all developments to check with Thames Water what is the capacity status of the relevant Sewage Treatment Works (“STW”). This will result in the status of the STW at the start of any planning application The Forest of Dean and Cotswolds have followed us in taking this action.
2. We are seeking to apply a condition on all new housing so that if the STW is below capacity, there is an obligation for the STW’s capacity to be increased before occupancy is permitted. We are pushing hard for the capacity to be increased by the full amount of any shortfall, but that is not in the bag. We’re also working to ensure that buyers and their solicitors are fully aware of this condition in all instances.
3. We are working with Thames Water to question their STW capacities. The capacity of a STW is calculated using some of the following inputs: catchment population, per capita consumption and infiltration rates. We are taking each of these components apart to seek to verify whether the STWs are indeed at sufficient capacity or not. In most cases they are not.
4. The above is useful up to a point, what is more useful is Thames Water sticking their hand in their pocket and actually paying for the capacity upgrades. We will be doing all we can to increase pressure on Thames Water. Here’s a story I contributed to last week - https://www.theguardian.com/society/2023/jan/31/water-firms-in-england-urged-to-upgrade-sewage-works-for-new-homes
The Moors, Ducklington
The national planning inspector over-ruled WODC’s councillors and has given outline planning approval for 120 homes to be built on this field which has a terrible track record of flooding. The key problem here is that the Environment Agency, in its wisdom, in 2010 redesignated this site as being in Floodzone 1 (the least bad) from Floodzone 3 (the worst). This is despite the fact that according to the EA’s own flood data, the flooding on the Windrush is increasing both in severity and frequency. We are doing all we can to bring some sense to bear.
Upper Thames Hydro – www.upperthameshydro.com
Last year I commissioned a study on the hydropower potential of the weirs on the Upper Thames. The report by Renewables First is available at the above website. David Jeffcoat, a Standlake parish councillor, and I are seeking to build a team to take this project forward. Our goal of the project is to work step by step towards constructing community funded hydropower plants where feasible on the Upper Thames.