Minutes of the Upton Parish Council meeting held at 7.30pm on Thursday 18th March 2021. This meeting was held via an e-conference system.

In attendance: – Cllr Ben Shaw (Chair/BS), Miss E Cooper (Clerk/EC), Cllrs David Beckles (DB), Neil Thorp (NT) & Brendan Heneghan (BH). County Cllr Mike Fox-Davies, District Cllr Sarah Medley. Four members of the public.


  1. Apologies for absence

Cllr Peter McLaughlin


  1. Declarations of interest in the items on the agenda



  1. To approve the minutes of the following meeting & note any matters arising: –

UPC     14.01.21

Council agreed to the following amendment for item 13.3 Pump Track, to remove the word

‘move’ from line one.

UPCX   11.02.21

UPCX  18.02.21


  1. Report from the County Councillor (see Appendix A below)


  1. Report from the District Councillor (see Appendix B below)


  1. Report from the PCSO (see Appendix C below)


  1. Representations from the public

Kieron Humphreys attended the meeting to present his Upton Nature Garden proposal. He

explained the creeping removal of wildlife habitats & losing biodiversity, & the government’s

strategy for biodiversity across England (Biodiversity 2020: A strategy for England’s wildlife and

ecosystem services). BS explained that the council had not had sufficient time as yet to

consider the proposal, but would do so prior to the next meeting in May.


  1. Update from BS on the current community/Parish Council Covid-19 response

Village wide support remained ongoing with regular updates on the Upton WhatsApp.


  1. Outstanding actions from this meeting & carried forward from previous

meetings: –


No. Actions from this meeting When by
1. PC to meet to discuss Upton Nature Project. ASAP
2. Clerk to action £75 donation to CAB. Actioned 23.3.21
3. Clerk to start Lloyds debit card application process again. ASAP
4. Clerk to create indemnity form. ASAP
5. Clerk to gather annual reports for publication. ASAP
No. Actions from previous meetings When by
1. PMcL to complete procedural documents for web site Ongoing
4. Council to agree donation to CAB

See agreement under Finance & Administration.



  1. Agree or ratify the council’s response to the following planning applications: –

10.1  To agree:-

10.1.1 P20/V2094/FUL3 Amend 2, 3 Fieldside, Upton

Proposed extensions to side & rear & subdivision of plot to create new

one-bedroom dwelling.

Deadline 17.03.21

UPC majority agreed to object (1 abstention).

10.1.2 P20/V3104/HH Amend 1, Conifers, Stream Road, Upton

Single storey front extension & raising roof to provide additional room in loft +

internal alterations.

Deadline 8.4.21

UPC unanimously agreed no objections.


10.2 To ratify:-

10.2.1 P21/V0228/HH Thistledome, Stream Rd, Upton

Erection of single storey & two storey side extension & single storey rear

extension. New porch to principal elevation & widening of existing driveway.

Associated internal reconfigurations.

UPC no objections 4.3.21

10.2.2 P20/V2773/LB Amendment no 1 Owlscote Barn, High Street, Upton

Regularisation of unauthorised work to LB.

UPC no objections + narrative 24.2.21

10.2.3 P21/V0231/HH

Park View, Station Road, Upton

Single storey extension at rear, demolish existing conservatory & alterations to

enlarge kitchen.

UPC no objections

10.3 Note Planning Permissions granted: –

P20/V3064/HH Pottengers, Chilton Road, Upton



  1. Update on UPC Finances and Administration

11.1 UPC agreed to a payment of £1450 +VAT for the decommissioning of the old toddler

play area. This is being carried out at the same time as the installation of the new toddler

play area.

11.2 Agree the appointment of Mrs R Caffyn as internal auditor for the year


UPC unanimously agreed.

11.3 Agree the following payments & who to authorise: –

PM agreed to authorise.


Date Payee £


Clerk’s salary SO

Inc additional hours (8) as agreed [LGA1972 s112(2)]

Not publicly disclosed
09.03.21 Clerk’s expenses [LG(FPA)1963s5] £11.34
Feb, Mar HMRC PAYE SO (£46 – Feb, £46.00 Mar £46.00) £92.00
29.02.20, 29.03.21 Microsoft Office365 Feb&Mar DD @£3.80pm

[LGA1972 s111]

19.03.21 OALC Annual Subscription [LGA1972 s143] £146.16
23.02.21 Giffords Recycling Cushionfall bark (adventure play area – paid to be ratified) [PHAAA 1907 s76(1)] £1908.00
09.03.21 KOMPAN – new toddler play area equipment (paid to be ratified)

[PHAAA 1907 s76(1)]

18.03.21 Krystal Hosting [LGA 1972 s111]

Council agreed to add payment.

TOTAL        £11295.58

+ Clerk’s salary above


11.4  Receipts

Bank interest Feb 10p, March 10p

SSE wayleave annual payment £2.00

11.5  Sign off bank reconciliation to date

Provided in advance of the meeting. To be physically signed at a later date

11.6 Any other financial or administration updates

11.6.1 Council reiterated agreement of CAB donation of £75 from January meeting, to be

donated this financial year.

11.6.2 Clerk informed council that the Lloyds Bank application for debit cards had not

been received by Lloyds Bank & would be starting the process again.

11.6.3 Oxfordshire Protocol document

Council agreed that there would be no significant actions on the PC.



  1. Update on the recreation ground Play Areas

12.1 Toddler play area

Work on the installation of the new toddler play area was underway. Decommissioning

of the old toddler play area is taking place at the same time.

12.2 Adventure play area

Thanks to much appreciated help from villagers, the surface of the adventure play area

was turned over prior to the delivery of new bark chippings on 17.3.21. Distribution of

the chippings was scheduled for 20.3.21.

12.3 Pump Track

The funding for the refurbishment of the pump track is being looked into, particularly with

a view to extending the longevity of this area.


  1. Updates on the maintenance of the recreation ground

13.1 Current maintenance of grounds

Following the delivery of bark chippings to the adventure play area, some damage was

caused to the ground by the lorry. Consideration is being given to the restoration of the


13.2   Current volunteer situation

With no current volunteer rota, it was reported to council that Bob Lott has agreed to

take this on. Clerk to create an appropriate indemnity form for all volunteers.

13.3 Replacement fence

Currently on hold due to other considerations.



  1. Update from BS on Working Groups

No update this month.


  1. Update from PMcL on UPC IT

No update in the absence of PM.


  1. Agree the content of the next council update for Upton News

To include play area information new/old/adventure.


  1. Discuss the repositioning of the small oak tree in the new cemetery field

Council agreed that having viewed the position of the tree, it presented no immediate problem

& would not do for some years to come. Therefore no action would be taken.


  1. Agree the date of the next meeting(s)

18.1 To agree that there will be no Annual Parish Meeting this year

Council unanimously agreed. Clerk to gather reports for publishing.

18.2 Next full council meeting Thursday 20th May 2021 at 7.30pm

Via an e-conference system or face to face TBC


The meeting finished at 8.45pm.







Oxfordshire update

In the seven days up to 5 March, there has been a total of 220 confirmed new COVID-19 cases in Oxfordshire. This is a decrease from 405 new cases in the previous week. This is equivalent to a weekly rate of 31.8 per 100,000 residents and a reduction of 46 per cent over the last seven days.

The figures are summarised in the table below. This includes the number of new cases for this week compared to the previous week (up to 26 February) across the county and its five districts.


Cases of COVID-19 by district

  Cases in 7 days up to


Rate per 100,000 population Cases in 7 days up to


Rate per 100,000 population
Cherwell 108 71.8 56 37.2
Oxford 125 82.0 46 30.2
South Oxfordshire 65 45.8 41 28.9
Vale of White Horse 79 58.1 48 35.3
West Oxfordshire 28 25.3 29 26.2
Oxfordshire 405 58.6 220 31.8


Data correct as at 5pm on 9 March.


COVID-19 dashboard

There is a COVID-19 dashboard on our website where you can access daily COVID-19 statistics.

Schools Return

Last week saw schools welcome back all pupils. We are not yet able to see how this first step in the easing of lockdown affects our COVID-19 cases, but the good news is that new cases are down across the county. All districts now have rates below 50 per 100,000, which puts us in a much better position than previous weeks for this return to school. We have also seen a continued decline in new cases in the over 60s, which is resulting in far fewer hospital admissions.

Home testing kits to support the return to school

The government has announced that all households with primary and secondary school and college-aged children and young people, including childcare and support bubbles, will be encouraged to start regular twice-weekly rapid lateral flow testing as schools return from 8 March.


Tests are available for adults in these households to order online, which can be delivered to their home or collected at a local symptomatic PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test site. These PCR sites are where people go to get tested when they have symptoms of COVID-19 and because of that, collection of these home test kits is set for 1pm – 7pm when testing of symptomatic people will not be taking place.


The PCR local testing sites (LTS) and regional testing site (RTS) offering the collection of home testing kits (referred to as LTS-collect and RTS-collect) in Oxfordshire are:

Regional testing site (drive-through)

  • Oxford Parkway, Water Eaton Park & Ride, Oxford Road, Oxford, OX2 8HA

Local testing sites (walk-through)

  • Woodgreen Leisure Centre, Woodgreen Avenue, Banbury, OX16 0HS
  • Osney Lane, Oxford, OX1 1NY
  • Woodford Way car park, Witney, OX28 6JS


Parents do not need to make an appointment, but they can check online if the location is open or busy before they go. A reminder collection is 1pm – 7pm.


In Oxfordshire, home tests kits cannot currently be collected from the county council’s symptom-free testing sites, which are Spiceball Leisure Centre (Banbury), The Beacon (Wantage), The King’s Centre (Oxford). We will keep you posted if this changes.


Symptom-free testing for key workers

Testing plays a key role in helping stop the spread of the virus and our symptom-free testing programme includes everyone across the council and also open to public-facing workers across the county who need to leave home to work or volunteer. As before, this also includes childminders. 


Testing for people who have COVID-19 symptoms

Across Oxfordshire, we have a range of testing sites for people who have COVID-19 symptoms, including drive-through and walk-in sites. We also have a number of mobile testing units operating in the county and the latest dates and locations for these are below. Booking is required for all testing sites.


Mobile testing units including

Dalton Barracks, Abingdon, Oxfordshire OX13 6JB

  • March: 16, 17, 18, 22, 23, 24, 25, 29, 30, 31.

Large majority of Oxfordshire parents and children offered first school choice

Parents and children across the county have been offered their first choice of secondary school for 2021/22 in the vast majority of cases. A total of 89.99 per cent (6,371) of applications have been awarded their first choice, and our school admissions team has done an excellent job in achieving this. You can read more about this in our news story on our website.


Target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions exceeded

Oxfordshire’s aim of becoming a zero-carbon county by 2050 has received a boost with news that our target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions was exceeded last year. We cut our corporate carbon emissions by eight per cent from April 2019 to March 2020, beating our target of six per cent. The replacement of boilers and streetlighting with more energy-efficient models, the installation of solar panels and the purchase of more electric vehicles were all factors in the reduction and more savings are soon on the way with the rollout of LED street lighting. The full story is published in the news section of our website.


Topping the table for recycling and composting

Residents in Oxfordshire have helped the county top the table nationally when it comes to recycling and composting for the seventh year in a row. I am delighted to say that  Oxfordshire County Council has once again been named the best performing county council waste disposal authority in England, according to new government figures released on 3 March 2021. For more information and the statistics, read the news story on our website.


Consultation launched on Oxfordshire’s draft transport blueprint

Residents and organisations across the county are being offered the chance to help shape the transformation of transport and digital connectivity across Oxfordshire in a consultation on a draft blueprint for the future, which runs until 29 March. The new local transport and connectivity plan (LTCP) sets out a vision for Oxfordshire that will contribute to developing a zero-carbon economy for the county and transform the health and wellbeing of residents. Residents can have their say by visiting the county council’s consultation site. To find out more, see the news story on our website.


Government commits to supercharge the Oxford-Cambridge Arc

The government has this week announced an ambitious plan to transform the Oxford-Cambridge Arc into the UK’s fastest-growing economic region. The Arc is a globally significant area between Oxford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge, made up of the five counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire. It supports over two million jobs, adds over £110 billion to the economy every year, and houses one of the fastest-growing economies in England.


The aim is build a better economic, social and environmental future for the area, with high-quality, well-connected and sustainable communities. With the right interventions and investment, analysis suggests that by 2050 economic output could double to over £200bn.


To achieve this ambition, the government will work with local partners to:

  • Develop a spatial framework for the Arc – this is a long-term regional plan to help coordinate the infrastructure, environment and new developments in the area, and help unlock the long-term potential of the area in a sustainable way. It will give communities a chance to shape the long-term future of their area and will help ensure the benefits of growth are felt across the region.
  • Explore the creation of an Arc Growth Body– this would be a clear economic leadership voice for the Arc, championing its talent and assets internationally, supporting businesses, and fostering innovation.


You can read the announcement on gov.uk. 


Census update

Census day is 21 March. Currently our communications focus on reminding residents of the date, to watch out for their census letter in early March and the benefits of completing the census. If you have any questions contact Lisa Stead at lisa.stead58@field.Census.gov.uk or on 07452 942723 (Cherwell, West Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse) and Sinead Leach at sinead.leach49@field.Census.gov.uk or on 07452 948074 (South Oxfordshire and Oxford City).



Upton Parish Council, Thursday 18th March 2021

Report from District Councillors Cllr Hayleigh Gascoigne and Cllr Sarah Medley

Coronavirus Update and Community Support

Community Support Hub

The Community Hub continues to be available to help people access support and essentials during the lockdown if they have nobody else to turn to and can be contacted on the usual details below. The councils’ Housing Needs team are available to help people who are at risk of being made homeless or who are sleeping rough – for more details visit whitehorsedc.gov.uk/housing. Support is also available to residents who are experiencing financial difficulties – to find out more please visit whitehorsedc.gov.uk/benefits. If you are having difficulty paying your council tax please visit whitehorsedc.gov.uk/counciltax or call 0345 302 2315.

To contact the Community Support Team: call: 01235 422 600 Monday to Thursday 8.30-5pm and Fridays 8.30-4.30pm email: communitysupport@southandvale.gov.uk

fill in an online form at: www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/communityhub

Remember, for the most up-to-date coronavirus information relating to district council support and any changes to services, please take a look at the dedicated Vale webpage for updates: www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/covid19

COVID-19 rates across Oxfordshire

The number of positive cases in Oxfordshire overall is still falling but more slowly than it has been recently, with a five per cent reduction in cases over the last week. The “R” rate in Oxfordshire is currently between 0.6 and 0.8. We’ve seen a very slight increase in weekly infection rate in the Vale, which is 61 cases per 100,000 – up from 59.6 last week. The rate in South Oxfordshire has gone down again this week and is currently at 54.2 cases per 100,000.


  • 39,122 people have been vaccinated in South Oxfordshire (population:140,504)
  • 35,117 in the Vale (population: 133,732)

The latest figures are updated on the county council’s interactive dashboard on a daily basis. It’s important we continue to stay vigilant and stick to the rules to protect ourselves and others. The ‘hands, face, space’ rules remain important to follow even for those who have been vaccinated. We are continuing to promote the help and support available for those who have to self-isolate or who are facing financial difficulties due to COVID.

The Beacon now an asymptomatic test centre

From 23rd February, The Beacon in Wantage became a COVID-19 testing site for public-facing workers and volunteers who are not displaying symptoms. The capacity for regular testing for public-facing workers is good, with testing now expanded to include everyone who needs to leave home to work or volunteer and cannot access workplace testing from their employer. This includes taxi drivers, independent retailers, and tradespeople such as plumbers and electricians.

People in these roles who cannot work from home and do not have access to workplace testing can book a free test at the centre via the county council’s online booking system. Tests take only 15 minutes with results available within an hour. South and Vale district councils have worked closely with partners across Oxfordshire to help set up this rapid symptom-free testing site to help stop the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and vital social care services, and ultimately to save lives. Around 1 in 3 people with Covid-19 have no symptoms but can still pass it on and so regular testing of public-facing workers will help to stop the spread of the virus.

Garden waste collections have resumed We have good news for garden waste customers – collections resumed from 15th Feb. Please share this news far and wide and with any friends and family in the district. The service will happily collect any real Christmas trees from garden waste customers if they still have them. We’re just asking them where possible to cut the tree up and pop it inside the bin. Otherwise it can be put out for collection next to the brown bin. There are more details on the service resuming on our garden waste webpage . We had to delay the restart of the service as many of our bin crews were off sick or were having to self-isolate due to COVID-19. While we are pleased to say that we now have enough crew members to complete the rounds we are still working on tight staffing levels and cannot rule out more disruption if those levels dip suddenly as they did before.

Business support during the pandemic

The government has confirmed details of the next payment period for the Local restrictions support grant (closed) addendum, which provides ongoing funding for rate-paying businesses that have been forced to close due to the national lockdown.

The second payment cycle covers 16 February to 31 March 2021:

  • businesses with a property of rateable value £15,000 or less, may be eligible for £2,096
  • businesses with a property of rateable value over £15,000 but less than £51,000, may be eligible for £3,143
  • those with a property of rateable value £51,000 or above, may be eligible for £4,714.

So far, we have paid out more than £2.6million from the first payment cycle of this grant, covering 5 January to 15 February, supporting more than 1,000 businesses across South and Vale. All eligible businesses should have received an email confirming their payment arrangements for this period.

The Vale will now begin the process of preparing the new grants in advance of payment, subject to us receiving final clarification, including grant funding, from the government. We expect to be able to email eligible businesses confirming the payment process and their grant allocation week commencing 8 March if not before. Businesses in receipt of this grant do not need to take any action, they will continue to receive the money automatically without having to apply again. For more details about the grants available to businesses visit svbs.co.uk.

Budget 2021 – Restart grants for businesses

In the Budget this week, the Chancellor announced that pubs, restaurants, shops and other businesses hit hardest by the pandemic will be able to access a £5 billion grant scheme to help them reopen as lockdown is eased. Non-essential retailers will get help to reopen and trade safely with the new ‘Restart grants’, of up to £6,000 per premises. Hospitality, hotels, gyms, as well as personal care and leisure firms, will be eligible for up to £18,000 per premises – a larger grant as they are due to open later in the roadmap than retailers. We will have responsibility for distributing these grants and will receive the funding in April. We’ll have more information on the processes for this in due course once we’ve had the full details from the government.

Local News

Valley Park We were very pleased with the outcome of Vale of White Horse District Council Planning Committee meeting on Tuesday 16th February – the committee agreed unanimously to DEFER the decision on the Valley Park planning application! This is great news, as it means there is now more time available for residents and councillors to really push for our own local vision of what Valley Park should be. Deferring the application was voted for on the basis that further clarity needs to be sought on the following key issues with the Valley Park proposal before a decision can be made: B4493 Roundabout between Harwell and Didcot – committee asked council officers to look at this design again and consider alternative options to make this monstrous 5-arm roundabout safer and more accessible for cyclists. Thank you to the HarBUG – Harwell Bicycle Users Group and Sustainable Harwell for your excellent speeches on this issue, and special shout out to local resident Kate Stevenson Weal for your Facebook comment about an underpass on the roundabout – this sparked an entire debate the possibility of an underpass, bridge or another alternative solution to be explored in the design! Healthcare Provision – the committee asked council officers to go back to the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group – OCCG once again to obtain a proper answer regarding the medical provision for Valley Park. This site would bring 10,000 new residents to the area and yet there is no provision in the plans for a GP surgery or any Primary Medical Care, primarily because the OCCG didn’t even respond to the consultation in the first place! Thank you to Patient Participation Group (PPG) chairman Stewart Lilly for speaking on behalf of all 3 Didcot Medical Centres – we’re certain that your eye-opening statistics about the pressure our local services are under was key in influencing this decision. Biodiversity – massive well done to Sally Povolotsky for your fantastic speech raising the issues with biodiversity considerations on the site, including the protection of red kites. Thanks to you, the committee asked for the financial contributions from the developer relating to biodiversity off-setting (totalling £200,000) to be brought forward from a staged payment (after 1000th house is occupied) to a full amount paid upfront prior to commencement of the development. A brilliant win for protecting the natural environment before the first house is even built! The link below contains our extensive written statement that we submitted to the committee in advance of the meeting – we used this to clearly lay out our objectives, with the council policies to back them up. Two different members of the committee commended us for the high quality of our statement!


If you didn’t catch the meeting, you can catch up any time on the YouTube link below to see the speeches and debate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xZR4Ks-N3o Updates since the planning committee meeting on 16th February:

  • The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) have now responded to the Valley Park planning application, asking the developer to provide just under £4million for healthcare provision, as well as allocating land for a GP surgery site, in the event that the one on Great Western Park does not get built. This is brilliant news, as previously there was no response and hence no money or land allocated for healthcare, which was extremely concerning, and one of the key reasons the planning committee voted to defer the decision on the planning application. The response from the OCCG needs to pass various planning tests so it is not yet set in stone, but we are very happy that this is a big step in the right direction.
  • There have been many rumours flying around about when Valley Park will be coming back to planning committee for further consideration. We would just like to clarify that it can only come back to committee once the planning officers are satisfied that the issues raised at the deferral decision have been addressed. We have been informed today that due to purdah, i.e. the time before an election period (in this case local elections on May 6th) in which councils are not permitted to make big decisions, the application for Valley Park will not come back to planning committee until May at the earliest.

Finally thank you to everyone who attended our residents’ feedback session on Valley Park last week. It was great to hear your views, it is clear that there are still a lot of concerns and questions around the roundabout design, the healthcare and biodiversity/sustainability. We plan to organise further feedback sessions in future to focus on these topics, so watch this space! In the meantime please feel free to email us your ideas and thoughts about the roundabout design, we can pass these on to the planning officers for consideration by the developer. • The news of the decision on Valley Park was featured in a recent edition of the Didcot Herald: https://www.heraldseries.co.uk/news/19111212.plans-4-000-homes-valley-park-near-didcot-delayed/?fbclid=IwAR2itsHerQwA3Ghqs8J1xdgNZGn1zMsK6nW0GPI6Zz6cnDVmPQ_8IwK9iVE

Neighbourhood plans

Chilton Parish Council has submitted its draft neighbourhood plan to the council and the council is now carrying out a consultation which launched on Wednesday 17 February and will run until midnight on Wednesday 7 April 2021.

Council News

2021/2022 Budget at Full council 10th February

The most recent meeting of Full Council was on Wednesday 10th February – the agenda and link for viewing online can be found at http://democratic.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=108&MId=2722

The key agenda item for discussion was the proposed budget for 2021/2022. The council set out budget plans which protect front line services, continue to support local residents and businesses through the pandemic and help stabilise the council’s finances for the medium term. The budget would result in an increase of less than 10p per week on Band D Council Tax. Annual council tax will be £141.69 for services provided by the district council, up from £136.69 this year. The Vale currently has the 15th lowest council tax in the country for a shire district and significantly lower than the national average of £194.22. Since the pandemic began, the district council has re-allocated significant resources in order to provide vital support for residents and businesses across the district. This has included: administering more than 3,300 Covid-19 grant payments to local businesses totalling £21 million. We provided the new Community Support Hub, supporting 5,208 vulnerable residents, including providing direct assistance for 785 people. It is currently expected that this work will need to continue well into 2021. The council’s income also remains significantly affected by the Covid-19 restrictions. Like many councils, the Vale still faces significant financial challenges which have been caused by years of reduced funding from government, and the lack of clarity about the future of local authority financing. Along with the other Oxfordshire councils, the Vale has repeatedly called on the government to urgently provide additional funding to help ensure the future of vital public services. To see the full press release on the budget proposals, please visit https://www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/budget/councils-2021-22-budget-report-addresses-covid-19-challenges/ Councils looking into the possibility of a joint South and Vale Local Plan The two district councils in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse are looking into the possibility of developing a joint Local Plan for the area to significantly reduce costs and help the councils meet their ambitious targets for making the two districts carbon neutral. Local Plans are used to help determine planning applications and set out how and where new housing developments should take place, along with identifying the infrastructure needed to support them. They also set out policies on what kind of housing is appropriate and acceptable; what the local requirements for affordable housing are; and can even set requirements on the energy-efficiency levels of new developments. These are all key themes and aspirations that are addressed in both councils’ recently adopted new Corporate Plans, which set out their visions for their districts. Both councils have also committed to do everything they can to address the climate emergency. According to reports being seen by the councils’ Scrutiny Committees next week, the significant consensus on these issues makes this a rare opportunity to create a joint Local Plan. The reports were discussed by the two councils’ Scrutiny Committees on 8 and 9 March in South and Vale respectively and will then be debated at the Vale’s Cabinet on 17 March and South Oxfordshire’s on 18 March. Any recommendations from the Cabinets would then be debated and voted on at the full Council meetings on 24 and 25 March at Vale and South respectively.

Low carbon leisure centres

Faringdon leisure centre is to get a £400,000 refurbishment with the potential to reduce its carbon footprint by 500,000 kwh over a year – the equivalent of the annual energy use of 135 houses.

The Vale of White Horse District Council has been awarded a £361,746 grant from the government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme. The rest of the funding needed will come from S106 money. The refurbishment will enable centre to use low carbon and renewable energy by replacing gas boilers with air source heat pumps powered with new solar panels.

In February 2019 the council joined a growing number of local authorities and other organisations in declaring a climate emergency. The council is calling on the government to support action on climate change locally. All councils in Oxfordshire are signed up to carbon reduction targets through the Oxfordshire Energy Strategy and are committed to a 50 per cent reduction in carbon emission between 2008 and 2030.

The Climate Emergency Advisory Committee (CEAC) recommended that the Vale of White Horse reduce carbon emissions by 75 per cent by 2030. The council has also committed to becoming a carbon neutral district by 2045. In their Corporate Plan, published last year, Vale Cabinet members identified Tackling the Climate Emergency and Building Healthy Communities as two of their key priorities. The work on this project will start this month and be completed by the end of March 2022. The council’s officers are now commissioning studies to help them seek further funding for the decarbonisation of more leisure centres.

New waste calendars

Residents will shortly be receiving their new waste collection calendar for the coming year – it’ll be included in with the council tax bills hitting doormats this month. Residents who get their council tax bills electronically will get a link to an online version of the calendar in their email bill. The new calendar which runs from April 2021 – March 2022 is available here – www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/waste-calendar

South and Vale residents are top recyclers in the country… again

We’re very pleased to reveal that in the latest government figures, our environmentally conscious residents in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse are the second and third best recyclers in England. South Oxfordshire recycle 64 per cent of its waste, with the Vale recycling 63.3 per cent. This puts the two districts way above the national recycling rate of 45.5 per cent and they are also two of only 11 local authorities in the country with a recycling rate above 60 per cent. Both districts have consistently been in the top ten in the past five years. As the figures cover the period from the beginning of April 2019 to the end of March 2020, they only include the very first week of the national lockdown last year. So the impact of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns on the collection of household waste in the districts will not be revealed until next year’s figures.

Call for people to help at the elections

We are looking for people to take on paid work at this year’s elections. On Thursday 6 May our residents will go to the polls to vote in the Police and Crime Commissioner and Oxfordshire County Council elections. Some areas will also have local by-elections and neighbourhood plan referendums. The various counts will then take place over the following days. To help ensure the smooth running of this event, we need to recruit as many people as possible. There are lots of roles available, paying a flat rate or from £14 per hour, and plans are being put in place to ensure all staff can work in a Covid-19 safe environment.

If you know anyone who may be interested in working at the elections, please encourage them to visit whitehorsedc.gov.uk/electionjobs to find out more and to register their interest.

Census packs to arrive from 3 March

Some residents will now have started receiving their Census 2021 pack, which will be dropping on doormats until 13 March. There is a lot of information on the Census website.

Two district councils join Oxfordshire Greentech to help local businesses tackle the climate emergency

As part of their commitments to help the districts become carbon neutral, Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire District Councils have struck up a brand-new partnership to help local businesses reduce their carbon footprint. As Strategic Partners, the councils will be working with Oxfordshire Greentech to help connect businesses with specialist suppliers, customers and support organisations, and access funding streams and networking opportunities to help them minimise their emissions and impact on the environment.

Launched in 2019, Oxfordshire Greentech brings together a wide array of businesses, academia and other organisations to encourage innovation, collaboration and knowledge transfer. The growing network now has over 100 members as more companies see the benefits of sustainable business and new, circular economy focused business models.

For businesses wanting to take advantage of the discount in membership, visit Oxfordshire Greentech for more information via http://oxfordshiregreentech.co.uk/

Changes to Vale parking arrangements confirmed following public consultation

Following a public consultation, Vale of White Horse District Council’s Cabinet have approved several changes to parking arrangements to help reduce vehicle emissions. Last November almost 200 people commented on proposed changes to the parking arrangements. At their meeting on Friday 5 February, the council’s Cabinet considered the consultation results, and approved that the following measures which will now be included in the district’s new parking policy:

Reducing vehicle emissions

In Abingdon, lorries will no longer be able to park in Rye Farm car park and specific spaces will be allocated for a coach and campervans in Hales Meadow car park. This popular move to free up more spaces in Rye Farm for smaller vehicles, should encourage people visiting from the A415 to park here on edge of town rather than joining the traffic in the town centre, helping to reduce congestion and improve air quality.

Encouraging electric vehicle use

The Vale is currently working with Oxfordshire County Council with a view to introduce electric vehicle charging bays in some district council car parks. If this happens then, under the new policy, parking enforcement officers will have new powers to fine motorists who park non-electric vehicles in electric charging bays, or who leave an electric vehicle parked in a charging bay when it’s not charging.

Tackling the car parks deficit

The Vale’s car parks, in Abingdon, Faringdon and Wantage, collectively cost more than £700,000 a year to run. Once the income from parking fees has been taken into account, there is an average shortfall of over £300,000 a year, which is currently subsidised by council tax.

To help address this deficit, Cabinet agreed that the price of resident permits, which provide significant discounts on daily parking rates, would need to go up by 10 per cent each year until 2023. This decision was taken after carefully considering feedback from the public and taking the potential impact on individual residents and families into account. Members rejected options to implement a price increase of up to 100 per cent, in favour of a 10 per cent increase per year over the next three years.