Woodstock Town Council

Incorporated by Royal Charter of Henry VI in 1453

            COUNTY AND DISTRICT COUNCILLORS UPDATE

Report of District Councillors for Bladon, Blenheim and Woodstock for Woodstock Town Council meeting on September 13th 2017

UPDATE ON LOCAL PLANS

West Oxfordshire. The formal Examination of the WODC Local Plan by the appointed inspector was completed in July. The inspector has asked WODC for further work, before giving a decision, in effect:  

·    The Council’s final responses to consultation comments on its Site Selection and Sustainability Appraisal papers.

·     Additional Sustainability Appraisal work as indicated in the Sustainability Paper.

·     Additional landscape/heritage appraisal of the housing site allocations in Woodstock and Cotswold AONB.

·    A note on detailed proposals for “staging” the housing requirement figure, in order to assist consideration of whether or not this approach is an appropriate way forward for the plan.

 WODC has responded with a guide to likely changes. We list changes very relevant to Woodstock:

·    The policy H1 'to be amended in relation to the quantum of housing by sub-area with the indicative figure for the Eynsham-Woodstock sub-area presented as one composite figure including Oxford's unmet need (as per W2 Eynsham-Woodstock sub-area strategy)'

·     ‘At least’ 15950 homes inserted to reflect the fact this number is not a ceiling to development, 

·    Potential further revisions to Policy EH7 to take account of comments raised by Historic England and other parties. Potential individual supplementary policies on specific heritage assets (e.g. listed buildings, conservation areas etc). Consequential amendments to supporting text and potential addition of new supporting text.

·    Minor amendment to refer to great weight being given to the conservation of the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Site: Blenheim

Your District Cllrs moved amendments to delete the three development areas proposed for Woodstock (Woodstock East, Banbury Road and Old Woodstock) at the October 2016 Council meeting. If these developments were removed from the Plan, using the Liverpool assessment criteria, rejecting the Oxford City unmet need calculations and introducing available sites within the City Council boundaries, could bring housing numbers back up again. Our approach was not supported by both other parties on the District Council.

Cherwell. In their Revised Local Plan Cherwell District Council propose a further 4,400 new homes in the southern part of their district involving an extensive intrusion into the Oxford City greenbelt which extends up to the A4095 at Upper Campsfield. The buildings would be very obvious from the footpath that runs from the Hensington Gate Estate to Bladon

Cherwell DC faces the same major problem that faces WODC: finding space for the homes it has been told it must build. The Revised Plan gives little consideration to the developments proposed by WODC for Woodstock and the recent, completed development at Home Farm, Bladon. The problems for the roads, car parking, the surgery and the educational infrastructure (as seen with the proposed removal from Woodstock Primary school of the Woodstock Under Fives Association building) remain unresolved.

The Cherwell proposals come to WODC Cabinet on 20th September. The deadline for comments on these proposals has been extended to Tuesday 10th October 2017. Please send your views and concerns to both Cllr James Mills, Leader of WODC, West Oxfordshire District Council, Woodgreen, Witney Oxon OX28 1NB (or e-mail him on james.mills@westoxon.gov.uk) and to Cllr Barry Wood, Leader of Cherwell District Council, Bodicote House, Bodicote, Oxon OX15 4AA (or e-mail him on barry.wood@cherwell-dc.gov.uk). 

Oxford City. The City Council is also reviewing its Local Plan requirements and suggesting intrusions into the green belt because it states it has 'lack of landowner interest' in other development possibilities.  The local Liberal Democrat councillors reject this as a valid reason for breaching the long held belief in inviolability of the green belt. They believe more could be done to encourage owners of suitable ‘brown’ land within the city to offer it for development.

BARCLAYS BANK CLOSURE

We learnt with great regret that the Woodstock branch of Barclays Bank closes on 10th November 2017. For many years the town and surrounding areas have had excellent service from the branch. Many will remember fondly the manager Mr Patterson who was committed to this community. Losing the bank does reduce WODC Planning’s justification for calling Woodstock Town ‘a service centre’- something we shall bring to the attention of the WODC Planning Department.

CAR PARKING

During the debate at the Uplands Planning sub-committee about increasing the size of the car park at St Hugh’s Church Hall in Hensington Road, ‘Dr Poskitt suggested that the new facility should also be made available to local residents when not in use by the church. The Development Manager suggested that the applicants could be advised to explore this possibility in consultation with the Town Council’ (Extract from Uplands minutes 7th August 2017). We shall keep you informed of any progress here.  

WOODSTOCK SWIMMING POOL CLOSING DATE

In 2016 the Woodstock pool stayed open for an extra fortnight because of a mechanical problem which delayed its opening. The contractor GLL advertised in the promotional material that the pool would close in mid-September. Many users of the pool were then very upset in August to be informed that the pool would close at the beginning of September (the time when in most past years it has closed). It is now clear that there was an inadvertent mistake by GLL in advertising the later date. As some recompense for this administrative error, season ticket holders are being offered free use of the Witney, Carterton and Chipping Norton pools until the originally advertised Woodstock pool closing date.

HOUSING INITIATIVES

WODC has announced two new housing initiatives. A Community Self Help project takes ‘hard to let’ larger property and turns it into shared accommodation for under 35 single unemployed who are trained in ‘trades’ whilst refurbishing the property. It will include two apprenticeships for at least one year. The unemployed young people will be trained in new skills relevant to renovating the buildings before living in the shared accommodation so generated.

The Community Housing Delivery Project will work with Parish and Town Councils to promote the concept of community housing and would help identify opportunities and support the delivery of schemes which would be of little interest to mainstream housebuilders. The project would include a Capacity Building/Grants Fund to help fund local community groups’ programmes.

These projects are supported by an allocation of £376,966 for the 2016/17 financial year from the government’s Community Housing Fund which provides funds to promote community led housing programmes in areas where the impact of second homes is particularly acute.

There is also the Local Authority Partnership Purchase Scheme (LAPP) whereby individuals can buy a share in a home (costing up to £375000) with the council purchasing the rest. Occupiers then pay rent to the council to cover its stake. The LAPP scheme is for those who can afford mortgage repayments but can’t meet the cost of a deposit on a property. Each applicant will be assessed and awarded points based on a range of criteria focusing on local residents, key workers, those with dependents and applicants in social housing or on the council’s housing waiting list.  Applications for a LAPP mortgage can be made from 21 August. Further details will be online at www.westoxon.gov.uk/lapp

ELECTORAL REGISTRATION

Around 47,000 Electoral Registration forms are being delivered across the District. If changes need to be made to the details sent, then the household is asked to notify the Council either online or by returning the form provided. You are encouraged to return the forms early and preferably electronically as this reduces public sector costs (Details come with the form).  Between May 2016 and June 2017 most of you in West Oxfordshire could have expressed your views via the ballot box on at least four different occasions. If you missed out – don’t let it happen again!

    WODC Cllrs Julian Cooper and Elizabeth Poskitt
 

Oxfordshire County Councillor Ian Hudspeth's October 2017 Report

BUSES

The Wootton turning circle has been completed and is now in use by the 7 service although this is not an official stop I have been informed by Stagecoach that customers can use the service from here. The 233 to Witney and Burford is now half hourly with these smaller buses turning in the town centre due to the tight timetable. A new Traffic Order is being considered for the centre of town to ensure that there is sufficient turning space for both the 233 and 500 buses.

INFRASTUCTURE BIDS

The funding bid for up to £500 million has been submitted by Oxfordshire County Council on Thursday 28 September. Money is sought to bring forward infrastructure investment to pump-prime three major development schemes:

1.         Didcot Garden Town – £171m is bid for transport improvements including a Didcot Science Bridge and A4130 dual carriageway, a new river crossing at Culham and Clifton Hampden Bypass. This would support the delivery of over 22,000 homes in Didcot, Culham, Harwell and Berinsfield.  Additionally up to £70m of cycle and other sustainable transport improvements are proposed for inclusion in the bid plan. 

2.         West Oxfordshire Garden Village – £135.4m is bid for further upgrades to the A40, building on existing schemes and based on the approved A40 Long Term Strategy including development of the Rapid Transit network and additional highway capacity on A40 transport corridor. This would support the delivery of over 10,000 homes in Witney & Carterton, and around Eynsham.   

3.         North of Oxford – £152m is bid for the development of Rapid Transit lines on upgraded A44 and A4260 corridors, a new Park & Ride, and strategic cycle infrastructure plus. Support is also sought for additional education requirements (as yet un-costed). This. would support the delivery of 5,570 homes in Woodstock, Begbroke/Yarnton and the Northern Gateway. 

The bids submitted to the £2.3 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund are ranked as above according the Government’s scoring method, with the guidance that the strongest bid be put first.

Free electric blanket testing offered as the winter months approach

People in Oxfordshire who have electric blankets to keep them warm on Autumn and Winter nights are being urged to get them tested for free

As the autumn is approaching and the temperature is getting colder, Oxfordshire County Council Trading Standards & Fire and Rescue Services are offering free testing of such blankets to ensure people have a warm, safe winter.

Blanket testing is taking place at the following locations during October:

Oxford - Monday 2 October
Banbury - Tuesday 3 October
Witney - Wednesday 4 October
Wallingford - Thursday 5 October
Abingdon - Friday 6 October
Oxford - Monday 16 October
Bicester - Tuesday 17 October
Chipping Norton - Wednesday 18 October
Thame - Thursday 19 October
Wantage - Friday 20 October

In 2016 831 blankets were tested and 177 blankets failed, a rate of 21%.

To book your safety check appointment call 01865 898642 or email: communityengagement@oxfordshire.gov.uk

Tenth public health annual report published

 Oxfordshire’s Director of Public Health Jonathan McWilliam published his tenth Public Health Annual Report on 7 September. It is an independent report about the overall good state of health in Oxfordshire and the challenges facing the county and its residents.

Overall the report shows that Oxfordshire is healthy county, on many measures healthier than the national average.  Organisations are well coordinated, but there are still challenges to face.

Jonathan McWilliam said: “The biggest challenges are all connected to population growth and how we all cope with it. This affects all parts of our lives from dealing with traffic to re-shaping public services.

“The population is also ageing so we need to put an emphasis on healthy ageing too.

“We also need to take care about our weight, as the average levels of overweight and obesity are creeping up and this will lead to higher levels of disease.

“Although the average levels of health are good, some disadvantage still exists in our rural and urban communities. These gaps are overall steady, or narrowing, but we mustn’t take our eye off the ball.”

The report will be presented to Oxfordshire’s Joint Health Overview Scrutiny Committee on          14 September, and the council’s cabinet and other committees later in the autumn.

MORE CHANCES FOR OPEN ACCESS CHILDREN’S SERVICES START-UP FUNDING

The council last year opened a £1m Transition Fund to help schemes for nought to five-year-olds get off the ground at locations formerly served by children’s centres. To date a total of 27 projects have been awarded funding – in addition to open access sessions at the council’s network of eight family centres. The final round of applications ended earlier this year, with £232,000 remaining unallocated. OCC's Cabinet has agreed to reopen the applications process to enable new groups to come forward with their plans. The funding criteria will be broadened to allow groups to apply for grants in locations not previously served by children’s centres, or where a children’s centre has been repurposed – for instance, as a nursery. Community groups interested in finding out more about the Transition Fund and running open access children’s services should contact localities@oxfordshire.gov.uk

NEW ERA FOR DAYTIME SUPPORT IN OXFORDSHIRE

A new system of delivering daytime support services in Oxfordshire came in to operation on 1st October. Eight new centres** will provide support for more than 500 older people or people with a learning disability who have been assessed as having an eligible need and some other people who do not have an assessed need. The changes follow a consultation with service users and their families in late 2016 in which they were given the opportunity to have a wide-ranging input in to how the new service should take shape. Within the council’s new £4.5m service there are 1,600 days of support per week (3,200 sessions) being provided across the eight locations. Each centre will have its own fleet of family-size vehicles, some of which will be adapted. These will be used to transport people to and from the centres and will be driven by staff from the Community Support Service. There will be a number of options for meals, including: staff supporting people to eat out at a local café, cooking as part of a small group, paying towards a group meal prepared by others, a simple hot meal prepared by staff, and people bringing in their own pre-prepared meal or light lunch if they wish to. 

**The centres are located at Audlett Drive, Abingdon; Neithrop Avenue, Banbury; Launton Road, Bicester; Britwell Road, Didcot; Agward Stone Road, Horspath Driftway, Oxford; High Street, Wallingford; Charlton Village Road, Wantage; and Moorland Road, Witney. 

Changes to charges for disposal of DIY/non-household waste

As from 1 October, changes to DIY waste disposal charges at the council’s Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) come into operation. Meanwhile, the council has signed a new Household Waste Recycling Centre contract that secures all seven sites in the medium term, with no change to the sites opening hours or days (further information from the HWRCs contract change press release).

The existing DIY 1,2,3 for free scheme is being replaced by a small fixed fee per item of £1.50 for non-household waste. Tyres and plasterboard will also be charged for at an affordable rate. The existing scheme has been in place for 15 years and during this time the charge has not increased beyond £1 per item.

Banners and leaflets are on display at HWRC sites informing local residents that there will be a change in non-household waste charges, supported by social media activity and an issued press release.

In the HWRC public consultation carried out in summer 2016, 91% of responses indicated that residents would prefer to pay to deposit non-household waste as a way of saving money and protecting other council services.

The council recognises that many householders carry out small DIY projects from time to time, and by applying a small charge this allows HWRCs to continue accepting these discretionary types of non-household waste.

Non-household or DIY items, as a general rule are materials created from the construction, demolition, alteration or repair of a home or garden. For example a sink, bath, kitchen unit, fence panel, bag of rubble etc.

Residents can still dispose of all their household waste free of charge at any of the county’s HWRCs.

Also new in October will be a bin for recycling hard plastics. After a successful trial at Dix and Alkerton HWRCs, items such as plastic garden furniture and children’s toys will be collected and recycled from all sites.

The locations of the county council’s seven Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) are:

           Alkerton - Stratford Road, Alkerton, Nr Banbury
           Ardley Fields- Brackley Road, Ardley
           Dix Pit - Linch Hill, Stanton Harcourt
           Drayton - Steventon Road, Drayton, Nr Abingdon
           Oakley Wood - Old Icknield Way, Crowmarsh, Nr Wallingford
           Redbridge - Old Abingdon Road, Oxford
           Stanford in the Vale - Faringdon Road, Stanford in the Vale, Faringdon

W+S Recycling will manage six of the seven HWRC sites from October, while Dix Pit HWRC will continue to be managed by FCC Environment.

Ian Hudspeth
07956 270318
Ian.hudspeth@oxfordshire.gov.uk