HomeAbout meParish ReportsNews UpdateA Better OxfordshirePicturesSurgery DatesOxfordshire County CouncilLeader's BlogElection 2017

Below are the reports I submit to my Parish Councils each month, should you wish to receive a copy directly then please fill in your details:

Your email address:

NOVEMBER REPORT

 


OXFORD’S NEW WESTGATE CENTRE OPENS

 

TRADERS have welcomed a bumper weekend at Oxford’s new Westgate as thousands of people packed the shopping centre on its first weekend in operation. Shops and restaurant chains said interest from customers had exceeded expectations, with business brisker than at any other opening they had experienced. Some 60 out of 125 shops and restaurants at the £440m shopping centre opened on Tuesday 24th October, with others opening since, and thousands of people took advantage of their first opportunity to have a look around. Councils, transport operators and Westgate have been working closely on a coordinating travel plans aimed at making it as easy as possible to visit the Westgate and minimising journey times into the heart of Oxford. The best way to travel into the city centre is to use the park and rides or public transport wherever possible. New variable message signs have been installed on the outskirts of Oxfordshire to update people on space availability on the park and ride sites nearby and to direct them there. There are also temporary signs within the ring road which give directions, for those who have chosen not to use the park and rides, to city centre and Westgate. There’s more information on travelling to the Westgate at: https://westgateoxford.co.uk/your-visit/getting-here

  


THE RACE IS ON FOR DRIVERLESS CARS


News that ground-breaking transport technology being pioneered in Oxfordshire has won a share of a £51million government prize has been welcomed by council leaders. Oxfordshire is home to Science Vale UK and some world leading science and technology companies who are blazing a trail towards more energy efficient and road safety. Organisations based in the Science Vale are working on pioneering projects such as autonomous cars and smart traffic management systems needed to support people travelling around the county. Remote Applications in Challenging Environments (RACE), which is based at Culham Science Centre in Oxfordshire, is to receive £6.9m from the Department of Transport towards their £10million project to set up a range of different test areas mimicking increasingly realistic city driving environments, where automated vehicles can be tested before being taken onto public roads. They are one of a number of companies that Oxfordshire County Council works with to drive progress on future transport technology.

 

COTSWOLD LINE

 

I attended the Task Force Board that is working towards improvements to the Cotswold line including Hanborough station and train frequency giving more choice for residents to access Oxford & London. There are representatives from the transport authorities covering the line along with Network Rail, Great Western Railway and user groups. The aim has to be to have a service matching that of Oxford Parkway.

 

FIREFIGHTERS

 

Across fire and rescue services women are significantly under-represented. In Oxfordshire, only 32 out of 530 operational firefighters are female. Chief Fire Officer Simon Furlong has made it a priority to diversify the service, which also has just three firefighters from an ethnic minority background. Taster days for females interesting in joining the service have been set up. Here they will be able to learn first-hand what it is like to be a firefighter and meet some of the women already working for the service.


https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/taster-day-women


 

 

APPLY ONLINE FOR PRIMARY SCHOOL PLACES


 

Applications for children due to start primary school in September 2018 can now be made online. Families with children born between 1 September 2013 and 31 August 2014 are urged to visit the primary school admissions pages on the county council’s website to find out how to apply for places for next year. The council still accepts postal applications but recommends families apply online where possible, as this helps speed up the applications process. It also means families receive an automatic response confirming their application has been received and can be quickly notified if further information is needed. Those who apply online will also receive an email on allocation day, 16 April 2018, informing them of the outcome of their application. Postal application forms are available from all Oxfordshire schools and from reception at County Hall in Oxford.


 

HELP SOMEONE GET ONLINE – BE A DIGITAL HELPER AT YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY


 

Oxfordshire County Council recently launched a campaign to recruit ‘digital helpers’ in libraries to boost the confidence and skills of those who need extra help to get online. Volunteers able to give up just a few hours a week are being sought at branches across the county to provide one-to-one support for people with little or no experience of using computers or the internet. The aim of the campaign is to help people:


           access services online – including council services


           access employment or training opportunities


           become more independent


           reduce isolation


To find out more or to sign up as a Digital Helper visit: www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/digitalhelper


 


 

 October 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 September Report

 

Unitary Debate

 

There have been reports suggesting that proposals for reform are off the table due to the lack of agreement between the City and District Councils, and the County. While it is true that Government wishes to proceed by consensus where possible, OCC hopes that the debate is not over – particularly when Grant Thornton has put forward a new compromise proposal, which has yet to be fully discussed. With £200,000 spent on independent advice, and with both reports showing that savings in excess of £100m are possible over a five-year time period through a single strategic authority for Oxfordshire, it is everybody's interest that the debate continues. I have asked officers how best the reports can be presented to allow all members to debate them at Full Council on 13th September, then later at Cabinet on 20th September, and how OCC should move forward.

 

 

Exam results

 

Well done to all the students at the Marlborough school in their exam results. There were some excellent results with 7 students achieving A* and A grades in all of their subjects at A level.

At GCSE 12 students achieved 10 or more A* and A grades. These results prove once again that Marlborough is a place where everyone can achieve their goals and where our young people are challenged to do their best and nurtured and supported through that process

 

Libraries Minister sees “GREAT EXAMPLE” at Bicester

 

Plans to expand Oxfordshire’s Home Library Service and joining up services ‘under one roof’ were among the hot topics at Bicester Library, during a fact-finding visit from Minister for Civil Society Rob Wilson MP. The flagship county council facility offers a wide range of council services and activities, and has attracted more than 2,000 new members since opening in April.

Heralded as a “great example” by Mr Wilson, Bicester exemplifies an emerging identity for Oxfordshire’s libraries as focal points for a broad range of services, help and advice. The council has also announced plans to grow its Home Library Service so that people with mobility problems who can’t get to a library can have books and other items delivered to their door.

 

Residents can get their Electric Blankets Checked Free

 

Now is the time for residents to book their blanket in for a free check in October. Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire & Rescue Service and Trading Standards are urging electric blanket owners to get their blankets tested free of charge ahead of the approaching colder months.

Testing electric blankets annually is important as all electrical systems have the potential to go wrong. In 2015 a total of 22 per cent of the electric blankets failed the safety test and were declared unsafe to use. They can be perfectly safe to use provided they are in good condition and have the necessary overheating safeguards incorporated into the design. Station Manager Chris Barber of Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service said: “Like any other piece of electrical equipment, it is vitally important that electric blankets remain in safe working order, last year nearly a quarter.” Testing is by pre-booked appointment only, strictly on a first come, first served basis. Residents should call Trading Standards on 01865 815 000 option 4 to arrange an appointment or email communityengagement@oxfordshire.gov.uk.

 

 

 

 

 

Oxfordshire Carers' Strategy and Carers' Personal Budgets Consultation

 

At some point in our lives, many of us will care for a relative, friend or neighbour who needs support in their daily lives.

 

We may see ourselves as someone who is just ‘doing what you would naturally do’ by looking after a relative or friend - but if the person you care for couldn’t cope without you and you aren't getting paid for what you are doing, then we would consider you to be a carer.

Oxfordshire County Council and Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group work in partnership with other organisations to identify and support many of the 61,000 family, informal or unpaid carers in Oxfordshire.

 

We do this because we recognise and value the important role that carers have in the lives of the more vulnerable members of our communities.

 

We are undertaking a joint consultation which has two parts:

  1. Part 1 of this consultation is about the Oxfordshire Carers' Strategy

    This is a document about our priorities for carers' support and the outcomes we want to achieve for carers of all ages. It also gives an overview of how we are supporting carers in Oxfordshire.

  1. Part 2 of this consultation is about the proposed options for carers' personal budgets

    As you may know, there is no longer enough money for the council to carry on doing things in the way we do now. We want to find the best way of spending the funding available to meet the needs of as many carers as possible.

     

     

     

    We are keen to hear your views, comments and ideas about both parts of this consultation. Your views on Oxfordshire Carers' Strategy and the options for carers' personal budgets will influence our future decision-making.

     

    We recommend that you read the strategy and supporting documents available as part of this consultation. We acknowledge that the Oxfordshire Carers' Strategy in particular is a long document.

     

    The strategy and supporting documents are available at:

     

    https://consultations.oxfordshire.gov.uk/consult.ti/Carers/consultationHome

     

    If you require a paper copy of these documents, please contact us by email on carerssupportreview@oxfordshire.gov.uk or phone 01865 323410.

     

    The consultation ends 14th November

 

 August Report

 

COUNTRYFILE LIVE

The event returns to Blenheim Palace this weekend. With 120,000 visitors expected there will be added congestion on the roads particularly in the early morning. There is a new traffic management company who has been working with all the relevant agencies to deliver the plan. This will involve some diversions but they are all designed to aid the traffic flow at the peak time. Car parks will be open early with facilities to enable visitors to arrive ahead of the opening time. There will be a bus service direct into the Palace grounds.

 

We must not forget that hotels, bars and restaurants, not just in Woodstock but across the area  will all have a busy weekend; meaning lots of job opportunities. Also visitors may decide to come back and visit Woodstock and the surrounding area later in the year.

 

I hope this will be a successful event not just for the visitors but residents too.

 

BUS TURNING

Woodstock residents have benefited greatly from the new bus services to Oxford Parkway with increased frequency and reduced fares. It has to be acknowledged that the turning of the buses has caused concern not just in the town centre but for residents in Old Woodstock. I’m pleased to say that funding has been found for a turning circle at the Wootton turn. Engineers have been given instructions to deliver the new turning circle ASAP.

 

COTSWOLD LINE TASK FORCE.

I was pleased to attend the inaugural Cotswold Line Task force meeting. The group is made of the County council, LEPs, GWR and Network Rail to lobby for improvements to the service mainly focussing on how to increase train frequency and reliability. I would also like to see improved bus services to Hanborough to enable more residents to leave their cars at home reducing congestion on the roads.

 

COUNCIL AND CARILLION REACH AGREEMENT OVER CONTRACT

Oxfordshire County Council is to exit a significant proportion of the contract with Carillion that sees the latter provide many services on the council’s behalf. Constructive negotiations have been ongoing for many months and both parties have now reached a mutually beneficial agreement, which involves no termination costs for the taxpayer and allows for changes to the contract that were not efficient for either side. The deal was originally signed in 2012 and the vision at that time was that it would last for 10 years through to 2022. Since 2012 the council’s policies and strategies – particularly in relation to property and its estate – have evolved in such a way that the tie-up with Carillion makes less commercial sense now than it did in 2012. New arrangements for the design and construction element of the contract that has been terminated will take effect later this year on September 1. They will be procured externally. One element of the contract, strategic asset management, had already been agreed to transfer back to being directly run by the county council. This is on track for a transfer date of August 1. The Council will continue to work with Carillion on a non-exclusive basis to deliver elements of strategic asset management where it is in the Council’s interest to do so to meet its corporate and financial objectives. A key area of the contract that will remain in operation is Facilities Management – the work that takes place to ensure the general upkeep and day to day operation of council buildings. A review is to be carried out to ensure that this operates in the best way for the council.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OXFORDSHIRE MINERALS AND WASTE LOCAL PLAN

A plan which will govern how Oxfordshire’s minerals and waste needs will be met for fifteen years has received Government support. The County Council’s new minerals and waste core strategy, which outlines the planning strategy and policies for the supply of minerals and the management of waste in Oxfordshire until 2031, has received support from the Government’s Planning Inspectorate, and following approval by Cabinet on 18th July will now go to Full Council in September. Following an independent examination of the strategy, the Inspector concluded that the strategy, with modifications, meets legal requirements and provides a sound and appropriate basis for the planning of future quarrying and waste management in Oxfordshire for the next 15 years. More information can be found here; http://news.oxfordshire.gov.uk/inspector-backs-oxfordshire-minerals-and-waste-strategy/

 

OXFORDSHIRE COUNCILS NEED £9BN FOR INFRASTRUCTURE TO SUPPORT GROWTH

An independent report commissioned by Oxfordshire’s six councils who make up the Oxfordshire Growth Board sets out the investment in transport, schools, hospitals and other infrastructure needed to support the predicted growth in population, jobs and homes to 2040 and beyond. The report by AECOM, a professional and technical services firm highlights the need for long-term investment that will be required to plan for and manage growth in a way that supports the local economy and protects quality of life across the county. For the first time Oxfordshire councils are working together to develop a joint infrastructure strategy, detailing the county’s key infrastructure requirements. Some of these have been outlined already in individual Local Plans and the Local Transport Plan, but the Oxfordshire Growth Board has looked more comprehensively at what is going to be required further into the future across all areas.

 

LIBRARIES LAUNCH ‘ANIMAL AGENTS’ READING CHALLENGE FOR CHILDREN

Oxfordshire County Council’s libraries are inviting thousands of youngsters to take part in a detective-themed reading challenge this summer. Children aged four to 11 can ‘join’ the Animal Agents investigative team and solve a mystery by reading six library books and collecting special stickers. All children need to do is sign up at their local library and receive a collector’s folder. As they read their books over the summer, they will receive stickers to help them crack the clues and help the Animal Agents find out what's really been going on behind the scenes! When they’ve completed the Challenge they can claim their medal and certificate. Young volunteers aged 13-24 are also needed to help library staff promote the challenge, talk to children about the books they have read and help them to choose others. More information and application forms for volunteers can be found at www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/libraries

 

SCHOOLS WIN AWARDS FOR SUPPORTING YOUNG CARERS

Eight Oxfordshire schools have received awards as part of a county council support scheme for pupils who care for family members at home. The Young Carers Standard recognises schools’ efforts to identify young carers and provide targeted support to help them achieve their potential. Since its launch in 2013 more than 60 schools have received training and support to deliver the scheme and earn an accreditation. Any school across Oxfordshire can sign up to the programme run by Oxfordshire County Council Young Carers Team. The team offers free support, advice and guidance for schools to identify and support young carers. Schools can work towards the Bronze, Silver and Gold Award level. Schools interested in taking part should email the Oxfordshire County Council Young Carers team: young.carers@oxfordshire.gov.uk

 

JULY PARISH REPORT

 

 

ELECTIONS

 

Whatever we may think of the result, hopefully electioneering has finished (for the time being). In West Oxfordshire it feels as if we’ve been campaigning for the last 18 months. The main issue for the Government/Country will be Brexit. The impact that will have on Local Government will become clearer as time moves on, in the meantime the County Council will carry on delivering services within the financial envelope we have.

 

OCC FIRE & RESCUE SERVICE STATEMENT ON FIRE SAFETY IN HIGH RISE TOWERS

 

Simon Furlong, Director of Community Safety and Chief Fire Officer of OCC Fire & Rescue Service, made the following statement on 26 June 2017:

 

“I would like to reassure residents of Oxford’s five high-rise towers that Oxford City Council has taken all the necessary fire safety measures to ensure they are safe in their home. Oxford City Council followed our advice to introduce a number of fire safety improvements as part of the recent refurbishment work. This includes the installation of a new sprinkler system in flats and communal areas and a fire and smoke detection system connected directly to the fire service.

 

“As the owner of the buildings, Oxford City Council carries out regular fire risk assessments, which are audited by Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service. These audits are up-to-date. In the event of a fire at any high-rise tower in Oxford, we have the resources in place to ensure a rapid response within our target response times.”

 

NEW HOUSEHOLD WASTE RECYCLING CENTRE CONTRACT

 

Oxfordshire County Council has confirmed that it will keep its entire network of seven Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) in the county open in the medium term (with no change to opening hours or days they are open) due to a new management contract that has been awarded to W&S Recycling. The Dorset based firm already manages five of Oxfordshire’s HWRC sites which means there will be minimal disruption to residents when the new contract starts on 1 October 2017. W&S Recycling will manage the HWRC sites at Alkerton, Ardley, Drayton, Oakley Wood, Redbridge, and Stanford in the Vale. Dix Pit HWRC will continue to be managed by FCC Environment. Residents will continue to be able to dispose of all household waste free of charge at any of the county’s recycling centres. Oxfordshire has had a system of charging for non-household waste which includes soil, rubble and DIY waste for 15 years and has not increased the charge of £1 per item over that time. When the new contract starts on 1 October, W&S Recycling will increase the charge for non-household waste items to £1.50 which is less than other authorities who charge for this service. In the HWRC public consultation carried out in summer 2016, 91% of Oxfordshire residents favoured charges for non-household waste over site closures.

 

INSPECTOR BACKS OXFORDSHIRE MINERALS AND WASTE STRATEGY

 

OCC's new minerals and waste core strategy, which outlines the planning strategy and policies for the supply of minerals and the management of waste in Oxfordshire until 2031, is set to be adopted following support from the Government’s Planning Inspectorate. Following an independent examination of the strategy, the Inspector concluded that the strategy, with modifications, meets legal requirements and provides a sound and appropriate basis for the planning of future quarrying and waste management in Oxfordshire for the next 15 years. Minerals include sand, gravel, limestone, ironstone and clay, which are all naturally occurring materials dug from the ground, and recycled concrete and ash. For more information, see here: https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/minerals-and-waste-core-strateg

 

 

MULTI-MILLION POUND BROADBAND BOOST TO BENEFIT THOUSANDS MORE

 

Nearly 3,000 more of Oxfordshire’s most remote households and businesses will get access to high-speed broadband thanks to a £4 million boost for the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme. OCC and BT have announced parts of Ardington, Barford St John, East Hendred, Lockinge, Lyford, Swalcliffe and many more communities will be included in the ambitious roll-out. The funding has come from cost savings made earlier in the roll-out and BT making £2.56 million available for reinvestment in the programme due to a ‘Gainshare’ mechanism in the contract, which has been triggered by strong demand for the new fibre technology from local households and businesses. With more than 45 per cent of households and businesses already opting to use the new high-speed service provided by the Better Broadband programme, Oxfordshire ranks among the best-connected counties in the country. OCC has also announced that communities not yet able to get superfast fibre broadband through any public or private sector roll-out can benefit from a new scheme – in addition to the £4 million, a separate fund of up to £600,000 from programme efficiency savings has been set aside for co-funding projects where communities are willing to share the costs of the installation work. Under the scheme, the council will contribute up to £1,700 per premise (terms and conditions apply). See

http://www.betterbroadbandoxfordshire.org.uk/cms/content/co-funded-fibre-broadband-partnerships-cfp

 

FUNDING FOR OPEN-ACCESS CHILDREN’S SERVICES

 

Start-up funding for a further ten community schemes to run open access services at children’s centres has been approved by OCC. The proposals, which stand to receive a total of £258,458, are the latest to be considered as part of the transition from council-funded to community-led services at children’s centre locations. Community services will complement the council’s new service for 0-19 year-olds, which will meet the needs and aspirations of children at risk of abuse and neglect in Oxfordshire, and ensure that families who need extra help are identified at an early stage. When added to previously considered applications, the approval of these latest proposals would give a total of 25 funded community schemes for services such as ‘stay and play’ to continue at children’s centres across the county. On top of this, open access sessions are continuing at the Children and Family Centres and satellite centres at the heart of the council’s new Children’s Service.

 

COUNTY TRADING STANDARDS SAVE £250,000 FOR VULNERABLE VICTIMS

 

OCC's Trading Standards Service, working in partnership with Thames Valley Police, banks and other agencies, have saved over £250,000 for the victims of rogue traders in the last 12 months. This is the largest amount of money ever saved by the Doorstep Crime team since it was established 12 years ago.  The team targets rogue traders who prey on the vulnerable and elderly and claim to be legitimate companies. The doorstep crime team in OCC's Trading Standards Service includes three Trading Standards Officers and a seconded Police Officer from Thames Valley Police. Banks and other financial institutions have also been instrumental in securing these savings, by reporting suspicious large cash withdrawals, allowing the doorstep crime team to intervene and protect vulnerable adults from a wide range of financial abuse. 

The team also deliver presentations and educational events to community groups to raise awareness amongst both those people who might be targeted, and their friends and family. Those who are concerned that they might have been targeted by a rogue trader, or are concerned that a neighbour or family member has been, should report it to Trading Standards via 03454 04 05 06. 

 

 

 

 

ADULT DAYTIME SUPPORT CHANGES

 

OCC is now implementing a new, sustainable model of daytime support for vulnerable adults in Oxfordshire. There are over 200 voluntary and community daytime support services provided across Oxfordshire. The vast majority of the 47 services that are currently funded by OCC are set to continue and have applied for and been awarded grant funding to support their move to more self-sustaining models. OCC is continuing to fund the Wellbeing and Employment Support Service and the Dementia Support Service, and is investing an additional £25,000 per year in increasing the capacity of these services to support people with autism and to train other services in dementia support. County Council provided Health and Wellbeing Centres and Learning Disability Daytime Support services will be replaced by a new council-provided Community Support Service from 1st October 2017. This service will provide flexible, person-centred support to meet a wide range of people’s needs, delivered from 8 building bases across the county. Service users will not see any change before August 2017.  And before anything changes, everyone using current services will be offered an individual assessment and/or review and support to explore their options. For people who are assessed as not having eligible needs, there will still be a range of options, for example joining a local group, attending community and voluntary sector provided services or purchasing support from the new Community Support Service. 

 

 

 

Cllr Ian Hudspeth

07956270 318

Ian.hudspeth@oxfordshire.gov.uk

JUNE REPORT

 


The elections County Council elections are complete and I’m honoured to have been re-elected as the councillor for the Woodstock division. I would like to thank everybody who voted for me and assure all residents I’ll work hard over the coming 4 years for everybody. I will continue to hold regular surgeries and send out monthly reports to interested residents.


The Conservatives gained 3 and lost 3 divisions so were still 1 short of an overall majority, the Conservative Independent Alliance will continue to run the administration. I have been  re-elected as Leader of the Council, something I’m proud of despite the challenges ahead. Below is a list of the new cabinet, full details of responsibilities can be found on the Oxfordshire County Council website: https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/cabinet


 


 Deputy Leader of the Council                                           Judy Heathcoat


Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care                            Lawrie Stratford


Cabinet Member for Children & Family Services           Steve Harrod


Cabinet Member for Environment                                   Yvonne Constance


Cabinet Member for Finance                                            David Bartholomew


Cabinet Member for Local Communities                         Mark Gray


Cabinet Member for Property, Cultural Services            Lorraine Lindsay-Gale


Cabinet Member for Public Health & Education              Hilary Hibbert-Biles


 

Parish councils will be particularly interested in the creation of the new Cabinet post 'Local Communities'. One of the key tasks for the portfolio holder is to re-energise the 'Oxfordshire Together' campaign that promotes closer working between OCC and parish councils.



Whilst the County elections may be over the General Election continues at full pace, until a new Government is announced, with their policies, the full impact on local government will not be known. However the 2 key areas for me are the funding of Social care and Highways Infrastructure, I will continue to lobby for additional funding for these and other areas across the council.

 

 

COUNTY COUNCIL ELECTIONS

 

Elections to Oxfordshire County Council are now just under five weeks away and there are a series of key dates in the lead up to the Thursday, May 4 poll.

 

The final full council meeting of the county councillors elected in May 2013 took place on Tuesday, March 21.

 

All 63 county council seats will be up for election and residents all over Oxfordshire began to receive polling cards during the last week of March.

 

On Wednesday, April 5 the list of candidates for each OCC seat will be published. A number of existing county councillors have already indicated they are standing down but the definitive list will not be clear until April 5.

 

I will be standing for the Woodstock Division and will be out and about across the division meeting as many residents as possible.

 

Registering to vote

 

The last day for people to register to vote is Thursday April 13. Although this is a county council election, Oxfordshire’s district councils are the authorities responsible for administering the electoral register and people should contact them if they are not already registered to vote.

 

The last date to apply for a postal and postal proxy vote is Tuesday 18 April and the last date to apply for a new proxy vote is Tuesday 25 April 2017.

 

Polling day

 

Polling Day on Thursday, May 4 runs from 7.00am to 10 pm. The election count takes place on Friday, May 5 in Abingdon.

 

PURDAH

 

The County Council pre-election period (‘purdah’) has now started and the Council must comply with restrictions outlined in Section 2 of the Local Government Act 1986. In addition a ‘Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity’ published in 2011 makes clear that particular care should be taken in periods of heightened sensitivity, such as in the run up to an election. The Act defines publicity as “any communication, in whatever form, addressed to the public at large or to a section of the public.”

 

Generally, the Act says that a council should “not publish any material which, in whole, or in part, appears to be designed to affect public support for a political party.” The Code of Practice recommends that authorities should generally not issue any publicity which seeks to influence voters and that publicity relating to individuals involved directly in the election should not be published unless expressly authorised by statute.

 

UNITARY UPDATE

 

For the reasons above, the County Council, Oxford City Council and the four District Councils have agreed not to promote their standpoint on the issue of Unitary Government for the period of purdah.

 

 

TRAVEL APP CAN SHOW BETTER WAZE TO GO

 

OCC has joined forces with Waze, the free crowdsourced traffic and navigation app, in a data-sharing link-up that could help residents get from A to B more easily. Waze is effectively a Sat Nav app used exactly as any in-car navigation device – except Waze has the added benefit of crowd-sourced traffic flow info and OCC roadworks as part of the mix. This means that the app can see the traffic hotspots on the roads and route residents round them where appropriate, saving them time. Waze is FREE to download and use – simply go to https://www.waze.com/download

 

 

Cllr Ian Hudspeth

07956270 318

Ian.hudspeth@oxfordshire.gov.uk

 

 

MARCH PARISH REPORT


EXTRA FUNDING SECURED IN ADDITION TO 2017/18 BUDGET PROPOSALS

 

The County Council set its budget for 2017/18 on Tuesday 14th February. Ahead of the meeting, it was announced the Council had £1,957,000 extra, over and above the position reported to the Cabinet in January, as a result of better than expected business rate collections, council tax collection fund surpluses and a higher than expected grant. The County is proposing to hold £926,000 of this until the 2018/19 financial year, to deal with future pressures. Cabinet proposes to spend the rest of the money (£1.03m) in this financial year in the following ways:

  • £170,000 to be spent on additional grass-cutting work on highway verges. This is an area of spend that has been reduced in recent years.

  • £250,000 one-off funding initially for a pilot Communities Fund for parishes and towns to bid for matched funding schemes following changes/reductions for funding for services.

  • £600,000 additional funding for children’s social care – a part of the council that has been exempted from cuts since 2010 but has continued to experience significant rising demand on services in common with children’s social care departments across England.

  • £11,000 increase on the Council’s Flood Defence Levy.

 

OPEN ACCESS CHILDREN’S SERVICES TO CONTINUE AT 34 BUILDINGS


Start-up funding for 12 more community schemes to run open access services at children’s centres has been approved by OCC. The proposals, which will receive a total of £305,883, are among the latest to be considered as part of the transition from council-funded to community-led services at children’s centre locations. Community services will complement the council’s new service for 0-19 year-olds, which will meet the needs and aspirations of children at risk of abuse and neglect in Oxfordshire, and ensure that families who need extra help are identified at an early stage. When added to previously considered applications, the approval of these 12 schemes means funded plans are now in place for services such as ‘stay and play’ to continue at 18 children’s centres, with business cases at a further six centres supported in principle but deferred to the final round of the Transition Fund for more work. Added to this, open access sessions will also continue at the eight Children and Family Centres and two satellite centres at the heart of the council’s new Children’s Service. In total, it means a combination of council-funded and community-led solutions for open access services are now confirmed or supported in principle at 34 buildings across the county – with more to come when applications for the final round of transition funding are considered.

 

EXTENSION OF FIRE & AND AMBULANCE SERVICE CO-RESPONDING

 

OCC Fire and Rescue Service has been working in partnership with South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) co-responding in the community for over 12 years. More recently OCC has also been working with Thames Valley Fire and Rescue partners to undertake a collaborative co-responding trial. (Co-Responders are firefighters trained by SCAS to provide a ‘first response’ to specific medical emergencies where there is an immediate threat to life prior to an emergency ambulance arriving on scene.) The trial has been a success with crews attending approximately 1500 medical emergency calls per year. To further support communities Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service are working in partnership with SCAS towards all fire engines within communities being available for cardiac arrests, so that casualties across Oxfordshire can receive the quickest available defibrillator and casualty support.

 

CADDY CAMPAIGN TO REDUCE OXFORDSHIRE’S FOOD WASTE

 

Residents are being urged to do their bit to make sure food waste doesn’t end up on the scrap heap. At the moment it is thought that around 30% of the county’s food waste is put in waste bins rather than the food caddy – a figure all Oxfordshire's councils hope to cut significantly. To do this, the councils have launched a campaign with Agrivert, the company who process the county's food waste, to encourage residents to recycle more of the food they would otherwise throw away. It is two and a half times cheaper to process food waste if it is put into a food waste caddy for recycling or composting than if the same waste is put in the general rubbish bin. There’s lots of advice on how to reduce food waste and information on how it is recycled at www.recycleforoxfordshire.org.uk/lovefoodhatewaste

 

County Councillor David Nimmo Smith, Cabinet member for Environment, said: “It is as easy to recycle food waste as it is to throw it in the main rubbish bin – but the benefits of recycling can be quite startling. Food waste collected for recycling is treated at Agrivert’s anaerobic digestion plants in Oxfordshire, and used to generate enough electricity for over 9,000 homes, as well as making fertiliser for use on local farms."


 

UNITARY UPDATE

 

At the end of January, OCC launched ‘A Fresh Start for Oxfordshire’, a draft of OCC's intended proposal for DCLG on how and why a single unitary authority for Oxfordshire could work. The full proposal can be found online at www.oneoxfordshire.org. Since then, there have been meetings with the Leaders of South Oxfordshire and Vale Districts Councils and it has been agreed that the three councils will move forward with a joint proposal for a single unitary council across Oxfordshire. A statement has been issued to parish councils.

 

 

FIX MY STREET’ WEBSITE UPGRADE

 

Over the last six months OCC has been working hard to make Fix My Street work more effectively. The new service will launch this month. It will improve the quality and consistency of public reports, as well as OCC internal processes for closing down reports, making it easier to reliably see what's going on in a given area. Members of the public who consistently give good information can be rewarded with 'trusted reporter' status, meaning OCC will fast track future reports to the contractor, resulting in quicker resolution for the resident and reduced effort for the inspectors. Before the new system launches, OCC needs to deal with reports that are still marked as 'open' in the current version. This means: 1) Leave open anything which has been active within the last 12 months; 2) Close anything older than 2 years; 3) For reports between 1 and 2 years old, notify the reporter by email that OCC intends to close their report, but give them the option to 're-open' the issue if they believe it is still a problem.

 
 

 

Click here for Fix my Street

January 2017 Parish Report

 

 

 

The Our Bus Bartons

 

 

RobIanBartonsBus.jpg
With Robert Courts MP on Our Bus

 

This is a community bus project that was set up to replace the discontinued S4 & S4C service through the Bartons. There are services to Deddington, Steeple Aston, Lower Heyford Station, Oxford Parkway & Chipping Norton as well as ‘one off’ routes such as for the Flu jab. All the team including the drivers are volunteers to keep the costs down.

 

However more users are need to ensure a sustainable future, I have contacted Begbroke and Yarnton Parish Councils to encourage their residents to use the service to Kidlington on a Monday and Thursday. Already residents in Wootton are finding this service to Kidlington a real benefit to them. I have met with the organisers and Stagecoach to see if we can find a way of encouraging more users.

 

Woodstock Bus Services

 

 

The irony for me at the current time is that in Woodstock we are suffering the complete opposite in terms of bus services with the introduction of the Oxford Bus 500 and soon the Stagecoach 7 service to Oxford Parkway. We have been asking for a frequent service to the new station since it was opened over a year ago. Oxford Bus extended their 500 service to Woodstock with twice hourly journeys; the turn-around is in the centre of town. There have been problems mainly caused by illegally parked vehicles on the double yellow lines in Market Place. I have asked WODC as the enforcement authority to make sure there is strict enforcement of the double yellow lines, making it possible for the 500 to turn in the centre of town. Some residents suggested that the 500 should turn round on the Barn Piece estate as does the hourly S3 bus. This residential estate was not designed to be used as a turnaround for buses and with the introduction of the 7 service there would be 5 buses an hour. I have already had meetings with both managing directors to try and resolve the situation.

 

There is the suggestion to redesign the centre of town to a one way system with a new parking scheme, this was considered several years ago but funds are not available and there was a concern that traffic speed would increase with a one way system.

 

We now have extra services and cheaper fares; we have to consider all options to find a way forward, we may have to make some compromises if we are to have such good regular bus services to Oxford Parkway and the City centre.  

GraylingRR.jpg
At Oxford Parkway with SoS Chris Grayling and Deputy Leader Cllr Rodney Rose

 

Oxford Parkway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rail link between Oxford Parkway and the City centre was opened at the beginning of December with a journey time of just 8 minutes. The Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, attended the opening; I took the opportunity of talking to him not just about railways but the road problems we have in Oxfordshire with regard to the A34, A40 and A420 reminding him that if we are to have the extra houses and jobs then we need the funding for the infrastructure to deliver sustainable development.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grant funding announced for ‘open access’ children’s services  

Six community groups planning to run ‘open access’ children’s services will receive funding worth £163,000 from a grant scheme set up by the council;

  • Butterfly Meadows (Bloxham) - £29,384

  • Carterton Town Council - £30,000

  • Bridges (Oxford) - £30,000

  • Grandpont Nursery (Oxford) - £35,600

  • St Nicholas Primary School (Marston) - £8,000

  • Sharing Life Trust (Thame) - £30,000

 

Community-led schemes will complement a comprehensive new service for 0-19-year-olds across Oxfordshire which ensures children at risk of abuse and neglect are protected and that families who need extra help are identified at an early stage. Applications received during the first round of the £1m grant scheme were assessed by a cross-party working group of councillors which made recommendations to the council’s Cabinet.

 

A further eight bids were supported in principle by the working group, but deferred to the second round of bids so that further work can be carried out on their business models;

  • Barton Community Association

  • Employment Action Group (Berinsfield)

  • Chalgrove Primary School

  • Cutteslowe Primary School

  • The Nature Effect (Florence Park)

  • Magpies Pre-School (Kidlington)

  • Friends of Maple Tree Children’s Centre & Wheatley Nursery School

  • Oxfordshire Play Association (Abingdon)

 

The panel refused just three bids, on the basis that the eligibility criteria were not met; in that those bids related to entirely new centres, rather those at risk of closing. The £1m transition fund is intended to help groups establish themselves in order to become self-funding, and to develop and deliver the services that are most important to their communities – responding to specific local needs. As part of the council’s continuing investment in early intervention, new teams of ‘locality workers’ will advise and support community groups delivering open-access sessions – such as ‘stay and play’ - as well as other universal services including schools, health and early years providers. We are continuing to discuss proposals with community groups as they develop their plans and working with Oxfordshire Community and Voluntary Action (OCVA) to support groups with developing business plans. The deadline for the second round of applications is 9th January, 2017.

 

 

 

Health Inequalities Commission report

 

Oxfordshire's Commission on Health Inequalities has published its recommendations to narrow the health and wellbeing gaps which divide communities in the county. The Commission was set up earlier this year by the Oxfordshire Health and Wellbeing Board. Its members came from health, local authority and voluntary sectors and it was led by Professor Sian Griffiths as independent chair. Public sessions were held at venues across the county and evidence was taken from a wide range of statutory, voluntary and private sector organisations. 

 

 

 

 

The Commission heard that Oxfordshire, overall, is an affluent county with relatively low levels of deprivation, but there are significant variations. For example, two small areas in Oxfordshire are among the 10 per cent most deprived in England (Rose Hill and Iffley ward in Oxford and

Northfield Brook ward in Oxford) and a further 13 areas (parts of Oxford City, Banbury and Abingdon) fall within the 10-20 per cent most deprived in England. Older people living in parts of Banbury Grimsby and Castle ward are in the top 10 per cent most deprived in the country.

 

 

Among the 60 recommendations made by the Commission are:

  • An integrated transport strategy to reduce social isolation

  • Greater investment in prevention of ill health

  • Employers to promote the health of working people

  • Greater integration of health and social care and more support for unpaid carers

  • Public sector organisations should review their buildings and land which might be used for key worker and affordable housing

  • Promotion of physical activity and exercise among vulnerable groups

  • More provision for mental health services

 

The next steps for the Commission will be to promote the findings of the report and for discussion of what can be achieved through local action. Progress will be regularly reported to councils, NHS partners and the local population through the Health and Wellbeing Board and linked to other health plans in the county.

 

Home Library Volunteer Success and new Libraries e - Newsletter  

In September you may recall we launched a county-wide campaign for Home Library Service volunteers. This successful campaign has led to 150 volunteer applications so far, and the campaign was shortlisted for a public sector communications award for best low cost / no cost campaign.

 

Home Library Service volunteers choose and deliver books to those who are unable to get to a library. It’s a lifeline for people who live alone and can help support independent living, reduce isolation and ill health.

 

More information about the scheme, including details of what volunteering involves and interviews with those who benefit from the service, can be found at: www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/homelibrary

 

The Library Service has also recently launched a bi-monthly newsletter for library service users. The newsletter contains the latest libraries news, events, book recommendations, volunteering opportunities and more.

 

We can also use it to tell users about services they may not know the library offers, such as Zinio (free electronic magazines), eBooks, our People’s Network (free public access to computers) and Wi-Fi in Libraries.

 

This new, lost cost way of reaching library users currently is sent to 6000 people, and we would appreciate it if you could help spread the word to your residents and getting them to sign up at;

www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/librariesnewsletter

DECEMBER PARISH REPORT

 

 

 

Woodstock to Oxford Parkway

 

I can confirm that from 11 December 2016 Oxford Bus Company will be extending service 500 from Oxford Parkway to Woodstock via the A4260, Langford Lane and the A44 every 30 minutes throughout the day. There will also be an evening and Sunday service.

 

They are trialling this in partnership with Chiltern Railways and Blenheim Palace – to ensure it is a success residents must use this new service.

 

The bus will be serving all recognised stops between Oxford Parkway, Kidlington and Woodstock but not the airport stop, the bus will stay on main road (A4260 through Kidlington).

It won’t stop at Kidlington High Street though but will serve Exeter Surgery and Black Horse that will be closest stops for High Street.

 

 

 Parking at Hanborough

 

 

HanboroughParkingnov163.jpg

 


 

I was delighted to attend the official opening of the additional 48 car parking spaces at Hanborough station along with new MP Robert Courts.

 

The pressure on car parking has growth over the past few years due to the increase in passenger numbers. In 2009/10 there were 104,000 passengers in 2014/15 there were 240,000 passengers.

 

We are working with Great Western to improve the service with more trains, along with trying to improve the buses to the station reducing the need for car journeys.

ScoutsBarton.jpg

 

Scouts Question Time

 

I had an enjoyable but very challenging Question Time evening hosted by the 1st Barton Scouts. The questions covered a variety of topical issues including the EU, area 51, the biggest threat to the liberal Democracy, the Calais crisis, Trump, but I have to admit I did wonder if there was a hidden agenda when asked if I liked sausage dogs?

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A40 Consultation

 

 

EynshamPR.jpg

 

People will have a chance to have their say on detailed plans for major transport improvements planned for the A40 between Witney and Oxford in the coming weeks. 

 

Oxfordshire County Council is proposing to build a new park and ride facility in Eynsham as well as an eastbound bus lane between Eynsham park and ride and the Duke’s Cut canal bridge near Wolvercote.

 

The project also includes Westbound bus priority on the approaches to Cassington traffic signals and Eynsham roundabout, junction improvements between Eynsham park and ride and the Duke’s Cut canal bridge near Wolvercote along with a two way cycle path located on the northern verge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The feasibility design and plans for the Eynsham Park and Ride and A40 Bus Lane scheme will be on display at a series of exhibitions. The dates are:

 

Date

Time

Venue

Tuesday 6th December

11am – 3pm

Cassington Village Hall

The Green, Cassington, OX29 4AX

Saturday 10th December

12pm - 4pm

Witney Methodist Church

40 High Street, Witney, OX28 6HG

Thursday 15th December

12.30pm - 7pm

Change of venue

St Leonard’s Church Hall, Eynsham

Thames Street, Eynsham, OX29 4HF

Anyone unable to attend the consultation exhibitions can view the plans and have their say online by visiting our webpages and filling out the online questionnaire. This will be available online between the 1 December and the 12 January.www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/A40EynshamParkandRide

 

 

Plans for Regional Agency to improve Adoption Services

 

OCC is developing plans to transform its adoption services by joining forces with neighbouring councils. The aim is to create a Regional Adoption Agency (RAA) for the Thames Valley to improve outcomes for both children and adopters – including the ability to match children with families more quickly and improve support services for adopters. It follows a Government paper setting out plans for all adoption services to be delivered through RAAs by 2020. OCC would be the host authority within a partnership known as Adopt Thames Valley, alongside six other councils (Bracknell Forest, West Berkshire, Windsor and Maidenhead, Wokingham, Swindon and Reading) and two Voluntary Adoption Agencies (PACT and Barnardos). All partners have begun work to develop the new shared service across the geographical area covered by the councils. The Government has advised that a grant of £300K will be made available to help set up the new service.

 

Shared Lives Service receives glowing report from Inspectors

 

Families across Oxfordshire who choose to share their lives and homes with adults in need of social care have been given high praise by inspectors. The Shared Lives service in Oxfordshire has been running for more than 25 years and involves those in need of care sharing the home of Oxfordshire residents who have been trained and approved as “shared lives households”.

The Care Quality Commission inspected the service in Oxfordshire, which is managed, by OCC, in early October. There were five key measures in the inspection judging whether the service was safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led and inspectors spoke to the county council, shared lives families/households and those receiving care. In every single category the CQC rated the Oxfordshire Shared Lives service as “good”. The service supports people across all client groups from 16 upwards and the oldest person the scheme has supported was 103.

There are usually around 120 people using the service at any one time - about 70 people live long term with Shared Lives Carers and the remainder have short breaks or a few hours support during the day. Training and vetting is undertaken very carefully before people/families qualify to become approved in the shared lives scheme.

 

I wish everybody a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

 

 

Cllr Ian Hudspeth

07956270 318

Ian.hudspeth@oxfordshire.gov.uk

 

November Parish Report

 

I have to start by apologising for not sending a report at the start of October; I overlooked the matter due to the Witney by-election.

 

I was disappointed that David Cameron stood down as our MP but fully understand the reasons, particularly that he would have been a distraction to the new government. He has been a fantastic MP for Witney and will be missed. I wish him and his family well for the future.

 

Robert Courts has been elected as the new MP for Witney; whilst he has big shoes to fill I’m sure he’ll be an excellent MP and work hard on local issues. I’ve known Robert since he moved to Bladon over six years ago and he is a hard-working campaigner.

 

Woodstock to Oxford Parkway

 

I am delighted to confirm that from 11 December 2016 Oxford Bus Company will be extending service 500 from Oxford Parkway to Woodstock via the A4260, Langford Lane and the A44 every 30 minutes throughout the day. There will also be an evening and Sunday service.

 

They are trialling this in partnership with Chiltern Railways and Blenheim Palace – to ensure it is a success residents must use this new service.

 

Traffic Control

 

The traffic reports on Radio Oxford are broadcast direct from Oxfordshire County Council’s traffic control centre at Kidlington. They have direct access to over 50 cameras across the county showing exactly what is happening and able to tell listeners quickly should there be an incident. Also listeners’ calls and texts mean that traffic control are able to take action quickly.

 

The entire breakfast show was recently broadcast from the control centre and I was given the opportunity to read the traffic report. I have to admit being nervous in case I mentioned the wrong road, although everything appeared to go well.

Trafficbraodcast.jpg

 

Council trials ‘out-of-hours’ library at Eynsham

 

Eynsham residents can now visit their local library outside normal opening hours using an exciting new system being trialled by Oxfordshire County Council. The self-service scheme gives members access to the building late into the evening and at weekends, extending access to books, online services and study space.

 

Library members should speak to local staff to register to use the access system

 

If successful the scheme will be rolled out to other libraries across the county, making them available to thousands of people who cannot currently visit during normal working hours.

It means giving Oxfordshire residents unprecedented access to library and wider council services, and cementing libraries’ position as important focal points at the heart of the communities they serve. The system ‘went live’ at Summertown in late September.

 

Public Health Annual Report

 

The annual report by Director of Public Health summarises key issues associated with the Public Health of the County. It includes details of progress over the past year as well as information on future work. It is an independent report for all organisations and individuals.

 

The report covers the following areas:

Chapter 1: The Demographic Challenge

Chapter 2: Building Healthy Communities

Chapter 3: Breaking the Cycle of Disadvantage

Chapter 4: Lifestyles and Preventing Disease Before it Starts

Chapter 5: Mental Health

Chapter 6: Fighting Killer Diseases

 

The report can be found by following the link: http://ow.ly/Fsok305C9RS

 

Oxfordshire’s Daytime Support Services

 

OCC is proposing a new daytime support system that will enable older people and people with disabilities to live independently in their community. The new proposals include a guaranteed core service for people who require daytime support, alongside financial support to enable community-based services to continue to flourish. People with assessed needs who receive help from OCC's adult social services would continue to receive support under a new proposed structure for daytime support in the county. The council values day time support services run by volunteers and will continue to support these services while encouraging new community initiatives to be launched. Three-quarters of all community-based services do not receive funding from OCC so would be unaffected by the changes. OCC has listened to more than 600 people who use services and carers to understand their priorities and develop a new approach. More details can be found here: http://news.oxfordshire.gov.uk/dayservices/

September Report

 

 

Unitary Debate

 

There have been reports suggesting that proposals for reform are off the table due to the lack of agreement between the City and District Councils, and the County. While it is true that Government wishes to proceed by consensus where possible, OCC hopes that the debate is not over – particularly when Grant Thornton has put forward a new compromise proposal, which has yet to be fully discussed. With £200,000 spent on independent advice, and with both reports showing that savings in excess of £100m are possible over a five-year time period through a single strategic authority for Oxfordshire, it is everybody's interest that the debate continues. I have asked officers how best the reports can be presented to allow all members to debate them at Full Council on 13th September, then later at Cabinet on 20th September, and how OCC should move forward.

 

 

Exam results


Well done to all the students at the Marlborough school in their exam results. There were some excellent results with 7 students achieving A* and A grades in all of their subjects at A level.

At GCSE 12 students achieved 10 or more A* and A grades. These results prove once again that Marlborough is a place where everyone can achieve their goals and where our young people are challenged to do their best and nurtured and supported through that process


Libraries Minister sees “GREAT EXAMPLE” at Bicester

 

Plans to expand Oxfordshire’s Home Library Service and joining up services ‘under one roof’ were among the hot topics at Bicester Library, during a fact-finding visit from Minister for Civil Society Rob Wilson MP. The flagship county council facility offers a wide range of council services and activities, and has attracted more than 2,000 new members since opening in April.

Heralded as a “great example” by Mr Wilson, Bicester exemplifies an emerging identity for Oxfordshire’s libraries as focal points for a broad range of services, help and advice. The council has also announced plans to grow its Home Library Service so that people with mobility problems who can’t get to a library can have books and other items delivered to their door.


Residents can get their Electric Blankets Checked Free

 

Now is the time for residents to book their blanket in for a free check in October. Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire & Rescue Service and Trading Standards are urging electric blanket owners to get their blankets tested free of charge ahead of the approaching colder months.

Testing electric blankets annually is important as all electrical systems have the potential to go wrong. In 2015 a total of 22 per cent of the electric blankets failed the safety test and were declared unsafe to use. They can be perfectly safe to use provided they are in good condition and have the necessary overheating safeguards incorporated into the design. Station Manager Chris Barber of Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service said: “Like any other piece of electrical equipment, it is vitally important that electric blankets remain in safe working order, last year nearly a quarter.” Testing is by pre-booked appointment only, strictly on a first come, first served basis. Residents should call Trading Standards on 01865 815 000 option 4 to arrange an appointment or email communityengagement@oxfordshire.gov.uk.






Oxfordshire Carers' Strategy and Carers' Personal Budgets Consultation

 

At some point in our lives, many of us will care for a relative, friend or neighbour who needs support in their daily lives.

 

We may see ourselves as someone who is just ‘doing what you would naturally do’ by looking after a relative or friend - but if the person you care for couldn’t cope without you and you aren't getting paid for what you are doing, then we would consider you to be a carer.

Oxfordshire County Council and Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group work in partnership with other organisations to identify and support many of the 61,000 family, informal or unpaid carers in Oxfordshire.

 

We do this because we recognise and value the important role that carers have in the lives of the more vulnerable members of our communities.

 

We are undertaking a joint consultation which has two parts:

  1. Part 1 of this consultation is about the Oxfordshire Carers' Strategy

    This is a document about our priorities for carers' support and the outcomes we want to achieve for carers of all ages. It also gives an overview of how we are supporting carers in Oxfordshire.

  1. Part 2 of this consultation is about the proposed options for carers' personal budgets

    As you may know, there is no longer enough money for the council to carry on doing things in the way we do now. We want to find the best way of spending the funding available to meet the needs of as many carers as possible.

     

     

     

    We are keen to hear your views, comments and ideas about both parts of this consultation. Your views on Oxfordshire Carers' Strategy and the options for carers' personal budgets will influence our future decision-making.

     

    We recommend that you read the strategy and supporting documents available as part of this consultation. We acknowledge that the Oxfordshire Carers' Strategy in particular is a long document.

     

    The strategy and supporting documents are available at:

     

    https://consultations.oxfordshire.gov.uk/consult.ti/Carers/consultationHome

     

    If you require a paper copy of these documents, please contact us by email on carerssupportreview@oxfordshire.gov.uk or phone 01865 323410.


    The consultation ends 14th November

August Report

 

New Prime Minister

 

I am disappointed that my local MP David Cameron is no longer Prime Minister as he has achieved a great deal over the 6 years he has been in office. We have to remember the mess the country was in back in 2010 when he took the brave decision to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats to turn the country around.

 

I wish David and his family all the best for the future perhaps this year he’ll be able to enjoy the summer holidays more.

 

The saying ‘a week is a long time in politics’ certainly applied to last month with the appointment of the new Prime Minister Theresa May. I have met her on several occasions regarding major issues but also more local matters, as she is local to Oxfordshire representing Maidenhead. She will continue to look after her constituency whilst looking after the national issues. I wish her well and welcome the opportunity to work with her to continue to grow the Oxfordshire economy.

 

Joint statement from Oxfordshire County Council and Oxfordshire’s district/city councils

 

With a new Prime Minister and new Secretary of State now in place and a number of pressing economic and policy issues to work through at national level , we recognise that it is sensible to take the time to understand how the government intends to take forward devolution and local government reorganisation in Oxfordshire and other areas before presenting further proposals for reforming public services and changes to council structures in the county.

 

Following discussions with civil servants all the Oxfordshire councils have agreed to work together to discuss areas of common ground, assess potential options and establish whether we can agree a way forward building on the work we have both done to date. We have agreed to postpone publication of both the Grant Thornton and PwC studies, and pause plans for consultation until these plans have been jointly developed.

 

Our aim has always been to seek investment in housing and transport infrastructure; to improve skills training and develop the local economy. This investment is needed if we are to reach our potential, and therefore agreeing a way forward with government is a high priority for all of us.

 

Countryfile Live

 

The weekend 4th – 7th August, Blenheim Palace will be hosting a new event Countyfile Live. This promises to be a fantastic day out for all the family and will attract visitors from all over the country to Blenheim Palace. Full details can be found at http://www.blenheimpalace.com/

 

Traffic for Countryfile Live is currently anticipated to be considerably lighter than the Game Fair in 2014, there are 8 signed traffic routes to Countryfile Live. Traffic from the North will be split onto 4 routes, in addition to motorway traffic continuing south on the M40 to J9 and the A34. The A34 is the preferred route for traffic coming from the South-East and M40 westbound.

 

The decision to use the 8 routes was agreed at a traffic planning meeting with representatives of Oxfordshire County Council Network Management Group, West Oxfordshire DC, the Emergency Services (including Thames Valley Police Traffic Management Unit and Roads Policing) and with other stakeholder involvement such as local bus operators.  The same routing plan was implemented successfully for the CLA Game Fair in 2014.  If traffic congestion is seen to be extremely high through one route, the event organiser has the option to sign traffic to another route.

 

There will be increased traffic over the days, with the traffic management in place disruption should be minimal and everybody will be able to enjoy the event.

 

Oxfordshire Bucks Trend in Hospital Delays

 

The number of people delayed in Oxfordshire's hospital beds when they no longer need to be there has fallen more than 45%. The latest figures are in marked contrast to national numbers, which saw Delayed Transfers of Care (DToC) rise by 25% between May 2015 and May 2016. The improvement in Oxfordshire is the result of a joint initiative by Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG), Oxford University Hospitals, Oxford Health and Oxfordshire County Council, to move people out of hospital more quickly when they have been appropriately treated and no longer need to be there. The £2m initiative, launched in December 2015, includes: funding extra temporary care home beds where people can stay until they are ready to return to their own home or move to a permanent care home; and the recruitment of more home care staff to support people in their own homes. Previously the Oxfordshire had been at the bottom of the DToC 'league table' across the country.

 .

Cometlaunch.jpg
At the Stanton Harcourt Comet Launch

 

 

The Oxfordshire Comet

 

 

It is a not for profit service, created to allow people without suitable access to public transport to make the journeys they want.

 

The Oxfordshire Comet can be booked for any type of trip. Whether it’s to meet friends in town, travel across the county, attend an appointment or pop to the shops. The service is available 10.15am - 2.30pm Monday to Friday (not Bank Holidays).

 

Full details can be found on my website: http://www.ianhudspeth.com/id15.html

 

 

 

Railway closures in Oxfordshire

 

Network Rail to carry out work in August to maintain the railway rail track. Between 30 July and 14 August Network Rail will be carrying out work to maintain the railway and prevent them from being affected by floods. This work is part of the wider flood prevention scheme which is being carried out to protect homes to the south of Oxford.

 

Some railways lines will be closed during the work, including on weekdays.

 

Which railway lines are temporarily closing?

30 July - 14 August the railway will be closed between Oxford and Didcot Parkway to enable Network Rail to carry out flood prevention work in the Hinksey area.

30 July - 7 August the railway will be closed between Oxford and Banbury for re-signalling work.

3 - 7 August  the railway will be closed between Oxford and

 

     Hanborough for bridge repair work.

 

Replacement travel services

 

Buses will replace trains on affected routes for travel within Oxfordshire. Rail tickets will be accepted on local buses and on Chiltern Railways services to London.

 

Go to the Great Western Railway (GWR) website for full details of all replacement services and alternate routes.

 

 

I hope everybody has a good and relaxing summer.

 

 

July Report 


My Leader’s STATEMENT ON EU REFERENDUM RESULT

 

 "Following David Cameron honouring his pledge to offer a referendum on our membership of the European Union, the British people have voted to take more direct control of the decisions which affect them. That process must not stop at the gates of Parliament. This is an opportunity to remake our democratic system, and must be used to drive, not delay, the process of devolving power from Westminster and Whitehall to England's cities and counties, and from those cities and counties to the towns, villages, and neighbourhoods within them. The priorities of the county council will remain the same – to support economic growth, to protect the most vulnerable, and to drive efficiency in public services. To support these priorities, our work on stripping out another level of bureaucratic decision making by developing proposals for a new council for the whole of Oxfordshire will continue, as will our ambition to win a wide-ranging devolution deal from central government."

 

FINANCIAL OUTURN 2015/16

 

Oxfordshire County Council restricted overspends for the 2015/16 financial year to just one-fifth of one per cent of its budget (0.2 per cent) despite being in the process of saving £361m from 2010 to 2020.

 

Councillor Lawrie Stratford, the Council’s Cabinet member for Finance, said: “Despite exceptionally difficult circumstance, the council has delivered a very small overspend of 0.2 per cent of the overall budget. In the face of serious adversity our staff  have demonstrated real expertise working in hand in hand with council departments.

 

“There is a culture of strong financial management at Oxfordshire County. This shines through despite the size and complexity of the organisation and significant reductions in funding at the same time as increasing demand.

 

The council has had a recruitment freeze and freeze on non-urgent expenditure and this also helped deliver this outcome. Between 2010 and March 2016, the council saved £247m. From 2016 to 2020 it has £114m still to save.

 

PROPOSALS FOR UNITARY COUNCIL

 

As previously reported, Oxfordshire's District Councils have appointed consultants PwC to prepare a report on the future of local government in Oxfordshire, and OCC has appointed consultants Grant Thornton to do the same. Ten workshops were held by OCC over the course of June to obtain input from parish councils about concerns they might have and opportunities they might relish with a change to Unitary local government. PwC were due to report for the Districts by the end of June, but are behind schedule. The Grant Thornton report for the County is still on schedule for July. All councils will then submit proposals to central government in the autumn, following a period of public consultation.

 

INCREASING ADULT AND CHILD SOCIAL CARE COSTS

 

Adult and child social care costs continue to increase as a proportion of OCC's expenditure, now accounting for nearly half the council's budget. OCC's obligation to assist with unaccompanied young asylum seekers has added further added pressure. These are young people under the age of 18 who arrive in the county without any family. Often they have sneaked onto the back of a lorry and when it stops at a service station jump off. The local authority where they present themselves has a duty of care to the child; we are working with central government to find a solution to this matter.

 

COUNCIL AMONG NATION’S BEST FOR CHILDREN’S SOCIAL CARE

 

Only a quarter of councils – including Oxfordshire – have passed Ofsted’s new harder inspection test for children’s social services, according to the watchdog’s annual report. The remaining three-quarters were found to be ‘inadequate’ or ‘requiring improvement’. The report ranks Oxfordshire among the best performing of 87 councils so far put to the test, with 64 of these failing to secure a ‘good’ rating. Oxfordshire is also one of just three areas where Ofsted and its partner inspectorates have completed the new Joint Target Area Inspection, which highly praised the council’s work to tackle child sexual exploitation alongside its partner agencies.

 

 

GRASS VERGE CUTTING PROGRAMME 2016

 

Financial pressures have forced OCC to reduce its overall verge mowing in recent years; just  one general cut a year is now carried out across the whole of the road network. This includes cutting all visibility splays at junctions and cutting grass verges to a distance 1m back from the kerb. The general cut started on 20 June, although visibility splay issues have been dealt with earlier if they have been reported or observed by highway inspectors. More information can be found at: https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/grass-verge-cutting-programme-2016

 

 

COUNCIL CONTEMPLATES IDEA OF NEW PARK AND RIDES

 

A study which could lead to up to five new park and ride sites being built to serve Oxfordshire has been published. OCC, through the Oxford Transport Strategy (OTS), part of Local Transport Plan 4, is proactively working to find solutions to the demands that are increasingly being placed on the road network by current and projected growth. In order to reduce congestion within the city and on the approaches to it, the OTS proposes a major expansion and reconfiguration of the Park & Ride system to intercept more car trips earlier in their journeys and further away from the city. In addition to new park and ride sites, the OTS proposes a network of “Rapid Transit” public transport routes to provide an uplift to transport connectivity in the city, including links between the proposed new sites and the city’s “Eastern Arc” (broadly speaking the Headington/Cowley area). The report is the latest step in the process of delivering solutions. The park and ride study has reviewed the locations proposed as part of the OTS, and made specific recommendations on where new park and ride sites should be located, following an assessment of the corridors. New sites are proposed at Eynsham, Cumnor, Lodge Hill, Sandford, and Oxford Airport, phased over the next 15 years.

 

MULTI-MILLION POUND BOOST FUELS EXPANSION OF HIGH-SPEED BROADBAND

 

The second phase of Better Broadband for Oxfordshire is now underway after the first part was completed on time and under budget. The first phase of the broadband programme exceeded many of its targets and, as a result, the county is expecting up to £6.75 million of funds to be made available to extend the fibre network to even more remote communities. Since the roll-out began more than two years ago, Better Broadband for Oxfordshire has made faster fibre broadband available to more than 70,000 county premises – 64,500 of which have access to superfast broadband speeds of 24 megabits per second (Mbps) and above.

 

                                                                        JUNE 2016

 

 

COUNCILLOR MICHAEL WAINE ELECTED NEW OCC CHAIRMAN

 

OCC elected a new Chairman for the 2016/17 council year at its Annual General Meeting in May. Cllr Michael Waine is OCC's elected representative for the Bicester Town Division. He taught in Oxfordshire for 37 years, 27 of which were as Headteacher of Glory Farm School in Bicester. He previously served on OCC's cabinet and is chairman of the Bicester Learning Academy.

Decision taken on long-term strategy for A40

A landmark decision to take decisive action to solve transport problems on the A40 between Witney and Oxford has been made by Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet.

 

Councillors discussed and agreed to pursue a long-term strategy which will focus on new dual carriageway from Witney to the a new Park and Ride at Eynsham as well as further bus priority lanes connecting the Eynsham Park and Ride toward Oxford.

 

Oxfordshire County Council transport planners will draw up more detailed plans which, it is hoped, will help to secure more than £50m in government funding to make the proposals a reality.

 

The decision represents the next big step towards a long-term solution to the situation which has been described by the Prime Minister as “a foot on the windpipe of West Oxfordshire’s economy”.

 

Oxfordshire County Council is already currently designing and delivering a project costing approximately £40m which will see a new Park and Ride built at Eynsham and a new eastbound bus lane from this park and ride toward Oxford funded through the Local Growth Fund.

 

OXFORDSHIRE CARE HOME WINS RARE 'OUTSTANDING' RATING

 

Vale House, a 40 bed specialist dementia home in Sandford, has recently been inspected by CQC and as a result was given the most positive grading available to the inspectorate. It is the first in the county to be rated 'outstanding' by the CQC – a feat achieved by only one per cent of homes in the South East. The home is privately run and the organisation is 'not for profit'. The original Vale House was located in Botley, and began operating in 1990.  It relocated to Sandford in 2012, after the organisation bought the land from Oxfordshire County Council. Vale House had won a competitive tender process to build their new home, fulfilling the ambition of OCC to use the land for a specialist Dementia Care Home for the people of Oxfordshire. OCC buys 25 of the 40 beds in the home and has ambitions for similar projects elsewhere in the county.

 

 

OXFORDSHIRE’S ADULT SOCIAL CARE SERVICES SCORES IN TOP 5%

 

Recently announced results show that last year, Oxfordshire’s Adults Social Care services ranked as the 6th best of 152 upper tier authorities in achieving outcomes judged against the ‘Adult Social Care Outcome Framework’. This framework measures how well services achieve outcomes that are most important to people and informs the development of reporting local priorities and progress to citizens. Last year Oxfordshire performed above the national average on 20 of the 27 measures included in the framework.

 

 

PROPOSALS FOR UNITARY COUNCIL

 

As previously reported, Oxfordshire's District Councils have appointed consultants PwC to prepare a report on the future of local government in Oxfordshire, and OCC has appointed consultants Grant Thornton to do the same. The districts' previously preferred option that comprised four unitary councils, including parts of Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire has collapsed because of legislative issues relating to cross-border authorities. It is unclear whether the reduced size of four unitaries that don't include the neighbours could be viable. The outcome has to be based on the most efficient services for residents rather than trying to retain structures.

 

PwC will report in June, followed by Grant Thornton in July. All councils will then submit proposals to central government in the autumn, following a period of public consultation. In advance of this, stakeholders can participate in a 'call for evidence' here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/oxfordshire-evidence

 

Additionally, town and parish councils are invited to attend workshops to discuss the issues on the following dates,19:00 to 20:30:

 

Date

Locality

Mon 6 June

Thame

Tues 7 June

Henley

Thurs 9 June

Witney

Tues 14 June

Chipping Norton

Wed 15 June

Banbury

Thurs 16 June

Faringdon

Tues 21 June

Bicester

Wed 22 June

Abingdon

Tues 28 June

Didcot

Wed 29 June

Wantage

 

Names of delegates and the preferred meeting should be emailed to: ask@oxfordshire.gov.uk.

 

 

EIGHTEEN LOCATIONS FOR NEW CHILDREN AND FAMILIES SERVICE

 

A £2m boost to the future provision of children’s services in Oxfordshire has been agreed by OCC's Cabinet with a further £1m of one-off funding set to help communities keep yet more of the current children’s centres network open. The plans build on the brand new service for 0-19 year olds agreed by the Cabinet in February and deliver services from 18 locations with strengthened outreach services – as opposed to the eight originally proposed. The new £14m service includes £2m of additional money agreed by county councillors in February and would provide a safe, effective and co-ordinated system that targets resources on protecting the most vulnerable families - and works hand-in-hand with schools, health services, voluntary and community groups. By combining children’s social care and early intervention in one seamless service, it represents a completely fresh approach to delivering services for children, young people and their families at a time of rising demand and reduced Government funding.

 

 

 

 

POSITIVE RESULTS FROM INITIATIVE TO TACKLE DELAYED TRANSFERS OF CARE

 

A new initiative by OCC and NHS has seen then number of delayed transfers of care reduced by 30% since December 2015, despite higher demands over the winter and a reduction in hospital beds. The Oxfordshire health and social care system has long struggled with the timely discharge of patients from acute and community hospitals to the next stage of their care. This is often referred to as ‘bed-blocking’ or ‘delayed transfers of care’, which are costly to the system as a whole and can increase people’s dependence rather than promoting their independence.

The initiative involved the block purchase of 150 care beds and the development of an integrated hub to manage assessments and bed allocations.


SUBSIDISED BUSES UPDATE

 

Bus subsidies will end on 20 July. A full update on the work that has taken place to minimise the impact of the withdrawal of the subsidises (including using public buses for home to school transport, allocating S106 funding where available and the launch of a new pilot scheme using the downtime of our fleet vehicles) can be obtained from the OCC website here: www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/subsidisedbuses.

 

 

 

  May Report


Unitary

 

I have always been clear that the best way forward was to be open and transparent with one single report into the potential benefits of the various unitary options. On 18th April, after the Districts announced that they had commissioned PwC to conduct their study, we set out that we were willing to halt our procurement and join that piece of work, to ensure best value for taxpayers. This offer was subject to four requests which I hope you agree are reasonable. These were:

 

1.         An independent person is appointed that will co-ordinate and be the main contact with PWC.

2.         A stakeholder group is formulated, which includes not just Districts and the County but other key stakeholders.

3.         All options are treated equally with no preferences.

4.         That no particular organisations are given preferential access to revisions for the final report.

 

Unfortunately the Districts were unwilling to agree to these reasonable terms so the County council will continue to commission a study. Given that the potential savings to local taxpayers could be over £30 million pa, which could either, be re-invested in services or reduce council tax, it’s vital that all parties have full confidence in the report.

 

 

Woodstock East Planning application

 

A new outline planning application for up to 300 homes and up to 1100sqm of A1/A2/B1/D1 floorspace has been submitted for the Woodstock East site. Given the current capacity issues at the primary school it’s important that any development provides a solution to any addition pupils along with other infrastructure matters. The uncertainty of West Oxfordshire’s Local plan makes it vital that Woodstock has strong representation at planning meetings to put forward Woodstock’s concerns.

 

 

Cuttleslowe & Wolvercote Roundabouts

 

Our contractor, Skanska, have made excellent progress transforming the roads at Cutteslowe and Wolvercote roundabouts. This is a very large site which is 1.25 miles from end to end. It is also a very complex project involving the diversion and protection of water, gas, electricity and telephone infrastructure to complete careful work without interrupting the public’s supply. Whilst still keeping the road open to traffic.

 

As the project progresses the team are continuously looking for opportunities to accelerate the programme and have recently identified a six week programme saving which is being progressed to enable a mid-Oct completion. This did mean the closure of one lane on the A44 to enable work on the central reservation to be carried out safely. However, due to the progress made, and following further investigation, it has been decided that two lanes each measuring 3m wide can be introduced. The bus lane will also remain open and cyclists will still be able to use the shared foot and cycleway on the BP side of the A44 as usual.

 

I have full confidence in our contractor partner Skanska, a Swedish Company who are a world leading engineering company. In this instance, we have reduced the programme length by increasing the numbers of site staff on those activities where it is possible to do so.

 

One and a half times around the world for Oxfordshire’s gritters in winter 2015/16

 

Oxfordshire County Council’s gritters travelled the equivalent of one and a half times around the world this Winter to keep the roads as safe as possible during the colder weather.

The winter was not one of the coldest in recent times – so the total of 64,224 kilometres covered (or 39,907 miles) was not unusual compared to previous years. Gritters are on standby from October 30 right the way through to April in Oxfordshire – similar to many neighbouring councils.

 

In total the gritters were sent out countywide on 32 occasions. In addition they were sent out on five occasions to specific areas in the north and south of the county only.

A total of 6,374 tonnes of salt were used during the course of the Winter – within the resources that had been brought in at the start of the colder months.

 

Cabinet 24th May

 

There will be some key decisions to be taken at the May Cabinet meeting such as; Future Arrangements for Children's Social Care, Investing in the A40 - A Long Term Strategy, Supported Transport Update full details will be available on the website by 17th May.

 

Vote PCC & District

 

Don’t forget to vote on 5th May for the Police and Crime Commissioner in all areas across the division. In the wards of Stonesfield and Tackley along with Woodstock & Bladon there are District elections. The polling stations are open from 7:00am to 10:00 pm.

April 2016 Parish Report

 

Apologies for a delayed Parish report I had hoped to be reporting on a fantastic victory at Wembley for Oxford United. Despite a good performance the team lost however it was a fantastic day out for everybody and I have to congratulate Chiltern Railways on an excellent service from Oxford Parkway. Now we can concentrate on gaining promotion.

 

 

PROPOSALS FOR UNITARY COUNCIL

 

Even before the announcement from the Districts for 4 unitary councils across Oxfordshire, I have been clear since 16th February that all the Leaders should sit down together without any preconditions to find the best way forward for the residents of Oxfordshire. Unfortunately once again the Districts have started a process without involving the County to commission a report into the options available. The County only found out about the tender process after it had started. In that tender document it was made clear that the Districts were only considering 2 options. They have altered the document however it is still clear about their preferred option. The document is not publicly available and with the tender process due to finish in a few days by 8th April it’s completely flawed.

 

I have asked that an independently led report is commissioned that all parties can agree to look at all options in an open and transparent manner. If they do not agree to wasting taxpayers money on flawed report then the County will have to commission a report to ensure that the residents have full details. We have published our draft tender document online to ensure that stakeholders can comment prior to starting the process. I urge the other Leaders to join in a truly independent report as there is nothing to hide. Full details of our report can be found by following the link: http://ow.ly/10lAnJ.

 

 

DRAGON IGNITES BATTLE AGAINST POTHOLES

DragonPatcher1.JPG

 

A new weapon is being deployed in the battle against potholes on Oxfordshire’s roads. The ‘Dragon’ – so called because of the fire breathing nozzle it uses to dry out potholes – is a mobile patching machine that has already fixed many hundreds of potholes and a multitude of other defects on the county’s roads. Skanska, OCC's highways maintenance contractor, has added the Dragon to its arsenal against potholes and is using it to good effect across Oxfordshire, Cambridge and Peterborough. The machine repairs an average of 20 defects day and has filled up to 44 potholes in one shift. So far it has fixed just short of 2,000 in Oxfordshire. The traditional method of pothole repair consists of a two-person gang and a lorry manually filling the potholes with hot tarmac. In the right circumstances, potholes filled using the Dragon can cost as little as £10 compared to £70 for traditional methods. It is also safer and provides a more environmentally sustainable solution. The potential savings that Dragon brings allows additional focus on repairing many of the defects that have yet to form into potholes. These repairs can be done at the same time due the multi-function repair capabilities of the Dragon. It can fill pot-holes, seal cracks and provide a thin overlay to minor surface damage. This preventative maintenance saves money in the long-term as the repairs are all undertaken at the same time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WOODSTOCK LIBRARY

 

The Library will be closed from close of business on Saturday April 16th, reopening on Monday April 25th. We have the opportunity to recycle some surplus shelving and furniture as a result of the opening of the new Bicester Library. Much of this reusable equipment is newer than the existing fittings we have at Woodstock so the library is going to benefit from a small-scale face-lift. The closure is necessary to enable the necessary works to take place.

 

OXFORD CITY CENTRE’S NEW TEMPORARY LIBRARY NOW OPEN

 

The central library closed February 27 as part of ongoing redevelopment work.

A new, smaller, temporary library has now opened in Oxford’s Castle Quarter with facilities including books, audio books and DVD’s for adults and children. Due to the size and facilities available at the site of the temporary library, Internet access, reference information, newspapers, journals and music services will not be available. However these services will still be provided at other libraries in the area. The library service’s Reference Online service and eBooks and eAudio lending services will also be available. Redevelopment of the whole Westgate building is the reason for the relocation – with the central library set to reopen back in its original building in October 2017. The existing front of the current Central Library building will be replaced to become part of the new curving wall forming the south side of Bonn Square marking the entrance to the new Westgate Oxford.

 

RECYCLING CENTRES TO OPEN LATE ON THURSDAYS

 

Opening hours on Thursdays at OCC's Household Waste Recycling Centres will be extended from 7 April to 29 September. The sites will be open until 8pm on Thursdays in addition to the normal hours of 8am-5pm every day (including Sundays). The Household Waste Recycling Centres can accept a wide range of materials for recycling including garden waste, textiles and electrical items. Food waste should always be placed in the food caddies provided by the district council and collected as part of the kerbside collection scheme. More information about the sites, including layout and a full guide to what can be recycled can be found at https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk

 

STREET LIGHTING

 

OCC's current Street lighting contract with Scottish & Southern Electrical (SSE) was until March 2024, however, the contract contained a single break point at 1st April 2016. In July 2015, SSE served notice on OCC that they intended to activate this break clause as the contract was not affordable to them for its full duration. Negotiations to achieve a compromise were unsuccessful. OCC therefore has to implement interim arrangements while a new maintenance contract is procured.  The interim contract is expected to last 18 months. For the first 6 months there will be an emergency/make-safe service only. Beyond that period OCC will look to increase the level of service provided to more than just emergency/make-safety activity as appropriate.

 

The street lamp LED replacement project is a one-off capital programme of works funded through DfTs challenge funding.  A separate procurement arrangement is being made for this project to ensure its continued delivery as planned.

 

It is appreciated that there will be concerns locally about the impact of this interim arrangement and reduced level of service, but in a time of significant financial pressures, the termination of the current street lighting contract provides an opportunity to procure a new and improved street lighting contract. The county council will also be able to take advantage of recent improvements in technology and general advancements within the sector.

 

KEEPING HGVS MOVING WHILE REDUCING THE IMPACT ON COMMUNITIES

 

A free online mapping tool has been launched to help freight and logistics companies plan their routes through the county. Oxfordshire Freight Gateway is linked to the National Freight Journey Planner and is designed to help logistics managers and drivers of large goods vehicles to select the most appropriate routes for their journeys in Oxfordshire.  A suitable route is provided based on the vehicle’s weight and dimensions and journey details. Details here: http://freightgateway.co.uk/oxfordshire/

 

TRIP TO CALAIS

 

We did have some interesting conversations with men from Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Iraq and Pakistan who expressed a desire to come to the United Kingdom to work. Obviously I cannot substantiate the claims but within the camp there were shops and building of new ‘shacks’.

Calais8.JPG
Walking through the camp with Liam Walker

 

There were children running around seemingly enjoying themselves unaware of the awful conditions they were living in.

 

I’m not sure what the answer is but we cannot ignore the situation that is only 4 hours from our comfortable lifestyle. We have to work in their own countries to make sure that they do not have to make the terrible journey across Europe to end up in such a terrible place. If people are prepared to make such a journey we have to consider how bad the conditions are in their own country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are a number of charity groups within Oxfordshire who are working to help the situation please contact them for more information.

March Report

 

I was taken ill that required treatment at the JR for a few days, I’m more than happy to talk about our fantastic NHS and DTOC however there are big areas for rationalisation and efficiency savings.  I have been diagnosed with diverticulitis which is manageable if not particularly pleasant. I would like to thank everybody for the kind messages they are appreciated.

 

Devolution

 

An alternative form of Local Government has been put forward by the City and Districts Councils. It’s frustrating that given the County council provide 80% of services that we were not consulted upon the proposal before it was announced. It’s ironic that the motion passed at the County budget meeting had a reference to working with the City and District councils. In fact a week before the announcement I had emailed all the other Leaders saying that we should all sit down and work out the best Governance for the residents of Oxfordshire. My suggestion was to look at all options to allow an open and transparent debate rather than putting forward a proposal that has been devised behind closed doors.

 

There is a lack of detail regarding the City & District proposal. I am concerned that by creating 4 authorities the costs of County functions will be increased by additional bureaucracy or alternatively if the functions are lifted and shifted into a new Combined authority quango then directly elected democratic accountability will be lost.

 

The main function of the City and Districts councils is planning future housing development. For the last 3 years they have been unable to agree housing numbers in each area despite all signing up to the process in the first place. This has meant that some of their local plans are effectively on hold that could allow speculative development across the county. How can they suggest another partnership when they do not have agreement on their base function?

 

The new Cotswold/WODC council will obviously have one headquarters and there is no detail of where that will be located. Will that mean residents of West Oxfordshire traveling to Cirencester to deal with their local council?

 

Yes I welcome the fact that the City and Districts have acknowledged there needs to be a reorganisation of Local Government in Oxfordshire however it needs to be done in an open and transparent manor taking into account all options, for the benefit of the residents of Oxfordshire.

 

 

County Budget

 

I’m sure you are aware that the County Budget was always going to be challenging. Despite the loss of a member of the Conservative Independent Alliance there was sufficient support for the budget that Cabinet put forward to be passed. However the difference between the amendments by the opposition amounted to around £4 million on a budget of £570 million. With that in mind negotiations took place between me and the Leaders of the opposition parties to see if we could achieve a united County Budget.

 

The amendments to agree the  cabinet budget were:

 

1

In relation to SC21AB&C – £1.5million with full review of the all-day service for older people.

 

2

SC12 – Put in £2m in order to ensure in terms of service and geography the needs of the Children of Oxfordshire are met.

 

3

Transition – To create a cross party board of members to consider maximum benefit from use of temporary funds across services and across geography of Oxfordshire. This fund will be for 16/17 a total of £4million with £1million allocated for creating a one off pump priming fund for one year to take to districts and parishes, inviting them to commit money to support Children’s Centres which they would help save, a £1million added for income generation pump priming. Homelessness budget also to be considered

 

4

Workplace parking levy– commit to a full review of implications with a view to implementation as early as is feasible.

 

5 SC1A

A review of cabinet members

 

Separate free vote for all Councillors

 

We propose that a full and timetabled consultation for unitary government to be put in place to discuss this issue on a cross-party basis with district, town and parish councils with the clear aim of bringing it to fruition.

 

 

Full details of the budget can be found at:

http://mycouncil.oxfordshire.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=116&MId=4402&Ver=4

 

With the amendments the budget was passed with all Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Independents voting for it. Within the budget there were savings that none of us wanted to make however members were pragmatic to ensure a balanced budget was passed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Major Incident at Didcot Power Station

 

Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and rescue service led the multi-agency rescue operation that still continues following the partial building collapse of Didcot A Power Station on Tuesday 23rd February. The loss of life is tragic and my thoughts and prayers are with the relatives. Updates are posted regularly on the OCC website.

 

Village Resilience Fund

 

Oxfordshire communities are being urged to tap into a special 'resilience' fund to help them to cope better with emergencies. The SSE (Scottish and Southern Energy) Resilient Communities Fund offers up to £20,000 to help communities to:

           Protect the welfare of vulnerable people during a major power cut or emergency due to severe weather.

           Enhance community facilities and services that may be needed during a major power cut or emergency due to severe weather.

           Improve communication during an emergency situation, to keep communities informed or to aid contact between local groups and response services

Further information at https://www.ssepd.co.uk/Resiliencefund/ or call 0141 224 7191

 

Ian Hudspeth

                                                                            February Report

 

 

Budget

As we all know, Central Government is cutting expenditure to reduce the nation’s budget deficit and stop our national debt growing yet more, I understand and fully support that. While supporting the general thrust of the Government’s economic policy to make inroads in to a deficit it will come as no surprise to people that I’d prefer it if this could be achieved alongside Oxfordshire County Council getting a better deal than we are currently being offered. I will always stand up for the people of Oxfordshire that has been well documented recently.

The settlement has meant that we have to work within a challenging financial envelope to ensure that funds are targeted towards vulnerable adults and children across the county.

The cabinet took a difficult decision of proposing a balanced budget for council to debate on 16th February. None of the members were comfortable with all the proposals however there is no hiding from having to set a balanced budget. During the autumn we consulted on 95 options totalling £51.6 million to be considered as part of the budget. Following the settlement the savings were increased to £69 million. There was insufficient time for a full consultation on identifying the new savings so reserves have been used and savings brought forward to enable a budget that could be set. There are still £11.2 million of savings that need to be identified over the Medium Term Financial Plan; this work will start once the budget is set. These additional savings are on top of the £204 million of savings the council has made since 2010 with another £88 million that had been planned by 2018. The total savings by the County Council will be £361 million from 2010 to 2020.

We are using our reserves that will soon become low compared to out expenditure. We have sold over 100 properties realising over £62 million that we have used on capital projects. We have terminated over 26 leases saving over £2.1 million pa. we have reduced directors by 50%, senior managers by over 40% and staff generally by 30%. We are sharing services with other council and partners. We will not stop trying to find more ways of back offices savings to reduce the impact on front line services. However there can be no hiding from the fact that cuts have to be made to balance the books.

We are not expecting the full details of the settlement until after we publish the budget papers.

I realise these decisions are not popular but unless alternatives are found, these difficult decisions have to be taken otherwise a budget will not be set. I am interested to see what alternative proposals are put forward by the opposition parties on 16th February.

 

Children’s Centres

An area that has attracted a lot of attention is Children's and early intervention centres, the council has already taken the decision to reduce funding by £6 million with a proposal to reduce funding by a further £2 million in the budget. The proposal is then to use the remaining budget of £8 million to create a new 0 – 19 year old service based around hubs that will then have outreach to ensure that we are able to provide our statutory service to the vulnerable children in Oxfordshire. Within the budget there is a proposal to provide an additional £2 million to provide more social workers to work with the vulnerable children.

This reduction in funding will have an impact on the existing 44 Children's centres and 8 Early Intervention hubs. I am visiting the centres and hubs to understand exactly what is delivered from the different buildings and to see if we can work together to deliver services in a different way. The centres  provide different services, by working with them individually to reduce expenditure and increase income I feel that we can find a sustainable future for some of those centres that do not have 'core' funding. I will be carrying out similar exercises across the council in other directorates, such as day centres, co-locating where possible to reduce expenditure.

Rather than being unrealistic about the funding and saying we can't accept the reduced funds I believe it's better to act positivity working with all partners including the voluntary sector to find a sustainable way forward.

Devolution

We are waiting for a formal response from government regarding our devolution proposal to see what they will ask in return for devolving funding and decision making to Oxfordshire. By joining with our City and District colleagues we will deliver a more streamlined approach to deliver housing growth along with the vital infrastructure that is required not just schools and roads but medical facilities too. We can have greater local say in this matter by working with the NHS locally in a different way. By creating a combined authority it will mean that democratically elected members will be taking the decisions for Oxfordshire; planning the future of all services in a more cohesive way with greater local input. The council's will work together to deliver growth in a sustainable manor providing quality homes, quality education and quality jobs. I am sure that by closer working together we will be able to identify more ways of reducing duplication and making local government more efficient within Oxfordshire.

 

 

Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme options open for consultation

The proposed Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme will reduce the risk of flooding to over 1,000 properties. Tuesday 19 January marks the start of a six week public consultation. Five drop-in events were held across Oxford to give local communities the opportunity to have their say on the future of the flood risk in Oxford.

These events also offer local communities, residents and businesses the opportunity to talk to the project team and to feed in local expertise and ideas for managing different aspects of the scheme, such as arrangements for construction and how to remove and re-use waste material from the site. Attendees can also indicate their preferred options for the route of a new flood relief channel.

The events provided an update on the work the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme Project Team have been doing since the last public events were held in summer 2015. Working with our partners including Oxfordshire County Council, Oxford City Council, Vale of White Horse District Council and Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, the Environment Agency has been using the wealth of information and ideas gathered from the last public events along with recent ground investigations to help develop options for the route of a flood relief channel.

Temporary new home for Oxford Central Library

Continuing work to transform the Westgate Shopping Centre in Oxford is to lead to the County Council’s Central Library temporarily moving to a nearby location. Redevelopment work at Westgate Oxford includes the complete transformation of the front of the current library building. The existing frontage of the Central Library will be replaced to become part of the new curving wall forming the south side of Bonn Square marking the entrance to the new Westgate Oxford.

Once complete, the new Oxford Central Library, as part of the Westgate Oxford redevelopment, will feature a new entrance foyer, refurbished and extended children’s library and new feature windows with views over Bonn Square and Castle Street. While this work takes place, Oxfordshire County Council and the Westgate Oxford Alliance are working together to achieve a suitable relocation for the Oxford Central Library so that it can continue to be available to the public. The proposed location for the temporary library is in the nearby Castle Quarter.

Current plans are for the Central Library within the existing Westgate Centre to close to the public on February 27, with the new smaller temporary library opening its doors at the nearby Castle Quarter at the end of March where it would be stationed for 18 months until the new Westgate Oxford opens in October 2017.

Views sought on plans for future of Hill End

A consultation on plans to secure the future of popular outdoor education centre Hill End has been launched. Site owner Oxford University and Oxfordshire County Council, which manages the centre, are planning to investigate setting up an independent charitable company to run the activities at Hill End and unlock new sources of funding.

The council continues to have to make huge savings as a result of reduced Government grants, which means it can no longer provide the investment needed to improve services and meet on-going repair and maintenance costs. Both the university and the council wish to ensure Hill End continues to provide an excellent service for children and young people, supporting their social and emotional health and well-being.

The consultation does not affect current or future bookings at the centre and, if taken forward, transition to a charitable company would mean ‘business as usual’ for schools and other service users.

Cherwell Local Plan consultation

A partial review of the Cherwell Local Plan (Part 1) has started regarding Oxford’s unmet housing need alongside a review of Development Management Policies and Sites. The consultation period extends to Friday 11th March 2016 full details are on the Cherwell website.

WODC Local Plan

The West Oxfordshire plan has been put on hold to give an opportunity to identify more sites. I suspect that the inspector will wish the authority to take into account the unmet need of Oxford especially as Cherwell are consulting on additional sites for the unmet need. Whatever the outcome of these proposals we must ensure that we have the appropriate infrastructure to mitigate the development. Already we have full primary schools in the Division so any development must provide new primary facilities.

Rise of apprentices boosts thriving Oxfordshire economy

Recent growth in the number of Oxfordshire young people choosing apprenticeships as the key to forging a career is outstripping regional figures.

While the number of apprenticeship starts for 16-24 year-olds fell across the South East by 2.5 per cent in 2014/15 compared with the previous academic year, Oxfordshire’s figure rose by 2.4 per cent, as employers took on 2,510 new starters.

Ian Hudspeth

                                                                                                 JANUARY 2016

LOCAL GOVERNMENT SETTLEMENT
 

Oxfordshire County Council has joined other County Councils in the UK in saying that grant funding levels from central Government are much worse than had been feared. The Council had been preparing for up to £50m of savings from 2016 to 2020 on top of the £292m it is already in the process of making from 2010 to 2018.However on the basis of figures provided by central Government on 17th December the County Council will have to make saving  in the region of £70m over the next four years. The Government has changed the formula for funding councils, and it seems shire Counties, particularly in the south of England, have come off worst. 

The list of proposed savings for £50 million was controversial with many members of the public opposing them; we are now in the challenging position of finding an additional £20 million. No area of the Council can be exempt as we have to ensure we provide statutory provision for the most vulnerable in the county. 

This will involve some very difficult and controversial decisions however the Council has to pass a balanced budget with no revenue borrowing on 16th February. The Cabinet recommendations will be published 18th January for decision 26th January. 

DEVOLUTION 

The meeting I attended with the Secretary of State to put forward the case for Oxfordshire devolution with District, Health & LEP colleagues was very positive. We have not yet been told what the government ask will be but we are committed to have a review of the governance structure moving towards a Combined Authority. 

 LOCAL PLAN 

The decision by the inspector to postpone the 2nd hearing of WODC’s local plan to allow more work to be done on the housing target, suggests more sites are required. In the papers for the Woodstock East application the council mentioned that ‘part of the site has been identified as suitable for housing development in the SHLAA for around 180 dwellings.’ Should this smaller site come forward then it might not be able to address the capacity issue of the Primary school which is already full. Any development needs to produce the appropriate infrastructure otherwise it only makes the situation worse.  

New Oxfordshire Libraries app 

You can now access Oxfordshire Libraries from your phone or tablet.You can:
·         manage your account
·         search the catalogue
·         renew and reserve books. 

Bar code scanning is available on devices with a front-facing auto-focus camera. Search for 'Oxfordshire Libraries' at the App Store or Google Play. 

 Don’t miss applications deadline for primary school places  

Families with children due to start primary school this year are being urged to ensure they don’t miss the 15 January applications deadline. Parents or carers of children born between 1 September 2011 and 31 August 2012 are urged to visit the primary school admissions pages and apply online where possible. 

Primary or junior school applications also need to be made for children currently attending an infant school who were born between 1 September 2008 and 31 August 2009. 

County’s youngsters improve in core subjects 

Oxfordshire’s eleven-year-olds have surged ahead in reading, writing and maths tests, according to the latest figures. The proportion of the county’s pupils reaching Level 4+ in all three core subjects at Key Stage Two increased to 81 per cent in 2015 – up from 79 per cent last year. It means the county has moved above the national average (80 per cent) on this measure. The proportion of children making expected progress between the ages of seven and eleven is also higher than the national average for reading and writing, and in line for maths. 

The recent Oxfordshire Reading Campaign, backed by the Oxford Mail and delivered by the National Literacy Trust, helped targeted primary schools make significant improvements in literacy attainment at Key Stage One and Two in recent years – with many schools intending to carry on using the programme.  

The council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Families Melinda Tilley said: “This campaign work has helped create and sustain a real culture of reading and writing in participating schools, and I think it’s fair to say we are seeing this reflected in these improving results.”
 

FLOODING 

My thoughts go out to the residents in the north of the country that have been badly affected by flooding; it’s only recently that we had similar scenes here. Oxfordshire’s High Volume Pump has been deployed to assist in trying to prevent more damage. The pump will be crewed by 7 firefighters who volunteered to go; I have thanked them for their commitment to help over the holiday period. 

I wish everybody a Happy New Year. 

                                                                                                 DECEMBER 2015 REPORT 

AUTUMN STATEMENT/COMPREHENSIVE SPENDING REVIEW – IMPACT ON OCC 

Chancellor George Osborne delivered his Autumn Statement on Wednesday 25 November, including details of the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR). The CSR confirmed that core Central Government funding (comprising business rates and revenue support grant) to Local Government will fall by 24% in real terms over the next four years. When taking into account Office of Budget Responsibility forecasts of other income raised locally by councils, the overall position is a 6.7% real terms reduction, which means difficult decisions will have to be taken by OCC when preparing the forthcoming budget after full details of the Local Government Settlement have been received. Key CSR announcements were: 

1. Local authorities responsible for adult social care (which includes OCC) would be given the option to increase Council Tax by 2% to fund the increased costs of adult social care associated with the new National Living Wage. This is in addition to the 2% increase councils are permitted without a referendum, meaning OCC can now consider a 4% rise in Council Tax. However, this has to be seen in the context that most OCC residents will not have had a 4% wage rise. 

2. An additional £1.5bn of funding for Local Government from the Better Care Fund will be made available by 2019-20, and ring-fencing of the public health grant will continue in 2016/7 and 2017/8. This must be considered against the background of an ageing population and a 94% increase in demand for home care since 2011, with similar increases expected over the coming years. 

3. Confirmation of £12bn Local Growth Fund allocations for 2015/16 to 2020/21 made through Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). 

4. An extra £250m of funding for pothole repairs for five years to 2020/21. However, it has to be confirmed if this is annual or over the review period. The allocation for Oxfordshire would be around £2.5m. 

5. The New Homes Bonus is to be reformed with proposals to include a ‘sharpening of the incentive’ and reduction in payment period from six years to four.  

DEVOLUTION 

The Leader will be presenting the Oxfordshire devolution proposal to the Secretary of State Greg Clark along with the District councils, LEP and Health colleagues in early December. This is an opportunity for Oxfordshire to have devolved powers to provide the infrastructure required to deliver the 86,000 jobs and 100,000 homes to 203. The proposal also includes the integration of Health and Social care. The aim is to reduce duplication and improve efficiency however the key aim is to provide a better Health care system for all of Oxfordshire’s 670,000 residents.  

BROADBAND 

An extra £5.58m of funding has been announced. This comes from: Oxfordshire LEP, £2m; South East Midlands LEP and Cherwell District Council, £120,000; Oxford City Council, £168,000; Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme, £2.2m; BT, £1.1m. This means more than 4,600 additional businesses and homes across Oxfordshire will be able to access superfast fibre broadband. The percentage of county homes and businesses able to get superfast fibre broadband will be increased to more than 95%. More details can be found out at www.betterbroadbandoxfordshire.org.uk  

PREPARATIONS FOR WINTER WEATHER  

OCC is fully prepared for winter with a full fleet of 31 gritting vehicles, which have been serviced and tested over the summer. They are ready to run on 28 routes, covering a total distance of 1200 miles. Winter depots have been stocked with 12,500 tonnes of salt, which allows OCC to undertake 50 gritting runs of the entire network (at 240 tonnes per run). Since the last major ‘snow event’, OCC has increased the starting stock of salt by a third and has also restocked the county’s 1300 salt bins.  Free bulk bags of salt have been offered to all town and parish councils. The take-up so far this year has been minimal, with only 52 requested, as stocks have been retained from previous years. The daily update on whether roads will be gritted is posted on the winter pages of the OCC's web site http://winter.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms 

CHILDRENS CENTRES & EARLY YEARS CONSULTATION 

The consultation detailed in last month's report runs for a few more weeks until the end of Sunday 10 January 2016. 

 PROVISIONAL GCSE DATA 

The Department for Education has published provisional GCSE results for 2015. Key Headlines for Oxfordshire schools:
           59.1% of pupils achieved five or more A*-C grades, including English and Maths
           73.1% made the expected level of progress in English
           70.5% made the expected level of progress in Maths Across the country performance was down slightly on 2014 levels but Oxfordshire remains above average. (NB the data will not be finalised until early 2016 and may change.)     

THANK YOU  

ActiondayBeforeAfter.jpg

Thank you to everybody who took part in the action day or should I say action1 hour and half, as that’s all it took, to make a massive difference to the land at the corner of Park Close. Thanks go to those that provided cups of tea and biscuits which were really appreciated along with the green waste bins that meant we did not have to make a trip to the recycling centre.

I wish everybody a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

  

                                                                                                                      November Parish Report 



BUDGET CONSULTATION
 

OCC has launched a public consultation on options for saving money. It has already saved or has firm plans to save nearly £300m since 2010 but believes it needs to find another £50m of savings over the next four years. I said: “The government is rightly reducing public spending to tackle the national budget deficit, which means we have to make some difficult decisions about council services.” 

As well as receiving less money from government, the council faces rising demand for services– particularly for vulnerable adults and children at risk of abuse and neglect. About half OCC's budget is spent on 2% of the population of Oxfordshire, and that proportion is set to rise to as a result of a growing aging population.

The council is consulting the public before taking the decisions and delivering a balanced budget on 16th February 2016. Talking Oxfordshire, the council’s budget consultation, started on 20 October, when all the savings options were
published on the council’s website. It will close on 30 November. 

There are three public events with an independent chair alongside myself and chief finance officer to provide residents with a chance to find out about the council’s budget position and have their say. The first was on 27th October in Oxford, and the second at Banbury Town Hall on 2nd November, and the last at Regal Centre, Wallingford on 5th November. Start time 7.00pm. People need to register in advance to attend the event.

To register or take part in the consultation online go to www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/budget.

Hard copies of the budget consultation documents will also be available in every library.
 

CHILDREN’S CENTRE AND EARLY INTERVENTION CHANGES 

OCC is also asking for views on its proposal to adopt a new model of children's services in Oxfordshire for children aged 0-19 to save £8 million from the budget by 2016-17. The proposal is to create a brand new service for families and their children aged 0-19 years old, or up to 25 if the child has additional needs. The consultation runs until 23:59 on 10 January 2016. 

OCC would open up to eight new Children and Family Centres across Oxfordshire. These centres would support children and their families who need help and will integrate the work of the Children's Centres, the Early Intervention Hubs and Children's Social Care. As well as the new Children and Family Centres OCC would also provide an outreach service so children and families can be supported close to where they live. Furthermore, OCC would work with schools, health and other services to ensure that children and families get the help that they need.    

As part of the consultation process OCC would like to identify any potential impact of this proposal. OCC would also like to identify options for the future use of the Children's Centres and Early Intervention Hub buildings. Options about how universal services could continue to be run without financial support from OCC are also to be considered.

Hard copies of the consultation are available at all children’s centres and early intervention hubs. 
 
There will also be three open meetings to discuss the proposals. The events are 6-7.30pm and dates are: 
• 18 November - Kings Centre, Osney Mead, Oxford OX2 0ES
• 23 November - Didcot Civic Centre, Britwell Road, Didcot, OX11 7JN
• 30 November - John Paul II Centre, Causeway, Bicester OX26 6AW 

OXFORDSHIRE TOGETHER – SUCCESSFUL LAUNCH EVENT FOR PARISH COUNCILS 

As referred to above, OCC is looking at alternative ways in which it can deliver a number of different public services, across a wide range of areas. The way public services are delivered will shift towards enabling people and communities to take ownership of local priorities. OCC will continue to provide community leadership and foster partnership working, but the days when the council could deliver all services to all people have gone.  OCC has started talking to town and parish councils to identify opportunities to work together.

An initial engagement event for town and parish councils took place on 21st September. OCC's vision for working together is outlined in Oxfordshire Together – the Model booklet, with further details on some of the initial
services in scope included in the Transitional Offer of Highway Services booklet.  Both can be found at www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/oxfordshiretogether.

The programme timetable is:
 September – December
• Initial discussion with town and parish councils.
• Engagement with town and parish councils interested in taking on delivery of some services to develop agreements.

January - April 2016
• Implementation of the first ‘tranche’ of agreementsApril 2016 onwards
• Review viability of approach and consider further roll out. 

BETTER BROADBAND FOR OXFORDSHIRE – UPDATE 

OCC is on track to achieve the target – agreed back in 2013 – of connecting 64,500 homes and businesses with superfast broadband by the end of 2015. By the end of August OCC had enabled over 56,000 premises to be connected to superfast (24mbps) broadband, and expects to reach the goal of 64,500 premises by the end of the year, on time and within budget.  

FREE WI-FI IN LIBRARIES 

OCC has been awarded more than £86,000 by Arts Council England for Wi-Fi to be installed in the 28 Oxfordshire libraries that currently do not have it (it is already installed in 15 of the county's 43 libraries). The WiFi fund supports the Arts Council’s goals around developing library services, ensuring that they are fit for purpose now and in the future. This is one-off grant from the Arts Council. It is therefore not a substitute for money that may be saved from the Library Service’s annual revenue budgets in future years as part of the council’s 2016-20 budget savings options. Installation will take place during Spring 2016. 

                                                                                                                Community Action Day
                                                                                                                  22nd November 2015
                                                                                                                         11:00 am  

ParkClose.jpg

The land on the corner of Park Close, Bladon is unregistered, so no organisation has responsibility for its maintenance. Over the years there has been ad hoc maintenance from various sources, whilst accepting no liability, but in these times it seems to me that we ought all to pull together to keep our beautiful village clean instead of waiting for others, and I wonder if you would be willing to help me? 

If enough of us join together then the work should only take an hour or so. If you are unable to assist in the work, why not help with the clearing up by bringing your Green waste bin or by making lots of cups of tea (with cake).
 

Afterwards we’ll probably all go to a nearby hostelry to quench our thirst. If you are able to help, even for half an hour, please contact me or just come along!

                                                                                  OCTOBER 2015

WOODSTOCK EAST
 

The decision by Cherwell and West Oxfordshire’s planning committees was to refuse the proposed applications for development at Woodstock East. The applicant may choose to appeal the decision in which case it will be the planning inspector who makes the final decision. An alternative may be that the applicant puts in a new plan based on a smaller number of houses as it has to be noted that in West Oxfordshire’s planning document it states: 

Part of the site has been identified as suitable for housing development in the SHLAA for around 180 dwellings. However, the site as a whole outweighs the level of need identified in the emerging plan.  

If an application does come in for the smaller number then it could impact on local facilities without providing substantial additional infrastructure.

Refugee crisis

Like everyone in Oxfordshire, I have been shocked and saddened by the images we have seen of refugees fleeing brutal regimes such as Syria, where civil war is raging. After the prime minister announced that Britain would need to accept more refugees from Syria, the County Council has been talking to partner agencies to see what we can do together. The County Council has a legal responsibility to protect young children known as Unaccompanied Asylum Seekers; the number in our care has doubled over the last year to around 50. We are asking Government that we should have additional funding to minimise the impact on our services.

A40 Long Term Vision 

When the A40 strategy was debated at the July Cabinet meeting, it was decided to develop a long term strategy for the A40 corridor looking at all possible options. I briefed the Prime Minister and Witney MP, David Cameron, ahead of the consultation on the A40.

cameronA40briefing.jpg

David Cameron said: "I am pleased that Government funding is enabling the County Council to make vital improvements to the A40. Absolutely more needs to be done but it is good to see progress being made and I encourage residents to respond to the consultation."    

The proposals can be viewed on Friday 9 October between 12 noon and 7pm. Cassington Village Hall, The Green, Cassington, OX29 4AX. Then on Saturday 10 October between 10:30am and 4pm.  Eynsham Village Hall, 46 Back Lane, Eynsham, OX29 4QW.

BUDGET 

The hard work of preparing a budget for 2016 – 17 is well under way. We will be announcing the areas that we are considering making savings during the autumn. There will be a series of road shows and consultation to enable residents to express their views. The consultation taking place on Household Waste Recycling Centres closes on 5th October.  

Children’s centre and early intervention changes  

The council's Cabinet endorsed a proposal for a full public consultation to take place during the autumn on the future of children’s centres and early intervention hubs.  The proposals follow the findings of a cross-party review of the council's early intervention services, and children’s centres, which was reported to Cabinet in June. That review recommended that a network of Children and Family Resource Centres for 0-19 year-olds be developed targeted to those areas of greatest need, with a good geographical spread of centres. The focus would be on supporting the most vulnerable children and families. Under the proposals £8m would be saved from the current overall £16m budget for children’s centres and the Early Intervention Service. The remaining £8m budget for the current children’s centres and early intervention services would be combined with the existing £4m budget for children’s social care’s Family Support Teams, creating a new £12m service. There will be extensive consultation throughout the autumn before any decision is taken.    

road works at Wolvercote and Cutteslowe roundabouts 

The road works at Wolvercote and Cutteslowe roundabouts are a necessary part of the A40 strategy and are inevitably causing disruption but they have the backing of the business led Local Enterprise Partnership.  Once completed, the works will improve the capacity at both junctions improving traffic flow. The recent works at the southern roundabouts have demonstrated the improvements to traffic flow once complete. The challenge for us is to carry out the work whilst still allowing traffic to flow through the junctions safely. Unfortunately we do not have the luxury of being able to remove the traffic completely to carry out the work, as that would be the quickest method. One of the most costly and importance elements of road projects is the traffic management for safety not only for the workforce but for all road users. If the junctions were done separately, then the traffic management would have the same effect but the works would take longer, creating more of a problem.  I can assure you that a lot of planning and thought went into this project to try to reduce the cost and keep the disruption to a minimum. The planning is carried out with our Partner Skanska, a leading international engineering company, who have expertise in this field. 

Chipping Norton CONSULTATION 

It was approved at the Cabinet meeting on 15th September to start a consultation into the future of intermediate care beds in Chipping Norton, as funding for the current arrangements will only last until the end of March 2016. The consultation will be on alternative arrangements which are sustainable beyond March 2016. 

Free electric blanket testing near you  

As winter approaches Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire & Rescue Service and Trading Standards are arranging free electric blanket testing around the county to help people stay safe as well as warm. Free tests will be available in October at 10 venues throughout Oxfordshire . Testing is by pre-booked appointment only, strictly on a first come, first served basis. Anyone wanting to get an electric blanket tested should call Trading Standards on 01865 815 000 option 4 to arrange an appointment or email communityengagement@oxfordshire.gov.uk. 

The electric blanket testing team will be visiting venues in  the following different locations around the county and have a target of 100 tests a day:
Monday 5 October - Oxford
Tuesday 6 October - Wallingford
Wednesday 7 October - Banbury
Thursday 8 October - Abingdon
Friday 9 October - Witney
Monday 19 October - Oxford
Tuesday 20 October - Bicester
Wednesday 21 October - Thame
Thursday 22 October - Wantage
Friday 23 October - Chipping Norton


                                                                              SEPTEMBER REPORT

I hope that everybody has had a good summer break; whilst I didn’t go away, I did manage to take some time off to follow Oxford United around the country with some mixed results! 

Congratulations to all students who sat exams this year; there were some excellent results, especially the six students at The Marlborough School who scored a clean sweep of A* and A grades in their chosen subjects along with those GCSE students who achieving 10 or more A* and A grades. The vast majority of students at the school have secured a place at their first-choice university. 

WOODSTOCK EAST 

There will be a site visit for the Woodstock East proposed development, to allow members of the relevant planning committees at both Cherwell and West Oxfordshire District councils to gain a better understanding of the development. This is part of the process that will lead to both planning committees determining the application. Although the site is not allocated for development within either Council’s local plan, the planning arguments may lead the committees to approve the applications. If that is the case then it’s important that Woodstock has a say in any mitigation or benefits that may come from the proposal. Unless the Infrastructure priorities are determined in advance, the development could go ahead without a Woodstock input. We could lose out on valuable funding from S106 agreements or New Homes Bonus that could be used to improve parking, for example. I think we need to prioritise Woodstock's requirements and am happy to help in any way to ensure that Woodstock residents do not lose out. 

BUDGET 

The hard work of preparing a budget for 2016 – 17 will soon begin in earnest; we have been working on the Budget for the last few months however we will soon start sharing our thoughts. We will not know the exact financial position until the end of November when the Comprehensive Spending Review is announced; this may mean that the final details of the Budget may not be decided until the January 2016 Cabinet meeting. We are currently expecting to make around another £60 million of savings; these will mean some difficult decisions will have to be taken in areas that we would prefer not to, however we have to deliver a balanced budget on 16th February 2016. The County Council has made savings of £204 million since 2010.  With planned savings of £88 million by 2018, with the predicted additional savings, then the total will be £352 million. Currently there are consultations taking place around Bus Subsidies and Household Waste Recycling Centres; we will soon also start a consultation regarding the Early Intervention service. These will be challenging, with some very difficult decisions that will have to be taken but they are part of the £88 million planned savings before we start to find the additional £60 million savings. I think this highlights how difficult the decisions will be. I urge everybody to respond to the consultations.     

Connecting Oxfordshire 

At the Council meeting on 8th September we will debate Connecting Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire's new Local Transport Plan (LTP4) that has been developed over the past 18 months, in response to the rapidly changing national and local growth, economic development, infrastructure planning and funding agendas.

A40.jpg

A40 

When the A40 strategy was debated at the July Cabinet meeting, it was decided to develop a long term strategy for the A40 corridor looking at all possible options. During September/October there will be exhibitions, along with open meetings, when residents will be able to discuss and understand all the different options. With all the consultations taking place, I will be attending a large number of evening public meetings that are required, this will mean I will not be able to attend some Town/Parish council meetings so I apologise in advance but I’m always available by email or phone or come along to one of my regular surgeries I hold at Woodstock Museum.

 road works at Wolvercote and Cutteslowe roundabouts 

The road works at Wolvercote and Cutteslowe roundabouts are a necessary part of the A40 strategy and are inevitably causing disruption but they have the backing of the business led Local Enterprise Partnership.  Once completed, the works will improve the capacity at both junctions improving traffic flow. The recent works at the southern roundabouts have demonstrated the improvements to traffic flow once complete. The challenge for us is to carry out the work whilst still allowing traffic to flow through the junctions safely. Unfortunately we do not have the luxury of being able to remove the traffic completely to carry out the work, as that would be the quickest method. One of the most costly and importance elements of road projects is the traffic management for safety not only for the workforce but for all road users. If the junctions were done separately, then the traffic management would have the same effect but the works would take longer, creating more of a problem.  I can assure you that a lot of planning and thought went into this project to try to reduce the cost and keep the disruption to a minimum. The planning is carried out with our Partner Skanska, a leading international engineering company, who have expertise in this field. 

Chipping Norton CONSULTATION 

If approved at the Cabinet meeting on 15th September, a consultation into the future of intermediate care beds in Chipping Norton will now go ahead, as funding for the current arrangements will only last until the end of March 2016. The consultation will be on alternative arrangements which are sustainable beyond March 2016.  

RECYCLING ROAD SWEEPINGS 

Road sweepings from across Oxfordshire are to be processed at a state-of-the-art new treatment and recovery facility in Ewelme, a move which is designed to boost recycling rates and help cut costs for Oxfordshire County Council. The specially-designed facility, built by Grundon Waste Management at a cost of £1.3 million, is one of the most technically advanced in the UK and helps councils meet their recycling targets through the recovery of all road sweeping waste, including leaves, sand and grit, and metals. Around 5,000 tonnes of sweepings a year are collected from Oxfordshire’s roads by operators working for each of the five district councils; all of this material will now be processed and recycled at the new plant. 

It’s going to be a busy Autumn 

Cllr Ian Hudspeth

AUGUST REPORT

Cutteslowe and Wolvercote roundabouts 

We are doing both roundabouts at the same time as, although this will be disruptive, the work needs to be done in one go. The junctions are so close together that any works to one impact on the other. Doing them together significantly reduces the length of time that drivers will be impacted and ensures that works are completed before other developments are completed and fully operational. The work will take more than a year – we could have done it more quickly, but that would have involved closing key roads which would have been unacceptable.  

There will be a major impact on your journey if you plan to travel through these junctions. Our advice is to plan your journeys now – consider other modes of transport, or other routes or maybe travelling at other times. I have been using Hanborough station or travelling at off – peak times. There is a great deal of work to do to improve Oxfordshire’s transport network, we are fortunate to have funding available to carry out the improvements.  

This is all part of the longer term plan to improve the A40 :

A40.jpg

National Citizen Service Oxfordshire 

The National Citizen Service has a proven track record in Oxfordshire of providing an effective programme, meeting the needs of young people, and particularly vulnerable young people, at the important stage of transition from compulsory education. The programme uses a nationally agreed format with local interpretation. The framework is governed by the National Citizen Service Trust and allows for local delivery partners to utilise existing provisions, services and professional partnerships to best benefit young people and communities. Oxfordshire County Council National Citizen Service has been highlighted nationally for its ability to capitalise on internal services and professionals. It also supports vulnerable young people and delivers a high quality programme embedding programme delivery within its Early Intervention Service and utilising Oxfordshire County Council’s outdoor education centres. 

At the July Cabinet the contract for the delivery of National Citizen Service was agreed for the period 2015-18 with the aim of assisting 5073 young people. 

SUPPORTED TRANSPORT PUBLIC CONSULTATION 

The Council’s budget for Supported Transport for 2015/16 is just over £30m and will be spent on a range of ‘supported transport’ services including:
·         Home to school transport for children with special educational needs (SEN) and mainstream schooling
·         Subsidised bus services
·         Adult social care transport (older people, learning disabled, mental health)
·         Children’s social care transport
·         Community transport support
·         Concessionary fares
·         Dial a ride 

As part of the 2014/15 budget, the Council agreed to save around £3.6m by reviewing all of the above transport services, with a view to better integrating them.We propose to deliver the remaining £2.56m by reducing subsidies to commercial bus operators, while prioritising services used by older people and people with disabilities.  

There is an on-going consultation that finishes on 14th September, please let us have your views. 

REDUCING THE COST OF THE BACK OFFICE 

Cabinet agreed to join the Hampshire partnership as an operational partner for the provision of back office support services through their Integrated Business Centre, with an expected saving of £805,000 pa. 

The existing Hampshire partnership, is legally underpinned by an unincorporated public to public partnership. This enables each public body to jointly deliver and share the benefits of shared services between themselves. As a partnership rather than a commercial outsourcing, the expectation is that all partners (including Oxfordshire County Council) will collaborate and work together for the good of the partnership. Oxfordshire will join the partnership through a joint working agreement, retaining influence on the partnership through an operational forum which provides a basis for consultation and the exercise of influence in the management of the overall joint working arrangements.  

HOUSEHOLD WASTE RECYCLING CENTRE STRATEGY 

A HWRC strategy will aim to create a sustainable network of sites across the county that are well located for areas of population. The network, together with district council kerbside collections, will aim to maximise the amount of waste reused and recycled in the county and minimise the amount of material sent for disposal. An agreed strategy will enable OCC to seek contributions from new development to maintain and improve the HWRC network. 

In order to achieve a financially sustainable network of sites, it is proposed that the strategy we consult on is based on the following key objectives:
·         reduced number of sites;
·         locate sites to limit as much as possible the drive times for residents;
·         locate the sites as close as possible to the more populated centres; 

A public consultation will be carried out for 8 weeks, from 10 August to 5 October 2015. 

GROWTH BOARD 

At the recent meeting of the Growth Board the Post-SHMA Strategic Work Programme was agreed. Public bodies have a Duty to Co-operate on planning issues that cross administrative boundaries. A key issue in Oxfordshire is the potential unmet housing need arising from Oxford City. The Programme has been developed to help the Oxfordshire Councils fulfil the duty on this issue.  

This meeting was webcast and can be found on Cherwell District Council website: http://modgov.cherwell.gov.uk/ieListMeetings.aspx?CommitteeId=528 

 I hope that you have a good summer break. 

Regards Cllr Ian Hudspeth

PARISH REPORT JULY 2015 

Since 2010, Oxfordshire County Council has saved £204 million, with a further £88 million of savings to be made by 2018. A report to Cabinet on 26th May stated that there could be another £50 - £60 million of saving to be found. We should have more clarity on this figure after the Budget on 8th July. This will be a challenge to the County Council, with the increasing pressure on both adult and children’s social care; currently around 50% of the budget is spent on just 2% of the population.  

Joanna Simons will be stepping down as Chief Executive in September in order that the Council can carry out a review of senior management arrangements. The aim is to reduce costs in the light of further funding cuts announced by the government. Earlier this year the Council had a series of robust debates about whether to remove the post but concluded that a permanent change required further consideration. Following further cross party discussion, it has been decided to put an interim arrangement in place pending a senior management review. The Council has reached an amicable agreement with Joanna to step down so this can take place. She has steered the Council successfully through unprecedented changes in local government and leaves the Council in very good shape to meet the challenges ahead. In my time as Leader, I have valued her wise counsel and ability to look ahead, which ensured that we have been able to prepare for difficult times and take opportunities. I would like to thank her personally for that advice and support and wish her the very best for the future. 

I have to pay tribute to the Finance team as the final out turn for the 2014/15 year was an underspend of £0.196m on a budget of £424,185m; this is an impressive achievement despite all the pressures that were on the budget. The good news is that there has still been investment in Highways with a capital expenditure for 2014/15 year of £43.1m. This was £17.8m higher than in 2013/14. Major projects completed include Kennington Interchange, Witney Ducklington/Station Lane Junction, Oxford London Road, A4130 Bix dual carriageway and A420 Shrivenham Bypass. With £14.8m spent on highways structural maintenance programmes. 

At the July Cabinet meeting Connecting Oxfordshire, the Local Transport Plan for 2015 – 2031, will be considered following public consultation. Also the Business Case for delivering the A40 bus lane scheme and developing the long-term A40 strategy will be considered. Currently consultation is taking place regarding Supported Transport Services which includes proposals for service changes to subsidised bus services and Dial-a-Ride. The Council needs to save more than £6 million on supported transport services. We can save money by running existing services more efficiently, however that is not enough. Savings will also have to come from reducing the current £4 million a year the Council pays in bus subsidies and to run the Dial-a-Ride service. The consultation closes on 14th September and Oxfordshire County Council have asked that the Oxfordshire Rural Community Council (ORCC), a not-for-profit, community development organisation, are the independent facilitator during the consultation. If you need support in commenting on the County Council’s proposals or are interested in attending one of our 5 public consultation events, please get in touch with the Oxfordshire Rural Community Council on 01865 883488 or email orcc@oxonrcc.org.uk. 

There will be a summer of engagement with partners regarding the Early Intervention service and Children’s Centres; currently the budget is approximately £16m. As part of the service and resource planning process for the period 2014/15-2017/18, savings of £6 million were identified for the Early Intervention Service, to be achieved through integration with Children’s Social Care. A cross-party Cabinet Advisory Group (CAG) was established to support development of proposals to achieve a £6m budget reduction and fundamental redesign of early intervention services was agreed. This was debated at the Cabinet meeting in June, with full proposals to come back to Cabinet in September to go out for consultation.

                                           JUNE 2015 

The recent months have been dominated by the General Election. We now have a clear decision by the electorate to have a Conservative government; in Oxfordshire of those that voted, 49% chose to vote Conservative. To deliver the manifesto pledges will be a challenge, with further reductions in local government funding to help reduce the deficit that is vital for the national economy. In 2010 Oxfordshire County Council received £120 million pa from central government that has reduced to £62 million pa in the current year, reducing to zero by 2022. The Budget on 8th July will provide more details, along with the spending review later in the autumn. Since 2010 the council saved £204 million, with a further £88 million of savings to be made by 2018. A report to the Cabinet on 24th May stated that there could be another £50 - £60 million of saving to be found. This will be a challenge to the County Council, with the increasing pressure on both adult and children’s social care; currently around 50% of the budget is spent on just 2% of the population.  

Another report to Cabinet started the consultation process, to be carried out by the independent Oxfordshire Rural Community Council,for the Supported transport Programme including bus subsidies. We have some good commercial services in parts the Division, however the issue of subsidised services was highlighted in Middle Barton. I attended a meeting, along with District Cllr Robert Courts, organised by Janice Dyer regarding the OCC-provided shuttle bus to Deddington. It was a very positive meeting; not only was the strength of feeling clear but there were many suggestions as to the way forward. It is important that the OCC-provided shuttle bus is supported to ensure that it remains past the current six-month period. Can I encourage all residents to leave their cars at home every now and again and use the bus to show support? There will be a further public meeting to explore the feasibility of a community-run bus service. Local resident Chris Puttick has done a lot of work on this, but ultimately any such plan will depend upon the level of local support and involvement. 

There is a commitment to devolve powers and budgets down to a more local level. I welcome this move and I’m working with Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire, promoting England’s Economic Heartland, which has a similar size to the Greater Manchester area, to ensure that we do not miss out on infrastructure funding opportunities. This is not about a Super Unitary or a Mayoral system but areas working together to deliver economic growth. If more powers were to be devolved down to the County Council, I think that more powers could be devolved down to large Town Councils to enable decisions to be made locally. 

There will be some challenging decisions to be made over the coming months with work starting on the 16- 17 budget that will be delivered in February. At the July Cabinet meeting the Local Transport Plan 4 will be considered following consultation. 

Thank you 

Ian Hudspeth

                                                                APRIL 2015

COUNCIL WINS £12.9M FOR HIGHWAY DRAINAGE & STREET-LIGHTING IMPROVEMENTS
Oxfordshire County Council has been successful in bidding for £12.9m of Government money to improve street lighting, road drainage and carriageway condition in the county. The Council is one of 31 across the country to receive grant funding from the Department for Transport’s £275m Challenge Fund – which was set up for councils to bid for one-off major infrastructure schemes.
 As part of the bidding process the council had to guarantee £1.6m of funding from its own budgets – taking the total spending to £14.5m.  Some of the money will be spent on reviewing and replacing Oxfordshire’s older street-lighting with more modern streetlights between 2015 and 2018. Highway drainage will also be improved in various parts of the county – which will in turn make road surfaces more resilient to poor weather and potentially lead to savings. Road edges will be strengthened where necessary.  The Council will also use the money to install Sustainable Urban Drainage (SUDs) systems that allow water to drain away from roads more quickly. An example of SUDs is the use of swales – which have already been installed in some new developments in the county. Swales are shallow drainage channels with gentle side slopes in the ground where water running off sites, including roads, can collect and soak away. The council will now further develop a programme of work in line with its recently reviewed Highways Asset Management Plan. For more information: https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/news/2015/mar/council-wins-%C2%A3129m-highway-drainage-and-street-lighting-improvements 

NEW SPECIALIST FIRE & RESCUE UNITS UNVEILED
A new multi-purpose 12-tonne fire engine packed with equipment to deal with a range of emergencies and two vehicles equipped with specialist technology have been unveiled by Oxfordshire County Council's Fire and Rescue Service. The 12-tonne vehicle, known as a Rescue Tender, will be based at Kidlington Fire Station. It carries over 300 pieces of equipment and is crewed by firefighters who have acquired specialist skills through an in-depth and on-going training regime to respond to challenging rescue incidents. Incidents the new Rescue Tender - which is now in active service - is designed to respond to involve animal rescues; structural collapse; complex road traffic collisions, aircraft crashes; railway incidents; water rescues and rescues from height and confined space. On-board equipment includes:·         The latest hydraulic road traffic collision rescue equipment·         Airbags for heavy lifting·         Chainsaws for use dealing with adverse weather condition incidents·         Rope rescue tripods and stretchers for difficult access situations·         Large animal slings and strops for recovering stricken horses and cattle·         A roof-mounted boat that can be deployed swiftly to respond to flooding and water rescues·         Dry suits and buoyancy aidsThe truck, which cost £220,000, replaces a ten-year-old rescue tender, which has come to the end of its operational life, having covered nearly 200,000 miles and responded to around 4,000 emergency calls. For more information: https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/news/2015/mar/new-specialist-fire-and-rescue-vehicles-unveiled 

COUNTY COUNCIL SECURES £3.3M FUNDING FOR CYCLE SCHEME

Oxfordshire County Council have secured funding through the Cycle City Ambition Grant to provide improvements along the Thames towpath and build a new bridge. The scheme will be made up of a number of improvements including a pedestrian and cycle bridge at Oxpens to connect to future City centre redevelopment and the train station, improvements along the Thames towpath including certain sections being widened, resurfaced together with the installation of lighting as well as widening of the foot and cycle bridge over Bulstake Stream. Proposals also include provision for re-routing the National Cycle Network 5 via Old Greyfriars Street and new pedestrian and cycle crossings of Thames Street. The council are ambitious for Oxford to become a world-class cycle city and has a long-term ambition to introduce a tiered structure of cycle routes across the city that will help encourage more people to cycle as well as reduce congestion for commuters. For more information:  https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/news/2015/mar/county-council-secures-%C2%A333m-funding-cycle-scheme

VAST MAJORITY GET FIRST-PREFERENCE SECONDARY SCHOOL


Almost 91 per cent (90.98) of Oxfordshire children due to start secondary school this year have been allocated a place at their first-preference school.  The council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Families Melinda Tilley said: “The county council has consistently had a strong record of ensuring a high percentage of children can attend their first-preference secondary school. Despite an increase in the number of applications received for September 2015, it’s once again good news for the vast majority of families. Inevitably, where applications for particular schools exceed available spaces, we can’t offer everyone a place.” For more information: https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/news/2015/mar/vast-majority-get-first-preference-secondary-school 

MINERALS & WASTE PLAN

Current planning policy for minerals and waste is contained in the saved policies of the Minerals and Waste Local Plan dating from 1996. This is being replaced by a new Minerals and Waste Local Plan which was approved by the County Council on 24th March. The Core Strategy documents of the new Minerals and Waste Local Plan can be found at: https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/minerals-and-waste-core-strategy  The new plan proposes that extraction will rise from 0.715 million tonnes a year to 1.015 million tonnes a year, until 2031. It will now go before an examination in public before it can be adopted.

KINGFISHER TEAM CENTRAL TO BANBURY PROSECUTIONS

Social workers and police officers from Oxfordshire’s Kingfisher team have praised victims of abuse who gave evidence that resulted in five men and one boy being found guilty of a series of offences following an eight-week trial at Oxford Crown Court. The victims had been groomed by their abusers in the Banbury area and the Kingfisher team has been instrumental in working to help protect them from the men who have now been found guilty and in assisting the Police to bring about the prosecutions. Kingfisher is a multi-agency team set up to tackle child sexual exploitation in Oxfordshire made up of county council social workers, police officers and an NHS officer. For more information: https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/news/2015/mar/kingfisher-team-central-banbury-prosecutions

AWARD-WINNING SOCIAL ENTERPRISE GIVEN GRANT FOR COMMUNITY TRANSPORT SCHEME

Aspire, an award-winning social enterprise and employment charity based in Oxford, has been confirmed as the new provider of Oxford’s Dial-a-Ride community transport service. From April 2015, Aspire will take over the delivery of the community transport service, providing much needed support to elderly and infirm residents across the city. The service will be available during the day between Monday and Friday, providing collection and drop-off services across Oxford. The service will be available for users to be taken for shopping visits or to club and group meetings. Aspire Oxford is an award-winning charity and social enterprise that runs its own social businesses to provide work placements, training and employment opportunities for people who have experienced challenges to securing long term employment. For more information: https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/news/2015/mar/award-winning-social-enterprise-awarded-grant-provide-community-transport-scheme 

FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE TAPS INTO FIRE SPRINKLER WEEK

A national week designed to promote the use of sprinklers is being backed by Oxfordshire County Council's Fire and Rescue Service. Fire Sprinkler Week (March 16-22) is co-ordinated by the Chief Fire Officers' Association (CFOA), which is pressing for a legal requirement to fit sprinklers in higher risk premises, such as care homes. Locally sprinkler systems have been fitted at Campsfield House immigration detention centre near Kidlington following an October 2013 fire there after repeated advice was given by Oxfordshire's Chief Fire Officer David Etheridge on the issue to the Home Office. Oxford City Council has also pledged over the next few years to fit sprinklers in five high rise buildings in the city after close working with the county's Fire and Rescue Service. For more information: https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/news/2015/mar/fire-and-rescue-service-taps-fire-sprinkler-week

OXFORD ASPIRES TO HOST FIRST WIRELESS ELECTRIC BUS PROJECT

Oxford's aspirations to host the first double decker wireless electric bus projectOxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council are excited to announce a commitment to work on a joint study for an innovative Wireless Electric Bus project. Working in partnership with Oxford Bus Company, MBK Arup Sustainable Projects (MASP), and sister company eFleet Integrated Service (eFIS), the plan is to trial the use of double decker buses that can be wirelessly charged.MASP, a joint venture company between Mitsui & Co., Ltd, and Ove Arup & Partners Ltd., and enabling company eFIS have successfully implemented an electric single deck bus trial in Milton Keynes. There is now a vision for all parties to study the technical and commercial feasibility of replacing the existing busy Park and Ride buses in Oxford with a fleet of around 20 new electric vehicles.   The buses will have zero tail pipe emissions and will be the first double decker vehicles of their kind to operate in the UK. The new electric buses will recharge their batteries wirelessly during their working day. Power transmitted from a coil buried in the road at the Park and Ride stops will be picked up by a similar coil on the underside of each bus. Ten minutes parked over a coil will replenish the energy needed to run each bus for the day.For more information: https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/news/2015/mar/oxfords-aspirations-host-first-double-decker-wireless-electric-bus-project

OXFORDSHIRE BROADBAND PARTNERSHIP REACHES 40,000 HOMES & BUSINESSES


Historic Adderbury is latest community to benefit from multi-million pound roll-out of fibre broadband. More than 40,000 homes and businesses across the county are now able to access faster fibre broadband as part of the multi-million pound ‘Better Broadband for Oxfordshire’ programme, partners Oxfordshire County Council and BT announced today. The latest community to benefit is the historic, picturesque village of Adderbury, near Banbury, where pupils, residents and local businesses will today join representatives from the partnership to celebrate the milestone and learn more about the technology and its benefits. It’s the 200th cabinet to ‘go live’ since the partnership began connecting the first county premises just over a year ago.  For more information: https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/news/2015/mar/oxfordshire-broadband-partnership-celebrates-reaching-40000-homes-and-businesses

PARISH REPORT MAR 2015 

Serious Case Review into Child Sexual Exploitation. 

Oxfordshire County Council fully accepts the findings of the serious case review into child sexual exploitation and apologises that the child protection system failed to prevent horrific abuse of six girls.  The Independent Serious Case Review into Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) in Oxfordshire was published today (Tuesday 3 March 2015) by the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board.

The serious case review followed a trial in 2013 in which seven men were imprisoned for a total of 95 years for their crimes, which took place from 2005-2011.
 The conclusions of the report follow on from an inspection by the children’s services inspectorate Ofsted in 2014, which rated Oxfordshire’s child protection system as ‘good’ and described its approach to tackling child sexual exploitation as ‘high quality’. 

Jim Leivers, Oxfordshire County Council’s Director for Children, Education and Families, said: “If we knew then what we know now about the grooming process, this would have been stopped much sooner. Before Operation Bullfinch people didn’t believe something this horrible could happen. We are under no illusions about child sexual exploitation now. This was organised crime on a massive scale that we had not seen before. Girls were systematically groomed to think their abusers were their boyfriends. Social workers tried to protect individuals, as the Serious Case Review acknowledges.  However, in some cases children were treated as wayward teenagers consenting to sex. That was wholly wrong. Our whole approach has now changed – children are believed, we can spot the signs of grooming and sexual exploitation and the Kingfisher team embodies that huge change.” 

In addition to setting up Kingfisher, other action taken to tackle child sexual exploitation in Oxfordshire includes: 
        7,500 staff now trained to spot warning signs of CSE and take action – including police, teachers, care workers
        Around 18,000 school children have seen a drama about child sexual exploitation and discussed the risks of grooming in class
        School nurses in every secondary school with a role in identifying children at risk
        Building four new children’s homes to keep most vulnerable children in Oxfordshire  

Woodstock East 

The proposed development at Woodstock East has made us all think about the development of the town. We know of the issues surrounding parking provision within the centre, as well as the viability of the shops including the Post Office. Then there is the provision of the doctor’s surgery. I applaud Cllr Yoxall for pointing a way forward to a vision for the future as we need to have that discussion if we are to have a sustainable future for the town. We have to be realistic, as there will inevitably be some development of the Town before 2031. The Woodstock of today is completely different from the Woodstock of 1955; I suspect the Woodstock of 2075 will be different again however we need to part of shaping that future.   

Budget 

The County Council budget was passed on 17th February with a savings target of £292 million over the period 2010 -2018. The savings figure is challenging and some very difficult decisions had to be taken, with even harder decisions to be taken in future years. The proposal to delete the CEO position has had to be deferred with a full review of the position in the coming months. However we cannot leave any stone unturned if we are to achieve the savings target in future years. 

S4 Bus 

The S4 bus provides a vital service along the A4260 serving many communities within my Division. The decision by Stagecoach to withdraw the service going through Middle Barton is a commercial one and unfortunately theirs to take. I have written to the Managing Director of Stagecoach requesting a meeting in the village.  

Tenders have been invited for a shuttle type bus service to link Duns Tew and Middle Barton with Deddington.  Connections will be made to journeys on service S4 to/from both Banbury and Oxford. Unfortunately this is the only option open to us, as we could not subsidise journeys direct to Banbury and Oxford that would duplicate Stagecoach’s own service, nor could we afford to do so. The award of a contract for this new service will be on the agenda of March 19th Transport Decision Meeting.  

My District Council colleague Cllr Robert Courts has set up a petition that I urge you to sign by following the following link:  http://tinyurl.com/okzqgew 

 

                                          PARISH REPORT Jan 2015




I do believe that 2015 is going to be an interesting year, with two important decisions being taken; locally the planning decision about Woodstock East, nationally there is the General Election taking place on 7th May. Both of these events will dominate the year.


Woodstock East

The development will have a major effect on the Town and surrounding villages, especially with regard to transport. The relevant planning committees at Cherwell and West Oxfordshire have to work within the local and national planning policies if they are to refuse an application. If there are no valid grounds for refusal then the development will proceed. If that is the case then we have to ensure the best possible mitigation for the town and surrounding villages. Improvements to bus services to Hanborough station and the soon-to-be opened Oxford Parkway would give a real alternative to the car. Good accessibility from the development to the town centre is vital along with improvements to car parking in the Town centre to ensure it remains the focus for local community. Health care provision has to be addressed to ensure that residents can be treated locally. There does need to be dialogue about development within the town and the type of mitigation, I welcome the fact that the Town council is preparing additional meetings to consider a vision for the future.


General Election

Whatever the outcome; the key fact is that there will still be a need to reduce public expenditure. Despite the good work of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in reducing the deficit, the fact is we are still borrowing money to pay for expenditure. With major areas such as the NHS ring fenced, Local Government will take yet more reductions in grant funding. We have to be realistic and plan for the future without central governments funding.


Tri-Counties

The launch of the Tri-Counties with Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire was a statement of intent to work towards a Combined Authority around transport, skills, infrastructure planning and development.


It is NOT about a super Unitary authority, as each council will have its own sovereignty and will make the final decision regarding any proposals. There is no intention of merging councils, however if this is successful then we may look at other common areas to work together to be more efficient.


The title of Combined Authority is the current government's preferred term although the proposal does not fit their regulations so we are asking for a different form of Combined Authority. Areas such as Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, Sheffield and Leeds are working on the Combined Authority concept, having powers devolved down to them so that they are able to take decisions locally. The Core Cities Group is pushing for greater devolution of powers to Britain's biggest cities. Chris Murray, director of Core Cities, is preparing a report making the case for cities to be handed more tax and spending powers as a first step. If you look at these areas then the Tri-Counties have similar or greater economic power and are net contributors to Government; why should we leave the championing of local devolved power to the North and the Chancellor to promote?


We are already working together on the East West rail project. There have been  recent announcements around the Autumn Statement of the Oxford-Cambridge expressway, an additional junction on the M40, improvements to Peartree & Botley junctions, the study into the A34. We should be determining the best locations and if the money was devolved we may be looking at a different solution, currently these are decided by mandarins at the Department of Transport. Locally we have the knowledge for the best locations for these vital pieces of infrastructure this can only be achieved with devolved powers.



Councillor Allowances

The question of councillors' allowances is always tricky and there is never a good time to debate them. An Independent Allowance panel of 3 people made an assessment of councillors' allowances. The last time we had a full review of allowances was in 2011. Allowances were frozen then.


In 2013 we reduced the number of councillors from 74 to 63 this had an impact on councillors increasing the size and area of their divisions. Last year the independent panel reviewed the new structure but felt it was best to do a full review once a full year had taken place so that they could get a better understanding of the workload. The saving resulting from the reduction in councillors from 74 to 63 was £117K


 The independent panel produced their recommendations on councillor allowances. Some allowances were cut or removed, whilst others increased. It would not be correct to pick and choose which recommendations to take.


Once again I state that there is never a good time to review councillor allowances however the recommendations came from an independent panel based the work load of councillors.


ROADWORKS

The completion of the £7 million scheme at the Hinksey Hill and Kennington roundabouts has increased the capacity at those junctions by 30%. At the same time we took advantage of the expensive traffic management to carry out vital repair work to the bridges ensuring that it should be a long time before works are required.


We have been successful in working with our partners at the Local Enterprise Partnership in obtaining more funds. So this will not be the end of road works as in 2015 we have plans across the county to improve the network:


Project                                                                       Start Date                 End Date

London Road Improvements                                 13 October 2014       May 2015

Milton Interchange                                              January 2015           January 2016

Cycle City: The Plain                                           January2015             July 2015

Featherbed Lane and Steventon Lights                  January 2015            November 2015

Harwell Phase 2 (Hagbourne Hill)                         January 2015            November 2015

Chilton A34 Junction - North facing slips                February 2015          December 2015

Frideswide Square (Phase 2 -Main Square)             February 2015          December 2015

Wolvercote Roundabout                                      June 2015                January 2016

Cutteslowe Roundabout                                      June 2015                January 2016

Harwell Oxford Entrance                                      July 2015                 July 2016

Harwell Phase 1                                                 August 2015             February 2017


The work is designed to be phased but some of the funds are dependent on spending within a certain time frame. If a project were to be deferred, it would mean some residents would not benefit from improvements.


It was welcome news that we were given 6 year road maintenance funding as it will enable us to plan over a longer period with certainty of funds.



BUDGET

Work is continuing on the budget for 2015/16.  I had hoped, after two difficult budgets with savings totalling £265 million, that this year might have been slightly easier. Unfortunately that is not the case, with increased pressures coming from both Adult and Childrens Services, adding £20 million of pressures. This brings the total savings to £285 million from 2010 to 2018. Yet again there will be some very difficult decisions to be taken to deliver a balanced budget in February. As I mentioned above, regarding the Tri-Counties project, if Central Government funding is to be reduced we need more devolved powers to determine what is best for Oxfordshire - perhaps we need to have a debate about the most efficient form of local Government.


The additional savings target does mean that the popular Councillor Community Budget fund and Area Stewards fund will have to cease. The Government has announced that the referendum limit will be at 2% for the coming year. We had been preparing the budget on a 1% limit to obtain the top-up ‘freeze' grant, however that adds a pressure of £3.1 million to the medium term plan. If we decide to increase council tax by 1.99% we may decide to add the funds to the reserves to try and protect the council from future cuts from Central Government funding.


Looking back on 2014, the highlight for me has to be that despite having to find an additional £64 million of savings in this year's budget. We were able to eliminate 15 minute visits for elderly clients by increasing the length of the visit to a minimum of 30 minutes; this gives the carer extra time to deliver quality care to vulnerable clients.


I wish you all a Happy New Year



Ian Hudspeth

 

REPORT TO PARISH COUNCILS

NOVEMBER 2014



WOODSTOCK EAST PROPOSAL


The proposed development at Woodstock East has yet to become a planning application although one is expected in the near future. One of the major issues will be that the majority of the development is in Cherwell District Council, who currently do not have a Local Development Framework in place and a 5 year housing supply. Should an application be placed before their committee then they will have to take those facts into consideration. As the major impact of the development will be on Woodstock that is within West Oxfordshire District Council I feel that both applications need to considered at the same time, I do not know how this might be possible or the practical arrangements but to have 1 planning meeting in Bodicote and another in Witney does not seem to be appropriate.


GSCE RESULTS RISE AHEAD OF NATIONAL AVERAGE


58.6% of Oxfordshire students gained five A* to C graded GCSEs including English and Maths in 2014. The national state-funded school average for the same measure was 56.1%. Oxfordshire is also now in the top 25 per cent of local authority areas for progress in Maths and more students made reached the expected progress in English than the national average.


The new system measures the results from the first time the exams are sat, without including resits as before.


The County Council is keen to move results ever higher. Cllr Melinda Tilley, Cabinet Member for Schools has said: "What we must now guard against is complacency. These results will mean little if next year we are back in line with the national average or below it. The aim must be for our schools to get ever better and extend the gap between Oxfordshire and the rest of the country."


More information at: https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/news/2014/oct/oxfordshire-surges-ahead-national-averages-gcse


ROADWORKS AROUND OXFORD


Due to a sequence of successful applications by the Local Enterprise partnership, a business led organisation that works alongside all Oxfordshire's councils. The County Council has received significant funding from central government to allow us to carry out major projects around Oxford.


We already had planned extensive repairs to the London Road in Headington, and this will improve bus and cycle facilities at the same time. The work on the Kennington and Hinksey Roundabout's will increase capacity by 30% improving traffic flow in the long term.


There are plans to improve Frideswide Square, the Cutteslowe and Wolvercote roundabouts, the Milton and Chilton interchanges on the A34 along with several other schemes across the county.


Full details can be found at: https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/public-site/major-current-roadworks. Whilst we acknowledge these road works cause disruption in the short term, to do nothing is not an option as it would result in far worse congestion in the future.


OXFORD TRANSPORT STRATEGY


The Oxford Transport Strategy is being developed to find ways to cope with rising demand for transport in and around the city and will form part of the County Council's Local Transport Plan. It follows a series of public meetings that discussed how we can create transport systems to sustain forecasts of 85,000 new jobs and 100,000 extra homes by 2031.


Buses would remain a central part of the city's future transport, along with proposals for a ‘mass transit system' such as a tram route linking outer suburbs to the city centre. Increasing park and ride capacity outside the ring road to encourage more drivers to take public transport into the city is another major part of the draft strategy.


The Oxford Transport Strategy is being developed using ideas and feedback provided as part of Connecting Oxfordshire. A final version will be published in Spring 2015 following further consultation.


More information at: https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/news/2014/oct/better-oxford-despite-increased-future-transport-demands

           

HEALTH & WELLBEING CENTRE HELPS RESIDENT REGAIN MOBILITY


A 71 year old man who lost his mobility following an 18-month illness has regained it thanks to yoga classes at his local Health and Wellbeing Centre.


Councillor Judith Heathcoat, Oxfordshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said: "There is a wealth of activities available at our Health and Wellbeing Centres, which are all set up to help people live as independently as possible by encouraging them to stay healthy and engaged. By attending these centres people can interact with each other and make friends too which is so positive and helps with any feelings of isolation or loneliness. It is wonderful to hear how attending Wantage Health and Wellbeing Centre has helped Mr Rodda get his mobility back."


On 1st October, the County Council celebrated Older People's Day with our partners as we work to support people as they age to stay healthy, active and independent.


More information at: https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/news/2014/sep/man-regains-mobility-thanks-health-and-wellbeing-centre and https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/news/2014/sep/older-peoples-day


SUCCESS OF BOOKS ON PRESCRIPTION PROJECT HAS LED TO EXPANSION


A special national scheme via which library services provide books for people experiencing mild to moderate mental health problems such as anxiety and depression is proving successful in Oxfordshire.


The Books On Prescription Scheme was introduced into six Oxfordshire Libraries in June 2013 (Oxford Central, Abingdon, Witney, Banbury, Didcot and Thame). It proved to be so much in demand that the county council's library service expanded the service to a further six libraries in April 2014 (Bicester, Cowley, Wantage, Henley, Kidlington and Carterton).


More information at:  https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/news/2014/oct/books-prescription-project-succeeds-oxfordshire-libraries


FIRE SERVICES WORK WITH UNIVERSITY TO STUDY BEHAVIOUR DURING FIRES


Views from house fire victims are being sought to help Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service work to limit the impact of future dwelling blazes.


People can anonymously submit their written experiences online about how they behaved during a fire in the home which they encountered in the past 12 months as part of a pilot project. The scheme - Lessons in Fire and Evacuation Behaviour in Dwelling (LIFEBID) - is the result of a link-up involving nine Fire and Rescue Services and the University of Greenwich.


More information at: https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/news/2014/sep/house-fire-victims-views-sought-knowledge-building-project


To submit survey responses: http://lifebid.gre.ac.uk/


OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE EBOOK PUBLISHED BY LIBRARY SERVICE


Budding authors in Oxfordshire are being offered the chance to have some of their work published electronically as part of a competition run by the county council's library service.


The Short Story Ebook competition will run for just over two months starting on October 20 and the winners will see their work become available to be borrowed by Oxfordshire's library ebook customers.


Councillor Lorraine Lindsay Gale, Cabinet Member for Cultural Services, said: "Our librarians are looking forward to reading some imaginative and creative writing. This is a great chance for local people to share their writing skills. We hope the competition will draw people to our ebook service and it represents a great opportunity for those with aspirations in the field of writing."


More information at: https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/news/2014/oct/ebook-opportunity-prospective-oxfordshire-writers



BE WELL REMINDER: FREE FLU JABS, ELECTRIC BLANKET TESTS & INFORMATION




  • AgeUK Oxfordshire's free advice service, supported by Oxfordshire County Council, is available to ensure Older people have the information they need. Please call 0345 450 1276 or view www.ageuk.org.uk/oxfordshire.

MOBILE LIBRARY SERVICE CONSULTATION


The consultation document sets out our proposal, including the proposed stopping places, frequency and suggested times, for the mobile library service vehicles. We are not proposing financial cuts to the mobile library service budget and everybody who currently uses our mobile library service will continue to receive a level of provision. It may however be offered in a different way.


More information at:

https://consultations.oxfordshire.gov.uk/consult.ti/mobilelibaryserviceconsultation/consultationHome

CONSULTATION CLOSES: 31st December 2014

 

PARISH REPORT OCT 2014


WOODSTOCK EAST


Like many residents in Woodstock & Bladon I was shocked and surprised when I saw the proposals recently put forward by the developers. When the Hensington South site was last proposed to be put in West Oxfordshire's Local Development Framework in 2005 I was successful in working with the mayor Cllr Julian Cooper in having it removed from the plans. At that time I was a District Councillor and proposed an alternative site next to the swimming pool and a site in Eynsham. The reason we were successful was that these alternatives made all the housing figures stack up across the District.


The latest proposals are substantiality different in that the majority of the homes are proposed to be built in Cherwell District Council. There will be pressure for the Cherwell planning committee to approve the development as they do not have a Local Development Framework (LDF), although it is putting a revised version before the inspector in November, the Woodstock East development is currently not in that document. West Oxfordshire District Council is also in the process of a new LDF again without the Woodstock East proposal. If both councils are able to progress their LDFs without the Woodstock East proposals then there would be some comfort for the town. However there is another document that all District councils along with the County have published back in the Spring called the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA). This looked at the potential demand for housing to 2031, the figure that came back is almost double the previous target, West Oxfordshire is challenging the figures. If a District or the City council cannot provide sufficient houses within their area then with the duty to cooperate other Districts have to consider if they can take the unmet demand. In Oxford City there is an unmet demand of around 20,000 homes that has to be considered by the other Districts.


The above is a brief synopsis of the current planning situation however it's complicated and I would be happy to talk through in more detail if you wish especially in respect of other villages across the division.


The role of the County Council in this matter is as consultees to the proposals put forward by the developers and any response will be on a technical basis.  Should there be a planning application then it will be dealt with by the relevant District councils.


BETTER BROADBAND


Residents and businesses in Weston-on-the-Green celebrated as they became the latest village to benefit from the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme, and marked the 10,000th premise to be enabled.

Better Broadband for Oxfordshire is a multi-million pound partnership between Oxfordshire County Council, BT and BDUK. The programme is on track to enable over 90 per cent of the county to access superfast broadband by the end of 2015, transforming life for residents and businesses. Full details of the roll out can be found on our website.




CHILD SEXUAL EXPLOITATION


On Friday 5th September, Oxfordshire County Council and Thames Valley Police co-hosted a briefing event for councillors and other local stakeholders on the issue of child sexual exploitation. The event was attended by over 150 people, including representatives from District Councils, health professionals, the voluntary sector, faith groups, neighbourhood action groups and schools.


The briefing provided an overview of Operation Bullfinch to date, with presentations from Oxfordshire County Council, Thames Valley Police, Crown Prosecution Service and Oxford City Council on what changes have been made over the past number of years to ensure that Oxfordshire's children are safer from sexual exploitation than ever before.


I've had a private meeting with the Home Secretary, Teresa May to talk about this horrendous crime and how Oxfordshire are tackling the issue.


County Council's response to the Care Act Consultation


Oxfordshire County Council recently submitted its response to the consultation on the draft regulations and guidance for implementation of Part 1 of the Care Act. We have also been working with the Department of Health to test the eligibility criteria, and with the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services to model the likely costs of implementation.


We fully support the Act's vision of a reformed health and care system characterised by integrated, person-centred care and support and a fairer approach to funding. We therefore welcomed the opportunity to identify areas where we think the regulations and guidance could be strengthened to reflect this. For example, the language used is currently local authority driven; we believe an approach which is user friendly and puts people themselves more in control must come out more strongly.


We also took the opportunity to emphasise the importance of ensuring these reforms are fully costed and fairly funded, to enable us to deliver our duties as set out in the Act. In particular, we share the concerns expressed in various platforms that the Government has under-estimated the number of carers and self-funders who may come forward for an assessment and the cost of meeting their eligible needs. We would welcome your support in calling for these to be revised and shared with local authorities.


Nonetheless, we are well-placed to deliver the Care Act reforms in Oxfordshire. We already offer Deferred Payment Agreements, have a high proportion of individuals choosing Direct Payments and provide a wide range of support to carers. Our Adult Services Improvement Programme is developing this further, to enable individuals to have more choice and control over their lives as we believe that people themselves are best placed to determine what they need. This includes streamlining our adult social care processes and developing supported self-led options, creating an e-marketplace and developing the Oxfordshire-wide social care workforce.



BUDGET


Work is continuing on the budget for 2015/16, I had hoped after 2 difficult budgets with savings toatling £265 million this year might have been slightly easier. Unfortunately that is not the case with increased pressures coming from both Adult and Childrens services. Yet again there will be some very difficult decisions to be taken to deliver a balanced budget in February. I will keep you updated during the autumn.


Freedom of the County Parade


In 2013 the County Council awarded the status of Freedom of the County to 4624 Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air force, RAF Brize Norton. This is in recognition of over thirty years of distinguished service, demonstrating sacrifice and commitment to the defence of the realm, and for dedicated support to local charities and communities. This freedom will be marked with a parade through the centre of Oxford on 11th October 2014 at 2pm.


The Freedom of the County is an honour the county council can bestow on a "person of distinction" or people who have "rendered eminent services" to the area. It is intended to recognise "over 30 years of distinguished active service, demonstrating sacrifice and commitment to the defence of the realm, and for dedicated support to local charities and communities". By tradition, it allows the military unit to "march through the streets... with bayonets fixed, drums beating and colours flying".

The 4624 Squadron, which formed in 1982 after the Falklands war, is a logistics squadron that helps provide supplies to UK forces and humanitarian aid worldwide. It is the RAF's largest reservist squadron and comprises about 250 people, the majority of whom are part-time reservists. The part-timers are trained to the same standard as their full-time counterparts and have taken part in conflicts including the Balkans, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan.

                                                         PARISH REPORT SEPTEMBER 2014 

County Council turns ‘lights out’ to commemorate fallen heroes  

The council turned off all lights at County Hall as part of the LIGHTS OUT memorial and lit a single candle for a shared moment of reflection in honour of those who gave their lives in the First World War.
 

This event was a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by those who served to protect this country a century ago. We can’t truly imagine the horrors of that war and what those involved went through, but we can honour their memory by taking part in the Lights Out campaign. 

Exam Results 

August is always a difficult time for those waiting for their exam results, especially those who need particular results to move on to another stage in their learning. 

Congratulations to all students at the Marlborough School, in particular English and Maths students who excelled themselves with all pupils in both English Literature and English Language achieving at least Grade C and 80 per cent of grades in Maths and Further Maths at grade B or above. In Performing Arts all grades were B or above. This year saw the highest ever number of pupils at The Marlborough School achieving 8 or more A*/A grades. Five students achieved at least 7 A*s. 

County’s Thriving Families scheme on national stage 

Oxfordshire County Council’s Thriving Families project is set to expand ahead of schedule after the Government named it as one of the best performing in the country. The scheme is part of a national initiative to identify the families most in need of help within society and directly tackle problems such as crime and antisocial behaviour, poor school attendance and unemployment. It is also aimed at making long-term savings by reducing the financial burden these issues place on society. 

The Government will provide funding for the council to begin working with more than 400 new families by the end of March 2015. As an ‘early starter’ area, the results from Oxfordshire will also inform and influence the national roll-out of the expanded programme in April 2015. 

Families are assigned a dedicated worker from the County Council’s Thriving Families Team who acts as the single point of contact for the family. The worker liaises with other agencies including police, health services, probation, schools, job centres and voluntary agencies to deliver an agreed plan of action geared towards achieving specific results. Progress is measured through real-terms improvements in school attendance, behaviour and reductions in levels of offending over a sustained period of time. 

Each family taking part meets national criteria identifying them as among the most in need of help in terms of poor school attendance and behaviour, anti-social and criminal behaviour, youth offending and adults out of work. 

The expanded Thriving Families programme will target families where a combination of two or more of the following issues have been identified: 

       Parents and children involved in crime and antisocial behaviour

       Children not attending school regularly

       Adults out of work or at risk of financial exclusion and young people at risk of worklessness

       Families affected by domestic violence and abuse

       Parents and children with a range of health problems 

This is all part of the County Council’s on-going commitment to protect the most vulnerable in our society. 

Road Works

The improvements to Kennington and Hinksey Hill roundabouts is a £6 million project that is designed to increase capacity by 30 per cent in the evening peak period for the 60,000 vehicles a day which pass through the junctions. Work is due to be completed by the end of November 2014. This will cause delays and we urge road users to find alternative routes or methods of transport.  

There are a lot of highways works across the county, the Ducklington Lane corridor is the first phase of the Witney transport strategy and we have just finished resurfacing Corn Street, along with resurfacing a large section of the B4044 Farmoor Road. 

The A4130 Bix maintenance project is a 2.5km section of dual carriageway located just north of Henley-on-Thames between Bix Village and Fair Mile at the junction of the B480 to Lower Assendon. 

Enabling work will start on Frideswide square to improve the junction ahead of the new station and Westgate development. As part of the Cycle City bid there will be work at The Plain to improve the junction.  

Major project work on the Milton Interchange and Chilton A34 Junction will help to improve traffic flow along the A34. 

We work closely with our contractors to try to reduce the time a scheme takes to deliver and I’m delighted to say that the £3.5 million resurfacing of the A420 at Shrivenham was completed a week early. 

The recent work on the A44 will extend the life of the road for several more years. Our entire road network across the county is assessed on the road condition and number of vehicles using them; we are then able to use our limited funds to get the best value for money. 

All this activity does cause disruption and delays, however the outcome will provide better roads.

Annabel.jpg

Ice Bucket Challenge

The latest way to raise money for charity is to have a bucket of ice cold water tipped over you. I thought at some stage I would be challenged and thanks to Malcolm Boyden from the BBC and Leah McLaren from the Oxford Mail the gauntlet was thrown down. Click on the picture for the link to the video or: http://ow.ly/AK0p7  I took the challenge with 3 buckets and was delighted to raise money for MND.   

Click on the link below to find out more about MND:

Zip Wire

Next I’ve agreed to test the Zipwire at the opening of the new equipment at Woodstock playground. Could this be another Boris moment? The only way to find out is to come along at 10:30am Saturday 6th September with Union flags at the ready!

                                                         PARISH REPORT AUGUST 2014   

CLA Game Fair
The CLA Game Fair returned to Blenheim Palace in July. Some changes were made to the traffic management programme since the previous event in 2011 which worked well. There were months of planning ahead of the event, however at 6:30am on Friday 18 July, the control room was buzzing with nervous tension. There were live links to cameras across the network and to a helicopter, which ensured that any accident or build-up of traffic was dealt with quickly.  The plans worked and traffic flowed smoothly onto the site with minimal disruption to local traffic. The event itself was a success, with over 150,000 visitors enjoying the show and bringing millions of pounds into the local economy. The hotels, B & Bs, pubs and restaurants all had a busy weekend. There will be a knock-on effect as visitors return at a later date to enjoy the area but this is hard to quantify.   

GROWTH DEAL HERALDS NEW ERA FOR OXFORDSHIRE ECONOMY
The Deal will see at least £108.6million invested in Oxfordshire with £15.7million  confirmed in the first year. In addition, as part of the Government’s on-going commitment to the Oxfordshire LEP, it has provided an indicative award of a further £92.9million of funding from 2016/17 onwards. This Deal will help to create up to 5,700 jobs, allow over 4,000 homes to be built and generate over £100m in public and private investment. 
The key features of the deal are: 
      •Investing in substantial homes measures to reduce the risk of flooding, so that businesses can continue to operate, roads and railway lines are kept clear     and people can be confident that their and businesses won’t be damaged; 
     
•Investing jointly with the University of Oxford in a new Centre for Applied Superconductivity, which will bring university professors and entrepreneurs     together to collaborate on exciting developments in fields as diverse as computing, cryogenics, x-rays and MRI scanning and electricity storage; 
     
•Investing with the City of Oxford College, and Abingdon and Witney College, in state-of-the-art skills centres that will train local people in science,     engineering and technology, providing them with the skills they need to get a job; 
     
•Significant investment in better transport links including roads, parking and cycling networks – joining up Oxfordshire’s world class universities with its     businesses and helping people get to where they need to be faster; 
     
•Additional investment into the Oxfordshire Growth Hub to help local businesses access support and make the connections they need to grow.       

The Oxfordshire Growth Deal is part of a national £12 billion long-term programme to revitalise local economies. The deals are the latest and greatest example of the British economy being rebuilt from the bottom up, and sharing the benefits of the recovery around the country. Local businesses and council leaders have been invited to open discussions immediately on the next set of projects to be funded, building on the momentum that has been established. 

S3 Bus Service
Stagecoach launched the new improved service to the S3 that has 3 buses an hour, almost a “turn up and goes service”. Along with this there is the new 233 Burford service via Witney. These upgraded services are commercially run with no public subsidy so it’s vital we encourage everybody to use them as much as possible. 

Launch of Oxford Station Masterplan
A masterplan for Oxford Station was launched on Thursday 24 July, setting out a long-term vision for major improvements to the station and surrounding area. The ambition of the masterplan is to create an exemplary gateway to the city that meets Oxford's long-term rail needs and acts as a focus for investment. Proposals in the masterplan call for higher quality public space, in and around the station and significant changes to accommodate the expected increase in rail passenger numbers over the next few years. The main features of the masterplan include: a new station building, new rail track and platforms, a transport interchange - including bus station and multi-story car park, development opportunities, better cycle facilities and improvements to Botley Road bridge. Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council and Network Rail are working together to develop the masterplan, in conjunction with the Department for Transport and First Great Western 

Broadband
The rollout of the County Council’s Better Broadband continues with Bladon now becoming live. To upgrade your speed you need to contact your service provider. Details of where Better Broadband is available can be found at: http://www.betterbroadbandoxfordshire.org.uk/postcode-map 

Zip Wire
I’ve agreed to be part of the opening of the new playground equipment in Woodstock and for some strange reason I’ve agreed to test the Zipwire! Could this be another Boris moment? The only way to find out is to come along at 10:30am Saturday 6th September with Union flags at the ready!

PARISH REPORT JULY 2014

Ofsted
I reported last month that Children's Services have been subject to a detailed Ofsted Inspection concerning their Child Protection and Looked After Children's (LAC) Services. In addition, the Local Safeguarding Board have also been subject to a simultaneous but separate inspection.  The outcome of the 4-week inspection is that Children's Services have been judged as Good in all six categories.  
These include:
       Children who need help and protection
       LAC
       Adoption
       Experiences and progress of Care Leavers
       Leadership Management and Governance
       Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board 

Needless to say we are delighted with this outcome which is the result of a lot of hard work from staff, our partners and local councillors. 

MJ Award
There was further good news for Children’s Services when they was awarded an MJ Achievement award, along with Health & Police partners, for joint working in the Kingfisher Unit. This is a specialist Unit working with vulnerable children. Unfortunately there was also the news that 6 men were arrested in Banbury as part of an investigation that the Kingfisher team carried out into child sexual exploitation. We will continue to work hard to catch the criminals and stop them from harming children. 

Connecting Oxfordshire
I have been presenting Connecting Oxfordshire across the county with an emphasis on the local area showing the strategic transport schemes which will be delivered by the County Council and partners such as Network Rail, between now and 2020. The attendance has been good with some interesting debate. There are a further four meetings in July all of which start at 7.00pm: 
Mon 7 JulyWitneyHenry Box School
Tue 15 JulyDidcot Cornerstone
Wed 16 JulyHenleyTown Hall
Wed 23 JulyOxfordCounty Hall
 We are starting the process for the Local Transport Plan 4; the debate will feed into that Plan. It is vital that we have a transport system which will enable residents to move around the county. Consultation on the Goals and Objectives of the new plan runs until 1st August. A draft plan will be worked on during the autumn and presented for consultation in the spring of 2015.        

CLA Game Fair
The CLA Game Fair is returning to Blenheim Palace on 18th, 19th & 20th July. This is a national event and will attract 150,000 visitors over the weekend and obviously this will cause added traffic particularly on the Friday. A traffic management plan, similar to that in 2011, has been put into place with all organisations working to reduce the traffic impact on the area. 

Duke of Edinburgh Awards
I was delighted to attend the ceremony at St James’s Palace where the Gold Awards were presented by the Earl of Wessex. It was good to see 50 young adults from Oxfordshire achieve the high standard of the Gold Award.  

Firefighter receives British Empire Medal for Innovative Flood Work
Firefighter Gary Mattingley has been awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen's Birthday Honours in recognition of his national work around flood management and the innovative approach he hatched which was used by Oxfordshire County Council's Fire and Rescue Service to keep Oxford open to traffic during February's floods.  

Summer Reading Challenge
Children across Oxfordshire can explore a Mythical Maze as part of this year’s Summer Reading Challenge.The Challenge encourages children to read at least six books over the summer holiday, collecting amazing rewards on the way. When they’ve finished the children will get a wristband, a medal and a certificate. The Challenge runs from July 12th to September 13th and it can be done in only three visits to the library. All the children have to do is pick up a Mythical Maze poster and start reading, all for free!  

Future of Learning Disability services in Oxfordshire
Oxfordshire County Council and Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group are jointly reviewing the commissioning and provision of all services for people with learning disabilities.  We welcome the HealthWatch and Oxfordshire Family Support Network report, published on 26 June, and will involve them and examine their findings in our review. Our primary objective is to ensure the safety of those who are being cared for and we continue to work closely with Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust which provides many of these services in Oxfordshire.This review is part of our planned reassessment of services and our aim of supporting more people with learning disabilities to live in the community with appropriate support with fewer living in hospital-type settings. This also follows national guidance.    

Consultation on Housing-Related support services
A 12-week consultation has launched on how to save £1.5m over two years from services for homeless people and substance misusers with a proposal that would see three hostels in Oxford remain open.The proposal, approved for consultation by the multi-agency Oxfordshire Health Improvement Board, seeks to challenge and engage with stakeholders, including providers and service users, on how relevant services - known collectively as housing related support - could be delivered in the future.Oxfordshire County Council had subsidised a reduction in central government funding for housing related support for the past four years but decided in February that it could no longer do so.   

New Children’s Homes to Protect Vulnerable Young People
Plans for two new children’s homes to ensure the safety of vulnerable young people in care – or at risk of coming into the care system – are set to be unveiled. The council is proposing to build an Assessment Centre in Thame, for up to six children on the ‘edge’ of the care system, and a ‘move-on’ home in Didcot for up to four older teenagers preparing to leave care. The homes would enable more of the county’s vulnerable young people to live closer to home and reduce the need to send children to costly out-of-county settings where the council also has less control over the quality of placements. 

Tackley Playground
Congratulations to everybody involved in the fund raising for Tackley playground, it was a fantastic achievement. The new equipment, especially the sensory items, will become popular for children in the surrounding area. The sun shone when our MP David Cameron performed the official opening with most of the village attending. 

Woodstock Primary School
After attending Tackley, I then had to dash to Woodstock Primary School to be there where David Cameron MP was opening the new buildings. The extension to the school looks excellent with the new layout giving children (& teachers) a wonderful environment to learn in. 

Town/Parish Councils
I try to attend as many Town and Parish Council meetings as possible, although my role as Leader of the County Council does mean that some clashes are inevitable.  Since October I have made presentations at 22 public meetings across the county.However, if there is something of importance on the agenda, I will try to attend a Town or Parish Council meeting.

PARISH REPORT JUNE 2014



Ofsted
May was a challenging month for the Children’s Directorate as we had a 4 week inspection by a team of inspectors from Ofsted. This was a regular inspection and we have been expecting it for several months, however we are only given 24 hour notice before the inspection starts. The inspectors looked at all aspects of the service including examining cases. The result of the inspection will be known at the end of June and will be 1 of 4 possible categories; Inadequate, Requires improvement, Good, Outstanding. Whatever the result I’m sure there will be some recommendations that we will implement to ensure we are providing the best service possible. 

Connecting Oxfordshire
I launched Connecting Oxfordshire, showing the strategic transport schemes which will be delivered by the County Council and partners such as Network Rail, between now and 2020.  Over the coming months I’ll be travelling around the county giving the presentation and concentrating on the local area, the dates are below all meeting start at 7.00pm: 
Mon 23 JuneBanburyTown Hall
Wed 25 JuneWantageCivic Centre
Mon 30 JuneBicesterLittlebury Hotel
Mon 7 JulyWitneyHenry Box School
Tue 15 JulyDidcot Cornerstone
Wed 16 JulyHenleyTown Hall
 We are starting the process for the Local Transport Plan 4; the debate will feed into that plan. It is vital that we have a transport system which will enable residents to move around the county. 

Thriving Families
Latest Government figures show the ‘Thriving Families’ scheme run by the County Council has turned around the lives of more than 400 families in Oxfordshire – continuing to place the county among the best performing local areas. This is known nationally as the Troubled Families programme and has been set up to turn around 120,000 troubled families nationwide by March 2015. New figures show the programme, in which a dedicated worker is assigned to each family to give hands-on support, has brought about positive outcomes for 444 of Oxfordshire’s most troubled families, by tackling problems such as crime and antisocial behaviour, poor school attendance and unemployment. This means more than half (55 per cent) of the 700 families the council has worked with so far, have turned their lives around. This is well above the national average of 33 per cent. This success rate makes the county third best across the South East region, with only West Berkshire and Southampton recording a higher percentage, albeit having worked with fewer families than Oxfordshire, 116 and 685 families respectively, compared to our 700 families. The council has invested £1.6million in the scheme and Oxfordshire is trialling a DCLG Cost Benefit Analysis tool, the only Shire County to do so, which shows that for every pound invested the Thriving Families Team saves the public purse £3.22. 

CLA Game Fair
The CLA Game Fair is returning to Blenheim Palace on 18th, 19th & 20th July. This is a national event and will attract 150,000 visitors over the weekend obviously this will cause added traffic particularly on the Friday. A similar traffic management plan has been put in place as in 2011 with all organisations working to reduce the traffic impact on the area. 

Woodstock Library
The new system of operating the library with volunteers to maintain the current opening hours will commence in September, they are training to ensure a smooth transition. This follows on from the successful roll out of volunteers at Stonesfield library. There are plenty of opportunities for people to volunteer if you are interested then please go along and ask. 

Armed Forces Day
Armed Forces Day is a chance to show your support for the whole of the Armed Forces Community, from serving personnel to forces families and cadets. It is also an opportunity to raise public awareness of the contribution by those who serve and have served in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. Oxfordshire County Council will be celebrating the Armed Forces Day with a Flag Raising ceremony which will take place on Monday 23 June 2014, with the flag raising at 11:00am at Oxford Castle Unlocked. The ceremony will be attended by the Chairman of the County Council, Lord Lieutenant, High Sheriff, local Mayors and representatives from RAF Brize Norton and Benson, Bicester Garrison, 7 Rifles, the Royal British Legion and Cadets from across the county. All Councillors are invited to come along to this special event and show their support for the Armed Forces. 

PARISH REPORT MAY 2014

DCpotHoleDNsSS.jpg
The Prime Minister with me, Director Sue Scane and the Cabinet Member for Environment, David Nimmo-S

The Prime Minister launched a new highways fund of £168 million across the country which highways authorities can bid for. The bids must be in by 22nd May and the work completed by 31st March 2015 for additional work. Oxfordshire County Council will be bidding for approximately £5.4 million; this is welcome news on top of the additional £4.7 million already allocated by the government for damage caused by the recent flooding. The Conservative Independent Alliance put an extra £1 million into the budget for highway repairs which will help to improve thecondition of the county’s roads, however there is still a backlog of capital funding which is required.

ConnectingOxfordshiremap.jpg

CONNECTING OXFORDSHIRE
 I launched Connecting Oxfordshire, showing the strategic transport schemes
which will be delivered by the County Council and partners such as Network Rail,
 between now and 2020.  It was an opportunity to start the debate as to the
 future of transport in Oxfordshire post-2020. We simply cannot wait until 2020
 before we start thinking about the transport system, especially with the
anticipated growth of 86,000 jobs and 106,000 homes by 2031. We are
starting the process for the Local Transport Plan 4; the debate will feed
into that plan. It is vital that we have a transport system which will enable
residents to move around the county.
 















BUS SERVICES REVIEW 
Tenders have been awarded for subsidised bus services in the Woodstock area following their review.  A summary of service changes from Sunday June 1 appears below: further detailed information will be communicated in due course. 203/220/242A: Woodstock Wanderer (new operator: Go Ride).  203 extended to serve Water Eaton Park and Ride.  Additional afternoon journey to and from Bladon (Heath Lane). 223/224/224A: Kidlington Town Services/Kidlington-Begbroke-Yarnton circular (new operator: Go Ride).  Peak journeys from/to Wootton and Glympton withdrawn due to lack of patronage: other journeys broadly unchanged. 242: Witney-Hanborough-Woodstock (Stagecoach) Extended to Burford.  Journeys via Windmill Road (North Leigh) and Freeland village withdrawn. Hourly service continues. 

FLOOD RISK MANAGEMENT STRATEGY 
Following the nationwide flooding events of 2007, the Pitt Review recommended that a single authority should be responsible for managing flood risk in local areas. This was endorsed by subsequent legislation, the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, under which Oxfordshire County Council became the Lead Local Flood Authority for the County. The County Council will be going out for consultation on the strategy from June. 

APRIL FULL COUNCIL 
The County Council held the April Full Council meeting at Bodicote House. The reason was to enable the meeting to be webcast to allow members and officers the opportunity to see how the system works. The concept of allowing all residents the ability to view council meetings live or at a later date has to be the way forward. The barrier is installing a suitable system within the confines of County Hall. There will be a cost and any decision to spend money has to be carefully thought through; I would be interested in your views on the matter, especially if you watched the meeting. Details of the meeting can be found on the website.

                                                                   PARISH REPORT APRIL 2014 

Strategic Economic Plan
 

The County Council has worked with the Local Enterprise Partnership and other District councils to submit to Government the Strategic Economic Plan. This is a vision for the local area to 2030 identifying the opportunities for growth based on clear evidence.  It also highlights the barriers to growth and what action is required to remove them. The plan provides the basis for Local Growth Deal negotiations with government and will determine the level of investment we secure from the competitive Local Growth Fund. Without the plan we would not be able to bid for funds.
 

Strategic Housing Market Assessment
 

The County Council is not responsible for the planning of houses and developments that is down to the City and District Councils. However, we do have a major part to play as we are responsible for key infrastructure such as education and roads. The Strategic Housing Market Assessment determines what growth will happen over the next 20 years, for West Oxfordshire the figure has been raised from 305 units pa to 660 – 680 pa. This will then feed into the Local Development Framework with appropriate sites allocated. The County Council will be assisting in this process to ensure that they are in sustainable locations with the required infrastructure however ultimately where the sites are will be for West Oxfordshire District Council to determine. 

Oxfordshire Flooding Summit  

Around 40 politicians and representative of local and national agencies came together to consider reducing the long-term risks of flooding in Oxfordshire.  This followed a community forum, which looked at the impact of the recent floods in the county. There was strong support for taking the Western Conveyance, a major scheme proposed by the Environment Agency to carry flood water west of Oxford. Representatives at the Summit agreed to form a working party to take the project forward. Cllr Rodney Rose, Deputy Leader and Lead Member for Flooding, Oxfordshire County Council, said: "As Lead Local Flood Authority, our role is to encourage and enable partnership working which is exactly what we were doing at the Oxfordshire Flooding Summit. The big idea we considered today is a proposal for a channel to the west of Oxford known as the western conveyance.  I am confident that the channel would greatly reduce the risk of flooding in Oxford, and the knock on impact on the wider Oxfordshire economy. But the main issue is cost. Like others in the room today, I need to be convinced that the benefits justify the price tag. But I do believe the Western Conveyance is worth looking at very carefully. If we don’t back it now, there may not be a chance for several years and who knows what funding will be available then. It could be now or never. I am delighted that there was strong support from local partners for taking this project forward at today’s summit. The hard work of raising the cash for this scheme starts now. There will need to be a local commitment but a large chunk of the money will need to come from government and national sources." 

BY-ELECTION 

There was a by-election for the Watlington division; the Conservative Stephen Harrod won. The political balance of the County Council is: Conservative Independent Alliance 34, Labour 15, Liberal Democrats 11, Greens 2 and 1 Independent. 

CONNECTING OXFORDSHIRE 

There will be the launch of Connecting Oxfordshire in April showing the Strategic transport schemes that will be delivered by the County Council and partners such as Network Rail. It will be an opportunity to start a debate as to the future of transport in Oxfordshire post 2020. With the anticipated growth of 86,000 jobs and 106,000 homes it is vital that we have a transport system that will enable residents to move around the county. 

APRIL FULL COUNCIL 

The County Council will move to Bodicote House in Banbury for the April Full Council meeting in April. The reason is to enable the meeting to be web cast to allow members and officers the opportunity to see how the system works. The concept of allowing all residents the ability to view council meetings live or at a later date has to be the way forward. The barrier is installing a suitable system within the confines of County Hall. There will be a cost and any decision to spend money has to be carefully thought through I would be interested in your views on the matter especially if you watch the meeting. Details of the meeting can be found on the website.

REPORT TO PARISH COUNCILS MARCH 2014  

THE BUDGET

The budget was decided at the Full Council meeting on 18 February.  An increase of 1.99% was agreed and whilst any increase should be avoided, this small increase of 46p per week for a band D property means that some valued services can be retained. There were some difficult decisions to take, however money was reinvested into the priority areas as opposed to reducing spending and the Council’s overall new savings figure remains at £64m, with £31m of savings having already been planned. The Council is on track to have made £170m of savings from 2010 to 2014. The total of £265 million of savings over the period of 2010 to 2018 has been achieved by sharing services with other councils and reducing costs, such as the number of directors, by 50%.   Despite all the savings and reductions there were some positive announcements: 
  • An additional investment of £800,000 to end 15 minute personal care visits by extending the time of visits;
  • An extra £350,000 will be available for the setting up of a Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub in Oxfordshire;
  • There will be £1m extra for general highway maintenance to be spent across the county – with priorities for this spend to be determined during coming months;
  • A total of £400,000 will be set aside as a contingency to deal with issues stemming from flooding and other winter weather issues – the exact nature of how this money will be spent will be determined once full assessments have been made when waters have subsided;
  • A total of £315,000 will be invested in community budgets.
 The budget proposals were fully supported by the Conservative-led Alliance whilst opposition members voted against the proposals, including those listed above. It has been a challenging budget and now we have to make sure we deliver the savings.  

FLOODING

The rain still continued to fall during February, adding to the existing high river levels and water table. The County Council’s Fire & Rescue service worked 24/7 alongside the Highways team to deal with incidents as they occurred; to try to keep residents safe and Oxfordshire moving during the month. There was some innovative work on the Botley Road that meant it remained open during the bad weather as opposed to having to be closed the previous month.   The Deputy Leader of Oxfordshire County Council Cllr Rodney Rose will be hosting a flood summit in March to bring all the various agencies and partners together to find a solution to the flooding that appears to be becoming a regular occurrence. If you have any ideas, then please do not hesitate to contact me so that I can feed them into the debate.  

HOUSING

The County Council is not responsible for the planning of houses and developments that is down to the City and District Councils. However, we do have a major part to play as we are responsible for key infrastructure such as education and roads. Currently there is a Strategic Housing Market Assessment taking place across the county to determine what growth will happen over the next 20 years. This will then feed into the Local Development Frameworks of the City and District Councils as to where the final allocated sites will be. Already the Vale of White Horse DC has announced a substantial increase in their housing numbers. The County Council will be assisting in this process to ensure that they are in sustainable locations with the required infrastructure. 

RAIL TRAVEL

The Office of Rail Regulation has issued the latest station usage figures which show 529,272 extra rail journeys in Oxfordshire in 2012/13 compared to 2011/12.A total of 16.3 million journeys were recorded at the 22 stations, compared to 15.8 million in the previous year. The station with the one of the biggest annual increase is Hanborough (up 26.5%) to 172,994 users.

BROADBAND

The roll-out of Better Broadband across Oxfordshire has started and I was delighted to attend the recent launch at Alvescott with the Prime Minister. The full programme will be delivered by 2015; the details of when Better Broadband arrives locally can to be found on the Council’s website at: https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/public-site/broadband-oxfordshire 

WOODSTOCK TOWN MEETING 2014



It has been a busy time since the last Town meeting, starting with the county council elections. There was a boundary review that reduced the number of divisions by 11 (saving taxpayers over £100,000) so all councillors were effectively fighting a new division. The overall result was that the Conservative group missed an outright majority by 1 division, achieving only 31 out of 63 seats.

I was re-elected as Conservative group leader, and formed an agreement with 3 Independents to create the Conservative Independent Alliance to ensure a stable administration. This also meant I continued as Leader of the Council. I am pleased to say that I have appointed a cabinet with 50% female members; this was done on the basis of the best person for the job.

The news in the summer of a further reduction in government spending meant we had to find savings of an additional £64 million; this is on top of the £201 million of savings already in place.

The challenge with the latest round of savings is that some difficult choices had to be made.
The council has made major savings since 2010, including:

reducing the workforce by 30%

reducing the number of managers by 40%

pay freezes and reduced terms and conditions for remaining staff

reducing the cost of the pension scheme

increasing productivity

reducing the number of councillors

reducing the number of offices we have

making more services easier to use online

sharing services with other councils

outsourcing more services to the private or voluntary sectors

tighter contracts, getting better value for money

introducing charging for services that were previously free, e.g. Park and Ride

TO13.jpg

Knowing that the budget was going to be difficult, I decided to have some road shows around the county, named Talking Oxfordshire. The idea was simple: to allow members of the public to talk directly to Joanna Simmons and myself so that they could understand the challenges we face. Also to tell us where they would think cuts and savings would be acceptable. Unfortunately the discussions were slightly overshadowed by an unannounced map that showed the potential impact of £10million in savings in Childrens Centres. This limited the topics at the various meetings with few suggestions of where savings could be made. However, I feel that the consultation was worthwhile, as it was an excellent opportunity to talk and listen to residents.






There were proposals concerning Home to School Transport, limiting it to the nearest school over 3 miles. The proposal means that no student who currently or will receive free transport from September 2014 will have it withdrawn. Also students would still receive free transport but only to the nearest school. There was a vigorous campaign opposing the proposals but critics were unable to identify what other areas should be cut to produce the savings of over £1 million. These proposals were part of the original £201 million of proposed savings.

Following the convictions of seven men in connection with the Bullfinch investigation into child sexual exploitation, the judge passed sentence on 27th June 2013. These ranged from seven to twenty years (life imprisonment). Bullfinch was a joint operation between Oxfordshire County Council and Thames Valley Police. The council hopes these sentences send out a strong message that child sexual exploitation will not be tolerated in Oxfordshire. We would like to praise the courage of the victims for giving evidence in court that has led to these sentences, and we are sorry we did not stop it sooner. We have learned a great deal about how to prevent and disrupt child sexual exploitation, and are working closely with other agencies to root it out. Along with TVP, we encourage anybody who may have been the victim of this kind of abuse - or knows someone who has - to talk to our specialist team in confidence. The Kingfisher team can be contacted on 01865 335276.

HANBOROUGHCARPARKOPENING.JPG

The station car park at Hanborough that was opened last year is proving a success. The 200 space car park is regularly filling up. This is encouraging more people to use the train rather than commute into Oxford or London by car, reducing the number of cars on the A4095.  The annual increase at Hanborough is up a staggering 26.5% to 172,994 users. These figures do not include the period since the new car park was built and it will be interesting to see the impact next year. The car park has solved the problem of cars parked on the grass verge outside the station that was a danger especially in the dark winter months.



CityDealNicolaGreg.jpg

I was delighted to sign the City Deal that will deliver growth to Oxfordshire. We worked alongside the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, District Councils, Universities, and scientific research institutions to win a City Deal agreement from the government. This means that around £55.5 million of government funding can now be controlled locally to boost innovation and business growth, create jobs and help secure Oxfordshires place as a world leader in technology, knowledge and expertise. Ultimately the deal is expected to be worth over £1.2 billion when private sector investment is taken into account. The plans we have developed with our partners include the delivery of improvements to the A40 and A34, as well as a real push to drive up skills to support the accelerated development of our high-tech business sector.  There is a proposal for a link road from the A40 to the A44 by Loop Farm roundabout that should improve traffic flow on the A40 easing congestion on the A4095. This means more jobs for the county and more inward investment across the board.



BroadbandAl2.jpg

There was some good news with the announcement of the roll out of Better Broadband across Oxfordshire with over 92% of premises connected by the end of 2015. We are working with West Oxfordshire District Council and government to identify additional funds to increase the coverage. Once I have full details for the Woodstock division I will let you know.





Bullsatkepoint.jpg

We normally expect to be dealing with snow and ice during the winter but this year it was all about flooding. There has been consistent rainfall throughout the winter culminating in some storms that came down on already saturated ground. The caused extensive flood water across the county with numerous road closures. The worst was in January when both the Botley Road & Abingdon Road were closed. When the water levels rose again in February we took different action by placing flood barriers at pinch points on the Botley Road with pumping taking place. This meant that the road remained open throughout the flooding period. We applied a similar technique to the Abingdon Road that reopened far quicker than before.  

We are holding a flooding summit with all our partners to try to find a solution to the flooding issues as its becoming a regular occurrence. 






The Strategic Housing Market Assessment to determine the number of houses needed across the county has been published with the target for West Oxfordshire going from 305 pa to 660 680 pa. This will have an impact on the Local Development Framework as new sites will need to be identified across the District. From the County Council perspective, it is vital that we have sustainable development with the correct infrastructure in place, especially highways and education.

Chamber1crop.jpg

The Budget was decided at the full council meeting on 18th February.  An increase of 1.99% was agreed and whilst any increase should be avoided, this small increase of 46p per week for a band D property means that some valued services can be retained. There were some difficult decisions taken however money was reinvested into the priority areas as opposed to reducing spending. The council is on track to have made £170m of savings from 2010 to 2014 with a total of £265 million of savings over the period of 2010 to 2018. 


Despite all the savings and reductions there were some positive announcements:

       An additional investment of £800,000 to end 15 minute personal care visits by extending the time of visits.
       An extra £350,000 will be available for the setting up of a Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub in Oxfordshire.
       There will be £1m for extra for general highway maintenance to be spent across the county with priorities for this spend to be determined during coming months.
       A total of £400,000 will be set aside as a contingency to deal with issues stemming from flooding and other winter weather issues the exact nature of how this money will be spent will be determined once full assessments have been made when waters have subsided.
       A total of £315,000 will be invested in community budgets

The budget proposals were fully supported by the Conservative led Alliance whilst opposition members voted against the proposals including those listed above. It has been a challenging budget and now we have to make sure we deliver the savings.












.

REPORT TO PARISH COUNCILS FEBRUARY 2014

CityDealNicolaGreg.jpg
Greg Clark MP & Nicola Blackwood MP st the signing

CITY DEAL
The announcement of the Oxfordshire City Deal means that around £55.5 million of government funding can now be controlled locally to boost innovation and business growth, create jobs and help secure Oxfordshire’s place as a world leader in technology, knowledge and expertise. Ultimately the deal is expected to be worth over £1.2 billion when private sector investment is taken into account. 

Funding will support a raft of measures to support business, with skills training, transport infrastructure and accelerated building of new 7,000 new houses to back up ambitious expansion plans for the county. 

It is anticipated that the deal will bring nearly 19,000 high value new jobs to the county, in addition to a further 31,400 in construction.  Training people in the skills needed to fill these jobs is a high priority, supported by an investment of £1.5 million.  Plans include the delivery of over 500 new apprenticeships with more than 60% in key high-tech sectors such as advanced engineering, life-sciences and cryogenics where Oxfordshire businesses excel globally. 

The deal includes funding for the A40/A44 link road that will improve the capacity at the Wolvercote roundabout junction making the A40 flow better. This will reduce vehicles especially HGVs using the A4095 as a cut through between the A40 and A34. This will bring welcome relief to those villages on the route. Full details of the City Deal can be found on the County Council website City Deal 

Budget14.jpg

THE BUDGET
The Cabinet meeting on 28th January attracted a large number of protesters some of whom addressed the meeting to explain why we should not cut budgets that they thought were essential. Before the meeting started I went outside to meet and listen to the protesters. I fully understand their views however no alternative areas for cuts were put forward and that is the challenge we have to deal with. The proposals will be debated by all Councillors on 18th February 2014, when a Budget is set by the Full Council. I expect there will be protesters outside County Hall at the budget meeting on that day.

Since 2010, we have saved £127 million, with plans set to save another £74 million over the next few years. Despite this, further cuts to our budget by Central Government mean we must find another £64 million, bringing the total reduction to £265 million.




HOME TO SCHOOL TRANSPORT
The decision regarding Home to School Transport will take place at a special Cabinet meeting on 4th February. There has been extensive consultation with 10 public meetings alongside 71 days of consultation of which 42 were school days. The proposals are part of the original £74 million we need to save.

READY FOR WINTER/FLOODS
We expect to be dealing with snow and ice in January unfortunately this year it was all about flooding that caused havoc to transport across the County. I would like to thank all our staff who worked hard in all departments across the council to provide a 24 hours service during the flooding period. We are holding a special summit to bring all parties together to find a solution to the problems that the flooding has caused. We are lobbying the Environment agency and central government to provide the funding for more flood alleviation schemes across the county. We need to work with all agencies to ensure we reduce the impact on communities.

PARISH/TOWN COUNCIL MEETINGS
One of the many challenges of being the Leader of the County Council is to make sure I keep in touch with the residents of my division. During the autumn months I had numerous evening meetings that clashed with many of my parish council meetings, I tried to attend as many as possible. I am pleased to say that during January I attended all scheduled meeting at Bladon, Combe, Steeple Barton, Stonesfield, Tackley, Woodstock & Wootton. When I’m not able to attend councillors know that they can contact me directly regarding any issues they have.

DryJanuary.jpg




January may have been the wettest on record for rainfall however for me it was a Dry January as I took part in a challenge to not to drink alcohol during the month. I am pleased to say that I managed to complete the challenge whilst still enjoying visits to pubs, restaurants and even a reception at No 10 Downing Street. My main complaint is the lack of choice of soft drinks available at some locations.


Cheers!






REPORT TO PARISH COUNCILS JANUARY 2014  

THE BUDGETSince 2010, we have saved £127 million, with plans set to save another £74 million over the next few years. Despite this, further cuts to our budget by Central Government mean we must find another £64 million, bringing the total reduction to £265 million. The early indication of the Local Government Settlement announcement in December may mean that we have some additional funding available although it will be nowhere near the amount required to avoid any cuts.. The draft proposals were presented to the Performance Scrutiny Committee on 16th December, who had the opportunity to comment on them. There is now a period of consultation prior to Cabinet agreeing its budget on 28th January 2014. The proposals will then be debated by all councillors on 18th February 2014 when a Budget is set by the full Council.   

HOME TO SCHOOL TRANSPORTThere were 10 public meetings regarding the proposal that are part of the original £74 million we need to save. To ensure that everybody has an opportunity to make representations, the consultation period has been extended to 14th January with an additional cabinet meeting taking place 4th February to consider the proposals.  

READY FOR WINTER/FLOODSWe have been concentrating our efforts to make sure all is in place for the snow and ice. Yet the past few weeks have seen some exceptional downpours potentially leading to flooding.  River levels in Oxfordshire are still high and with much of the ground already saturated, rivers and streams are responding quickly to any rainfall. The Environment Agency monitors the river levels and updates their website to give the latest information of risk of flooding. We work with Town & Parish Councils so that they have plans in place to assist during any bad weather. If you require further information, please contact Paul Wilson, the Adverse Weather Manager.  

NEW YEARS HONOURS LISTCongratulations to all Oxfordshire residents who have been awarded an Honour in the New Year list in recognition of their services to the Country. 

FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES§  Chillout FundWe have continued a £100,000 fund to support projects for children and young people. More at http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/chill-out-fund-youth-activities-and-projects   

 I wish you all a Happy New Year. 
Ian Hudspeth
07956 270 318

REPORT TO PARISH COUNCILS DECEMBER 2013 
THE BUDGET
Since 2010, we have saved £127 million, with plans set to save another £74 million over the next few years. Despite this, further cuts to our budget by Central Government mean we must find another £64 million, bringing the total reduction to £265 million. The exact figure will not be known until the Local Government Settlement that is due on 19th December. 

We have held 6 public meetings across the county, called Talking Oxfordshire. They were attended by over 1,000 residents with over 400 responses to the online consultation.  The draft proposals will be published on 6th December, ahead of the Performance Scrutiny Committee on 16th December. There will then be a period of consultation with Cabinet agreeing its budget on 28th January 2014. The proposals will then be debated by all councillors on 18th February 2014 when a Budget is set by the full Council.  

BUDGET LETTER TO MINISTERS
During the public meetings, there were calls to challenge Central Government over the amount of funding that had been removed from Oxfordshire. The Council’s Cabinet is always in close contact with the six Oxfordshire MPs, and even more so during the Budget process. At the Full Council meeting on 5th November, Councillors of all parties agreed that I, as Leader of the Council, write to the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, asking for a fairer funding formula for Oxfordshire. 

Part of the Minister’s reply states, ‘We have consulted on the local government settlement for 2014-15 and 2015-16 and exactly how Revenue Support should be distributed, in the usual way. We are grateful for Oxfordshire’s response to this consultation and we are considering this at present.’ 

In other words, we have to work within the financial framework we already have. 

HOME TO SCHOOL TRANSPORT
As reported in November, public meetings are being held across the County. I will be available at each meeting to answer your questions, alongside senior council officers Roy Leach (School Organisation & Planning Manager) and Neil Darlington (Admissions and Transport Services Manager). The remaining meetings are: 
VenueDateTime
Icknield Community College2nd of December 20137:00pm - 8:30pm
Wheatley Park School4th of December 20137:00pm - 8:30pm
Burford School9th of December 20137:00pm - 8:30pm
Larkmead School10th of December 20137:00pm - 8:30pm
The Faringdon Community College11th of December 20137:00pm - 8:30pm
The Warriner School12th of December 20137:00pm - 8:30pm
 
NATIONAL ADOPTION WEEK
The County Council is encouraging more people to consider whether they could change a child’s life by becoming an adopter. Following National Adoption Week (4th to 10th November), the Council’s Adoption Team wants to hear from anyone interested in finding out more – especially those willing to adopt older children, children with disabilities and siblings who need to stay together. 
Cllr Melinda Tilley (Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Families) says ‘we welcome applications from a diverse range of people with different backgrounds and experiences – so it’s important that people don’t assume they are unsuitable and automatically rule themselves out.’ 
To find out more visit www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/adoption or call 0800 783 5724 

THRIVING FAMILIES PROGRESS
With the support of the Government, Oxfordshire has been running a project called ‘Thriving Families’. This aims to identify the most troubled families in society and directly tackle problems such as crime and antisocial behaviour, poor school attendance and unemployment. It is also aimed at making long-term savings by reducing the financial burden these issues place on society. Families are assigned a dedicated worker from the county council’s Thriving Families team who acts as the single point of contact. The worker liaises with other agencies to deliver an agreed plan of action geared towards achieving specific results. Families’ progress is measured through real-terms improvements in school attendance, behaviour, and reductions in levels of offending over a sustained period of time. So far 55% of the 558 families the Council has worked with have turned their lives around. This makes Oxfordshire the tenth best nationally, and fourth when the number of families making progress is taking into account. 

The council has invested £1.6million in the scheme and is on course to secure a further £3million through the Government’s ‘payment by results’ model for work to continue in future years.   

READY FOR WINTER
We have enjoyed the best summer since 2006 but the weather is changing, with a noticeable drop in the temperature. The County Council has been planning the winter maintenance programme throughout the summer to be ready for the frosts that will occur. All grit bins should be full but please contact us if any in your area have not been filled.  We work with Town & Parish Councils so that they have plans in place to assist in clearing the snow during the bad weather. There will be a series of road shows during October to explain what is available. If you require further information, please contact Paul Wilson, the Adverse Weather Manager.  

FUNDING OPPORTUNITIESThere are a number of funds available to local organisations in the Division.

§ 
Councillors Community BudgetsWe have continued to fund these popular local funds to support local organisations. If you know of any organisations that might be interested, please contact me or seek further information at http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/councillor-community-budgets

§  Area Stewardship FundingThis is continuing but is now organised differently. I will attend meetings with other councillors in my locality to pool our funds together for greater effect where possible. The funding is used to finance highway issues in particular and I meet with the Bicester & Kidlington Councillors in my locality meetings on a regular basis to consider potential projects. I am always happy to receive requests.

§  Chillout FundWe have continued a £100,000 fund to support projects for children and young people. More at http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/chill-out-fund-youth-activities-and-projects    

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 

Ian Hudspeth

                                                                     November 2013 Report  
I have to start this month by apologising for not attending as many Parish & Town council meetings as I would have liked to, due to the Talking Oxfordshire Road Shows. During November and December I will be attending Home to School Transport meetings which means that I won’t get back into my normal routine until the New Year. The month of October was dominated by the ‘Talking Oxfordshire’ road shows, where the County Council went around the county explaining that despite having made savings of £127 million since 2010 and planned savings of £74 million, we now have to find another £61 million of savings, bringing the total to £262 million. This will obviously mean changes to the way we deliver services and perhaps stopping some altogether. We understand how valued some services are and all comments will be taken into consideration. There is an additional meeting at the MEC at Marlborough school on 21st November concentrating on rural issues; please come along to voice any concerns you may have. 

The budget proposals will go to the Performance Scrutiny meeting on 16th December then to Cabinet on 28th January, before finally being debated at Full Council on 18th February 2014. 

The Home to School transport policy will be out for consultation during November.  It’s important that we update the policy and the new proposals should provide comfort to those with concerns, whilst delivering much needed savings. 

I was delighted to attend the Stonesfield Library volunteers’ evening which was the formal launch of the new service to ensure that the library maintains its opening hours. 

Despite having to attend to the overall issues of the county, I’m still out and about in the Woodstock division; please don’t hesitate to contact me should you require assistance. 

READY FOR WINTER We have enjoyed the best summer since 2006 but the weather is changing, with a noticeable drop in the temperature. The County Council has been planning the winter maintenance programme throughout the summer to be ready for the frosts that will occur. All grit bins should be full by the end of October but please contact us if any in your area have not been filled.  We work with Town & Parish Councils so that they have plans in place to assist in clearing the snow during the bad weather. There will be a series of road shows during October to explain what is available. If you require further information, please contact Paul Wilson, the Adverse Weather Manager.  

FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES There are a number of funds available to local organisations in the Division. 
§  Councillors’ Community BudgetsWe have continued to fund these popular local funds to support local organisations. If you know of any organisations that might be interested, please contact me or seek further information at http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/councillor-community-budgets
§  Area Stewardship FundingThese are continuing but are now organised differently. I will attend meetings with other councillors in my locality to pool our funds together for greater effect where possible. It is used to fund highway issues in particular.
§  Chillout FundWe have continued a £100,000 fund to support projects for children and young people across the county. More information is available at http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/chill-out-fund-youth-activities-and-projects   

 

October 2013



Public services in Oxfordshire are changing - have your say


Oxfordshire County Council has less money to spend and public services will have to change.


As part of the Government's programme to reduce public spending, the County Council has seen significant reductions in its funding. The County Council has to find another £60m worth of savings over the next four years before setting its budget in February 2014.


Five public meetings will be held across the county during mid-October with leading councillors and officers to explain the Council's financial position, answer questions and hear the views of residents.


The County Council is listening (from the press release)


Councillor Ian Hudspeth, the leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: "It is important that we hear from residents about the services they value most and which ones they could live without. We want to hear ideas about how people and communities can get what they need without relying on public services. We also want to talk about charging for services or raising income in other ways."


"We want to make changes as fairly as possible while protecting services for the most vulnerable people. To do that properly, we need to hear first-hand from people in Oxfordshire. We want people to have an influence on how we manage these very difficult changes."


Difficult decisions


Councillor Hudspeth added: "Having to make cuts is nothing new to local councils. Since 2010, at Oxfordshire County Council, we have worked hard to save £127m. We have reduced costs by becoming more efficient and cutting bureaucracy. For instance we have nearly halved the number of senior managers - so the council is much leaner.


"Now we have to reduce costs further than we had already planned for the next four years. After years of reducing budgets, finding further savings will be immensely difficult. We will continue to wish to reduce our ‘back office' costs, by vacating under-used offices and possibly contracting private companies to provide services where it is cheaper to do so.


"We can't make changes on the scale that will be needed without some services that are valued by residents changing, or even stopping altogether - and we know all too well that this will be unpopular and that there will be real dilemmas.


"These are difficult conversations but Oxfordshire people know what matters most to them and their communities, and we need to hear from them before making decisions."


When are the meetings?


  • Monday 14 October: Banbury, Town Hall
  • Tuesday 15 October: Oxford, County Hall
  • Monday 21 October: Wantage, Civic Hall
  • Wednesday 23 October: Didcot, Cornerstone Arts Centre
  • Thursday 24 October: Witney, Henry Box School

All meetings will run from 7.30pm to 9pm.


Residents are welcome to attend any or all the events across the county.


What services does the county council provide?


Oxfordshire County Council provides around 80 per cent of local government services in Oxfordshire. Apart from schools which are directly funded by Government, the largest areas of spend are social services for adults and children. The council also provides highways and transport services, libraries, services for children and families, trading standards, waste disposal, the Countryside Service.


How is the council funded and how much will it have to save?


Over half (57%) of the funding for Oxfordshire County Council comes from central Government grant. These grants are forecast to be cut significantly from 2014 to 2018. With restrictions on how much councils are allowed to raise council tax, it is thought Oxfordshire County Council could have to save £61m on top of the £74m it had already planned to save up to 2018.


READY FOR WINTER

We have enjoyed the best summer since 2006 but the weather is changing with a noticeable drop in the temperature. The County council has been planning the winter maintenance program throughout the summer to be ready for the frosts that will occur. All grit bins should be full by the end of October please contact us if any in your area have not been filled.  We work with Town & Parish councils so that they have plans in place to assist clearing the snow during the bad weather. There will be a series of road shows during October to explain what is available. If you require further information then please contact Paul Wilson the Adverse Weather Manager.



FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES

There are a number of funds available to local organisations in the Division.


  • § Councillors' Community Budgets

We have continued to fund these popular local funds to support local organisations. If you know of any organisations that might be interested, please contact me or seek further information at http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/councillor-community-budgets

  • § Area Stewardship Funding

These are continuing but are now organised differently. I will attend meetings with other councillors in my locality to pool our funds together for greater effect where possible. It is used to fund highway issues in particular.

  • § Chillout Fund

We have continued a £100,000 fund to support projects for children and young people across the County. More information is available at http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/chill-out-fund-youth-activities-and-projects

                                                                             Parish Report September 2013  
BROADBAND
On Monday 5 August, we announced that BT will be the provider for a multi-million pound investment in the county’s broadband network and infrastructure. Faster broadband is vital to Oxfordshire’s economy and the aim of the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme is to extend the reach of superfast broadband to an additional 65,000 homes and businesses by the end of 2015.  The contract we agreed was based on achieving the maximum coverage for the county for the funding available. Those communities that find themselves in the 2-24Mbps areas on the map are those where it is currently most challenging to extend broadband infrastructure.  The map published on our website is indicative, giving preliminary coverage. From now through to December 2013, BT will send crews out across Oxfordshire to assess the situation on the ground. It may be the case that where conditions differ from contract assumptions, the coverage areas may change. Follow this link for the coverage map: http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/broadband-coverage-map

HOME TO SCHOOL TRANSPORT
Oxfordshire County Council currently provides free school transport above and beyond the statutory national level and higher than our neighbouring County Councils. The proposals were considered by cabinet on 16th July. The proposal is coming back to the September cabinet meeting for a pre-consultation review that will start in the autumn once the government’s new guidance is known. 

READY FOR WINTER
We have enjoyed the best summer since 2006 but the weather is changing with a noticeable drop in the temperature. The County council has been planning the winter maintenance program throughout the summer to be ready for the frosts that will occur. All grit bins should be full by the end of October please contact us if any in your area have not been filled.  We work with Town & Parish councils so that they have plans in place to assist clearing the snow during the bad weather. There will be a series of road shows during October to explain what is available. If you require further information then please contact Paul Wilson the Adverse Weather Manager. 

CITYDEAL
The County Council is working with the Districts and local business to produce a City Deal. This will be based around the knowledge economy of Oxfordshire to bring forward vital infrastructure projects to accelerate housing developments, providing more jobs in Oxfordshire. It will also concentrate on making sure we have the correct skills base. Cabinet will be considering the bid at the September meeting. 

Thornhill and Water Eaton Park & Rides
The Cabinet will be considering  proposed service changes to introduce new and to increase existing car park charging to the Thornhill and Water Eaton park & rides scheme after consultation at the September meeting. 

EAST-WEST RAIL
The ambition of reconnecting Oxford to Cambridge by rail has been around for many years.  Recently, the government has signalled approval for the first phase, connecting Oxford to Milton Keynes. This will provide a great number of benefits for Oxfordshire, as more freight traffic will be taken off the road and it will open up another route to the north of the county - something HS2 will not do for the region. There is a delivery board and local contributions are required to show local commitment to the project. To allow more time for consultation Cabinet will now be discussing Oxfordshire’s contribution to the scheme at the October meeting.  

LOCAL TRANSPORT PLAN 3 CONSULTATION
A new area strategy has been developed for our area as part of the third Local Transport Plan (LTP3) which runs from 2011 to 2030. This is updated annually and you are invited to take part in the web-based consultation from July until September. Cabinet will be considering the report at the October meeting. More information on our Area Strategy can be found at http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/public-site/area-transport-strategies   

FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES
There are a number of funds available to local organisations in the Division. 
§  Councillors’ Community BudgetsWe have continued to fund these popular local funds to support local organisations. If you know of any organisations that might be interested, please contact me or seek further information at http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/councillor-community-budgets
§  Area Stewardship FundingThese are continuing but are now organised differently. I will attend meetings with other councillors in my locality to pool our funds together for greater effect where possible. It is used to fund highway issues in particular.
§  Chillout FundWe have continued a £100,000 fund to support projects for children and young people across the County. More information is available at http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/chill-out-fund-youth-activities-and-projects 

 Cllr Ian Hudspeth07956 270 31801865 815 283

Parish Report August 2013 

HANBOROUGH STATION CAR PARK
On 24th July I officially opened the new car park at Hanborough station which provide around 200 places for people to park safely.  It will also remove the previous problem of vehicles parked on the verges which caused safety issues, especially during the winter, with vehicles reversing onto the main road.   

HOME TO SCHOOL TRANSPORT
Oxfordshire County Council currently provides free school transport above and beyond the statutory national level and higher than our neighbouring County Councils. The proposals were considered by cabinet on 16th July. The recommendation from that meeting was to defer the decision until the November meeting, so that more consultation could take place during the autumn. The government pre-empted the decision by changing the rules regarding consultation without notice five days prior to the meeting. This will give more opportunity for schools and communities to voice their concerns regarding the proposals and raise awareness of some of the anomalies.  

BROADBAND
The County Council has used the opportunity of upgrading its own network, adding funding and BDUK funding to provide broadband coverage to over 90% of premises in Oxfordshire by 2015. The contract is due to be finalised in August when the roll out will be revealed. Without the funding from the County Council, residents would have had to wait until 2017 before this was achieved. 

WOODSTOCK POLICE STATION
The police have indicated that they no longer require the site; this will have no effect on the delivery of police services in the area as the building was not used for those purposes. It does give an opportunity for the town to have an open and honest debate about the redevelopment of the surrounding area.  

TACKLEY SCHOOL FOOTPATH
Work should begin in August to level out the footpath outside the school in order to prevent it becoming a real problem in the winter (& summer) months when rain turns the area into a virtual paddling pool. Funding for this project was from the Councillors’ area steward fund.  

MIDDLE BARTON SCHOOL PARKING
Grasscrete has been laid next to the school to overcome the problem with the verge turning into a quagmire in winter. This has proved a great success and I’m working with the parish council to fund another scheme on the opposite side of the road to help make this winter more bearable (at least whilst dropping off school children!) 

VISIT TO No 10
The Prime Minister hosted a thank you evening for local Conservative members who helped in the recent County Council elections. It was a fantastic way to spend a Monday night in the sun, in the back garden of No 10 dancing to the Chipping Norton school band, I have to apologise for my ‘dad’ dancing!  

CITYDEAL
The County Council is working with the Districts and local business to produce a City Deal. This will be based around the knowledge economy of Oxfordshire to bring forward vital infrastructure projects to accelerate housing developments, providing more jobs in Oxfordshire. It will also concentrate on making sure we have the correct skills base. Cabinet will be considering the bid at the September meeting. 

EAST-WEST RAIL
The ambition of reconnecting Oxford to Cambridge by rail  has been around for many years.  Recently, the government has signalled approval for the first phase, connecting Oxford to Milton Keynes. This will provide a great number of benefits for Oxfordshire, as more freight traffic will be taken off the road and it will open up another route to the north of the county - something HS2 will not do for the region. There is a delivery board and local contributions are required to show local commitment to the project. Cabinet will be discussing Oxfordshire’s contribution to the scheme at the September meeting.  

SPENDING REVIEW
The Chancellor announced the latest spending review at the end of June for the year 2015-16. There will be a further reduction of 10% in government funding for local authorities. The exact details are not yet known; but they should become apparent during the autumn. This will mean further pressures on the Council on top of the £127 million already saved, along with the proposed savings of £74 million in the coming four years. 

LOCAL TRANSPORT PLAN 3 CONSULTATION
A new area strategy has been developed for our area as part of the third Local Transport Plan (LTP3) which runs from 2011 to 2030. This is updated annually and you are invited to take part in the web-based consultation from July until September. Cabinet will be considering the report at the October meeting. More information on our Area Strategy can be found at http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/public-site/area-transport-strategies   

FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES
There are a number of funds available to local organisations in the Division. 
§  Councillors’ Community Budgets
We have continued to fund these popular local funds to support local organisations. If you know of any organisations that might be interested, please contact me or seek further information at http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/councillor-community-budgets
§  Area Stewardship Funding
These are continuing but are now organised differently. I will attend meetings with other councillors in my locality to pool our funds together for greater effect where possible. It is used to fund highway issues in particular.
§  Chillout Fund
We have continued a £100,000 fund to support projects for children and young people across the County. More information is available at http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/chill-out-fund-youth-activities-and-projects   

I have to apologise for not posting my July report until 16th July. I did send it to all my Parish Councils and others on my list at the start of the month.

 SPENDING REVIEWThe Chancellor announced the latest spending review at the end of June for the year 2015-16. There will be a further reduction in government funding for local authorities of 10%. The exact details are not yet known; they should become apparent during the autumn. This will mean further pressures on the Council on top of the £127 million already saved along with the proposed savings of £74 million in the coming 4 years. 

FINANCIAL MANAGEMENTDue to sound financial management and achieving our savings targets earlier than expected, the County Council’s provisional outturn has a £3m underspend in the £418m budget – a 0.76% underspend. 

HOME TO SCHOOL TRANSPORTOxfordshire County Council currently provides free school transport above and beyond the statutory national level and higher than our neighbouring County Councils. The Council proposes to end free travel to the designated (catchment) school if the distance from home to school is over 3 miles if aged 8 or over, or 2 miles if less than 8 and of school age, unless this is the nearest school to a child’s home address. This would take effect from September 2014 and those children for whom free transport has been agreed before that date would not be affected by this proposed change of policy. This protection would last up until the end of Year 6 for those in primary school and Year 11 for those in secondary school. This will not affect children from families who claim free school meals. Concessionary travel and ‘unsafe walking routes’ are also being reassessed.  The vast majority of children in Oxfordshire will not be affected by the change in policy as most children qualifying for free transport attend their nearest school within the catchment area. This is currently at the consultation stage, but the deadline for responses is close (5th July) and will go to Cabinet on 16th July. To respond to the consultation or for more information see: https://myconsultations.oxfordshire.gov.uk/consult.ti/HomeSchoolTransport2014/consultationHome  

READING CAMPAIGNThe Oxfordshire Reading Campaign was commissioned by Oxfordshire County Council last year to significantly improve Year 2 pupils’ reading levels in Key Stage 1, and to develop children’s confidence in, and love of reading. Between September and Easter 55 schools have been involved and the effects are remarkable. Results from phonics assessments have started coming in and early indications show pupils are making fantastic progress, gaining an average reading age of 13.9 months – well above the levels achieved last year. More information is available at http://www.oxfordshirereading.co.uk/  

ARMED FORCES DAYThe County held a flag raising ceremony and salute in the Castle yard of Oxford Castle on 27th June to mark Armed Forces Day on 29th June. Members of the military from across Oxfordshire took part with the Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, the High Sheriff and the Chairman of the Council, Councillor Tim Hallchurch, taking the salute.  

ADULT SERVICESFollowing public consultation from November to February 2013, Cabinet met in June to consider the Older People’s Strategy. This plan encourages people to stay healthy as they age and support older people who need help and care.  It has been put together by the NHS, County and District Councils, organisations that work with older people and older people themselves. The Cabinet considered and agreed the new pooled budget arrangements with Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG). This will not only mean financial savings it will provide a better, seamless service for the vulnerable. At the July meeting cabinet will assess care home fees following consultation. 

DEVELOPERS & INFRASTRUCTUREThe Cabinet is working on new ways of working with developers. On 18th June the Cabinet examined how direct construction of infrastructure might add to our efficiency. 

OPERATION BULLFINCHFollowing the convictions of seven men in connection with the Bullfinch investigation into child sexual exploitation, the judge passed sentence on 27th June. These ranged from seven to twenty years (life imprisonment). Bullfinch was a joint operation between Oxfordshire County Council and Thames Valley Police. The council hopes these sentences send out a strong message that child sexual exploitation will not be tolerated in Oxfordshire. We would like to praise the courage of the victims for giving evidence in court that has led to these sentences, and we are sorry we did not stop it sooner. We have learned a great deal about how to prevent and disrupt child sexual exploitation, and are working closely with other agencies to root it out. Along with TVP, we encourage anybody who may have been the victim of this kind of abuse - or knows someone who has - to talk to our specialist team in confidence. The Kingfisher team can be contacted on 01865 335276. 

LOCAL TRANSPORT PLAN 3 CONSULTATIONA new area strategy has been developed for our area as part of the third Local Transport Plan (LTP3) which runs from 2011 to 2030. This is updated annually and you are invited to take part in the web-based consultation from July until September. More information on our Area Strategy can be found at http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/public-site/area-transport-strategies   

FUNDING OPPORTUNITIESThere are a number of funds available to local organisations in the Division.

§  Councillors Community BudgetsWe have continued to fund these popular local funds to support local organisations. If you know of any organisations that might be interested, please contact me or seek further information at http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/councillor-community-budgets

§  Area Stewardship FundingThese are continuing but are now organised differently. I will attend meetings with other councillors in my locality to pool our funds together for greater effect where possible. It is used to fund highway issues in particular.

§  Chillout FundWe have continued a £100,000 fund to support projects for children and young people across the County. More information is available at http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/chill-out-fund-youth-activities-and-projects 

                                                                         JUNE 2013 

THANK YOU
I would like to start by thanking all the people who supported me during the recent County Council election. I can assure everybody that I will be working hard for all residents in the Woodstock Division to ensure that we have the best possible services. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my opponents for the way the election campaign was conducted. 

FORMING A STABLE ADMINISTRATION
There was no party with an overall majority at County Hall. Three independent members formed an alliance with the Conservative Group to allow a stable administration to be established. I was elected as Leader of the Council and announced the Cabinet at the Council Meeting on 14th May. 

OPERATION BULLFINCH
The conviction of seven men following Operation Bullfinch has raised numerous questions at County Hall and other agencies. We are desperately sorry that the abuse was not stopped earlier, however, lessons have been learned and we have implemented measures to stop a repeat of these criminal activities. Unfortunately this type of crime is committed across the nation; we need a national debate to prevent it happening anywhere across the country in the future. There will be an Independent Serious Case Review led by David Spicer QC who specialises in child protection law. This will be open and transparent and the Leader of the Council intends to implement all the recommendations. 

BROADBAND CONTRACT
The Council and the Government are investing nearly £14 million to improve Oxfordshire’s broadband network and infrastructure. On 21st May, the Cabinet agreed to award the contract subject to some delegated amendments. This is expected to provide superfast broadband (24Mbps) to 90% of Oxfordshire by 2015. 

LOCAL TRANSPORT PLAN 3 CONSULTATION
As part of the third Local Transport Plan (LTP3) which runs from 2011 to 2030 there is an annual review, you are invited to take part in the web-based consultation from July until September.  

ADULT SERVICES
Following public consultation from November to February 2013, Cabinet is meeting in June to consider the Older People’s Strategy. This plan encourages people to stay healthy as they age and support older people who need help and care.  It has been put together by the NHS, County and District Councils, organisations that work with older people and older people themselves. The Cabinet will also consider final approval for the new pooled budget arrangements with Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) and in July will assess care home fees following the consultation. 

FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES
There are a number of funds available to local organisations in the Division.
 
§  Councillors Community BudgetsWe have continued to fund these popular local funds to support local organisations. If you know of any organisations that might be interested, please contact me or seek further information at http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/councillor-community-budgets

§  Area Stewardship FundingThese are continuing but are now organised differently. I will attend meetings with other councillors in my locality to pool our funds together for greater effect where possible. It is used to fund highway maintenance issues in particular.

§  Chillout FundWe have continued a £100,000 fund to support projects for children and young people across the County. More information is available at http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/chill-out-fund-youth-activities-and-projects

                                                                                     April Parish Report 



At the start of March I was able to take a holiday in Meribel, France, to visit my daughter who is working there. I managed to get some skiing in but mainly perfected the art of falling over although by the end of the week I was able to say I can ski! With mobile phones and technology it’s very easy to keep in touch whilst away and it does save coming back to a mountain of emails. It amazes me that some of the ‘better’ hotels charge £10.00 a day for the internet yet you can buy a beer in a bar with a good connection. 

During the recent national apprenticeship week the County Council held its own apprentice awards. There have been over 200 young people in the Council, working in all areas from carers to highway technicians. It’s an ideal way for people to be able to learn whilst working.

There are some changes to the Health agenda from 1st April with Public Health becoming part of the County Council’s responsibility. This is a area that cuts across the council covering topics such as Childrens and Young People’s Health, Obesity, Winter deaths, Community Safety and Social Exclusion to name a few. This will mean closer working with the NHS and District Partners, it will be a challenge but the rewards will make it worthwhile. 

Yet another winter has taken its toll on the road network. We have put extra money into highways maintenance with extra gangs out repairing the roads. During the bad weather temporary repairs have to be done and we will come back during the warmer weather (if we get any) for a permanent repair. If you see any defect then please contact us on 0845 310 1111 or email highwayenquiries@oxfordshire.gov.uk 

The County Elections are fast looming and with the changes to the boundaries, some villages are moving out of the Woodstock Division and I’ve enjoyed representing them for the last 8 years. There are some additions; my home village of Bladon, as well as Combe and Stonesfield. I look forward to meeting as many people as possible over the coming weeks during the campaign. 

 

February 2013


Well done to the Woodstock Town Mayor, Cllr Brian Yoxall, for organising the snow clearance in the town centre. Once the snow had fallen, Brian made sure there was a group of volunteers ready with snow shovels and the grit spreader, to ensure footpaths in the town centre were kept clear. The job didn't take too long but would have been even quicker with additional help so please contact Brian if you are willing to join his group of volunteers. I'm pleased to say that Robert Courts has followed in Brian's footsteps and organised a similar scheme in Bladon, again volunteers will be more than welcome. The County Council aims to clear around 43% of the road network in the County. During the recent bad weather the gritters were out throughout the night, sometimes doing 2 or 3 runs to clear the roads. Full details of the routes they take can be found on the County Council's website.


The Cabinet proposal for the budget is to have a below inflation rise of 1.99%, which represents an increase of 44p per week for a band D property. I must admit that I would have preferred a freeze on Council Tax but this modest increase will mean we will not have to make unacceptable cuts to council spending.  This process followed the government announcement of a £17 million reduction in our grant this year, meaning that we have to make an additional £46 million saving in the coming 4 years. Since 2010 we have taken £127 million out of the budget and this year we are saving £27 million. So over the period 2010 /11 to 2016/17 we will take out £200 million from the budget. Despite these savings we have kept all 43 libraries open, along with the 44 children's centres and we are about to invest more money into child protection. Producing a balanced budget and maintaining the services that residents want is a very difficult task and I would like to thank the County Council's finance team for all the hard work they have put into preparing the budget.



The County Council, along with the City and other Districts, were 1 of 20 regions that were invited to bid for a City Region deal. The bid that we put in is based around Oxford's knowledge-base as we have 2 Universities and the best teaching hospital in the world. The aim of the bid is to ensure that any spin-off companies started in Oxford then have the ability to grow within Oxfordshire to boost economic growth. One of the biggest obstacles is the transport infrastructure in the County. We want to use the uplift in business rates to assist in providing much needed development. One of the aims is to use the money to bid for additional funding to provide a link road from the A40 to the Peartree roundabout.  This would relieve pressure on the Wolvercote roundabout, allowing traffic to move along the A40 reducing journey time. This would have the advantage of reducing the traffic on the A4095 relieving pressure in the villages. The bid has been submitted to Government and we should know if we are successful in mid-February


Congratulations to the staff and pupils of Woodstock Junior School for winning a prestigious Eco Schools Green Flag award, which is a great achievement.


Eco Schools is an internationally recognised awards programme that enables schools to embed sustainable practices into everyday school life. It fits seamlessly into the National Curriculum and provides interesting, relevant and fun opportunities for pupils and staff

January 2013


May I take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy 2013 and the hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas.
 

With 2012 having been such an exceptional year with the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee – two events in which Henley played such a high profile role – 2013 certainly has a lot to live up to. 

The only way to describe December is wet; the rain continued throughout the month with localised flooding across the county. The water table is so high that even a small amount of rain brings about flooding. The number to contact is 0845 310 1111 if you need to report anything. It’s well worthwhile to keep an eye on the Environment Agency’s website as they constantly update it giving full details of any potential flooding. 

December is always busy with events and functions in the lead up to Christmas such as Friday 21st, when I took part in the walk to Woodstock Primary School along with 100 other people and pupils, an excellent way to reduce congestion around a school. I toured County Hall with the Chief Executive, thanking staff for their hard work throughout the year. After that I went to the Early Intervention Centre at Didcot to join in with their Christmas party with a special visit from Santa Claus, once again I missed him when he appeared!

 I had hoped to get away for Christmas but unfortunately I had to return to the office during the holiday period to work on the budget, due mainly to the late announcement by the government of the settlement grant, which came with a reduction of £17 million on last year’s figure. Despite that the County Council will continue to seek to provide high quality services  across each of our key service areas – highways, fire and rescue, social care for children and adults, trading standards, schools and education, services for families and young people, libraries, the museum and many others. We provide around 80 per cent of the local services you receive for your Council Tax and there are many people working very hard on behalf of local residents on a daily basis. 

The full details of the budget proposals will be announced in January.  

Once again can I wish everybody a Happy New Year.

                                                                               December 2012  

The month of November was dominated by the budget. This is a huge task with some very difficult decisions that need to be taken. The process is not helped this year by the fact that the Autumn statement will not be until the 5th December, this gives the headline figures but over the following weeks details filter out from the Treasury. We have been informed that the local government allocation will not be until 19th December or even on 24th December. It is only once we receive the detailed figure that we can begin to finalise the budget. This will mean a minimum amount of time off for the finance team over the Christmas period to work out the budget. Now that I have taken responsibility for Finance I too will be spending time dealing with the figures.

 I held meetings with the local MPs, they are conducted on a one to one basis and I find them useful to give them information as to what is happening at the county and also to understand their particular concerns. 

I attended the National Music Council awards where our Music service received an award. The trophy is awarded to the authority that demonstrates the most substantial overall commitment to music during the year in question April 2011 to March 2012.

We had another period of heavy rain that on the back of a wet summer caused flooding across the county. Lessons had been learnt from the floods in 2007 with much earlier coordination and working with our partner organisations to try and reduce the damage to property. I saw first at hand the effect is has on local communities when I visited some areas with Nicola Blackwood MP, I noted that some houses had protection in place that saved them from damage, this is important in flood risk areas. 

The issue around the new building at Woodstock museum continues and I have been working with the local residents to try and resolve the situation. 

Winter has arrived and the highway team monitor the forecast each day to see if gritting is required. A decision is normally taken by 12 noon each day however the weather is monitored throughout. The decision is placed on the website to enable everybody to see if and what action is taken that night.

 I would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody for their support this year. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  

November 2012

 

I’ve previously mentioned that the work on the Hensington Road scheme did not go as planned and my main focus has been ensuring that the scheme is completed by the contractor without any cost to the tax payer. The scheme was part of the planning agreement for the development at Shipton Road and it’s important that the work is completed as agreed by all parties involved in the planning process.

 

Parking outside schools is always a tricky issue due to lack of space, the ideal solution is to try and find alternative ways of taking children to school. Sometimes it’s possible to walk or cycle however people are quite often dropping children off on their way to work. Middle Barton school is no different to any other across the county in this respect, the Parish Council is putting forward a plan to improve parking outside the school and they are working hard  to see if we can deliver improvements to the area outside the school, making it safer for all users.

 

I have mentioned the budget process before and I cannot emphasise the work that is being carried out at the County Council to reduce expenditure to try to maintain services. It’s a very difficult challenge, we know that some people expect all services to remain the same however with the reduction of government funding by 28% I’m sure you’ll understand the difficulties we have. We have reduced senior management costs by 40% and staff overall by 20%, we are in the middle of a 4 year plan to reduce spending by £119 million with more savings needed in the coming years. I will do my upmost to strike a fair balance across the council; I’m certainly listening to everybody to achieve that aim.

 

Congratulations to Pauline Richardson for a long service award from Oxfordshire Association of Young People at their AGM.

 

Winter is approaching and the highway team monitor the forecast each day to see if gritting is required. A decision is normally taken by 12 noon each day however the weather is continued to be monitored throughout the day. Full details are available on the Council’s website.

 

October 2012


Congratulations must go to the Woodstock in Bloom committee who have continued the success of Team GB by achieving Gold in the Regional competition. I wish them the same success in the National competition with the results due in October.



The work on the Hensington Road scheme did not go as planned and I have asked the Deputy Director for Transport to investigate, establish what went wrong and take appropriate action. The work has now finished and lessons will be learnt from the investigation.



The County council is in the process of a new broadband strategy to upgrade its own network, there has been a successful match funded bid of £3.86 million to BDUK so that over £13 million will be used to provide superfast broadband to 90% of the county. This should be in place by 2015; currently the Woodstock division is in the ‘white' area with slow broadband speeds, this upgrade will help business's to compete via the local network with speeds of up to 24 mbps.



The summer may not have appeared to happen this year however there were 2 fine Saturdays in September when the Highways depots were opened to show the equipment available for the coming winter. The events were well attended by Town and Parish councillors alongside County councillors.  Now is the time to prepare for the winter to ensure all bins have been filled and suitable equipment is in place. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me, there may be funding available for additional equipment.


                                                                                       August 2012 

I was fortunate to be invited to Blenheim Palace to see the Olympic torch pass through on its way to London. Having watched the relay unfold on the television I wondered what the atmosphere would be like. I can say that it was a fantastic event with thousands of people inside the grounds and more outside in Woodstock cheering the torch on its way. I hope that everybody in the country will get behind our athletes and cheer them on to success at the games.
 

The council launched the new Lorry Route map that directs HGVs along the most suitable roads it’s hoped that this will encourage HGVs not to use local roads unless they are delivering in the area. Full details can be found on the website. 

There was  a Full Council meeting with the annual revision of the local transport plan as one of the agenda items, it was clear from the debate that there are numerous schemes across the county that are wanted by local residents however the reality is that there are insufficient funds to deliver them. We have to concentrate our limited resources on the high priority schemes along with routine maintenance. 

At the July cabinet meeting the proposal to join together with the Berkshire fire authorities to have 1 control room was agreed. The anticipated gross efficiency saving across both Services is approximately £10M over the 15 year life of the joint control room. There was concern about local knowledge however it must be remembered that real local knowledge is with the fire fighters that are called out and that will be retained. 

I have wanted to meet the local MPs to talk through issues regarding the County Council, I arranged a trip to London when I managed to have meetings with 5 out of the 6 Oxfordshire MPs, since then I have caught up with our local MP. It’s important that there is dialogue between all levels of government so that we can work together for the best result. 

Although it was a busy month I actually managed to play a round of golf, I won’t mention the score except to say that nobody could accuse me of spending any time practising! I will be taking time off to go on holiday flying from Oxford airport, so I’ll be able to leave my house at 11.30 and by 1.30 I’ll be in Jersey rather than still sitting on the M25. 

I hope everybody has a good summer. 

                                                                                       Parish Report July 2012 

I hope everybody enjoyed the extended Jubilee weekend. The weather may not have been the best but the events locally were all well received. The national events were also superb, highlighting what we do best in Britain; my only problem was that with the excellent TV coverage we all risked becoming couch potatoes! I did enjoy the way we all were proud to have bunting and Union Jacks flying, let’s hope we don’t have to wait another 60 years for an excuse! 

The Council workload has increased, at the same time I have reduced my non council work so that I will still try to be a regular attendee of Town & Parish council meetings however there is pressure on my time with numerous evening meetings across the county. I will still continue with regular surgeries to ensure that residents are able to contact me should they have any local concerns.

 I was pleased to present the Queen’s Jubilee medal to Fireman at Woodstock fire station, the retained Firemen do a vital job and it’s always a pleasure to recognise their service record.

There are some plus sides to the new job such as an invitation to the Jubilee Thanks giving service at Christ Church Cathedral. The service was well organised including excellent weather, afterwards there was tea serviced in the Master’s garden. There was a visit to the Defence Academy at Shrivenham often referred to as the 3rd University in Oxfordshire with a Lancaster and Spitfire flypast. I attended the Encaenia ceremony at The Sheldonian when Aung San Suu Kyi received an Honorary Doctorate followed by lunch hosted by the Chancellor Lord Patten, so there are some advantages to the job. 

 I will skip over the football but as I write this we still have interest in the tennis at Wimbledon and of course we can look forward to the Olympics, let’s hope we can put the bunting out again. Before that is the Tour de France so there’s a summer of sport ahead. The torch will be coming to Woodstock and Blenheim on 9th July something that will be a unique experience for us all to enjoy. 

Work has already started on the budget for next year to ensure we deliver the required savings of £119 million. There was also the disappointing news that the Secretary of State did not allow the Compulsory Purchase Order for land required to build the Cogges Link Road, this is a setback, my intention is to work with all stakeholders to try and resolve the traffic issues in Witney. 

One of my final duties this month was to attend the Unveiling and Blessing of the Repatriation Memorial Bell at Brize Norton, I pray that it may never be tolled.

 

                                                             June 2012 Parish Report



They say a week is a long time in politics and at the start of May it certainly was for me! I was honoured and proud to be elected as the Leader of the Conservative Group at Oxfordshire County Council, the tasks started immediately with numerous briefing and having to work out the new cabinet and committees.


The following week I stood for re-election to the District Council when I was not so fortunate. I can understand that the electorate of Woodstock & Bladon did not wish to have the same person representing them on both councils. I fully accept the result and congratulate Elizabeth Poskitt on her election. I look forward to working with her to resolve issues in the ward.


I officially became the Leader of Oxfordshire County Council at the Full Council meeting on 15th May 2012, when I announced the new cabinet and committee places. The rest of the week was spent in more briefings and meeting some of the key people inside and outside the Council. I organised a meeting of the cabinet and management team at the Oxfordshire Museum that proved to be an ideal location, highlighting how flexible the facility can be.



I would like to thank everybody who has sent me an email or text; I've tried to reply to them all but I may have missed some. Please accept my apologies if I have failed to reply.


The Council workload will increase whilst at the same time my non council work will decrease so I will still be a regular attendee of Town & Parish council meetings along with regular surgeries to ensure that residents will still be able to contact me should they have any local concerns.



There are some plus sides to the new job such as an invitation to the Jubilee Thanks giving service at Christ Church Cathedral. The service was well organised including excellent weather, afterwards there was tea serviced in the Master's garden so there are some advantages to the job.


I was also pleased to present the Queen's Jubilee medal to Fireman at Woodstock fire station, the retained Firemen do an important job and it was pleasing to recognise their service record.


I hope you all have a wonderful Jubilee weekend.

                                                                                                           May 2012 Parish Report 

April seemed to be all about elections, I’m standing for the District Council in Woodstock & Bladon on 3rd May. This involves delivering leaflets and knocking on doors to meet as many residents as possible. I always enjoy this as it’s a real opportunity to meet people of all political persuasions especially those that say they won’t vote or are not interested. A few minutes talking to them helps them to understand the important job local government is and hopefully they will vote. I must admit it was disappointing that neither Labour nor the Green party put up candidates meaning their traditional voter can not vote and on the doorstep they have told me they feel disenfranchised. 
 

There was also the election of a new leader of the Conservative group at the County Council on 26th April. I am honoured that my fellow councillors elected me as leader of the group and my name will go forward to the Full Council Meeting on 15th May. It will mean additional responsibilities and work however I am committed to representing my electors at all levels. It does mean that Woodstock has a strong voice; I will use it when appropriate and necessary.
 

I would like to thank everybody who has sent me an email or text; I’ve tried to reply to them all but I may have missed some. Please accept my apologies if I have failed to reply.
 

There was the welcome news that after 4 years of work Cllr Colin Dingwall was pleased to announce that he may have found a solution to the parking problem at Hanborough station. It will depend on funding from Network Rail and he is still pursuing another option involving building a new car park on the west side of the line. Full details can be found at:
 

http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/9663570.Grant_bid_for_car_park_plan/

 
The weather has continued to be very wet and dismal, not the sort we would want at this time of year. If you are worried about flooding then there is advice on the WODC website with daily updates on areas that may be affected.

 

 April 2012 Parish Report



I went to a meeting at the start of the month for residents in the northern part of the county who will be affected by the HS2 railway, it actually only passes through a few miles of the county. However I do question the amount of money that is being spent when I feel it could be better used to deliver infrastructure projects now, that could stimulate growth across the country.


I was pleased to attend Middle Barton School to give a talk about my work as a county councillor, I always enjoy talking to children and the questions they ask are sometimes harder than those at council!


At  a special meeting of the County Council  the Standards Board was abolished, obviously there is no place at any council for improper practices but in my experience the board only heard minor issues that would be best dealt with elsewhere. I also feel that all the rules and regulations actually put off members of the public standing for Town and Parish councils.


It was interesting at Transport Decisions in March as the Controlled Parking Zone for East Oxford was considered and put through. I remember that when I was Cabinet Member for Transport in February 2008 a group of residents came to a Cabinet meeting and lobbied for the scheme to proceed. Since then there have been numerous meetings, with a particularly vocal group opposing the scheme. I know that parking is an issue in the centre of Woodstock and some residents have demanded a CPZ however this scheme has highlighted how sensitive parking issues are and how difficult it is to find a solution that almost satisfies everybody.


The season of annual Town/Parish meetings started with a well attended meeting in Woodstock. Looking forward through to May, there are quite a number coming up with 2 on 1 night! These meeting are very useful as they provide a summary of what has happened in the last year and the opportunity for residents to ask questions, I would encourage all residents to attend their meeting.



The new planning framework was introduced on 27th March reducing the number of pages of rules and regulations from over 1000 down to just 50. This simplification of the process should be welcomed and there are safeguards in place so we will not see excess development across the country. Although the Local Development Framework has been delayed in West Oxfordshire there is no cause for alarm as it should go through in the summer and there is sufficient housing planned for the next 5 years.



April is also the start of the campaigning season; I'm standing for election to the District Council in the Woodstock & Bladon ward so I could be knocking on a door near you soon. The process for choosing a new leader at the County Council will start; I have announced to members of the Conservative group that I will be putting my name forward so there will be a lot of campaigning for me in April.


Before all that, I'm starting the month by going to a Jessie J concert, backed up by Professor Green, I have the T shirt so all is in place for a fantastic evening at the Royal Albert Hall.


Have a Happy Easter


Ian Hudspeth

 

 March 2012 Parish Report



The marathon that is the budget process drew to a close in February with both Oxfordshire County Council and West Oxfordshire District Council setting a zero increase budget. The County Council had to delay the  meeting for 3 days as the Final Local Government Finance settlement was not announced until the day after the original budget meeting should have taken place.


This is the 2nd year that both councils are proposing a zero increase in council tax. This has been achieved with the help of additional government funding covering a 2.5% increase, this year the additional funding is only for 1 year and will impact on next year's budget so its vital that we continue to examine all areas of expenditure and income. The County Council has reduced the directors by 40% and senior management by 25% along with more efficient ways of working across the council, however there is more than needs to be done. The District Council has been active in joint working with Cottswold District council and has saved £2.1 million since the project started.


The council has introduced an Area Steward's Fund to enable councillors to carry out work in their divisions that would not normally attract funding. This gives an opportunity for some real local decision making and I welcome input from the councils if there are particular areas that need attention. Examples are the cobbles in Woodstock and new signage in Tackley to help reduce traffic speed. I do have to warn you that the pot is not deep so to get maximum value, it may be that small projects across the division can achieve the best results.


The Local Development Framework should have been decided at special meetings of the Cabinet and Council in March however due to the last minute introduction of some land in Carterton these meeting have been cancelled so that the full implication of this land can be considered.


The Boundary Commission has produced its final report for the new County Boundaries for next year's elections. There is to be a reduction in the number of councillors to 63, enlarging the divisions. The Woodstock Division will lose the Parishes of Enstone, Heythrop, Swerford and the Tews, which will become part of the Chipping Norton Division. The Parishes of Bladon, Coombe and Stonesfield will become part of the Woodstock Division. Whilst it is always sad to lose Parishes that I have enjoyed representing I welcome the opportunity to meet and hopefully represent new Parishes. I must admit that I will miss popping into the Falkland Arms for a pint I'll have to find a new excuse!

 

 February 2012 Parish Report



The meetings in January were dominated by finalising the budget with more funding announcements coming forward. The most important announcement is the Final Local Government Finance Settlement; unfortunately the announcement will not be until 8th February so the County Council meeting scheduled for 7th February has been moved to 10th February. It's obvious that without that information a budget could not be set. Even if the announcement is made on 8th, it will mean that the papers will have to be sent out without the full detail. Hopefully there won't be a further delay however the budget meeting for the District council is 22nd February so I would hope it'll be all sorted by then.


This is the 2nd year that both councils are proposing a zero increase in council tax. This has been achieved with the help of additional government funding covering a 2.5% increase, this year the additional funding is only for 1 year and will impact on next year's budget so its vital that we continue to examine all areas of expenditure and income.


The move to put Middle Barton School into special measures could be seen as a backward step, however there has been concern in the community over the last year and although the County council were giving some assistance, until OFSTED made the decision it was not able to provide the  full support needed. To me it highlights the need for the Local Education Authority to be able to intervene at an earlier stage, which may have prevented the school going into special measures in the first place. There is tremendous good will amongst the community to help the school. The governors and teaching staff are working hard to improve the situation and I'm confident that the school will be turned round soon.


I attended the Oxford Airport consultative meeting when they highlighted the increase in traffic that they are expecting in the summer with the Olympics especially at the finish when everybody will be leaving as quickly as possible, perhaps we should be encouraging them to stay and spend some time in West Oxfordshire?


We have been lucky with the weather so far this year but a cold snap is expected so be prepared. The gritters go out when the temperature drops or is expected to cause freezing conditions. Full details of the routes and when they are going out are available on the county council website.

santa.JPG

                                                                                                 January 2012 Parish Report  



The month of December is always busy with receptions, drinks and Christmas meals, in fact this year my first event was in November so it proved to be a hectic month culminating in carols at Woodstock with Santa paying a surprise visit, however there was something vaguely familiar about him!
  

santa.JPG
santa.JPG

It was not all fun and celebrations as there was the special cabinet meeting about the libraries, a full council along with a day of scrutiny meeting regarding the budget. I substituted for a couple of members that day so I sat on the Community safety, the Adult services and the Children’s services scrutiny meetings. It was a long day but a valuable insight into the workings of other directorates. As I’ve reported before the outcome for the County Council is the 2nd year of a council tax freeze, this is also happening at the District Council.
 

At the District Council I was involved with some Licensing matters that yet again threw up the problem of trying to allow a business to develop and provide a local service whilst recognising the concerns of local residents.
 

There were the usual Town and parish council meetings that I try to attend but special mention must go to the dedicated councillors of Enstone who met in between Christmas and New Year to conduct parish business (or were we all escaping the in-laws?)

 
I also had the opportunity of visiting Great Tew School, with our MP David Cameron, to see the plans for the much needed additional facilities. I find it reassuring that despite all that is going on in the world he still maintains his interest in constituency matters; in fact he was delayed on the way to the school as he had been speaking to Angela Merkel, at least they were still taking after the Brussels summit. 

Looking forward to next year there will be the Jubilee celebrations and both councils have pledged to make it easy for local events to take place so if you are planning an event and feel something is blocking the way please contact me as I always want common sense to prevail.  

Then there will be the Olympics with the torch coming to Woodstock on its journey to the stadium. I realise that organising the route is incredibly difficult but I do feel slightly disappointed about some of the aspects surrounding it. However there will be an opportunity to see the torch on its way along the A44, through Woodstock and into Blenheim so lets all be there on July 9th to cheer it on.
 

The outlook for the coming year will be dominated by the economic conditions not just of our country or even the Euro zone but that of the world economy. In fact I can not see the Euro remaining as it is in the coming year. These conditions will again play a major part in the planning and decisions of both councils so more savings and efficiencies will have to be found.
 

There will be District Council elections in 17 wards across West Oxfordshire including my own of Woodstock & Bladon so it’ll be a busy spring knocking on doors to visit as many electors as possible.
 

There will be another election next year, for the position of Leader of the County Council. To date nobody has publicly declared that they will be standing, the rumour mill is working hard but as the election will take place in April I think that’s important we concentrate on running the council for the benefit of the residents of Oxfordshire rather than the election, with setting of our Annual Budget being critical. The new leader will have to have their own style and way of working. However, he or she will have to continue with good fiscal management in light of the current economic conditions. There are County Council elections in 2013 and probably a General Election in 2015 so I think it is vital for continuity and long term planning that he or she is prepared to serve through that period, and beyond, rather than being just an interim leader.

I wish you all a Happy New Year 

Ian Hudspeth

 

December 2011 Parish Report



The announcement by the Leader of the County Council Keith Mitchell that he will stand down in May 2012 has dominated the talk around the council. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Keith on his 10 years as leader of the County Council. Despite all that has happened I can genuinely say that I have a huge respect for him and all that he has done transforming the organisation from its previous status as a hung council of rainbow coalitions with officers making the decisions, no leadership and a mediocre service record to one that is seen nationally as high performing.  There has been speculation about possible successors however I feel given the time until he stands down that there are more important issues to be dealt with before that decision is reached.


We are in the process of setting the budget for next year and we will aim to bring it in so that for the 2nd year in a row there will be no increase in the council tax charge. The government have again pledged funding to allow this to be done at both the County & District council. This is welcome news as we are all suffering from increased fuel prices and freezes or even cuts in the wage packet. The budget process will be hard as we have to focus on making efficiency savings to try and best protect front line services.


The cabinet will be making the decision on the fate of the Library service at a special meeting devoted solely to the subject on December 12th. I have made my views clear that we should find alternative ways of making the savings and that the use of volunteers should be to enhance the service rather than to replace professional staff. There will then be a day of Scrutiny meetings on 15th December to look through all the budget proposals and make recommendations back to cabinet. It is vital that we concentrate our efforts on this process and once it has been dealt with the process of finding a successor to Cllr Mitchell can begin.

                                                     November 2011 

I attended the Conservative conference in Manchester as I find it very useful to be able to listen to a number of debates and also have the opportunity to directly question policy makers. My full conference report can be found on my website:
http://www.ianhudspeth.com
 

The highways department held a couple of ‘Snow days’ to show what equipment is available and also assist Town/parish councils in their plans for the winter weather. The most striking fact was the small amount of salt that is needed to actually keep the surface ice free. Full details are available from the highways department. Woodstock Town council put in a bid to the Big Society fund for a winter maintenance programme, this was match funded by the Town council and I am pleased to say that they were successful in that bid. Should any other council require details I would be happy to assist them.
 

The Mayors reception at the Marlborough school MEC was an excellent night with an opportunity to meet in a relaxed atmosphere and raise some money for charity. I would like to thank the Mayor and all those that helped her on a very successful night.
 

An issue that is always coming up is the state of the cobbles in the centre of Woodstock, this is always a problem especially in the areas where cars are parked over them causing damage. The County Council does not have the funds available to carry out the necessary repairs in the style that we want. However Councillors now have a locality budget that can be used on such ‘unfunded’ projects. I will be working with Woodstock Town council to identify the areas in most need and then start the work on them.
 

The Art in Woodstock weekend proved to be a very popular event with some interesting exhibitions taking place. The blackboard jungle outside the Town hall was popular with a range of children from the very young to those of us who are still young at heart. I must congratulate
Priyanka Patel, 13, of the Marlborough School who was successful in the car design competition, with her artwork displayed on a Mini. It looked really impressive.
  

 

October 2011 Parish Report


I was delighted to attend and say a few words at the opening of the Barton Play Park. This was a scheme that has overcome numerous hurdles to get to the finish but its certainly well worth all the hard work, thanks must go to a small team led by David Monk who along with Chris Raworth, Jenny Monk, Nigel Conway, Allan Stewart and Tony Reed put together the successful bid. A special thanks must go to Tony Reed who epitomises the unsung heroes of local village life. He has helped since he was a teenager appearing to have done every job possible at the social club. Thank you.


The Woodstock division is large, with a number of Parishes fortunately they do not all meet once a month but it seems once a year 3 parish councils meetings clash on the same night. On the night of Monday 12th I had that challenge and managed to get round all the meetings, then followed Full Council the next day at the County with an evening at a Town Council meeting. The was no rest the next day with a special Full Council meeting at West Oxfordshire to listen to the local views on development. It meant that over a period 48 hours I managed to attend 2 Full council meetings, a Town council meeting and 3 parish council meetings!


The West Oxfordshire Council meeting proved popular with around 70 speakers able to put their views to all the councillors regarding development. It's vital that we get the mix right between protecting the existing environment and allowing development in appropriate areas to provide the much needed housing in the District. The week before the meeting we had a tour of the District so that we were able to see at first hand the sites that were being put forward. This Local Development Framework will shape the future of the District and with the Coalition setting new planning regulations we have to try and take them into account however until they become law the existing regulations should apply, its going to be very challenging to ensure we have a robust plan in place.


I was privileged to be invited by first Great Western to travel on a steam train, the Cathedral Express, from Worcester to Paddington to celebrate the redoubling of the Cotswold line. The atmosphere on board was brilliant and the reaction from people along the route and at stations was amazing with so many people coming out to taking advantage of seeing the train. The journey did give me the opportunity to talk to the Minister for Transport Theresa Villiers and also the Minister for Defence Peter Luff. I can not guarantee that they will take any notice of what I said however it does mean that they now know ‘my local' view on a range of transport issues in our county.


There was good news with First Great Western having a successful bid for funding an extension to the car park at Charlbury. I know that another funding bid has been submitted for increasing the car parking at Hanborough a project I fully support. With the improved service following the redoubling then more people will be attracted to the stations so it's vital that car parking be increased.



The inquiry into the Cogges Link road started and it must be highlighted that the decision to progress this scheme rather than an alternative was taken in March 2008 with planning permission given in 2009. This is about the objection by 1 party into the compulsory purchase of their land, should they be successful in their challenge then they wish to build houses on the site. This is a much needed scheme that will bring relief to Witney so that the road system will be able to operate as it was designed to.



I co hosted a meeting on the Minerals Core Strategy with Cllr Charles Mathew. This was open to any parish or town council who had a concern about the strategy and the potential impact it would have on the district. My own response to the proposals can be read on my news page. The turn out was good and the discussion lively. I hope that everybody went away with sufficient information to respond to the consultation that closes on 31st October.


The Library consultation finished on 30th September and I would like to thank all those people who responded. I hope sufficient people have responded to persuade the county to maintain the full professionally run Library in Woodstock. There is a special Cabinet meeting on 12th December to decide the way forward for the Library service.


I will be attending the Conservative conference in Manchester and updating my website on a daily basis subject to a WiFi connection!


Of course September has been busy with the Rugby World Cup and hopefully it will continue right up until 23rd October




Ian Hudspeth


 

September 2011 Parish Report




Congratulations must go to all students at both GSCE and A level who have achieved some excellent results this year. The Marlborough School has reported its best ever A level results this year with 26% of overall examination results at A* or A grade, three students achieved the grades they required for courses at Oxbridge Universities. The school also matched their best results for students attaining five or more A*-C grades at GCSE including English and Mathematics. Good luck to all students in the future.


Congratulations must also go to Woodstock Town Council that has been successful in their application for a grant of £35,000 from West Oxfordshire District Council as part of a £145,000 project to refurbish the former drill hall into an energy efficient, multi purpose venue that will benefit its regular users as well as encouraging new activities and bookings. A special thank you must go to everybody on the working group for all their hard work.


Library consultation ends on 30th September and I would urge anybody who has an interest in the library service to respond to make their views known. I am working with Woodstock Town Council who will decide their response to the consultation at the September meeting.


The County will start a consultation for the Minerals & Waste policy in early September, it is important that the new policy takes into account where the main growth development is within the county. Also it is vital that the policy recognises that any development takes into account the local road network. We do not want to see more HGVs driving on unsuitable roads.


There is more information regarding the collection of plastics, I am pleased to inform you that following careful negotiation with May Gurney, agreement has been reached to add the collection of polythene, bubble wrap, shrink wrap, cling film and compost bags to the specification. This will initially be carried out for a 3 month ‘trial' period to enable May Gurney to gain a full understanding of operational implications. These plastic materials are classified as ‘fly away' plastics. Due to the propensity to blow away when stored or collected, residents will be asked to contain any ‘fly away' plastics in a tied plastic bag and presented alongside their recycling boxes.


These additional plastic materials will be added to the current recycling of plastic bottles (milk bottles, water and drink bottles, washing up bottles, cosmetic bottles and the like), plastic tubs, plastic pots, plant pots, food trays, carrier bags, small clear food packaging and biscuit trays. This will be one of the most extensive collections of plastic commodities in the country.


This trial will be introduced week beginning 26 September.



It was announced that the County Council will receive funding of £3.8 million for the introduction of Superfast broadband. However the Broadband Delivery UK funding will not be available for at least a year as we have to wait for them to set up their Framework agreement list of providers. We don't expect this to happen before the middle of next year. In the meantime we are encouraging local communities to talk to the County Council about their plans for the use of Superfast Broadband so that we can build them into our business case for spending the BDUK money. If you are interested in Superfast broadband in your village then please register your interest online at http://www.oxonline.co.uk/ . This will also ensure that you receive regular updates about the project.

 

AUGUST 2011

The month got off to an excellent start when I was invited to Chequers for ‘informal drinks' with the Prime Minister and his family. It was a wonderful summers evening, the house and gardens looked in good condition, and it's easy to understand how he can relax in such surroundings. It was at the start of the month with the Prime Minister in a very relaxed mood except he kept on leaving the party; I assumed this was to conduct affairs of state. However when I went for a walk I found that he was watching the Andy Murray semi-final! The result did put a dampener on the rest of the evening but only slightly. I would also like to point out that any conversations I had were entirely appropriate.



The draft Minerals & Waste strategy came before the cabinet and will be going out to consultation in the autumn. There would appear to be some contradictions in the strategy as it states that the council wishes to reduce the amount of miles minerals are transported. Yet the main areas for extraction are situated in West Oxfordshire with the main development areas in the South, this will add unnecessary traffic to the A40 with a knock on effect to the A4095 & A44.



The CLA Game Fair returned to Blenheim and all parties were determined that there would not be a repeat of 2008. I arrived at the organiser's tent at 6.30am on the Friday morning to find a hive of activity with all partners represented so that if there were an incident it could be dealt with as quickly as possible. With over 20,000 vehicles arriving there was obviously some congestion and there were a couple of accidents that were dealt with quickly to avoid causing unnecessary delays. On the Saturday & Sunday I had a lie in and arrived at 7.30am to see the teams all there, working hard. I would like to thank all those concerned in delivering a good traffic management plan. I did take time to look around the show over the 3 days, I'm pleased to say that amongst all the visitors I met and chatted to, there were a large number of local residents who all  enjoying the show. The benefits to the local economy are many with the centre of Woodstock buzzing on Saturday night with locals and tourists enjoying Woodstock live.


There have been some issues with the collection of plastics as part of the re-cycling programme and I'm pleased to say that at WODC full council it was announced that there would be a 3 month trial, collecting all plastics presented, hopefully this will become permanent and avoid the problems that have recently occurred.


I would like to remind everybody that the County Council is conducting a consultation on the Library service finishing on 30th September. It is vital that as many people respond as possible, so please ensure that you respond to the consultation.

 

July 2011 Parish Report


I was invited to speak at the Royal Town Planning Institute and Mineral Producers Association annual conference on moving away from regional targets. The venue was Wolverhampton racecourse and with no racing the 200 attendees had no option but to listen to me explain why Oxfordshire had moved away from the regional figure of 2.1 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) to a more realistic 1.23 mtpa. The audience was made of producers and developers, whilst I'm sure I did not fully convince them, I hope that they could understand our reasons.


Next stop was the formal launch of the first part of the re-doubling of Cotswold line at Charlbury station and it was good to see 2 trains there side by side for the first time in 40 years. The 2nd stage should be completed in August providing a much more reliable service, the 07.33am from Oxford will now start from Charlbury stopping at Hanborough, arriving at Paddington at 08.30. This is good news but we have to keep the pressure on to improve car parking at both stations. A bid has been put in to the Department of Transport for funding at Charlbury whilst progress is being made on finding a solution at Hanborough station led by Cllr Colin Dingwall.


I attended my first meeting of the adult scrutiny committee and can see that this is an important area for the council particularly with the reorganisation of the NHS that may place more demands on the council.


Woodstock Youth Club held a progress evening to update everybody on how they are doing in their quest to raise £350,000 so far they have raised £50,000. Well done to everybody and I'm sure they will achieve their goal to rebuild the Youth club. The club is a good example of well run community youth club providing a much needed facility.


I visited Great Tew primary school that is in the process of looking to expand with a new classroom. I was disappointed and shocked to see some of the damage that has occurred in the old building meaning even less space until additional temporary buildings can be put in place. I understand that these have been promised and it's important to make sure that the works are completed as quickly as possible.


I attended First Great Western's stakeholder day at Bristol when they provided an update of what has happened in the last year and where they want to be in the future. They were keen to stress that the are committed to a new franchise despite not using the facility of an extension to their existing one. Their reason is that they hope the new franchise agreement will be for a longer period enabling them to fund more investments for the service.


It's also been a busy month for me teaching my daughter to drive, as she's turned 17 and determined to pass her test as quickly as possible. We've spent hours driving around, so look out for a blue Clio and give us a wave!

 

June 2011 Parish Report



I have to start the report with an apology, as in my April report I mentioned the proposal regarding the Visitor Information Centre at the museum. What I failed to mention is the loss of the staff and the excellent work that they have carried out at the centre. They worked hard with their colleagues from the museum and often covered for each other in busy periods. They will be missed and I apologise not to have mentioned their good work and I wish them well for the future.


I am disappointed not to have been reappointed to the Cabinet for the year ahead, however I respect the Leader's decision and will support him and the team throughout the year.

A new consultation process has started regarding the libraries. This is a significantly different offer from that explored in Autumn 2010 and means that all of our libraries will be kept open and will receive substantial financial support. 

Under our revised proposals all libraries will:

  • Have a good book stock, public access computers and online resources
  • Be cost-effective and efficient
  • Have self-service as standard
  • Have tailored opening hours
  • Offer a broad range of supporting services tailored to the community e.g. bookclubs
  • Work closely with a community support network (e.g. Friends Groups)
  • Encourage use of library buildings as community space.

However the savings still have to be made and the proposal is that some of the libraries will have to find volunteers to maintain their hours. This does mean that Woodstock library is in a group that has to find volunteers to work alongside the staff to reduce the costs. I will be working with everybody to achieve the best way forward for Woodstock library under these new proposals. At this stage I must emphasize that these are proposals that are out for consultation until 30th September 2011 then all the responses will be analysed with a proposal coming out based on this new consultation. It is important that as many people as possible respond to this consultation details are available on the website. The library service will be fully funded as it is for the remainder of the year.


Issues around HGVs are always tricky as we have to try and balance our need for products and goods to be moved around the county alongside maintaining our rural lifestyle. In the recently endorsed Local Transport Plan 3 it states the issue of high levels of lorry traffic on unsuitable rural roads which caused negative environmental impacts. Where these problems are of sufficient concern then tailored solutions will nee to be identified.



There are several areas within my division/ward that I am working on to reduce unnecessary HGV movements, the A44, the A4095 and the B4030 in particular. The issue around the B4030 is the vehicles that service the airfield at Enstone and then turn east along the B4030 through the Bartons. I held a very useful meeting with some of the operators at the site and they fully understood the concerns agreeing to use the road to the west along to the A44. I am trying to arrange another meeting with the other operators and also I'm looking at routeing agreements to be issued when new planning applications are proposed. At that meeting was the local District Councillor Arthur Goffe, Janice Dyer the Chair of Steeple Barton and Steve Ferrelly the chair of Westcote Barton. The way forward has to be to work with the operators to ensure that businesses and jobs in the area do not suffer.


The Minerals & Waste preferred options came before cabinet at the end of May prior to going out to consultation in June/July. The actual decision has been deferred to a later cabinet to update some information on the waste.  The council has done well to challenge the overall figure bringing the new M3 figure down to a more realistic level however the proposals as they stand will mean more gravel extraction in the Lower Windrush Valley that is then transported to the growth areas of the county in the south. This increase of traffic on the A40 could push more vehicles onto the A4095. Under the LTP3 we are trying to minimise the distance travelled by minerals so we need to identify more areas nearer the growth points to reduce the traffic generated, reducing the impact on the A40. I would urge everybody to look at the proposals when they come out for consultation and comment if they feel it's appropriate.



The planning for the CLA Gamefair that is returning to Blenheim Palace on 22nd to 24th July is at the final stage. There has been a tremendous amount of work to minimize the impact on the roads particularly on the Friday morning. I understand that there will be a presentation to Woodstock Town Council to allow everybody the opportunity to raise any concerns they may have.



There has been a meeting at the District council of a working group that is tasked to see if a solution to the parking problems at Hanborough station can be found. There are ideas that are being investigated by First Great Western, Network Rail and it may be that we have to look at some of the processes involved to ensure we get a satisfactory solution to this problem, especially as demand will rise with the redoubling of the track.



Since the District Council introduced a new waste and recycling service at the end of November 2010, the latest whole-month figures for April shows that 66% of waste was diverted from landfill.  West Oxfordshire's recycling rate stood at 34% before the service was launched. So far, 1,656 tonnes of food waste has been collected from homes in West Oxfordshire and recycled into electricity and fertiliser for farmland at a processing plant in Cassington, instead of sent to landfill, which reduces the amount of landfill tax  that has to be paid.

 

May 2011 Parish Report



The month of April was dominated by the election campaign, although I was not directly involved there is a District election in Enstone and of course there is the referendum on Alternative Voting so I have been kept busy helping across the county.


The CLA Game fair organised a table top exercise to involve all the authorities with various scenarios to see how the services would react. This also enabled everybody present to see and hear about all the work that has gone into the preparation for this year's event. The organisations involved were, The CLA, WODC licensing, Thames Valley Police, OCC highways, The Highways Agency, OCC Fire & Rescue and the Ambulance service.


The majority of the scenarios involved incidents on the M40 & A34 but others included flooding of the A4095 and a bus breakdown on the A44. Whilst any incident is difficult to predict the very clear message that came out was one of ‘can do' to ensure maximum movement of traffic over the weekend. The Game Fair will take place 22nd - 24th July and there will be additional congestion with all the visitors attending however all the authorities are working hard to minimise the disruption.


At Full council I was seconding a motion asking the government to reconsider the proposed HS2 and use the estimated £750 million on viability and feasibility studies on transport schemes that were ready to be delivered including Access to Oxford. This money will be spent by 2017 without 1 inch of track being laid, whereas the other schemes were all agreed and ready to start, providing real growth across the South East. Unfortunately there was insufficient time for the debate but it will be put forward at the June meeting.


I actually managed to get away on holiday, mind you taking my 84 year old mother and three 16 year old girls could have proved a big challenge! However it all worked out well and we all returned refreshed and relaxed.


The Recycling Centre policy went through cabinet this month. This will mean that when planning permission expires at Dean pit in September it will close. An application for a new facility at Kidlington will soon be going to committee.



 

                                                                            April 2011 Parish Report



The month started with a visit to Great Tew Primary school for the launch of their fund raising programme for the new class room. It felt that all of the population of the Tews were there, with little room to move in the school! A fantastic atmosphere and I'll sure that they will be successful in the project. It's well worth a trip to Great Tew and don't miss out on a to visit the Falkland Arms.


I hosted and chaired a Cotswold Line Seminar to update local partners on the £67 million investment that is being carried out to improve the line. I was pleased that the Managing Director of First Great Western , Mark Hopwood, spoke along with David Northey, project sponsor from Network Rail. This gave everybody an opportunity to understand what was happening and also question key people who are making the decisions. The question of car parking at Long Hanborough came up as the current situation is not sustainable. There is no public money available to fund a car park scheme however I am pleased to say that following this meeting FGW are meeting with a local member who has an idea to fund the project.


The Energy from Waste contract was signed after some final detailed negotiations that lasted over 24 hours. There has to be a notice to proceed issued in early April, and then work should begin in the summer with the plant opening in 2014. This will provide a solution to our waste disposal needs, avoiding land fill and also producing an income stream with the production of enough electricity for 22,000 homes. There has been a challenge lodged by the group Ardley Against Incineration against the Secretary of State over the recent decision. This will be a matter for the High Court to determine



When the proposals were put forward by WODC for the reduction in funding for the Visitor Information Centre at Woodstock I was very concerned. When I investigated more, I found out that the County Council will be taking over the service with staff trained to assist visitors. In these times it makes sense for more joint working. The reduction in space will mean that there will be more space available to promote the new Soldiers of Oxfordshire exhibition that will increase the footfall. There will still be signs for a visitor Information Centre at the museum and tourists coming to the planned events such as the CLA Game Fair, Woodstock Live, the Book Festival and Art in Woodstock will notice little, if any difference.


The planning continues between all parties on the CLA Game Fair coming to Blenheim on 22nd to 24th July, I am pleased to say that a traffic management plan has been agreed that should avoid the worst of the congestion of  2008, however there will be some disruption in the area especially on the Friday morning. The event brings income not just to Woodstock and West Oxfordshire but across the county with full hotels and restaurants over the weekend. It is not only over that weekend as work will soon start on preparing the site, bringing work to the area for weeks in before and after the event.



Last year the government reduced the funding to Oxfordshire for the road partnership that funded speed cameras; we took the decision that we could not reduce funding in other areas of the county to continue funding speed cameras. Since then Thames Valley Police have found a solution to the funding that means those caught speeding will pay for the system. Had we not taken that stance last year then it would mean that other services, such as Adult Social Care, would have had further reductions to continue to fund cameras.


The signage directing HGVs to Evesham via the A40 then the A329 has now been changed to remove the height restriction, this is the route that we recommend via the Freight Partnership, this should reduce the through traffic however we must be mindful that there a large number of businesses along the A44 that still require HGVs to service them, so there will still be some HGVs along the route.


The budget contained some good news for the roads of Oxfordshire with another £100 million made available nationally on top of the previously announced £100 million in February. The share for Oxfordshire is around £3.5 million that will be put into improving the road condition across the county.



The highways department had a ‘pothole day' when the directors along with Cllr Rodney Rose, Cabinet member for Transport and myself went out with the Inspectors, Local Highway Representatives and Supervisors to see how the system works from the first notification to actually filling the pothole. What impressed me was that all the people involved wanted to provide the best service possible and had ideas how to improve, that was from the contractors filling the potholes to the Directors. All the ideas will be used to develop the service and get best value from the additional funding.




I have to apologise if you were caught in the traffic jam on Monday 21st March when my car broke down on the A4095 and could not be moved for 3 hours. I would like to thank all of those people who stopped and offered help; it certainly proved to me that we live in a friendly part of the world.


 

                                                   March 2011 Parish Report



My budget update can be found on the News update page of my website. This was the hardest budget anybody could remember being involved with. We had to find savings of £119,000,000 over the next four years. Whilst it is very easy to say something only costs a small amount, the reality is when all those small items are added together they become a substantial sum of money. Some areas have been highlighted in the press and the consultation process will soon start. This is an opportunity for all members of the public to put forward their views. We have to be realistic in terms of funding as to maintain one service area means that others have to take addition cuts.


The government announced an addition £100 million for highways authorities to tackle the damage to the roads caused by the recent bad weather. This is very welcome and we should receive £1.14 million of the money that will be spent on additional maintenance to the road network.


The County Council has launched the Big Society fund and is keen to create an environment locally in which it is as easy as possible for communities to do things for themselves.

The council is keen to work with communities to embrace a new era and a new way of working at a time when there is less money to spend across the public sector throughout the UK.

The authority has set up a £600,000 fund to which communities can make bids for start-up funding for service provision they may wish to undertake in their local area. This can include but does not have to be restricted to taking on responsibility for libraries and youth facilities that the county council regrettably has to propose to cease funding after having had huge cuts to its budgets as a result of withdrawals from grant funding from Central Government. Full details can be found on the council's website.

Further to the announcement on the proposed changes to the Household Waste Recycling Centres in Oxfordshire in December 2010 and the subsequent budget setting process in February 2011, Oxfordshire County Council is consulting on a revised Household Waste Recycling Centre Strategy.  


We are asking Oxfordshire residents and councils for their thoughts and views on a proposed new approach. In looking for your views we can help firm up the approach to providing a sustainable solution and feed into the wider review of the Joint Municipal Waste Management Strategy for Oxfordshire later in the year.


For further details and/or to comment on the revised proposal please visit: www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/waste.


The consultation will run from 7th March - 4th April 2011 and all views are welcome.



A planning application for The Old station site in Woodstock is due to go before the planning committee at WODC and it would appear that a solution has been found that is acceptable to all parties. I would like to thank the town council for all their work involved in this, as the site is such an important part of the entrance to Woodstock.   


I was pleased to present a Green Eco flag to Enstone Primary for their work on energy efficiency. These included simple ideas where pupils went round turning off switches along with other environmentally friendly ideas such as making sure that lunches were not wrapped in cling film. They also have a vegetable garden so that they can see the benefits of growing their own food. There is a real purpose behind saving energy as it also saves money and in these hard times that has to be a bonus. It's always encouraging to visit schools and see the enthusiasm of staff and pupils. Well done to them all and hopefully the ideas will rub off on the parents.

                                                                February 2011 Parish Report

 
For a change January seemed to be dominated by licensing matters. Firstly there was an application by Cornbury for a new licence mainly to cover the summer’s music event. One of the big problems with the licensing act 2003 is that it appears to ‘encourage’ an applicant to apply for everything and anything that may be needed. When such an application comes in then to the local residents it can appear excessive and that’s when objections start. I do not restrict this comment to large applications it also applies to small local pubs. It then means that a panel has to try and understand want is required then find a solution that tries to suit all parties. Hopefully the restrictions placed upon the licence will mean that there will be a successful concert and the residents will not be adversely affected. 

There was then a presentation to the Licensing committee about the CLA Game Fair that is due to return to Blenheim in July. We all know and agree that the problems of 2008 can not be repeated, whilst it would appear there is no single action that could provide a solution there are a number of measures that have been proposed that in total could mean that the traffic problems will be greatly reduced. There appeared to be general agreement that police presence would help the situation and whilst there have been verbal reassurances it was disappointing that Woodstock Town Council had not received written confirmation from TVP. It is inevitable that there will be added congestion on the Friday morning, we all have to work together to reduce the impact as much as possible.
 

Of course the budget did loom large throughout the month, especially the fact that in the settlement for concessionary fares we have a shortfall of £4 million. The concessionary bus pass is a popular scheme yet has never been fully funded by government and in Oxfordshire we have a good bus network that encourages people to use it. We have no ability to limit its use so it’s completely demand led yet the settlement we have been given is based on the formula grant that includes areas of deprivation. To try and redress the shortfall I did meet with Baroness Hanham to put the case forward for increasing our grant. I hold out little expectation that we will see an increase in funding for the coming year but I hope the procedure can be reviewed for future years. 
 

There was also the ministerial visit of Norman Baker MP to launch the government’s new Sustainable Transport fund; this was an acknowledgement that in Oxfordshire we are trying to be forward thinking in the way we operate. The £560 million fund sounds big but we have to be realistic as its spread over 100 authorities and 5 years, a successful bid might not match our ambitions.
     

The Secretary of State has concluded that he will allow the planning authority to determine the 2nd application for the Energy from Waste facility at Ardley and is minded to permit the first application subject to conditions that he will announce by mid February. This is part of the Minerals & Waste strategy that is emerging, also covering household waste recycling centres. The proposal for these to is reduce the number in the county to 5. There will be investment in these sites so that they will have a re-use area and also the ability to take addition goods such as mattresses and paint. All these proposals have to be taken in the context of the excellent collection services throughout the county. All food waste is now collected and processed within the county, accounting for up to 25% of household waste arising. This coupled with the recycling means that there will be less residual waste to be sent to landfill.  
  

I had a very positive meeting with First Great Western and Network Rail regarding their proposals for the Cottswold line, all their plans are in place and we should look forward to the autumn for more reliability on the line. It was acknowledged that with these improvements there will be increased pressure on car parking at stations on the route. In particular the situation at Hanbourgh, which is already unacceptable for local residents, will get worse and all parties are working hard to find a solution.
  

The budget proposals were passed by Cabinet on 25th January and will go to full council in February for debate.
 

 

                                          January 2011 Parish Report


It has seemed to take an age to get to the actual settlement announcement but finally we got there in the middle of December. Like all such announcements there was some (very little) good news mixed in with all the bad news. In particular the amount of money we expected to receive for concessionary fares was about £8 million, we have been allocated around £4 million leaving yet more money to be found. The rest of the settlement was about what we had predicated so it meant that the papers going to the scrutiny meetings on 20th December did not have to be revised. This was an unusual day as all the committees sat one after each other starting at 8.00am. To make matters worse this was the first working day after the snow fall making the journey in even harder so I left my house at 6.00am. My scrutiny committee met first and I had to cover for my colleague Cllr Rose, as he had an operational the previous week. I also covered for Cllr Fatemian for Social & Healthcare as he had a work conflict. Full details of the meetings can be found on the council's website.


I mentioned above that I was covering for Cllr Rose and he seemed to pick a good time to be off as the snow came on Saturday 18th December and I seemed to spend most of my weekend talking to the radio stations and then to finish off Monday I had a live interview on BBC South at 6.30pm that concentrated more on the A34 rather than the council's areas of responsibility, making it a very long day!

On Friday 17th the night before the snow, the gritters were out and gritted all priority 1 & 2 routes. They went out again on the Saturday morning at 10.00am then throughout the day. In fact that weekend they were out on a 24 hour basis returning to the road once they had refilled. Then as the week settled down we were able to move resources to clear routes to villages and assist the District & Town councils on clearing streets. I must thank Blenheim Palace for assisting in Woodstock. Perhaps this is a classic example of the Big Society that we should all aim for? The County Council does not have the resources to clear all 2,825 miles of road and 3,415 miles of pavement. Could the answer be that we all clear the pavement outside our house or business? I know that some people worry about liability, however most people clear their drive to the road, which covers part of the pavement, so why not clear either side? Should people know of an elderly or infirm neighbour, wouldn't it be neighbourly to clear their drive and pavement?


The level of salt supplies that we hold remains good however the situation could change if we do not receive the planned orders. There are only 2 salt producers in the UK and all authorities across the country have been under pressure so it may be that government again restrict supplies in the New Year.


I would highlight that we are proposing to maintain the current level of expenditure on winter maintenance despite the fact that we have had to find £13 million of in year savings and savings of £60 million in the next financial year.


For details on the County Council's winter programme please visit:


http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/wps/portal/publicsite/councilservices?WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=http://apps.oxfordshire.gov.uk/wps/wcm/connect/occ/Internet%2FCouncil+services%2FRoads+and+transport%2FHighways+and+maintenance%2FStreet+maintenance%2FRT+-+RH+-+Winter+maintenance


I have copied details on the government's view on pavement clearing on my news page to visit the governement site then the link is:

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Nl1/Newsroom/DG_191868


 

I wish you all the best for 2011 please do not hesitate to contact me.


                                                       December 2010 Parish Report 

I do not wish to be gloomy at this time of year but as I’m sure you are all aware we are in the middle of the budget process, actually we have been working on the budget since July. The next announcement we are waiting for is our settlement grant that should be on 9th December, this has been delayed by 1 week, there are rumours it could be delayed beyond this date, once we have the final figure we can then finalise the numbers. The budget proposals will then go to a special scrutiny meeting on 20th December before going to Cabinet in January then Full Council in February.
 

There is no doubt that this is the tough budget. We have to find £150 million of savings over the next 4 years with £60 million in the first year, 2011-12. There have already been some announcements relating to libraries and youth clubs, both services are being redesigned to provide the service that is suitable for the 21st century and also can be afforded.
 

The current cold snap is much earlier than in previous years and although we started the year with more salt than last year we have to monitor the situation as there is pressure on the suppliers to divert ‘top up’ supplies to other parts of the country. Once again the focus will be on the amount of salt that the 2 main suppliers in the country are able to produce and then distribute. Full details can be found on the Council website at:
http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/wps/portal/publicsite/councilservices?WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=http://apps.oxfordshire.gov.uk/wps/wcm/connect/occ/Internet%2FCouncil+services%2FRoads+and+transport%2FHighways+and+maintenance%2FStreet+maintenance%2FRT+-+RH+-+Winter+maintenance
 

I was unable to attend the CLA Game Briefing due to yet another budget meeting however the report and feedback seemed good with all parties working to avoid the disruption that was cause by the previous Game Fair.
 The new waste collection system is operating well although there will always be some problems when implementing a major new system. If you have problems then please phone 01993 861025. 

Despite all this doom and gloom I would like to wish everybody a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 

Ian Hudspeth
 É01993 811 272 È07956 270 318

                                                               November 2010 Parish Report


The month got off to a good start with the Conservative conference in Birmingham. It's a long time since I was there and I was very impressed with the regeneration in the town centre making it an ideal location for such an event. I was fortunate enough to be invited to have drinks with David Cameron as a thank you for those that helped him during the election campaign. Although he now has a massive task ahead of him coupled with tremendous responsibility, he was still very interested and concerned with events in West Oxfordshire, being willing to listen and take note.


The month then continued with the looming spending review in mind although we have started work on what has to be cut before the announcement was made. Once it came the predictions of a 28% cut in local government funding proved correct but there still needs to be some clarity in the detail which won't all be until the end of this month. One piece of bad news was that the ‘Access to Oxford' programme, a package of £62 million of schemes to improve traffic around Oxford, including the Peartree & Wolvercote roundabout has not received funding. However we will be able to bid for future funding streams especially through the new Local Enterprise Partnership that Oxfordshire has successfully created.


The planning committee approved revised plans for the Energy from Waste facility at Ardley so we should now be able to move ahead with our waste disposal programme. We also had the official opening of the Anaerobic Digestion plant at Cassington. This will process the food waste collected across the county removing about 25% of the waste going to landfill; it will also produce electricity for 4,200 homes and 65,000 tonnes of organic compost.


The Cotswold Line redoubling continues throughout the winter with track being laid at night to minimise the disruption however the last train in each direction will be replaced by a bus service. This process will last until May 2011 covering about 1 mile every week.


In my capacity as Chairman of Licensing at WODC I would like to update you about the CLA Game Fair that will be returning to Blenheim Palace on 22-24 July 2011.  There are risks associated with hosting an event which attracts 150,000 visitors over the three days.  With careful planning and management it will support tourism and bring £13.2 million into the local economy.


Meetings have already taken place between the CLA, Thames Valley Police (TVP), and Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) to discuss traffic management for the event.  Over 20 new proposals are being considered for inclusion into the traffic management plan.






The WODC Cabinet has met with and obtained assurances from Sara Thornton, The Chief Constable of Thames Valle Police, that that the event will be policed to assist with traffic management. I have also met with her and discussed this issue and emphasised the importance of police presence to avoid a repeat of traffic problems at previous Game Fairs.


On the 18 October officers from WODC had a very helpful meeting and briefed the Woodstock Town Councillor who has been given the responsibility for Game Fair liaison.   A meeting to discuss the event is planned between the CLA and the Mayor of Woodstock on the 9 November.   A meeting has also been arranged on the 25 November between the CLA, Blenheim Palace, OCC, TVP, Woodstock Town Council and other surrounding parish councils to consider traffic management arrangements and proposals.


The CLA will also be giving a presentation to the WODC Licensing Committee in January on the traffic management plans.


Planning arrangements for the 2011 Game Fair are now well established, Monica Downton is the Project Lead for WODC.


Finally the new waste collection service will start on 22nd November in West Oxfordshire; you should all now have details of the collection day and all containers by 17th November. If you have not received them then please contact the team on 01993 861025.


                                    October Report 


There was a ‘start of term’ feeling at the beginning of September as the committees and meeting started to fill up the diaries once again, although I must admit my diary seemed full all through the summer. The main topic of debate related to the budget and the forthcoming Spending Review on 20th October, however the full implications for the councils will not be known until mid November. I’m afraid there will continue to be speculation relating to the cuts but so far no decisions have been taken. The Big Debate meetings around the county proved very popular and they were an ideal opportunity to have a direct debate, all the details were noted down and will be taken into consideration during the budget setting process.

 

The Draft Local Transport Plan 3 was approved by Cabinet to go out to consultation that will take place between October and January, I urge you all to have a read through and respond as this will be the basis of transport across Oxfordshire for the next 20 years. I must stress it will be updated and reviewed throughout the period.

 

There was an interesting tour of the Mineral extraction areas across the county to ensure that member were fully briefed prior to the Mineral & Waste working group making the recommendation to continue in existing areas, this will go before the Growth & Infrastructure Scrutiny committee prior to Cabinet, then the strategy will go out for consultation.

 

I also had the opportunity to have a planning briefing from John Howell MP who is assisting in drawing up the planning bill due later this autumn. There should be no hidden surprises as it will reflect the Open Source document that was issued before the election. It will mean more local input into the planning process with incentives to encourage the much needed growth to provide affordable housing along with economic development.

 

Please remember to register for the free green waste collection service that will soon roll out across the district details can be found at www.westoxon.gov.uk or phone 01993 861 025 for more information.

 

On a lighter note the Chairman of the County Council held a reception for the players & staff of Oxford United in recognition of their promotion to the football league, this proved a popular event.

 

The start of the new month sees me off to Birmingham for the party conference to find out more details of new policies and hopefully a drink with the Prime Minister!

 

September Parish Report

There was an additional full Council meeting on 27th July so that the new financial arrangements for this year could be passed, these were recommendations from the Cabinet meeting on 20th July. This follows the coalition announcement that Oxfordshire County Council would have to find £10.9 million of savings in the current financial year due to cuts in grants. There was also approval for a revised capital programme with the deferral of a large number of schemes pending a review in the autumn and the announcement of government funding. The schemes that were released related to external funding, basic needs or committed in one form or another. The County Council had already planned for £103 million of savings over the next 5 years however that figure will have to be increased due to the current economic climate. There are going to be some very difficult decisions taken in the coming months that will have to be based on the needs of the whole county.


To assist in this process the County Council are holding a series of public meetings when leading politicians and officers will be present the dates are:

    • 7 September, 7:30pm - 9:00pm, County Hall, Oxford
    • 16 September, 7:30pm - 9:00pm, Cornerstone Arts Centre, Didcot
    • 21 September, 7:30pm - 9:00pm, Langdale Hall, Witney
    • 29 September, 7:30pm - 9:00pm, Town Hall, Banbury
    • 30 September, 7:30pm - 9:00pm, Abbey Hall, Abingdon


Also on the 27th July the decision was taken to award the contract for the treatment of Oxfordshire's residual municipal waste to Viridor Waste Management Ltd. This will ensure a fixed cost and takes out the risk associated with potentially increasing landfill taxes.  Within the contract increased recycling is acknowledged and that is still one of the aims but it must be recognised that there will still be additional homes across the county over the next 20 years. The new waste collection service will be rolled out by West Oxfordshire District Council in the autumn and full details will be given prior to the launch of the service.


The work on the Local Transport Plan 3 continues with a draft plan that will go out for consultation in October to January 2011. This means for rural areas concentrating on increased public transport along with cycling and walking via behavioural change also reducing speed and better freight management on the network. This is a long term plan to 2030 and during the early years it is likely that funding will be concentrated on maintenance due to the economic climate.


The new science building at the Marlborough school was officially opened on 19th July and the new facilities will provide a real incentive for students to study.

 
July Parish Report

The news from the coalition is that we have to find £10.9 million savings in this financial year as part of the deficit reduction programme. This will mean some difficult decisions have to be taken to achieve the savings bearing in mind that we are almost a 1/3 of the way through this year. We also have to review the capital work programme as the funding will be reduced there. The proposals will be discussed at the Cabinet meeting on 20th July with a special full Council meeting on 27th July to pass the new budget. This will not alter the level of council tax as that can not be adjusted in year. When we have the Comprehensive Spending Review in the autumn we will then be able to re-adjust the Medium Term Financial Plan to reflect the new funding arrangements. It is apparent that the coalition is keen to avoid having so many ring fenced funding streams tied to particular national outcomes rather it will be leaving local government to determine the best use of the money locally.


The 27th July will be a busy day as along with the extra Council meeting in the afternoon there will be an extra Cabinet meeting in the morning. This Cabinet meeting will be to decide to proceed with the new contract for the disposal of household waste arising in Oxfordshire.


There was an announcement that the Regional Spatial Strategy has been abolished and it will now be down to local authorities to determine their own housing numbers, unfortunately the announcement also confirmed that the coalition are using the minerals figures that were put out for consultation by the previous government. This means that oxfordshire could be faced with a target of 2.1mtpa when Oxfordshire County Council has proposed a figure of 1.58mtpa supporting evidence. I have had meetings with Bob Neill MP, (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government) and Greg Clarke MP (Minister of State for Decentralisation, Department for Communities and Local Government), to protest about the current allocation. These were positive meetings and I hope we can reduce the figures so that we can avoid further over production in Oxfordshire.


Please do not hesitate to contact me if you feel I could assist in any way, if you are going on holiday I hope you have a relaxing
and good time.

                                                    

                                          June Report


After the General & Local elections it’s a case of getting back to the normal routine at the councils however with the change of government there will be a change of policies across departments and the announcements will take time to work through. We do know that reducing the deficit is the number 1 target and that will mean reductions in spending but until the budget on 22nd June we can not be sure of exactly where they will be. Later in the year there will be a comprehensive spending review that will establish the funding for future years.

 

A welcome announcement is the abolition of Regional bodies that dictate the amount of housing in areas, allowing the local planning authorities to determine the number that they know is correct for their local area. This also will impact on the Minerals & Waste policy that is currently being developed by the County Council. The figure that was thrust upon Oxfordshire by government was 2.1mta when the current level is 1.82mta, the County did object to the stating that a more realistic figure is actually 1.58mta. Whilst everybody understands that sand & gravel have to be dug where they are located it has to be carried out in a way to minimise the impact locally.

 

The closure of Dean pit recycling centre means a new site has to be found locally to continue this valuable service and some sites have been identified. I understand a question and answer session will be organised in the near future.

 

I met with officials from First Great Western for an update on the work to be done to redouble the Cottswold line. One area of concern for them is the parking facilities at Long Hanborough station. With the increase frequency of trains then there will be more demand for parking. They are very positive about trying to find a solution and it will be part of the Local Transport Plan 3 so I’ll be working with all parties to find a solution. The consultation for the Local Transport Plan finishes on 20th June so please do respond as this will shape the transport strategy for the next 20 years.

  

Blenheim Palace have announced that the CLA Game Fair will be returning next year 22nd to 24th July and the CLA will be setting up a local stakeholders group to work with them reduce the impact locally.

 

Its good to see the new science block at the Marlborough school reaching completion and it will certainly be a great benefit to pupils.

 

Please do not hesitate to contact me for any further details