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OALC Annual General Meeting
When: 1st July 2013 7.30pm, the hall is open from 7pm for tea, coffee and biscuits
Where: Exeter Hall, Kidlington, Oxford OX5 1AB
- a speaker from the County Council on Broadband
- to consider the Annual Report and Accounts
- to agree changes to the Constitution as outlined in the Annual Report.
Connecting Power to Local People - NALC Conferences
NALC is hosting three one-day conferences on how local (parish and town) councils can help the lives and well-being of communities through leadership and service delivery.
As well as plenary speakers there will be eight topical workshops to choose from during the day on how local (parish and town) councils can help the lives and well-being of communities through leadership and service delivery. These workshops will help you to operate in the crucial areas that include: planning, finance, saving and running local facilities, breaking barriers created by other tiers of local government, and the law.
Book now for Sheffield or Bristol so you do not miss out on these exciting events!
For more information and booking forms click here
The National Association of Local Councils,
109 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LD
Tel: 020 7637 1865 | www.nalc.gov.uk
Community Governance Review for South and Vale District Councils
David Buckle, Chief Executive recently wrote to all town and parish councils in both districts informing them that a Community Governance Review is to be undertaken with the results being ready before local council elections in May 2015.
The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 places a duty on principal authorities to ensure that community governance arrangements reflect the identities and interests of local communities and is effective and convenient.
A report to each district council will go in July asking it to agree draft terms of reference for the review.
David Buckle is requesting that town and parish councils inform him by the 28th June of any changes to community governance arrangements that you would like to put forward.
Once the district council has approved the draft terms of reference there will be a period of formal consultation until around the end of September. The district council will then agree final terms of reference in October and the work should be complete by April 2014.
Please send details of any matters that you wish South Oxfordshire or Vale of White Horse District Councils to consider in relation to your parish or parish council to email@example.com
Oxfordshire County Council Support Finder
The County Council has launched an online directory of services, information and advice for health and wellbeing. The website provides a single point of access to information and advice for all types of adult social care and related services. With hundreds of local organisations listed on the site, you can search for services and look up help and support for others. If you don't have internet access ring 0845 050 7666 and an adviser will search Support Finder for you.
Saving your village pub
The villagers of Great Haseley have secured the future of their pub, The Plough with help and advice from The Plunkett Foundation and funding from the South Oxfordshire LEADER project.
Other villages are doing similar fantastic work - The Seven Stars at Marsh Baldon reopened at the end of March 2013 . The Plunkett Foundation have a lovely article on their website about the work to reopen The Seven Stars, the community raised £146,000 through community shares in just two months which enabled them to buy the pub.
As well as the Plunkett Foundation have a look at the Pub is the Hub website. Pub is The Hub operates as a ‘not-for-profit’ organisation dedicated to offering advice and support to licensees, rural pubs and community services. Initiated by HRH the Prince of Wales, it facilitates projects by encouraging and helping licensees and communities to connect and share their experiences and work together to support and sustain their local services.
Getting your village pub listed as an Asset of Community Value may give your community a window of opportunity to consider putting in a bid if it is likely to be sold on the open market. Consult your district council who will hold the asset register. Consider whether your council is eligible to use the new Power of General Competence which may enable it to give a contribution towards the costs. In the Members Area of this website in the section OALC Guidance there is a briefing paper on the Power of General Competence.
The Council Year
In the Members Area of the website there is a handy table of the actions that need to be done month by month; it is useful as an aide-memoire or introduction for new councillors, look in the OALC section.
Patient Participation Toolkit
The toolkit can be downloaded from theOxfordshire LINk or Healthwatch website. Patient Participation Groups work with GP practices to give the patients view on services the doctors provide. The scope of the PPG may not include town and parish councils but it might be useful to know more as the delivery of social care is changing.
Oxfordshire Woodfuel Programme bulletin
Chalara / ash die-back: You will probably have heard about chalara in the news. It is a spore-borne disease which is expected to kill nearly all ash in the coming years. A small proportion – maybe one in 100 trees – will be immune. As ash trees come into leaf, it will become apparent if they have chalara or not. Signs of the disease include wilting leaves, brown veins in the leaves, and browning of young stems. Forestry Commission advice is not to fell ash trees unless they are ill: the felled tree might be in the 1% that are immune. Besides, the spores can travel huge distances so felling trees as a prophylactic measure is not effective. If you are aware of ash trees with chalara, www.forestry.gov.uk/chalara gives advice on what to do. they can be used as firewood unless the government places a special order on the trees that prohibits their movement.
Time to buy firewood and stoves/boilers: The woodfuel cutting year may be over, but this is the time to buy firewood and store it for next autumn, and also to think about installing a wood stove or boiler. The website www.oxonwoodfuel.org.uk, provides lots of advice on this, including information on the Renewable Heat Incentive and lists of woodfuel and wood stove suppliers.
Woodfuel study visits: There will be three woodfuel themed study visits in the coming months: on 15 April, 1 June and 8 June. The first and last of these will each involve a visit to a woodland, a wood processor and an interesting wood boiler. The 1 June event is a unique opportunity to visit a woodland in a Ministry of Defence site, and taste wild rabbit if you want. The cost is £25-£30 and numbers are limited. More information is at www.oxonwoodfuel.org.uk/woodfuel-site-visits.
Logs for labour: Thank you to everyone who contacted me about this. We have had five successful events this spring, and hope to roll out the programme much more widely next autumn. If you are a woodland owner who could use some free help with woodland management in return for people taking some firewood (labour for your logs), or if you would like to work outdoors in return for some firewood (logs for your labour), please get in touch with me. More information is at www.oxonwoodfuel.org.uk/logs-for-labour.
Firewood quality standard: The Oxfordshire Woodfuel Programme is setting up a quality standard for small-scale firewood suppliers in Oxfordshire, called 'OxLogs'. It aims to provide transparency about the amount, type, length and moisture content of firewood, and in time improve firewood quality. OxLogs suppliers will state the amount of wood in 'cubic metres tossed' (tossed is how it comes off the truck; a tossed cubic metre is about 0.7 stacked cubic metres); type as hardwood, softwood or mixed; and moisture content as <25% which is ready to burn, or unclassified which buyers would need to season themselves. Please ask your supplier if they provide OxLogs.
Riki Therivel, firstname.lastname@example.org, 01865 243488
Oxfordshire County Council - Supporting Community Transport
The latest edition of the county councils ‘Supporting Community Transport’ newsletter is now available online. Scroll down to the end of the page: www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/communitytransport, to download a copy.
Let Dr Katrin Luddecke know if you find it difficult to read and she will do her best to help. And please pass on through your networks to anyone else who might be interested.
The County Council is happy to provide a brief article, to include in other newsletters, please contact the Community Transport Project at the County Council:
Dr Kathrin Luddecke, Community Transport Development & Strategy Officer
Planning, Environment & Transport Policy, Oxfordshire County Council
Speedwell House, Speedwell Street
Oxford OX1 1NE
Direct Line 01865 32 3965 or mobile 07774016848
Neighbourhood Development Plans
NALC/CPRE are coming to the end of their involvement in the Department of Communities and Local Government Supporting Communities with Planning Project. The last event was held in Dorchester on Thames Village Hall on 5th February. It was a repeat of the day long, free, workshop for communities held in July last year. It is for communities that are already resolved to embark on the process of doing one of these plans.
The presentations are on the CPRE website and you can join an egroup to exchange experiences and good practice.
The map of which villages have a Broadband Champion was updated on 4th February, take a look.
Has your village got a Champion? Yes. Great, make sure they act as a communication channel both ways - community up to the county and from the county back down to the villages, parish council and community groups. If your parish hasn't got a Champion, it is in your interests to appoint one, geeks are fine but a willingness to stand up and push for better broadband is just as important. This is the summary of responses that the County council have received:
- 8 champions (no postcode/ village given at registration)
- 1275 responses with no postcode to demand survey
External to Oxfordshire
- 4 champions (villages bordering the County)
- 13 responses with external postcodes to Demand survey
Oxford City (should be covered by commercial market)
- 4 parishes in Oxford
- 2 champions at Oxford City Council
- 0 Parishes with champions
- 4 Parishes with no champions
- 126 responses to Demand survey
- 78 parishes across CDC
- 62 champions across Cherwell
- 40 Parishes with champions (51%)
- 42 Parishes with no champions (49%)
- 835 responses to Demand survey
South Oxfordshire DC
- 86 parishes across SODC
- 94 champions across SODC
- 60 Parishes with champions (70%)
- 35 Parishes with no champions (30%)
- 1475 responses to Demand survey
Vale of White Horse DC
- 68 parishes across VoWH
- 54 champions across VoWH
- 38 Parishes with champions (56%)
- 29 Parishes with no champions (44%)
- 930 responses to Demand Survey
West Oxfordshire DC
- 81 Parishes across WODC
- 51 Champions across WODC
- 32 Parishes with champions (40%)
- 52 Parishes with no champions (60%)
- 967 responses to Demand survey
Have a look at the Get involved in Broadband page and the Broadband Champions toolkit page on the Oxfordshire website; there are contacts, FAQ's and five things you can do in under five minutes. The latest Better Broadband update from the County council is available here:
Community Link-Up is a project run by the Oxfordshire Association for Young People, using BIG Lottery funding to make a difference to the lives of people in Oxfordshire’s rural communities. OAYP is Oxfordshire’s oldest voluntary youth charity and has been working successfully with the young people of Oxfordshire since 1947.
The Community Link-Up project is aimed at bringing communities together in geographically-disadvantaged areas, who need skills, infrastructure & support to help young people in the area. OAYP intend to make isolated communities better places to live, develop the skills & experience of young people, but also adults volunteering within the groups.
The funding is aimed at setting up or reviving clubs for young people to attend, to benefit their communities. OAYP cannot therefore offer services to existing established clubs, but they may still benefit from OAYP affiliation, with services such as free CRBs, advice on safeguarding, and access to training and activity provision.
The Community Link-Up project employs staff to offer advice on governance structure & to help you set-up the foundations of a solid & successful youth club. OAYP can provide guidelines & draft paperwork, such as committee job descriptions, health & safety, equality/diversity & safeguarding policies, & risk assessments, amongst others.
Then, when you have set up, the OAYP dedicated volunteer officer can provide support to staff and volunteers working in the club, whilst providing training opportunities, activity ideas and advice on day-to-day club running. Once you are ready to go, the Activities Officer will help with arranging a variety of activities and competitions to get young people active and engaged, & then helping to establish your own youth forum to help run events.
By affiliating to OAYP, start-up clubs will automatically fall under the Community Link-Up project. You will have access to all of the templates for club legislation, with the added benefit of face-to-face support from OAYP staff to arrange training and recruitment. Once the club is open, the OAYP activities officer can then help to set up fun and rewarding activities for the young people to take part in. In return, OAYP ask that clubs help staff collect evidence to show that the young people are benefitting from the opportunities offered, in the hope that funding for the project can be extended.
If you have any questions, queries, ideas or advice please contact us via email or phone.
Phone: 01865 368 027
Community Safety Partnerships: your route to getting your concerns in front of the Police and Crime Commissioner
The new Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley is Anthony Stansfeld, he is a Conservative District Councillor from Hungerford, West Berkshire. He recently met representatives from the Voluntary and Community Sector, the purpose of the meeting was to investigate the best way to ensure good communication between the PCC and the Sector.
The Police and Crime Commissioner outlined his main priorities as set out in the Draft Police and Crime Plan for the Thames Valley 2012 -2017.
- Drug addiction
- Child abuse
- Rural crime
Thames Valley is a huge geographical area covering Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. This creates logistical difficulties in that a lot of statutory and non-statutory bodies would like to have access to the PCC in particular to press their case when, in particular, voluntary groups will be tendering to supply services to the police rather than receiving a grant as at present. The Police and Crime Panel which scrutinises the functions of the PCC has only 20 places on it, of which 18 are elected from the 18 local authorities within Thames Valley, there are 2 co-opted members but none from other sectors.
It therefore appears that there is no easy direct route for the Voluntary and Community Sector to access the ear of the PCC. Obviously, town and parish councils are not third sector they are local authorities and a tier of local government but our voice also tends not to be heard. At the meeting it became clear that the best way to get information placed before the Police and Crime Commissioner was through the Community Safety Partnership of your district council. It also became clear at the meeting that there was widespread ignorance of who was on Community Safety Partnerships, what they did and what their role is. Take a look at the website of your Community Safety Partnership (links below), if your council has concerns about policing in your area either speak to your Neighbourhood Action Group (NAG) if you have one or channel it to your Community Safety Partnership.
Vacancies on the Oxfordshire Association of Local Councils Executive and Policy Committee
Oxfordshire Association of Local Councils needs more representatives on its Executive and Policy Committee. Each district can have 5 representatives but there are a number of vacancies most notably in Cherwell District. We are looking for willing and enthusiastic councillors to attend and contribute to just four meetings per year held centrally at Kidlington usually on a Monday afternoon. The Committee also has an elected representative from each district council and the county council as well.
The vacancies we are looking to fill are:
Vale of White Horse
What does the Committee do?
The Committee meets four times per year to consider consultations, topics and reports of relevance to our sector of local government. The members of the Committee have a four year term of office; the next election will be at the AGM in the summer of 2015. The Committee appoints members to serve on other bodies such as the River Thames Alliance, Oxfordshire Partnership and District Council Strategic Partnerships where they still exist etc. The Committee also appoints members to attend National Association of Local Council meetings and it’s AGM in London representing the views of local councils in Oxfordshire at the national level.
This is an opportunity to represent the views of your town or parish council at the county level. The Committee is an opportunity to share good practice and compare implementation of new legislation, respond to government consultation documents with an informed view and to keep yourself (and your council) up to date with the wider local council picture.
What would I have to do if I was interested in being nominated to the Committee?
A nomination form is available from OALC which needs to be completed with brief biographical details and be signed by the clerk of your parish or town council. There needs to be a resolution of your council in support your nomination. Return the completed form to OALC. Only one representative per parish council is allowed. The next Executive and Policy Committee is on 18th March.
Further information and a nomination form from the OALC office 01491 823118 email@example.com
Congratulations to Little Milton Parish Council on gaining re-Accreditation for Quality Council Status
For a small council with only six councillors and 395 electorate Little Milton Parish Council and its clerk Raymond Ferguson are dynamic and a beacon of professionalism in our tier of local government. The Accreditation Panel met on 12th November to examine the portfolio of evidence which councils have to produce. The Panel gave close examination to all the supporting evidence on the various tests:
- Electoral mandate
- Qualifications of the clerk
- Annual reports
- Code of Conduct
- Promoting local democracy
- Terms and conditions of employment
The Panel agreed that the evidence of the councils activities met all the required criteria and were pleased to re-accredit Quality Status on Little Milton Parish Council. The certificate was awarded to the chairman and clerk at the OALC Winter General Meeting on 19th November 2012.
The Quality Accreditation scheme is currently being reviewed by National Stakeholders with a view to being relaunched this year. There is a freeze on new applications until the review is complete.
Oxfordshire Woodfuel Programme bulletin: January 2013
Riki Therivel writes:
Thank you to everyone who contacted me in response to the first of these bulletins: it is heartening that so many Oxfordshire residents are interested in woodfuel.
Website: The Oxfordshire Woodfuel Programme now has a website which provides lots of advice on growing, cutting, storing and burning woodfuel: www.oxonwoodfuel.org.uk. It contains inspiring case studies of a wood pellet boiler at Stadhampton Primary School and community firewood distribution at Sustainable Kirtlington. If you send me a photo of your wood-burning stove, wood pile or managed woodland, I'll post it on www.oxonwoodfuel.org.uk/my-woodfuel.
Woodfuel study visits: I will be running a series of study visits in the spring. The first one is on Monday 15 April, 10:00 – 15:40: it will cover woodland management at Coombe Wood near Wheatley, Oxford Wood Recycling at Milton Park, and Stadhampton primary school's boiler. The two after that will be on Monday 13th May (SW Oxon) and Saturday 8th June (N Oxon). They cost £25 each and I can take a maximum of 20 people – please contact me if you would like to come.
Workshops on woodland management: The Oxfordshire Woodland Project is running workshops, including chainsaw use, coppicing and woodland plans. They cost £50 each, or £30 if you are a member of the OWP.
Wood moisture and seasoning wood: I wrote about the importance of seasoning wood in my last bulletin. Freshly cut wood has a moisture content of up to 80% (wet basis), but well-seasoned wood is at about 20%. The figure shows why this is important. A fresh green log has only about half the energy content (kWh/kg) of an equivalent well-seasoned log.
You can save money by buying freshly cut logs now, cheaper than seasoned, and seasoning them yourself for use next winter. Raise the logs off the ground by about 6 inches (for instance on a pallet), stack them so that air can circulate freely, and protect them from rain. Ideally they should be stored like this for at least a year. Firewood dries fastest in the spring: wood cut after April should not be used in the first winter. The woodfuel programme has a moisture metre that you are welcome to borrow for a week, if you are willing to post it back.
Grants: Households that do not have central heating and install a biomass boiler before the end of March can get a £950 grant ('phase 2 household voucher scheme') from the Department of Energy & Climate Change. Woodland owners that need to put in roads to extract woodfuel can get a Woodfuel Woodland Improvement Grant from the Forestry Commission that covers up to 60% of the cost, but the work needs to be completed by the end of 2013. Please contact me if you need help with either of these, or if you would like to discuss any other aspect of woodfuel.
Riki Therivel, firstname.lastname@example.org, 01865 243488
TRUST FOR OXFORDSHIRE’S ENVRIONMENT
INCREASING ENERGY EFFICIENCY IN COMMUNITY BUILDINGS
TOE2 is working in partnership with Environmental Information Exchange (EiE) to promote and encourage energy efficiency in community buildings across Oxfordshire.
With funds from the Patsy Wood Trust we can provide grants towards energy audits and we are running a series of free workshops. The audits and workshops are aimed at those involved with managing community buildings such as village halls, community centres, Scout and Guide huts and sports pavilions.
Energy Audit grants
TOE2 can provide grants of £500 towards the cost of an energy audit. EIE staff will make a site visit and write a report with detailed recommendations of ways to improve energy efficiency and reduce costs. TOE2 and other funders may be able to provide grants to support improvement works suggested as a result of an energy audit.
Jumpers and Scarfs - Getting to grips with hall energy use
Free energy training workshops for village halls and community centres
- Would you like your community hall to be more energy efficient?
- Are you worried about energy bills spiraling out of control?
- Is your hall underused and sitting empty because it’s too cold in winter?
- Are you on the management committee of your local community hall?
These FREE energy training workshops are for you.
The Environmental Information Exchange (EiE), funded by the Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment (TOE2), is running half-day workshops on energy efficiency in village halls and community buildings.
Each workshop will include information and advice on reviewing energy use, identifying problems and finding solutions. There will also be an opportunity to tour the hall and talk to a member of the hall committee. The workshops will start at 9.30am and finish with a locally sourced light lunch.
For further advice and information
- Contact Fiona Danks 01865 883488 at email@example.com for information about applying for energy audit grants and attending the workshops.
- Helpful tips on increasing the energy efficiency of community buildings can be found by visiting the following blog on the Low Carbon Hub Website - http://www.lowcarbonhub.org/advice/2012/11/13/keep-the-heat-in-insulation-in-community-buildings
Community Governance Review – Cherwell District
Cherwell District Council are undertaking a Community Governance Review and have sent a letter to all the affected town and parish councils. The first stage in this process is to gather views from town and parish councils, elected Members and neighbouring authorities which are then reported to full Council. This will lead to the production of draft proposals which councils will have the opportunity to comment on during a formal consultation period, before the issue returns to full Council for a final decision.
A number of suggestions were received by James Doble, Democratic and Elections Manager, following his letter in March, and these suggestions, included below as a reminder, have been logged so that they are taken into account during the process.
- Number of Parish Councillors at Middleton Stoney to be increased from 5 to 7
- An increase of numbers at Piddington Parish Council
- Consideration of the RAF base at Upper Heyford and the possibility of Warding for Upper Heyford Parish Council
- The Eco Town should not become part of Caversfield Parish Council
Included below a reminder of the issues which the council is permitted to consider during the Community Governance Review process.
Key Questions for Consideration in a Community Governance Review
- Whether a new parish or any new parishes should be constituted
- Whether existing parishes should or should not be abolished or whether the area of existing parishes should be altered
- Whether parishes should be warded and if so what these wards should be
- What the electoral arrangements for new or existing parishes, which are to have parish councils, should be (e.g. how many parish councillors are required)
- Whether any existing, or new, parishes should be grouped
If you have any views or suggestions that you would like to be considered during this process, please submit them to Emma Faulkner by the close of business on 31 January 2013.
Submissions can be sent via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or by post to:
Emma Faulkner, Democratic and Elections Team
Cherwell District Council
Oxfordshire OX15 4AA
Dispensations to consider the precept
We are aware that the National Association for Local Councils (NALC) and the Society for Local Council Clerks (SLCC) have issued guidance suggesting that parish councils should agree a dispensation to allow councillors to discuss and set the precept.
This situation has arisen owing to the repeal of the legislation relating to the former Code of Conduct. As a consequence the Localism Act 2011 also repealed the general dispensation permitting any councillor with an interest to take part in meetings relating to setting their council’s precept.
We are of the opinion that the Act does not result in a disclosable pecuniary interest and that having a beneficial interest in, or occupation of, residential property in the council’s area does not amount to a disclosable pecuniary interest in the item of business. Furthermore we believe that there would have been no intention to create an additional burden for councils in setting the precept. However, if your council decides to grant its councillors a dispensation on the basis of NALC and SLCC guidance, there are some general pointers that you should consider and these are set out in the attached guidance note.
You can access NALC guidance via the Oxfordshire Association of Local Council’s office and SLCC’s press release is on the link below.
The Monitoring Officers for Oxfordshire have agreed a briefing on how to deal with requests for Dispensations this is available here
The Department of Communities and Local Government has updated the useful guide for councillors 'Openness and transparency on personal interests, a guide for councillors' , available here
Oxfordshire County Council
Supporting community transport 2012-2014: Project Overview
What is community transport?
Community transport is not-for-profit transport that is developed by local people and communities to meet their needs where conventional public transport or other transport does not exist or is not accessible, for a variety of reasons.
This includes volunteers using their own cars to offer transport, community car share schemes and minibuses (some timetabled) and group transport. While a range of community transport services across Oxfordshire, provision is changing and demand is likely to increase.
A two year programme of work
The county council recognises the importance of supporting the development of a strong and sustainable community transport sector in the county. The council’s Cabinet has committed to a 2 year programme of work 2012-2014, using a one off grant from national government.
Over this time the aim is to help lay the foundations for a more visible and integrated sector in the future, for example by:
- Improving the understanding of transport needs across the county
- Identifying opportunities and helping to grow or extend services
- Understanding and addressing barriers to developing community transport.
How you can get involved
The county council know that they need to work closely with existing community transport providers and communities to help make the best use of the additional resources available. This includes one-off funding for marketing, needs surveys, start-up grants and community lift share pilots, plus additional staff support.
Please get in touch with the county council with your ideas and suggestions, for example how to:
- Promote community transport to potential clients and/or volunteers
- Find out more about local transport needs
- Grow existing or develop new services
- Make better use of existing resources for community transport.
Whom to contact
Enquiries about the project:Kathrin Luddecke, Community Transport Development and Strategy
01865 323965 email@example.com
General support including to existing groups: Emily Lewis, Community Transport Adviser, ORCC
01865 883488 Emily.firstname.lastname@example.org
Town Team partners
Carterton and Chipping Norton have been invited to join the national Town Team partners' programme, which came out of the Portas Review.
They will each receive £10,000 funding and access to a Town Teams partners’ support package, which will include:
- an advice line and a network of advisers managed by the Association of Town Centre Management, as well as key informative events;
- direct mentoring and visits from a range of retail experts;
- regular meetings with other Town Teams to share lessons learned, tips and ideas;
- an online community to receive advice and information from retail experts.
Carterton and Chipping Norton qualified as Town Team partners because of their enthusiasm for the Portas Pilot scheme, which drew in 326 applicants.
Carterton will be using their £10,000, along with other funding from the Design Council and S106 from the new Morrisons store, for town centre improvements including the creation of a new market square in front of the Town Hall. The plans also involve a Town Hall extension for a downstairs reception and Job Search area and improved pedestrian links throughout the town. A public meeting is being held at Carterton Town Hall on November 22nd at 7pm to inform the wider community of the plans and to listen to their views.
In Chipping Norton, a consortium of local business owners, called Experience Chipping Norton, made the application. They will be using their funding for a town marketing campaign.
Adam Jennings, a local businessman and member of the Experience Chipping Norton core team said, “We want to make Chipping Norton a more visible and attractive destination for visitors and businesses by providing promotion through a number of connected schemes.”
Funding will be managed by West Oxfordshire District Council.
The Portas Pilot scheme is taking forward the first recommendation from Mary Portas’s High Street review. It is about encouraging local partnerships and consortiums to come up with innovative ideas of their own about how to transform their local high street into a social place, bustling with people, services and jobs.
The Portas Review into the High Street’s future was published on 13 December 2011.
Local Government Boundary Commission - South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils
See the Consultations section for the latest round of consultations on the draft recommendations. In brief South Oxfordshire District Council to be reduced from 48 to 36 members and Vale of White Horse District Council from 51 to 38 members
More details about the review and responses to the consultations are on the Local Government Boundary Commission website
New Code of Conduct
Your council will have received from your District Council Monitoring Officer/Democratic Services Officer the new Oxfordshire Code of Conduct and the Register of Interests.
OALC have recommended that your council adopt this Code rather than the NALC template (which is available on our website).We are recommending the Oxfordshire Code for consistency, if you have dual or even triple hatted councillors it is logical to have the same Code for all levels of local government. Jan Gosset from OALC was involved in the discussions when the Oxfordshire Code was being developed so we believe it is appropriate for town and parish councils. The Code should have been adopted by 1st July and the Register of Interest form also supplied by your District Council completed and returned to it.
If you have queries about the Code please direct them to your own Monitoring Officer. The Department of Communities and Local Government has updated the useful guide for councillors 'Openness and transparency on personal interests, a guide for councillors' , available here
General Power of Competence - CiLCA Section 7
For a council to be able to exercise the new and wide ranging General Power of Competence it has to satisfy two criteria:
- At least two thirds of the members of the council must hold office as a result of being declared elected. This means they should have stood for election, whether at an ordinary or by election, even if unopposed, rather than co-opted or appointed.
- The clerk must hold the Certificate in Local Council Administration (CiLCA) including the new Section 7, the Certificate of Higher Education in Local Policy, the Certificate of Higher Education in Local Council Administration or the first level of the foundation degree in Community Engagement and Governance awarded by the University of Gloucestershire. The clerk is strongly recommended to attend a training course on the new Section 7 CiLCA although this is not mandatory.
When these criteria are satisfied the council may pass a resolution to that effect. Unlike the Power of Well Being which has now been superceeded by the General Power of Competence there is no requirement for councillors to undertake any training.
Congratulations to Little Milton Parish Council, their clerk Raymond Fergusson is the first clerk in the county to have passed Section 7 CiLCA and consequently the council has passed a resolution to enable it to exercise the new Power.
Oxfordshire County Council Dial a ride service
A new countywide minibus service for people with mobility problems started on 2 April 2012.
Oxfordshire Dial-a-Ride is a new door-to-door minibus service for people with mobility problems who cannot use normal public transport.
The minibuses, operated by Oxfordshire County Council's Transport Services, between 9am-5pm have to be booked in advance.
Services have already been operating in some districts. From 2 April 2012, the transport service will be provided by Oxfordshire County Council in all districts for the first time.
More information from Oxfordshire County Council web site
or Dial-a-Ride, Oxfordshire County Council, PO Box 842, Oxford OX1 3EJ
Tel: 0845 310 1111
A Local Nature Partnership for Oxfordshire
Local Nature Partnerships (LNPs) are being established across all counties of England in order to take a strategic overview of the delivery of conservation work. The government’s Natural Environment White Paper (July 2011) and The Lawton report (Lawton 2010) both identified a need for our natural environment to be better managed and joined-up in order to safeguard its future health.
Working partnerships bringing together organizations and individuals from a wide range of sectors including health, business, education and conservation, were considered to be the best way to delivering these aims. Taking a strategic overview of all these sectors should enable a LNP to look for opportunities for integrated action to benefit the environment previously being missed and challenges that were not being addressed.
Oxfordshire Nature Conservation Forum (ONCF) has been working with partners (primarily from conservation organizations and local government with bodies such as Natural England and the Environment Agency) to increase the quality and quantity of the natural environment of Oxfordshire for nearly 20 years. Its aims have been to help safeguard, maintain and enhance the biological and geological diversity of the county, as well as encouraging people from all sectors to enjoy, understand and become involved with conserving the natural environment. ONCF bid for funding from the £1m pot of money held by Defra. More information on the Defra web site
Forty eight LNP’s across the country have been recognised and have received some initial funding, the idea being that the partnerships become self-sustaining.
To investigate what role an LNP could play in Oxfordshire ONCF have organized a series of meetings, primarily with hub organizations who will in turn be able to communicate the outcomes of these meetings to a wider partnership.
At the first meeting, which was attended by over 70 people, including Cllr Tony White for OALC, representing a cross-section of organizations, it was discussed what the LNP could aim to deliver for Oxfordshire’s natural environment.
Please contact Hilary Phillips, Biodiversity & Partnership Officer, ONCF. email@example.com
Rock salt bulk ordering system for Parish Councils
OALC have received a few requests for advice concerning the statutory spending power for the purchase of rock salt from the County Council. We are also aware that ORCC Trading and Community Buying unlimited have contacted parish councils offering them the opportunity to purchase in bulk small bags of rock salt to be sold on to members of their communities.
Firstly to deal with the statutory spending power. Parish councils may incur expenditure on salt, grit and other de-icing materials and equipment pursuant to s.137 of the Local Government Act 1972. Under it a parish council may spend each year up to a specified limit on anything which in the opinion of the parish council is in the interests of the parish, or any part of it, or is in the interests of all or some of the inhabitants. The spending limit for 2013/14 is £6.98 per elector. Expenditure has to be authorised in advance by formal resolution of the council. If you are considering participating in the ORCC Trading scheme you should be aware that the income from the sale of the salt be regarded as general income; it will not “top-up” your annual s.137 allowance. So parishes should have regard for the amount already spent and other potential calls on their remaining annual allowance.
Secondly there is the issue of VAT on the sale of the salt bags which is a taxable supply. Although the VAT Act states that all local authorities that make taxable supplies must register with HMRC, HMRC do not require registration from local authorities whose output tax does not reach £1000 in any year. Therefore if the sale of salt is the only taxable supply an unregistered parish council is making it is unlikely that this will take you over the threshold. (N.B. You would have to have sales of £6000 (£5000 + £1000 VAT) in total). Assuming that Community Buying unLimited will be issuing tax invoices to all parish councils then unregistered councils must not reclaim the VAT back on their 126 claims but simply recharge the gross amount to their customers. Councils who are registered claim the VAT back as input tax and account for the output tax on the sales in their VAT returns.
If you have any queries you can of course call or email and we will do our best to assist you.
Jan Gosset, Assistant County Officer
A Win – Win Solution to Asset Maintenance,
This article comes from Keith Dixon, Clerk, Launton Parish Council
Just before Christmas I met with Community Payback workers and their supervisor who the Parish Council had engaged to do some work in the village. The Community Payback scheme (previously Community Service) is delivered by Thames Valley Probation and sets out to provide a means for offenders to pay a community back for the wrong they may have committed. It is, of course unpaid, compulsory and strictly supervised.
Seven young men and their supervisor, provided with materials supplied by the Parish Council, set about painting the bus shelters and notice boards and cleaning benches round the village. Any shortfall in experience was amply outweighed by a willingness to get stuck in and by the end of the day, all the work was completed well with no mess.
All of the people I met were polite to me, eager to get stuck in, and appreciative of the support they were given. In all, engagement with the team was a positive and rewarding experience and effectively dispelled the preconceptions I have to confess to before meeting them.
For more information about Community Payback in Oxfordshire follow this link to Thames Valley Police website
Oxfordshire County Council met on 12th December 2011 to consider the responses to its proposals to alter the funding basis for the running of its library service.
See the County Council web site here for more details of the decision:
Councillors approved a revised proposal following a four-month public consultation that will see 22 libraries remain fully staffed by council employees; 16 manned by an equal mix of local authority paid-personnel and volunteers and five others which will be two-thirds staffed by council workers and one-third by volunteers.
The 22 libraries that will remain fully staffed by County Council employees, meeting the council’s statutory requirement to provide a comprehensive and efficient network, are those situated in Abingdon, Banbury, Berinsfield, Bicester, Blackbird Leys, Botley, Carterton, Chipping Norton, Cowley, Didcot, Eynsham, Headington, Henley, Kidlington, Littlemore, Neithrop, Oxford Central, Summertown, Thame, Wallingford, Wantage and Witney.
The 16 others, where staffing will comprise an equal mix of county council-paid staff and volunteers, will be known as Community Libraries, located in Adderbury, Bampton, Benson, Burford, Charlbury, Deddington, Goring, Hook Norton, Kennington, North Leigh, Old Marston, Sonning Common, Stonesfield, Watlington, Woodcote and Wychwood.
Community Plus Libraries
The remaining five at Chinnor, Faringdon, Grove, Wheatley and Woodstock will be called Community Plus Libraries, with two-thirds council-paid staff and one-third volunteers.
County Council officers also committed to exploring how all library buildings could be used in different and more effective ways as community resources in the future.
The County Council will take into account every four years, or sooner if circumstances dictate, housing developments across Oxfordshire to consider whether the location of libraries would still cater for the changing face of the county.
Oxfordshire Local Transport Plan 2011-2030
Oxfordshire's Local Transport Plan 2011 - 2030 focuses on attracting and supporting economic investment and growth, delivering transport infrastructure, tackling congestion and improving quality of life.
It supports the Oxfordshire Sustainable Community Strategy, Oxfordshire 2030, responding to the strategic objectives of the economy, community, climate change and reducing deprivation.
The county council adopted the plan as policy on 5 April 2011 following its approval by cabinet on 15 March 2011.
Area Stewards for Highways
Oxfordshire County Council are keen for town and parish councils to direct their enquiries to the relevant Area Steward for their district. Each district has a steward that should take a holistic approach to their area which should encompass all highway matters.
Contact telephone number is 0845 310 1111
Model Parish Council Emergency Plan
How can small communities cope with emergencies when outside assistance from the emergency services is delayed?
Nearly all emergencies affecting communities will be dealt with routinely by joint response of the emergency services, local authorities and the major utilities. However, there may be rare occasions when circumstances, such as extensive flooding, storm damage or deep snow delay the arrival of outside assistance, and the community will need to help itself. It will do this more effectively if it has a plan.
This guidance has been created to assist communities to develop their own plan. The template can be adapted to fit a community’s own needs. To download a template and associated guidance go to Oxfordshire County Council’s website..
Examples of member councils' Emergency Plans are available at the OALC office.
Are you ready?
Do you know what to do in an emergency? With valuable information, hints and tips for individuals, households and businesses, with a handy ‘fill in and keep’ section for your personal emergency contact details, this booklet provides everything you need to deal with an emergency. Published by the Thames Valley Local Resilience Forum, the booklet is easy to read and helps families, individuals, communities and businesses prepare for hazards including hot weather, flooding, snow, ice etc and how to respond to some incidents.
Download your copy of Are you ready?(PDF).
Road Closures for Street Parties
The statutory framework for this is as follows:
- Neighbourhood Street parties require a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order
- Legislation used is Town Police Clause Act 1847
- Administered by District Councils with Oxfordshire County Council as Highway Authority being a consultee
For further background on this please contact the OALC office.
Energy Performance Certificates
We have received many phone calls and emails from parishes who have received a letter from a company, DEA Direct, suggesting that their village hall will need an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and they are at risk of a fine if they do not have a Certificate in place. The Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificates & Inspections) (England & Wales) Regulations 2007 deal with the requirement to provide an EPC.
We have consulted the Legal Department at NALC on this issue as we wanted to clarify whether or not the hiring of a village hall, or a room in a village hall, is considered a letting in the terms of the above legislation. NALC has advised that:
“It is my understanding that the Regulations make landlords responsible for ensuring that an Energy Performance Certificate is provided as early as possible to prospective tenants. In other words, the Regulations cover leases. In my view, if the agreement is not a lease, then there is no obligation to provide an Energy Performance Certificate.”
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) have confirmed their previous advice, that the term rental applies to buildings held under a formal lease agreement and not a hiring agreement or non exclusive occupation licence. They are looking into putting a FAQ about it on the EPC/DEC website. We have also spoken with the Trading Standards Service at Oxfordshire County Council who are responsible for the enforcement of the EPC legislation in the county. They have informed us that village halls do not need a Certificate and that their policy is to give guidance to anyone not complying with the legislation, rather than take legal action.
NALC have produced two Legal Topic Notes which provide more information and can be found in the Members Area of our website:
- LTN 48 The difference between leases and licences
- LTN 76 Energy Performance Requirements
Countryside Access: A Parish Guide
This new guide from Oxfordshire County Council to improving access to rights of way can be downloaded here
Cotswold Conservation Board: Guidance on Roadside Management for Parish Councils
An abridged version of the Board’s position statement on The Management of Roadside Verges has been developed specifically for use by parish councils and other groups managing rural roadside verges in and around villages in the AONB.
Click here to view the guide on the AONB website, along with rest of the Board’s full position statements.
The enewsletter of the Cotswold AONB can be viewed here
Chilterns Conservation Board
The latest e-newsletter from the Chilterns Conservation Board can be downloaded here.
The latest Commons Network e-newsletter can be downloaded here.
Good Practice Note on Play Policy
An OALC Good Practice Note on Play Policy has been produced in collaboration with Oxfordshire County Council, Oxfordshire Play Partnership and Oxfordshire Playing Fields Association. It sets out the background and rationale for a play policy. A very brief model policy covering the main points is provided as an Appendix. A copy can be downloaded in the Members' Area.
For Funding News please click here
For details of current consultations please visit our Consultations page.
Job Vacancies & Jobs Wanted
posted 3rd June 2013
BLOXHAM PARISH COUNCIL
Part Time Administration Clerk
Applications are invited for the post of Administration Clerk to support the work of the Parish Council. The role is part time and suitable for someone working from home and ideally a Bloxham resident.
The Administration Clerk will be responsible for booking venues, production of agendas and minutes at Bloxham Parish Council Committee meetings and supporting the Parish Clerk at the Annual Parish Meeting for residents and the Neighborhood Development Plan Meetings.
There are three Parish Council Committees that run separately to the full Parish Council. The Resources and the Environment Committee meet every 3 months and the Planning and Strategy Committee meets monthly.
Meetings usually take place in Bloxham in the evening and last for two hours. Allowing an additional two hours for preparation and administration we are estimating attendance at up to 25 meetings and some 100 hours work per annum.
The rate of pay will be dependent on relevant knowledge and experience within the range of £8.34 to £9.25 per hour
The successful applicant will have previous administration experience and be computer literate. Excellent communication and organisation skills are essential. The applicant should exhibit tact, confidentiality, diplomacy, and flexibility. A knowledge of local government is desirable, as would be an appreciation of local issues.
Letters of Application and a CV, including two referees, should be sent to: Theresa Goss, Clerk and Responsible Financial Officer, 11 Usher Drive, Banbury, OX16 1AG or email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Closing date for applications is: Friday 28 June 2013
Contact the OALC office for details of those seeking posts.