The Parish Council receives news and updates from a number of sources, including South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC), Vale of White Horse (VoWH), Oxfordshire County Council (OCC). Please find below the latest updates.
We have a separate page for upcoming road closures.
Free Parking for Christmas Shoppers
People in the Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire can park for free on specific days this December and are being urged to use this opportunity to support their local shops and cafes in the run up to Christmas.
Each year Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire District Councils provide free parking days during December to help encourage people to shop locally for their Christmas presents.
With many shops affected by the Covid-19 restrictions, this year it is particularly important that people support local traders where they can, while maintaining social distancing and face covering requirements
Motorists can park in district council car parks without paying for or displaying a ticket on the following days in December:
- Abingdon – Saturdays (5, 12, 19 December)
- Faringdon – Saturdays (5, 12, 19 December)
- Wantage – Saturdays (5, 12, 19 December)
- Didcot – Mondays (7, 14, 21 December)
- Goring – Saturdays (5, 12, 19 December)
- Henley – Tuesdays (8, 15, 22 December)
- Thame – Saturdays (5, 12, 19 December)
- Wallingford -Thursdays (10, 17, 24 December)
Users will not have to display a ticket on the free days.
New speeding taskforce group aims to save lives
Residents will be given more of a say on how to stop drivers speeding in their neighbourhoods, thanks to a new organisation set up to tackle the problem in Oxfordshire.
The speeding taskforce group is a joint initiative involving Oxfordshire County Council, Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, Thames Valley Police and the Thames Valley Police & Crime Commissioner. Announced to coincide with Road Safety Week, its aims include educating drivers about the dangers of breaking the speed limit and helping communities to tackle the issue.
Read the story on the Oxfordshire County Council website
Oxford Zero Emission Zone pilot proposal out for final consultation
The final consultation for the proposed Oxford Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) pilot has now opened and runs until midnight on Sunday 17 January 2021.
Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council are now asking for views from residents, businesses and visitors on a revised ZEZ pilot proposal after a similar consultation was paused in March 2020 because of the pandemic.
The proposed ZEZ pilot aims to reduce the city’s air pollution levels, tackle the climate emergency and improve the health of residents, workers and visitors to Oxford and beyond.
Anyone can take part in the consultation by visiting Oxfordshire County Council’s website
Further details on the pilot proposals can be found here.
Frequently asked questions on the pilot proposals can be found here.
Projects moving forward for Didcot Garden Town Advisory Board
Members of the Didcot Garden Town Advisory Board met last week to hear about the latest developments for Didcot Gateway and other key initiatives around the town. You can watch the meeting in full via https://youtu.be/QfXTrFSOKGo.
The board were updated on the district councils’ plan to build their new offices at Didcot Gateway, which will be located opposite the railway station. During the meeting Homes England’s proposal and online community engagement, which took place during this summer, to redevelop the Gateway area was discussed. The district councils are pleased to be working with Homes England to ensure the new councils’ offices provide an important part of the overall sustainable redevelopment of the site.
Members were updated on a range of initiatives, including plans for a new health centre and a county council led project to improve roads and cycle paths for the wider garden town area.
If you’d like to hear more about the latest developments in Didcot Garden Town or are interested in joining one of the resident or business sounding boards, you can sign up to the latest newsletter here.
Have your say on proposed changes to off-street parking in South Oxfordshire
People in South Oxfordshire are encouraged to give their views on some proposed changes to parking arrangements in the district council’s off street car parks.
Over the summer the South Oxfordshire District Council’s Cabinet agreed to amend the district’s parking policy, including changes to charging periods to ensure all towns are treated equally, and measures designed to encourage the use of electric vehicles in order help tackle the climate emergency by reducing emissions.
The council is now giving people the chance to have their say before the new parking policy is finalised in early 2021. The council will also seek comments from statutory consultees such as the Police, the highways authority and town and parish councils.
The following changes are being proposed:
- Standard charging periods and times (9am-5pm) to be adopted in all town centre car parks across the districts, including an hour’s free parking available at any time during that period, this ensures that those in Henley receive the same benefit as the other towns
- Charges for Sunday parking to apply for all car parks, not just in some locations
- A maximum stay of two hours to be introduced at the High Street car park in Chinnor to help reduce congestion
- Half price permits for electric vehicles (capable of travelling 20 miles on zero CO2)
- Additional parking for electric vehicles and powers to issue fines for parking non-electric vehicles in electric charging bays, or for leaving an electric vehicle in the bay when it’s not charging
To find about more about the proposals and to take part in the consultation please visit southoxon.gov.uk/parking. The consultation is open until Thursday 19 November.
Oxfordshire Artweeks is a not for profit members company designed to support amateur and professional artists and craft makers as well as community and charity groups, that live or work in Oxfordshire. This is a financially challenging time for Artweeks we need artists support during this uncertain time so that it can survive to support artists beyond 2021.
The biggest change for visitors in 2021 is there will not be a printed guide book as it is highly unlikely that our distribution points will be able to take printed material to distribute in early April. We will be relying on local advertising and the public visiting the website to view the flip book version or to use the website searches to find venues.
Thames Valley Police - Scam Warning
Thames Valley Police are urging people in Oxford to remain cautious after an elaborate scam has resulted in victims losing a total of £15,000.
A man, described as being of Mediterranean appearance, in a dark coloured car, has been approaching people asking for directions to Heathrow Airport. He claims to be a fashion designer with Giorgio Armani and that he has excess stock he is unable to take back to Dubai with him due to the high cost. He asks people to lend him money to cover the cost of his car hire on the promise that the money will be paid back.
He encourages the individuals to provide their bank account details and will then drive them to the bank where the money is withdrawn and handed over. The contact details passed over to the individuals turn out to be false and no money is ever paid back. This scam results in a significant financial loss and poses a risk to the victim’s safety by agreeing to get in a car with a stranger.Where personal details including bank details have been handed over, this also leaves the victim open to identity fraud.
Thames Valley Police also are urging the following:
- Never agree to lend a stranger money, no matter how elaborate and believable their story may be.
- Never agree to purchase or accept items from a stranger – These items may be stolen and you could be implicated as being involved in handling stolen goods.
- Never reveal personal details to a stranger, especially banking details.
- Never agree to get in a stranger’s car, no matter how friendly and trustworthy they may seem.
- Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud. Please always call 999 in an emergency. For more information, visit the national Take Five to Stop Fraud (https://takefive-stopfraud.org.uk/) campaign.
The next revaluation of business rates in England and Wales is coming up in 2023. The Valuation Office Agency is writing to businesses to request rental information to support this work.
Once ratepayers receive a letter they need to go online and submit their up-to-date details.
Please see the government’s information page for more information.
Extra-large garden waste collections
Brown bin customers can put twice as much garden waste out for collection during SODC's extra garden waste week next month.
During these weeks, customers can put out an extra brown bins worth of garden waste on their normal garden waste collection day in the week commencing 2 November– that’s three bin bags’ worth of extra garden waste.
Make the River Thames ‘Safe for All’
South Oxfordshire District Council is stepping up its campaign to make the River Thames safe for wildlife and river users by calling for an end to sewage overflows, more public information on water quality and more stringent water testing in the river.
The Thames and its tributaries in Oxfordshire are a haven for wildlife and biodiversity. They are popular with locals and visitors for paddling, swimming, kayaking and paddle boarding.
But growing concerns about sewage pollution puts much of this at risk and councillors have backed a motion brought forward by Cllr Jo Robb to call for more stringent testing and to reduce pollution.
OCC Press Release Regarding Bonfire Night
As Bonfire Night approaches, Oxfordshire County Council is reminding residents that the safest way to celebrate is to attend a professionally organised public event that is confirmed as COVID-19 safety compliant, following local and national guidance.
New diversity and inclusion strategy for South Oxfordshire
Councillors have approved the creation of a new diversity and inclusion strategy for South Oxfordshire District Council.
The new strategy will aim to ensure the council is doing everything it can to be inclusive to all BAME and other diverse and hard-to-reach communities in its staff recruitment, representation and service provision.
Equality is already of paramount importance to the council and this new strategy will complement an existing, robust equalities policy that has been in place for many years. This policy already ensures that the council plans and provides services, policies and employment opportunities in a fair, inclusive and equal way to foster good relations and meet everyone’s needs.
The Park & Charge project – consultation on electric vehicles
SODC are working with Oxfordshire County Council on a project to install Electric Vehicle charging points in a range of public car parks in 2021. As part of that work, colleagues at the county council have launched a survey gathering data on residents’ opinions on electric vehicles.
The results of the survey will inform decisions on public charging infrastructure across the whole county and so we’re helping to promote it to our residents. The survey is available here, until 23rd October
Hallowe’en Boosts Food Waste by 10%
OCC are asking residents to consider how to make best use of their pumpkins, October and November see on average 10% more food waste due to wasted pumpkins over the Hallowe’en period. Consider a very simple pumpkin soup recipe or even pumpkin curry this autumn to make best use of your scary decorations.
To mark Recycle Week SODC Waste team has created a series of social media videos to help residents to get their recycling right and to help lower rates of recycling contamination.
- Together we recycle – Help at home https://youtu.be/m8P-RmQcRBQ
- Together we recycle – Help the bin crews https://youtu.be/uctxUw3_q3Y
- Together we recycle – call centre help - https://youtu.be/CYKa0fM5_ow
- Together we recycle – Help behind the scenes - https://youtu.be/k2Bk8Xc52PQ
They have also published the results of their Great Green Bin Recycling Quiz which launched over the summer. It you didn’t get the chance to take part and you’d like to test your recycling knowledge you still can by clicking on the link.
Oxfordshire to re-open more libraries
Library users can look forward to more Oxfordshire libraries reopening on 28th September and 5th October.
The changes mean that from the week beginning Monday 28th September, Faringdon, Sonning Common, Watlington and Goring libraries will reopen. On the week beginning 5th October, Chinnor, Woodgreen, Charlbury and Wychwood libraries will open again.
Oxfordshire County Council has already successfully reopened 20 libraries including Abingdon, Banbury, Berinsfield, Bicester, Blackbird Leys, Carterton, Chipping Norton, Cowley, Didcot, Eynsham, Headington, Henley, Kidlington, Summertown, Thame, Wallingford, Wantage, Woodstock, Witney and the Oxfordshire County Library in the Westgate Centre having successfully reopened.
Please check Oxfordshire Libraries website for the current opening hours as they may not be the same as pre-Covid-19 and may be subject to change.
Library users can now return items with no risk with the book drop boxes accessible in or out of opening hours. People can also of course return them inside our safely-adapted libraries.
Library visitors will be asked to wear face coverings, pay by card where possible and contact details will be requested when visiting.
Please check their website for any changes and advice for visiting libraries as they reopen on the library service page.
South Oxfordshire Local Plan Consultation
SODC has just launched a six-week consultation on a number of changes proposed by the Planning Inspector to South Oxfordshire’s emerging Local Plan 2035.
To view and have your say on the Proposed Main Modifications and supporting documents please visit southoxon.gov.uk/newlocalplan, the deadline for giving feedback is Monday 2 November.
If you know someone without internet access, they can view the documents at the following locations listed below. However, we are urging people to check the opening times and any Covid-19 and social distancing measures that might be in place before travelling:
-Public libraries in South Oxfordshire – people can check which libraries are open on Oxfordshire County Council’s website
-Chalgrove Post Office
-Culham Parish Council (contact Cllr Casey-Rerhaye to arrange a viewing of the documents - Sam.Casey-Rerhaye@southoxon.gov.uk or 01235 799489)
Note - the availability of the documents at these locations might change in response to the ongoing pandemic.
The consultation documents are also available at our offices on Milton Park, however as our offices remain closed to the public this is strictly by appointment-only. Appointments can be arranged through our Planning Policy team on 01235 422600 or email email@example.com – they can also provide any support with accessing the consultation materials
Electric Blanket testing
The county council is offering free electric blanket testing as they do every year, but because of Covid restrictions the process will be a bit different.
They’ll post a special plastic bag to the address for residents to put their electric blanket in, and then someone will come and collect the blanket from their homes, take it away to be tested and then return it once it’s done.
The tests will be carried out across Oxfordshire in October. Book now by calling 01865 895999 Option 1 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org – there’s more info in the attached flyer.
Public Governor Elections 2020 - South Central Ambulance Service
Your local NHS Ambulance Service needs your help for our next elections in 2020!
Our next Governors election will be happening soon in 2020. It’s never too early to register your interest in putting yourself forward for election by emailing: email@example.com
Elections will be held in the following areas:
Buckinghamshire (2 seats)
Oxfordshire (2 seats)
Berkshire (1 seat)
Hampshire (3 seats)
Governors play an important role in helping to shape and support the emergency and non-emergency services that the Trust provides in the South Central region.
Find out more about the role: https://www.scas.nhs.uk/elections/
South Oxfordshire Local Plan Examination Hearing
The examination hearing started 14 July, and will be publicly available to view live on the council’s special YouTube channel. A link to the YouTube channel is available on the council’s Local Plan examination webpage .
During the four-week long hearing, housing numbers and the location of the key sites proposed for housing will be debated along with how much of neighbouring Oxford’s unmet need South Oxfordshire should cater for. Other topics that the independent Planning Inspector, Jonathan Bore is chairing discussions on include whether or not the plan takes a sound approach towards the Green Belt, if the plan’s infrastructure policies are sound, and if the plan takes a proactive approach to mitigating and adapting to climate change.
Volunteers sought for COVID-19 trial
People aged 50 and over are being sought to take part in a trial into treating COVID-19. Over 50s with specific underlying health conditions and all over 65s with suspected COVID-19 can apply to take part in the University of Oxford study at www.principletrial.org. Participants are randomly allocated to receive usual care or usual care and an existing medication. It is hoped the trial can help people get better quickly and stop them needing to go to hospital. The study is funded by UK Research and Innovation and the National Institute for Health Research. Contact the study team at firstname.lastname@example.org / 0800 138 0880.
SODC are asking for residents what is important to them with regard to the future of South Oxfordshire. Open to public consultation, please complete the questionnaire here.
Thousands of residents in southern Oxfordshire have found their recycling bins unemptied each week because they have put the wrong things in them.
To remind residents about what can (and can’t) be recycled, South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils have devised a new recycling quiz available here.
Contact visits by the Community Support Hub
In the past couple of weeks, we’ve made visits to check the welfare of 269 vulnerable residents across both districts we’d been unable to reach by phone or email. We were able to speak to 161 on the doorstep and left letters where possible for the rest.
Discretionary grants for businesses
By last Wednesday’s deadline we had received 137 applications for the discretionary business grants scheme, which we’re now evaluating against the eligibility criteria. We’re also following up with some of the applicants seeking further information and clarification.
All the eligibility details for this second round will be on our business support website at www.svbs.co.uk, ready for its launch.
High street funding
We’re currently assessing how to spend some funding we’ve been provided by the government to help get high streets back up and running and we’ve had some feedback from relevant town and parish councils on how they think we could use the money most effectively to benefit their high streets.
Government recognition for volunteers
Earlier this month we were celebrating all the amazing work by volunteers in our districts and there’s now an opportunity to get them formal recognition. The government is looking for nominations for honours or awards. Visit: https://www.gov.uk/honours/nominate-someone-for-coronavirus-work
Further support for those receiving Council Tax Reduction
In April, the government announced a £500 million hardship fund to provide further support for people who receive Council Tax Reduction. Both Cabinets have now confirmed the arrangements for how we will allocate our share of this money in South and Vale and so everyone who currently receives Council Tax Reduction will receive up to a further £150 off their 2020/21 council tax bill.
Waste collections starting earlier
Our waste collections are starting an hour earlier this week due to the very hot weather. We are asking residents to put their bins before 6am. As normal, they can put them out the night before if that’s easiest.
Citizens Advice scams awareness campaign, 15 - 28 June.
Citizens Advice has also put together an up-to-date list of scams to look out for, particularly Covid-19 related ones. You can find out more here.
Following the success of the virtual committee meetings we’ve carried out so far, we can now confirm that future meetings will take place online as previously scheduled with just a couple of minor changes.
The schedule of meetings for June and July is set out below and the calendar is now available on our website.
We’ve resumed our full Neighbourhood Planning consultation service, by launching the consultation on Wallingford’s Neighbourhood Plan.
You can also see what other consultations are currently running on our website
Electric vehicle charging – building regulations
The government recently announced proposals to make it a requirement for developers to install electric vehicle charging points on new developments, which would be managed through changes to building regulations.
The government has now published a summary of the responses it received, on its website.
Longer term plans for permanent increases in cycleways will lead to a step-change in Oxfordshire’s cycling infrastructure.
Residents of all ages can look forward to a step-change in cycling infrastructure aimed at making this green form of transport safer and more attractive for a range of journeys across Oxfordshire.
People urged to wear face coverings and stay alert.
Residents are reminded to continue taking steps to keep themselves, and others safe as non-essential shops and services start reopen for the first time since March.
Per government guidance, any resident using public transport, or in an enclosed public space where social distancing isn’t possible, must wear a non-surgical face covering to help reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission.