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Oxfordshire has an excellent network of local rights of way and accessible green spaces in its countryside, rural communities and in urban areas. The county is also criss-crossed by longer trails such as the Thames Path and the Ridgeway and by regional routes such as the Oxfordshire Way.

Footpaths and bridleways provide opportunities for people to access green spaces for relaxation, exercise and enjoyment. Walking or cycling has many health benefits and brings people closer to the natural world, while better links along rights of way within and between communities offer scope for reducing car use. Local voluntary groups are often involved with looking after local paths and bridleways; now the summer is on its way, what better time to get outside and get involved with local access projects, or just enjoy exploring our beautiful county?

But could we make better use of rights of way in Oxfordshire?

Some routes have challenging surfaces, stiles or gates and many lack information and signage about points of interest and circular routes. The County Council is responsible for managing the rights of way network, doing so by working with farmers and local communities. But OCC has limited funding and time to carry out improvements; this is where TOE2 and volunteers can help.

TOE2 works in partnership with OCC, supporting communities to ensure better rights of way networks that are more accessible and easier to use, providing valuable links between and within settlements. TOE2 is keen to support more local voluntary groups to help maintain and improve Oxfordshire’s Rights of Way Network, building on the excellent work of existing groups such as the South Chilterns Path Maintenance Volunteers, the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens, and the Ramblers Path Works Volunteers. Working alongside Parish Councils and OCC such groups help ensure that local people can enjoy better connected paths and bridleways to access local green spaces.

What is TOE2 and what are we doing for rights of way in Oxfordshire?

TOE2 is Oxfordshire’s independent environmental funder, supporting projects that make real and lasting improvements to the environment and to the lives of local people. TOE2, a charity and a not-for-profit company, has worked in partnership with OCC for several years to improve access to rights of way and green spaces across the county, supporting the aims of the Oxfordshire Rights of Way Improvement Plan (www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/rowip).

TOE2 can provide grant funding to support local access projects so that local groups can get materials and possibly training. Since 2011 TOE2 has allocated about £200,000 to access projects across Oxfordshire, primarily with funding provided by Grundon Waste Management through the Landfill Communities Fund. Here are a few examples of projects we have funded:

TOE2 welcomes funding applications from non-profit making organisations and groups including:
• Parish Councils
• Local charities
• Environmental charities and groups
• Other local voluntary groups

What sorts of projects would we like to fund?
• More support for strategic routes and for links to these routes, eg; National Trail links, the Oxfordshire Way, longer riding routes
• Better links with the health agenda, eg; Centre for Sustainable Healthcare, trim trails and path exercise circuits, access for people with disabilities, Green Health Routes
• More funding to support families wishing to access green spaces on foot or by bicycle
• Improving year round access for wheelchairs and pushchairs
• Projects that link biodiversity, education and access
• Supporting the establishment, training and work of groups of access volunteers

Are you interested in supporting access to green spaces in Oxfordshire? 
We would love to hear from any local organisations or companies interested in supporting better access to green spaces in Oxfordshire; TOE2 provides an effective mechanism for delivering funding to good local projects.

For further information about TOE2:

Fiona Danks, Director, Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment (TOE2)
Earth Trust Centre, Little Wittenham, Abingdon, OX14 4QZ
www.trustforoxfordshire.org.uk 01865 407003 fiona.danks@trustforoxfordshire.org.uk @toe2_oxon

Police and Crime Commissioner Launches New Police and Crime Plan, March 2017

The Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley is Anthony Stansfeld, he is a District Councillor from Hungerford, West Berkshire.

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 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.

The Police and Crime Plan, covers the period 2017 – 2021, sets out the priorities for policing and other crime reduction organisations across the Thames Valley, including the response to regional and national threats.

This new Plan consists of five broad strategic priorities which are:

  • Vulnerability – Managing demand on services through working together with a particular focus on mental health, elder abuse, hidden abuse, and the criminal justice experience for victims of domestic and sexual abuse
  • Prevention and Early Intervention – Improving safeguarding in both the physical space and virtual space including tackling cyber crime, road safety, peer on peer abuse, hate crime and female genital mutilation (FGM)
  • Reducing Re-offending – Targeting and managing harm and risk with a focus on substance misuse, violence involving weapons and offender management including perpetrators of domestic abuse
  • Serious Organised Crime and Terrorism – Improving the local response including increased public awareness, promoting a ‘dare to share’ culture, and preventing violent extremism and the exploitation of vulnerable people.
  • Police Ethics and Reform – Increasing the pace of change with a focus on improved support for victims, accelerated uptake of new technology, and improving the perceptions of police among young people

The priorities and aims in the Plan will be addressed in greater detail through the delivery plans of Thames Valley Police, the Office of the PCC and other partner service delivery plans, particularly Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs).

More information on the Plan here

LEADER funding available for rural projects

In Oxfordshire there are four separate LEADER programmes:

  • Cotswold
  • Oxfordshire
  • North Wessex Downs
  • Chilterns


LEADER is a European Union scheme which provides funding towards projects that create jobs, help businesses to grow and benefit the rural economy. As we head towards Brexit the programme will wind down therefore if you have any projects which potentially fit the criteria we would urge you to contact the relevant LEADER person for your area.


Grants are restricted to 40% of the total project costs for new capital projects but could be higher for non-profits. The Cotswold LEADER Programme will consider grants from £5,000 - £50,000, Oxfordshire will consider £5,000 - £35,000. Most types of organisation can apply.


LEADER is a national scheme with six priorities:

  • Support micro and small businesses and farm diversification,
  • Boost rural tourism,
  • Increase farm productivity
  • Increase forestry productivity,
  • Provide cultural and Heritage activities
  • Provide rural services.


Each of the four areas in Oxfordshire have slightly different priorities which reflect their particular area needs.

James Webb, LEADER Programme Manager, Cotswolds would like to receive more applications across all themes and in particular for:

  • Culture and heritage activity – this theme focuses on the promotion, enhancement and maintenance of cultural heritage assets and events where this promotes growth in the tourism economy.
  • Rural services – these grants are for projects that aim to alleviate some of the difficulties faced by rural communities, particularly the lack of access to services and the provision of infrastructure. Projects should make a contribution to growing the local economy. They could include, the development of community buildings, public spaces, or cultural or tourism amenities.

The Oxfordshire LEADER priorities are:

  • Growing, selling, eating more local food
  • Reviving our rivers and canal
  • Vibrant villages – this includes village halls, community shops
  • Unlocking the potential of woodland


In addition, there is a list of things that can’t be applied for, which are common to all six themes.

Potential applicants are encouraged to contact the appropriate LEADER office to check eligibility.

Oxfordshire: Sophie Milton & Kathy Deacon www.oxfordshireleader.org.uk

Cotswolds: James Webb www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk/grants-and-projects/cotswolds-leader

North Wessex Downs: Dawn Hamblin www.northwessexleader.org.uk 

Chilterns: Emma Waters www.leader-programme.org.uk/areas/chilterns.html

A new council for a better Oxfordshire

Oxfordshire County Council agreed at its Cabinet meeting on 13th March to submit its unitary bid to the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG). However, Cherwell, West Oxfordshire and Oxford City Council disagree with this proposal.

The unitary proposal was received by DCLG but the General Election, 8th June has thrown any possible timetable for decisionmaking into disarray.

OALC are entirely neutral on the unitary proposals; town and parish councils will have to work with whatever shape or form local government might take in Oxfordshire. The current Better Oxfordshire proposals are suggesting an Area Board/Panel approach based around the market towns rather than the previous district council approach. This is modelled on the Wiltshire approach.

Home Truths 2016/7 - The housing market in the South East

Figures are taken from the National Housing Federation Home Truths leaflet. It points out some salutary figures:

  • Between 2011 and 2015, there was a shortfall in the South East (which is the counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, East and West Sussex, Hampshire, Kent, Oxfordshire and Surrey) of almost 90,000 homes, the second highest shortfall in the country
  • This has meant that the average home in the region now costs over £338,000 (in Oxfordshire £380,526) – 11 times the average salary of £30,000
  • A family seeking to buy an average home would require an income of more than £77,000 to afford a mortgage, making home ownership unattainable for many
  • The cost of renting privately is becoming less affordable, with average monthly rents at £959, meaning local people spend almost 40% of their income on rent
  • Work is no guarantee that local people will be able to pay their housing costs- in Oxfordshire 30% of Housing Benefit claimants are in work.




Average house price in 20161

Mean monthly private sector rents 2015-62

Mean annual earnings in 2015 3

Ratio of house prices to incomes4

Income required for 80% mortgage 2016 5

Percent of Housing Benefit claimants in employment6

Unemploy-ment rate 2015-67

Second homes8

Total housing association affordable homes 2016 9































South Oxford-shire










Vale of White Horse










West Oxford-shire




















South East












  1. Office for National Statistics,(ONS), small area statistics
  2. Valuation Office Agency
  3. ONS, Annual Survey of hours and earnings
  4. ONS, small area statistics and Annual Survey of hours and earnings
  5. ONS, small area statistics and national Housing Federation own analysis
  6. Dept. for Work and Pensions, Stat Xplore
  7. ONS, NOMIS model based estimates
  8. DCLG Council Tax base
  9. Homes and Communities Agency Statistical Data return 2016


Is there anything your parish council can do to help?


TOE2, Oxfordshire’s independent environmental funder, believes that energy efficient community buildings which are well insulated, effectively heated, with good lighting and facilities will stand out as welcoming, energy-saving community spaces. 

Following the four year ENRICH programme (Energy Reduction in Community Halls) funded by the Patsy Wood Trust, TOE2 continues to support community buildings that wish to become more welcoming while reducing costs and cutting carbon emissions.  How can TOE2 help you?  

  • We can put you in touch with the Environmental Information Exchange (EiE), who can provide bespoke energy audits.  EiE staff are experienced in auditing community buildings; they will visit your building and then produce a written report with specific no-cost, low-cost and higher cost recommendations.  Audit costs can be recouped by making energy efficiency improvements.
  • TOE2 and other grant makers will use energy audit reports to guide funding decisions.  TOE2 can offer grants of up to £5,000 towards implementing energy audit recommendations. These might include; cavity wall insulation, ceiling insulation, replacement windows and doors, LED lighting, replacing inefficient heating systems.  Funding applications are considered four times a year.

If you are interested in reducing energy demand in your community building, please contact us for more information about ways we might be able to help:

admin@trustforoxfordshire.org.uk  01865 407003 www.trustforoxfordshire.org.uk

Open up the toolkit to avoid the floods

A new online “toolkit” has been launched by Oxfordshire County Council which provides a “one-stop-shop” for flooding information and advice.

The new website, which can be found at http://www.oxfordshirefloodtoolkit.com brings together all you need to take action against the potential menace posed by flooding.


First of its kind in Oxfordshire

 It is the first resource of its kind in Oxfordshire and builds on the success of the approach in Northamptonshire. The site is also supported financially by Oxford City Council, South Oxfordshire District Council, Vale of White Horse District Council, West Oxfordshire District Council and Thames Water.


How to guides – useful templates for parish councils

Visitors can browse through information helpfully organised under headings such as “Am I at Risk?” and learn how best to help themselves through a series of “How to” guides.

For parish councils go to the How to guides…. Tab and click on it, from the three choices on the drop down menu select ‘How to become a flood resilient community’. If you click on the How to …. Create a Community Emergency Plan you will find a useful template. If you click on How to … work with landowners in your community you will find template letters the council can adapt and send to riparian owners to encourage them to clear ditches and watercourses.

The toolkit also explains the different types of flooding with bespoke guides on how to deal with them and, for those responsible for things such as drains and streams running across their land, instructions on how to carry out preventative maintenance.

Interactive illustrations give visual inspiration for ways people can protect their properties and highlight some of the areas that would not instantly spring to mind, such as the garage, air bricks and cable holes.


Preventing the worst effects of flooding

County Councillor Rodney Rose, Deputy Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “Knowledge and preparation is the key to preventing the worst effects of flooding.

The county council is the lead local flood authority for Oxfordshire which means that we have taken the idea of the flood toolkit seriously, and we are delighted with the support we have had from our partners.

“There is much that can be done to plan for and deal with flooding so that it affects you as little as possible. Doing your research acting now is far more effective and preferable to clearing up afterwards.

“Even just doing one or two of the things shown on the site such as signing up to a flood alert could make a big difference, but I would suggest people sit down and take some time to go through the toolkit and see just how much they could do to help themselves.

“The county council and partner agencies are playing their part to reduce the impact of flooding through developing and maintaining new and existing infrastructure. But that is only part of the picture – self-help is also needed.”


Find funding and teach the children

Other useful features on the toolkit site include links that could help secure funding for flood related projects and an educational pack for schools.

If you have any questions or queries Chris Brown, Oxfordshire Strategic Flood Risk Management Officer is happy to talk to you, his contact details are:

Mobile: 07775 025 240

email: chris.brown@oxfordshire.gov.uk

Oxfordshire County Council, Environment and Economy,

County Hall,  New Road,

Oxford,  Oxfordshire OX1 1ND

New External Auditors Appointed

On 30 November 2016 the Small Authorities Audit Authority (SAAA) announced the conclusion of its procurement process and the award of audit contracts for five years to the successful external audit firms. For Oxfordshire we have been appointed Moore Stephens.

Responsibilities under the new contracts will relate to accounts for the financial year beginning on 1 April 2017.

It is important to note that for the financial year 2016/17 there are no changes to your existing audit arrangements and you should continue to work with your existing auditors BDO on limited assurance reviews for accounts for the financial year 1 April 2016-31 March 2017.

The new appointments only become effective for the five year period in relation to accounts for the financial year beginning on 1 April 2017. All matters relating to the financial year 2016-17, including the Annual Return for the year 2016-17, should still be sent to your current external auditor.

This is the announcement on the SAAA website http://www.localaudits.co.uk/appts.html

Parish and Town Council Liaison Number

As you may be aware, Oxfordshire County Council recently set up a liaison number for Parish and Town Councils. This number is restricted to just Parish and Town Councils to ensure that we can answer your queries as quickly as possible.

For this reason we would encourage all parish and town councils to contact the county council through this number. However, please be aware that only the approved number, as agreed with the parish/town clerk, for each council can be used to call this number. This is to guarantee the quality of the service.

Phone Number:  03452412129 (Available 8.30am-5pm, Monday to Friday)

Email: Liaisonteam@Oxfordshire.gov.uk

Community Transport Association

With the reduction in bus subsidies communities are investigating all sorts of possible alternatives. The County Council has introduced the Comet Bus. The Community Transport Association was brought to my attention by Cllr McCullagh, Fringford Parish Council. It is a charity and exists to support its members and to act as the lead UK body for voluntary and community transport. In developing local solutions to national concerns, operators of community transport can respond to both individual and collective needs and drive forward social regeneration in their communities.

If you operate a minibus, a volunteer car scheme, a shopmobility project or a wheels to work project CTA can provide you with advice and support to ensure your transport is operated safely and legally.

The CTA website has a map which has details of all the community transport schemes in Oxfordshire

National State of Nature Report

Wild Oxfordshire write in their latest newsletter:

On 14 September 2016, the State of Nature partnership officially launched their second report State of Nature 2016 at the Royal Society in London. Produced by a consortium of 53 diverse conservation organisations, this report provides a snapshot of the population status of almost 4,000 terrestrial, freshwater and marine species and updates the statistics in the previous and first report State of Nature 2013. A small preview was on Country File last Sunday.

Wild Oxfordshire and partners have been working on a State of Nature for Oxfordshire Report. This will be a document that all can use to communicate the fortunes of Oxfordshire's iconic species and habitats. Wild Oxfordshire members are invited to a workshop on 21st October for an update and to help shape the final document. There will be a county-wide launch in 2017. For more information email mailto:clare@wildoxfordshire.org.uk

Oxfordshire Comet – transport from your door to destination

We would like to ask for your help in promoting a new, bookable transport service that we are launching on the 11 July, called the Oxfordshire Comet. It has been created to allow people without suitable access to public transport to make the journeys they want, at an affordable price.

The Oxfordshire Comet uses vehicles that normally take children to school and adults to day care centres. We identified the times of the day when they weren’t being used and are making them available to residents. Because we already own these vehicles, we only have to cover running costs, meaning we can keep costs down for passengers.

It can be booked for any type of trip - to meet friends in town, travel across the county, attend an appointment or pop to the shops. It’s been designed so that it is easy to book, with a pre-paid account that can be set up on the phone.

Who is it for?

Oxfordshire residents who don’t have access to suitable public transport. The service is also open to wheelchair users or those with mobility issues.

It is a membership scheme that can be booked by individuals, groups, schools, organisations and local communities.

Flexible service

The Oxfordshire Comet can do one-off journeys, regular and group trips. We can also offer regular routes for local communities (similar to a traditional bus route). We are already in discussions with a number of Parish Councils and other groups over the setting up of such routes. A fund of £200k has been set aside that Parish Councils and other organisation can apply for to trial the Comet service for an initial period.

The 16-seater Comet vehicles are fully wheelchair and pushchair accessible.

Want to know more?

For more information, please visit: www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/comet or contact comet@oxfordshire.gov.uk

Fringford Village Hall, Cherwell

For all those villages contemplating, planning or working towards a better Village hall we thought you might like to see a film which one of the villagers in Fringford has made of their project, from demolition to completion.


It's on YouTube, but also available on their new website too-http://www.fringford.info/village-hall-construction-project/film-of-the-project/

The Community Information Network

The Community Information Network is a free local information service for older people in Oxfordshire, run by Age UK Oxfordshire (Charity No. 1091529) in partnership with Volunteer Link-Up (Charity No. 1133530) and supported by Oxfordshire County Council.

The CIN is delighted to be able to introduce the Community Information Network Directory – a new online search tool to enable people to find out about the fantastic variety of opportunities that are available to older people and carers in Oxfordshire.

The Directory is free and simple to use and features a wide variety of activities, support and opportunities to help people to live life to the full. There are over 1,700 items listed so far, from exercise classes to IT classes and singing groups, lunch clubs, WIs, mobile libraries and many more. If you know about an opportunity that isn’t currently listed, there is also the ability to submit a new item.

To browse the Directory, click on the Community Information Network Directory link or you can access it via Age UK Oxfordshire’s website at www.ageuk.org.uk/oxfordshire.

If you know of a person who is unable to go online to use the Directory, they can simply call the Community Information Network on 0345 450 1276 and we can make a search on their behalf.

Open Spaces Society new tool-kit to save open spaces

From the Oxfordshire Nature Partnership Bulletin:

“The Open Spaces Society has published an open spaces tool-kit for communities to protect their green spaces, and has called on planning authorities to respond positively to requests to save local spaces.

The tool-kit has three handbooks:

  • How to win local green space through neighbourhood plans
  • Community assets and protecting open space
  • Local green space designation.

The society has called on the English local planning authorities to be proactive in designating land as local green space (LGS) through neighbourhood plans.

Wild Oxfordshire offers free talks to parish councils that are interested in conserving or enhancing

Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006

Local authorities are charged with ‘having regard to the purpose of conserving biodiversity’. This duty is relevant in many aspects of a council’s work. For instance, for a parish council the requirement to assess planning applications may involve informing the district council that hedgerows or trees could be impacted or lost; or perhaps your council might own or lease land that could be managed for its biodiversity value.

County and District Councils have had training to help them comply with the Act but parish councils have not. To fill this gap Wild Oxfordshire has been enabled for some years to offer short talks to parish council meetings on the reasoning behind the Act and the many ways it can have positive impact on their local communities.

Neighbourhood Planning

Many parish councils are taking on the additional work of preparing neighbourhood plans to focus local development in mutually agreed locations and density. Most development tends to decrease biodiversity, but, if considered carefully right at the beginning of the process there could be a net gain that will support the community to be more self reliant in future and create a healthier space in which to live.

Follow up signposting and occasional updates are part of the service, as well as specific advice if requested. You can contact Cynth by email at cynth@wildoxfordshire.org.uk or by phone on 01865 407034.She works part-time, 3 days/week so please forgive any slight delay inresponse.

Cynth Napper, Community Officer, Wild Oxfordshire www.wildoxfordshire.org.uk

Parish Transport Representative - Is there one in your parish?

ORCC and Oxfordshire County Council established a network of Parish Transport Representatives (PTRs) in 1986 to give communities in wards, towns and villages a means of voicing their needs and concerns about local transport in their patches. 

The administration of the PTR network is undertaken by the County Council and PTR meetings are held at County Hall three times a year.   The meetings provide an opportunity for officers to keep PTRs up to date on issues of which they need to be aware in fulfilling their roles.  The meetings also provide an opportunity for officers to gain feedback from PTRs in relation to general issues of policy and practice.

There are PTRs in 188 parishes and towns, leaving a large number of parishes, towns and wards without a PTR, which means that it is unlikely that transport issues are being represented in your community. One of the roles of the PTR is to publicise existing local public transport services and support any community transport scheme in their area or even to initiate suitable community transport services in the wake of changing public transport provision.

If you are aware that your community does not have a PTR then it would be great if you could step up to be that person or help to drum up a volunteer that can take the role on for the community.

If you would like further information on the role of the PTR then please get in touch with ORCC by emailing emily.lewis@oxonrcc.org.uk or call 01865 883488

Safeguarding children is everybody’s responsibility

Safeguarding children means taking steps to promote their welfare and to protect them from harm such as abuse and neglect. It is the responsibility of everyone to ensure that children are kept safe. Oxfordshire communities are a key resource for raising awareness of safeguarding and protecting children and young people. The more informed local members of the community are on safeguarding issues, the more they can help the prevention agenda and help to identify when there are possible risks to our children.


Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board (OSCB)

Children can only be kept safe properly if services and organisations work together. Local Safeguarding Children Boards were established by the Children Act 2004 to help make sure this happens.

Known locally as the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board (OSCB), the Board is the means by which organisations come together to agree on how they will cooperate with one another to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. Its remit is to scrutinise and monitor this co-operation, and to ensure that local agencies co-operate and work well to achieve this.

Contact your district board representative to find out more:


OSCB Representative

Val Johnson

Oxford City Council

Nicola Riley

Cherwell and Northants District Council

Sally Truman

South and Vale District Council

Diana Shelton

West Oxfordshire District Council


Expectations for your organisation

Your local parish council should consider, if appropriate, having in place:-

  • A Safeguarding Children Policy and procedure for raising a concern or making a referral to children’s social care;
  • A basic level of understanding by members of signs of abuse and neglect, and know how to contact their designated safeguarding lead within the district council.


How to report a concern about a child

Oxfordshire County Council, Thames Valley Police and other partners have recently opened a new Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH). This is the main ‘front door’ for children’s social care, and is made up of professionals from social care, the police, health, early intervention and others.

To make a new referral or report a new safeguarding concern, contact the MASH on 0845 050 7666. Referrals to the MASH can also be made using the MASH Enquiry Online Referral Form.

For children who are already open to social care:


No Names Consultation

If you are a safeguarding lead and you are unsure whether you should make a referral, or you just want some advice, you can call the assessment team numbers above and ask for a No Names Consultation. A social worker will be able to advise you if you need to make a referral or not, based on the information you give them, without having to divulge a name. If you are advised to make a referral, the social worker will talk you through the process.


Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)

The sexual exploitation of children and young people has been identified throughout the UK, in both rural and urban areas, and in all parts of the world. It affects boys and young men, as well as girls and young women. It can have a serious long term impact on every aspect of their lives, health and education. It damages the lives of their families and carers, and can lead to family break ups.

  • Sexual exploitation is where a young person under 18 receives ‘something’ (e.g. food, accommodation, drugs, gifts, money) as a result of performing, and/or others performing on them, sexual activities.
  • Child sexual exploitation can occur through use of technology, for example the persuasion to post sexual images on the internet/mobile phones with no immediate payment or gain.
  • In all cases the person exploiting the young person has power over them by virtue of age, gender, intellect, physical strength and/or economic or other resources.
  • Violence, coercion and intimidation are common, involvement in exploitative relationship being characterised in the main by the child or young person’s limited availability of choice resulting from their social/economic and/or emotional vulnerability.

Signs that may indicate child sexual exploitation;

  • Going missing from school/home/care placement
  • Associating with older people/adults
  • Isolation from family/friends/peer group
  • Physical symptoms including bruising/sexually transmitted infections
  • Substance misuse
  • Mental health problems
  • Unexplained possessions, goods and or money

Oxfordshire has a multi-agency strategy in place to protect young people from CSE.  If you are concerned about a child and think they may be involved in, or at risk of, sexual exploitation, please contact the Kingfisher Team on 01865 335276. They offer confidential support and advice on sexual exploitation. The team is made up of police, the NHS and Members of Oxfordshire County Councils; Childrens Social Services.


Find out more

Community members can become more involved through:

  • Multi-agency training – free face to face courses where you can meet other professionals working with children;
  • Short online courses - these can be found at http://www.oscb.org.uk/training.html, including Safeguarding Everyone and Safeguarding Children from Abuse by Sexual Exploitation;
  • Letting local groups working with children know that they can link in to Area Safeguarding Groups and sign up for the OSCB’s Newsletter.

Please visit our website for information about safeguarding training, policies and procedures, and to find useful resources and information to help protect children and young people: www.oscb.org.uk.

Oxfordshire County Council have developed a template Parish Council Safeguarding Policy it is in the Members Area of this website in the OALC Briefings, other guidance etc section

Census statistics for small parish councils and parish meetings

OALC has had it brought to our attention that it can be difficult for small councils to obtain basic statistical information from the census from ONS. There are 33 parishes in Oxfordshire affected by this. OALC has written to ONS expressing its concern. The 2011 census information is available on a postcode basis which unfortunately doesn't always fit with parish council boundaries and therefore estimates have to be built up from postcode data. ONS have provided this spreadsheet with their estimates for the 33 villages with unpublished data.

"Simple parish estimates built from postcodes 

This is done by adding together all the published postcode level estimates for the census in each parish. This will provide estimates of males, females and households in each parish - for the 33 unpublished parishes in Oxfordshire, and also for the already published parishes. 

However, please note that for the parishes for which 2011 Census estimates are already available, these estimates may be different to those already published, as they were derived using a different methodology. The alternative (derived method) estimates are aggregated from postcode estimates, whereas those previously published parish estimates have been aggregated from output area, in compliance with the National Statistician's policy for publishing official statistics for any UK geography. 

Also it is important to  note that postcodes fit only approximately with parishes, but we have fitted them as best we can. 

How to derive parish estimates built from postcode

  1. 2011 Census estimates of the number of males, females and households for each enumeration postcode were published in June 2013. 
  2. ONS Geography has published a lookup file of 2011 Census enumeration postcodes in England and Wales linked to the 2011 parishes in which they were located. The lookup file can be downloaded from the Open Geography portal here =>  2011 enumeration postcode to 2011 parish lookup
    Note that the 2011 Census enumeration postcodes are only those postcodes that were recorded during the 2011 Census as containing one or more usual residents. 
    2011 Census enumeration postcodes have been assigned to the parishes by plotting each postcode's centroid (the grid reference location of the most central address in the postcode) directly in to the parish boundaries. 
    More information about the lookup file can be found here
  3. Aggregate the postcode estimates for each parish as shown on the postcode to parish lookup file. 
  4. You now have "alternative" parish estimates, including for those parishes previously unpublished. " 

The demographics of councillors

Two years ago the Intergenerational Foundation published the results of its research into town and parish councillors in a report How the Localism Act hands power to older generations.

Its Executive Summary made sobering reading:

  • Local councillors are getting older and are now 14 years older than the average UK adult.
  • Few younger people become councillors. Whilst under-35s account for 32% of the adult population in England, fewer than 5% of councillors are under 35. Worse still, the under‐25s hardly ever get elected to their parish council as only 1 in 200 parish councillors is under 25.
  • Older people are heavily over‐represented. Over-65s account for 20% of the population, but they make up 40% of local councillors.

These findings have been reinforced by the LGA census of councillors published in June 2014. The LGA findings refer more to district rather than parish councillors but nevertheless reflect the same sort of demographic – 89% white, 67% male and 44% are over 65 years in age.

How important are these findings? In a representative democracy is it important to have all ages and backgrounds reflected on our councils? Or are councillors sufficiently empathetic to be able to know, understand and argue for the needs of all age groups? I would like to think the later but just in case I am wrong have a long hard look at your council.

What is the composition of your council? Could it be more diverse? What are you going to do about it?

At your next council meeting, or the one after, I suggest an item is put on the agenda reflecting on the composition of your council looking forward to elections next year. Would your council be more balanced if you could encourage more women to be councillors, would it be more reflective of your community if you could persuade some younger people to stand? If it would, how can you encourage younger women, for example, to stand for election? Can you have a stall at the school Christmas Fair? Leaflets in school book bags? More social media?

OALC support programme for those doing CiLCA 2015

Are you thinking of undertaking the CiLCA 2015 professional qualification?

If so, do you know that OALC offer a mentoring scheme to help support you during the time you build up your portfolio?

Trish Ingham has been asked by OALC to deliver a mentoring scheme for Clerks (or Assistant Clerks or RFOs ) who are about to register for the CiLCA 2015 with SLCC. Trish is not only our locum she is herself CiLCA qualified and has 8 years’ experience as Town Clerk and RFO. She is also an experienced Internal Auditor.

The mentoring programme Trish will be delivering will consist of 16 hours spread over 8 to 9 months.  There will be an introductory hour and a half which will be supplementary to the main programme and this will be followed by 8 two hourly mentoring sessions (usually 1 a month or thereabouts) at which a review will be taken of your portfolio work so far and agreement on the work to be completed for the next mentoring session. This work will then culminate in a review of the whole portfolio before submission.

The introductory session will be for all candidates (unless there is a really large uptake) and the mentoring sessions themselves will be for two or three students, as we have found that students seem to enjoy working with each other and discussing ideas.

The cost for this will be £200 plus VAT for member Councils or £300 plus VAT for non -members.

CiLCA 2015 must be completed a year after registration and we offer this support to encourage candidates to complete the portfolio within the year

If you would like to participate in the mentoring scheme please contact the OALC office either by phone or by e mail info@olac.org.uk . Your contact details will then be passed onto Trish who will contact you directly to discuss the start date. Please also contact the OALC office if you have any further questions about the mentoring scheme or about CiLCA 2015.

Employment advice service for OALC members

Oxfordshire Association of Local Councils is pleased to announce a new employment advice service available from 7th July 2014. Queries regarding staff issues within the council such as terms and conditions, employment rights, sickness absence, annual leave, maternity etc can be answered by our new Employment Advisor.

This service, which is available free of charge to all members councils, will be provided by Bethan Osborne.

Bethan will be writing a monthly employment briefing which will go in the Members Update and be placed in the Members Area of the website too.

In addition a consultancy service for more complex issues relating to employment disputes, restructuring, organisational change, recruitment and selection will be available through OALC at competitive rates.

Bethan is an experienced personnel and human resources professional.  A member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development; until recently she has been the National Employment Advisor for the Society of Local Council Clerks which has given her a unique understanding of our sector.

Five year Management Plan for the Chilterns AONB

The plan has been published by the Chilterns Conservation Board, which has responsibility for protecting and promoting the Chilterns. It was put together with the help of many local organisations and communities, including parish councils, wildlife trusts, the National Trust and the Chiltern Society.

Following extensive consultation, a new five year Management Plan for the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has been published by the Chilterns Conservation Board. A Framework for Action 2014 - 2019 analyses the issues facing the Chilterns countryside and its communities and contains a wide range of detailed policies and actions to tackle them during the coming years. Fromdealing withtree diseases threatening our woodlands to caring for historic buildings, supporting the economy of Chilterns towns and villages and much else, the new Plan is an essential source of guidance for everyone whose activities influence the AONB.

More details here

Fix my Street

The County Councils 'Fix my Street' is the best way of reporting pot holes on line.

People can take photographs of potholes and upload them online with location details.

The council's contractor pledges to fix potholes within 28 days, 24 hours in an emergency or four hours for the most severe category once reports have been verified.

Go tohttp://fixmystreet.oxfordshire.gov.uk/

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.

Community First Oxfordshire (ORCC) also have a useful guide to community ownership of pubs

Community Safety Partnerships: your route to getting your concerns in front of the Police and Crime

The 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 refreshed Police and Crime Plan for the Thames Valley 2013 -2017.

They are:

  • Alcohol
  • Drug addiction
  • Burglary
  • 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.

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.

Please contact Hilary Phillips, Biodiversity & Partnership Officer, ONCF. bap@oncf.org.uk

Two very worthwhile publications that you might not be aware of:

Community and Parish Guide to Biodiversity (BBOWT, Oxon CC, TVERC, 2012)

Biodiversity and Planning in Oxfordshire (BBOWT, Oxon CC, TVERC, 2014)

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.

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.

Countryside Access: A Parish Guide

This new guide from Oxfordshire County Council to improving access to rights of way can be downloaded here

Cotswold AONB 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 AONB Conservation Board

The latest e-newsletter from the Chilterns Conservation Board can be downloaded here as can the latest Commons Network e-newsletter.