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Oxfordshire 2050

Oxfordshire residents will have the opportunity to shape the long-term future of the county with the launch of a major public consultation to develop the Oxfordshire Plan 2050, backed by the six local authorities.

As part of the £215m Housing & Growth Deal secured by the Oxfordshire Growth Board from the Government, the spatial plan will set out the county’s future for the next 30 years.

It will consider what makes Oxfordshire great and look to preserve these qualities, while helping address some of the challenges facing us and secure a better future for our children and grandchildren.

Through consultation with different stakeholder groups and the public, we will listen to what is important to our residents and their families, what aspirations they have for the future and plan for the best way to deliver a better quality of life for all, be it rural, urban or market town communities.

On 18th December 2018 a briefing on the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 was held for a broad group of Oxfordshire stakeholders, including business and transport representatives, and community, heritage and environment groups. Full public consultation will follow in early 2019. Councillor James Mills, leader of West Oxfordshire District Council and Chair of the Oxfordshire Plan Member Sub-Group of the Growth Board, said: “We need to think long-term about how we are going to provide the new homes we will need, the new jobs and workplaces for careers to prosper, the schools for our children and grandchildren, the facilities to maintain the health and wellbeing of the county, and the transport networks to keep us connected.

“The Oxfordshire Plan 2050 will set out how best to deliver this, and residents will be at the heart of the conversation.

“We want a plan that helps improve everyone’s quality of life – no matter where they live.”

We have produced a video that explains what the Plan is, why it’s important and how people can get involved.

Over the coming months we’ll be holding public consultation events, sending out updates in newsletters, engaging online and through social media, and talking directly to residents so they are kept up-to-date with the Oxfordshire Plan 2050, they can have their say and we can answer any questions they may have.

These conversations will help shape the final plan, which will incorporate each authority’s Local Plan for the period up to between 2031 and 2036, and then look beyond them until 2050. It will not allocate specific sites for housing but instead look at areas best suited to help accommodate sustainable growth.

Cllr Mills added: “We want to make sure our residents have the right information to give their considered views on what is important to them now and for future generations.

“We need to recognise the challenges facing us from housing need and transport problems to creating jobs and maintaining a strong economy. The Oxfordshire Plan 2050 is our opportunity to decide how best to tackle these.

“We do not want growth at all costs – instead we want to be aspirational about our future and plan for inclusive growth that meets those aims in a way that respects Oxfordshire’s unique assets.”

In 2014 the Oxfordshire councils received evidence for the need of an additional 100,000 homes by 2031, which has been considered as part of each authority’s plan making. The Oxfordshire Plan will support the current local plans and consider future housing needs using the new national planning guidance, which does not contain any set Government housing targets that need to be met.

The Plan will be subject to a rigorous independent strategic environmental assessment, and considered by each council before being submitted for examination by the Planning Inspectorate.

It will then go before each of the district councils and city council, who will consider voting to adopt the Plan. Cllr Mills added: “We’re one of very few areas in the country who are benefitting from a joint spatial plan, as part of the £215m Housing & Growth Deal from the Government secured by the Oxfordshire Growth Board.

“The money is not only being used to enable infrastructure projects that will unlock planned housing and provide new affordable homes, but is also unlocking future funding.

“This means as much as £500m could be invested in infrastructure, including social infrastructure – ensuring access to good schools and GP surgeries are at the heart of any future planned developments.

“It will also look to minimise climate change, reduce the need to travel to work, and promote cycling and walking through dynamic planning policies and emerging technologies.”

More information here on the Oxfordshire 2050 website.

Oxford Mail 31st July 2018 - The government will not be taking any decision on unitary proposals

 The Minister for Local Government has written to the leaders of South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils explaining that the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government is not currently planning to announce a decision any time soon.

In his letter, the Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP explained that the government will be 'pausing its consideration' for a unitary council while other changes to local government in Oxfordshire are taking place.

Oxfordshire County Council is currently entering into a new partnership with Cherwell District Council after Cherwell’s agreements with South Northamptonshire District Council came to an end as part of the restructuring of local government in Northamptonshire.

The Conservative-led county and district authorities have been pushing plans to join forces and have a single council running everything in Oxfordshire which could save taxpayers' money.

Labour-led Oxford City Council and Conservative Cherwell and West Oxfordshire district councils have all been pushing back against the idea saying it would be bad for democracy.

South Oxfordshire leader Jane Murphy said today: “While we await a decision, we’re doing everything we can to work more closely across Oxfordshire and the minister acknowledged the positive work we’re doing with our partner councils to secure the very best infrastructure to support the housing growth happening in the county.”

OXFORDSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL GYPSY AND TRAVELLER SERVICE - FREE service for parish councils

OXFORDSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL GYPSY AND TRAVELLER SERVICE


This is a FREE service for town and parish councils!


Oxfordshire County Council Gypsy and Traveller service is based at Bicester Fire Station, the service manages the six County Council owned Gypsy sites at Standlake, Benson, Wheatley, East Challow, Sandford on Thames and Redbridge Hollow, with 88 plots in total.


The service also deals with unauthorised encampments on land that is owned by parish and town councils, also District Councils and the County Council.


More information is on their website here https://www2.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/public-site/gypsies-and-travellers


There are three members of staff:
Manager Gary Brewer, Traveller Site Officer Pete Gammond, Office Manager Ewa Fras.


Contact details:
Tel 01865 815569 Mobile 07867 538029 Email Travellers@oxfordshire.gov.uk


We are here to help and will also give advice, we have no control or influence over the private sites within the County but do visit them all twice a year.


Oxfordshire Gypsy & Traveller Services
Communities
Oxfordshire County Council
1st Floor, Bicester Fire Station, Queens Avenue, Bicester OX26 2NR

New Minerals and Waste Local Plan -Oxfordshire County Council

The new planning strategy and policies for minerals and waste development.

The Minerals and Waste Local Plan

Part 1: Core strategy was adopted on 12 September 2017. It sets out the vision, objectives, spatial planning strategy and policies for meeting development requirements for the supply of minerals and the management of waste in Oxfordshire over the period to 2031.

It provides a policy framework for identifying sites for new minerals and waste developments in Part 2 of the plan - the site allocations document and for making decisions on planning applications.

Further information is on the County Council website

IMPROVING ACCESS TO OXFORDSHIRE’S COUNTRYSIDE AND GREEN SPACES

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 TOE 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 TOE and what are we doing for rights of way in Oxfordshire?


TOE 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).

TOE can provide grant funding to support local access projects so that local groups can get materials and possibly training. Since 2011 TOE 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:

TOE 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; TOE provides an effective mechanism for delivering funding to good local projects.

For further information about TOE:

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

Energy efficient community buildings

TOE, 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. And contribute to a low carbon agenda.

Following the four year ENRICH programme (Energy Reduction in Community Halls) funded by the Patsy Wood Trust, TOE continues to support community buildings that wish to become more welcoming while reducing costs and cutting carbon emissions.  How can TOE 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.
  • A free Energy Guide “Managing Energy Use in Your Community Building” is available here
  • For local shops interested in energy use, the tips sheet ’Managing Energy Use in Shops’ is available here

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

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

How to be a flood resilient community - OCC

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

Oxfordshire County Council Parish and Town Council Liaison Number

Oxfordshire County Council set up a liaison number for Parish and Town Councils. This number is restricted to just Parish and Town Councils to ensure that they 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

With the reduction in bus subsidies communities are investigating all sorts of possible alternatives. Oxfordshire County Council has introduced the Comet Bus. The Community Transport Association  is a charitywhich 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 useful information on it. 

Community First Oxfordshire also assists communities with community transport schemes more information here

Oxfordshire State of Nature Report 2017

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. 

Wild Oxfordshire and partners produced State of Nature for Oxfordshire Report in 2017

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 - tool-kit to save open spaces

Toolkit For Saving Open Spaces

 

Golden Hill Country Park, Isle of Wight

As part of our campaign to save England’s much-loved open spaces, we have published an open spaces tool-kit for communities to protect their green spaces, and have called on planning authorities to respond positively to requests to save local spaces.

Our tool-kit consists of three handbooks:
(please note that, in accordance with the updated National Planning Policy Framework 2018, we will be revising these information sheets and the updated versions will be posted here shortly)
How to win local green space through neighbourhood plans;
Community assets and protecting open space and
Local Green Space Designation

Parish Transport Representative - Is there one in your parish?

Community First Oxfordshire 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 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 CFO by emailing emily.lewis-edwards@communityfirstoxon.org 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 the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Board https://www.oscb.org.uk for more information, oscb@oxfordshire.gov.uk or 01865 815834

 

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. 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

In 2012 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 were 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?

 

This links with the NALC Diversity Commission 2018 work which confirms the gender bias towards men - 59.2% are male, 39.2% are female. Also the all too predictable age bias - 10.8% are under the age of 45 and 44% are over the age of 66.

Employment advice service for OALC members

Oxfordshire Association of Local Councils has an  employment advice service available for member councils. 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, is provided by Bethan Osborne.

Bethan writes a monthly employment briefing which goes in the Members Update and is 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 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 community raised £146,000 through community shares in just two months which enabled them to buy the pub.

Have a look at the Pub is the Hub website.

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 also have a useful guide to community ownership of pubs.

Model Parish Council Resilience Plan

Oxfordshire County Council has produced Community Emergency Planning guidance, together with a plan template and an example for guidance.

Simple community emergency plans are designed to achieve the following:

  • Identification of safe places to use as a refuge for people displaced from their homes in the short term (hours) and how to open them at short notice at any time. These are known as ‘Survivor Reception Centre’s’ by emergency services and it would help if this terminology could be used in your plan.
  • Identification of people that can and are willing to help in an emergency.
  • Identification of equipment that might be useful for self-help in an emergency.
  • Identification of vulnerable or potentially vulnerable people in the community.
  • A list of useful contacts for use in a crisis.

A number of communities have already produced their own plans for specific emergencies; flood plans developed with the Environment Agency being the most notable example.

In most cases the information compiled in the development of these plans would be useful in a number of different emergency scenarios and we recommend that you consider the production of a general emergency plan.

Where communities have particular vulnerabilities, for example, flooding or are cut off in snow, additional information may be useful in the form of an annex to the plan.

Next steps

Community emergency planning guidance

Oxfordshire County Council follows the UK Government guidance, toolkit and templates for Community Emergency Plans, which can be found on gov.uk.

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.