Hello! As lockdown restrictions continue to ease, it has been lovely to see residents out and about enjoying the warmer weather.
Great news that local markets and community events are starting up again – in the past month we have enjoyed visiting the Hive Market, seeing the renovations in the Harwellian club and litter picking on Great Western Park. We are delighted by the news that the new tennis courts on Great Western Park are finally open and available to hire through the Boundary Park Sports Association. June is Pride Month, so it is great to see the Boundary Park Pavilion flying the rainbow flag in support of the LGBT+ community.
Remember that Covid-19 still presents a real risk, particularly with the emergence of new variants, so please do keep following the hands – face – space guidance and exercising caution as lockdown restrictions ease. We will use these monthly updates to keep you updated on our activities, general council news and of course the COVID-19 roadmap. We also post regularly on our councillor Facebook Page: Cllrs Hayleigh Gascoigne & Sarah Medley – please do not hesitate to get in touch with any issues or concerns, either via Facebook message or email: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Community Support Hub
The last year has been tough for many residents across Oxfordshire due to the pandemic. Households have been hit financially by redundancies and furlough and have found themselves with a day to day struggle to afford food and manage the costs of fuel bills.
We urge any resident struggling financially to contact the councils’ Community Support Hub – details below. The support is there for all households: residents needing help do not have to be in receipt of any government benefits and can be given financial support through this funding more than once. Additionally, any residents struggling to get to their vaccination appointment can contact our community hub team who will work with them to find transport.
To contact the Community Support Team:
call: 01235 422 600 Monday to Thursday 8.30-5pm and Fridays 8.30-4.30pm
fill in an online form at: www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/communityhub
Remember, for the most up-to-date coronavirus information relating to district council support and any changes to services, please take a look at the dedicated Vale webpage for updates: www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/covid19
Residents can also contact
- Citizens Advice – 0808 278 7907
- Vale Community Impact – 01235 765348
The latest figures are updated on the county council’s interactive dashboard on a daily basis.
A reminder that the Restart Grant is open for applications until 30 June and final payments will be made by 31 July. More info at svbs.co.uk/restart-grant. For more details about the grants available to businesses visit svbs.co.uk.
Safety measures for landowners
It’s important that landowners are up to date with the current Covid safety regulations for hiring out their land now that we’ve reached Step 3 of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown. This includes town and parish councils.
- Landowners must help ensure that the hirers of their land are fully aware of their roles and responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the current coronavirus regulations.
- Landowners should refer to the latest version of the working safely sector guidance, which includes ‘visitor economy guidance’ for fairgrounds, events and shows.
- Event holders and landowners should get in touch with our Licensing team as soon as possible about their planned activities to ensure they are managed in a Covid secure way.
- Guidance on all types of events and information about the Safety Advisory Group can be found on our websites, along with lots of other useful links and guidance: Vale website / South website
- Landowners can also get advice for any events held on their land by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Local Elections May 2021
You can read all the elections results across South Oxfordshire and the Vale, including details of Neighbourhood Plan referendums (all of which were approved by voters), using the following link: whitehorsedc.gov.uk/may2021elections
Sports facility opens on Great Western Park
Boundary Park Sports Association has leased tennis courts and a multi-use games area on Great Western Park from Vale of White Horse district council. The sports association, which looks after Boundary Park opposite the new courts and games area, will be making the new and exciting facilities available to local sports groups and the wider community for various activities and games.
The floodlit fenced courts have various markings outlining four match sized tennis courts and two official netball courts to enable local sports clubs to hire and play their official matches as well as being bookable by residents for tennis. The games area is marked for a wide range of sports activities including mini tennis, netball, basketball and five-a-side football for community groups and residents to use and hire.
The sports association has also been successful in applying for funds towards floodlights for their grassed pitches at Boundary Park. Vale of White Horse district council was able to allocate £25,000 using funds from Section 106 contributions from new developments being built in the Harwell, Blewbury and Milton parishes. The new lights are already installed and are helping training sessions take place for the men’s, women’s and junior rugby teams now that national restrictions have eased for organised outdoor sports. The park’s two training pitches will now be able to be used all year round and will allow the match pitch to be kept in better condition for official matches.
Cllr Hayleigh Gascoigne, Local ward member for Harwell Parish, said: “The new tennis courts and sports area are set to be a very popular facility on Great Western Park and will play a vital role in helping our residents lead active and healthy lifestyles. I can’t wait to see them in use!”
See link for the full press release: https://www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/uncategorised/sports-facility-opens-on-great-western-park/
Cornerstone Arts Centre to open again to the public
South Oxfordshire District Council is delighted to announce that Cornerstone Arts Centre in Didcot will begin opening to the public again this month and is promising that a fantastic line-up will greet visitors when it’s fully reopened in September – a line-up that the public can help to influence.
The centre’s café bar Nourish will be the first part of the centre to reopen on 21 June with a brand-new menu of locally sourced baked goods and great coffee in a light, open and welcoming space for all the family to enjoy. The council aims to reopen the centre fully on 7 September. As always, audiences can expect first class service and a diverse arts scene on their doorstep in Didcot from September. In the coming months Cornerstone will release a line-up of shows, concerts and events in its theatre, along with plans for its gallery, and returning classes for all ages within the coming months.
In the meantime, the council is calling on everyone who has used the centre in the past, and those that haven’t, to help plan that exciting new programme for the September re-opening. It has launched a public survey inviting everyone for their thoughts on what kind of events they would like to see at the centre and how they would like to use the centre in the future: survey.southandvale.gov.uk/s/CornerstoneArtsCentreSurvey. See link for the full press release: https://www.southoxon.gov.uk/south-oxfordshire-district-council/cornerstone-arts-centre-to-open-again-to-the-public/
The AGM of the Vale of White Horse District Council was held in person at 135 Milton Park on Tuesday 18th May. This was the first in-person meeting of Full Council since February 2020, due to the recent legislation change requiring councillors to be present in person in order to vote. However, the meeting is held in a new hybrid format where it is conducted and broadcast online, and members of the public can choose to attend remotely or in person. Councillors can also attend remotely but are not permitted to vote. At the AGM, Cllr Margaret Crick and Cllr Jerry Avery were re-elected as Chair and Vice-chair of the Council. The meeting agenda can be found here. The minutes of the previous meeting on 24th March can be found here.
Vale Scrutiny Committee met virtually on 27th May to review the Performance Management framework for the corporate plan. The papers can be reviewed here.
Members of the public and ward councillors are able to participate in meetings remotely, as well as in person and via written statement. If you wish to speak at any council meeting (full council, cabinet, committees etc), you just need to register in advance with Democratic Services. email@example.com
Councils welcome call on climate action
South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils have welcomed a call from Oxford Friends of the Earth for all Oxfordshire councils to do everything they can to tackle the climate emergency, while highlighting the positive work that is already taking place. Oxford Friends of the Earth published a report entitled ‘In case of emergency…’ that looks at what the six Oxfordshire councils have done in the two years since they all declared a climate emergency. The report is the first independent analysis of climate action by councils and shows that they have all set ambitious targets and carried out positive work, and that there appears to be genuine commitment to act, but it says more needs to be done if those targets are to be met.
In February 2019 both councils declared a climate emergency and since then have published have new Corporate Plans which put tackling the issue at the forefront of their councils’ work. The Vale launched its own Climate Emergency Advisory Committee, while South Oxfordshire also declared an Ecological Emergency and introduced a Climate and Ecological Emergencies Advisory Committee (CEEAC).
Both councils have set targets to become a carbon neutral council by 2025 for south and by 2030 for Vale, and a carbon neutral district by 2030 and 2045 respective. South Oxfordshire has also published updated Air Quality Guidance for Developers. There are some exciting new projects just around the corner too, both districts are working closely with Oxfordshire County Council on a park and charge scheme which aims to install electric vehicle chargers in the district.
New Community Lottery
The Vale of White Horse District Council’s new lottery, the White Horse Community Lottery will launch in June with a special virtual event. Organisations from the district’s voluntary and community sector will be invited by the council to attend the online event on Monday 14 June to find out how they can benefit from income raised through the Vale’s new community lottery. The lottery will have a weekly jackpot of £25,000 and will be available for residents to play online. The draw will take place every Saturday, with a jackpot going to anybody who matches a sequence of six numbers. The other prizes are £2,000, £250, £25 or three free tickets.
Residents can get involved by buying tickets which will cost £1 per week with 50p going towards the player’s chosen local good cause. 10p of the remaining money goes into the central community fund, 20p to the prize fund, 17p towards the administration of the lottery, and 3p on VAT. Proceeds from the White Horse Lottery central community fund will be spent on providing vital support to a wide range of local organisations and community initiatives which have a beneficial impact on the local community.
The first draw for the White Horse Community Lottery will take place in September. Any community groups and charities operating in the Vale of White Horse wanting to register their interest and find out more are being asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org.See link for the full press release: https://www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/vale-of-white-horse-district-council/new-community-lottery-to-launch-in-the-vale-of-white-horse-next-month/
We’d like to say a big “thank you” to all the volunteers across southern Oxfordshire
During the 37th annual Volunteers’ Week, which takes place from the 1-7 June, the leaders of South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils have offered their thanks and gratitude to the thousands of volunteers across both districts ahead of volunteers’ week; highlighting the invaluable contribution volunteers make to community groups and voluntary organisations across South Oxfordshire and the Vale.
This time last year England had started to come out of its first lockdown. Voluntary organisations and community groups had stepped up to help in any way that they could with some people volunteering for the first time. The councils Community Hub team worked with hundreds of volunteers as part of their Covid-19 response co-ordinating emergency food deliveries, collections of prescriptions and providing calls and a voice to speak to for those in need. Many council staff also took on new voluntary roles as part of their Covid-19 response throughout the last year. Whilst the pandemic has put a spotlight on the work of volunteers and their positive impact on our communities, the councils have worked alongside voluntary groups and organisations across the districts for many years. They are a vital resource to help connect council services to those who are vulnerable and in need.The councils are supporting Oxfordshire’s Covid-19 Heroes awards. The new High Sheriff for Oxfordshire, Imam Monawar Hussain, is inviting award nominations to honour those who have played an important role in the county’s local response to the pandemic. Residents can nominate people via an application form, and the judging will take place in June, with an awards ceremony in July. See link for the full press release: https://www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/vale-of-white-horse-district-council/wed-like-to-say-a-big-thank-you-to-all-the-volunteers-across-southern-oxfordshire/
HGV drivers needed for bin crews
Like many parts of the UK, the districts are facing a shortage of HGV drivers for their bin crews due to several factors. This is currently affecting a number of rounds in the districts where residents’ waste collections have been disrupted, and so the councils’ waste contractor, Biffa, is on a proactive recruitment drive to prevent it becoming a wider problem. Biffa is currently managing the situation by providing staff the opportunity to work Saturdays and Sundays as overtime to catch up with missed collections, but this is not sustainable in the long term either financially or for the bin crews’ wellbeing. It also inconvenient for residents.See link for the full press release: https://www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/waste-and-recycling/calling-all-hgv-drivers-we-need-you-to-drive-our-bin-lorries/