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Local Government

Vale of White Horse District Council update

May 10, 2022

Hello from Hayleigh & Sarah

We hope everyone enjoyed the extended Easter weekend, and had the opportunity for some family time, time to relax or time away – however you please! And ‘Eid Mubarak’ to those who were fasting over the month of Ramadan and celebrating Eid.

The month of April was a reasonably quiet one for council meeting, but the work of the council officers carries on and we have included the latest press releases in this update as well as some more information on how the council is supporting Ukrainian refugees, and a link to the latest planning application for a parcel of homes on Valley Park (please submit your comments!).

The next full council meeting is our AGM on 18th May. Should you wish to speak at this (or any) meeting, please email democratic services democratic.services@southandvale.gov.uk by 12noon on the working day before the meeting. You can also attend meetings in person or watch the stream on YouTube – details about this are here.

Hope the month of May brings everyone some sunshine and some fun as we look forward to the Queen’s jubilee celebrations locally, and the start of summer.

Council tax rebate

All households living in properties which are in council tax bands A-D are entitled to a £150 payment.  The government is providing this money, also known as the ‘council tax rebate’, to help people with the rising costs of energy bills with the payments being made by local councils.
The Council can pay the money directly to someone’s bank account if they are the person responsible for paying council tax at the property.
A letter will be sent to all remaining eligible households (those not on direct debit, or whose bank account can’t be matched to those liable for the council tax at the property) asking them to complete an online form to confirm their bank account details so they are able to receive the money. Anyone who is not able to complete the form online will be able to call a special customer service team for assistance.

Community Support

The Community Support Hub, originally set up by the council in 2020 in response to the pandemic, is still available for anyone in need of help: if you have COVID-19, or if you are struggling financially, or if you are just finding life difficult due to the pandemic. Whether it’s practical support or just advice, get in touch. Call: 01235 422 600 (Mon to Thurs 8.30-5pm and Fridays 8.30-4.30pm) or visit www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/communityhub.

Financial Support Helplines

With rising energy prices and the cost of living increasing, it is a difficult time for many residents. Anyone who is struggling financially can contact Citizens Advice on 0808 278 7907, Vale Community Impact on 01235 765348 or the council’s own community support hub – details below.

We use these monthly updates to keep you updated on our activities, general council news and any COVID-19 developments. We also post regularly on our councillor Facebook Page: Cllrs Hayleigh Gascoigne & Sarah MedleyPlease do not hesitate to get in touch with any issues or concerns, either via Facebook message or email: hayleigh.gascoigne@whitehorsedc.gov.uk and sarah.medley@whitehorsedc.gov.uk.  

Vale and South Oxfordshire councils step up to support Ukrainian refugees

The system is working and in full swing across Oxfordshire to support the government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme.

Whilst, there is still limited government guidance in some areas, all partners across the county are working together to find solutions and put guests at the heart of any action required. The accommodation and safeguarding checks are progressing well, with the backlog of home checks almost completed, and with no significant concerns raised.

The government is providing funds to provide support to families to rebuild their lives and fully integrate into communities, which the councils will be the administrators of.

The county council has continued to process school place applications and is recruiting an additional admissions officer to manage demand and avoid administrative delays.

You may have also seen that the Department for Work and Pensions has laid emergency regulations so those arriving in the UK from Ukraine, as a result of the Russian invasion, can access Universal Credit and jobs support immediately. Families can therefore claim for free school meals in the usual way under the usual eligibility criteria.

And as we approach half-term, the council are working to identify what holiday activities could be offered for children and also activities for children waiting for a school place.

For more information

General Ukraine queries:

For housing and community support in South and Vale:

Email: communitysupport@southandvale.gov.uk

Finally, as we work hard to support the government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme, it’s important to recognise that we are continuing to work collectively across the county to support people of all immigration status, including refugees, whatever their country of origin.

In recent years, all councils across Oxfordshire have established specific support arrangements for those from Syria and Afghanistan working together with our voluntary and community sector partners to deliver wrap-around support for those temporarily accommodated in hotels. We will all continue to support relocating refugees and work with Thames Valley Police and other agencies to identify and prevent modern slavery.

Local News

Valley Park Update
The planning application for the first ‘parcel’ of 246 homes on Valley Park has now closed for consultation on theonline planning portal – reference P22/V0539/RM. The decision will take at least 6 weeks as the planning officers at the Vale read all the comments submitted, and look at how the application complies to national as well as local planning policies. They may go back to the developer with changes to make, meaning the decision could take longer.

In the meantime, another planning application for a parcel of houses by Persimmon as been submitted, and can be viewed and commented on here – reference P22/V0907/RM. The deadline for a response here is 1st June.

Witness the thrill of elite cycling in Oxfordshire

People will be able to witness the thrill of elite professional cycling when the Women’s Tour returns to the Vale of White Horse on Saturday 11 June.

Following successful events in 2019 and 2021, this will be the final year that The Women’s Tour will visit Oxfordshire, following a three-year partnership with race organiser SweetSpot.  For 2022, the county will host the sixth and final stage of the Tour in what promises to be a spectacular finale.

On the day, you will be able to see the riders pass through Harwell and Didcot. The full timetable will be published closer to the time.

Communities across the district are being encouraged to mark the occasion – this could be as simple as lining the route to cheer the riders on, putting up bunting, flags, or cycling inspired artwork, creating a cycling themed window display or having cycling themed events.

To learn more visit whitehorsedc.gov.uk/womenstour.

New cinema nights at The Beacon

New film nights will start at The Beacon from Saturday 21 May with a matinée of Encanto and an evening screening of Belfast.  Later screenings include Sing 2 and West Side Story. More info here.

Cornerstone’s summer of fun

Cornerstone’s summer programme is now in full swing with a line-up of shows and activities from science extravaganzas to live blues music. With classes, workshops, and gallery exhibitions including ‘Oxfordshire Artweeks: Inspired By Nature’ from 3 May – there’s something for everyone. More here.

Climate & Environment News

Councils to let wildflowers bloom during No Mow May

Wildflowers could bloom in more public areas next month after South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse District Councils pledged their support for No Mow May.

The two councils already designate wildflower meadows which they only cut two to three times a year but this year they will trial leaving several additional areas of land uncut for No May Mow, a national campaign which encourages people to not mow gardens and public areas during May.

For more information about how the council carry out grass cutting visit whitehorsedc.gov.uk/NoMowMay

For more information about No May May, visit the Plantlife website. 

Council News

Didcot Garden Town

A wide range of improvement projects and facilities in the Didcot Garden Town area will be prioritised to ensure climate change and pandemic recovery are tackled first.

The Didcot Garden Town Advisory Board discussed the actions set out in 2017’s Delivery Plan to identify the projects they thought were the most important to bring more community improvements and assist recovery for the garden town area following the pandemic.

More information on the Didcot Garden Town can be found here.
You can read the full minutes of the Didcot Garden Town Advisory Board meeting here.

Have your say on a new technology park development in Didcot Garden Town

Residents and businesses can give their views on how greener commercial buildings can be built at a Didcot technology park.

Hill Farm, in Appleford and near to Didcot, is the site of a proposed Local Development Order (LDO), something that local planning authorities use to set out the overall design of a site. It also helps speed up the planning process for preferred types of development there, such as industrial buildings with energy efficient measures. This LDO design includes a data centre, waste management, a wood recycling organisation and a battery storage facility.

The formal consultation is now open until midday 25 May 2022 via this link to the planning application page.

Street naming consultation

The government is asking people to comment on proposals to alter process for changing street names.  This includes replacing the current system with a single requirement for a residents’ vote on any changes to street names and some changes to regulations and statutory guidance for councils.  To find out more and to have your say visit the government’s consultation