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District and County Councillor Report for Annual Meeting 2018

on Tue, 19/06/2018 - 8:32am

District and County Councillor Report for Annual Meeting 2018


LEADER Matt Barber steps down by end of May to take up full-time position as Deputy Police Commissioner Thames Valley after 7 successful years as Leader VWHDC.

Matt Barber has been a  very successful leader, who has steered the Vale through the pain of Local Plan Part 1 (LPP1) delivered over 7500 new houses so far, a new leisure centre, and set up LPP2; negotiated the Five Counties deal, the Growth Deal with County, the City and District Councils, and brought the Vale round to support for a Unitary Council in the future, whilst ensuring high standard services for all residents.  We will miss his grasp of the strategy for the  Vale and his ability to make it a forward-thinking Council and his careful control of the spend by the Council

A new Leader will be elected by Conservative Group on 8th May.

Local Plan Part 2 has been submitted for Examination in Public by Inspector during the summer.  The Vale is required to deliver 2250 extra houses to meet Oxford City’s unmet need. All are allocated in the Abingdon/Oxford ‘fringe (1200 on the Dalton barracks site) and the worst effect will be more congestion on our roads.

Budget for 2018/19 required a 4.6% increase in Council Tax, which includes significant  funds for ‘deep clean’ of the towns and villages to improve the state of our area.

Vale District  council has registered objection to Thames Water’s renewed proposal for a reservoir at Steventon and called for a public enquiry.


BUDGET for 2019/10 has been increased by 5.99% to include 3% ring-fenced increase for social care  - children and adults.

SOCIAL CARE :  Care worker recruitment drive has already attracted more applicants in 5 months as in past 2 years.  OCC currently has about 14,200  working in adult social care, but Oxfordshire’s ageing population is growing at twice the national average.

POTHOLES :  As Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport I have raised potholes to the top of the OCC agenda.  Gov has provided £2.8 million extra for repairs making about £16 million for road repairs this year.   But snow, and ice and salt have damaged our roads beyond expectations – reports to Fix My Street are now running between 7,000 to 8,000 per month, up from the average of 2,000 per month, so we have brought in 2 extra repair teams and an additional Dragon Patcher and aim to fix about 35,000 potholes this year.  I hope you have noticed there are workmen repairing potholes in our area already.   But we know it will need £150 million to resurface our roads, and I am open to all suggestions about where to find this money!

HGVs : throughout the county are working with Trading Standards to police the scourge of HGVs ignoring weight restrictions on rural roads and bridges.  Since Feb 2016 there have been 100 prosecutions (resulting in £55792 in fines) with 57 more cases under active investigation.  In total 550 warning letters have been issued following reports from the public; 157 seen by patrolling Trading Standard officers and 460 vehicles recorded by the ABPR cameras at Newbridge.

GROWTH DEAL : OCC initiated a deal with Gov for £215 million over 5 years for  infrastructure, which includes £60 million for affordable housing, likely to be for key-worker housing  close to Oxford to counter the problem that Oxford City  housing is most expensive outside London. This is a ground-breaking deal for a stream of significant funds to provide roads to deliver 100,000 houses in the county by 2031.  The deal required agreement from all four District Councils and the City, and will enable OCC to plan big infrastructure improvements ( from the Ox.Infrastructure Schedule) and is a wholly new way to fund development in a county without a Unitary authority.

UNITARY COUNCIL :  the plan  agreed by all councils last year for a Unitary authority is still on the desk of the SoS, and we watch developments in Northamptonshire with great interest.  But meanwhile the gain for major infrastructure funding has been secured through the successful Growth Deal.  

EAST WEST RAILWAY :  OCC has been a lead council in the consortium which has secured £1billion Gov funding (November 2017) to extend the East/West railway from Bicester to Bletchley (Milton Keynes).  Following this model a new consortium will now be formed by the councils east of Bletchley to extend the railway to Bedford and Cambridge.

OXFORD EXPRESSWAY :   I chair an advisory group on the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway which aims to ‘open’ England’s economic heartland with a science .knowledge spine from Cambridge to Oxford with a new science university at Milton Keynes, as proposed by the National Infrastructure Commission.  There are 3 possible ‘corridors’ to route this road through Oxfordshire, which makes us the most affected by this development.  We cannot yet indicate a preferred corridor, as the technical assessments are not yet available.  We have responded to Highways England that the Expressway must NOT use the  section of A34 through central Oxfordshire, and must not seek to use A34 where it serves as a local road past Oxford City.  It must also be developed separately from local planned enhancements like the Culham river crossing  The VWHDC prefers a route south of Abingdon; SODC prefers a route north of Oxford and they have called for a public enquiry.

THAMES WATER’s RESERVOIR :  OCC  has called for more detail about TW’s estimates of population growth in the county, aware that TW sees this as a regional facility without making clear what other possible sites have been assessed across the South East region. We have asked also how much of the water will be sold to other water companies, and called (again) for TW to speed up their programme of leakage reduction to ‘delay the need for a reservoir as long as possible.

ENVIRONMENT :  OCC is planning first Zero Emission Zone in the world for centre of Oxford by 2020; is initiating many improvements for cyclists in and around Oxford City; and has consulted on how to increase recycling aware that nearly 60% of what still goes to waste generating plant is recyclable.  We must do better with bottles . . .and all plastics!

Cllr Yvonne Constance