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Vale Council leader's report October 2019

on Fri, 11/10/2019 - 7:30pm

Vale of White Horse District Council leader's report - 9 October 2019

Work on Local Plan Part 2 has dominated much of members’ work with senior officers over the past few months. It has been, at times, a frustrating process but now that the Council has decided earlier tonight to adopt Local Plan Part 2, we are able to look forward. Work on a brand-new Vale local Plan will start straight away. I am also keen to strengthen the development management policies in our Local Plan to make it easier for the council to insist on lower carbon developments with more genuinely affordable housing.

But despite progress on the issues we can control, there are still some big issues set to affect our district that are stalled while we are wait for national decisions to be made;

  • Highways England tell me they have finished their modelling for the Ox-Cam Expressway and are ready to start a consultation on the six possible routes but are waiting government sign off.
  • I wrote to the Minister for Housing Communities and Local Government about this council’s predicted £5.6million funding gap by 2023/24, 22 per cent cuts in funding from central government and repeated delays to the Local Government Spending review. With so little certainty around our future income, budget setting is going to be very challenging, especially given we are already a very low-cost authority
  • And of course, the Didcot HIF funding. Whatever South Oxfordshire decide about their Local Plan tomorrow evening, I will continue (hopefully alongside all the other Oxfordshire Councils) to make the case to Oxfordshire County Council and MHCLG for flexibility in their approach. I will keep pushing for the Didcot HIF infrastructure to be funded to ensure Vale is able to deliver the housing committed to in Local Plan Part 1 and that local businesses hoping to grow or open on Harwell, Milton Park and elsewhere in southern Oxfordshire are able to do so.

In the meantime, we are working positively to move several initiatives forward. At Friday’s Cabinet meeting we formally nominated Oxfordshire County Council as the receiving and accounting body for the Marginal Viability Housing Infrastructure Funding of £1.951 million which will help fund the much needed £15m Wantage Eastern Link Road. Cabinet were also pleased to agree the expansion of the Global Resettlement Scheme in the Vale to an additional three refugee families, alongside the six Syrian families we are already supporting. We also decide to participate in the new Asylum Dispersal Scheme that will enable the Home office to house and support around five asylum seekers in our district on a trial basis.  We have asked that officers move quickly and that the scheme is reviewed in twelve months’ time and an update report brought to cabinet.

Work has begun on a new Corporate Plan for the council. This will set out this administration’s aims and ways of working that will help the council and our partners create a healthier and more inclusive district –  hopefully with some input from the Vale’s Climate Emergency Advisory Committee which meet for the first time on Tuesday. I look forward to bringing you more detail about how councillors and communities can contribute to the Corporate Plan as it develops.

Cllr Emily Smith


From an article on the VoWHDC website; see the original <here>.