Coronavirus ~ March 2020
We have been advised by the Government that Parish Council meetings can take place virtually during the time that the Coronavirus so-called 'lockdown' is in force. See here for more detail.
I am delighted to report that Tammy Heavens has now joined the Parish Council in the role of Clerk with immediate effect. Tammy has also taken on the role of Data Protection Officer from Ken Brooks to ensure that the Parish Council meets the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulations. You can read more about our Data Protection Policy here.
Tammy has lived in the village for three years and, like so many of us, loves it here and intends to stay. She feels she would now like to give something back to the village. In her principal job she already uses many of the skills that are pertinent to the Clerk's role and so, after some training in the specifics of Parish Council Operations, she will be a real asset. We have transferred the Clerk’s email address to Tammy’s computer.
Although I will obviously continue to be available, I would ask that any matters relating to the Parish Council are sent to firstname.lastname@example.org from now on.
All the Councillors would like to join me in welcoming Tammy whilst also thanking John Ashwell for his long service and Jackie Johnson and Ken Brooks for so ably managing the gap between permanent clerks.
Chair, South Leigh Parish Council
We continue to operate via Zoom during these trying times. Anyone is welcome to join the meetings but we ask that you notify us in advance if you wish to speak. There is always a slot for people to raise concerns. The agendas and minutes are published here.
The normal practices of the Parish Council continue with issues of fallen / unsafe trees, potholes and planning applications among others but there are several larger issues to report on.
New Junction at Shores Green - this is the junction onto the A40 at the Witney end of Chapel Road.
Currently this junction is only two way - you can only get onto the A40 travelling towards Oxford and off it coming from Burford - it has long been WODC's plan to update this to a four way junction. Their justification is that it would encourage local traffic to use the A40 to get to the opposite side of Witney, thus reducing traffic congestion and pollution in Bridge Street. Whether we agree with this or not, this junction will be changed along with the extension of the dual carriageway from Barnard Gate to the new Park and Ride at Eynsham.
It is important to us how this junction is placed as we want to prevent any opportunity for more cars to use the village as a cut-through. I think we would all agree this happens too much as it is. Our role is to make sure our views are heard once consultation begins. To that end I have been advised by Oxfordshire County Council that a first round of consultation with stakeholders, i.e. us, will take place at the end of this month.
As your Parish Council we will be looking at this carefully but will also be looking for your views.
Lysette Nicholls and Graham Soame have been looking into both the health of the Lymbrook as a whole and the flooding issues in particular. Although generally much improved, the village still floods to an extent with heavy rainfall. Lysette has had meetings with all the landowners involved and we hope to see further improvements over this winter.
Graham has been very involved in trying to improve the quality of the Lymbrook itself. He has recently arranged a water quality test and is in talks with both BBONT and the wildlife / fauna and flora group in Eynsham, all of whom have a wealth of experience.
Improvement of mobile phone signal
I would like to thank Dick Pears for taking the lead on this project. He is undertaking a huge amount of work. An improved service is an aim of our Neighbourhood Plan and is something that is becoming more and more important in these modern times.
With COVID-19 still ever present, please remember that there are loads of people who are willing and able to help out anyone who is isolating. Please just get in touch with myself or any other councillor. We’re here to help.
Please also remember that the village has a Facebook page which can be found here - if you're not already a 'member', you'll have to answer three simple questions before being added.
Keep well and keep safe.
Nicky Brooks, November 2020, 01993 701137 or email@example.com
This planning application was passed a couple of months ago by WODC but there were lots of conditions that the company have to fulfil before they can start to build. The particular reports that you can download by using the buttons below are regarding the planting, biodiversity and the long-term management plan for the site. [The webmaster says: NB: These .pdf files are quite large and it's best not to download or view them on a phone.]
The text below is an email I received from the company which is managing the project.
Please let me know if you have any comments or concerns.
Nicky Brooks, 01993 701137 or firstname.lastname@example.org (14.08.2020)
I hope that you have been keeping well and safe over the last few months.
With events of the last few months taking their toll it has slowed our progress a little therefore, apologies for the radio silence.
Firstly, I wanted to drop you a line to let you know that we have agreed a programme for further archaeological investigations of the site and we have a team starting the investigations next week. The exact day is not yet confirmed, however, I wanted to let you know just in case people are wondering what the activities are. This is not the start of construction but is necessary to discharge the next stage of planning conditions.
In a similar vein, you will no doubt recall the addition of a requirement for us to consult with the parish on the details of the Biodiversity Management Plan, which was added by the planning committee in March. Whilst the decision notice didn’t set out parish council(s) I felt it appropriate to include South Leigh Parish Council for your perusal. I shall also forward a copy of this email to the local ward councillors.
Specifically, condition 17 sets out as follows:
South Leigh Parish Council is a statutory body operating as the lowest level of local government. Its powers are very limited but it is entitled to be consulted on many matters that are actually the responsibility of a higher local authority (witness planning and the District Council or Highways and the County Council).
The Parish Council is elected by all qualifying voters in the Parish and its elected members in turn appoint a Clerk to the Parish Council.
The Parish Council has the power to tax by, adding a regulated charge, called a 'Precept', to your Council Tax bill.
The Parish Council has regular meetings (approximately every six weeks) which are advised to the Parish by a notice on the notice board by the pub and on the village website. These meetings are open to the public to attend.
No Parish Councillor is paid. The Parish Council operates through volunteers and with the good will of the public. However, certain activities are delegated by the Parish Council which operates through various sub-committees and appointed officers, viz:-
Village Hall Committee - Richard Law
Village Green Committee - Dick Pears
Playground Association - Karen Wilson
Football Pitch Committee - Martin Wilson
Neighbourhood Plan Committee - Ken Brooks
Forest Restoration Group - Martin Spurrier
Each sub-committee operates independently but under the aegis of the Parish Council and with a Parish Councillor or Officer as an ex-officio member with all relevant accounts of the sub-committee being consolidated within the accounts of the Parish Council itself at the year end.
The Summer Fayre Committee is not a sub-committee of the Parish Council. It operates as an independent fundraising venture and thus it is not the responsibility of the Parish Council.
In addition to these sub-committees, the Parish Council has appointed the following officers:
Footpaths Officers - Ann and Russell Cherry
Traffic Monitoring Officer - Lysette Nicholls
Litter Collection Co-ordinator - John Ashwell
Newsletter Editor - John Ashwell
Data Protection Officer - Tammy Heavens
NEXT COUNCIL MEETINGS
The next meetings, which take place at 7:30pm usually in the Village Hall, but are by ZOOM until further notice, are on the Tuesdays listed below. If you wish to discuss something, we always have a slot at the beginning of the meeting for this purpose, but it is important that you advise the Clerk beforehand about what you'd like to speak about.
Please also note:
These are provisional and dependent on ‘lockdown’ arrangements. The Parish Council doesn’t normally meet in August due to the holiday and the date in October is half term and so may well need to be moved.
• 15th September 2020
• 27th October 2020
• 8th December 2020
• 19th January 2021
• 2nd March 2021
• 13th April 2021
• 25th May 2021
• 6th July 2021
We have been waiting for notification from Government about how we should run our meetings during the Covid-19 pandemic. It hasn’t been quick in coming but I guess they’ve had more important things to do!
Anyway, we now have definite guidance - please see the guidance points in bold below.
Regular Parish Council meetings should not take place in person but can take place by video call where possible and members of the parish should be invited (again - where possible).
We tried a video call meeting via ZOOM for our March meeting and although not as good as face-to-face, it worked very well, so we are inviting members of the parish to join the May meeting if they would like to. We will email all those that we have contact details for before the meeting with joining instructions. You will have to download the ZOOM app beforehand. We’ll put a notice on the village Facebook page too but we are aware that doesn’t necessarily cover the whole parish - perhaps you could alert any other parishioners who you feel may be interested.
For anyone feeling uneasy about any of this but would like to join we are happy to set up a practice session.
I'm afraid that during the meeting we will have to be strict about public intervention because it really doesn’t work if people speak at the same time - we are therefore requesting that you don’t intervene during the meeting but please do contact us afterwards with thoughts and ideas - it would be most welcome. (Strictly speaking, this is how Parish Council meetings should be run but we normally like to be more inclusive.)
If you do have any issue(s) that you would like to raise at the meeting please do let us know well beforehand and of course we will offer you a spot to air your views.
AGMs are postponed until such time as public can attend. The current chair will remain in place until an AGM can be held once the current situation is rectified.
Our AGM is the one meeting in the year where parishioners are allowed to raise any questions they like about the last year's actions of the Parish Councillors; it is the parishioners' meeting. It is of course where reports from the various sub-committees are presented along with the Parish Council annual report and the year-end accounts. Finally - it is the time that the councillors vote for the chair and deputy chair positions. We will still publish the reports and accounts and any questions from parishioners will be answered.
Notice of meetings should be via web site not posted in a public place.
We should make the written record and background papers available on the website.
Minutes of the meeting held on March 31st are now available here together with all the attendant papers - please get in touch if you have any queries and we will publish all papers going forward on this website until normality is resumed.
Thank you for your patience in this matter - we are trying to be as transparent as possible in these trying times.
Nicky Brooks, Chair of South Leigh Parish Council, email@example.com
Code of Conduct for Members and Co-opted Members
Below is the Code of Conduct to which all Parish Councillors have signed up.
Produced by WODC, it is also followed by all District Councillors.
GUIDANCE ON THE DECLARATION OF INTERESTS AT MEETINGS
You need to declare your interests at all meetings where matters being discussed or to be discussed affect your interests.
You need to declare your interests at all meetings where matters being discussed or to be discussed affect your interests.
You have a personal interest in a matter if that matter affects the well-being or financial position of you, your relatives or your friends more than it would affect other people in the Parish. You must look at how any decision reached in any meeting would affect:
Under the Code of Conduct:
Yes - even if your interest is shown in any Register of Interests, you must also declare it in meetings where matters affecting that interest are discussed.
A prejudicial interest is one which a member of the public who knows the relevant facts could reasonably think is so significant that it is likely to affect your judgement of the public interest.
You must ask yourself whether a member of the public, if he or she knew all the facts, would think that your personal interest was so significant that it would probably affect your decision on the matter. If he or she could think your judgement would be affected, then you have a prejudicial interest.
The Code of Conduct sets out some general exceptions from prejudicial interests. It says that you may not have a prejudicial interest if the matter relates to:
We have agreed to follow best practice at South Leigh Parish Council so that regardless as to whether a declaration is of a prejudicial or personal interest, the relevant councillor would be asked and expected to leave the meeting and not to vote on any declared interest.
There has recently been an increase in the number of members of the public attending our Parish Council meetings, which is fantastic. We are really pleased that people are interested in the actions of the Parish Council which is, after all, your representative in matters pertaining to our Parish.
However, given the increased numbers, I thought it would be a sensible idea to restate the relevant rules...
Strictly speaking, the public is there only to observe and participate by invitation. Just as with OCC and WODC, these are meetings of the Council held in public and not public meetings.
As is recommended, we have adopted 'model rules' as set out by WODC for the conduct of meetings of the Parish Council - a summary is set out below. They are fairly strict rules but some latitude is allowed at the discretion of the Chair with the consent of the Parish Council.
I, as Chair, have always felt that public participation should be encouraged wherever reasonably possible and so have run our meetings in a much more open way. I am not suggesting that this changes. I continue to support the idea of public participation but I would ask that we remember that meetings of the Parish Council are not meetings of the public.
When issues have arisen, such as Gladman or the Neighbourhood Plan, I have ensured that a full public meeting has been convened so that parishioners can express their views. While I remain Chair, I will continue with this policy. In the meantime, members of the public are encouraged to notify myself, the Clerk or any Parish Councillor of any matter of concern as we purposefully maintain a running Agenda item for such matters. However, whilst we will normally allow matters to be raised at relatively short notice, it would be appreciated if reasonable notice is given of a wish to speak or raise a particular matter as that enables the Parish Councillors to have researched the relevant subject beforehand to ensure an informed debate.
Finally, we, as your Parish Council, are appointed to make decisions on the behalf of the whole Parish. Whilst we will endeavour to hear all views and to take them into consideration, the final decision on any matter is down to the Parish Councillors themselves. In that regard, no councillor entitled to vote has to give a reason for their decision on how to vote.
Council Meetings: Public Participation Procedure
South Leigh Community Speed Watch
Speeders: Slow down or lose your car!
26th March 2020: South Leigh Speed Watch managed to do five weeks of monitoring before we stood down and during that time clearly established that speeding was an issue. This was also covered by the Witney Gazette.
We captured over 150 speeders during this period and the average speed was 39mph. Letters were being sent out by the Police as even if we haven’t captured speeding motorists three times in the village, data is consolidated and taken from the whole of the Thames Valley Police region.
We have been asked to stand down currently as the Police are focusing their resources to deal with current issues.
I would like to thank all those that are helping and those that have asked to be trained in the future.
Issued by South Leigh Speed Watch Team. For further information please contact:
Lysette Nicholls ~ firstname.lastname@example.org 07766 251125
Thames Valley Police's Robb Webb instructs South Leigh's Speedwatch team in the use of the speed camera.
DOGS AND THE LAW
Dog owners are reminded that it is now compulsory to have their four legged friend microchipped. Any dog that is found not to have been microchipped could see the owner facing a fine of £500.
West Oxfordshire District Council picks up about 100 stray dogs every year, many of which are not microchipped, making it difficult for them to be reunited with their owners.
The animals are taken to council-appointed kennels with owners charged for accommodation and other costs until they are returned. If unclaimed, the stray is usually re-homed through an animal rescue centre.
The responsibility for collecting stray dogs has changed from the Police to West Oxfordshire District Council. The Police will still deal with dangerous dogs.
Anyone who has lost or found a dog should telephone the council on 01993 861020 during normal working hours or 01993 705056 after 5:00pm and at weekends, or online by clicking here.
People interested in re-homing a stray dog can apply by logging completing the 'Application to re-home a dog' form found by following the link on the same web page.
Approximately 21% of our Precept pays for cutting the Village Green, the rear garden of the Hall and assisting the church with the cost of cutting the churchyard.
COUNCIL TAX SCAM WARNING
West Oxfordshire residents are being warned to guard against bogus callers telling them their council tax bands maybe too high.
Several residents have been in touch with the District Council saying callers from the ‘Claims Review Bureau’ have contacted them offering to work on their behalf to obtain a reduction in exchange for a fee of about £80.
But staff have emphasised that anyone wanting to appeal against their band can do so for free by contacting the District Valuation Office.
Cllr. Toby Morris, Cabinet Member for Resources, said: “This is a scam and residents must ensure they do not pass on any financial or personal details to these callers. Appealing against a council tax band does not require a third party and is free. Anyone receiving one of these calls should end the conversation as quickly as possible.”
Residents wishing to appeal against their council tax banding can do so by contacting the District Valuation Office on 03000 501 501.
To report a suspected scam, contact Oxfordshire County Council Trading Standards on 0845 051 0845.
The District Council has also reminded residents that staff would never ask for a customer's bank details via email.
The Parish Council asks that cars should not be parked half on pavements and half on the road. We understand why this practice has developed but unfortunately it has the effect of breaking down the pavements and verges.
LITTER BLITZ - 2020
This Year’s Litter Blitz collected a horrendous amount of other people’s rubbish. As a result, you may have seen the new CCTV warning signs that the County Council has put up, and will move around, for us.
The Blitz took place on Sunday, 26th January and a team of village volunteers covered Church End, Chapel Road, Station Road and up to the A40 at Barnard Gate.
They collected more than twelve black garbage bags plus two Land Rover loads including, at one point, 28 Vodka bottles and a full roll of carpet. There had also been a commercial scale dumping near the A40.
Thanks to everyone involved including (I hope I have listed everyone): Family Soame, Richard Law, Garry & Lysette Nicholls, Oliver & Barbara Jackson with Elizabeth & Sophia, Anne & Russell Cherry, Rachel Murphy with Matilda and Quentin, Jane Lewis and myself.
Many apologies if we have missed you off this list, but a huge thank you. And thank you to everyone involved and to residents who quietly pick up letter throughout the year
Martin Spurrier, March 2020
Please be aware that if you extend your property by incorporating part of a field you will need planning permission for change of use from agricultural to domestic from the local district council.
BE 'IN-THE-KNOW' ABOUT PLANNING APPLICATIONS NEAR YOUR HOME
Want to find out when someone puts in for planning near your home? Interested in tracking the progress of planning applications for our village?
The Parish Council is concerned that grass cuttings and other garden waste is being deposited on roadside verges in a couple of localities within the village. We hope this practice will stop immediately as it is regarded as Fly Tipping and the District Council will prosecute when and where necessary. It is suggested anyone wishing to dispose of garden waste should ask the District Council for a green wheelie bin which they will supply free of charge.
CODE OF CONDUCT
To conform with the law we must state that the Code of Conduct adopted by West Oxfordshire District Council has been adopted as the code for members and co-opted members of South Leigh Parish Council with effect from 1st July 2012 or such other date as may be specified in regulations, to replace the current code of conduct.