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 email@example.com 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
Parish, Town, District and Police Commissioner’s Elections cancelled until 2021. We have been notified by those in power that these elections have been cancelled. They were due to take place in early May. Your Parish Council will continue to serve for another year.
We are in the final stages of setting up a support network for those who are self isolating - you should have already have received a leaflet through your door, so please, if you do need any help let someone know. If you can’t get hold of the contact person on your note please call any of the Parish Councillors including myself: 01993 701137 or firstname.lastname@example.org and we will sort something out.
New Singing Group
We were in the very early stages of seeing if people would be interested in a very casual singing group open to everyone, particularly if you don’t think you can sing. There will be more details in due course, but for the moment thank you to all those who said they might be interested. Obviously, because of the current situation, we will have to put it on hold.
Parish Council News
Your Parish Council has been very busy over the last few months with some large matters...
Solar Farm at 12 Acre Farm - this site is actually outside our Parish but affects our views and rural settings. The developers came to our Parish Council meeting to give further information and many of you attended. The Parish Council voted to support the site with certain important queries. Since then, there have been many meetings and emails attempting to sort out the detail to try to ameliorate the effect on our Parish - particularly screening of the site, the height and number of the panels and its effect on the footpath that goes through the middle of the site. This application was finally approved at the planning meeting at the beginning of this week. We will continue to monitor its progress. More details can be found on the WODC planning website - application ref. 19/02516/FUL
Waste and Minerals Oxfordshire Local Plan - this plan is under consultation at the moment and the Parish Council and others have written objecting to the possible siting of a biodigester on the road coming into the Parish from Witney opposite the High Cogges turn. We will continue to monitor this although there is not likely to be any more news now until October 2020.
Consultation on dualling the A40 and progression with the Shores Green four-way Junction at the entrance to the village from Witney.
You will be aware of the suggested improvements to the A40 and the suggested new Park and Ride to be built at Eynsham as part of the new Garden Village. This includes a dedicated bus lane from the Park and Ride east to the first of the bridges (Duke’s Cut) and a partial bus lane westbound.
OCC have now got the funding for the second part of this project - to expand the dual carriageway in both directions from where it ends at the moment (by Barnard Gate turn) to the new Park and Ride and the return, and the extra monies required to extend the dedicated bus lane (above) all the way eastwards to the Woodstock Road and a complete and dedicated bus lane westwards. I believe this begins to make sense of their proposals and might tempt people onto the busses.
There is an agreed plan for Shores Green junction to become a four-way junction. This seems to be in the early stages - although they say they want to complete it by the end of 2022 of planning and no detailed drawings are available as yet.
Both the above will have an effect on our Parish - we will keep you informed as new information becomes available.
Football field. Martin Wilson has been negotiating with Eynsham Park Estate to renew the lease on the football pitch. This has taken a great deal of time and energy as it doesn’t seem to be on the top of the Estate’s agenda. We finally have a copy of the suggested lease and the Parish Council will be considering it at their next meeting at the end of this March.
In the meantime... Martin Spurrier and David Brooks have been continuing with their planting programme, Lysette Nicholls with her speed monitoring team and Graeme Soame is in charge of the repainting and improving the bus shelter on the A40 and the bridges with white metal fences that appear throughout the village.
Please do let us know if there is anything in the Parish that you are concerned about - our contact details can be found here and mine are below. You are also welcome to attend our Parish Council meetings which are held every six weeks (when we are out of lock- down). If you want to raise an issue, please let me know beforehand as it helps me research the subject to be able to answer your question as fully as possible.
I hold a village email address list for keeping people informed of anything that’s happening within the Parish. If you would like your name added, please let me know. If on the other hand you are fed up with getting round robin emails all the time, again, please let me know and I’ll remove your name and contact details.
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.
Nicky Brooks, March 2020, 01993 701137 or email@example.com
It’s time to celebrate the enthusiasm and passion of Oxfordshire’s volunteer and community organisations. The Districts and City have been inundated with offers of help to support those residents who are and will struggle to cope over the coming weeks and months, for which we thank you all. The need for assistance has, however, come further into focus as the Government announced the most vulnerable in our communities will need to self-isolate for 12 weeks.
Oxfordshire has united to support the initiatives of ‘Oxfordshire All In’ and ‘Oxford Together’. We recognise many of you are already working / volunteering in your communities but for anyone who finds that extra 10 minutes, these sites can help coordinate your effort - whether delivering essentials, putting the bins out for someone, or being on the other end of a phone, there are hundreds of opportunities available across Oxfordshire for you to get involved.
To ensure that residents know where to turn, all community groups, community organisations and local businesses are being asked to include details of their initiatives on the Oxfordshire All In Response Map. If you have linked with your District or the City Council already, please don't worry - we will make the link for you. Let’s maximise your ability to spend the time helping our communities.
If you live in Vale of White Horse, South Oxfordshire, West Oxfordshire or Cherwell then please visit Oxfordshire All In who can help and have details on all opportunities across Oxfordshire.
To volunteer in Oxford City, please register your details at Oxford Together.
We thank you for your incredible efforts so far and we know that together we can help support each other and keep our communities thriving through these difficult times, however please ensure that you continue to follow Government advice to stay safe and well.
For more advice and information on Covid-19, please visit Public Health England.
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.
• 12th May 2020
• 23rd June 2020
• 4th August 2020
• 15th September 2020
• 27th October 2020
• 8th December 2020
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
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 ~ email@example.com 07766 251125
Thames Valley Police's Robb Webb instructs South Leigh's Speedwatch team in the use of the speed camera.
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