District Councillor Tim Hallchurch's Report November 2013

Report to parishes on Otmoor and Langford Village, Bicester

FROM COUNTY and DISTRICT COUNCILLOR Tim Hallchurch

NOVEMBER 2013

 

Oxfordshire County Council

 

The last few weeks have been absolutely hectic for both County and District Councillors while we consider all the options available to make savings as the grants from government are reduced.

 

As part of the Government’s programme to reduce public spending, the County Council has seen significant reductions in its funding. The County Council has to find about £61m worth of savings over the next four years before setting its budget in February 2014.

 

Five public meetings have been held across the county during October with leading councillors and officers to explain the Council’s financial position, answer questions and hear the views of residents.

 

The council is assessing the comments and opinions expressed at the meetings.

 

The difficult decision is whether to cut services or to increase Council Tax by more than 2%. We would have to increase the County Council rate by 22% if we do not make further savings.  I can assure you that we are not considering increases of that magnitude. The decision has yet to be made. If the County Council increases Council Tax by over 2% then we have to hold a referendum which itself will cost about £500,000.

 

There is some good news. I can still agree to grants for village facilities

 

There are a number of funds available to local organisations in the Division.

§  Councillors Community Budgets

We have continued to fund these popular local funds to support local organisations. If you know of any organisations that might be interested, please contact me or seek further information at http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/councillor-community-budgets

§  Area Stewardship Funding

This is for highway maintenance.

§  Chillout Fund

We have continued a £100,000 fund to support projects for children and young people. More at http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/chill-out-fund-youth-activities-and-projects

 

Cherwell District Council

  

Local plan en route to Westminster

The document outlining the preferred sites to accommodate 16,750 houses in Cherwell until 2031 is bound for Central Government having passed its final scrutiny at local level. On Monday, 21 October, Cherwell district councillors formally approved the draft Submission Local Plan for Cherwell at a full council meeting at Bodicote House.

The document will provide guidance on the council's preferred sites for commercial and housing development until 2031 with the intention of growing existing town centres and preserving the identity of villages through methods such as green buffers.

6,894 in Bicester and the remaining 3,902 spread across the rest of the district.

Since 2006, approximately 2,900 of these 16,750 homes have already been built, leaving about 13,850 further homes to be delivered over the next 18 years.

For developments that deliver ten homes or more, 30 per cent of new properties built in Banbury and Bicester will be classed as affordable while in Kidlington and rural areas, this number will increase to 35 per cent.

Having undergone public consultation and scrutiny from officers and councillors, the document will now be sent to the Secretary of State for further inspection and if approved, it is expected to be formally accepted and adopted in mid 2014.

 

 Funds on track for East West Rail

 

A £500 million project to reopen a former rail line has been given a multi-million boost from Cherwell District Council. At a meeting of the full council on Monday, 21 October, councillors agreed to a local contribution of £4.353 million towards reopening the Oxford to Cambridge line, known as East West Rail.

The scheme is being delivered under a consortium of regional authorities, including Cherwell, who have pledged to collectively raise £50 million towards the overall cost of the £500 million project.

The restoration of the existing line will create significantly faster rail journeys between towns along the route, including a reduced journey time of ten minutes between Bicester and Oxford, which currently takes approximately 25 minutes.

Once all the local contributions are confirmed, further discussions will take place with the Department for Transport on how to progress the delivery of this project.

This is in addition to the service from Oxford to Marylebone via Water Eaton, Bicester and Islip that is due to open in 2015. Work has already started in constructing the link between the Banbury to London and Oxford to Banbury lines at Bicester.

 

Cherwell Elections

 

 There will be local elections to Cherwell DC on 22 May 2014 to be held on the same day as the EU elections. This will be the last Cherwell DC elections before the Local Government Boundary Commission for England decide on new ward boundaries.

 

Cherwell district councillors have voted in favour of making a submission to reduce the number of elected members from 50 to 48 as part of the first stage of a review into its structural make-up.

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England will now consider whether to accept Cherwell's submission or propose an alternate. Once an agreement has been reached regarding the size of the council, a further submission on the number of wards - and the number of councillors representing them - will be made next year.

The commission said at a meeting that they prefer 3 member wards with wards three times the size of present wards. This is not favoured by Cherwell DC.

 

I am also the Chairman of Oxfordshire County Council and this has meant a huge workload with up to five evenings a week sometimes with up to three events on the same evening.

 

Most of the events have been extremely enjoyable, especially the events for young people. I have met HM The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, The Princess Royal three times and the Duke of Kent twice and the Duke of York once.

 

Details of the events are on my web site www.otmoor.co.uk

 

I have also been appointed Chairman of the English Speaking Union, Oxfordshire & Berkshire Branch – www.esu.org

 

Royal Albert Hall beckons for Youth Orchestra

 

Oxfordshire’s County Youth Orchestra is gearing up to perform at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the National Schools’ Prom on Tuesday (12 November).

 

The young musicians will bring the event to a close with a firework-filled finale, performing Don Juan by R. Strauss and Pomp and Circumstance No 1 by Elgar.

 

Their Prom appearance follows an award-winning performance at the National Festival of Music for Youth in July, and caps a sparkling year for the orchestra, which is part of Oxfordshire County Council’s Music Service.

 

Recent awards

 

Meanwhile the county council’s Music Service has recently bagged a brace of national awards for the work it carries out with young musicians across the county.

 

The service will pick up a National Diploma from the National Music Council at a ceremony in Manchester on Friday 15th November as lead partner in the Oxfordshire Music Education Partnership.

 

This follows a recent trip to London’s Royal Academy of Music to collect the Will Michael Jazz Education Award for offering outstanding jazz tuition for students. It is the second year running the service has won the award, which recognises outstanding commitment to jazz education and tutors who promote the genre as part of classroom music lessons

 

CONTACT DETAILS     Address: Councillor Timothy Hallchurch MBE, County Hall, New Road, Oxford OX1 1ND Email/Tel:       timothy.hallchurch@oxfordshire.gov.uk or 01865 377099