On 17 March, West Oxfordshire District Council held their Town and Parish Council Meeting Forum, which two of our Parish Councillors attended. The event provided a space to discuss the role of the District Council and its interrelationship with its suppliers, including Publica (‘Teckal’ company), Ubico and Better (GLL). There was also an opportunity to ask questions of the Cabinet.
Our Councillors were welcomed by Leader of the Council Michele Mead, Chief Finance Officer Elizabeth Griffiths, and Cllr Jane Doughty, Cabinet Member for Customer Delivery. While general attendance was lower than pre-Covid numbers, the representatives from the suppliers were present and the discussions interesting.
The District Council outlined their priorities until 2024, which include creating strong local communities, taking action on the climate and meeting the housing needs of the area’s changing population. They also listed some of their activity over the past year, such as publishing a Net-Zero Carbon Toolkit and building over 400 affordable homes.
Following a presentation from the District Council, the Forum attendees were able to raise issues for discussion. These ranged from the challenges in making contact with Planning Officers, the low standard of the county leisure facilities websites (run by Better) and the rough handling of bins and increase in roadside litter, to the difficulties in understanding the local Government levels and understanding what services they provide.
There was also a concern about the issues with accessibility of the District Council offices themselves, while the Cabinet mentioned they had plans to improve their website and strengthen their communication channels and approach.
CEO Giles Hughes was in attendance and spoke of his hopes for hosting future meetings, with an intention to discuss issues including economy and climate change, reviewing the Local Plans and exploring Healthy Towns and Villages strategies to improve the wellbeing of county residents. Our Councillors will attend any future meeting that they are able to and ensure our Parish remains aware of – and has a voice in – the intended plans of the District Council.