Survey on an increase in council tax to help protect operational policing is launched

Survey on an increase in council tax to help protect operational policing is launched

The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Thames Valley, Anthony Stansfeld, has launched a survey seeking the public view on an increase in the police element of the council tax by £2 a month*

On Thursday 13th December the Home Secretary announced the provisional police funding settlement for 2019/20. In response to the exceptional operational demands on the police, particularly in areas such as Thames Valley, the Government is increasing the funding available to PCCs by up to £813 million. However, this is provided all PCCs increase the police portion of the council tax by £2 a month or £24 a year (equivalent for a Band D property), which, collectively, will raise £509 million of the £813 million increase in funding.

Anthony Stansfeld said: “The Thames Valley Police budget has been cut by £101 million over the last eight years which has resulted in significant cuts to police officer and staff numbers. This year the Government has encouraged all PCCs to raise the policing element of the council tax precept for all households. To prevent further damaging cuts to policing and restore some important frontline policing capability I would like to make use of this Government advice and raise the council tax precept accordingly.

“Demand on police forces nationally has risen significantly in the last year as a result of an increase in non-crime business, higher crime numbers, the increasing complexity of crime, and the increasing reach of criminals both physically and via technology. Throughout this Thames Valley Police has been efficient and effective but having already faced significant cuts since 2010/11 the process of identifying new cash savings is becoming ever more challenging. However, we are committed to making policing even more efficient and have already identified over £4m of new savings in 2019/20.”

“My focus for the future continues to be on delivering strong neighbourhood policing for all of the communities across the Thames Valley whilst addressing the serious threats and hardship posed by criminals. With this in mind the extra cash generated from the proposed increase in council tax will be spent on operational policing. The draft budget for 2019/20 includes additional funding to increase local frontline policing, recruit more investigators and improve contact management with the aim to reduce call waiting times on 101 calls.”

The survey and more information, including the proposed amounts from each council tax band can be found by visiting: https://bit.ly/2QEkGkk

 Closing Date: Wednesday 9th January at 5pm

*this is the equivalent for a Band D property. The increase for other property Bands is set out in the table available with the survey on the above link.

 

Your priorities for West Oxfordshire’s budget

Your priorities for West Oxfordshire’s budget

West Oxfordshire District Council is asking for views as to how it should prioritise its budget spend for next year.

The Council is currently preparing its annual budget for 2019-20 and is consulting on proposals to increase council tax by an annual average of £5.

Cllr Toby Morris, our Cabinet Member for Resources, said “Local government continues to face financial pressures as a result of changes to central government funding and so it’s vital to review our spending each year.

“We’re proposing an average annual council tax increase of £5 for residents and this will help to protect frontline services and allow us to continue to offer free parking and award grants to support work done by voluntary organisations.

“Our proposed increase is minimised because of shared working with Cotswold, Cheltenham and Forest of Dean councils. Working together under the new local authority-owned company, Publica, is proving extremely beneficial.”

The survey can be completed online at – www.westoxon.gov.uk/budget

The deadline to complete the survey is 18 January 2019.

Alternatively, residents can send written comments to:

Jenny Poole – Chief Finance Officer, West Oxfordshire District Council
Elmfield
New Yatt Road
Witney
Oxon OX28 1PB

A helping hand with recycling festive waste …

A helping hand with recycling festive waste …

West Oxfordshire District Council will collect extra recyclable waste during the festive period.

Additional recycling must be in either black recycling boxes, open cardboard boxes or clear bags and put out alongside the recycling wheelie bin. However, for safety reasons, glass bottles and jars should only be placed in a black box.

Indoor food caddies can also be left out for collection alongside outdoor food waste bins.

Cllr Steve Good, Cabinet Member for the Environment said, “The festive period is a particularly busy time for our waste collection teams, but we want to do all we can to support residents who are keen to recycle.”

More information about recycling, including Christmas collection times, can be found at www.westoxon.gov.uk/festive or by calling 01993 861025.

The website also details what can be taken to local Household Waste Recycling Centres and to recycling banks.

Thames Valley Police Open Day

Thames Valley Police Open Day will be taking place on Saturday 18 August, celebrating 50 years since the formation of the force.

The event will be taking place at TVP’s Training Centre in Sulhamstead, Berkshire (post code RG7 4DX).

 From 10am – 4pm (last entry 3.30pm), stalls will be promoting the very best of what TVP has to offer and showcasing the work that the force has carried out for the past 50 years.

 Some of the highlights include:

  • Arena displays, including the public order team combined with the mounted section
  • Children’s fancy dress competition – come dressed in a police themed costume to be in with the chance of winning a fabulous prize
  • Pat and chat with the mounted section – A chance to meet officers and their horses
  • See the force helicopter and meet the pilots
  • Learn about different departments
  • Visit the police museum

 This year there will be two entrances for visitors at South Drive and White Lodge.

 Due to this, it is important that you follow the signs to the event. The roads will be busy and narrow country lanes can make it difficult to turn around if you go the wrong way.

 Car parking is available on a first come, first served basis. Assistance dogs are permitted, other visitors with dogs will be turned away and dogs must not be left in vehicles.

 On entry to the event bag searches will be taking place.

 This is a free event.

Click here for details

New service launches to support victims of crime in the Thames Valley


Victims First

A new service, Victims First has been launched across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, providing free emotional and therapeutic support to all victims and witnesses of crime, as well as family members of victims if they require it.

The service, managed by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner allows for one front door for all victims in the Thames Valley who require support and is available regardless of the crime, whether it has been reported to the police or not and when or where it took place

Victims First can provide support to any victim of crime including domestic abuse, sexual violence, stalking, harassment, cyber-crime, fraud, theft, burglary and exploitation.

Victims will have access to a range of services depending on their needs, including:

  • Telephone support
  • Face to face support
  • Advocacy, including, help to access other services such as sexual health clinics, drug and alcohol services and legal services
  • Support through the criminal justice system
  • Therapeutic counselling

For more information, visit the Victims First website at www.victims-first.org.uk

You can contact Victims First by calling 0300 1234 148 or make an online referral through the Victims First website.

There is also lots of information about crime, crime prevention and support on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/victimsfirstTV/ 

Garden waste collections

Sign up now for garden waste collections

Letters are being sent to all householders in West Oxfordshire encouraging them to sign up for this year’s garden waste collection service.

The new subscription year starts from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019 and costs £30 per bin a year for fortnightly wheeled-bin collection.

Householders that sign up before the 28 February can be sure of receiving their licence in good time for the start of the new subscription year and so be able to receive the maximum number of collections.

Cllr Carol Reynolds, Cabinet Member for Environment said, “Our garden waste collections service is very popular and over 27,000 householders signed up last year. We are writing to every household to remind them to re-subscribe this year. The price will remain the same at £30 and residents can be assured that all their garden waste will continue to be composted and put to good use.”

Signing up for garden waste collections is quick and easy, simply make a credit or debit card payment online or over the telephone by visiting  www.westoxon.gov.uk/garden or by calling 01993 861025.

December’s Oxfordshire Matters newsletter – from the county council

December 2017

Welcome to our latest newsletter

We hope you enjoyed reading last month’s edition of Oxfordshire Matters, the county council’s newsletter for our stakeholders.

In this edition:

  • New County Library opens on Monday
  • Views wanted on county council 2018/19 budget proposals
  • Keeping Oxfordshire on the move `whatever the weather`
  • 95% Superfast Broadband target reached
  • Nominations open for High Sherrif’s awards
  • County council’s Christmas opening arrangements
  • Major transport projects latest
A walk through of the new County Library at Westgate Oxford – filmed just under a fortnight before its opening on 18 December.

New County Library opens on Monday

County council staff are currently putting the finishing touches to the new County Library which opens to the public on Monday (18 December) at Westgate Oxford, close to the Bonn Square entrance.

More than 100,000 items will have been transported, catalogued and arranged by the time of Monday’s opening at 9am – the library had been temporarily housed at Oxford Castle following its transfer from the old Westgate shopping centre when it was known as the Central Library.

New features include ‘Makerspace’ and a children’s library. ‘Makerspace’ is an informal area for groups to carry out digital, art and craft activities, where people can learn new skills and make new connections. With a slightly space-age feel, it is a flexible space that has dozens of power points, a 3-D printer and ‘maker’ tables.

While an enlarged children’s library will be a key attraction for families with young children. With soft furnishings, ‘book nooks’ and safe Internet access, it is ideal for school visits, book talks and fun activities.

Investment and commitment

The main library areas have been opened up, with curved shelving to make browsing easier, and plenty of spots to settle down for a comfy read. The layout, fixtures and fittings are all new, with 70 public computers, information screens and areas for reading, working and learning new skills.

It is all part of a vision for the County Library to serve as a ‘front door’ to access county council services online, and for visitors to get the support they may need to do this – with staff on hand to assist.

The council’s Cabinet Member for Property and Cultural Services, Lorraine Lindsay-Gale, said: “Unlike other parts of the country, all 43 of Oxfordshire’s branch libraries have remained open and we’re underlining our commitment to libraries by putting them right at the heart of the communities they serve – the new County Library is for the Oxfordshire community as a whole.”

Before the old Central Library closed it was ranked as the third busiest council-run library in the country.

Opening events

A week of special opening activities and events is planned at the library from Monday. Full details can be found here

In 2017/18 Oxfordshire County Council is expected to spend £791m, of which £238m is destined for schools.

Views wanted on county council 2018/19 budget proposals

The county council has begun consultation on its proposed budget for 2018/19 and planning for the years up to 2022, with the message “the council’s finances are in a resilient position.”

At the heart of its proposals and planning is the newly agreed vision `Thriving communities for everyone in Oxfordshire` and the priorities of supporting `thriving people`, a `thriving economy` and `thriving communities`.

Although the proposed budget changes for the next financial year are not as extensive as in many previous years since 2010, like any organisation the council still has rising financial pressures that need to be matched by new savings, so that a balanced budget can be proposed.

The county council has therefore identified £21m of new financial pressures. These are detailed through a list of improvements, pressures and savings described in a news release issued last week and found here

In January the county council’s Cabinet will formally recommend a budget to the annual budget-setting meeting of full council which will be on 13 February.

The Local Government Settlement Day is due this month when the council will hear about its levels of grant funding from Government for the coming year and indications for future years. When published, officers may need to revise the forecasts used to inform the budget proposals in time for the January Cabinet discussions.

Council tax

On Council Tax the county council has already agreed, as part of its Medium Term Financial Plan, that there will be a 4.99% Council Tax rise in 2018/19.  Three per cent of this represents the “adult social care precept”.

Take part in the consultation

Meantime, consultation on the budget proposals has started and will conclude on 8 JanuaryHere is the link to have your say

The county council’s Emergency Planning team was hard at work putting its 4×4’s to good use – including bringing in critical paediatric staff to the John Radcliffe hospital on Tuesday.

Keeping Oxfordshire on the move `whatever the weather`

That was the challenge for the county council during the recent snow and freezing conditions which forced many of Oxfordshire’s schools to close and planned events to be cancelled or postponed.

For such `trying` conditions, the county council provides a range of services as the highways authority to help keep the county on the move. For example:

  • From 3am last Sunday to 3am on Monday gritting vehicles went out five times with snowploughs attached and covered 6,000 miles in that 24 hour period alone, deploying 1,200 tonnes of grit.
  • They had already been out on Saturday in preparation and went out twice more on Monday evening – all in addition to those five trips.
  • The county council covers all A-roads, B-roads and C-roads on one run which is 1,200 miles – the equivalent of going from London to Iceland (Highways England is responsible for the A34, A43 and M40).
  • As reported in the national media, a gritter lorry with a snow plough was also sent to clear a road so a grandmother could make it to her husband’s funeral. The council also sent a 4×4 car to allow Becky Aries, 71, to make it to the service in nearby North Leigh after her cul-de-sac was covered in up to eight inches of snow.

Behind the scenes a lot of work goes into preparing for the winter months which, of course, have only just begun; not least the highways staff who keep the county’s gullies cleaned to avoid delays and keep motorists safe – 57,600 gullies cleaned each year, in all  –  blocked gullies can cause flooding on the road network and considerable disruption to motorists.

Gritty determination
To read more about how the county council deploys its gritting, salting and snow clearing services click here

95% of county now has access to Superfast Broadband

The county council’s Better Broadband for Oxfordshire (BBfO) programme has reached the 95% superfast broadband coverage target set by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport ahead of schedule, in combination with private sector investment by network businesses such as Openreach.

The target date had been set as the end of 2017.

Pictured above (l to r) are four of the latest small businesses to benefit from having superfast broadband: Lucy Collins of Mill View Garden Centre and Coffee Shop at Wheatley, Ann Voss’ soft furnishings business at Cuxham, Helen Scott and Kurtis Crowhurst at the Herb Farm at Sonning Common, and Chris Shallis at The Bell Inn in Adderbury.

Meanwhile, the latest communities to benefit from the BBfO roll-out include Cookley Green, Pyrton, Balscote, Baulking and Waterperry.

Take up above 50%

The November Take-Up report confirms over 50% of connected premises have subscribed to a fibre broadband service, meaning over 37,000 households and businesses (around 100,000 people) are using a service they would not have been able to without the programme.

Read the growing list of case studies  that demonstrate the real difference this has made for both businesses and residents in Oxfordshire.

Nominations open for High Sheriff awards

The award that recognises people in Oxfordshire who have made outstanding contributions to the communities in which they live and work is now open for nominations.

Nominees will usually have had a high impact on the lives of others over a sustained period of time and will be recognised by other people working in the nominee’s area as inspirational and as setting an example for others to follow.

The award will not normally be made to people whose work and commitment has already been recognised by the award of a national honour or by bodies such as the Police, the Fire and Rescue Service, and Oxfordshire Charity and Voluntary Action.

Nominations are welcome for people who have made outstanding contributions to any aspect of community life, but this year nominations in the following area will be particularly welcome:

  • Individuals who are, or have been, involved in crime reduction projects, whether in prevention, rehabilitation or support for the vulnerable
  • Individuals who have helped the homeless into work and/or accommodation
  • Individuals who have helped turn around the lives of addicts

Click here to download a form.

Nominations should arrive with the High Sheriff before Thursday 11 January 2018and sent via email to ella@organisationunlimited.uk or by post to High Sheriff of Oxfordshire, c/o Organisation Unlimited, 25 Littleworth Road, Benson OX10 6LY.

County council’s Christmas opening arrangements

County council offices will be closed for the Christmas and New Year break on Christmas Day (Monday 25 December), Boxing Day (Tuesday 26 December) and New Year’s Day (Monday 1 January). Emergency services including the emergency duty team will be available as usual.

Information on the council, its range of services, and the latest news and social media posts can be found at www.oxfordshire.gov.uk, Twitter @oxfordshirecc, Facebook @OxfordshireCountyCouncil

We wish all our stakeholders a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Oxfordshire County Council consultations

The county council believes it is important to consult its stakeholder groups and residents when planning, managing and delivering its services.

To view all of Oxfordshire County Council’s current consultations, the results of consultations that have closed; consultations by the city and district councils, the clinical commissioning group and central government please visit:https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/public-site/consultation

Work underway at Harwell Link Road (pictured last month).

Major transport projects latest

Access to Headington Phase 3 was pushed to the New Year to account for the Thames Water works in St Clements. The programme is being staggered to manage the traffic impact on the highway network. The works are also being coordinated with third-party projects to minimise the impacts on road users.

Harwell Link Road construction continues to progress well and is currently two months ahead and scheduled to open in January.

Further updates on all road schemes can be found at www.roadworks.org including progress, road closures, diversions and expected completion dates. Just type in the location you are interested in. You can also set up email alerts.

Furthermore, you can sign up for updates to all county council transport projects currently in construction. We have also added the facility to sign up for quartlery updates on specificfuture planned projects.

Thank you for reading. New readers can register here to receive this monthly newsletter.

If you have any comments or suggestions on how we can improve it, we’d love to hear from you. Email us at stakeholders@oxfordshire.gov.uk

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