YOUR DISTRICT Councillor's

Andy Cooke

The District Council has launched an anti-idling campaign to try to help reduce vehicle emissions – encouraging people to turn their car engines off if stopped for more than a minute. It’s a small and simple step that helps public health, reduces emissions, and saves money. It’s linked from the VWHDC home page http://www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/services-and-advice/environment-and-neighbourhood-issues/air-quality/turn-it-our-anti-idling-campaig

 

The Oxfordshire Growth Board has come under particular attention from the new administration and is undergoing a full review. I’ll report back when that’s complete; I’ve been appointed to the Oxfordshire Growth Board Scrutiny Panel.

 

I’ve also been appointed to the Joint Scrutiny Committee for the Vale and South Oxfordshire Committee (which holds the Cabinets of both Councils to account, carries out external scrutiny, and helps shape policy), and this met on18 of June. We scrutinised the report of the Community and Safety Partnership, which works with a variety of local agencies as well as Thames Valley Police to maintain low levels of crime and protect vulnerable people. They’ve been working well together to try to reduce Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB), reduce domestic abuse, investigate potential modern slavery, protect vulnerable people from being victims of burglary, prevent cybercrime and child exploitation, and address hate crime.

 

They’ve improved on identifying and obtaining reports of incidents and have been addressing them. There are a couple of things they’ve been doing that I thought were very useful but not very well known, and I’d like to publicise them more:
Anti-Social Behaviour can be reported by calling the police, or the Council on 01235 422590 during office hours, or even online without needing to speak to anyone else at the following webpage:
http://www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/services-and-advice/community-advice-and-support/safer-communities/anti-social-behaviour/report-anti
(One of my recommendations was that they make this more prominent and easier to find; they’ve promised it will be done in the next redesign of the Council website).

 

“Smartwater” kits have been brought in – using a colourless liquid with a unique forensic code that can be discreetly applied to valuable items. Stolen items that are recovered can then be easily traced back to the owner and any suspect checked for the smartwater residues on themselves. This is aimed at vulnerable people; please do not hesitate to contact Thames Valley Police and ask about this if you feel the need.

 

In addition to the above, I am proud to have been appointed “Military Champion” for the Vale of White Horse – a role taking a specific interest in matters relating to the armed forces in the Vale and keep them in mind in Council debates.


That’s all I have for now.  If you have anything for me, please don’t hesitate to email me at andy.cooke@whitehorsedc.gov.uk
Andy Cooke

Andy Cooke

Hello to all from your new District Councillor!  I’d first like to offer my thanks to all who voted for me – I will work hard to be worthy of your trust.  
Before I became interested in local government, I, for one, had little idea of which council level does what, in terms of services provided.  It wasn’t exactly obvious to me on a day-to-day level.  I was aware we had a Parish Council, and there was a District Council and a County Council – but who did what?  After coming to the Parish Council meetings and eventually joining it, things became clearer.
 
The Vale District Council is responsible for:
- Environmental Services (Bins and recycling, street cleaning, food safety, public health issues, monitoring air quality and contamination, and licensing activities)
- Housing Services (Advice, managing the housing register, arranging temporary accommodation, grant and loan applications, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit, community safety issues, housing standards and – importantly – takes steps to try to meet current and future housing needs)
- Planning Services (Determining planning applications, advising developers and the public, preparing and consulting on land use and development plans)
- Cultural and Recreational Services (Sports and leisure facilities, grant aid to local groups, parks and open spaces, community arts development)
- Transport Services (Assisted travel schemes where needed, licencing for taxis and hire vehicles, management of off-street car parking, helping develop integrated transport systems)
- Other Services (including Elections, electoral registration, abandoned vehicles, Council Tax collection, economic development, pest control, and emergency planning.)
 
Although it is early days, we’ve already had the first new Council meeting – it’s an annual Council meeting with special rules (bringing new motions is not in order; it’s to appoint responsibilities for the new financial year).  However, motions held over from previous meetings can be dealt with, so we approved the financing for the OVO bicycle race, and voted to discard the held-over and heavily amended motion on the Expressway in favour of resubmitting a fresh motion in the next meeting (as per our electoral pledge).  
Appointments have been carried out: I’m now on the Scrutiny Committee (which holds the Cabinet to account, carries out external scrutiny, and helps shape policy), and the Oxfordshire Growth Board Scrutiny Panel.  I’m also a substitute member of the Planning Committee and the Joint Audit and Governance Committee.  None of these have yet (at the time of writing) had their first meeting, but it’s only been a couple of weeks since we took office.
What else has happened?  I’ve attended the annual Parish Council meetings for both Drayton and Milton.  You may have seen an appeal for new Parish Councillors – Milton is entitled to 3 more councillors than it has at the moment.  Please do consider joining the Parish Council – it’s a great way to get involved in your local community.  I certainly haven’t regretted doing so.
Apart from that, both Richard Webber (as both County Councillor and the new District Councillor for Sutton Courtenay) and I have attended a Neighbourhood Plans meeting (thanks to an invitation from outgoing Parish Council Chairman Richard Williams), in which the experience of Neighbourhood Plans from various Oxfordshire villages was compared.  It was universally agreed that more “teeth” to them, coupled with more transparency from VoWH Growth Plan Board, would be hugely welcomed.  As Richard has just been appointed to the Growth Plan Board, he was able to say that a representative from the to-be-created Neighbourhood Plans Association would be invited to the Growth Board meetings and greater transparency was a key part of our plans.  We would also like to see Neighbourhood Plans strongly enforced.
That’s all I have for now.  If you have anything for me, please don’t hesitate to email me at andy.cooke@whitehorsedc.gov.uk
Andy Cooke

Janet Shelley

May I say a big thank you to all the residents of Milton Heights who came out to vote in the District Council elections on 02 May and a particular thank you to all those who were kind enough to vote for me as your newly-elected district councillor. I take my new role as your representative very seriously and will work hard to make sure that your views on local community issues are heard and that we get the best for all residents and local businesses over the next 4 years.

 

After the District Council election on 02 May the Council's political balance shifted to Liberal Democrat 31 (81.58%), Conservative 6 (15.79%) and Non-group councillor 1 (2.63%). The Local Government (Committees and Political Groups) Regulations 1990 require a constituted political group to be two or more members. As such the Green Party councillor is designated as a non-group councillor.

 

As after every election there has been a period of reallocation and reflection and at the Annual Council on Wednesday 15 May the appointments to committees, panels and joint committees for 2019/20 were agreed. I am pleased to say that I will continue to serve on the planning committee, and I will also act as Shadow Cabinet Member for Planning and Development and Regeneration.

 

Over the coming months I will be actively engaging with the Parish Councillors within The Hendreds Ward to learn about pressing local issues which require my immediate attention and I would also welcome correspondence from residents so please get in touch.
Once again, thank you to all those who kindly voted for me!
Cllr Janet Shelley MBE
The Hendreds
Janet.Shelley@whitehorsedc.gov.uk