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Town Council report

New chairman elected

The Chairman and Vice-Chairman are elected for the year at the council's Annual Meeting (not to be confused with the Annual Parish Meeting in the Memorial Hall!). At this year's meeting, held on May 20th, Peter Kenrick was elected as the new Chairman, stepping up from Vice-Chairman. Peter was first elected as a councillor in 2012 and will be well known to many in Charlbury as the Chairman of Street Fair until recently. Richard Fairhurst was elected as the new Vice-Chairman.

The meeting marked the end of an era for Charlbury Town Council, with Nick Potter stepping down as Chairman after 20 years. Nick has steered the council calmly through complex issues and sometimes turbulent times. Town Councillors receive no allowances (unlike at District and County level) or other payments, yet the Chairman's job is a particularly demanding and time-consuming one.

Incoming Chairman Peter Kenrick writes:

"By any standards 20 years of dedicated service to the council, the town and the community in this role is an outstanding achievement. The Town Council unanimously voted their thanks to Nick and we hope that other members of the community will wish to echo this.

"This is perhaps an appropriate moment to recall just a few of the things that have happened in Charlbury during Nick's tenure as Town Council chairman:

"The Town Appraisal was published in 1996 and Nick led the council in working towards the implementation of many of its recommendations including the introduction of the railbus service;

"Three phases of high quality social affordable housing have been built in the town to meet the requirements of local people and the Town Council played a key role in facilitating this;

"Charlbury and neighbouring Cornbury Park have become established as festival venues with Riverside starting in 1995, the Beer Festival in 2003, Cornbury Festival in 2004 and now Wilderness Festival. Whilst these events are generally popular they bring challenges to the community and the Town Council has liaised closely with the event organisers to seek to minimise inconvenience, disruption and nuisance;

"The 750th anniversary of the Town Charter was celebrated in 2006 and Nick was able to arrange for the Princess Royal to visit the town and unveil a plaque outside the museum. The anniversary was also celebrated with the production and sale of a commemorative beer!

"Also, with Town Council support, the skate park has been installed at Ticknell Piece, a new pavilion has been built and new play equipment installed at Nine Acres and the War Memorial Hall has been extended and improved.

"Nick remains a member of the Town Council where his extensive knowledge and experience continue to be appreciated."

Willem Hackmann adds:

"I met Nick Potter in 2000 when I was elected a member of the Town Council, so Nick has been my chairman for 15 of my years on the Council. He has been a remarkably effective chairman. His strengths as chairman were his intimate knowledge of Charlbury and his way around the bureaucracies of district and county politics, his meticulous knowledge of local issues and to make sure that he was thoroughly briefed for the monthly council meetings. Consequently, he was well able to hold his own in the town council's deliberations: you may not always agree with him but you knew that he had read all the relevant documents in the matter at hand. Nick's relaxation is drumming. I first saw him in action in the 'Shed', then at the Ditchley Park Jazz Picnic some years ago with local musicians Alan Fraser, John Lanyon and Geoff Holmberg, and at the Wilderness Festival. He will be again performing this year. He will be a hard act to follow."

By-election result

Tom Skelton has been elected as a new Town Councillor, following the by-election on 25th June caused by the resignation of Reg James. Congratulations to Tom and thank you also to Gordon Clemson who also stood for election.

The whole council will be up for election in May 2016. If you think you could help make a difference to Charlbury and particularly if you believe you could represent voices not heard on the Town Council at present then please do consider standing. Details of how to stand will be in the Chronicle, the Town Council website and the Charlbury Website nearer the time.


We are pleased to report that an emergency defibrillator has finally been installed outside the Medical Centre, following an anonymous donation made for the purpose via West Oxfordshire District Council. The installation has been an (at times exasperatingly) protracted process but we are delighted to see it in place.

A defibrillator gives an electric shock so the heart can recover after cardiac arrest. Instructions for use are included with the device but we also hope to arrange training sessions. Thank you to the Medical Centre for their support and, of course, to our Town Clerk Roger Clarke for his persistence in getting this installed.

Wigwell lease

Another long-running issue has been the transfer of management of Wigwell (behind Nine Acres Lane/Close) to the Wychwood Project. Following the conclusion of negotiations (see previous Chronicle), the lease has now been formally handed over and a letter to neighbouring householders will be sent out shortly. If you would like to support the upkeep of Wigwell, please contact Peter Kenrick to find out about the new Wigwell Friends group (01608 811021).

Boundary Walk

The Parish Boundary Walk took place on 10th May, Rogation Sunday. 15 people joined the walk, which was led by Councillors (and volunteer AONB wardens) Tony Merry and Harriet Baldwin. Thank you to Rob and Maxine Hobill at Model Farm for lunch, and to the landowners who permit access across their land for this annual event.

Applying for Town Council grants

Any organisation that thinks it may need a grant from the Town Council for the financial year 2016/17 should obtain an application form from the Town Clerk and return it together with supporting documents by midday on 31st October; late applications cannot be considered. The Clerk can advise on what can, and cannot, be grant-aided under the Local Government Act.

Planning applications

Among the most significant of the Town Council's responsibilities is commenting on planning applications within the town. In the most recent period these have included significant applications at Rushy Bank, Little Lees, Ditchley Road, Southill Solar and the new Community Centre. The decision on whether to grant permission rests with West Oxfordshire District Council, but the Town Council is a statutory consultee and takes its responsibility very seriously.

You can sign up for alerts on planning applications on the WODC website, and they are also posted automatically to the Charlbury Website every Monday morning. If an application affects you, please consider cc:ing the Town Council on any comments that you send to WODC; an understanding of residents' views helps inform our response to the application. Our responses are decided at the Planning & Correspondence Meeting held on the Monday before the full council meeting; see the Town Council website for dates.

Town centre streets

The Town Council is discussing with Oxfordshire County Council (the highway authority), and event organisers, how to discourage unsuitable traffic from using central Charlbury as a through route. Vehicles have become stuck several times recently on the narrow streets, with the obvious inconvenience to residents and town centre businesses.

If you park your car on Browns Lane, you can do your bit by making sure you are parked close to the kerb and that your wing mirror is tucked in. Double-decker buses can and do get stuck when cars are protruding, on one recent occasion leading to a two-hour jam. Thank you.

Bus subsidies

Oxfordshire County Council has announced that it is planning to remove most or all bus subsidies. The withdrawal of subsidies would almost certainly lead to the cessation of the Railbus service and very possibly the downgrading of the X9 Witney/Chipping Norton bus. (The S3 to Oxford is unaffected.) Any changes will take effect in April 2016.

Charlbury Town Council understands OCC's budget pressures, but believes that there are better ways of reducing the subsidy than the current proposals. In particular, we believe OCC should continue to support non-discretionary journeys (such as Charlbury people getting to work in Witney); consider the environmental and congestion effects of withdrawing buses; and institute a programme to help the busiest routes (such as the X9) move to fully commercial, unsubsidised operation.

If you are a bus user, please make your feelings known by commenting on the Oxfordshire County Council website at The consultation is open until 14th September.

Contacting your Town Council

All our meetings are open to the public. Full council meetings are held in the Corner House at 7.30pm on Wednesday 26th August, 23rd September, 28th October and 25th November, with Planning & Correspondence two days before (8pm unless there is a speaker).

Open 'surgeries' will be held at the Corner House from 10am to 12pm on Saturday 3rd October and 5th December.

You can email Roger Clarke, the Town Clerk, at or phone 01608 810608 (9am to 5pm weekdays, not weekends or bank holidays).

Richard Fairhurst
Report no. 76. This report also appears in the Charlbury Chronicle.

Richard Fairhurst · Mon 3 Aug 2015, 21:22 · Link

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