County Councillor by liaoqinmei


									                                                        Bloxham Division
                                                        Adderbury, Bloxham, Bodicote, Milcombe & Milton

                                                        Cllr Keith R Mitchell CBE FCA FCCA
                                                        Elected Member for Bloxham Division

                                                        Nell Bridge House
                                                        Oxon OX17 3NU
                                                        Home Tel: 01295 811257
                                                        Home Fax: 01295 812997

                                                        Office Tel: 01865 816037
                                                        Office Fax: 01865 815390

Date: 6 January 2011                                    E-mail:
                       County Councillor’s Report to Bloxham Parish Council
                               6 December 2010 to 10 January 2011
1       I have been invited to meet David Cameron at Number 10 on Monday evening and have to
        send my apologies for the Parish Council.
Agenda items
2       Item 1 Oxon CC Education Dept on village school capacities: The officer attending to brief
        you on this has been in touch with me. She is Mrs Allyson Milward (Service Manager, School
        Organisation & Planning) and she has undertaken to copy me in on subsequent correspondence
        should you request further information.
3       Item 8 State of the Goggs: I see Cllr Baggaley has raised this issue. I am not sure if it is a
        Highways issue (tarmac surface) or a Countryside Services issue (non-tarmac surface) or
        something else. If it is a County Council responsibility, I will be happy to help and would
        appreciate being copied in on correspondence.
4       Item 8 Adderbury Library: The County Council faces very significant reductions in central
        government funding over the next four years with the largest single reduction in 2011/12.
        Over the four year period, we are looking at a reduction in central government funding of 28%
        while demography, other service pressures and unfunded new duties all add to the financial
        pressure we face. Fortunately, we have been planning for this for 18 months now but it is still
        quite impossible to exempt front line services from cuts. The county library service currently
        costs £8 million pa to run and we do not feel we can exempt this from cuts because this would
        simply increase the cuts to be applied to adult social care, child protection, learning disability
        services or highways. As a result we are proposing to reduce funding to the library service by
                                   Surgeries: First Saturday of each month:
    9:30 am to 10:30 am Ex-Servicemen’s Hall, Bloxham 10:45 am to 11:45 am Church House, Bodicote
       12:00 noon to 1:00 pm Church House, Adderbury          1:15 pm to 2:00 pm Black Boy PH, Milton
                                       Second Saturday of each month:
                            12:00 noon to 1:00 pm Horse & Groom PH, Milcombe
      £2 million over four years. The result of this is a proposal to cease funding 20 out of our 43
      libraries, including Adderbury library. Here is a link to my Local Blog which says a little more
      about our library cuts, particularly Adderbury. The Adderbury library manager tells me that a
      good number of Bloxham residents use the library. I am asking Adderbury Parish Council to
      consider including some funding in their Precept from 2012/13 onwards and I wondered
      whether Bloxham would consider doing the same. I will try to secure figures from Adderbury
      library about the extent of Bloxham resident usage.
County Council Issues - Finance
5     We have now been advised of the Provisional Local Government Financial Settlement and it is
      very close to what we were expecting. I am afraid this means we have cuts of £58 million to
      plan for in 2011/12 and a similar sum again spread over the next three years.
6     We have exempted two service areas from any major cuts. These are our fire & rescue service
      and child protection.
7     Almost all of our other services are facing major spending reductions and this includes
      sensitive issues like libraries and youth services.
8     This is the timeline for budget decisions
      25/01/11 County Council Cabinet meets at County Hall from 2:00 pm to agree a budget and
      medium term financial plan for recommendation to the full County Council
      15/02/11 County Council meets in County Hall from 10:00 am to agree a budget and medium
      term financial plan.
9     I can give one small word of reassurance – and it is a small one. We have given high priority
      to the highway network, particularly in the capital programme. We are well aware of the
      damage to our road network following the cold weather and have allocated as much capital
      funding as we dare to structural maintenance. This has been at the expense of other treasured
      projects such as Banbury Library and the Mill locally.
County Council Issues – recent adverse weather
10    The County Council policy for adverse weather conditions such as those from which we are
      emerging is to give priority to the main routes in the county. We are responsible for 2,500
      miles of roads and it is impossible both logistically and financially for us to try to clear all of
      them. Our target is to keep 43% of our roads open during heavy snow and these are the
      priority routes that enable the economy to continue and emergency services to respond to
      emergency calls. We met our 43% target throughout the cold spell.
11    We have had a few letters and e-mails claiming we failed to salt/grit priority routes recently.
      These allegations are untrue but there are some facts you need to understand:
      (a)    Rock salt at 20 grams per yard is not visible;
      (b)    Below 3oC, rock salt is very slow in acting;
      (c)    Below 7oC there is no action;
      (d)    Without a “churning effect” by vehicle wheels, it also has little effect.
      Both of these causes led to accusations that roads had not been salted but were untrue.
12    I had a complaint from a Bloxham resident about failure to salt, grit and clear a key road. On
      following this up, I found he was referring to the M40! This and the A34 are the responsibility
      of the Highways Agency and there were some failings here. We are considering how to follow
      these up at a national level.
13    There is an issue about using farmers to help us and this is improving but is still patchy. It is
      an area that really needs more work to achieve a formal, structured approach. As with previous
      snow events, we have had an ever growing list of farmers predominantly from West Oxon and
      North Cherwell whom we have contacted or who have contacted us with an offer of assistance.
      The majority will be paid by the hour. The Banbury area was well served, in particular, by the
      services of Nigel Matthews and Taylors Farms. There were a series of meeting with Parish
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        Councils, organised by Emergency Planning, during the summer which encouraged Parishes to
        produce an emergency plan (not just for winter) which promoted self help and suggested the
        use of farmers on a more community spirit approach and the routes to be cleared. This could
        have been agreed in advance between the Parish and the farmer (at no cost to OCC).
        Unfortunately the uptake by farmers was limited. There has been some correspondence
        through the NFU but, again, the take up has been disappointing.
14      On the supply and filling of salt bins, I know there has been a great deal of correspondence
        about process on this. However, an order was received relatively recently and county officers
        tell me they went the extra mile to get Bloxham’s bins in place and filled. Just as an aside, the
        County Council has received several compliments with regard to the bin filling this year. On
        arriving at my surgery at the ex-servicemen’s hall on Saturday last, I parked next to a new,
        green salt bin and was pleased to find it full! There is an issue around these salt bins. They
        are there to keep county roads and pavements clear. They are not there for householders to salt
        their driveways. I think this needs addressing.
15      I think the following report from a senior Highways officer who worked through the cold spell
        may give a better picture of the pro-active, “on the front foot” attitude of our front line staff.
         “Here are some of the actions we took in addition to basic road clearance:
              We contacted all doctors and care homes within 48 hours of the major snow fall and
               gave reassurance that primary routes were open so they could do visits.
              We gave advice on self-help using grit bins with stock in the locality.
              We noted and passed to our duty officer details of vulnerable persons who may need
               extra care from us to attend hospital clinics for live saving treatment etc.
              A couple of brides got a bit of extra TLC as a gesture of good will to get them to the
               venue on time.
              We spoke to all County Councillors who were contactable within 24 hours of
               Saturday’s snow giving them a personal briefing on how we were doing and asking
               them to use our contact centre (08453 101111) to report any matter - not direct dial
              We e-mailed any we could not find by phone.
              First thing Monday, we provided 4X4 transport to get contact centre staff into Oxford
               to staff the phones.
              We did this all that week.
              We provided 2 stewards to work in the contact centre supporting some rather young
               staff and inexperienced managers.”
16      I suppose that, given the weather conditions and the Christmas break, it is not altogether
        surprising I have had no real new casework arising since the last Parish Council other than the
17      The Warriner School has lost its headmaster and will be recruiting a new one. I appoint one
        governor to The Warriner. My recent appointment has proven disappointing in his attendance
        and I am looking to make a replacement in the new year.
In conclusion
18      My personal Web Site address is: It is designed as a local web site and
        includes local information including planning applications within my Division as they are
        registered with Cherwell. There is also a local blog and a political blog.
As always, I am happy to answer any questions.
Cllr Keith R Mitchell CBE FCA FCCA
County Councillor for Bloxham Division,
comprising Adderbury, Bloxham, Bodicote, Milcombe and Milton
Circulation: Parish Councillors with e-mail addresses and the Parish Clerk
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