Parish Councillors Present:
West Oxfordshire District Council:
Phil Page, Head of Street Scene
Oxfordshire County Council:
Gordon Hunt, Drainage Engineer
Ms Jenny Elliott
Environment Agency: –
Ascott Recovery Committee (ARC):
Members of the Public: 28 (Incl. 2 Councillors from Shipton Parish)
Apologies were received from District Councillor, Hilary Hibbert-Biles.
The September minutes were agreed, dated, signed and filed.
3 MATTERS ARISING:
Floods 20th/21st July 2007 – Please refer to Appendix 1; recorded minutes on Flooding, together with some of the Public Questions & Answers. Please also refer to Appendix 2; prepared by Phil Page, Head of Street Scene, West Oxfordshire District Council in response to the Agenda sent to him prior to the meeting noting those 5 questions.
OCC Highways – Clerk reported the highways sign on the Green had now been replaced, the following items; reinstatement of grass verge, highways sign on the bottom of Chipping Norton Hill, the road surface on Chipping Norton hill and the potholes on London Lane remain outstanding. Emphasis was put on the reinstatement of the grass verge around the Green. Clerk to chase Paul Wilson with regards to this.
· Reinstatement of the grass verge around the Green
· Manhole Cover on the Green – Now actioned.
· Highways Sign on the Green – Now actioned
· Highways Sign on the bottom of Chipping Norton Hill – Paul Wilson confirmed that he would arrange for this sign to be made secure.
· Road Surface on Chipping Norton Hill – it was confirmed that a Job No. had been allocated and so works for this should be carried out soon
· Potholes on London Lane
· Railway & Culvert; Clerk had now received a response from Belinda Young, acting on behalf of Savills for Cornbury confirming that she would appoint contractors to look at this issue. (Please also see reference under Hedgerow Chipping Norton Hill.
Pavilion/Sports Club – Ongoing.
Village Shop – Stuart Fox reported that the Shop had entered two competitions; National Retailer of the Year and Oxfordshire Retailer of the Year, the Shop having been “runners up” to the latter last year.
Parish Conservation Plan – Stuart Fox reported that the dry stone wall was now complete and the unused stone had been sold to Mr Smith for £75. The wall had been inspected by a Conservation Board representative, who was very impressed with the quality. Confirmation that funding of £1000 for the erection of the Barrow Stones had been offered by WODC. A further £1000 had to be raised. We were waiting for the walling contractor to remove the waste stone before Shane Barnes could start work on the site. Some good stone had been sold as noted above and some of the waste stone was going to Fern Hill Farm. Shane Barnes had been given a plan of where the Ascott Barrow, the bench, notice board and gates etc. were to be placed and advised of the next stage, this being to level and prepare the ground. There was no progress on the removal or re-siting of the electricity pole – clerk to chase again.
Schemes to accommodate the Freedom of Information Act – Clerk advised that her predecessor had in fact recorded this, confirming that the Parish Council had indeed adopted this act and which is recorded on the website. Correspondence had been received from the OALC offering places on a course for the Freedom of Information Act, the Clerk requested permission to attend this course on Tuesday 13th November at Kidlington – this was agreed by all. Clerk to book a place.
5 Shilling Quarry – Ongoing.
2a Shipton Road – Ongoing.
Crown Farm; The Village Green Parking – See OCC Highways Ongoing
Hedgerow Chipping Norton Hill – Savills had now contacted the Clerk confirming that some of the scheduled works would be started, but that Lady Rotherwick, Cornbury Estate would be dealing with the insurance issues herself. A letter had been received inviting three Parish Councillors to attend a meeting on Thursday 11th October in the main house, Cornbury Estate to discuss the Estate Management Plan. Clerk had written confirming that David Wilkinson, Stuart Fox and Elaine Byles would attend. Below are listed the works still outstanding:
· Oxfordshire County Council Highways had advised that the flooding on Chipping Norton Hill was due to a blocked culvert.
· It was reported that there is a tree on this land which is falling over on to the road – very dangerous.
· The field which runs behind High Street – the hedgerow is extremely overgrown and virtually impossible to pass.
· Any damaged walls etc. due to the flooding
Post Office: A post office facility, run by John Naish had now started and commenced on 14th September. 2007 in the Tiddy Hall.
Precept: A copy of the forecast/budget was circulated to all councillors who were asked to give some thought to for discussion at the November meeting.
Risk Assessment: This is an annual obligation that needs to be carried out by parish councils. David Wilkinson and Sally Franks have agreed to complete a risk assessment around the village for 2007.
Action David Wilkinson & Sally Franks
· Letter received from Lady Rotherwick, Cornbury Estate inviting three councillors to attend a meeting on Thursday 11th October to discuss the Estate Management Plan.
· Letter received from OALC inviting councillors and clerks to attend a half day course on the Freedom of Information Act.
07/0098/P/S73 NON-COMPLIANCE OF CONDITION to PLANNING APPLICATION 04/2165/P/FP – REQUESTING OCCASIONAL USE OF VILLAGE ACCESS FOR HORSE BOXES, LORRIES AND HORSE TRAILERS ASSOCIATED WITH THE EQUESTRIAN USE OF LAND at CROWN FARM ASCOTT-UNDER-WYCHWOOD.
07/0223/P/FP CHANGE OF USE FROM FARM WORKSHOP TO METAL ART STUDIO (RETROSPECTIVE) at CROWN FARM ASCOTT-UNDER-WYCHWOOD
07/1357/P/FP ALTERATIONS & ERECTION OF SINGLE AND TWO STOREY EXTENSIONS, WIDENING OF EXISTING DRIVEWAY at 37 HIGH STREET, ASCOTT-UNDER-WYCHWOOD.
07/1379/P/FP ERECTION OF TWO STOREY SIDE EXTENSION & CONVERSION OF LOFT, NEW PITCHED ROOF OVER GARAGE & CREATION OF CAR PORT at ROSE COTTAGE, 24 SHIPTON ROAD, ASCOTT-UNDER-WYCHWOOD.
07/1448/P/FP CONVERSION OF GARAGE INTO STUDIO at 4 DAWLS CLOSE, ASCOTT-UNDER-WYCHWOOD.
07/1638/P/FP INSTALLATION OF ROOF LIGHTS at WINDRUSH VALLEY SCHOOL, 2 LONDON LANE, ASCOTT-UNDER-WCHWOOD. (Retrospective)
Clerk to contact WODC Planning with regards to the first two applications listed above for Crown Farm to check their status. Clerk to also check with WODC Planning with regards to the last application listed and the removal of the Chimney Stack.
6. FINANCIAL REPORT:
Stuart Fox reported that the external audit was now complete with no problems. It was also reported that ToE’s cheque in payment for the balance of the walling contractors invoice, which the Parish Council has already paid, was ready to be posted out. Stuart also reported that confirmation had been received from WODC that £1,000 would be granted towards the erecting of the Barrow Stones.
Payments In £
Mr Smith stone left over from the Pound £75.00
Cotswold Conservation Grant for the Pound £1812.50
Oxfordshire County Council Grass Cutting fee £926.82
Ascott-under-Wychwood Cricket Club rent £5.00
Payments Out £
BDO Stoy Hayward – External Audit £158.63 Chq. No. 100612
OALC Course fee £23.50 Chq. No. 100613
Cotswold Line Promotion Group £10.00 Chq. No. 100614 (Section 137 Expenditure)
Shane Barnes – Grass Cutting £2700.00 Chq. No. 100615
Clerks Expenses £92.36 Chq. No. 100616
Clerks Quarterly Net Salary £459.00 Chq. No. 100617
7. COUNTY COUNCILLOR’S REPORT
County Councillor advised Clerk no report.
8. DISTRICT COUNCILLOR’S REPORT
Apologies received, no report.
9. PUBLIC QUESTIONS:
Please refer to questions asked under “Flooding”.
10. ANY OTHER BUSINESS
There being no other business, the Chairman closed the meeting at 10.00pm and confirmed that the next meeting would be on 12th November at 8.00pm in the Tiddy Hall room.
The Chairman reported that this matter had been included under “matters arising” and was to be discussed during the October Parish Council meeting, which was held on Monday 8th October 2007 in the Tiddy Hall. There were 28 members of the public, which included two councillors from the Shipton-under-Wychwood Parish. Also present were three members from West Oxfordshire District Council, two members from Oxfordshire County Council, one member from Thames Water, the Chairman of the Ascott-under-Wychwood Recovery Committee. Unfortunately, after having been invited and despite confirming a representative would attend, the Environment Agency were not represented!
The Chairman gave a brief outline of how the floods had affected Ascott-under-Wychwood on Friday 20th and Saturday 21st July and expressed how the Village as a whole were still recovering from what can only be described as a very traumatic experience. The Chairman after introducing all invited parties then gave each invited individual a chance to speak, this was then extended to the parish councillors and then to the public gallery.
Phil Page, Head of Street Scene, reported what his agenda was – firstly to investigate what had happened and what could be done to reduce the flooding risk. He reported that in the first instance he wanted to employ the expertise of engineering professionals to investigate the Village’s ditches, streams, rivers and all courses of water with a view to working together with Thames Water, Oxfordshire Highways and the Environment Agency in an attempt to begin to understand what could and now can be done to illeviate any future flooding issues. Phil Page did state that due to the amount of water that fell in the time it did, nothing could have stopped the actual flooding. Phil then advised that he would prepare a report and apply to West Oxfordshire for funding to source this course of action.
Barry Norton, Leader of West Oxfordshire District Council, reported on his overview of what happened. He agreed that all ditches did need to be cleared, but emphasised the need to work together ie. with “ripearian” owners, highways, thames water etc. etc. Mr Norton told the meeting of his meeting with MP Hilary Benn whereby Mr Benn was taken around Oxfordshire being shown the poor state of the environment and the need for monitoring devices for local rivers. Mr Norton advised that all must push for this to be provided by the Environment Agency and that had this been in place this could have given Villages hours, rather than minutes, to prepare.Mr Norton told the meeting that over 1700 homes had been given the £250 grant to assist in the recovery from the flooding and that approximately 280 severe hardship cases had applied for further funding.
David Harvey,Cabinet Member for Environmental Matters, reported how well his team had worked, all pulling rank to fill sand bags, despite his own depot being flooded on the weekending 20th and 21st July.
Gordon Hunt, Drainage Engineer for Oxfordshire Highways spoke on how he wished to work with all parties to look at drainage, ditches etc. etc., but with the climate ever changing we must expect more rain.
Rodney Rose, County Councillor reported that there were two spheres: Highways & Rescue. Rodney asked for it to be minuted how well the community were served by the Fire Service. He then went on to reiterate Phil Page’s comments with regards to the report being put to West Oxfordshire District Council and his assurance to work with him to ensure specialists will look at works that can be done.
Jenny Elliott, Thames Water, introduced herself to the meeting.
The Chairman thanked all for their input and then opened the questions up to the Parish Council, first question being from David;
Q: What caused this and how is this going to be found out?
Q: What is the timescale for this?
John Cull, Chairman of Ascott Recovery Committee (ARC) without hesitation expressed concern and anxiety at the pace in which remedies and answers would be addressed:
Q: John asked Phil Page for a copy of his report to West Oxfordshire District Council to be ready available to all and sent to the relevant parties involved in the recovery of Ascott?
A: Phil Page answered that this would be a public document and would be available for all to view. Equally he would ensure that Parish Councils/Clerks would be sent a copy.
The Chairman then opened the questions up to the public and noted below are some of the questions asked;
Q: Mrs Mary Smith asked had Network Rail been contacted?
A: Not at this point.
Q: Tony Collins, Hazel Cottage, Shipton Road expressed his anger to what had happened and to the future – planning on floodplains! The constant flooding at the top and bottom end of Shipton Road when even the smallest of rainfall is experienced. The dual water system that allows the water into the main sewers – this needs to be addressed??
A: Phil Page asked Mr Collins to explain – he would look into.
Gordon Hunt asked the whole meeting to notify him of all Highway drainage issues/problems. He ensured that he would visit sites and investigate.
Q: Mr Tucker, The Grange, Shipton Road, asked Phil Page to clarify his words “hopefully” that funding would be made available for specialist engineers to carry out investigative works. Mr Tucker expressed that he had noted whilst Phil Page had said “hopefully”, Barry Norton had “promised”.
A: Between Barry Norton and Phil Page, it was confirmed that once the report had been received, funding would be made available.
Q: Alan Chubb, Long Barn, High Street and ARC member, asked for it to be minuted that Gordon Hunt, Drainage Engineer for Oxfordshire Highways and Jenny Elliott from Thames Water had confirmed that they would visit Mr Chubb’s premises together, not separately so that they could be shown the impact of flooding and excess water when rainfall is heavy on Mr. Chubb’s property.
A: Both Gordon Hunt and Jenny Elliott confirmed they would do this.
Q: Mr Macaulay, Ascott Earl House, expressed his anger and grave concerns at how the local councils, both district and county had failed Ascott-under-Wychwood. He explained that his house was under 5ft of water on the said weekend. His wife had called the West Oxfordshire District Council to ask what procedure should they follow in this emergency and were told that there was cocoa and blankets available at West Oxfordshire District Council.
A: Phil Page was very shocked at the response given and was going to look into this.
Q: Philip King, Wychwood Court, expressed his anger at how both District and County had come to the meeting completely unprepared despite some 11 weeks having now passed. Their lack of knowledge of local ditches, streams and water courses. Their lack of response to his wife and 4 children when they were completely cut off by the flooding, not knowing anybody in the Village, but having been told that they could not be evacuated unless they had somewhere safe to go? And finally why was RAF Brize Norton not contacted and drafted in to help Ascott.
A: No specific answers were given to these statements and questions, albeit all members of WODC listened and did said they would be investigating these.
The Chairman then brought the meeting to a close, thanking all those invited for their input and mostly their promises to help Ascott-under-Wychwood in their recovery from the flooding. The Chairman also notified the meeting that the Ascott Recovery Committee (ARC) would be meeting the following night to discuss this further.
Appendix 2 (Prepared by Phil Page, West Oxfordshire District Council)
i. What Happened?
The events of July 20 2007 and were exceptional with over 125 mm of rain being recorded at Brize Norton.
This level of rainfall was experienced elsewhere, but specifically the catchment area of the Evenlode, Windrush and Thames rivers.
The combination of the amount of rainfall, the short space of time and ground conditions all lead to an increase in the effects of the event.
WODC has not yet had the opportunity to look in detail at the exact causes of the event other than the intensity of the storm
ii. What caused it?
This is under review and there is a report going to WODC Cabinet on Wednesday 10 October to secure additional engineering resources to progress this work.
The council is also working closely with the Environment Agency, Oxfordshire County Council and Thames Water.
It is intended to produce a report into the flooding identifying what, in addition to the rainfall, gave rise to the level of damage caused and what could be done to reduce those effects.
iii. The likelihood of it happening again?
This level of storm is assessed as being 1 in 500 hundred years, but that is only an average and could happen again. We have no way of knowing at the moment.
iv. What is being done to prevent a re-occurrence?
Probably of more concern is what we can do about lesser storms that also give rise to property damage. The events of the 20 July were exceptional and need to be considered in that context. However, WODC is concerned about the “normal” storms that are experienced most years and what is needed to reduce the effects of those. Work is currently being carried out to discover the extent of the problem and identify those works that will be most effective, review maintenance schedules of ditches and work with the landowners to bring their ditches up to a acceptable standard.
WODC are also working on emergency planning issues to ensure that warnings are received and communicated well in advance of the event, and that help from WODC is available as soon as possible. This is also linked to the facilities and services we provide through our own direct labour force and the potential to create local supply depots rather than depending on larger, more centralised resources.
We are also looking into the possibility in partnership with other agencies of running self help sessions where householders and property owners can discover how they can be better prepared for such events.
v. What can be done to improve response if it does happen again?
Property owners need to be aware of self help issues.
Need to sign up to flood alert facility with the Env Agency.
Providing localised resources (sand bags)
WODC are looking at their escalation procedures to improve the speed of response and identify critical areas early on
Improving mapping information on flooding
Ensuring ditch maintenance is carried out
Partnership working with all the agencies to have a planned approach to land drainage