Have your say on an increase to council tax by 5pm today

At the end of last year, the Home Office announced the funding settlement for police across the country for the next financial year. In Thames Valley, this means an additional £12.6m in Government grant to pay for an additional 179 police officers. The increase in officers is the second part of the national uplift programme that will see 20,000 additional officers across the country by March 2023. In the Thames Valley, we have already recruited the extra 183 officers funded from the 2020/21 budget.

Alongside the funding from the Home Office, the Government has also allowed Police & Crime Commissioners to increase council tax by up to £15 (for a Band D property) in order to make additional investments in policing. In Thames Valley that means that for less than 29p a week for the average household (Band D property) more than £13m could be invested in frontline policing.

In previous years, the support of local tax payers through their council tax has meant that we have managed to reduce the time it takes for the police to answer non-urgent 101 calls and to significantly increase detection rates, meaning that more victims of crime receive justice and more criminals are held to account.

It is important that any increase in council tax now, at a time when many families are struggling, is focussed on frontline policing to tackle the concerns of the public. I am proud of the work done by Thames Valley Police Officers, PCSOs, staff and volunteers every single day, but there is always more that can be done.

By contributing your views now you can help play your part in shaping how Thames Valley Police continues to improve and tackle crime across our community.

The survey will close for submissions at 5pm on Wednesday 20 January.

Click here to take the survey

OXFORDSHIRE SOUTH AND VALE CITIZENS ADVICE: TREASURER AND TRUSTEE NEEDED

We are looking for (a) a Treasurer and (b) a Trustee to join our Board.

We are a local charity providing the Citizens Advice service in South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse. We advise 12,000 people each year and help four in every five to resolve their problems. We are members of National Citizens Advice. Our funding comes from District, Town and Parish Councils and local charities.

Treasurer We are looking for an experienced Treasurer with a relevant financial qualification or experience. Knowledge of charity finance is preferred but not essential. Your main role will be to guide the board on the financial implications of budgets and plans; and work with staff to prepare a budget, monitor our finances and present management accounts.

Trustee We are looking for a new Trustee to contribute to the work of the Board as it navigates the uncertainties of a post-Covid world. Each Trustee oversees a particular aspect of the charity’s work.

There are seven Trustee board meetings each year, held in the evening of the third Tuesday of every other month

What’s in it for you? You will make a truly positive impact in your local area by ensuring that OSAV CA is sustainable and addresses the needs of the community. You will build relationships with trustees, staff and volunteers; and build on your governance skills.

We welcome applications from all sections of the community so that we have a diverse board that reflects our clients and communities.

If you would like to discuss this opportunity, please contact Jane Richardson (Chair) jane.richardson@osavcab.org.uk or Jon Bright (Chief Officer) jon.bright@osavcab.org.uk

We’re urging residents to follow the lockdown rules to help stop the spread

We have an important message to send to our residents to urge them to continue to stay at home, avoid mixing with other households, and abide by the lockdown rules to help curb the rapid spread of Covid-19. 

It’s important that we reinforce this message as widely as possible, so please help us spread the word among your towns and parishes. 

Rates across the whole of Oxfordshire continue to be much higher than before Christmas, and in recent days, those in the Cherwell district have been around 1,000 per 100,000 people, putting the area in the top 50 coronavirus hotspots in England. 

We are currently in a significantly worse position than at the height of the first wave last spring, and the situation is continuing to deteriorate. Hospitalisations from the virus continue to rise rapidly putting huge pressure on the NHS and the number of COVID related deaths are also beginning to rise again.  We are now seeing more younger people admitted to hospital.  

The stark national and local figures mean that things are not going to improve significantly unless people observe the lockdown rules in full.   

Last March and April strict observation of the rules helped to drive down cases and we need to do the same now.  The power to fight back against Covid remains in our own hands, so please urge everyone across your communities to do everything they can to stop the spread.  

For the latest guidance visit gov.uk/coronavirus  

Winter Support Grant Scheme 

We’ve just launched a new grant scheme to help residents affected by the pandemic to buy food and keep their homes warm this winter.   

Following an allocation of £1.4million government funding, we’ve been working closely with the other Oxfordshire councils on the Winter Support Grant.  The county council has allocated around £1M of that funding to provide free school meals, with the remaining money shared across the districts.   

In the Vale we have been given £73,430 – Citizens Advice South and Vale and Wantage Independent Advice Centre will now distribute this funding out on our behalf.   

The advice centres can support people with supermarket vouchers for food and fuel vouchers to top up prepayment meters or with paying a heating bill. This will be alongside their usual package of advice and support around budget management, debt and benefit advice and any other assistance the resident may need signposting towards.  

If a resident has received a food voucher from a previous scheme, or indeed support via free meals or any other route, they can still apply for a Winter Support Grant.  

We are contacting community groups to make them aware of this support and information, and we’ll also be letting people know via social media. We urge anyone in need of support to contact their local advice centre.  

This funding must be spent by 31 March 2021.   Those in immediate and urgent need should, as always, contact our Community Hub on 01235 422600.  

Business support – Covid-19 grants update   

Businesses from the hospitality, accommodation or leisure sectors that remained open during the Tier 2 restrictions from 2 December to 25 December 2020, but whose trade was severely impacted during that time, can now apply for a Local Restrictions Support Grant (Open) up to £1,800. 

You can find details about this grant and the various other funding schemes that are currently available on our Business Support website – svbs.co.uk.    

Please continue to encourage businesses in your area to sign up to our South and Vale Business Support mailing list by visiting svbs.co.uk – this is the best way for them to find out as soon as grant funding becomes available locally.  They can also receive updates by following the Businesses Support teams Twitter and Facebook accounts.  

Covid Marshals update   

Our Covid Compliance Marshals continue to visit our towns to help support local businesses to operate in a Covid secure manner and to keep the public safe.   

Their role is to engage, explain and encourage businesses and members of the public to adhere to the latest guidelines to help keep everyone safe, including advising on social distancing and wearing masks.  

With non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants currently closed, the marshals have shifted their focus to takeaways and are visiting them to provide advice, answer questions and, where required, handing out posters that can be displayed to remind customers how to queue and enter the premises safely.  As you will be aware from the national press, the Government have asked Police Forces across the Country to increase enforcement action in relation to persistent COVID breaches. 

Keeping safe in our play areas

Like many of you, we have kept our public play areas open during this lockdown. However, with virus transmission rates still very high we know there will be some concern about people spending time there, particularly if a play area is busy or people aren’t social distancing.   

To help to address these concerns, and to remind people to follow social distancing and hand washing requirements, we’ve now placed new signs at the entrances of all our play areas.     

If we hear that one of our play areas is particularly busy, we will ask our Covid Marshals to visit the site to advise families about keeping Covid safe, as we strongly believe that information and positive reinforcement is key to securing high levels of compliance.   

If your town or parish runs its own play area(s) please feel free to adapt the attached copy of the sign, which you can then print off to use. 

Community infrastructure consultations   

We want to hear what people think about how we raise money for infrastructure and the community facilities needed to support planned growth across the district.   

We are asking people to comment on our draft Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Charging Schedule and the draft Developer Contributions Supplementary Planning Document (SPD).   

Both consultations run until midnight on Monday 8 February.  

To find out more and to have your say visit the consultation pages for the CIL Charging Schedule and the Developer Contributions SPD.   

Garden Waste suspension  

Last week we published an open letter to all our Garden Waste customers explaining in a bit more detail why we haven’t yet restarted garden waste collections following the usual Christmas pause in the service.  The letter also includes some information on Christmas tree recycling. 

Some residents have raised concerns about a disruption to a service they pay for directly, so our letter explains that we are confident we’ll be able to fulfil our obligations to them this year.   

We’re aiming to review staffing levels with Biffa next week with a view to restarting the service as soon as possible after that. We’ll let you know when we have more information.   

You can read our letter here.  

Vaccine Fraud alert  

Throughout the pandemic, there have been a lot of scams circulating from people seeking to defraud worried and vulnerable residents. We are now also seeing a growing number of reports about scams related to the vaccine roll-out.  

Scams include members of the public receiving text messages claiming to be from the NHS, offering them the opportunity to sign up for the vaccine. The texts ask the recipient to click on a link which takes them to an online form where they are prompted to input personal and financial details. In some cases, the online form looks very similar to the official NHS website.  

Please help us get this message out to residents in your town or parish:   

How to protect yourself  

In the UK, Covid-19 vaccines will only be available via the NHS. You will be contacted by the NHS, your employer, a GP surgery or a pharmacy local to you, when you’re able to receive it.   

At no point will anyone be asked to pay for the vaccine.  

  • The NHS will never ask you for your bank account or card details.  
  • The NHS will never ask you for your PIN or banking password.  
  • The NHS will never arrive unannounced at your home to administer the vaccine.  
  • The NHS will never ask you to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents such as your passport, driving licence, bills or pay slips.   

What to do if you are targeted:  

  • If someone receives a call, they believe to be fraudulent, they should hang up.   
  • If an email looks suspicious, do not click on any of the links – forward it to report@phishing.gov.uk.   
  • Suspicious text messages should be forwarded to the number 7726 which is free of charge.   
  • Anyone who believes they are a victim of a fraud, should report it immediately via actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.  

Great Western Railway revised services  

With the national lockdown in place GWR is now operating train services to a revised timetable.  Anyone needing to travel is advised to check GWR’s website.   

Do you know someone who makes an outstanding contribution?  

The Honours Committee are calling for nominations from across the UK to help make the Queen’s Honours list as diverse as possible.   

This could be the perfect opportunity to nominate people in your community who go above and beyond to make a real difference, including those who have made a significant contribution during the pandemic.   

If you know of someone who fits the bill, you can nominate them using the online portal.  

To learn more about the nominations process, you can sign up for online training webinars which are available throughout the next two months.  For more information and to book your place you please visit the webinar registration form.  

Residents in southern Oxfordshire should not go cold and hungry this winter.

Released 14 January 2021

The Winter Support Grant Scheme is now available for residents in South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse who need help to buy food and heating their homes this winter.

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils have been working with Oxfordshire County Council and other district councils to distribute the nearly £1.4million given to the county by the Department for Work and Pensions in December 2020 as part of the Covid Winter Grant Scheme.

The main part of this grant has been used to make sure children in the county had access to free school meals over the school holidays towards the end of last year. From the remaining funding South Oxfordshire District Council has received £76,006 and Vale of White Horse has been allocated £73,430. The distribution of the grant will be managed by the councils in partnership with Citizens Advice, across both districts and through the Wantage Independent Advice Centre in the Vale.

Covid-19 has impacted on many people financially over the last ten months, and for some this may be the first time that they find themselves requiring help from others. Residents in need of support are being encouraged to contact their local accredited advice service. After talking through their options, the centre can arrange payments that could be a combination of supermarket vouchers, top up fuel vouchers (for those with prepayment meters) and direct payment of fuel bills. The advice centres will deliver this support as part of a holistic assessment of the resident’s needs and the provision of an appropriate package of support and advice.

Cllr Maggie Filipova-Rivers Cabinet Member for Community Services at South Oxfordshire District Council said: “We know that for some people asking for help isn’t easy. But this support is there, and we want to be able to do what we can to make sure that those who need help access it. No one should be going hungry in our district and no one should be worried about turning their heating on because they can’t pay the bill. If you know of anyone in need of help this winter, please encourage them to contact their nearest Advice Centre.”

Cllr Helen Pighills Cabinet Member for Healthy Communities at Vale of White Horse District Council said: “It is vital that anyone needing help this winter knows that there is support out there. Even if they have had a voucher from a previous scheme, they can have one again through this grant to help provide a meal for their family.”

Cllr Bethia Thomas Cabinet Member for Community Engagement at Vale of White Horse District Council said: “Covid-19 has hit many people hard, we have been doing all we can to help as a council and this is another way in which we can offer much needed financial support”

The Winter Support Grant scheme launched on Monday 11 January and will close on 31 March 2021.

Note to editors: You can find out more about our Winter Grant Support Scheme on our websites – southoxon.gov.uk/winter-grant and whitehorsedc.gov.uk/winter-grant
In South Oxfordshire residents can contact their local Citizens Advice centre via their website https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/local/oxfordshire-south-vale/ or by calling Citizens Advice – 0300 3309042

In the Vale of White Horse residents can also contact their local Citizens Advice centre via their website https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/local/oxfordshire-south-vale/ or by calling Citizens Advice – 0300 3309042 or they can speak to Wantage Independent Advice Centre – 01235 765348 and visit their website https://www.wantageadvice.org.uk

One week left to have your say on council tax increase

At the end of last year, the Home Office announced the funding settlement for police across the country for the next financial year. In Thames Valley, this means an additional £12.6m in Government grant to pay for an additional 179 police officers. The increase in officers is the second part of the national uplift programme that will see 20,000 additional officers across the country by March 2023. In the Thames Valley, we have already recruited the extra 183 officers funded from the 2020/21 budget.

Alongside the funding from the Home Office, the Government has also allowed Police & Crime Commissioners to increase council tax by up to £15 (for a Band D property) in order to make additional investments in policing. In Thames Valley that means that for less than 29p a week for the average household (Band D property) more than £13m could be invested in frontline policing.

In previous years, the support of local tax payers through their council tax has meant that we have managed to reduce the time it takes for the police to answer non-urgent 101 calls and to significantly increase detection rates, meaning that more victims of crime receive justice and more criminals are held to account.

It is important that any increase in council tax now, at a time when many families are struggling, is focussed on frontline policing to tackle the concerns of the public. I am proud of the work done by Thames Valley Police Officers, PCSOs, staff and volunteers every single day, but there is always more that can be done.

By contributing your views now you can help play your part in shaping how Thames Valley Police continues to improve and tackle crime across our community.

The survey will close for submissions at 5pm on Wednesday 20 January.

Click here to take the survey

Latest public health data and advice

In the seven days up to 1 January 2021, there has been a total of 3,591 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Oxfordshire (equivalent to a weekly rate of 519.2 per 100,000 residents). This is an increase from 2,190 new cases in the previous seven days ending 25 December (equivalent to a weekly rate of 316.6 per 100,000 residents).

Further information is available at www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/stopthespread.

Restrictions


National lockdown restrictions announced this week by government mean people in Oxfordshire and elsewhere must stay at home.

A reminder of the measures:
 You must stay at home, except for a legally permitted reason. This includes activities such as essential shopping, education and childcare, work which cannot be done from home, medical needs, exercise, and communal worship.
 If you do leave home for a permitted reason, you should stay local in the village, town or part of the city where you live.
 You must not meet socially with family or friends, unless they are part of your household or support bubble.
 You can leave your home to exercise once a day. You can exercise in a public outdoor place with members of your household or support bubble or, when you are on your own, with one person from another household.
 Primary, secondary and special schools will remain open for vulnerable children and children of critical workers. Remote working will take place for all other children until February half term. End of year exams will not take place this summer.
 Early years settings such as childminders and nurseries can stay open.
 Higher education provision will remain online until mid-February for all courses, except those for future critical workers such as medicine and dentistry.
 Pubs, restaurants, and non-essential shops and businesses must close, although hospitality venues can provide delivery and takeaway services – but not takeaway alcohol.
 People who are clinically extremely vulnerable should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential. They should not attend work.
If you have any coronavirus symptoms, you must self-isolate immediately and call 119 to book a test or register online. And if you have been abroad to a country that is not on the exemption list then you must, by law, self-isolate for 10 days.

There is more information about the new restrictions on gov.uk and a comprehensive list of resident FAQs about lockdown restrictions in Oxfordshire is available on our website.

Clinically extremely vulnerable people
Clinically extremely vulnerable people are advised to stay at home as much as possible, except to go outdoors for exercise or to attend health appointments. If they cannot work from home, they are advised not to go to work and can claim any support where eligible. They should be receiving a letter from the Department of Health and Social Care to advise them, but should follow the advice set out in the shielding section of the CEV guidance.

COVID-19 vaccination programme

In positive news, the first vaccinations using the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine on Monday signalled another key milestone in our fight against the pandemic. It was wonderful to see the first doses of a vaccine that had been developed in Oxford delivered at the city’s Churchill Hospital.
The Oxford vaccine represents a major addition to the UK’s vaccination programme, which continues at pace with almost 1.5 million people in the UK having now received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. In Oxfordshire, 18 GP-led vaccination sites and one hospital hub are now delivering the vaccine to our most vulnerable residents and frontline health and social care workers (a more detailed vaccination update is below). I am delighted to report that, as of Wednesday this week, 22 per cent of care home residents and 23 per cent of care home staff in the county have received the vaccine.
By the end of next week (15 January), 22 sites across Oxfordshire will be offering vaccinations to the top two priority groups. Good progress has been made in vaccinating approximately one third of residents aged 80 and over so far.

The first vaccinations were delivered to patients (aged 80 and over), care workers and frontline NHS staff on 8 December at the Churchill Hospital. Since then vaccination services have opened in a phased approach, led by GPs, across the following primary care network sites:
• Chipping Norton Health Centre
• Hart Surgery, Henley
• Banbury Cross Health Centre
• Malthouse Surgery, Abingdon
• Bartlemas Surgery, Oxford
• Jericho Health Centre, Oxford
• Barton Neighbourhood Centre
• Windrush Health Centre, Witney
• Leys Health Centre, Oxford
• Wallingford Community Hospital
• Morland House Surgery, Thame
• Clifton Hampden Centre
• The Heritage Centre, Bicester
• Kennington Health Centre
• Didcot Civic Hall
• Islip Medical Practice
• Cherwell School, Oxford
• Wantage Health Centre.

The final three sites will start vaccinations next week in Carterton, Faringdon and the Grimsbury area of Banbury. Plans are also underway for the Oxfordshire Vaccination Centre to be operational by the end of January, which will be the Oxfordshire site for mass vaccinations and provided by Oxford Health.

Our local NHS is working hard to deliver the vaccinations as quickly as they can and as quickly as supplies of the vaccine are made available. Because a phased approach is being taken, some people are waiting longer than others. Everyone in the priority groups, registered with an Oxfordshire GP practice, will be invited in due course. We would be very grateful for your continued support in asking residents to be patient and to reassure them that they will be invited for a vaccination as soon as possible.


COVID-19 vaccine scam


Residents to be on their guard against scammers using the promise of a coronavirus vaccine to con them out of money. Criminals across the country are contacting people out of the blue with offers of a coronavirus vaccination. These approaches have been made by text or from a recorded voice message on the telephone.

In each case the recipient is required to respond by clicking a link in the text message or by pressing 1 when receiving the call. They are then asked to give personal information, as well as financial details to book their vaccination. However, these are scams, with criminals exploiting the pandemic to attempt to steal personal details and people’s money.

The NHS is currently offering the COVID-19 vaccine free of charge to people most at risk from coronavirus. These people will be contacted by the NHS. More information about the COVID-19 vaccine scam and advice from trading standards is in our news story.

Helping businesses


This week the Chancellor announced one-off top up grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses worth up to £9,000 per property to help businesses through to the spring. A £594 million discretionary fund was also made available, at a national level, to support other impacted businesses and this comes in addition to £1.1 billion further discretionary grant funding for local authorities, local restriction support grants worth up to £3,000 a month and the extension of the furlough scheme. To read more about the Chancellor’s announcement visit GOV.UK.
The government’s business support webpages also set out the COVID-19 support available to businesses such as loan schemes designed to support UK businesses that are losing revenue and seeing their cashflow disrupted as a result of the pandemic.

Have Your Say on An Increase To Council Tax Across the Thames Valley

Sent on behalf of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, Anthony Stansfeld, is seeking your views on a proposed increase to the policing element of council tax for 2021/22.

In response to the exceptional operational demands placed on the police, particularly in response to the global pandemic, the Government is increasing funding available to PCCs by up to £703 million. This is provided all PCCs increase their council tax for a Band D household by £1.25 a month*, or £15 a year in 2021/22 which, collectively, will raise £287 million, or 40% of the £703 million increase in funding.

Anthony Stansfeld, Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, said: “Despite the increase in funding from government, there continue to be cost pressures on the Force and the public rightly expect to see improving performance in order to keep us all safe and bring criminals to justice. Alongside the funding from the Home Office, the Government has also allowed Police and Crime Commissioners to increase council tax by up to £15 (for a Band D property) in order to make additional investments in policing. In Thames Valley that means that for less than 29p a week for the average household (Band D property) more than £13m could be invested in frontline policing.

“In previous years the support of local tax payers through their council tax has meant that we have managed to reduce the time it takes for the police to answer non-urgent 101 calls and to significantly increase detection rates, meaning that more victims of crime receive justice and more criminals are held to account.

“It is important that any increase in council tax now, at a time when many families are struggling, is focussed on frontline policing to tackle the concerns of the public. I am proud of the work done by Thames Valley Police Officers, PCSOs, staff and volunteers every single day, but there is always more that can be done.

The survey can be completed at https://survey.alchemer.eu/s3/90305410/Council-Tax-Survey-2021-22 and is open until 5pm on Wednesday 20th January 2020.

*Proposed increases for other council tax bands can be found below:

Band Current Police share of council tax in 2020/21 Proposed council tax 2021/22 Proposed monthly increase
A £144.19 £154.19 £0.83
B £168.22 £179.88 £0.97
C £192.25 £205.58 £1.11
D £216.28 £231.28 £1.25

Citizens Advice needs volunteer advisers

We can all face problems that are too stressful or complicated to sort out alone.

In 2019 our 150 volunteers advised over 11,000 people. We helped three quarters resolve their debt, benefits, employment and housing problems.

We now need more advisers to help us during and after the Covid-19 crisis.

Our main offices are in Abingdon, Didcot, Henley and Thame. Since March 2020, 90 volunteers and staff have been advising the public from home on our Adviceline service. Recently we partially re-opened our offices, in part to train new advisers.

What will you get out of it?  You will join a friendly team, meet new people, develop your skills and make a real difference to people’s lives.

You’ll need to have good listening and interpersonal skills, a willingness to learn and be confident with computers. Full training will be provided.

If you have eight hours a week to spare for the next two years or more and are looking for a satisfying and stimulating volunteer role in your local community, please contact us at:

 www.citizensadvice.org.uk/local/oxfordshire-south-vale/volunteer/ 

Temporary Road closure – Faringdon, Church Street

Notice is hereby given pursuant to Section 14(2) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act, 1984, that the Oxfordshire County Council

TEMPORARY ONE-WAY RESTRICTION

(Two-way traffic to One-way)

LOCATION: Faringdon, Church Street  (26 to 34 Church Street)  

REASON: To facilitate excavation across the road and electrical installation for new customer

DURATION: Starting on 18 January 2021

The anticipated completion date is 22 January 2021.

This is a 24 hour two way to one way. (Traffic Regulation Notices cover a maximum of 5 consecutive days)

To see the plan and the suggested alternative route open the link below: