Vale News – June 2021

Covid-19 update

On Monday the government confirmed that the final stage in the roadmap out of lockdown will be delayed by four weeks. This means that most of the current coronavirus rules will remain in place in England until 19 July.

Over the last fortnight, cases of Covid-19 have increased across Oxfordshire and our rates are now similar to those we experienced in late February, before restrictions started to ease. The latest infection rates (from data reported up until 12 June) are 32.4 cases per 100,000 population in the Vale.

We continue to share messages for residents about the importance of regular testing and playing it safe to help keep Oxfordshire open, and about the help that’s available for those who must self-isolate.

We are also keeping a close eye on cases nearby, particularly in Reading where surge testing has been taking place in several postcode areas following increased infections.

So far 89,904 in Vale have received their first jab while 62,758 in Vale have had their second jab (data from 17 June). All over 18s are now being invited to book their first jab.

For a breakdown of cases, vaccinations and the financial support provided locally please see our latest Vale Community Hub infographics.

Planning letter

Please see the latest update from our Head of Planning Adrian Duffield with the latest information from the world of Planning, including updates on Covid working, a planning surgery pilot and planning development management.

EU Settlement Scheme

Please help to spread the word that the EU Settlement Scheme deadline is 30 June 2021. The scheme allows EU citizens to apply for settled or pre-settled status, protecting their existing right to work and live in the UK.

The government will give settled or pre-settled status depending on how long the individual has been living in the UK. It will set out their rights going forward. If someone doesn’t apply, they may lose their right to stay in the UK.

Head to the government’s website gov.uk/eusettlementscheme for more advice and guidance on who needs to apply.

Move Together

Last week the Oxfordshire Councils and Active Oxfordshire launched an initiative called Move Together to support people who are clinically extremely vulnerable and who have been shielding, and any residents whose health has been affected by the lockdowns over the past year.

The scheme will provide personalised support, such as befriender services, exercise sessions or home activity packs. It has been funded by the government’s Contain Outbreak Management Fund.

There is a special webinar on Tuesday 6 July for organisations and interested partners to find out more about the scheme. You can find out more on the Active Oxfordshire website.

The Beacon to open again to the public

We are pleased to announce that The Beacon arts and community centre in Wantage is to open to the public again from 6 September.

The Beacon has played a vital part during the pandemic as one of Oxfordshire’s four symptom-free testing sites for residents to get tested and as a place to collect tests from. It will open in September as it will no longer be needed as a symptom-free testing site from 26 June.

The Beacon can now start taking provisional bookings for hiring from 6 September – please note, all bookings are subject to change, should the building need to be used again as part of the local response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the coming months The Beacon will release a new programme of exciting events and returning classes for all ages.

For more information visit beaconwantage.co.uk or email the centre on beacon.wantage@whitehorsedc.gov.uk.

Proposals for new Parliamentary constituency boundaries

The Boundary Commission for England (BCE) has published its initial proposals for new Parliamentary constituency boundaries and launched an eight-week consultation, which closes on 2 August 2021.

On the proposed changes for the south east we would draw your attention to numbers 28 and 41-45 which detail proposals for Oxfordshire.

You can comment on a range of issues such as where the proposed new boundary lines are to the names of the constituencies. To submit any feedback, visit the Boundary Commission website.

White Horse Community Lottery

Lots of voluntary and community sector groups joined us this week for our Good Causes Launch Event to find out how they can get involved with our brand-new community lottery and how it could help them to raise ongoing funding.

It’s never too late for good causes to sign up and benefit from the lottery. If you are aware of any voluntary and community groups or organisations that might be interested in finding out more, please encourage them to contact
communityenablement@southandvale.gov.uk.

They can also find out more information on the lottery’s official website whitehorselottery.co.uk.

The first draw for the lottery will take place in September.

SSEN stakeholder forum

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) is hosting an online Stakeholder Group Forum for local authorities and community energy groups on Tuesday 20 July from 10:30am to 12:30pm.

During the event SSEN will share its plans and provide an update on its commitments for the last year and invite your feedback and your ideas for future improvements to the connections service it offers its customers.

To find out more and to register for the event, visit SSEN’s website.

Taking action together

Last month we held a town and parish council forum on ‘Climate action – how can we take action together’.

The event featured a review our draft Climate Action Plan and a discussion on how we can work together to achieve our major target of becoming a carbon neutral district.

The feedback and ideas that towns and parishes provided on the draft plan’s six main themes – transport, energy, natural environment, non-domestic buildings, homes and waste, will be shared and, where appropriate, incorporated into the draft climate action plan.

We expect to publish our Climate Action Plan in Autumn 2021 – watch this space for more updates.

Climate action in the community

Each month we will be highlighting some of the great climate action projects happening in communities across the district:

On the first Saturday of each month, Sustainable Wantage is currently offer a Repair Café service via Zoom. Volunteers will be available online to lend a hand with diagnosing and repairing household, electrical and textile items. Since May last year, the team have also refurbished and rehomed 394 laptops and they’re still collecting! For more visit the Sustainable Wantage website.

Abingdon Carbon Cutters have been promoting the use of reusable coffee cups. They recently distributed lots of free reusable cups in the town and provided people with information about the push to become plastic free. Abingdon Town Council are also holding a biodiversity competition to encourage wildlife in Town’s gardens and small green spaces.

On 22 May, AbiBinit!, Plastic Free Abingdon, Kingfisher canoe club and Surfers Against Sewage organised a river clean up along the Thames, starting at Abingdon Lock. There was a prize for the most unusual finds, which included a utility power block and an underwater power drill. Keep an eye out for more opportunities soon for river clean ups.

In Shrivenham, the community bought a telephone box for £1 and now use it for book swaps; they also do a bric-a-brac giveaway to provide a new home to unwanted household items and save them from landfill.

Share your stories
We want to hear about your climate action and nature protection work – here’s your chance to showcase your efforts! To share your stories, email at climateaction@southandvale.gov.uk.

Climate Emergency Advisory Committee

The latest meeting of our Climate Emergency Advisory Committee (CEAC) took place on 14 June and featured:
• A review of the progress to develop a new council tree policy
• An update on Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme projects
You can watch a recording of the meeting by visiting – whitehorsedc.gov.uk/watchameeting

The next CEAC will take place on Monday 9 August – we’ll publish the agenda on the meeting page around five days before the event.