West Oxfordshire District Councillor’s Report 2021/22

Town Council Reports 2021/22 Uploaded on April 9, 2022

WODC Report 2022

Standing down after 16 years causes one to reflect on whether anything has changed or been achieved. I believe that I have helped some people, failed in other instances and probably disappointed and offended others.

The town has changed over those 16 years. During 1999 and 2000 I took many photographs of the  High Street and the people behind those facades. Six albums of photographs reside in the Tolsey which show Brother Stuart and his monks in the Priory, Orvis, now closed, was an antique shop and several others have changed, but many like the Stone Gallery have endured. ‘Burford and its soul ‘ records the town 20 years on as I hand over to a successor whom you will select in a couple of weeks’ time.

I have been a member of the OALC Executive Committee for the entire 20 years that I have been on the town council. At one time that organisation had a Housing Enabler and we used his services to conduct Housing Needs Surveys in Burford. A proven need gave the town council energy to develop Cheatle Court, Frethern Court and Falkland Close. Supporting the Burford School Foundation has resulted in a further 45 affordable houses being built along the Shilton Road. A local landowner had a land locked area of a former market garden in Witney, a partial brown field site closed by a ransom strip. With that landowner a house was purchased and knocked down to give access; 73 affordable houses were built on that site. So, during my time, local effort and support has directly resulted in about 150 affordable houses being built in the District. Affordable Housing is a government definition meaning housing available for rent from Housing Associations, eg Cottsway, Green Square Accord, Waterloo Housing, etc.

The Shilton Road and other developments represent the successes of the past 16 years but there have been failures also. I have been a member of the controlling Conservative Party throughout my time as a District Councillor. Has that been a benefit to Burford, the various projects described above or in any way whatsoever? The simple answer is NO. WODC has made some daft decisions during those 16 years. They gave planning permission for the Warwick Hall but would not countenance expanding the car park at the same time. They have refused planning permission for expanding the car park twice since. So, when the Warwick Hall is free to run conferences and commercial events again its users will fill the car park and the High Street will suffer again, Church Lane will gridlock again. WODC refused planning permission for the School Foundation’s Shilton Road development so we took it to appeal. WODC proposed an alternative site at the appeal…. Coles Field….. and look where we are now!!!!!

WODC gave us no support for the HGV ban. Initially, Cabinet voted against it and, later, we got no help with DVLA access. Just look at 121 High Street, a Grade II* listed building, which WODC Conservation is supposed to prevent falling down, part of our heritage. They do nothing and do not respond to emails.

Furthermore, WODC have closed the Visitor Information Centre. Would the government’s proposal to make the Cotswolds a National Park have benefited Burford? Maybe it would but the Glover report has gone into the waste paper bin. WODC would have lost planning and other jurisdiction over 35% of the District if the Cotswolds were made a National Park governed by a Park Authority. Burford might have been enhanced as a tourist economy and got better facilities. However, the status quo persists

Derek Cotterill                                                                                      8 April 2022