Oswestry Town Council Annual Report 2018
The Town Council is long established and is one of the most active Town Council in England. It was the NALC Star Council of the Year for 2016/17.
The Council is responsible for many service areas including Cae Glas Park, Oswestry Cemetery, footway lighting, markets, Central Car Park, Smithfield Street Car Park, Horsemarket, Oswestry Visitor & Exhibition Centre, Brogyntyn Park, allotments at Gatacre and Fir Grove, open spaces, community facilities, bus shelters and public conveniences.
The Town Council also comments on all planning applications within the town area previous to their consideration by Shropshire Council who make the final decision on approval or otherwise.
The Council comprises of 18 Councillors representing 7 Town Wards. The Councillors are elected every 4 years with the last election being held in May 2017.
The Town Council is served by a Town Clerk and 18 other full and part-time staff.
Cabin Lane Ward
Greenfields, Weston Lane, Oswestry, SY11 2BD
(01691) 659833 or 07458 117532
4 The Hollies, Coney Green, Oswestry, SY11 2JL
(01691) 659007 or 07977 763385
Park Issa, Church Street, Whittington, Oswestry, SY11 4NF
47 Artillery Road, Park Hall, Oswestry, SY11 4AL
29 Cottams Meadow, Morda, SY10 9FH
The Bryn, 14 Ardmillan Close, Oswestry, SY11 2JZ
Carreg Llwyd Ward
Flat 3, 39-41 Bailey Street, Oswestry, SY11 1PX
6 Victoria Close, Oswestry, SY11 2BX
14 Woodland View, Trefonen, Oswestry, SY10 9EL
(01691) 656115 or 07763 432497
9 Whittington Road, Oswestry, SY11 1HY
(01691) 238423 or 07584 655864
"Boderwig", Park Avenue, Oswestry, SY11 1AZ
"Boderwig", Park Avenue, Oswestry, SY11 1AZ
Hermon Chapel, Chapel Street, Oswestry, SY11 1LF
8 Jennings Road, Oswestry, SY11 1RU
Nauly House, 1 Fitzalan Road, Oswestry, SY11 1RX
Plas Ucha, Trefonen, Oswestry SY10 9DT
(01691) 655466 or 07458 117551
31 Beresford Gardens, Upper Brook Street, Oswestry, SY11 2SL
(01691) 680743 or 07855 595651
56 School Lane, Trefonen, Oswestry, SY10 9DY
(01691) 657863 or 07581 223599
WHAT ARE LOCAL COUNCILS?
There are over 9,000 parish, town, community and neighbourhood councils representing 16 million people across England and Wales and they form the most local level of government. There are 80,000 elected local Councillors who give up some of their time each week to represent the interests of their local community. Whether urban or rural, local councils all have one thing in common - their purpose is to make the lives of the people in their local community better and to give the local community a voice and the means to achieve this.
As elected Councillors and Officers in Oswestry we seek to ensure:
"That the town continues to develop, embraces change and builds on its strengths in response to our economic challenges and community aspirations."
Our aim is supported by a number of corporate objectives seeking to establish a vibrant, distinctive, forward looking and welcoming town centre; a strong enterprising local community; a town that is well connected to other centres and that provides a caring, healthy and safe community.
OUR ROLE AS A LOCAL COUNCIL - WHAT ARE WE?
This is a question that is often put to us. This is a broad and varied role that includes:
· Being a provider of services
· A facilitator
· Working with other partners
· Having a vision for the town
· Being an advocate in terms of local issues and,
· Working extensively with the community in terms of consultation, promoting activities and providing, in many instances, financial assistance.
A new Town Council was elected in 2017. Due to the election process and retirements, we said goodbye to some long standing servants of the Council that included John Gareth Jones, Cynthia Hawksley, Margaret Chamberlain, Elaine Channon, Alan Davis, Chris Stokes and Amanda Woof. The next Town Council election will be held in May 2021.
The Council continues to financially support the Oswestry voluntary CCTV system. In 2015 we received a grant of £68,000 from the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Mercia for the replacement of the system. In the last few months we have received a further substantial grant that has enabled additional cameras to be purchased and also infrastructure improvements to the system. Nearly 20 volunteers continue to make this one of the most acclaimed local CCTV systems in the UK winning a national award in 2016.
The Council continues to facilitate the Oswestry Health Group chaired by Owen Paterson MP. This brings together on a regular basis all the health providers for the town and the county. The Council has been at the forefront of discussions and representations regarding Future Fit for Oswestry, maternity services and also the retention of A&E services.
A key priority of the Council is to see the local delivery of as many services as possible and the retention of Accident and Emergency Services at both Shrewsbury and Telford to prevent communities being put into dispute with each other for services that each part of the county needs and deserves.
OSWESTRY YOUTH MUSIC FESTIVAL
The Youth Music Festival, led by the Festival Organiser, Sue Turner, and the supporting Committee, delivered a very successful 2018 Youth Music Festival despite the very bad winter weather. Over 450 entries were received that involved over 1,000 young people from across Shropshire, Cheshire and into Mid Wales.
Our sincere thanks go to all the volunteers on the Committee and those who help at the Festival to make it such a success year on year.
The Council recently opened a new Garden of Remembrance at the Cemetery. This will provide space for burials for the next 20 years. This investment adds to the recent new build at the Cemetery as an office for use by representatives of the burial service and as improved facilities for our staff. In addition, the Council continues to work closely with Shropshire Archives and Heritage Lottery Fund to preserve the history of Oswestry Cemetery. This has involved conservation and digitalisation of Cemetery records and research on some of the individuals buried at the Cemetery. Further information can be found on the website www.oswestrycemeteryproject.org.uk
BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT
The Council has facilitated the investigation into a Business Improvement District for Oswestry by providing a grant and a loan to the working group that was established from the business community. The referendum earlier in the year cemented the establishment of a formal Oswestry BID for the next five years. This will be an interesting journey and the Council is committed to playing a part within the discussions; however, any use of funds achieved from the business rates levy must be for additionality and not to support existing services as already provided by others.
ANNUAL BONFIRE & FIREWORKS EVENING
The 2017 Brogyntyn event was a new venture with a new partner, namely Oswestry Borderland Rotary Club. The Council does not recover the costs for the purchase of fireworks and this year the Community Grant Scheme, set up by the Council, handed out nearly £10,000 to local good causes. Our sincere thanks are extended to the members of Oswestry Borderland Rotary Club for their support to ensure that this important event in the Oswestry calendar can continue.
OSWESTRY IN BLOOM
Congratulations go to the Oswestry in Bloom Committee once again, supported by the Town Council, on their many awards in 2017. These included specific awards for Cae Glas Park, Category Winner, and also Gold Award in Heart of England in Bloom. The highlight, however, was the nomination by the Heart of England to be one of their representatives in the National In Bloom competition for 2018. Judging is on 1st August 2018 and we are sure that our entry will attract much publicity for the town. Look out for the judges and please say hello!
The Council remains an active voice on planning. All planning applications submitted for the town area are carefully considered and commented upon as appropriate. Any objection that the Town Council may wish to make for an application has to be for specific planning reasons only.
CHRISTMAS DECORATIVE LIGHTING
The Council meets the full cost of the Christmas Decorative Lighting scheme which has been much acclaimed by visitors and local residents. Our three-year lease contract expired in 2017 and we are now in the exciting process of negotiating a new contract and looking at new designs for lighting. We are confident that 2018 will offer an exciting and a new festive experience for our town centre.
The Council continues to provide information through its website www.oswestry-tc.gov.uk and also through Twitter and Facebook. We are grateful to our local press and radio for the coverage they give to our meetings, decisions and events and we always welcome feedback on how we perform and the events and services that we deliver.
At each of our meetings we provide a 15 minute session before business commences for the public to attend and ask questions or make statements. Please feel free to attend our Council or Committee meetings and take the opportunity that is provided to comment.
COMMUNITY ENERGY FOR OSWESTRY
The Town Council is investigating the feasibility of establishing a community energy scheme for Oswestry. A public meeting was held in April and the idea is now progressing towards a full feasibility study.
In summary, the investigation is to look at the installation of solar PV panels onto public and community buildings and potentially commercial premises to generate electricity for the buildings occupants at a lower cost than they currently pay and thereby having the added benefit of reducing CO2 emissions.
SINGLE USE PLASTIC
The Town Council is set to lead by example and start out on a process to become a pioneer Council in phasing out the use of unnecessary single use plastic in all Council buildings and at meetings and events held by the Town Council. Elected Members have agreed to support local initiatives who are working to reduce SUP in the community and, in addition, we are encouraging the abandonment of these products amongst commercial tenants, market traders and vendors at Council events, and also looking at the costs of providing drinking foundations in the town to refill water bottles.
The Town Council has received an award for achieving Archive Accreditation by the National Archive Service. The award means that the Town Council Archives meet the highest professional standards expected. A recent award ceremony confirmed "The Oswestry Town Council Archives are the smallest Archives to achieve this award and I commend the Council, the Archivist and Shropshire Archives for this achievement and for its commitment to local history. I will be highlighting Oswestry as an example of good practice."
HAROLD WHITFIELD VC
The Town Council organised a dedication service for the unveiling of a memorial in Cae Glas Park to Harold Whitfield, the Oswestry born VC holder. The government had provided a paving stone to each community to site within the birthplace of their VC holder.
OSWESTRY BALLOON CARNIVAL
Councillors are working with Lindstrand, Cloud Nine Balloons, and Nightingale House to hold a balloon event in Oswestry on August Bank Holiday weekend. Planning continues but the aim is use Cae Glas Park to have demonstrations of flights of some 30 balloons over the weekend. Admission will be free of charge and other town centre activities will take place including a large continental market, music, fairground rides, etc. Our aim is to promote the town; to attract visitors; to profile Oswestry and its ballooning history, and to act as a significant fundraiser for the charity.
OSWESTRY CHRISTMAS LIVE
The Council was delighted with the success of the annual Christmas Live event held on 1st December 2017. Thousands of people came and supported the spectacle marvelling at the huge amusement rides and enjoying the atmosphere of the Christmas street market. We were delighted that BBC Midlands came along and featured the town and in particular the Mayor and Mayoress.
The Council has agreed to tender to upgrade and refurbish the public conveniences in Cae Glas Park and work will start in the autumn. In addition, the Council is continuing to investigate the provision of improved toilet facilities on the Central Car Park.
To help promote local events the Town Council has appointed a Town Crier, Philip Brown, shouting on a regular basis at Oswestry events, and in addition will be available for any commercial work for local companies, organisations, etc.
Oswestry continues to take national awards and achieve recognition. In 2017 our Town Clerk received the first Outstanding Contribution to the Local Council Sector promoted by the National Association of Local Councils for his long and distinguished service to the parish and town council sector. In addition, our Town Clerk is the current President of the Society of Local Council Clerks which has 5,000 members across England and Wales.
WORKING WITH YOUNG PEOPLE
A feature of the Mayor, Councillor Vince Hunt, during his year of office was to work with young people and during his term of office he visited all primary and senior schools. In addition, the Mayoress was Amber Hunt, who as a 15 year old student at the Marches School was applauded for the professional manner in which she fulfilled her many duties as Mayoress and also for the way that she represented her peers and promoted the youth agenda in Oswestry.
The Council has also continued its sponsorship in an amount of £5,000 towards the Marches Future Awards.
Tthe Town Council has also agreed to subsidise the continuation of youth activities in Oswestry, provided by Shropshire Council during 2018, at a cost of £5,500.
WILFRED OWEN STATUE
Final arrangements are being made for the Wilfred Owen statue to be sited in Cae Glas Park as 2018 is the centenary of the end of the Great War and also the centenary of the death on the battlefield of Wilfred Owen. The unveiling of the sculpture during an exciting festival of commemoration and remembrance, culminating on Armistice Day 2018, will mark the support and contribution of Oswestry to this landmark centenary. The Council has worked closed with Chris Woods from Lights Out Trefonen and local artist Tim Turner. The project is endorsed by the Imperial War Museum and the Wilfred Owen Association and the unveiling is scheduled for a date in October.
CHRISTMAS LIGHT SWITCH ON
This event goes from strength to strength. The 2017 switch on was performed by community champion Colin Cole aged 98 and involved local schools, groups, etc. Our intention is to make the 2018 event even bigger and better.
The Council has been pleased to support Cambrian Heritage Railway by offering a grant of £120,000 to enable trains to operate between Oswestry and Weston Wharf. The business plan for the project suggests that some 20,000 visitors per year will be attracted that in turn will introduce £1.28 million of funding into the local economy each year.
MAYOR AND DEPUTY MAYOR
Each year the Mayor and Deputy Mayor undertake in the region of 250 engagements on behalf of the Council. If you would like the Mayor or Deputy Mayor to attend any of your events, celebrations, etc. please contact us at the Guildhall.
WORKING WITH OTHERS
The Council works extensively with many groups and organisations in the town providing talks, visit opportunities etc. We have an excellent relationship with our local college and schools. We also work extensively in partnership with organisations such as Oswestry Livestock Auctions, Oswestry Gatacre Gardens and Allotments Society, Oswestry in Bloom, Oswestry Heritage Open Day, Oswestry Townscape and Transport as just a few examples.
The Council provides allotments at Fir Grove and at Gatacre. We are grateful to our partnership with Oswestry Gatacre Gardens and Allotments Society that has extended for over a quarter of a century. The Association manage the allotments on our behalf, ensure that the site is properly cultivated and also arranges the annual show.
Once again we are working with the Oswestry Advertizer to promote the Oswestry Community Awards. Various categories apply and each week the paper showcases individuals as nominated. Who do you think provides wonderful service to our residents and visitors? Who are our community champions and unsung heroes? The completion is a great way to celebrate our town and the people who truly make a difference.
ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGING POINTS
We are investigating the various options to introduce electric charging points at the Central Car Park. In principle the Council is committed to this additional town centre facility and is looking at third party providers. It is anticipated that a final policy decision will be made in the autumn.
If you wish to discuss this article with the council or simply share your views about the article's content, then please contact us.