Arriving under the twinkling of the Christmas tree in the town square, the full council, staff, and a reduced number of the public gathered in the Town Hall for what turned out to be a very speedy meeting. Operating just after further announcements regarding the Omicron variant, the councillors were spread out more than usual, with the windows open and facemasks all round. Kicking off the session at 1900, Mayor Marcus called the meeting to order, and following the basics we move forward to the Mayor’s Communications.

Quickly recapping some of Cllr Dan’s work in covering Marcus’ absence, including representing the town at the Rifle’s dinner, the rest of Marcus’ communications focused on the Santa Dash, the Sunday Christmas Fair, the windows in wallingford decorations, an update on the Queen’s Canopy – a tree planting initiative, a Christmas lights switch-on, the sending of Christmas cards, the opening of the repaired and restored Phone Box, and finally being present at the 1155 Fireworks.

We then move on to Public Participation. Speaking first was Trevor Bedeman, a new resident, speaking with regards to transport and pedestrian safety. Speaking with regards to the proposed 20mph zones (which was welcomed), it was highlighted that the center and St Johns Road were not included. He noted that at the previous meeting, that a councillor had lost his temper. Noting that his actions appeared to breach the no-bullying policy

There were no reports received from the County or District councillors.

Moving on to the draft estimate for next year’s budget, which includes an increase to the funding of the Wigod Way Family Center from £20,000 to £30,000, funding for the Citizen’s advice bureau, as well as other alterations. The draft estimates were previously agreed at a sub-committee.

Cllr Ros asked to clarify that the funding for Wigod Way was for a single year, to be reviewed in a year, which was confirmed. Cllr Beatty moved to propose the motion, which was carried.

In order to fund the above entries (and thus the budget as a whole), a precept of £529797 was also passed. The Precept is how the council is funded: the total budget, is then be divided down by the number of households and applied to council tax bills. Roughly.

What is a Precept? The Precept is a tax that Parish Council’s charge their local electors to meet their budget requirements. Parish Councils do not receive any direct funding from central government and rely on their Precept plus any other income they generate from services or facilities they provide.

The Staff organisational chart, now provided, was also confirmed and passed.

Moving very quickly on, the 2022 timetable of meetings – including moving to monthly meetings – was also passed. The calendar of meetings can be found here.

New Councillor Sue Hendrie was further appointed to the Planning, Parks Gardens Allotments and open spaces, and the personnel committees.

See this on the council website here

The Clerk and Estates Officer have agreed to postpone an application to the Public Works Loan Board until next year, allowing time to get a correct bill of works and costings.

Tracey gave an update regarding the Civil War Re-enactment. This amounted to a notice that the site has passed to now be under control of a new team at SODC. It is currently planned for the next event to be held next May.

The Councillor Introduction Guide was revisited from last meeting, was presented by Cllr Steve. It was adopted very quickly. Moving to dog bins, Cllr Mervin asked if this needed to be funded at all, given that dog mess can now be placed in normal bins. It was stated that give the amount of ‘left’ dog mess bags, that the bins may well be necessary. It was moved to fund the bins using the SHIELD group.

Moving on to CCTV, Tracey provided a report on the meetings. She stated that there is a low crime rate in Wallingford, however an upgrade to the CCTV system is due early next year.

The Estates Officer and Cllr Steve gave an update to the Agatha Christie statue and mystery trail project, with £125000 raised, with the statue costing £65000. The additional funds to be spent on the Mystery Trail. The statue would be due to be installed in 2023. It is widely hoped that this project as a whole would act as a good tourist draw. The statue would be insured against theft, at a cost of £85 a month.
A question on the funding was asked, however it was re-asssured that the funding is an additional amount from the South and Vale council. It was further suggested a fibreglass statue could be used outside, to allow the bronze to be secured elsewhere. This was skirted over to both the detail of the motion, and the noted low crime rate. Cllr Steve was thanked for his work towards the project. The motion was passed.

Speeding through tonight’s evening – only being 1937 at this point, we move to the Wallingford Accessible Boat Club. It was reported that the request regarding the use of the quay at the Boat House has been rejected by Greene King under health and safety grounds.

At 1939 the public was asked to leave, to allow the council to discuss confidential matters.