Council Leader Sue Copper delivered the following report to full Council at its meeting on 25 March:
On Tuesday we reflected a year since the start of the first Covid lockdown. A press release was duly issued by our Council and on the website there is a message to the residents of South Oxfordshire which I’d recorded in my garden, not the first time that my garden has been used for such forms of communication, nor I strongly suspect, the last time.
Although the number of people suffering from coronavirus is down from its peak it is still above the figures for last summer. Unfortunately the numbers of cases seem to have plateaued out at a higher level than had been hoped. And I am sure you will have heard the warnings about the dangers of new mutations of the virus. A third peak is expected and being planned for although it is sincerely hoped it won’t be as bad as previous peaks.
We do all still need to take great care though, even when we get the gradual relaxation of restrictions, and avoid meetings of groups of people, especially indoors. This makes it all the more surprising that we still haven’t heard from the government about our ability to continue having meetings in this format after May. Along with many others I find it quite incredible that we may not be able to continue having these very efficient forms of communication but we shall see.
Vaccination has proceeded well in the county. Take up has been better than in many places and there is now an outreach programme in place to encourage, reassure & help those haven’t yet taken up their appointments. The vaccine is now being offered to priority groups 1-9 – this includes everyone aged 50 and over along with carers and all clinically vulnerable adults.
I would like to stress that support is still available from community hubs for anyone suffering from a health, including mental health or financial as a result of Covid.
New Joint Local Plan
I am pleased, relieved even, that, amongst other things, we shall be able to get on with pursuing more ambitious policies which should help nature recovery and reduce the effects of climate change. The government is starting to make it clearer that Local Plans can demand higher standards than those in place nationally. And I hope that with COP26 taking place later this year standards will be pushed higher so that demanding new builds to be zero carbon or better will not seem at all out of place.
Violence against Women
The issue of violence against women has been in the news recently, so perhaps I can take this opportunity to draw your attention to the Community Safety Partnership’s Annual plan which is on our website
It highlights 3 priority areas of work:
a) Tackling domestic violence and abuse, including early intervention to reduce harm and improving services for victims
b) Working with vulnerable people and children to reduce the likelihood of being exploited
c) Reducing knife crime and harm and vulnerability caused by drugs and alcohol
Purdah means that from Monday 29 March until after the end of the PCC election period on Thursday 13 May the council cannot promote policies, changes to services, or council activities, carry out consultations or hold meetings or events that could be perceived as favouring one candidate or party over another or implies a council position on sensitive political issues.