A statement from Cllr David Rouane, Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council
With another new year upon us it’s always a good time to reflect on what has been achieved this year and I’m delighted to be able to do this for the first time as the new Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council.
Any review of the last year must, once again, start with Covid. First of all, let me express my sympathies to anyone who has lost a loved one. I would like to thank all of those who have stepped forward to help people in need, not only once, but again and again as the pandemic has gone on. In addition to those in the health service and residents who have volunteered, as leader of the council I would like to publicly thank our staff who have kept services going despite experiencing periods of illness themselves, suffering bereavements, and having to work extra hours to cover for missing colleagues.
By coming together, our community has really been able to make a big difference to people’s lives and we should all be very proud.
With the launch of our corporate plan, and with COP26 held in Glasgow last month, we’ve continued to build on our work to tackle climate change and promote nature recovery.
We’re committed to doing all that we can to tackle the climate emergency; through changing the way we work; supporting our communities to adapt their homes and businesses; and by supporting our partner organisations to help bring about wider change, for instance, to the way we travel. Throughout this year and into the next we will continue to promote cycling and walking and you may notice more electric vehicle charging points appearing in some of our town centre car parks.
To help us reach our own carbon reduction targets, we are looking at ways in which we can become a more sustainable council, for example by decarbonising the heating of our leisure centres.
Whilst we all have a role to play in helping the planet, we’ve also helped our local businesses to reduce their carbon footprint this year by arranging several successful online workshops. In September the councils’ South and Vale Business Support team worked with Henley Town Council, Oxfordshire Greentech and Naked Planet to host Henley’s first eco fair which was attended by 150 people.
We have also taken steps to improve our town and village centres by introducing parking enforcement (traffic wardens, if you like). This came into operation in November and, after a short period of warnings, issued 257 tickets across the district in its first three weeks. With your help, and working alongside the Vale of White Horse District Council, we remain one of the top areas for recycling in the country and our newly approved tree policy will help us to plant and protect more trees in our district.
As we all know, Covid is still a serious health threat. Please arrange to get your vaccination or booster jab as soon as you’re eligible and, if you’re having to self-isolate at home and need support in the run up to Christmas, please don’t delay contact our Community Hub via 01235 422600.
If you need help or want to find out the details of our services over the Christmas period, including emergency support information, head to southoxon.gov.uk/christmasservices for further information.
Finally, on behalf of everyone at the council, I hope everyone has a very happy Christmas and wish you all a healthy new year!