Yellow letter is coming

Residents in South Oxfordshire are being urged to check the details on a yellow letter which they will receive from the district council from the start of August.

The council is sending a yellow ‘Canvass Communication Form’ to every home requiring the residents to check and confirm the details of everyone over the age of 16 that lives in their property.  This is something many local authorities need to do by law each year in order to ensure the electoral register is up to date.

A change for 2020

In previous years all homes received the same letter and had to respond accordingly, however this year the process has changed slightly.

The letter people receive this August will depend on whether or not records indicate that there has been a change in the registered voters living at their property –  for instance, if a registered voter has moved into a property that address will receive a different letter from a home whose occupants have remained the same since the last election.

The letters explain exactly what occupants need to do – it is very important that residents read it carefully and follow the instructions to confirm any changes, by visiting housholdresponse.com/southandvale – they will need the two-part code on the yellow letter to do this.

By doing this as quickly as possible it will mean that the councils don’t have to send a reminder letter or try to make contact this Autumn to confirm the information.

Latest issue of the Parish Notes

The latest issue of the Parish Notes – August/September – is out and should have been put through letterboxes by now.

An online version of the notes is available on this website. Navigate to Your Community > Parish Notes.

Leisure centres to re-open

Leisure centres in South Oxfordshire have started to reopen.

There will be a gradual, phased opening from last Saturday – 25 July – which includes changes to opening times. While not all facilities will be available to use from the start, there will be plenty of things for customers in southern Oxfordshire to book on to.

Better, who run the leisure centres on behalf of the council, has been working hard to implement the guidelines set by the government to open safely from 25 July. Each leisure centre has been independently assessed by Better as they all have different facilities.

Better has outlined the strict guidelines for customers to follow when they access the buildings for their safety and those around them:

  • Customers will need to book a one-hour slot in advance online, on the Better UK smartphone app – this hour will include the time it takes to get in and out
  • Customers should turn up at their allocated time, not early or late and use the provided sanitiser on entry
  • There will be strict one-way systems in place to ensure customers can stay safe and practice social distancing
  • Customers will be required to clean machines, equipment and other areas they come into contact with after use
  • Gym equipment, pool lanes and dance studios will be operating with reduced capacity and allocated spaces
  • Customers must leave by designated route after a maximum one hour. The exit will be in a different location to the entrance to maintain a one-way flow
  • Everyone who attends a swim session to should arrive ‘pool ready’ with their swimming gear on under their clothes and having showered at home

The leisure centres will be assessed regularly by Better, and the council envisages that more facilities will open as restrictions are relaxed and it becomes safe to do so for customers and staff.

In the first phase of opening the timings and access to facilities varies across the leisure centres in the district, the tables at the bottom of this article give an overview of how each will operate.

More detail can be read here.

More nightlife at Fiveways

Mike Eaton, who is part of a group that looks after Fiveways Corner in Aston Rowant, has shared a night movie of a rat in the stream.

It’s not a long movie, but it’s interesting.

Greater support to help people live independently

SODC has made it easier for people with disabilities, or who are vulnerable, to receive housing assistance grants and loans. This support is to help make their homes safer and more comfortable, to support them to live independently and to reduce hospital admissions.

The new Housing Assistance Grants and Loans policy has extended what’s on offer.

The maximum grant available has increased from £30,000 to £50,000 and a grant is also now available for people living with dementia.  In addition, SODC says that it is working to improve the service in order to reduce the waiting times for work to be carried out.

The first step for anybody who wants to apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant is to contact an occupational therapist to see if they’re eligible. For more information on applying for grants and loans please see the council’s website here.

The new corporate plan – tell SODC

SODC wants to know what residents think it, as a district council, should focus on over the coming years.

District councillors are putting together plans for the future of the district and they want everyone living and working here to have their say.

Should it be working with other organisations to help local businesses get back on their feet after lockdown? Should it help people live healthier lives? Or should it tackle the climate emergency? Or are there other concerns?

To have your say visit South Oxfordshire’s website until Thursday 13 August.

SODC hopes to publish and adopt its final corporate plan in the Autumn.

New housing grants policy

South Oxfordshire District Council has made it easier for people with disabilities or who are vulnerable to receive housing assistance grants and loans to help make their homes safer and more comfortable.

While the council says it has always provided a grants and loans service for vulnerable people to help their homes better suit their needs, the new Housing Assistance Grants and Loans policy introduced by the council this month has extended what’s on offer.

The maximum grant available has increased from £30,000 to £50,000 and a grant is also now available for people living with dementia. In addition, the system is to be streamlined with new technology aiming to improve the service and reduce the waiting times for work to be carried out.

The new policy aims to:

  • support more disabled residents to live independently by improving access and movement around their homes
  • reduce hospital admissions and enable early hospital discharges
  • reduce the need for residential care by allowing people with disabilities to live independently in their own homes
  • reduce fuel poverty and the effects of living in cold homes
  • support tailored home adaptations for those who need them including those suffering with dementia

To apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant, the first step is to contact an occupational therapist to see if someone is eligible. For more information on applying for grants and loans please see here.

Re-opening of leisure centres

Last week the government announced details for when leisure centres and swimming pools could re-open. South Oxfordshire is working with Better, who runs council leisure facilities, to agree to a re-opening plan for the leisure service that complies with the government guidance and meets the industry standards.

There will be a gradual, phased opening of the centres, with careful measures being put into place for both staff and public safety.

Each leisure centre is being assessed independently as they all have different facilities and availability of space to make any necessary changes. Precisely when they open and how they operate when they are open will reflect that.

When the centres do re-open things will work differently at first, and not everything will be available in the early phases of reopening – for example, many programmes and classes that were running before the coronavirus pandemic will not be available to begin with.  These classes will open at later dates as part of the gradual, phased reintroduction of services.

Throughout this process the council has been following government guidelines and will continue to do so. If necessary, the timing of the phasing could be altered depending on the latest advice, and it might be that not all leisure centres are able to open as soon as the 25 July. The council wants to help residents to stay active and are aware that many swimming clubs are keen to get back in the pools. However, the safety of residents is paramount and access to leisure facilities may vary from town to town to reflect the latest government guidance.

Better leisure centres will be communicating to customers to advise specifically how each programme and access to activity will work.

The end of the transitional period

The UK may have left the EU in January but we’re in the midst of a transitional period that will end on 31 December.

For individuals and businesses alike, the government has a page that, once a number of questions have been answered, returns a series of pages that offer guidance on preparing for life after the EU.

See here for more information.

Chinnor road works

Chinnor is to see major road works for many weeks.

Starting on the Oakley Road roundabout on 13 July, four way traffic lights will be installed as the work progresses down Station Road.

Station Road will then be closed from 4 August until 9 October (7 weeks total 24 hour closure – access only for residents and emergency services ) unless completed sooner.

These works are for SGN gas work improvements.