A Special Meeting had been called earlier on 21st May to make some quick decisions after the election. The most noticeable decision was to change the flag flying policy and allow the rainbow flag to fly over the County Hall. It was also resolved in committee to organise an Abingdon Pride event and set aside £1,000 for that purpose.
This evening’s Town Council meeting began with prayers.
Grant cheques were presented to a number of community groups.
I asked a question about cycling safety on roads and the town bus service and got a detailed reply from Cllr Sam Bowring, the new Town Council leader. These things are being considered and they have a cycling expert to help them.
The Abingdon Carbon Cutters did a presentation about their activities. The last Town Council meeting before the election had declared a climate emergency. That was not common knowledge so Carbon Cutters asked for more publicity.
The Carbon Cutters announced Abingdon’s move towards a plastic free town (I will do a separate blog on that soon).
Once the meeting proper began we found that most of the decisions had been taken in committees …
The Town Council is to undertake an appraisal of the Albert Park area to stop inappropriate developments.
The planning committee had no objection to the creation of a kayak and canoe storage facility on Abingdon Lock Island. The district council will now decide.
The Amenity Committee agreed to do tree surveys and possibly cut down trees, and use more suitable trees, around the River Close play area . The trees are blocking out light to some houses despite repeated pruning and this has long been an issue.
Replace the notice boards in Bath Street, Roysse Court and Market Place.
Purchase three new replacement bus shelters.
Transfer some planters to Reynolds Way in the autumn for planting in winter spring etc.
£1,000 will be allocated for Pest Control in the closed churchyard of St Helen’s Church.
The Communication Committee agreed to start publishing the Town Crier in the autumn, something the previous Conservative led council had not done. Then do a communications review.
To move the Information Centre to the ground floor reading room in the Roysse Court offices, and look further to try to find a better place.
The Finance Committee agreed to appoint a sub-committee to consider the future of the 41 town bus which comes up for renewal in October.
These committee papers did not take long to discuss. There then followed a 35 minute debate about whether Town Councillors should wear robes at Town Council meetings and civic events. The new leader, Sam Bowring, said there was no policy and they needed to decide. There was one new councillor in particular who had almost decided not to stand for council when she heard she would have to wear a robe. All councillors agreed robes should be worn at civic events. 8 voted to keep the gowns at Full Town Council meetings, and 6 voted against. It was a passionate debate on both sides and did show that even though the council has now 18 Lib-Dems and 1 Green, they have many voices. The leading voice to keep the gowns came from a young, new councillor. He wanted to honour the tradition and heritage of the town. While a more established councillor described it as wearing fancy dress, and another as setting councillors apart.