To consider motions from councillors in accordance with Council procedure rule 38.
South Oxfordshire District Council has made Neighbourhood Plans central to the planning process, in securing 40% affordable housing, employment land, green environment etc’, this to stop developers running roughshod over our District.
Council requests the Planning Committee to support Neighbourhood Plans in its decision-making as far as it possibly can within planning law.
A recent report by the Environment Agency found that every river in England is polluted beyond legal limits. Only 14% of English rivers can be considered ecologically healthy.
Our rivers and streams are under threat from sewage discharge, chemicals, agricultural waste and inappropriate abstraction.
Council notes the growing public concern around pollution in our rivers and the popularity of wild swimming, paddling, kayaking and paddle boarding in the River Thames and its tributaries.
More importantly, Council notes the intrinsic value of clean water and healthy, biodiverse rivers.
Recognising the importance of the River Thames and its tributaries as natural assets of national significance and their value to our District and its communities, this Council:
The Council recognises:
? The term BaME is not one that every person from an ethnic minority background identifies with but it is a term that everyone understands.
? The brutal, and unlawful, death of George Floyd in the United States of America has justifiably triggered global protests against institutional racism faced by Black people right across the world, including here in the United Kingdom. This support has been revived following the recent aggression of Jacob Blake leaving him paralized.
? These protests have come, alongside all the inequalities faced by Black people, in the wake of the devastatingly disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on BaME communities in Britain and other parts of the world.
? It is clear that this impact has been made far worse by the structural inequalities Black people face when it comes to health, education and housing amongst the numerous obstacles that Black people encounter daily in the UK.
? BaME people are 54% more likely than white people to be fined under the new coronavirus lockdown laws.
? In the UK, 26% of instances of police using firearms are against Black people, despite Black people making up only 3.3% of the population.
? 51% of young men in custody in the UK are from BaME backgrounds, despite these groups making up only 14% of the UK population.
? Around two thirds of healthcare staff who have died as a result of COVID-19 are from a BaME background whereas they make up 20% of the overall workforce.
The Council notes:
? That Black lives matter as much as all others.
? That George Floyd’s brutal murder must be a catalyst for change across the world.
? That no country, city, police service or institution can absolve itself of the responsibility to do better.
? When the BaME communities will experience economic justice and opportunity, we all benefit. When our democracy works for Black Britain, it is a better democracy for all of us.
? That there is no place for racism or any form of xenophobia or bigotry anywhere in our society.
? That language is a powerful tool for inspiration and change, as well as oppression and ignorance and must be used wisely and respectfully.
? That it is necessary for our national and civic leaders to start an open and respectful conversation about who we are and what we stand for as a community.
? That the national conversation on institutional racism and immigration should be conducted with care for the dignity of people who are vulnerable, who do not have a voice in the public domain, and have to suffer the consequences of inaccurate, insulting and inflammatory language.
? That it is vital all efforts are taken to understand the impact of Covid-19 on BaME communities in South Oxfordshire and that we should work with all relevant stakeholders to mitigate the impact now and into the future.
? That whist 3.9% of South Oxfordshire population is from a BaME background, that is not matched from the data available by the proportion of staff working at Grade 11 and above. The same is true for elected members of the Council.
? That we must stand together as one.
Council resolves to:
? Show leadership in the campaign to rid our district of bigotry and racism by creating a Diversity and Inclusion Strategy which will ensure that council is inclusive to BaME and other diverse and hard to reach communities: in its staff recruitment, in its representation and in its service provision
Due to Covid 19 and other pressures, the council is under significant economic pressure to reduce its costs and hence the council will be assessing its asset portfolio to see where cost savings can be made.
One of the council's assets is the Cornerstone in Didcot. This is the jewel in the council's crown providing a much needed and appreciated social and cultural centre.
The council should strive to ensure that the Cornerstone continues to be provided with suitable funding to safeguard its future. Didcot is undergoing significant growth and requires facilities like the Cornerstone to enable the town to offer residents in the town and district cultural opportunities that may not exist anywhere else close by.