To receive communications from the Chairman and/or the Leader of the Council.
The Chairman made the following statement:
“Twelve months ago, when I took on the role of Chairman of Cherwell District Council, I could not have imagined my year ending in the unprecedented times the world now finds itself in, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since May 2019 I have been lucky enough to spend time with different services and have seen the excellent work our council officers provide and are continuing to provide at this difficult time.
If there is one positive thing that has come out of this pandemic it is the way that the community has come together that reflects very well on our district and the wider area. People have found ways – often with excellent help from the council – to do valuable work in their communities while still complying with national guidelines to keep them and others safe from the virus.
Across the district, people have come together, and I would like to recognise the significant contribution made by volunteers and commend them for their ongoing and tireless efforts.
I’m sure Members will join me in also paying tribute to our dedicated staff, who have responded magnificently to the challenges presented. The flexibility and responsiveness with which teams across the council have adapted over the past weeks has been exemplary and has enabled crucial services to continue to be delivered as close to normal.
We as councillors have benefitted from the efforts of the IT team, who have enabled us to do our jobs from home representing the interests of our local residents.
We are here this evening at our first full council meeting since Covid-19 changed our everyday lives. It is good to see the world of democracy overcoming the challenges and restrictions we are living with. Social distancing is likely to be with us for some time to come so I imagine our roles as councillors and the democratic process will need to continue to adapt throughout 2020.
My thanks once again to our staff, to you as councillors and the residents of Cherwell for your hard work and dedication and support to others during these difficult times. Please do look after yourselves and stay safe.”
Councillor Wood, Leader of the Conservative Group, Councillor Woodcock, Leader of the Labour Group, Councillor Tyson, Leader of the progressive Oxfordshire Group, and Councillor Sibley, Leader of the Independent Group, each addressed Council echoing the comments of the Chairman and extending their gratitude to officers, partners, communities, voluntary organisations and all residents who had, and continued, to support residents across the district during this unprecedented time.
Tony Brace, former Chief Executive of Cherwell District Council
The Chairman referred to the sad passing of Tony Brace, former Chief Executive of Cherwell District Council (CDC), on 9 May 2020
Mr Brace dedicated his working life to local government, coming to Banbury from Bicester Urban Council in 1973 to become the first Chief Executive of Cherwell District Council, with the task of building the new council out of the former, small authorities. Mr Brace remained Chief Executive until 1991.
Mr Brace was a member of the Freemasons in Bicester when he took up his post at CDC and he joined Banbury Rotary Club in 1979.
Mr Brace was also a tireless worker for community causes. He was Patron of Banbury Operatic Society and President of the Volunteer Bureau. After his retirement from CDC, Mr Brace continued his community interests and worked at Katherine House Hospice.
A Thanksgiving Service for Mr Brace would be held in due course. In the meantime, on behalf of the council, the Chairman extended condolences to Mr Brace’s wife and family.
A number of Members paid tribute to Mr Brace.
Members held a period of silence in memory of Mr Tony Brace, Cherwell District Council’s first Chief Executive.
The Chairman explained that Members should today have been attending the Annual Meeting and he would have been passing on the Chairman’s chains. In light of the current situation, an Extraordinary Council meeting to deal with some essential items of business rather than the Annual Meeting was being held. As an Extraordinary Meeting, the minutes of committees were not taken and there were no questions or motions on the agenda. These items would be included on the agenda at the next scheduled Council meeting on 20 July.
The Chairman confirmed that the usual meeting procedure rules apply in terms of Members speaking on items, including the length of speeches were still applicable.
The Chairman advised that this would be covered in more detail at agenda item 7, and confirmed that as the Annual Meeting was not being held, there would be no changes to committee membership, committee Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen or Council appointed outside body representatives.
VE Day Celebrations
The Chairman referred to the 75th anniversary of VE Day and the celebrations that had been due to take place on Friday, 8 May, which sadly but understandably had to be cancelled.
The Chairman commented that he and many Members would have been involved a number of celebrations around the County and hoped Members had still managed to mark the occasion and pay gratitude to those who fought at home and abroad during the second world war. The Chairman further commented that the country would be able to commemorate those whose war did not end in May when the 75th anniversary of VJ Day was commemorated in August.
Nick Graham, Monitoring Officer
The Chairman reported that this was the Director Law and Governance & Monitoring Officer, Nick Graham’s last Council meeting as he would be leaving Cherwell District Council and Oxfordshire County Council in June to take up a role in the newly created Buckinghamshire Council.
Mr Graham had been Monitoring Officer at CDC since October 2018. On behalf of Council, the Chairman thanked the Director Law and Governance & Monitoring Officer for his service to the Council and wished him all the best in his new role. The Chairman added his personal thanks for the support the Director Law and Governance had given him during some challenging Council meetings.