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Agenda item

Committee Work Programme 2020/2021


To provide the Committee with an updated Work Programme for 2020/2021.



That the Committee notes the work programme, provides comment where needed and makes amendments where required.



The Chairman addressed the meeting and provided an update on the Committee Work Programme as follows:


Review of the Section 19 Report and the Riparian Work – Item 1 & 2

The Chairman introduced Laurence King the Shared Lead Flood Risk Management Officer who addressed the Committee and gave a verbal update.

Mr King clarified that legally Section 19 report could not be delegated, and that an agreement between the Council and Oxford County Council (OCC) was unsigned. Frustration had grown locally regarding the floods, and the lack of a Section 19 report, however, WODC had decided to take the lead and put funding in place to commission the work. The report was due to be shared with Mr King, week commencing 13 December for final tweaking.   It would then be submitted to Frank Wilson and Councillor MacRae for review. Following the review, the report would go to Scrutiny and finally formal Cabinet. To set expectations, the report was likely to be submitted to Cabinet in January 2022 at the earliest.

Councillor Coles commented that he had spoken with Mr Cotton and the County Council were keen that this report would be circulated as soon as possible.

Councillor Fenton asked for clarity as to whether producing Section 19 Reports was a County or District responsibility.  In response, Mr King stated that OCC felt they had delegated the report responsibility to WODC, however, the legal agreement had not been signed.

Councillor Leffman noted there had been a lack of communication between OCC and WODC which had delayed action and this needed to be looked at further by the Committee to understand the process.

The Chairman agreed that the responsibility and processes between WODC and OCC regarding this issue needed to be added to the work programme.

Mr King was able to inform the Committee that OCC did used to have a team since the 2007 floods, which used to work closely with WODC, with regular meetings. The team leader had retired and OCC resources had been depleted hence why the agreement was never concluded and signed.

The Chairman thanked Mr King and concluded that at the next meeting 3 February 2022 the report would have been issued and at that point the Committee could reflect on that and the process between WODC and OCC.

Councillor StJohn wanted to know why the Section 19 report had taken so long, and noted that no answer from Mr Cotton, even though he had been chased on several occasions.

Mr King reflected on the length of time the 2007 Section 19 report took to produce, it was over one year with the report not published until 2008.  He believed the initial hold up was due to the unsigned agreement but he highlighted that the report was not an in depth technical report but a summary and did not unlock funding. 

Councillor Postan reminded Members that it was not only Witney that flooding occurred in but also in Windrush and Shilton, affecting a great number of dwellings. If clearing the river upstream at these two points went ahead, the outcome could make it worse at Witney as more water flows down river.

Mr King agreed that clearing at these two points would just increase flood rise elsewhere, but also made it very clear that works should not be done on its own. All works should be properly managed following the recommendations in the report, surveys initially, before works, all of which would require funding.

Councillor Dent stated that there was a lack of clarity on responsibility, and felt this definitely needed reviewing.

The Chairman agreed that this would be on the Work Programme for the next Committee meeting 3 February 2022.

Mr King commented that there were still some negotiations to conclude on the OCC and WODC agreement, and it was not just a case of signing. The legal acts were there and were clear, but delegating authorities through such agency agreements was not so easy.

The Chairman noted that there were still clarifications to be made, and it was hoped that by the next meeting the Committee would be better informed.


Mrs Emberson-Wines from the Environment Agency (EA), had attended September’s meeting, where a number of questions were raised.  The answers to these questions were available for the 2 December meeting and the Chairman asked if there were any questions from the Committee Members.

Councillor Coles stated he was disappointed with the answers especially as now we are in a second year of delay. He was going to take it up with Environment Agency again, but wanted it noted.

In relation to Question 2, Councillor St John asked why the de-silting could not be done at the Witney bridge location. He advised that there were two channels that flowed under the bridge and the nearest to the south bank was where he thought the main issues were.

Mr King said he had visited this location with the EA’s Operations Manager, and understood there was not the support or funding. The EA thought spot de-silting did not reap long term benefits and were not in favour, even as a repeated action.

Councillor Postan stated that he thought some locals were willing to fund private de-silting and Mr King informed the Committee that any work on the river must have formal consent from the EA.


Ubico – The Chairman confirmed that Ubico would be in attendance at the next meeting to give a presentation to the Committee, on future business plans.


Air Quality – Councillor MacRae confirmed that there was a link now on the WODC Website. Councillor Leffman requested if the Committee could be updated on the latest information and the Chairman suggested that the relevant officers be invited to the 3 February meeting for an update.


The Chairman commented on the Climate Action Working Group who had met earlier that day and advised that the presentations would be circulated.

The Local Nature Partnership – The Chairman announced that this was already on the Climate Action Working Group’s radar as it came under Bio-Diversity and Land Management.  Therefore, to avoid duplication, this item would be removed from the work programme. In addition, the Committee should have received an invitation from Eventbrite portal to a webinar on Tuesday 7 December 2021, with Wild Oxfordshire to talk about their work, with WODC on nature recovery. The Chairman urged Councillors to check their emails for the invite.


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