Don’t let your Halloween pumpkins go to waste! That’s the message from West Oxfordshire District Council (WODC) as the authority encourages residents in the district to recycle their pumpkins with their food waste collections this Hallowe’en. Pumpkins can be cut up and placed in a food waste bin or left beside food caddies for their usual weekly collection.
Last year across the UK, 15 million pumpkins were carved and then discarded. Although 45per cent of households claim that their pumpkins are placed in their food waste bins after the scary celebrations, and around 28per cent claim they composted them, that still leaves more than five million pumpkins heading to landfill on average each year.
Norman MacRae, Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “Hallowe’en is a hugely popular event with people of all ages across our district, but one of the scariest parts for us is the thought of all those pumpkins going to waste. It’s really easy to pop it into the food waste bin or next to it if its full. Who knows, it may even be used as fertiliser to bring another pumpkin to life next year!”
Last year, with the help of residents, the council collected almost 3,600 tonnes of food waste in West Oxfordshire which was taken to the processing plant near Cassington to be recycled into electricity and fertiliser.
Cllr MacRae added: “It’s not just your pumpkins that can be recycled either, any other food leftovers, cooked or raw, can go in your food waste bin.”
For more information about waste and recycling in West Oxfordshire, or to order a free food waste bin and kitchen caddy, see www.westoxon.gov.uk/bins or call 01993 861000.
West Oxfordshire District Council is calling on residents to give their views on proposed changes to its Council Tax Reduction Scheme.
The Council has launched a consultation which runs until Friday 15 November and is open to all residents in the district, not just those in receipt of support. If agreed, the changes would come into effect in 1 April 2020.
Changes proposed include:
· Introducing a new income banded scheme to take account of different groups from single occupants to couples and families with children.
· Introducing an ‘extended period’ of up to eight weeks to support the transition of households whose increased income sees them move into higher banding.
· Removal of the two child limit to help blended families have more disposable income
· Introducing an increase to the maximum amount of savings claimants can have, from £6,001 to £10,000.
Cllr Toby Morris, Deputy Leader of West Oxfordshire District Council and Cabinet Member for Resources, said: “Our aim is to ensure that this scheme is as simple and effective as it can be and that we are making sure that people in greatest need are receiving the support they require. This consultation is an important part of that process and only by consulting with our residents can we be sure we’re getting it right.
“I would encourage anyone who can to spare two minutes and complete the survey via our website, or pick up a paper copy from one of our reception points.”
Following the consultation, a report will be considered by councillors before a decision is made.
The survey can be found online at www.westoxon.gov.uk/CTRS, while paper copies can be found at: Witney Town Centre Shop, Welch Way, Witney, Woodgreen Council Offices, Elmfield Council Offices and the Guild Hall, Chipping Norton.
Residents are being urged to ensure they choose the correct bin when disposing of their waste.
Cabinet Member for the Environment, Cllr Norman MacRae, volunteered to have the contents of his own general waste bin analysed to highlight any items that could have been put into his recycling bin.
After careful sifting through the items Cllr MacRae was delighted to find that most of them were in the right place but despite his dedication, a couple of food trays and a paper bag had slipped through the net.
Cllr MacRae said: “This exercise shows that even the most ardent of recyclers always need to be vigilant.
“In some cases up to 50 per cent of the contents of general waste bins could actually be recycled so I would encourage everyone to think about recycling as much as possible.”
West Oxfordshire residents recycle almost 60 per cent of their rubbish making the District one of the best performing in the country but there is still room for improvement with the new county-wide waste partnership aiming to boost the rate to 70 per cent by 2030.
Cllr MacRae added: “Recycling an item rather than throwing it in the general rubbish bin means it will be dealt with in the most environmentally friendly way, keeping materials in use.”
Anyone unsure about what can be recycled in the district, when their kerbside collection is due or to order a new bin can find out more on the Council’s website:
Residents looking for affordable local housing are being urged to consider a new initiative being supported by West Oxfordshire District Council.
Community-led Housing schemes are set up and run by a local, independent, not-for-profit organisation which has often been specifically created for the purpose of building affordable homes for the community.
This can be a collection of individuals, a parish or town council, a developer or a registered provider looking to work in partnership with the community initially by providing a site and offering further support as the development progresses.
The organisation will ensure homes for rent, sale or shared ownership will remain affordable for local people now and in the future.
Critically, the community is involved in decisions at every stage of the process from identifying a suitable site and the design process through to how the new homes should be allocated.
The housing is usually developed by, with and for the community and the community group have the opportunity to develop skills and expertise along the way.
Cllr Steve Good, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “Finding affordable housing for our residents is one of our top priorities and we are continuously looking for new and innovative ways of reducing the waiting list.
“This scheme is fantastic because it involves the community and potential occupiers right through the development process and beyond.”
Community-led housing is highly flexible depending on the type of scheme required such as co-housing; self-help housing; Community Land Trusts and co-operative and resident-controlled housing.
It is aimed specifically at local residents who may be single parents; the unemployed; ex-service personnel; key workers; young people looking to get on the housing ladder; older people wanting to downsize and groups wanting to renew empty homes.
Funding is currently available via the Community Housing Fund delivered through Homes England, in the form of start-up grants and feasibility work as well as capital (infrastructure, site servicing and development). A variety of other grants and loans may also be applicable.
West Oxfordshire District Council’s Community & Housing Investment Lead Deborah Wyatt has been actively contacting developers, parish councils and housing associations to explore the possibilities of community-led housing further and is keen to hear from individuals looking for advice and information.
Anyone wishing to know more should email her on Deborah.firstname.lastname@example.org
West Oxfordshire District Council is calling on residents to find out how to prevent flooding and what to do in the event of a flood.
As the summer fades and winter approaches, it is time to consider if you are prepared for any potential flooding in your area.
Flooding can be incredibly stressful and making sure you are prepared and aware of how to act both before and after a flood could make a big difference to how you manage in such circumstances.
With this in mind, Cllr Norman MacRae, Cabinet Member for Environment is urging residents to use the resources available to get up-to-speed:
“Although we continue to work hard with our partners to prevent flooding, we cannot make any guarantees and, recognising that flooding can be devastating, want to make sure everyone knows where to find the information that will help them reduce the risk of their home or business this winter.
“We are committed to supporting our communities safely through the winter period and with a wealth of resources which could really make a difference, I want to encourage home owners and businesses alike to make themselves familiar with the information.”
The authority works alongside the County Council and the Environment Agency to reduce flood risk to homes. There are many resources available to residents including Oxfordshire County Council’s flood toolkit.
If you would like to report a flood you can report to either the County Council or district council emergency response team. Call 999 for immediate assistance if there is a risk to life or a risk of serious property or environmental damage.
10 top tips for staying safe during floods:
1. Make sure you are prepared for flooding before it happens. Sign up for free flood warnings and create a personal flood plan.
2. Flood prevention equipment can help stop flood water getting into your property. Consider using floodboards, sandbags and air brick covers to reduce the impact of flooding on your home or business.
3. Avoid contact with flood water. Driving in flood water significantly increases risk of drowning. Do not drive or walk through flood water and do not let children play in flood water.
4. Check your insurance cover. Don’t underestimate the value of your contents.
5. Know how to turn off your gas, electricity and water mains supplies before flood water enters your home.
6. Feeling distressed after a flood is normal. Support from family and friends is important during the recovery process.
7. Do not use petrol or diesel generators indoors to dry out your home. Exhaust gases contain carbon monoxide, which can kill.
8. When cleaning up after a flood, wear rubber gloves, boots, eye protection, and always wash hands afterwards. Flood water can be hazardous so always make sure you are protected.
9. Move your family, pets and flood kit to a high place with means of escape.
10. Do not turn on gas or electrics if they may be wet. Only turn them on once they have been checked by a qualified technician.
When the Environmental Agency issues a flood alert due to an imminent risk of flooding, we provide sandbags free of charge. We will deliver sandbags to vulnerable residents at times of need. To arrange collection of ready-made sandbags from Witney, please call: 01993 861000.
If residents would like to be extra prepared, the district council will deliver sandbags outside of a flood warning for a fee or they can fill sandbags themselves at our depots across the area.
The council’s out of hours emergency service number is 01513432945. Sign up for the Environmental Agency’s free flood alert service on; 03459881188.
If you are affected by flooding and are in need of temporary accommodation, please call us on 01993 861000.
More information around flood prevention and support for those affected by flooding in West Oxfordshire can be found on our website, here: https://www.westoxon.gov.uk/residents/environment/flooding/
Residents in West Oxfordshire can make their views heard on all matters to do with water at a special event later this month.
The Water Day on Tuesday 22 October will hear presentations from the Environment Agency, Thames Water and local pressure group Windrush Against Sewage Pollution which will be followed by a question and answer session.
Key issues to be tackled include:
· The Environment Agency’s response to the pollution of the River Windrush and other concerns about water quality in the river network
· Thames Water network issues such as sewerage, sustainability and planning for new developments
Cllr Norman MacRae, Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “Given the importance of issues such as pollution of the Windrush, I am confident this will be a productive event and well-attended.”
It is the second Water Day to he hosted by the Council after it was originally proposed by Cllr David Harvey, now Cabinet Member for Climate Change and supported by the Council’s Environment Overview & Scrutiny committee.
Last year’s event saw a range of commitments made by the various organisations who will also report back on progress.
Members of the public are invited and the event will be at the Woodgreen Council offices, Witney on Tuesday 22 October at 10am.
West Oxfordshire residents struggling with slow internet connections in rural areas are being urged to consider a scheme which will help them upgrade to full fibre broadband.
The Government’s Rural Gigabit Voucher Scheme offers up to £3,500 for small businesses and £1,500 for homes which currently have a connection speed of below 30 megabits per second (Mb/s).
To qualify, applicants must be in an area classified as rural and need to include at least two or more premises.
Once this has been established, they should contact a supplier who will advise on providing the connection and offer support through the process.
West Oxfordshire District Council is already working with Gigaclear, one of a number of companies supporting the Rural Gigabit Voucher Scheme, to deliver ultrafast fibre to the premises (FTTP) broadband to 4,600 homes in difficult to reach rural locations by the end of the financial year.
The voucher scheme will help other properties to upgrade to FTTP broadband which can deliver speeds of up to one gigabit per second.
Cllr Steve Good, Cabinet Member for Broadband, said: “Fast broadband is essential for modern homes and businesses even if they are in rural locations.
“These vouchers are an excellent way of ensuring everyone can access the FTTP technology and I would encourage as many people as possible to apply for them while Government funding is in place.”
Anyone not in a rural area can also access vouchers towards FTTP broadband through the original Gigabit Voucher Scheme.
Those wanting to find out more about the voucher schemes and how to apply should visit https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk/
News and information from Aston, Cote, Chimney & Shifford Parish Council.