Leader's report - 18 December 2019

Released on December 19, 2019

Leaders Report to Vale Council meeting - Wednesday 18 December 2019

Much of our time – members and Councillors - since our last Council has been taken up with the general election. I would to thank all of our officers who worked incredibly hard throughout the purdah period and on polling day itself. A December election brought additional challenges such as issues with heating and flooding at polling stations, but our officers handled these brilliantly and the day and the count went smoothly. I am also grateful to the police who took prompt action to counter the higher that usual levels of aggression and intimidation of candidates and volunteers.

Sadly, for Vale Residents, our new government has not mentioned more funding for lower tier authorities, and we are still waiting for a local government financial settlement. Therefore, I have little hope that the election result will help us address this council’s extremely challenging financial situation or make it easier for us to maintain services. I hope I am proved wrong.

It remains to be seen how long it will actually take to ‘Get Brexit Done’ but in the meantime local businesses and many of our residents, particularly EU nationals and their families, face an uncertain future. Please continue to encourage EU nationals to apply for EU Settled Status and point them to the information on our website and promote the support with the application process available through the County Libraries.

While the purdah has delayed some meeting and decisions, the cabinet still met on 6 December to consider recommendations from the Climate Emergency Advisory Committee. Cabinet approved the recommendations and so I am very pleased to report that the Vale of White Horse District Council now has a target to become a carbon neutral council by 2030. We also have a target for the district as a whole to be carbon neutral by 2045. The Climate Emergency Advisory Committee will now be exploring ways for the council and our partners to achieve these deadlines, but achieving these targets are the responsibility of all members. All decisions this council takes in the future will need to be considered in relation to these targets.

It has been an incredibly busy and eventful year so I hope all members and officers have a happy and  restful Christmas – ready to tackle the challenges that 2020 will no doubt bring. 

Cllr Emily Smith - Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council