A statement from Cllr Emily Smith, Leader of the Vale of White Horse District Council
It’s been another busy and unpredictable year for everyone, and I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to all Vale residents for doing your bit in helping to keep each other safe.
I’d like to thank our local volunteers, community groups and charities that we’ve been working hard to help vulnerable individuals and families. I also couldn’t go without thanking my Cabinet, all councillors and everyone at the council in helping us to deliver our high-quality support and services throughout another challenging year.
Our Community Hub has provided support all year for our residents most in need. If you’re facing difficulty while self-isolating in the run up to Christmas, it’s important that you reach out now to receive support. Don’t leave it until it’s desperate, please contact our Community Hub via 01235 422600.
If you need help or want to find out the details of our services over the Christmas period, including emergency support information, please head to whitehorsedc.gov.uk/christmasservices.
The pandemic continues to influence our services and stretch our limited finances. We are one of the most efficient councils in the country in delivering services in relation to our staffing levels and we have the 15th lowest band D council tax income. Working with other councils and associations, we’re asking government to help us introduce ways in which we can raise our own funds to cover our costs as there are very real and significant challenges on the horizon for many councils like ours.
Throughout this year we’ve been working towards our corporate aims, and our commitment to help tackling climate change was reinforced when COP26 came to the UK last month.
We’re helping our residents adapt their homes as well as supporting businesses based in our district to reduce their carbon footprint. During the last 12 months we arranged several successful online workshops and networking events, and held our first-ever Eco Business Fair, which was attended by 150 people.
Working alongside South Oxfordshire District Council, we’ve approved a new tree policy to help plant more trees in the districts and protect them. With all our residents’ great efforts, we’re still one of the top districts in the UK for recycling our waste.
More widely with our partners we’ve been able to help introduce more electric vehicle charging points in some of our town centre car parks and have been helping to improve cycling and walking pathways to encourage residents to change the way they commute to work or travel to their local town centre.
To help support our local organisations and charities, we successfully launched our own White Horse Community Lottery this summer. So far, players have purchased over 950 tickets, which is already predicted to generate an annual income of £30,000 for the approved local good causes. Prizes range from free prize draw entries to a £25,000 jackpot, with a chance to win £1,000 Decathlon vouchers in the New Year draw on 1 January. For more information visit whitehorsedc.gov.uk/communitylottery
As we head into our Christmas break and with the prospect of spending time with our loved ones this year, I’d like to urge everyone to get their booster vaccinations as soon as you’re able, but most of all, we’d like to wish you all a happy Christmas and a safe new year.