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Cllr Dr.Paul Barrow - Report for Parishes - October 2022

on Fri, 21/10/2022 - 6:19pm

Cost-of-living crisis - Oxfordshire County Council energy efficiency grants

The County Council is providing grants (currently until March 2023) for supporting retro-fitting energy efficiency measures for low-income owner occupier or private rented households. Further information on this scheme can be found at Not everyone uses the Internet so please inform and help any neighbours who you think might benefit from this grant.

Additional information on grants available from the Vale can be found at 

Rural isolation – GP and Pharmacy access

At the county health scrutiny committee (HOSC) we are increasingly concerned about rural isolation, particularly with the reduction in community bus services and difficulties with accessing GP services. Healthwatch Oxfordshire produced a report on this earlier this year ( which is highly informative. This topic is being discussed at HOSC in November and I will no doubt come back to this topic again. For me, restoring community bus services is central and vital.

You will no doubt have seen that work has started in earnest on the expansion of the Mably Way Health Centre. This is going to improve services locally.

At two recent workshops we were informed that GPs are looking to delegate some of their consultation to local pharmacies. Easy access to these is also an important issue. Access and staffing levels were identified as major issues appreciated by the NHS but which must be tackled mainly at the national level.

South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS)

South Central Ambulance Services have been reviewed by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and found to be inadequate in several areas of their service. The CEO has recently retired and the new CEO will now take over the improvement plan which was presented to HOSC recently. One of the related issues, which is mentioned frequently in the national media, is delayed admission when the ambulance arrives at the hospital because patients are not being discharged from the hospital. This is also being addressed by integrating this part of the system with discharge home or to community hospitals. We are hoping that this reorganisation will be successful!

AONB workshop 

The North Wessex Downs AONB is overseen by a Council of Partners (CoP), including the Vale, most of which contribute financially. At a recent workshop the CoP identified areas of improvement to improve the delivery of the AONB goals, including supporting the rural economy, since there was a perception that the planning process was an obstacle.

Planning issues

You may know that I am still unhappy with several aspects of the planning process including, (i) Environmental Impact Assessments being made by officers rather than councillors, (ii) The complexity of some applications, particularly amendments, which may involve 10s of documents to wade through. I have suggested that a single additional document be included that describes briefly the nature of the amendment., (iii) The subjective nature of decisions on substantial reconstruction. I am still trying and get something done about these issues.

Full council meeting 12th October

It might be interesting to know that motions were passed unanimously requesting that central government extends the business energy cap period which is due to end at the end of March. Like all of us, some of our small businesses are experiencing huge difficulty with the cost of energy. I am contacting a spread of local businesses to find out their problems in more detail and pass this information to our MP.

Cllr Dr. Paul Barrow

[email protected] 

District Councillor for Ridgeway Ward