Wantage Area Weekly News sections – archive 1

To see the current Wantage & Surrounding Area Weekly News section, please click here.

Please note that this section is presented as an archive of past columns and is not updated. Some web links may no longer be active (usually indicated by a score-through), for instance when draft parish council minutes are replaced by adopted ones or when a consultation has closed.

Thursday 12 May 2022

This week’s news

• The BBC reports that there were 149 CV-19 cases in Vale of White Horse in the week 29 April to 5 May, down 46 from the week before. This equates to 108 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 108 (123 last week). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a more local level to be obtained.

• The lovely Wantage Market Garden behind Charlton School is having an Open Day this Sunday 15 May that will feature flowers, vegetable and house plant stalls, homemade cakes, tombola activities and more. The open day will be between 2pm and 3.30pm and more information can be found on their facebook group here.

• The Vale Community Impact advice centre in Wantage market place is looking for a new volunteer to help administrate their transport service. It would require about 8 hours a week to log transport bookings and make calls. Full training is provided and once trained, work can be done from home. Please see more details here or contact Kathy on recruitment@vci.org.uk

• Ever want to get away from it all? Well here’s your chance – get your tickets before 25 June for the White Horse Community Lottery, which funds many good causes in the area, for the chance to win a fabulous Forest Holiday to the value of £1,000. Click here to chose which organisation to support when you buy your lottery tickets.

• May News from Sustainable Wantage includes a clothes swap on Saturday 21 May, volunteering opportunities, events at The Mix and lots more.

• In 2018, King Alfred’s School in Wantage received a “requires improvement” rating from Ofsted. The subsequent efforts to return to a “good” rating cannot have been helped by the pandemic but last month Ofsted confirmed that this is what it had achieved. The inspectors recognised that “the Headteacher and senior leaders and governors have effectively implemented a wide range of beneficial changes” and that the students have remarked on this too. “We have felt for some time now that King Alfred’s Academy once again deserved a good judgement, and to have this validation from Ofsted is really pleasing,”Headteacher Rick Holroyd said “I am delighted that students feel so confident in their own school and in the quality of education and support that they all receive here.” You can read the full statement from the school by clicking here.

Monks Farm is subject to a controversial application on a greenfield site that will see the introduction of 400 homes and an extension to Grove Primary School, new playing fields, an artificial pitch and two car parks. With worries about fast traffic that will ensue, residents are divided on the new plans.

• Vale of White Horse District Council is seeking thoughts about climate change and how you think it affects you and the surrounding area. Take part in the survey here.

• The District Council is also reviewing the conservation area in Great Coxwell. The village’s conservation area is the designated area of special architectural or historic interest which exists to protect the features and characteristics that make Great Coxwell a historic, unique and distinctive place. Comments are invited on the Conservation Area Appraisal document until Wednesday 1 June. Please click here to have your say.

• There will be a Wildlife Discovery Day on Saturday 11 June between noon and 3pm at the Wantage Market Garden which will give you the opportunity to discover what is hiding in your green beds. There will be activities for kids such as pond dipping and nature crafts. Entry is free and refreshments will be available however picnics are recommended. Email info.suswantage@gmail.com or sgriffiths@styleacre.org.uk for more information.

• As mentioned previously, residents are encouraged to participate in No Mow May. As this is the perfect season for wildflowers, including bluebells, it might be something you are willing to take part in. South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils already have designated wildflower meadows which are only cut three times a year. This year they will trial leaving several additional areas of land uncut for No Mow May, a national campaign which encourages people to not mow gardens and public areas during May. See here for more on this.

• If you would like to support Ukrainian refugees please join the Wantage & area Ukrainian refugee support facebook group.

• The Arts Hub Wantage April/May 2022 Newsletter can be read here. It covers upcoming events, opera, market days, the Literary Festival and other news.

• Wantage MP David Johnston’s latest newsletter includes an invitation to the Wantage & Didcot Climate Summit 9am – 1.30pm on Monday 27 June on zoom with COP26 president Alok Sharma as the keynote speaker.

• Letcombe Register‘s latest edition has plenty of local news and events including the village diary, parish council updates, jubilee plans, and much more.

The latest issue of Hanney News offers colourful and comprehensive news for East and West Hanney.

Vexatious matters

In her latest regular column in the Herald (which you can also read here), Julie Mabberley of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group asks whether there is a systematic difficulty that the government has in dealing with or responding to “politically sensitive issues.”

The problem here, of course, is that the longer a response to a matter takes, the more easy it is to accuse it having some political dimension. This can have the effect of making people dismiss or ignore the nuanced and complex points at issue in favour of what can seem, at best, a pre-judged conclusion for idealogical reasons and, at worst, a deep-state conspiracy. It’s also true that a project of any size can take years or even decades to reach fruition. Any problems will be seized upon by opposition parties and conflated with other issues which have nothing to do with it but which seem to evince the same signs. If the matters seems electorally significant, the next step is often for the opposition, or a potential new leader of a ruling party, to say that they’ll cancel or substantially amend it if they come to power. Politics being the art not of expressing truth or falsehood but of engendering hope or fear, objective consideration as a result becomes very hard.

The example Julie Mabberley picks in the Ox-Cam Arc. This certainly passes the test of being a large project, demanding at its most expansive the creation of a million new homes. She refers to two consultations, one long passed and with no results announced and another which should have been out by now but isn’t. “We suspect,” she writes, “that the government is quietly dropping the idea of the Arc and moving the money further north as part of the levelling up agenda but it would be nice to know if the homes requirement had also vanished.”

She then submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Department for Levelling up, Housing and Communities asking for “a copy of any document or report on the results of the online Spatial Framework consultation” or other information to explain the delay. The reply was eventually received that the request would not be responded to as it was “vexatious.” The fact that, as she adds, 150 other similar request had been received suggests that it’s not the enquiries that are vexatious but the way they are being handled.

We’re often told that justice must be swift, sure and seen to be done. The same can be said of communications on rather important and region-changing issues like this. Calling enquiries about them “vexatious” doesn’t do anything much other than cement in people’s minds the idea of corporate defensiveness on a colossal scale. The more ingrained that becomes, the harder it then is for the next announcement from that source to be treated with anything other than suspicion.

Community notices

• The Vale of White Horse Community Lottery provides funding for 50 local good causes.. Lottery tickets cost just £1 each so please see here for how you can enter, which a chance of winning a prize yourself.

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 5pm every Friday. Prevent food from being wasted. Costs just £3.50 per week for 14 items. For more information, please follow the larder on Facebook.

• If you want to find out about concerts, theatre and films in and around Wantage and Grove or local arts, theatrical or music groups to join, subscribe to the Arts Hub newsletter by emailing artshubwantage@gmail.com

• Used printer ink cartridges can now be recycled at Cartridge UK, Wantage. Any recycled products will also help Sustainable Wantage with funding, as the group will receive extra donations for encouraging the recycling of the cartridges.

 Volunteer drivers are needed in the Wantage and Grove areas – click here for details.

Oxfordshire Wildlife Rescue saves thousands of birds and animals. To support them you can make monthly donations here or make a one-off donation to Oxfordshire Wildlife Rescue sort code 08-71-99 account number 01764669.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Sun 15 May Wantage Market Garden Open Day

Sat 11 June Wildlife Discovery Day at Wantage Market Garden. Email info.suswantage@gmail.com or sgriffiths@styleacre.org.uk for information.

Sun 26 June Wantage Carnival

• Regular events

• Please see Wantage.com for time and dates for the various local church Christmas services plus events.

 Wantage Library events for all ages. See details on their Facebook page.

• Wantage Library’s reading group meet every 2nd Monday of the month from 6.30pm to 7.30pm. If you are interested in joining, contact the Library on Facebook or at wantage.library@oxfordshire.gov.uk to register your interest.

Vale & Downland Museum Book Group meets at the museum’s café on the second Friday of each month at 2pm. Any questions or queries can be sent to info@valeanddownlandmuseum.org.uk.

Oxfordshire Mind runs a weekly Wantage Mental Health Support Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Wantage Methodist Church.

Wantage market every Wednesday and Saturday from 8am to 3pm. For further details please see the Wantage Market Facebook page.

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

• Wantage Library has a wide range of books on family and local history as well as free online resources accessible from home. See here for details.

Walking Netball at Old Mill Hall, Grove every Thursday from 12.30pm to 1.30pm. No previous experience is needed and all ages are welcome.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council took place on 28 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the pedestrianisation at the western end of the Market Place; weed killing; the CCTV in Wallingford Street; parking enforcement; speed limits; the neighbourhood development plan; the jubilee; the Council’s newsletter; committee reports; the Council’s investment strategy; reports from district and county councillors; and hosting refugees from Ukraine. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.) Click here to see the agenda for the meeting on 29 November. To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 5 April and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: actions from the previous meeting; a question about the Williams F1 fencing; Grove Airfield and Crab Hill; noise levels at Old Mill Hall; a proposed memorial tree;  financial matters; and planning matters. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes here.  To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council took place on 15 November 2021 and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 March 2021 and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Wantage area council contacts

Parishes: click here for Wantage Town CouncilGrove Parish CouncilWest Challow Parish CouncilEast Challow Parish CouncilArdington & Lockinge Parish CouncilWest Hanney Parish CouncilEast Hanney Parish Council and Letcombe Regis Parish Council.

Vale of White Horse District Council: click here to visit the website.

Oxfordshire County Councilclick here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewburyarea; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsTheale area; Marlborougharea; Swindon area.

News and views from across the area and beyond: please see the most recent Weekly News with Brian column.

Thursday 5 May 2022

This week’s news

• The BBC reports that there were 149 CV-19 cases in Vale of White Horse in the week 24 to 30 April, down 223 from the week before. This equates to 108 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 123 (200 last week). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a more local level to be obtained.

• The next Wantage Cafe Scientifique talk is taking place on Wednesday 11 May at 7.30pm and will be on the topic of the Life and Work of Rosalind Franklin. You can find more information here.

• May News from Sustainable Wantage includes a clothes swap on Saturday 21 May, volunteering opportunities, events at The Mix and lots more.

• In 2018, King Alfred’s School in Wantage received a “requires improvement” rating from Ofsted. The subsequent efforts to return to a “good” rating cannot have been helped by the pandemic but last month Ofsted confirmed that this is what it had achieved. The inspectors recognised that “the Headteacher and senior leaders and governors have effectively implemented a wide range of beneficial changes” and that the students have remarked on this too. “We have felt for some time now that King Alfred’s Academy once again deserved a good judgement, and to have this validation from Ofsted is really pleasing,”Headteacher Rick Holroyd said “I am delighted that students feel so confident in their own school and in the quality of education and support that they all receive here.” You can read the full statement from the school by clicking here.

• The lovely Wantage Market Garden behind Charlton School is having an Open Day on Sunday 15 May that will feature flowers, vegetable and house plant stalls, homemade cakes, tombola activities and more. The open day will be between 2pm and 3.30pm and more information can be found on their facebook group here.

• On a similar note, there will be a Wildlife Discovery Day on Saturday 11 June between noon and 3pm at the Wantage Market Garden which will give you the opportunity to discover what is hiding in your green beds. There will be activities for kids such as pond dipping and nature crafts. Entry is free and refreshments will be available however picnics are recommended. Email info.suswantage@gmail.com or sgriffiths@styleacre.org.uk for more information.

• If you’re fancying a fun day out with the family this weekend, Wantage Market Place is to be the host for a Family Fun Fair this Saturday 7 May which will be open between 11am and 10pm. See here for more information.

• After the success of their recent Monster Market, the Ray Collins Charitable Trust is reviving the Wantage Carnival after a three year break due to the pandemic on Sunday 26 June between 11am and 7pm with a parade, fun fair rides, local bands and stalls. See here for more information.

• As mentioned previously, residents are encouraged to participate in No Mow May. As this is the perfect season for wildflowers, including bluebells, it might be something you are willing to take part in. South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils already have designated wildflower meadows which are only cut three times a year. This year they will trial leaving several additional areas of land uncut for No Mow May, a national campaign which encourages people to not mow gardens and public areas during May. See here for more on this.

• If you would like to support Ukrainian refugees please join the Wantage & area Ukrainian refugee support facebook group.

• The Arts Hub Wantage April/May 2022 Newsletter can be read here. It covers upcoming events, opera, market days, the Literary Festival and other news.

• Wantage MP David Johnston’s latest newsletter includes an invitation to the Wantage & Didcot Climate Summit 9am – 1.30pm on Monday 27 June on zoom with COP26 president Alok Sharma as the keynote speaker.

• Letcombe Register‘s latest edition has plenty of local news and events including the village diary, parish council updates, jubilee plans, and much more.

The latest issue of Hanney News offers colourful and comprehensive news for East and West Hanney.

Councillors’ achievements

In her regular column in the Herald (which you can also read here), Julie Mabberley of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group reflects on what councillors do and what they can hope to achieve. She stresses that she’s “not saying that the day-to-day operations of the Councils don’t deliver what they legally have to but just that our councillors don’t seem to make much difference.”

Much the same could perhaps be said for MPs. We view our elected representatives through our end of the telescope, expecting them to focus on and solve every local problem that we bring to their attention. The representative, however – who may be a significant and revered figure in their community – is, at their place of work, just one of scores or hundreds. Particularly in Westminster but also in council chambers, they are regularly whipped into agreeing with party-based decisions. Representing their electors and fixing issues in their areas is something that all will do, some better than others. The party machine, however, makes a louder and more threatening noise. I imagine that the process and procedures can grind down even the most energetic and free-thinking councillor or MP. Most of us find that life is only tolerable if we react to the most immediate threat. In the heat of a debate or in a stuffy committee room, the people who elected you can seem a very long way away. The longer they serve, the more the representatives realise that it’s often the officers or civil servants who’re really in charge, even though none of these would suggest such a thing in public.

Julie Mabberley refers to the TV series Yes Minister “which suggests that the civil service has much more influence on policy than our politicians would like us to believe.” How, she goes on to ask, can we hold councillors responsible for what their staff do?

The answer is, in most cases, with some difficulty. As recent debates in West Berkshire have recently shown, it’s not always easy for councillors to understand what documents they are and are not entitled to see. In some cases, full scrutiny is not possible without full disclosure. A council’s constitution will probably provide many reasons why something cannot be released and much time may be spent in referring the matter to other parts of the council or obtaining specialist advice. By the time all that has happened the matter may have been overtaken by events or the councillor asking the question may have become punch-drunk and given up the fight. To quote from another political TV show, House of Cards, you might say that this is exactly the result that the officers intend. I, on the other hand, couldn’t possibly comment.

In her article, Julie Mabberley also points out that the pandemic has caused officers to concentrate on that leaving little time and, particularly, money for other projects. It’s certainly true that it’s been a tad disruptive and I echo her point that councils have generally performed well in this regard, often acting with greater speed and precision than has the government. However, extra funding was made available for this work. Moreover, one of the results of any upheaval is to provide organisations of every kind with an excuse for things that are often unrelated to it. I must of heard or read phrases starting “due to Covid…” a thousand times. Again, I don’t know whether the Vale Council has offered this as an excuse for any unrelated problems but, were they have done, they wouldn’t be the only ones.

The question of local infrastructure, or the lack of it, is a recurring riff in her columns but on this occasion she left it to her finale before bringing it up. The Vale councillors’ main pre-occupation in the last three years has, she suggests, been keeping trying to keep the council solvent. “They have,” she goes on to say, “cancelled plans for a new leisure centre but haven’t even managed to produce a leisure strategy or (as mentioned in last week’s column) created a planning framework for Grove.” There’s still a year left of the current administration to provide some concrete plans for ensuring that the facilities in the area keep up with galloping pace of local housebuilding. After having spent so long in deficit with regard to this, though, the voters in OX12 may take some convincing. Whether or not, if a council of another complexion is elected, anything will or can be done differently is another question. You can change a super-tanker’s crew but the ship still can’t go any faster, turn any more quickly or carry any extra cargo. All in all, we should perhaps downgrade or expectations of what an individual councillor can accomplish in terms of change or scrutinywhile at the same time celebrating what they can achieve and applauding those who have the desire to more. These are the ones we need to re-elect when the time comes.

Community notices

• The Vale of White Horse Community Lottery provides funding for 50 local good causes.. Lottery tickets cost just £1 each so please see here for how you can enter, which a chance of winning a prize yourself.

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 5pm every Friday. Prevent food from being wasted. Costs just £3.50 per week for 14 items. For more information, please follow the larder on Facebook.

• If you want to find out about concerts, theatre and films in and around Wantage and Grove or local arts, theatrical or music groups to join, subscribe to the Arts Hub newsletter by emailing artshubwantage@gmail.com

• Used printer ink cartridges can now be recycled at Cartridge UK, Wantage. Any recycled products will also help Sustainable Wantage with funding, as the group will receive extra donations for encouraging the recycling of the cartridges.

 Volunteer drivers are needed in the Wantage and Grove areas – click here for details.

Oxfordshire Wildlife Rescue saves thousands of birds and animals. To support them you can make monthly donations here or make a one-off donation to Oxfordshire Wildlife Rescue sort code 08-71-99 account number 01764669.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Sat 7 May Wantage Funfair

Wed 11 May Life and Work of Rosalind Franklin talk at Wantage Cafe Scientifique.

Sun 15 May Wantage Market Garden Open Day

Sat 11 June Wildlife Discovery Day at Wantage Market Garden. Email info.suswantage@gmail.com or sgriffiths@styleacre.org.uk for information.

Sun 26 June Wantage Carnival

• Regular events

• Please see Wantage.com for time and dates for the various local church Christmas services plus events.

 Wantage Library events for all ages. See details on their Facebook page.

• Wantage Library’s reading group meet every 2nd Monday of the month from 6.30pm to 7.30pm. If you are interested in joining, contact the Library on Facebook or at wantage.library@oxfordshire.gov.uk to register your interest.

Vale & Downland Museum Book Group meets at the museum’s café on the second Friday of each month at 2pm. Any questions or queries can be sent to info@valeanddownlandmuseum.org.uk.

Oxfordshire Mind runs a weekly Wantage Mental Health Support Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Wantage Methodist Church.

Wantage market every Wednesday and Saturday from 8am to 3pm. For further details please see the Wantage Market Facebook page.

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

• Wantage Library has a wide range of books on family and local history as well as free online resources accessible from home. See here for details.

Walking Netball at Old Mill Hall, Grove every Thursday from 12.30pm to 1.30pm. No previous experience is needed and all ages are welcome.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council took place on 28 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the pedestrianisation at the western end of the Market Place; weed killing; the CCTV in Wallingford Street; parking enforcement; speed limits; the neighbourhood development plan; the jubilee; the Council’s newsletter; committee reports; the Council’s investment strategy; reports from district and county councillors; and hosting refugees from Ukraine. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.) Click here to see the agenda for the meeting on 29 November. To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 5 April and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: actions from the previous meeting; a question about the Williams F1 fencing; Grove Airfield and Crab Hill; noise levels at Old Mill Hall; a proposed memorial tree;  financial matters; and planning matters. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes here.  To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council took place on 15 November 2021 and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 March 2021 and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Wantage area council contacts

Parishes: click here for Wantage Town CouncilGrove Parish CouncilWest Challow Parish CouncilEast Challow Parish CouncilArdington & Lockinge Parish CouncilWest Hanney Parish CouncilEast Hanney Parish Council and Letcombe Regis Parish Council.

Vale of White Horse District Council: click here to visit the website.

Oxfordshire County Councilclick here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewburyarea; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsTheale area; Marlborougharea; Swindon area.

News and views from across the area and beyond: please see the most recent Weekly News with Brian column.

Thursday 28 April 2022

This week’s news

• The BBC reports that there were 372 CV-19 cases in Vale of White Horse in the week 17 to 23 April, down 109 from the week before. This equates to 270 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 200 (305 last week). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a more local level to be obtained.

• Last Sunday’s St George’s Day Massive Market in Wantage marketplace was a massive success on a sunny day with thousands of attendees visiting the market hosted by the Ray Collins Charitable Trust.

• Speaking of the Ray Collins Charitable Trust, the same team is hosting a Wantage Carnival on Sunday 26 June between 11am and 7pm which will host fair stalls, local bands and stalls. See here for more information.

• Local residents are encouraged to participate in No Mow May. As this is the perfect season for wildflowers, including bluebells, it might be something you are willing to take part in. South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils already have designated wildflower meadows which are only cut three times a year. This year they will trial leaving several additional areas of land uncut for No Mow May, a national campaign which encourages people to not mow gardens and public areas during May.  See here for more on this.

• Fancy learning how to wield a scythe? Sign up for beginners scythe training with Sustainable Wantage on Saturday 30 April at Willow Walk Nature Reserve. Learn about setting up a scythe, sharpening, techniques, different vegetation, cleaning and care, health and safety. This is a practical training course which will involve some moderate physical exercise and tool maintenance. See more details here.

• Following the resignation of two members of the Grove Parish Council, the Council can now co-opt two new members. If you are interested in becoming a parish councillor (an unpaid role) please contact the Clerk to the Council on 01235 766599 or email clerk@grove-oxon.org.uk for more information. The Council will decide who to co-opt at its meeting to be held on Tuesday 3 May 2022. Training will be given/arranged for the successful candidates.

• If you would like to support Ukrainian refugees please join the Wantage & area Ukrainian refugee support facebook group.

• The Arts Hub Wantage May 2022 Newsletter can be read here. It covers upcoming events, opera, market days, the Literary Festival and other news.

• Click here for the most recent (1 April) e-newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnston.

• April News from Sustainable Wantage  includes electric vehicle show, clothes swap, solar panel discounts and more.

• Letcombe Register April 2022 edition has plenty of local news and events for this month including April’s village diary, parish council updates, jubilee plans, and much more.

April’s Hanney News offers colourful and comprehensive news for East and West Hanney.

The plan for Grove

In her regular column in the Herald (which you can also read here), Julie Mabberley of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group looks at a provision in the Vale’s local plan that says that a “Comprehensive Development Framework” will be prepared for Grove which will also require a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD). This will, as she quotes from the local plan’s core policy 15c, include “understating Grove’s cumulative infrastructure requirements”, “exploring opportunities to maximise sustainable linkages between the existing settlements and the adjacent strategic site allocations” and “understanding how future growth should maximise opportunities for enhanced public transport connections, including a future railway station at Grove.” This last phrase will be music to the ears of many, including the local MP David Johnston who tries to mention this at every opportunity. The possible re-opening has been mooted for so long, however, that it’s in danger of turning into a shaggy dog story.

So, where is this SPD? Julie Mabberley doesn’t know but points to a number of developments which have been approved or are pending which might have been influenced by the policies it should contain. One of these might concern Grove’s “centre.” Wantage, Newbury, Thatcham, Marlborough and Hungerford all have a centre which is broadly proportionate to their size. She suggests that Millbrook Square in Grove may not be enough for a settlement that will soo0n have over 7,500 homes (and so close to 20,000 inhabitants). This leads to another question, that of whether Grove and Wantage are in reality any longer separate places.

Administratively, there’s no doubt they are. They have separate councils, for one thing, and a referendum among residents of both would be needed of they were to merge. I’m not sure there’s any particular local appetite for this. Physically, it’s a rather different matter. There was a reasonable separation between the two places but recent development has now shrunk this to perhaps 40 yards between the health centre at Mably Way and Letcombe Brook. If Grove Parish Council ever had any aspirations to maintaining a “strategic gap”, as Thatcham has with regards to Newbury, then the moment has surely passed.

The closer together residents of two different places live, the more likely it is that any variations in their policies start to cause friction or become irksome. I used to live on the very edge of the London Borough of Wandsworth which, back in the day, for a few years had the cheapest Council Tax (the called the Community Charge, or “Poll Tax”) in the country, at £0pa. Two streets away the London Borough of Lambeth started, which had the highest. This caused some mild ill-feeling with people I knew on the Lambeth side of the line, particularly when I told them that I used the swimming pool up the road, also in Lambeth, mainly because it was, being subsidised by the residents, a lot cheaper than the one in my borough that was about the same distance away.

Such big-city frictions are unlikely to emerge in Wantage and Grove. Certainly the example of a swimming pool is perhaps in bad taste as a new leisure centre was promised for Grove but was cancelled a few years back. This is just one of the infrastructure deficits to which Julie Mabberley regularly, and rightly, returns. This is also something that the Vale’s SPD promises to address. At present, though, it seems to be an invisible and hypothetical document. That is probably appropriate as a lot of the infrastructure which which it is set to deal is invisible and hypothetical as well. Much the same can be said for the cordon sanitaire between Wantage and Grove, which is only one small planning application away from vanishing altogether.

Community notices

• The Vale of White Horse Community Lottery provides funding for 50 local good causes.. Lottery tickets cost just £1 each so please see here for how you can enter, which a chance of winning a prize yourself.

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 5pm every Friday. Prevent food from being wasted. Costs just £3.50 per week for 14 items. For more information, please follow the larder on Facebook.

• If you want to find out about concerts, theatre and films in and around Wantage and Grove or local arts, theatrical or music groups to join, subscribe to the Arts Hub newsletter by emailing artshubwantage@gmail.com

• Used printer ink cartridges can now be recycled at Cartridge UK, Wantage. Any recycled products will also help Sustainable Wantage with funding, as the group will receive extra donations for encouraging the recycling of the cartridges.

 Volunteer drivers are needed in the Wantage and Grove areas – click here for details.

Oxfordshire Wildlife Rescue saves thousands of birds and animals. To support them you can make monthly donations here or make a one-off donation to Oxfordshire Wildlife Rescue sort code 08-71-99 account number 01764669.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Sat 30 Apr Opera on Screen at The Beacon.

• Regular events

• Please see Wantage.com for time and dates for the various local church Christmas services plus events.

 Wantage Library events for all ages. See details on their Facebook page.

• Wantage Library’s reading group meet every 2nd Monday of the month from 6.30pm to 7.30pm. If you are interested in joining, contact the Library on Facebook or at wantage.library@oxfordshire.gov.uk to register your interest.

Vale & Downland Museum Book Group meets at the museum’s café on the second Friday of each month at 2pm. Any questions or queries can be sent to info@valeanddownlandmuseum.org.uk.

Oxfordshire Mind runs a weekly Wantage Mental Health Support Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Wantage Methodist Church.

Wantage market every Wednesday and Saturday from 8am to 3pm. For further details please see the Wantage Market Facebook page.

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

• Wantage Library has a wide range of books on family and local history as well as free online resources accessible from home. See here for details.

Walking Netball at Old Mill Hall, Grove every Thursday from 12.30pm to 1.30pm. No previous experience is needed and all ages are welcome.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council took place on 28 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the pedestrianisation at the western end of the Market Place; weed killing; the CCTV in Wallingford Street; parking enforcement; speed limits; the neighbourhood development plan; the jubilee; the Council’s newsletter; committee reports; the Council’s investment strategy; reports from district and county councillors; and hosting refugees from Ukraine. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.) Click here to see the agenda for the meeting on 29 November. To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: legal advice relating to an easement for path to be built by Castle Homes; a possible defibrillator at Warren House; street sweeping and gully emptying; the neighbourhood development plan; the District Council Community Climate Action Grant Funding Initiative; bollards; the jubilee; play areas; financial matters; grant applications; planning matters; parking at the pub; and the village website. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: the district councillor’s report; the footpath on Challow Road; planning matters; public art; historic paperwork; planning enforcement; financial matters; the cemetery; speeding; footpaths and rights of way; the jubilee, the recreation area; and potholes. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 8 February and you can read the minutes here. There was also a special meeting on 22 March to consider two planning applications, the minutes of which you can read hereTo see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council took place on 15 November 2021 and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 March 2021 and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Wantage area council contacts

Parishes: click here for Wantage Town CouncilGrove Parish CouncilWest Challow Parish CouncilEast Challow Parish CouncilArdington & Lockinge Parish CouncilWest Hanney Parish CouncilEast Hanney Parish Council and Letcombe Regis Parish Council.

Vale of White Horse District Council: click here to visit the website.

Oxfordshire County Councilclick here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsTheale area; Marlborougharea; Swindon area.

News and views from across the area and beyond: please see the most recent Weekly News with Brian column.

Thursday 21 April 2022

This week’s news

• The BBC reports that there were 481 CV-19 cases in Vale of White Horse in the week 10 to 16 April, down 246 from the week before. This equates to 349 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 305 (446 last week). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a more local level to be obtained.

• Congratulations to the Bay Tree Pub for its successful Grove Easter Sunday Duck race, this year raising over £650 for The Brain Tumour Trust and Groveland’s Park Pre-school. Nearly 1,000 plastic ducks were released from the bridge by Millbrook and thanks to a clevel funnel system, they were all scooped out at the winning post in the brook on the green near the pub. For more lovely photos see here.

• Grove Parish Council has stated the controversial plans for 300 homes near Station Road are unsuitable and are in conflict with the Vale of White Horse’s local plan. Locals are also against the homes anda local cycling group claims the plans will compromise road access and it could potentially be dangerous to cross the roads with new developments on the table. Developers are exploring the potential of combining more amenities to better suit the village and the Vale is to make a decision by 30 June.

• Looking for a challenge? The Rotary Club could be the answer. To find out more, pop over to the Cafe in the Vale and Download Museum this Saturday at 10.30am to learn more about the new informal style of club, and potentially join. For more information you can see the Facebook page here or otherwise, if you’re interested in joining, you can email kate.rotary1090@gmail.com.

Grove Parish Council is holding its annual meeting at 7.30pm this Friday 22 April at the Old Mill Hall. Further details including the agenda can be found here.

• Keep an eye out this Sunday 24 April as the “biggest market Wantage has ever had” is coming to the town centre; with more than 50 stalls. Hosted by the Ray Collins Charitable Trust, the money raised from this market will help fund day trips for the less fortunate and elderly. St George’s Day will close the entire town square whilst the market hosts a range of food, jewellery, clothes, and arts and crafts stalls. For more information, have a look here on The Herald‘s website.

• Fancy learning how to weild a scythe? Sign up for beginners scythe training with Sustainable Wantage on Saturday 30 April at Willow Walk Nature Reserve. Learn about setting up a scythe, sharpening, techniques, different vegetation, cleaning and care, health and safety. This is a practical training course which will involve some moderate physical exercise and tool maintenance. See more details here.

Click here to read the latest (29 March 2022) newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group. This, as ever, looks at consultations and discussions relating to future housing and infrastructure needs and casts an eye over some of the issues with the (many) developments in the area currently under way or in the applications system.

• Following the resignation of two members of the Grove Parish Council, the Council can now co-opt two new members. If you are interested in becoming a parish councillor (an unpaid role) please contact the Clerk to the Council on 01235 766599 or email clerk@grove-oxon.org.uk for more information. The Council will decide who to co-opt at its meeting to be held on Tuesday 3 May 2022. Training will be given/arranged for the successful candidates.

• If you would like to support Ukrainian refugees please join the Wantage & area Ukrainian refugee support facebook group.

• Last year Oxfordshire Wildlife Rescue saved an impressive 4,500 animals and birds, all in some way or another was admitted to the hospital due to the impact of human activity. Their ambulance costs £120 a day to run and their hospital costs £150 a day so fundraising is paramount for them. You can make monthly donations here or make a one-off donation to Oxfordshire Wildlife Rescue sort code 08-71-99 account number 01764669.

• The Arts Hub Wantage May 2022 Newsletter can be read here. It covers upcoming events, opera, market days, the Literary Festival and other news.

• Click here for the most recent (1 April) e-newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnston.

• April News from Sustainable Wantage  includes electric vehicle show, clothes swap, solar panel discounts and more.

• Letcombe Register April 2022 edition has plenty of local news and events for this month including April’s village diary, parish council updates, jubilee plans, and much more.

April’s Hanney News offers colourful and comprehensive news for East and West Hanney.

Lies, damned lies and statistics

This is the headline of the most recent Herald  article by Julie Mabberley of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group, which you can also read here. This looks at three figures produced by the Oxfordshire Growth Needs Assessment (OGNA) for how many more homes will be needed in the county by 2050. Three figures are suggested, depending on what other policies are adopted and suggest that between 101,580 and 152,790 new homes will be needed in this period. Another way of expressing the difference between these two, assuming an average of 2.4 people per home, is that a town about the size of Guildford will need to be built in the country, or that three out of every four people in West Berkshire decided to move to Oxfordshire.

Her article goes on to say that the analysis “has already met with widespread criticism from local civic groups.” It has recently emerged that work done by an independent consultancy commissioned by the Cherwell Development Watch Alliance goes still further and “criticises the methodologies used for calculating population and employment growth in the county.” It goes on to say that “very little information is given about the assumptions or source data underlying the jobs growth scenarios and source data references are inadequate…this makes it virtually impossible to understand in any detail how the trajectories have been constructed.” This asks fundamental questions about every piece of work which replies on these figures. She also goes on to point out that the highest (“transformational”) projection would depend on a “national-policy redistribution of resources” towards the area. This might have been supplied by the Ox-Cam Arc but this “no longer seems to form a part” of Whitehall’s thinking.

For residents of Grove and Wantage, the concern is as ever that yet more housing will be built in the area (which is, perhaps conveniently somewhat out of sight and out of mind on the very edge of both the district the the county) without the necessary infrastructure. As for what will happen to the projections, and the local plans that depend on them, that’s anyone’s guess. A few years ago, the newly elected South Oxfordshire Council fell foul of the Secretary of State for refusing to ratify the local plan it had inherited from its predecessor on the grounds that it felt the housing assumptions were flawed but was bullied into adopting it. It looks like its case might have had some merit. As Julie Mabberly concludes, “we have a horrible feeling of déjà vu” about this.

Community notices

• The Vale of White Horse Community Lottery provides funding for 50 local good causes.. Lottery tickets cost just £1 each so please see here for how you can enter, which a chance of winning a prize yourself.

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 5pm every Friday. Prevent food from being wasted. Costs just £3.50 per week for 14 items. For more information, please follow the larder on Facebook.

• If you want to find out about concerts, theatre and films in and around Wantage and Grove or local arts, theatrical or music groups to join, subscribe to the Arts Hub newsletter by emailing artshubwantage@gmail.com

• Used printer ink cartridges can now be recycled at Cartridge UK, Wantage. Any recycled products will also help Sustainable Wantage with funding, as the group will receive extra donations for encouraging the recycling of the cartridges.

 Volunteer drivers are needed in the Wantage and Grove areas – click here for details.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

• Sun 24 Apr Massive St George’s Day Market

Sat 30 Apr Opera on Screen at The Beacon.

• Regular events

• Please see Wantage.com for time and dates for the various local church Christmas services plus events.

 Wantage Library events for all ages. See details on their Facebook page.

• Wantage Library’s reading group meet every 2nd Monday of the month from 6.30pm to 7.30pm. If you are interested in joining, contact the Library on Facebook or at wantage.library@oxfordshire.gov.uk to register your interest.

Vale & Downland Museum Book Group meets at the museum’s café on the second Friday of each month at 2pm. Any questions or queries can be sent to info@valeanddownlandmuseum.org.uk.

Oxfordshire Mind runs a weekly Wantage Mental Health Support Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Wantage Methodist Church.

Wantage market every Wednesday and Saturday from 8am to 3pm. For further details please see the Wantage Market Facebook page.

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

• Wantage Library has a wide range of books on family and local history as well as free online resources accessible from home. See here for details.

Walking Netball at Old Mill Hall, Grove every Thursday from 12.30pm to 1.30pm. No previous experience is needed and all ages are welcome.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council took place on 14 February and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.) Click here to see the agenda for the meeting on 29 November. To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: legal advice relating to an easement for path to be built by Castle Homes; a possible defibrillator at Warren House; street sweeping and gully emptying; the neighbourhood development plan; the District Council Community Climate Action Grant Funding Initiative; bollards; the jubilee; play areas; financial matters; grant applications; planning matters; parking at the pub; and the village website. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: the district councillor’s report; the footpath on Challow Road; planning matters; public art; historic paperwork; planning enforcement; financial matters; the cemetery; speeding; footpaths and rights of way; the jubilee, the recreation area; and potholes. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 8 February and you can read the minutes here. There was also a special meeting on 22 March to consider two planning applications, the minutes of which you can read hereTo see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council took place on 15 November 2021 and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 March 2021 and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Wantage area council contacts

Parishes: click here for Wantage Town CouncilGrove Parish CouncilWest Challow Parish CouncilEast Challow Parish CouncilArdington & Lockinge Parish CouncilWest Hanney Parish CouncilEast Hanney Parish Council and Letcombe Regis Parish Council.

Vale of White Horse District Council: click here to visit the website.

Oxfordshire County Councilclick here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsTheale area; Marlborough area; Swindon area.

News and views from across the area and beyond: please see the most recent Weekly News with Brian column.

Thursday 14 April 2022

This week’s news

• The BBC reports that there were 727 CV-19 cases in Vale of White Horse in the week 3 to 9 April, down 554 from the week before. This equates to 527 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 446 (712 last week). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a more local level to be obtained.

• Last year Oxfordshire Wildlife Rescue saved an impressive 4,500 animals and birds, all in some way or another was admitted to the hospital due to the impact of human activity. Their ambulance costs £120 a day to run and their hospital costs £150 a day so fundraising is paramount for them. You can make monthly donations here or make a one-off donation to Oxfordshire Wildlife Rescue sort code 08-71-99 account number 01764669.

• This Saturday OWR is hosting a fundraising Easter and Spring Fayre from 10am to 4pm in Chilton Village Hall. The Fayre will feature an Easter egg hunt, Bouncy castles, Easter Olympics, refreshments and more. You can click here for more information.

• As we reported last week, Wantage Health Centre is finally getting its long-awaited extension. It was back in November 2016 that the Health Centre applied for the £4m from NHS England, but with no luck. However, in 2021 Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group approved the funding and more recently the Vale of White Horse DC approved the application. The extension will provide better GP facilities and allow the building to be more accessible. More on this can be found on The Herald here.

• Huge congratulations to seven-year-old Chiltern Village superstar, Rosie Roots-Petty who raised an outstanding £2,325 for Ukraine. Rosie undertook a huge task of walking 10 miles without stopping, I don’t know about you but, I couldn’t do that without a break. You can still donate here, otherwise, see here for some words from Rosie herself in The Herald.

• The latest work from mystery knitter Yarnsy in Abingdon, is a depiction of Peter Rabbit with a picnic. Attached to the postbox was a note that read “I hope that my post box toppers bring a smile to you, I was thinking that this may be a way to raise money for charity so if you have enjoyed seeing them then maybe you’d like to donate to a Just Giving Page. The chosen charity is Alzheimer’s Society.” Here is the link to do so. Good stuff Yarnsy, we’re looking forward to what comes next.

• Keep an eye out on Sunday 24 April as the “biggest market Wantage has ever had” is coming to the town centre; with more than 50 stalls. Hosted by the Ray Collins Charitable Trust, the money raised from this market will help fund day trips for the less fortunate and elderly. St George’s Day will close the entire town square whilst the market hosts a range of food, jewellery, clothes, and arts and crafts stalls. For more information, have a look here on The Herald‘s website.

Grove Parish Council is holding its annual meeting at 7.30pm on Friday 22 April at the Old Mill Hall. Further details including the agenda can be found here.

Click here to read the latest (29 March 2022) newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group. This, as ever, looks at consultations and discussions relating to future housing and infrastructure needs and casts an eye over some of the issues with the (many) developments in the area currently under way or in the applications system.

• Following the resignation of two members of the Grove Parish Council, the Council can now Co-opt two new members. If you are interested in becoming a Parish Councillor (an unpaid role) please contact the Clerk to the Council on 01235 766599 or email clerk@grove-oxon.org.uk for more information. The Council will decide who to co-opt at its meeting to be held on Tuesday 3 May 2022. Training will be given/arranged for the successful candidates.

• If you would like to support Ukrainian refugees please join the Wantage & area Ukrainian refugee support facebook group.

• Improvements being made to Mably Way/Denchworth Road roundabout will cause a change to current traffic flow until 22 April. The four-way traffic light, traffic management plan is now available to view online.

• The Arts Hub Wantage April 2022 Newsletter can be read here. It covers upcoming concerts, theatre productions, opera, Wantage Art Group information and barn dancing.

• Click here for the most recent (1 April) e-newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnston.

• April News from Sustainable Wantage  includes electric vehicle show, clothes swap, solar panel discounts and more.

• Letcombe Register April 2022 edition has plenty of local news and events for this month including April’s village diary, parish council updates, jubilee plans, and much more.

April’s Hanney News offers colourful and comprehensive news for East and West Hanney.

Who owns what?

In her regular column in the Herald (which you can read here), Julie Mabberly of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group looks at wildflower verges and, in particular, who owns the land on which some of the proposed ones would grow. Clearly the landowner’s permission is needed before you can start cultivating it. So you just ask them, right? Going to be the council, isn’t it?

It’s not quite that simple. In a surprisingly large number of cases, it’s not clear who the owner is. A couple of years ago residents of Grove had a nasty shock when it emerged that a triangle of land was not, as the Parish Council thought, owned by Oxfordshire CC but by a private developer who put it up for sale. Similar issues were encountered in Piggy Woods in Thatcham and, in a less alarming way, with Hungerford’s war memorial.

Many developers favour retaining ownership of common land in or around a development (which can include road verges), mainly because they can then charge for their upkeep. The rights can be and frequently are sold on from the developers to other companies who have no connection with the area or knowledge of the properties. Not all of these do the work regularly, or at all, and not all charge reasonable rates for these estate management services.

If the land is owned by the parish, the district or the county council these problems are reduced – at least the council is tied to the area, unlike management companies – but, as Julie Mabberly points out, different councils have different policies with regard to this.

Grove Parish Council, she points out, “owns and maintains the grassed areas in the ‘older’ parts of Grove and has an agreement in place with Persimmon to take over the management of the open spaces and the community building on Grove Airfield.” It hopes also to agree with Bellway Homes that it take responsibility for the Grove Meadow Development. However, David Wilson Homes “is placing the open space on its development in the hands of the management company.”

Wantage Town Council, on the other hand, “only has responsibility for allotments and the cemetery. It is not interested in owning land for the benefit of the residents of the town.” She points out that the open spaces at Crab Hill are owned by the management company, and will be for 125 years (with 125 years of charges to residents). If Crab Hill had remained in Grove instead of being moved to be part of Wantage,” she points out, “it might have been a different story.”

When you add to this the land that is on the books of the Vale or OCC and you already have quite a patchwork of ownership. To this must be added the tenures of other organisations which range from offshore trusts to landed estates and from bishoprics to Oxbridge colleges. To investigate these issues is many ways to dip your toe into several centuries of ruling-class history. Of course, wildflowers pay no attention to title deeds or “keep out” signs: however, you have to if you want to look into doing any planting. Finding out who the landowner is and getting their permission could take longer than a growing season.

Community notices

• The Vale of White Horse Community Lottery has provided funding for 50 local good causes since its first draw in September and the Council expects that over £30,000 will be raised during the next 12 months. Lottery tickets cost just £1 each so please see here for how you can enter, which a chance of winning a prize yourself.

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 5pm every Friday. Members are preventing food from being wasted and also getting great value for money as it costs just £3.50 per week for 14 items. For more information, please follow the larder on Facebook.

• If you want to find out about concerts, theatre and films in and around Wantage and Grove or local arts, theatrical or music groups to join, subscribe to the Arts Hub newsletter by emailing artshubwantage@gmail.com

• Used printer ink cartridges can now be recycled at Cartridge UK, Wantage. Any recycled products will also help Sustainable Wantage with funding, as the group will receive extra donations for encouraging the recycling of the cartridges.

• Wantage Town Under-18 team will be running 40 miles per player to raise local awareness and funds for Pancreatic Cancer UK, in memory of Matt Godwin who was many of the players’ first football coach. Please see their JustGiving page for further details and how to donate.

 Volunteer drivers are needed in the Wantage and Grove areas – click here for details.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Sat 16 Apr Easter Fayre at Chilton Hall.

• Sun 24 Apr Massive St George’s Day Market

Sat 30 Apr Opera on Screen at The Beacon.

• Regular events

• Please see Wantage.com for time and dates for the various local church Christmas services plus events.

 Wantage Library events for all ages. See details on their Facebook page.

• Wantage Library’s reading group meet every 2nd Monday of the month from 6.30pm to 7.30pm. If you are interested in joining, contact the Library on Facebook or at wantage.library@oxfordshire.gov.uk to register your interest.

Vale & Downland Museum Book Group meets at the museum’s café on the second Friday of each month at 2pm. Any questions or queries can be sent to info@valeanddownlandmuseum.org.uk.

Oxfordshire Mind runs a weekly Wantage Mental Health Support Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Wantage Methodist Church.

Wantage market every Wednesday and Saturday from 8am to 3pm. For further details please see the Wantage Market Facebook page.

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

• Wantage Library has a wide range of books on family and local history as well as free online resources accessible from home. See here for details.

Walking Netball at Old Mill Hall, Grove every Thursday from 12.30pm to 1.30pm. No previous experience is needed and all ages are welcome.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council took place on 14 February and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.) Click here to see the agenda for the meeting on 29 November. To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: the district councillor’s report; the footpath on Challow Road; planning matters; public art; historic paperwork; planning enforcement; financial matters; the cemetery; speeding; footpaths and rights of way; the jubilee, the recreation area; and potholes. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 8 February and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

Grove Parish Council also held an extraordinary meeting on 22 February, the minutes for which you can read here. This was almost exclusively concerned with considering the Lidl application. The result was in favour of the application (seven to three and with one abstention) and with a couple of comments for the Vale Council planners to consider.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council took place on 7 February and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council took place on 15 November 2021 and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 March 2021 and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Wantage area council contacts

Parishes: click here for Wantage Town CouncilGrove Parish CouncilWest Challow Parish CouncilEast Challow Parish CouncilArdington & Lockinge Parish CouncilWest Hanney Parish CouncilEast Hanney Parish Council and Letcombe Regis Parish Council.

Vale of White Horse District Council: click here to visit the website.

Oxfordshire County Councilclick here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Thatcham area; Compton and DownlandsTheale area; Marlborough area; Swindon area.

News and views from across the area and beyond: please see the most recent Weekly News with Brian column.

Thursday 7 April 2022

This week’s news

• The BBC reports that there were 1,280 CV-19 cases in Vale of White Horse in the week 27 March to 2 April, down 615 from the week before. This equates to 928 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 712 (909 last week). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a more local level to be obtained.

• Something a little different here, and a little wet, as Wantage Fire Station is hosting a charity car wash in aid of the Ukraine Appeal and the Fire Fighters Charity this Saturday at 9am. This is a great opportunity to meet the crew and help support a great cause. Donations are welcome, also there will be a charity bake sale where the profits will be split 50/50. More information can be found here.

• There are a lot of horticultural, cooking, craft and photography classes to enter in the Grove Garden & Local History Club Spring Show on Saturday 9 April in Grove Village Hall. See here for how to enter. The display will be open to the public to view from 2pm.

• A small group of volunteers took to Letcombe Brook last Saturday and managed to clean and remove 18 sacks of rubbish, a tyre and a bike. A huge well done, and thank you I’m sure from the residents in the area to the Letcombe Brook Volunteers.

• Keep an eye out on Sunday 24 April as the “biggest market Wantage has ever had” is coming to the town centre; with more than 50 stalls. Hosted by the Ray Collins Charitable Trust, the money raised from this market will help fund day trips for the less fortunate and elderly. St George’s Day will close the entire town square whilst the market hosts a range of food, jewellery, clothes, arts and crafts stalls. For more information, have a look here on The Herald‘s website.

The Herald also reports that the historic locomotive 4079 Pendennis Castle moved under its own steam for the first time in 21 years, after restoration work from volunteers, last Saturday at Didcot Railsway Centre. The engine has been stored in Didcot for the whole restoration period and Lady Judith McAlpine was the one to launch it on the big day as her late husband Sir William McAlpine had been the proud owner for a decade in the sixties. For the full report, have a look here.

Grove Parish Council is holding its annual meeting at 7.30pm on Friday 22 April at the Old Mill Hall. Further details including the agenda can be found here.

•A reminder that changes have been made to the parking in the Vale. Free parking has been reduced from two hours to one and new fees apply if you intend to stay longer. Other fees have risen by 40p and new and renewed permits will only be valid for a specific car park and are non-transferable. The only exception to this is the Southampton Street car park in Faringdon where two-hour free parking will remain. The reason for this change is because, due to Covid, car parks have been running at a loss of £250,000 a year. For the full rundown on the Vale’s reasons, click here.

Click here to read the latest (29 March 2022) newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group. This, as ever, looks at consultations and discussions relating to future housing and infrastructure needs and casts an eye over some of the issues with the (many) developments in the area currently under way or in the applications system.

The next Wantage Cafe Scientifque talk is To the Moon, Not Mars with Mike Curtis-Rose about the commercialisation of space at Wildwood Cinema 7.30pm Wednesday 13 April 2022.

• Following the resignation of two members of the Grove Parish Council, the Council can now Co-opt two new members. If you are interested in becoming a Parish Councillor (an unpaid role) please contact the Clerk to the Council on 01235 766599 or email clerk@grove-oxon.org.uk for more information. The Council will decide who to co-opt at its meeting to be held on Tuesday 3 May 2022. Training will be given/arranged for the successful candidates.

• If you would like to support Ukrainian refugees please join the Wantage & area Ukrainian refugee support facebook group.

• Improvements being made to Mably Way/Denchworth Road roundabout will cause a change to current traffic flow until 22 April. The four-way traffic light, traffic management plan is now available to view online.

• The Arts Hub Wantage April 2022 Newsletter can be read here. It covers upcoming concerts, theatre productions, opera, Wantage Art Group information and barn dancing.

• Click here for the most recent (1 April) e-newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnston.

April News from Sustainable Wantage  includes electric vehicle show, clothes swap, solar panel discounts and more.

• Letcombe Register April 2022 edition has plenty of local news and events for this month including April’s village diary, parish council updates, jubilee plans, and much more.

April’s Hanney News offers colourful and comprehensive news for East and West Hanney.

Wantage’s surgery

In her regular column in the Herald (which you can also read here), Julie Mabberley of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group has some good news to report.

This concerns the Mably Road Health Centre which “has finally got planning consent for its extension.” When built, this will, she explains, include “new consulting rooms and admin space for the two GP practices (Church Street Practice and Newbury Street Practice), a reconfigured shared waiting area, a larger pharmacy and will create a separate area which could be used by an optician.” The extension will increase the number of consulting rooms for each practice by 75%. These are used, as well as by doctors, by a range of other clinical staff including physiotherapists, social prescribers and phlebotomists. I had no idea what this last word meant so looked it up: for those of you who shared my ignorance, they are people who are trained in the taking of blood samples.

There will be a number of other improvements, including a larger pharmacy, redesigned reception areas and more car parking spaces, some of which will have EV charge points.

Any such improvements in Wantage or Grove is many ways running to keep still, so large has been the increase in the number of homes and so small has, in many people’s view, been the mitigating infrastructure to cater for the new residents. There are, she points out, plans to build another 5,000 homes in the surgery’s catchment area by 2031. “Perhaps,” her article concludes, “we should start campaigning for the next extension for the surgery now.”

Community notices

• The Vale of White Horse Community Lottery has provided funding for 50 local good causes since its first draw in September and the Council expects that over £30,000 will be raised during the next 12 months. Lottery tickets cost just £1 each so please see here for how you can enter, which a chance of winning a prize yourself.

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 5pm every Friday. Members are preventing food from being wasted and also getting great value for money as it costs just £3.50 per week for 14 items. For more information, please follow the larder on Facebook.

• If you want to find out about concerts, theatre and films in and around Wantage and Grove or local arts, theatrical or music groups to join, subscribe to the Arts Hub newsletter by emailing artshubwantage@gmail.com

• Used printer ink cartridges can now be recycled at Cartridge UK, Wantage. Any recycled products will also help Sustainable Wantage with funding, as the group will receive extra donations for encouraging the recycling of the cartridges.

• Wantage Town Under-18 team will be running 40 miles per player to raise local awareness and funds for Pancreatic Cancer UK, in memory of Matt Godwin who was many of the players’ first football coach. Please see their JustGiving page for further details and how to donate.

 Volunteer drivers are needed in the Wantage and Grove areas – click here for details.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

• Sun 24 Apr Massive St George’s Day Market

Sat 30 Apr Opera on Screen at The Beacon.

• Regular events

• Please see Wantage.com for time and dates for the various local church Christmas services plus events.

 Wantage Library events for all ages. See details on their Facebook page.

• Wantage Library’s reading group meet every 2nd Monday of the month from 6.30pm to 7.30pm. If you are interested in joining, contact the Library on Facebook or at wantage.library@oxfordshire.gov.uk to register your interest.

Vale & Downland Museum Book Group meets at the museum’s café on the second Friday of each month at 2pm. Any questions or queries can be sent to info@valeanddownlandmuseum.org.uk.

• Oxfordshire Mind runs a weekly Wantage Mental Health Support Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Wantage Methodist Church.

Wantage market every Wednesday and Saturday from 8am to 3pm. For further details please see the Wantage Market Facebook page.

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

• Wantage Library has a wide range of books on family and local history as well as free online resources accessible from home. See here for details.

Walking Netball at Old Mill Hall, Grove every Thursday from 12.30pm to 1.30pm. No previous experience is needed and all ages are welcome.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council took place on 14 February and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.) Click here to see the agenda for the meeting on 29 November. To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: the district councillor’s report; the footpath on Challow Road; planning matters; public art; historic paperwork; planning enforcement; financial matters; the cemetery; speeding; footpaths and rights of way; the jubilee, the recreation area; and potholes. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 8 February and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the suitability or not of the recently planted oak trees; a presentation Sustainable Wantage regarding its Solar Streets initiative; a presentation by Freshwater Habitats regarding a wetland habitat near the sewage treatment works; the Clerk’s summary; reports from the district and county councillors; the Grove Airfield and Crab Hill developments; the Grove Feast; the charges for Old Mill Hall; a proposed defibrillator; the disqualification of two councillors for non-attendance; planning matters; and financial matters. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

Grove Parish Council also held an extraordinary meeting on 22 February, the minutes for which you can read here. This was almost exclusively concerned with considering the Lidl application. The result was in favour of the application (seven to three and with one abstention) and with a couple of comments for the Vale Council planners to consider.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council took place on 7 February and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: sewage discharges; S106 funds; refugees; EV charge points; dog fouling; the War Memorial Hall; the parish facilities plan; a proposed defibrillator; the bio-diversity study; the NDP; the proposed market at the Black Horse pub; the reservoir proposal (see the 3 March Wantage area news section); financial matters; planning matters; and a bollard on the ditch near La Fontaine. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council took place on 15 November 2021 and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 March 2021 and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Wantage area council contacts

Parishes: click here for Wantage Town CouncilGrove Parish CouncilWest Challow Parish CouncilEast Challow Parish CouncilArdington & Lockinge Parish CouncilWest Hanney Parish CouncilEast Hanney Parish Council and Letcombe Regis Parish Council.

Vale of White Horse District Council: click here to visit the website.

Oxfordshire County Councilclick here to visit the website.

Thursday 31 March 2022

This week’s news

• The BBC reports that there were 1,891 CV-19 cases in Vale of White Horse in the week 20 to 26 March, down 57 from the week before. This equates to 1,371 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 909 (868 last week). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a more local level to be obtained.

• The Annual Wantage Town Electorate Meeting is at The Beacon this Monday 4 April at 7.30 pm. The meeting is hosted by the Town Council and the Mayor will give a short report on Council business but it is not a council meeting. It is the opportunity for anyone from our community to attend and raise topics of interest.  There will be a presentation relating to the Kingsgove Development (Crab Hill), including progress with the link road. The Silver Band will also be making a presentation relating to the extension of the band hall. In the main, the meeting is open to any questions or issues that anyone wishes to raise. Why not take this opportunity to find out more about the local community?

Grove Parish Council is holding its annual meeting at 7.30pm on Friday 22 April at the Old Mill Hall. Further details including the agenda can be found here.

• From this Monday 4 April there will be changes made to the parking in the Vale. Free parking will be reduced from two hours to one and new fees will apply if you intend to stay longer. Other fees will rise by 40p and new and renewed permits will only be valid for a specific car park and are non-transferable. The only exception to this is the Southampton Street car park in Faringdon where two-hour free parking will remain. The reason for this change is because, due to Covid, car parks have been running at a loss of £250,000 a year. For the full rundown on the Vale’s reasons, click here.

Click here to read the latest (29 March 2022) newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group. This, as ever, looks at consultations and discussions relating to future housing and infrastructure needs and casts an eye over some of the issues with the (many) developments in the area currently under way or in the applications system.

Sustainable Wantage is introducing the Solar Streets scheme to allow residents to install solar panels at a discount. To find out more register here for their launch Q&A event on zoom at 7.30pm on Thursday 7 April.

• Following the resignation of two members of the Grove Parish Council, the Council can now Co-opt two new members.
If you are interested in becoming a Parish Councillor (an unpaid role) please contact the Clerk to the Council on 01235 766599 or email clerk@grove-oxon.org.uk for more information. The Council will decide who to co-opt at its meeting to be held on Tuesday 3 May 2022. Training will be given/arranged for the successful candidates.

• There are a lot of horticultural, cooking, craft and photography classes to enter in the Grove Garden & Local History Club Spring Show on Saturday 9 April in Grove Village Hall. See here for how to enter. The display will be open to the public to view from 2pm.

• If you would like to support Urkainian refugees please join the Wantage & area Ukrainian refugee support facebook group.

• Due to staff sickness, some schools have been hit by closures, including the nursery class at Chilton Primary School which is closed this week. See here for more information.

• Last week we reported of the latest bit of work from mystery knitter, Knitsy. We got it wrong asthe anonymous crocheter wants to remain anonymous under the name Yarnsy. Much more fitting and rolls off the tongue better. There are supposedly several around the area but that all adds to the mystery. On that note, see the latest bit of knitting work here!

• The Arts Hub Wantage April 2022 Newsletter can be read here. It covers upcoming concerts, theatre productions, opera, Wantage Art Group information and barn dancing.

• Click here for the most recent (1 April) e-newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnston.

• Click here for the latest news from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group.

• Letcombe Register March 2022 edition has plenty of local news and events for this month including March’s village diary, parish council updates, jubilee plans, and much more.

• March’s Hanney News offers colourful and comprehensive news for East and West Hanney.

• Improvements being made to Mably Way/Denchworth Road roundabout will cause a change to current traffic flow until 22 April. The four-way traffic light, traffic management plan is now available to view online.

More homes but no mitigation

In her regular column in the Herald (which you can also read here), Julie Mabberley of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group looks at plans for 300 more homes on Tulwick Park in Grove. She points out that this site isn’t allocated in the current local plan and so “should be unlikely to receive planning permission in the near future.” None the less, she clearly feels sufficiently alarmed about it to list some of the problems this might cause.

In the first place, she says that it’s believed that the developers have an option to buy further land between the site of Grove station (which seems to be needed more and more every day) down to the proposed Lidl site, so this might be more to come. She also says that as the application is “only” for 300 homes there won’t any mitigating infrastructure demanded: “residents will, ” she suggests, “have to use existing facilities which are currently oversubscribed or hope that the developers who have permission on Crab Hill and Grove Airfield do provide the promised infrastructure soon.”

One solution she suggests is that a development plan be prepared for Grove (something the Planning Inspector agrees with) so that there could be “a context” for the new homes and the necessary features like schools, health services, community centres and shops could be planned. She expresses doubts that, based on past performance, the Vale for Oxfordshire Councils will be able to find the cash to do what’s needed. This failure seems extraordinary, given the CIL and S106 payments that developers must surely be making. She suggests that a plan “for what Wantage and Grove could look like as a vibrant community in the future would be a start.” If the two communities are to be regarded as one then some new centre is needed. Where might that be? Where the Grove Rugby Club is currently based?

If there is to be a coherent plan, it’s coming pretty late in the day given the number of new homes that have been built and the ones that are in the pipeline. The two communities are growing fast and, to the equal dismay of many, growing together; and without, many claim, anything like the mitigating infrastructure that’s required to service them. I don’t know whether the fact that Wantage and Grove are tucked right down on the edge of both the district and the county has anything to do with this.

Local MP David Johnston, writing his monthly newsletter published on 1 April 2022, referred to the issue of planning and infrastructure on two occasions, these being matters he’s raised before in Westminster and Whitehall. First, after referring to the lack of GP surgeries in the constituency, he said that “We have to make sure the right infrastructure goes in first to support the increased numbers of people.” (My italics). He also referred to a meeting with the Housing Secretary on the subject of mitigating infrastructure and environmental standards. “We had a productive discussion, and I emphasised that we need more infrastructure to support new housing and pushed again for houses to be built to the latest environmental standards, not those that existed at the time the development was given permission.” I don’t want to sound picky but “productive” is best used when something like a decision has actually been produced: perhaps “promising” would have been better?

The Abingdon reservoir

Again to quote from David Johnston MP’s above-mentioned April newsletter, he reported as follows:

“Only two weeks after my last (and only second ever) PMQ, I was drawn for a third time. I used the opportunity to raise my constituents concerns about the so-called Abingdon reservoir proposal (which is a misnomer, given it would be in this constituency) and called on the Prime Minister to ensure that Thames Water show why it is needed and consult local people properly. I have already written to Thames Water and the WRSE about issues that have been raised with me regarding the way the consultation has been carried out.”

I’m sure he will share the results of these communications. I’m sure also that the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group will continue to have things to say on this subject.

All change?

No, this isn’t a railway-inspired pun about the Wantage Road station but notice that Vale Council is carrying out a Community Governance Review. A press statement explains that “this involves reviewing existing arrangements for parishes across the district, inviting requests for changes from parish councils and then adopting and implementing any changes which would benefit the local area. Councils carry out this type of review every four years.”

It goes on to say that the changes could include “altering a parish boundary; creating or merging a parish; changing a parish name; changing the local electoral arrangements; or enabling an area to be known as a town, community, neighbourhood or village, rather than a parish.” Given the  increased blurring of the lines between Wantage and Grove mentioned in the section above, this could be an opportunity either to merge the parishes or change the combined settlement’s name (to “Grontage”, perhaps). This will doubtless be met by opposition more strident than anything that even the largest planning application could throw up.

Parishes in the Vale where changes are proposed include Grove, Grove/East Challow, Kingston Bagpuize and Uffington. To view the full proposed changes for each area and to find out how you can have your say, click here. The consultation opened on 31 March and runs until 29 April (which isn’t that long: I though these things were meant to be for six weeks?).

Community notices

• The Vale of White Horse Community Lottery has provided funding for 50 local good causes since its first draw in September and the Council expects that over £30,000 will be raised during the next 12 months. Lottery tickets cost just £1 each so please see here for how you can enter, which a chance of winning a prize yourself.

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 5pm every Friday. Members are preventing food from being wasted and also getting great value for money as it costs just £3.50 per week for 14 items. For more information, please follow the larder on Facebook.

• If you want to find out about concerts, theatre and films in and around Wantage and Grove or local arts, theatrical or music groups to join, subscribe to the Arts Hub newsletter by emailing artshubwantage@gmail.com

• Used printer ink cartridges can now be recycled at Cartridge UK, Wantage. Any recycled products will also help Sustainable Wantage with funding, as the group will receive extra donations for encouraging the recycling of the cartridges.

• Wantage Town Under-18 team will be running 40 miles per player to raise local awareness and funds for Pancreatic Cancer UK, in memory of Matt Godwin who was many of the players’ first football coach. Please see their JustGiving page for further details and how to donate.

 Volunteer drivers are needed in the Wantage and Grove areas – click here for details.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Until 1 April Letcombe Brook Through a Lens photography exhibition, Vale & Downland Museum

Sat 2 Apr Gala Concert in aid of Ukraine Humanitarian Relief at The Beacon.

• Sun 24 Apr Massive St George’s Day Market

Sat 30 Apr Opera on Screen at The Beacon.

• Regular events

• Please see Wantage.com for time and dates for the various local church Christmas services plus events.

 Wantage Library events for all ages. See details on their Facebook page.

• Wantage Library’s reading group meet every 2nd Monday of the month from 6.30pm to 7.30pm. If you are interested in joining, contact the Library on Facebook or at wantage.library@oxfordshire.gov.uk to register your interest.

Vale & Downland Museum Book Group meets at the museum’s café on the second Friday of each month at 2pm. Any questions or queries can be sent to info@valeanddownlandmuseum.org.uk.

• Oxfordshire Mind runs a weekly Wantage Mental Health Support Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Wantage Methodist Church.

Wantage market every Wednesday and Saturday from 8am to 3pm. For further details please see the Wantage Market Facebook page.

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

• Wantage Library has a wide range of books on family and local history as well as free online resources accessible from home. See here for details.

Walking Netball at Old Mill Hall, Grove every Thursday from 12.30pm to 1.30pm. No previous experience is needed and all ages are welcome.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council took place on 14 February and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.) Click here to see the agenda for the meeting on 29 November. To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 8 February and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the suitability or not of the recently planted oak trees; a presentation Sustainable Wantage regarding its Solar Streets initiative; a presentation by Freshwater Habitats regarding a wetland habitat near the sewage treatment works; the Clerk’s summary; reports from the district and county councillors; the Grove Airfield and Crab Hill developments; the Grove Feast; the charges for Old Mill Hall; a proposed defibrillator; the disqualification of two councillors for non-attendance; planning matters; and financial matters. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

Grove Parish Council also held an extraordinary meeting on 22 February, the minutes for which you can read here. This was almost exclusively concerned with considering the Lidl application. The result was in favour of the application (seven to three and with one abstention) and with a couple of comments for the Vale Council planners to consider.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council took place on 7 February and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: sewage discharges; S106 funds; refugees; EV charge points; dog fouling; the War Memorial Hall; the parish facilities plan; a proposed defibrillator; the bio-diversity study; the NDP; the proposed market at the Black Horse pub; the reservoir proposal (see the 3 March Wantage area news section); financial matters; planning matters; and a bollard on the ditch near La Fontaine. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council took place on 15 November and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council took place on 6 May 2021 and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 March 2021 and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Wantage area council contacts

Parishes: click here for Wantage Town CouncilGrove Parish CouncilWest Challow Parish CouncilEast Challow Parish CouncilArdington & Lockinge Parish CouncilWest Hanney Parish CouncilEast Hanney Parish Council and Letcombe Regis Parish Council.

Vale of White Horse District Council: click here to visit the website.

Oxfordshire County Councilclick here to visit the website.

Thursday 24 March 2022

This week’s news

• The BBC reports that there were 1,948 CV-19 cases in Vale of White Horse in the week 13 to 19 March, up 611 from the week before. This equates to 1,413 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 868 (661 last week). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a more local level to be obtained.

• The Wantage Town News newsletter for March 2022 can be read here.

• Congratulations to Wantage CE Primary School for raising £270 for Comic Relief by participating in BBC Radio Oxford’s Musical Bumps World Record Attempt last Friday. The school thanks all their lovely parents, who all came together and showed such incredible generosity. Listen to the fun on the show here from 3 hrs 30 mins.

• Last week we reported on the re-opening of the Wantage maternity unit. Unfortunately, due to continued staffing issues, this has been postponed and expecting mums will still having to travel to Oxford or Wallingford (or stay at home) to give birth. A new reopening date is still yet to be announced: however, an apology has been issued by the Director of Midwifery at OUH which you can read here on the Wantage and Grove Herald.

• The Herald also reports on a petition that has recently been raised surrounding The Upper Reaches Hotel that has been shut since 2015 after the site was closed without a warning. Since the closure, what remains of the hotel has attracted vandalism and disorderly conduct and is the reason why 1,600 people have signed the petition for it to be put back to use. The Vale of White Horse District Council has stated that the council has limited ability surrounding the site as the leaseholder holds responsibility. The Council also stated that discussions are taking place to provide a better framework that will “encourage landowners and investors to bring development opportunities in the central areas.”

• From 4 April 2022 there will be changes made to the parking in the Vale. Free parking will be reduced from two hours to one and new fees will apply if you intend to stay longer. Other fees will rise by 40p and new and renewed permits will only be valid for a specific car park and are non-transferable. The only exception to this is the Southampton Street car park in Faringdon where two-hour free parking will remain. The reason for this change is because, due to Covid, car parks have been running at a loss of £250,000 a year. For the full rundown on the Vale’s reasons, click here.

• The latest endeavour of the Mystery Knitters is this gorgeous pot of flowers on top of a post box which you can see here. Good stuff, Knitsy!

• The Arts Hub Wantage April 2022 Newsletter can be read here. It covers upcoming concerts, theatre productions, opera, Wantage Art Group information and barn dancing.

• Click here for the most recent (3 March) e-newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnston.

• Click here for the latest news from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group.

• The Vale of White Horse Community Lottery has provided funding for 50 local good causes since its first draw in September and the Council expects that over £30,000 will be raised during the next 12 months. Lottery tickets cost just £1 each so please see here for how you can enter, which a chance of winning a prize yourself.

• Letcombe Register March 2022 edition has plenty of local news and events for this month including March’s village diary, parish council updates, jubilee plans, and much more.

• March’s Hanney News offers colourful and comprehensive news for East and West Hanney.

• Improvements being made to Mably Way/Denchworth Road roundabout will cause a change to current traffic flow until  22 April. The four-way traffic light, traffic management plan is now available to view online.

• Congratulations to the Toad Patrol volunteers from East Lockinge who help toads reach their breeding ponds safely every spring. Many toads are killed on the roads at night but these volunteers have helped toads cross the road over 22,000 times since 2017. Read more here from the Herald.

Unintended consequences

In her regular column in the Herald (which you can also read here), Julie Mabberley of the Wantage & Grove Campaign Group asks “when is a cycleway not a cycleway?” This may seem like the prelude to a joke, but it isn’t. It was, in fact, prompted by the recent deaths of two young women in or near Oxford. Julie quotes the Leader of Oxfordshire County Council as saying that “their legacy will be a radical commitment to a transport network where we take a zero tolerance attitude to having anyone else killed or seriously injured.”

The problem is that one can have as many new government initiatives and regulations and as many new white lines and signs as one likes but the reality is that roads and junctions are the size that they are. To widen or improve them all would need capital expenditure that would make the cost of HS2 seem like the takings from a church fête. She points out that “cyclists and pedestrians are given no extra space on roads or at junctions” even on occasions where this would be possible. The Highway Code has recently issued new regulations about overtaking bikes and horses but I would lay good money that very few people are aware of what these are.

Creating cycle lanes on roads is a cheap option and probably also ticks a box for a council’s achievements. However, these are often a lot less useful than they appear. “For example, Julie Mabberley says, “there is a cycle path on Newlands Drive in Grove – let me rephrase that. There are lines painted on Newlands Drive 1.2m from the curb which purport to designate a cycleway. The normal minimum width of a cycleway is 1.5m but that wouldn’t leave enough space for cars.” She cites the opinion of a local experienced cyclist who says this 1.2 space is more dangerous than not having any markings as “it suggests to car drivers that they can drive straight on and don’t have to pull out to overtake a cyclist.”

This seems to be a good example of government regulations and municipal projects not being joined up. I hope we can expect that new roads in the area will be built to take into account the needs of bikes and pedestrians. As for the rest of them, they are to a large extent what they are and thus they will always remain. Roads are dangerous, particularly for cyclists, and painting a white line on the side of them doesn’t create a force-field that keeps each type of vehicle to its own side of the divide. An obvious statement, perhaps: but it seems from her article that someone needs to point this out to Oxfordshire County Council.

Community notices

Sustainable Wantage is introducing the Solar Streets scheme to allow residents to install solar panels at a discount. To find out more register here for their launch Q&A event on zoom at 7.30pm on Thursday 7 April.

• For more local eco news please see the Sustainable Wantage‘s March 2022 newsletter for updates and future events (including Repair Cafes) at The Mix on Mill Street.

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 5pm every Friday. Members are preventing food from being wasted and also getting great value for money as it costs just £3.50 per week for 14 items. For more information, please follow the larder on Facebook.

• Grove Library are asking for any photos of the library from the early 1970s, to add to their display of images celebrating the library’s 50th birthday. Please contact Grove Library at 01235 763841 or grove.library@oxfordshire.gov.uk if you can provide any help.

• If you want to find out about concerts, theatre and films in and around Wantage and Grove or local arts, theatrical or music groups to join, subscribe to the Arts Hub newsletter by emailing artshubwantage@gmail.com

• Used printer ink cartridges can now be recycled at Cartridge UK, Wantage. Any recycled products will also help Sustainable Wantage with funding, as the group will receive extra donations for encouraging the recycling of the cartridges.

• Wantage Town Under-18 team will be running 40 miles per player to raise local awareness and funds for Pancreatic Cancer UK, in memory of Matt Godwin who was many of the players’ first football coach. Please see their JustGiving page for further details and how to donate.

 Volunteer drivers are needed in the Wantage and Grove areas – click here for details.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Until 1 April Letcombe Brook Through a Lens photography exhibition, Vale & Downland Museum

Fri 25 Mar Life Drawing class at the Beacon.

Sun 27 Mar Wantage Orchestra Spring Concert at Old Mill Hall.

• Sun 24 Apr Massive St George’s Day Market

Sat 2 Apr Gala Concert in aid of Ukraine Humanitarian Relief at The Beacon.

Sat 30 Apr Opera on Screen at The Beacon.

• Regular events

• Please see Wantage.com for time and dates for the various local church Christmas services plus events.

 Wantage Library events for all ages. See details on their Facebook page.

• Wantage Library’s reading group meet every 2nd Monday of the month from 6.30pm to 7.30pm. If you are interested in joining, contact the Library on Facebook or at wantage.library@oxfordshire.gov.uk to register your interest.

Vale & Downland Museum Book Group meets at the museum’s café on the second Friday of each month at 2pm. Any questions or queries can be sent to info@valeanddownlandmuseum.org.uk.

• Oxfordshire Mind runs a weekly Wantage Mental Health Support Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Wantage Methodist Church.

Wantage market every Wednesday and Saturday from 8am to 3pm. For further details please see the Wantage Market Facebook page.

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

• Wantage Library has a wide range of books on family and local history as well as free online resources accessible from home. See here for details.

Walking Netball at Old Mill Hall, Grove every Thursday from 12.30pm to 1.30pm. No previous experience is needed and all ages are welcome.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council took place on 13 December and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.) Click here to see the agenda for the meeting on 29 November. To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 8 February and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the suitability or not of the recently planted oak trees; a presentation Sustainable Wantage regarding its Solar Streets initiative; a presentation by Freshwater Habitats regarding a wetland habitat near the sewage treatment works; the Clerk’s summary; reports from the district and county councillors; the Grove Airfield and Crab Hill developments; the Grove Feast; the charges for Old Mill Hall; a proposed defibrillator; the disqualification of two councillors for non-attendance; planning matters; and financial matters. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

Grove Parish Council also held an extraordinary meeting on 22 February, the minutes for which you can read here. This was almost exclusively concerned with considering the Lidl application. The result was in favour of the application (seven to three and with one abstention) and with a couple of comments for the Vale Council planners to consider.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council took place on 7 February and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: sewage discharges; S106 funds; refugees; EV charge points; dog fouling; the War Memorial Hall; the parish facilities plan; a proposed defibrillator; the bio-diversity study; the NDP; the proposed market at the Black Horse pub; the reservoir proposal (see the 3 March Wantage area news section); financial matters; planning matters; and a bollard on the ditch near La Fontaine. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council took place on 15 November and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council took place on 6 May 2021 and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 March 2021 and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Wantage area council contacts

Parishes: click here for Wantage Town CouncilGrove Parish CouncilWest Challow Parish CouncilEast Challow Parish CouncilArdington & Lockinge Parish CouncilWest Hanney Parish CouncilEast Hanney Parish Council and Letcombe Regis Parish Council.

Vale of White Horse District Council: click here to visit the website.

Oxfordshire County Councilclick here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford areaMarlborough areaNewbury areaThatcham areaCompton and DownlandsTheale areaWantage areaSwindon area.

News and views from across the area and beyond: please see the most recent Weekly News with Brian column.

Thursday 17 March 2022

This week’s news

• The BBC reports that there were 1,335 CV-19 cases in Vale of White Horse in the week 6 to 12 March, up 657 from the week before. This equates to 968 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 661 (423 last week). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a more local level to be obtained.

• The Wantage Town News newsletter for March 2022 is now available and you can read it here.

Latest news from the Vale & Downland Museum in Wantage includes lovely highlights of the current Letcombe Brook Through a Lens photography exhibition and a reminder of the lovely cakes available at the museum café.

• This is a last call for the chance to have your say and complete a survey regarding the 20 is Plenty campaign to help reduce the chance of collisions on the road in Wantage. The deadline for the survey is 21 March and can be completed here. Any paper copies of the survey can be handed in at The Beacon.

• Good news for expectant parents that the Wantage Maternity Unit is finally reopening for low-risk births after a long 6-month closure due to staffing issues caused by Covid. These issues haven’t totally gone away though. “Staffing constraints continue” but “the aim is to put a plan in place to reopen these units in March 2022”.   See the whole report here on the Oxford Mail.

• Click here for the most recent (3 March) e-newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnston.

• Click here for the latest news from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group.

• The Vale of White Horse Community Lottery has provided funding for 50 local good causes since its first draw in September and the Council expects that over £30,000 will be raised during the next 12 months. Lottery tickets cost just £1 each so please see here for how you can enter, which a chance of winning a prize yourself.

• Letcombe Register March 2022 edition has plenty of local news and events for this month including March’s village diary, parish council updates, jubilee plans, and much more.

• March’s Hanney News offers colourful and comprehensive news for East and West Hanney.

• Improvements being made to Mably Way/Denchworth Road roundabout will cause a change to current traffic flow until  22 April. The four-way traffic light, traffic management plan is now available to view online.

Give way to pedestrians

In her regular column in the Herald (which you can also read here), Julie Mabberly takes off her usual Wantage and Grove Campaign Group hat and puts on her Fitzwaryn School Governors one. “Does someone have to die or be seriously hurt,” she asks, “before before the County Council highways department will make our roads safer?”

The answer is, based on comments I’ve seen from other councils in response to similar concerns, probably “yes.” Evidence tends to be required that an accident might happen before action is taken: and there’s no better evidence that something might happen than it actually doing so. The councils would doubtless argue that if all traffic were slowed to the speed residents want then it would be moving at close to walking speed. A good thing too, some might say. As always, balance, caution and compromise is needed. That’s absolutely fine unless the danger zone is near you: then it needs to be dealt with at once. Everyone’s entitled to make their point as forcefully as they can: Julie Mabberly is certainly doing that, as all good school governors should.

The school, in common with many others, has a policy of encouraging our pupils to cycle and walk as much as possible. “As the school is on a busy road,” she explains, “we have a zebra crossing with Belisha beacons to enable people to cross the road safely. The highway code states ‘drivers and riders should give way to pedestrians waiting to cross and must give way to pedestrians on a zebra crossing’. But they don’t…” She refers to numerous eye-witness reports of this not happening, in contrast to the report from the County’s Highways team that “from a road safety perspective the crossing continues to perform at a satisfactory level. We have checked our personal injury road traffic collision database and I am pleased to inform you that there have been no such collisions at the crossing during the last three-year period.” I’m not sure if that means there were some just over three years ago. This probably says more about me than it does about Oxfordshire CC, but the idea of a zebra crossing “performing” anything seems an odd way to use the English language. It somehow suggests to me that it has moving parts or a will of its own, though presumably neither is the case.

She also points out that this isn’t one of the roads that’s being considered for the “20 is plenty” scheme, though any road near a school would seem to be a good candidate. She adds that the situation is likely to get worse when the Wantage Eastern Relief Road is finished within the next 12 months.

As for the question of whether someone needs to be killed or injured, she provides the answer to that, pretty much along the lines I expected (as above): “Off the record, they [the Highways team] have told us that unless someone is seriously injured or killed nothing will be done.” In the mean time, though, despite the near misses reported, she has the officer’s assurance that “the crossing continues to perform at a satisfactory level.” So, that’s all right, then…

Community notices

Sustainable Wantage is introducing the Solar Streets scheme to allow residents to install solar panels at a discount. To find out more register here for their launch Q&A event on zoom at 7.30pm on Thursday 7 April.

• For more local eco news please see the Sustainable Wantage‘s March 2022 newsletter for updates and future events (including Repair Cafes) at The Mix on Mill Street.

• If you remember playing in Betjeman Millennium Park or brook, scrumping in the old orchard, living in a cottage by the Mill or meeting John Betjeman himself, please contact trustees@betjemanpark.org.uk.in regards to the park’s 20th anniversary exhibition at the Vale and Downland Museum this coming May.

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 5pm every Friday. Members are preventing food from being wasted and also getting great value for money as it costs just £3.50 per week for 14 items. For more information, please follow the larder on Facebook.

• Grove Library are asking for any photos of the library from the early 1970s, to add to their display of images celebrating the library’s 50th birthday. Please contact Grove Library at 01235 763841 or grove.library@oxfordshire.gov.uk if you can provide any help.

• If you want to find out about concerts, theatre and films in and around Wantage and Grove or local arts, theatrical or music groups to join, subscribe to the Arts Hub newsletter by emailing artshubwantage@gmail.com

• Used printer ink cartridges can now be recycled at Cartridge UK, Wantage. Any recycled products will also help Sustainable Wantage with funding, as the group will receive extra donations for encouraging the recycling of the cartridges.

• Wantage CE Primary School is asking locals for donations of log stumps and wooden pallets, to create log style benches and large bug hotels at the school’s woodland trail. Please visit Wantage CE Primary School on Facebook for further information.

• A wonderful photography exhibition of Letcombe Brook and its wildlife is on display at Vale and Downland Museum in Wantage until 1 April. Opening hours for the exhibition are between 9.30am to 3.45pm from Monday to Saturday. Admission is free but donations are welcome.

• Wantage Town Under-18 team will be running 40 miles per player to raise local awareness and funds for Pancreatic Cancer UK, in memory of Matt Godwin who was many of the players’ first football coach. Please see their JustGiving page for further details and how to donate.

 Volunteer drivers are needed in the Wantage and Grove areas – click here for details.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

• Sat 19 Mar Natural Pest and Disease Management Presentation 2pm The Mix, Wantage.

19 and 20 Mar The Lockinge Estate Past and Present Exhibition 2pm to 5pm Loyd Lindsay Rooms, Ardington.

Fri 25 Mar Life Drawing class at the Beacon.

Sun 27 Mar Wantage Orchestra Spring Concert at Old Mill Hall.

• Sun 24 Apr Massive St George’s Day Market

• Regular events

• Please see Wantage.com for time and dates for the various local church Christmas services plus events.

 Wantage Library events for all ages. See details on their Facebook page.

• Wantage Library’s reading group meet every 2nd Monday of the month from 6.30pm to 7.30pm. If you are interested in joining, contact the Library on Facebook or at wantage.library@oxfordshire.gov.uk to register your interest.

Vale & Downland Museum Book Group meets at the museum’s café on the second Friday of each month at 2pm. Any questions or queries can be sent to info@valeanddownlandmuseum.org.uk.

• Oxfordshire Mind runs a weekly Wantage Mental Health Support Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Wantage Methodist Church.

Wantage market every Wednesday and Saturday from 8am to 3pm. For further details please see the Wantage Market Facebook page.

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

• Wantage Library has a wide range of books on family and local history as well as free online resources accessible from home. See here for details.

Walking Netball at Old Mill Hall, Grove every Thursday from 12.30pm to 1.30pm. No previous experience is needed and all ages are welcome.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council took place on 13 December and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.) Click here to see the agenda for the meeting on 29 November. To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 8 February and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the suitability or not of the recently planted oak trees; a presentation Sustainable Wantage regarding its Solar Streets initiative; a presentation by Freshwater Habitats regarding a wetland habitat near the sewage treatment works; the Clerk’s summary; reports from the district and county councillors; the Grove Airfield and Crab Hill developments; the Grove Feast; the charges for Old Mill Hall; a proposed defibrillator; the disqualification of two councillors for non-attendance; planning matters; and financial matters. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

Grove Parish Council also held an extraordinary meeting on 22 February, the minutes for which you can read here. This was almost exclusively concerned with considering the Lidl application. The result was in favour of the application (seven to three and with one abstention) and with a couple of comments for the Vale Council planners to consider.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council took place on 7 February and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: sewage discharges; S106 funds; refugees; EV charge points; dog fouling; the War Memorial Hall; the parish facilities plan; a proposed defibrillator; the bio-diversity study; the NDP; the proposed market at the Black Horse pub; the reservoir proposal (see the 3 March Wantage area news section); financial matters; planning matters; and a bollard on the ditch near La Fontaine. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council took place on 15 November and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council took place on 6 May and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Wantage area council contacts

Parishes: click here for Wantage Town CouncilGrove Parish CouncilWest Challow Parish CouncilEast Challow Parish CouncilArdington & Lockinge Parish CouncilWest Hanney Parish CouncilEast Hanney Parish Council and Letcombe Regis Parish Council.

Vale of White Horse District Council: click here to visit the website.

Oxfordshire County Councilclick here to visit the website.

Thursday 10 March 2022

This week’s news

• The BBC reports that there were 716 CV-19 cases in Vale of White Horse in the week 28 February to 6 March, up 210 from the week before. This equates to 519 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 423 (205 last week). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a more local level to be obtained.

Support for Ukraine continues and upcoming local fundraisers include a Music for Ukraine Concert at The King Alfred’s Head pub in Wantage on Sunday 13 March and a 20 minute flight over Wantage and Grove on Sunday 20 March from Bosleys Farm Shop, Grove Park Road. No booking required just first come, first served from 10am until dusk. For more ways to donate, please see our summary of local and national Ukraine appeals to support.

• For the chance to see some Transformer cars, don’t miss the charity Family Fun Day at Baytree this Saturday 12 March. Optimus Prime and Bumblebee will be featured as well as raffles, cake stalls and more. See more info here.

Sustainable Wantage is introducing the Solar Streets scheme to allow residents to install solar panels at a discount. To find out more register here for their launch Q&A event on zoom at 7.30pm on Thursday 7 April.
• For more local eco news please see the Sustainable Wantage‘s March 2022 newsletter for updates and future events (including Repair Cafes) at The Mix on Mill Street.

• Click here for the most recent (3 March) e-newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnston which includes a tribute to 23 year old Jack Bristow from Sutton Courtenay who tragically lost his life in Storm Eunice while working to clear trees.

• Click here for the latest (26 February) newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group. You can also click here for a brief update from 28 February.

• The Vale of White Horse Community Lottery has provided funding for 50 local good causes since its first draw in September and the Council expects that over £30,000 will be raised during the next 12 month. Lottery tickets cost just £1 each so please see here for how you can enter, which a chance of winning a prize yourself.

• Letcombe Register March 2022 edition has plenty of local news and events for this month including March’s village diary, parish council updates, jubilee plans, and much more.

• March’s Hanney News offers colourful and comprehensive news for East and West Hanney.

• Improvements being made to Mably Way/Denchworth Road roundabout will cause a change to current traffic flow until  22 April. The four-way traffic light, traffic management plan is now available to view online.

Oxon’s HGVs and stuff

In her regular column in the Herald (which you can also read here), Julie Mabberly of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group takes another look at what must by now be her well-thumbed copy of Oxfordshire County Council’s (OCC) draft Local Transport and Connectivity Plan. In particular, she counts the number of policies (94) “to encourage us to walk and cycle more.” One area that she feels the document is less ambitious about concerns HGVs and vans which, on OCC’s own admission, contribute over a third of all road-transport emissions.

Obviously, this is a tough one. We all want suff (how much we actually need is another matter) and stuff needs moving around. Five hundred years ago most economies were based around supply purely local needs: we didn’t travel much and most of us wouldn’t eat, drink, wear, use or own very much that hadn’t been made nearby, in most cases within walking distance. This was very sustainable and had a low environmental impact but, frankly, wasn’t very interesting. As soon as goods from further afield became more widely available, we all wanted them. Empires were created and factories built to enable us to get our hands on more and more stuff as quickly as possible. Although this is now waning slightly, the most effective measure of a person’e success is how much they earn or are worth and thus how much stuff they can acquire. Just to take one statistic, 226 million containers were shipped around the world in 2020. All of them were full of stuff that, if made here, had to be got to the containers or, if imported, had to be taken out of them. Oxfordshire, as one of the richest counties in one of the world’s richest countries, has a fair amount of this stuff rumbling around on its roads each day.

Telling people to stop consuming would be about as easy as telling them not to blink so that’s not going to happen. However, something needs to be done to address the impact this causes. At this point, as Julie points out, we run into our old friend money, or the lack of it. The Freight and Logistics Strategy, she writes, “states that actions identified will require funding to deliver but that councils no longer receive funding this to spend on transport improvements.” In any case, what can one county council do? The investment necessary to make delivery vehicles of all sizes zero-carbon will be vast and, in the case of HGVs, is probably something existing technology can’t solve. As she points out, failing or not being able to grapple with a third of the problem means that the vision won’t be achieved.

She also suggests that the policies are in general more applicable to “Oxford City and any new large developments – it’s too late to change anything on Grove Airfield or Crab Hill.” That’s another problem: the length of time that it takes to plan and construct a new development plus the time it takes new government policies or councils’ local plans to be implemented can best be measured in decades rather than years. The trouble is, as most seem to agree, we don’t have decades. Got to go, the door bell’s just rung – could be that delivery of stuff I’ve been waiting for…

Community notices

• As reported last week Betjeman Millennium Park is organising an exhibition at the Vale and Downland Museum as part of its 20th-anniversary celebrations this coming May. If you remember playing in the park or brook, scrumping in the old orchard, living in a cottage by the Mill or meeting John Betjeman himself, please contact trustees@betjemanpark.org.uk.

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 5pm every Friday. Members are preventing food from being wasted and also getting great value for money as it costs just £3.50 per week for 14 items. For more information, please follow the larder on Facebook.

• Please have your say on Wantage Town Council’s 20 is Plenty road speed survey here and see more information here.

• Grove Library are asking for any photos of the library from the early 1970s, to add to their display of images celebrating the library’s 50th birthday. Please contact Grove Library at 01235 763841 or grove.library@oxfordshire.gov.uk if you can provide any help.

• If you want to find out about concerts, theatre and films in and around Wantage and Grove or local arts, theatrical or music groups to join, subscribe to the Arts Hub newsletter by emailing artshubwantage@gmail.com

• Used printer ink cartridges can now be recycled at Cartridge UK, Wantage. Any recycled products will also help Sustainable Wantage with funding, as the group will receive extra donations for encouraging the recycling of the cartridges.

• Wantage CE Primary School is asking locals for donations of log stumps and wooden pallets, to create log style benches and large bug hotels at the school’s woodland trail. Please visit Wantage CE Primary School on Facebook for further information.

• A wonderful photography exhibition of Letcombe Brook and its wildlife is on display at Vale and Downland Museum in Wantage until 1 April. Opening hours for the exhibition are between 9.30am to 3.45pm from Monday to Saturday. Admission is free but donations are welcome.

• Wantage Town Under-18 team will be running 40 miles per player to raise local awareness and funds for Pancreatic Cancer UK, in memory of Matt Godwin who was many of the players’ first football coach. Please see their JustGiving page for further details and how to donate.

 Volunteer drivers are needed in the Wantage and Grove areas – click here for details.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Sat 12 Mar Family Fun and Coffee Morning now at The Bay Tree, Grove (previously The Volunteer Inn)

Sun 13 Mar Ukraine appeal concert at The King Alfred’s Head pub.

• Mon 14 Mar Library 50th Anniversary Celebrations 2pm Grove Library.

Wed 16 Mar Wantage Art Group – Flowers in Mixed Media 7.30pm to 10pm Holy Trinity Church, Charlton, OX12 7HW.

• Sat 19 Mar Natural Pest and Disease Management Presentation 2pm The Mix, Wantage.

19 and 20 Mar The Lockinge Estate Past and Present Exhibition 2pm to 5pm Loyd Lindsay Rooms, Ardington.

Fri 25 Mar Life Drawing class at the Beacon.

Sun 27 Mar Wantage Orchestra Spring Concert at Old Mill Hall.

• Sun 24 Apr Massive St George’s Day Market

• Regular events

• Please see Wantage.com for time and dates for the various local church Christmas services plus events.

 Wantage Library events for all ages. See details on their Facebook page.

• Wantage Library’s reading group meet every 2nd Monday of the month from 6.30pm to 7.30pm. If you are interested in joining, contact the Library on Facebook or at wantage.library@oxfordshire.gov.uk to register your interest.

Vale & Downland Museum Book Group meets at the museum’s café on the second Friday of each month at 2pm. Any questions or queries can be sent to info@valeanddownlandmuseum.org.uk.

• Oxfordshire Mind runs a weekly Wantage Mental Health Support Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Wantage Methodist Church.

Wantage market every Wednesday and Saturday from 8am to 3pm. For further details please see the Wantage Market Facebook page.

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

• Wantage Library has a wide range of books on family and local history as well as free online resources accessible from home. See here for details.

Walking Netball at Old Mill Hall, Grove every Thursday from 12.30pm to 1.30pm. No previous experience is needed and all ages are welcome.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council took place on 13 December and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.) Click here to see the agenda for the meeting on 29 November. To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 8 February and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the suitability or not of the recently planted oak trees; a presentation Sustainable Wantage regarding its Solar Streets initiative; a presentation by Freshwater Habitats regarding a wetland habitat near the sewage treatment works; the Clerk’s summary; reports from the district and county councillors; the Grove Airfield and Crab Hill developments; the Grove Feast; the charges for Old Mill Hall; a proposed defibrillator; the disqualification of two councillors for non-attendance; planning matters; and financial matters. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council took place on 7 February and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: sewage discharges; S106 funds; refugees; EV charge points; dog fouling; the War Memorial Hall; the parish facilities plan; a proposed defibrillator; the bio-diversity study; the NDP; the proposed market at the Black Horse pub; the reservoir proposal (see the 3 March Wantage area news section); financial matters; planning matters; and a bollard on the ditch near La Fontaine. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council took place on 15 November and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council took place on 6 May and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Wantage area council contacts

Parishes: click here for Wantage Town CouncilGrove Parish CouncilWest Challow Parish CouncilEast Challow Parish CouncilArdington & Lockinge Parish CouncilWest Hanney Parish CouncilEast Hanney Parish Council and Letcombe Regis Parish Council.

Vale of White Horse District Council: click here to visit the website.

Oxfordshire County Councilclick here to visit the website.

Thursday 3 March 2022

This week’s news

Wantage is flying the Ukrainian flag in the marketplace and residents strongly approve of this show of support which is much appreciated by Ukrainians in the community and elsewhere.

• The BBC reports that there were 507 CV-19 cases in Vale of White Horse in the week 21 to 27 February, down 297 from the week before. This equates to 368 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 305 (421 last week). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a more local level to be obtained.

MP David Johnston asked a question regarding the current lack of GP surgeries in Didcot and Wantage to Boris Johnson in the House of Commons. By 2027 Didcot will be 42 per cent larger than it was a decade earlier and Wantage and Grove will be 59 per cent larger. The PM is organising for Johnston to meet with the relevant minister to discuss immediate local concerns. You can read the full report here on the Herald‘s site.

• Click here for the most recent (3 March) e-newsletter from the above-mentioned Wantage MP David Johnston.

• Click here for the latest (26 February) newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group. You can also click here for a brief update from 28 February.

• Following the effects of Storm Eunice, the recycling centres in and around Oxfordshire have now reopened. See more information here.

• There has been a considerable outpouring of support for Ukraine. Here is our summary of local and national appeals to support.

• As reported last week Betjeman Millennium Park is organising an exhibition at the Vale and Downland Museum as part of its 20th-anniversary celebrations this coming May. If you remember playing in the park or brook, scrumping in the old orchard, living in a cottage by the Mill or meeting John Betjeman himself, please contact trustees@betjemanpark.org.uk.

• The Vale of White Horse Community Lottery has provided funding for 50 local good causes since its first draw in September and the Council expects that over £30,000 will be raised during the next 12 month. Lottery tickets cost just £1 each so please see here for how you can enter, which a chance of winning a prize yourself.

• Letcombe Register March 2022 edition has plenty of local news and events for this month including March’s village diary, parish council updates, jubilee plans, and much more.

• March’s Hanney News offers colourful and comprehensive news for East and West Hanney.

• Improvements being made to Mably Way/Denchworth Road roundabout will cause a change to current traffic flow until  22 April. The four-way traffic light, traffic management plan is now available to view online.

• Please see the Sustainable Wantage March 2022 newsletter for updates and future events surrounding the group.

• Stalls can be booked by businesses or individuals for The Ray Collins Charitable Trust St George’s Day themed market on 24 April. Please contact info@raycollinstrust.org or contact The Ray Collins Charitable Trust Facebook post.

Watery myths

In her regular column in the Herald (which you can also read here), Julie Mabberley of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group looks at what would be one of the largest construction projects the area has ever seen. This would be Thames Water’s plan for “a very large (150,000,000 tonnes of water) reservoir between Hanney, Marcham, Drayton and Steventon.” The four myths she looks at are:

  • Need. It isn’t needed, she claims. Tt will simply store up to 150 million tons of water “in case of need.” An easier solution, she suggests, is to “extract water from the River Severn and pipe it over to the Thames.” She also adds that TW’s record with dealing with leaks is “the worst” of all the water companies so addressing that might be a better place to start.
  • Better than building up to 40,000 homes there (which is a flood plain). I suppose that’s possibly true if one or other of these things had to happen there (neither does). She also points out that the banks will be 30m high (about the same height as a seven-storey house) and cannot be planted with trees lest they create weak spots.
  • It would provide leisure opportunities. She doubts this, arguing that there’s unlikely to be any amenity space available and that the water levels will vary by up to 40 metres.
  • It’s eco-friendly. She suggests that “digging a hole 20 metres deep and building 30-metre high earth and concrete walls” which would involve using 120,000 lorry journeys to move five million tonnes of soil does not seem to tick this box.

One possible solution to the last issue is that the materials be brought in by train as the main line between Didcot and Swindon passes just south of the site. While there were all those construction workers there, they could perhaps re-build the station at Grove. This might make the proposal a bit more acceptable. In fact, scratch that idea: a viability assessment will probably be done and it will be announced that actually, sorry, we can’t afford to build the station after all. This, and so many other issues in the area, is thus likely to remain in the W&GCG’s in-try for some time.

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 5pm every Friday. Members are preventing food from being wasted and also getting great value for money as it costs just £3.50 per week for 14 items. For more information, please follow the larder on Facebook.

• Please have your say on Wantage Town Council’s 20 is Plenty road speed survey here and see more information here.

• Grove Library are asking for any photos of the library from the early 1970s, to add to their display of images celebrating the library’s 50th birthday. Please contact Grove Library at 01235 763841 or grove.library@oxfordshire.gov.uk if you can provide any help.

• If you want to find out about concerts, theatre and films in and around Wantage and Grove or local arts, theatrical or music groups to join, subscribe to the Arts Hub newsletter by emailing artshubwantage@gmail.com

• Used printer ink cartridges can now be recycled at Cartridge UK, Wantage. Any recycled products will also help Sustainable Wantage with funding, as the group will receive extra donations for encouraging the recycling of the cartridges.

• Wantage CE Primary School is asking locals for donations of log stumps and wooden pallets, to create log style benches and large bug hotels at the school’s woodland trail. Please visit Wantage CE Primary School on Facebook for further information.

• Wantage Town Under 18 team will be running 40 miles per player to raise local awareness and funds for Pancreatic Cancer UK, in memory of Matt Godwin who was many of the players’ first football coach. Please see their JustGiving page for further details and how to donate.

 Volunteer drivers are needed in the Wantage and Grove areas – click here for details.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

• Tue 8 Mar Rhymetime 10.45am to 11.15am Grove Library.

Sat 12 Mar Family Fun and Coffee Morning now at The Bay Tree, Grove (previously The Volunteer Inn)

• Mon 14 Mar Library 50th Anniversary Celebrations 2pm Grove Library.

Wed 16 Mar Wantage Art Group – Flowers in Mixed Media 7.30pm to 10pm Holy Trinity Church, Charlton, OX12 7HW.

• Sat 19 Mar Natural Pest and Disease Management Presentation 2pm The Mix, Wantage.

19 and 20 Mar The Lockinge Estate Past and Present Exhibition 2pm to 5pm Loyd Lindsay Rooms, Ardington.

Sun 27 Mar Wantage Orchestra Spring Concert at Old Mill Hall.

Massive St George’s Day Market

• Regular events

• Please see Wantage.com for time and dates for the various local church Christmas services plus events.

 Wantage Library events for all ages. See details on their Facebook page.

• Wantage Library’s reading group meet every 2nd Monday of the month from 6.30pm to 7.30pm. If you are interested in joining, contact the Library on Facebook or at wantage.library@oxfordshire.gov.uk to register your interest.

Vale & Downland Museum Book Group meets at the museum’s café on the second Friday of each month at 2pm. Any questions or queries can be sent to info@valeanddownlandmuseum.org.uk.

• Oxfordshire Mind runs a weekly Wantage Mental Health Support Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Wantage Methodist Church.

Wantage market every Wednesday and Saturday from 8am to 3pm. For further details please see the Wantage Market Facebook page.

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

• Wantage Library has a wide range of books on family and local history as well as free online resources accessible from home. See here for details.

Walking Netball at Old Mill Hall, Grove every Thursday from 12.30pm to 1.30pm. No previous experience is needed and all ages are welcome.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council took place on 13 December and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.) Click here to see the agenda for the meeting on 29 November. To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 8 February and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the suitability or not of the recently planted oak trees; a presentation Sustainable Wantage regarding its Solar Streets initiative; a presentation by Freshwater Habitats regarding a wetland habitat near the sewage treatment works; the Clerk’s summary; reports from the district and county councillors; the Grove Airfield and Crab Hill developments; the Grove Feast; the charges for Old Mill Hall; a proposed defibrillator; the disqualification of two councillors for non-attendance; planning matters; and financial matters. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council took place on 8 December and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council took place on 15 November and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council took place on 6 May and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Wantage area council contacts

Parishes: click here for Wantage Town CouncilGrove Parish CouncilWest Challow Parish CouncilEast Challow Parish CouncilArdington & Lockinge Parish CouncilWest Hanney Parish CouncilEast Hanney Parish Council and Letcombe Regis Parish Council.

Vale of White Horse District Council: click here to visit the website.

Oxfordshire County Councilclick here to visit the website.

Thursday 24 February 2022

This week’s news

• The BBC reports that there were 805 CV-19 cases in Vale of White Horse in the week 14 to 20 February, down 128 on the week before. This equates to 584 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 421 (558 last week). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a more local level to be obtained.

• Many affects of last week’s storms have been clear to see across the UK, sadly with Wantage area being no exception. The de Havilland Venom plane in Grove was heavily damaged by the weather, which receive plenty of attention on social media and news outlets including Sky News and The Herald. The plane has subsequently been re-located and will hopefully be restored back to its former glory in the near future.

• As we mentioned last week, The Vale of White Horse Council has fixed its budget for 2022-23 (see here for the Vale’s statement on this) and amongst the projects are £1.5m for improvements to existing leisure centres in various towns, including Wantage. Some councillors in the OX12 area, however, feel that – once again – the area is not getting its fair slice of the cake, a point which Julie Mabberley from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group regularly returns to. This is a complex issue and involves, among other things, the precise terms under which S106 developer contributions have been agreed (a point which we intend to look at more closely in the future). You can read more in this article in The Herald.

• Also reported last week was that as part of its 20th anniversary celebrations this coming May, the Trustees of Betjeman Millennium Park are organising an exhibition at the Vale and Downland Museum. This will celebrate the opening and development of Betjeman Millennium Park and the history of the site before the Park was created. They are looking for quotes from local residents about their memories of the park prior to 2022. If you remember playing in the park or brook, scrumping in the old orchard, living in a cottage by the Mill or meeting John Betjeman himself, please contact trustees@betjemanpark.org.uk.

• The new HEG Community Larder is launching on Monday 28 February in East Hendred to prevent food waste.  Pop down to the sports pavillion on the Mill Lane from 3.30pm to 6.30pm to see what it’s all about. The larder is run by Hendreds Environmental Group. For more about how larders work and other locations across the area please see here.

• Congratulations to Sustainable Wantage for receiving the High Sheriff of Oxfordshire’s Climate Action Heroes Award for all the hard work done at The Mix, ranging from recycling and repair cafés to community fridge and food parcels and Wild Wantage’s wildlife habitats creation and Market Garden.

• The Wantage Community Larder has been running for over eight months and now has over 100 members who collect a big bag of groceries each week from the Beacon between 2.30pm and 5pm every Friday. Members are preventing food from being wasted and also getting great value for money as it costs just £3.50 per week for 14 items. For more information, please follow the larder on Facebook.

• Congratulations to Dulcie West, winner of the Stud category at the Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards who has had to overcome the challenges caused by a stoke six years ago.

• Click here for the recent (3 February) e-newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnston.

• Click here for the latest newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group.

• Letcombe Register February 2022 edition has plenty of local news and events for this month including February’s village diary, parish council updates, jubilee plans, and much more.

• February’s Hanney News offers a colourful and comprehensive of news for East and West Hanney.

• Improvements being made to Mably Way/Denchworth Road Roundabout between 22 February to 22 April will cause a change to current traffic flow. The four-way traffic light, traffic management plan is now available to view online.

• Wantage Town Council has decided to make the most of the 20 is Plenty campaign and present an application to Oxfordshire County Council, the highway authority, for the introduction of 20 mph traffic speed limits across the town. Please have your say on the survey here and view more information here.

• Please see the Sustainable Wantage February 2022 newsletter for updates and future events surrounding the group.

• Stalls can be booked by businesses or individuals for The Ray Collins Charitable Trust St George’s Day themed market on 24 April. Please contact info@raycollinstrust.org or contact The Ray Collins Charitable Trust Facebook post.

• Last chance to enter Oxfordshire Library’s e-book short story competition, which closes on 27 February 2022. Any keen authors can submit a story below 3,000 words, for their chance to “have their stories published and featured on our Overdrive platform and the Libby app”. This is the eighth year the competition has run. Further details can be found on Oxfordshire Libraries website.

A new name possibly needed

In her most recent column in the Herald (which you can also read here), Julie Mabberley from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group returns to the main issue in the area: the sheer number of new homes which have been built or are planned for OX12.

She points out that, assuming the local plan as it’s currently envisaged is followed, the number of homes in the area will have doubled by 2031 compared to the 7,600-odd that were there in 2011. But even this, she says, “won’t be enough” as the proposal is for anything up to about 150,000 new homes to be built in the county by 2050. She suggests that “very few” of these will be built in the city of Oxford, so leaving rural areas to take up the slack. There must be a limit to the number of new properties OX12 can support but, so far, neither developers nor planners seem to believe that this point has been reached. She goes on to list several places where very meaty applications are currently being prepared.

It goes without saying that this will change the character of all the settlements. As long as the developments are well built and all the mitigation measures are in place (there seems to be quite a lot of catching up to do on this) then the results may, once the dust has settled, be for the better – hard as that is to imagine when planning wrangles are ongoing between developers and the councils and as lorries are pounding backward and forwards, sometimes outside the times specified in the application conditions.

One additional consequence will be a cartographical one. The settlements are expanding and the time may come when it becomes impossible to tell where one ends and the next one starts. Julie suggests that the result of all the current and likely plans is that “East Hanney, East Challow, Wantage and Grove will be amalgamated and become effectively one town.”

If that’s the case, she points out that a new name for this mega-settlement might be needed. The County and District Councils may be swayed by something bland like “Alfredtown” or “Newtown”; but I feel that something is demanded which both celebrates the settlements which have sacrificed their independence and offers a name which will read well on maps, roadsigns and tourist brochures. A tantalising or even a faintly salacious flavour might do no harm either. “Grontage-cum-Hanchallow” seems to satisfy all these requirements. On the other hand, the matter may be put out to a public vote. If so, and based on past results, the new settlement may end up being called “Housey McHouseface.”

Community notices

• There has been a change in venue to the upcoming Family Fun Coffee and Cake Morning charity event on Saturday 12 March from The Volunteer Inn to The Bay Tree in Grove to allow room for Transformers vehicles Optimus Prime and Bumblebee to attend the event which is in aid of Brain Tumour Research with the fundraising of ‘Cancer likes Boobs and Brains’ on JustGiving. Free entry with plenty of family fun and activities from 9am to 2pm.

• Grove Library are asking for any photos of the library from the early 1970’s, to add to their display of images celebrating the library’s 50th birthday. Photocopies of any images will be taken for all displays, so you can keep any precious photos without fear of losing or damaging them. Please contact Grove Library at 01235 763841 or grove.library@oxfordshire.gov.uk if you can provide any help.

• If you want to find out about concerts, theatre and films in and around Wantage and Grove or local arts, theatrical or music groups to join, subscribe to the Arts Hub newsletter by emailing artshubwantage@gmail.com

• Used printer ink cartridges can now be recycled at Cartridge UK, Wantage. Any recycled products will also help Sustainable Wantage with funding, as the group will receive extra donations for encouraging the recycling of the cartridges.

• Wantage CE Primary School is asking locals for donations of log stumps and wooden pallets, to create log style benches and large bug hotels at the school’s woodland trail towards the back of the school field. Any companies, tree surgeons or individuals who might be able to help, please visit Wantage CE Primary School on Facebook for further information.

• Wantage Town Under 18 team will be running 40 miles per player to raise local awareness and funds for Pancreatic Cancer UK, which is a charity close to their hearts. The players will be completing the run in memory of Matt Godwin who was many of the players’ first football coach. Please see their JustGiving page for further details and how to donate.

• The Vale of White Horse Community Lottery has provided funding for 50 local good causes since its first draw in September and the Council expects that over £30,000 will have been raised during its first year. Click here for more information and you can take part.

 Volunteer drivers are needed in the Wantage and Grove areas – click here for details.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

 21 to 25 Feb Half-Term Healthy Eating Treasure Hunt Grove Library.

• Fri 25 Feb 70s Glam Rock Night 8.30pm Lord Nelson, Wantage.

 Fri 25 Feb The Flashback Band 9pm to 11.30pm The Bay Tree, Grove.

• Sat 26 Feb Ride ’22 (in aid of Papyrus UK which works to prevent teen suicide) 1pm to 11pm The King Alfred’s Head, Wantage.

• Sat 26 Feb 5th Annual Triwizard Tournament Quiz 2pm Wantage Library.

• Sun 27 Feb Wantage Circular Charity Walk 10am to 12.30pm Meeting at Lord Nelson Pub, Wantage.

Sun 27 Feb A Walk in the Park – Snowdrops and Spring Bulbs 11am Betjeman Millennium Park, Wantage.

• Sun 27 Feb Free Family Cinema-Night Hugo 3pm Letcombe Village Hall.

• Tue 1 Mar Craft Club 7pm to 9.30pm The Mix, Wantage.

Tue 1 Mar Free Gospel Choir Taster Session 7.30pm to 9pm Wantage Baptist Church.

• Tue 8 Mar Rhymetime 10.45am to 11.15am Grove Library.

• Mon 14 Mar Library 50th Anniversary Celebrations 2pm Grove Library.

Wed 16 Mar Wantage Art Group – Flowers in Mixed Media 7.30pm to 10pm Holy Trinity Church, Charlton, OX12 7HW.

• Sat 19 Mar Natural Pest and Disease Management Presentation 2pm The Mix, Wantage.

19 and 20 Mar The Lockinge Estate Past and Present Exhibition 2pm to 5pm Loyd Lindsay Rooms, Ardington.

• Regular events

• Please see Wantage.com for time and dates for the various local church Christmas services plus events.

 Wantage Library events for all ages. See details on their Facebook page.

• Wantage Library’s reading group meet every 2nd Monday of the month from 6.30pm to 7.30pm. If you are interested in joining, contact the Library on Facebook or at wantage.library@oxfordshire.gov.uk to register your interest.

• Another reading group in Wantage are the Vale & Downland Museum Book Group, who meet inside the museum’s café on the second Friday of each month at 2pm. Any questions or queries can be sent to info@valeanddownlandmuseum.org.uk.

• Oxfordshire Mind runs a weekly meeting at Wantage Methodist Church for their Wantage Mental Health Support Group every Tuesday between 10am to noon. Please see this poster for further details.

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

• Wantage also hosts a market every Wednesday and Saturday between 8am to 3pm. For further details please see the Wantage Market Facebook page.

• Wantage Library has a wide range of books on family and local history as well as free online resources, many of which you can access from the comfort of your own home. See here for details.

 Walking Netball takes place at Old Mill Hall, Grove every Thursday between 12.30pm and 1.30pm. No previous experience is needed and all ages are more than welcome.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council took place on 13 December and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.) Click here to see the agenda for the meeting on 29 November. To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 11 January and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a discussion about what does and does not constitute a satisfactory reason for absence; the village plan; speeding; two new oak trees; the jubilee; financial matters; planning matters; and S106 contributions. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• There was also a special meeting of Grove Parish Council on 18 January and you can read the minutes here. This was mainly to consider the PC’s response to the Vale Council’s consultation on leisure needs and included a stinging rebuke about the possibility that S106 contributions allocated to Grove might end up being spent elsewhere. See also Use it or lose it above.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council took place on 8 December and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: public participation; actions from previous meeting; the MUGA; councillors’ responsibilities; financial matters; and planning matters. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council took place on 15 November and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council took place on 6 May and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Wantage area council contacts

Parishes: click here for Wantage Town CouncilGrove Parish CouncilWest Challow Parish CouncilEast Challow Parish CouncilArdington & Lockinge Parish CouncilWest Hanney Parish CouncilEast Hanney Parish Council and Letcombe Regis Parish Council.

Vale of White Horse District Council: click here to visit the website.

Oxfordshire County Councilclick here to visit the website.

Thursday 17 February 2022

This week’s news

• The BBC reports that there were 932 CV-19 cases in Vale of White Horse in the week 7 to 13 February, down 367 on the week before. This equates to 676 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 538 (805 last week). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a more local level to be obtained.

• The Vale of White Horse Council has fixed its budget for 2022-23 (see here for the Vale’s statement on this) and amongst the projects are £1.5m for improvements to existing leisure centres in various towns, including Wantage. Some councillors in the OX12 area, however, feel that – once again – the area is not getting its fair slice of the cake, a point which Julie Mabberley from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group regularly returns to. This is a complex issue and involves, among other things, the precise terms under which S106 developer contributions have been agreed (a point which we intend to look at more closely in the future). You can read more in this article in The Herald.

• Click here for the recent (3 February) e-newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnston.

• Click here for the latest newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group.

• As part of its 20th anniversary celebrations this coming May, the Trustees of Betjeman Millennium Park are organising an exhibition at the Vale and Downland Museum. This will celebrate the opening and development of Betjeman Millennium Park and the history of the site before the Park was created. They are looking for quotes from local residents about their memories of the park prior to 2022. If you remember playing in the park or brook, scrumping in the old orchard, living in a cottage by the Mill or meeting John Betjeman himself, please contact trustees@betjemanpark.org.uk

• Wantage Town Council has decided to make the most of the 20 is Plenty campaign and present an application to Oxfordshire County Council, the highway authority, for the introduction of 20 mph traffic speed limits across the town. Please have your say on the survey here and view more information here.

• On 11 February Penny interviewed Tasha Page on ‘This Week with Penny‘ 4LEGS Radio broadcast regarding the problem of teen suicide and her Ride’22 Family Festival, which will fundraise for the Papyrus charity in memory of her brother Conor who tragically took his own life four years ago. Ride’22 will be at The King Alfred’s Head on Saturday 26 February between 1pm to 11pm. Please see the festival Facebook page for future announcements and TicketSource to book tickets for the event. Alternatively please make a donation to Papyrus charity here that campaigns to prevent young suicide.

• The Wantage Community Larder has been running for over 8 months and now has over 100 members who collect a big bag of groceries each week from the Beacon between 2.30pm and 5pm every Friday. Members are preventing food from being wasted and also getting great value for money as it costs just £3.50 per week for 14 items. For more information, please follow the larder on facebook.

• Letcombe Register February 2022 edition has plenty of local news and events for this month including February’s village diary, parish council updates, jubilee plans, and much more.

• February’s Hanney News offers a colourful and comprehensive of news for East and West Hanney.

• As mentioned last week, if anyone has any doubt about the value of defibrillatorsthis story from ITV News tells how a man from Wantage had his life saved because he suffered a heart attack in a van driven by his brother who was delivering defibrillators in a remote part of Scotland. What are the chances of that? So, if you’ve got a relative or friend who’s delivering defibrillators and they ask if you want to come along for the ride, you could do worse than say “yes.”

• Improvements being made to Mably Way/Denchworth Road Roundabout between 22 February to 22 April will cause a change to current traffic flow. The four-way traffic light, traffic management plan is now available to view online.

• Please see the Sustainable Wantage February 2022 newsletter for updates and future events surrounding the group.

• Stalls can be booked by businesses or individuals for The Ray Collins Charitable Trust St George’s Day themed market on 24 April. Please contact info@raycollinstrust.org or contact The Ray Collins Charitable Trust Facebook post.

• Last chance to enter Oxfordshire Library’s e-book short story competition, which closes on 27 February 2022. Any keen authors can submit a story below 3,000 words, for their chance to “have their stories published and featured on our Overdrive platform and the Libby app”. This is the eighth year the competition has run. Further details can be found on Oxfordshire Libraries website.

Keeping the lights on

In her weekly column in the Herald (which you can also read here), Julie Mabberley turns to a very practical aspect of our changing energy usage. This affects people across the country, not just in OX12. More and more we are switching away from power sources like coal, oil, gas, petrol and even wood and relying instead on electricity.

This has many advantages and, if it can be generated cleanly, is obviously an improvement. However, with petrol in the car, heating oil in the tank, wood in the shed and a landline in the house, a power cut can be relegated to an inconvenience. With no charge in the car or the mobile, however, and no means of heating the house, an over-reliance on the grid can dump us back in the 19th century. About the only aspect of modern life that remains open to us is being able to pour a glass of water from the tap although, if the car battery is dead, there’d be no easy way of driving to the shops to buy a bottle of Scotch to top it up.

Most electricity is, as Julie points out, supplied centrally even if some is generated locally. It is distributed by a sometimes fragile network of cables that, like series-wired Christmas tree lights, can black out entire areas if one connection breaks. Storms are the most likely cause of this. The irony is that climate change is making these extreme weather events more common at just the time when we’re shifting towards more reliance on the grid to try to combat this threat.

The solution isn’t going to be easy. The storms have shown that new homes need to aspire to being as self-sufficient as possible: if they generate power through solar panels, for instance, then a way must be found to store some of this power for emergency use, or at other times in preference to paying for juice from the grid. The problem, of course, is money. If developers are not compelled by either regulation or market forces to install such features then, if they might add more to the cost than to the sale price, they probably won’t. Her area of Wantage and Grove has more than its share of developments going ahead at present so it will be interesting to see what such features might appear in these. I suspect that she’s not holding her breath.

We live at an awkward time. We’re well aware of what we need to do to reduce climate change but also know that these steps can lead to bigger disruptions in our own lives. As her article concludes, “I would like to live in a carbon free world but want to be able to stay warm, eat and communicate as well.” These are reasonable aspirations. Humans are programmed to prioritise an immediate threat over a more remote one, often regardless of their respective severity. The worse the climate-change driven storms become, the less many of us might risk putting all our power-generation eggs in one basket; so we continue to use fossil-fuel alternatives, which will make the underlying problem worse. Developers have a role to play in this by building in both sustainability and self-sufficiency into their homes. Real change may only come when buyers start demanding these: if sale prices became compromised for the lack of them then these features would be added very, very quickly.

Community notices

• If you want to find out about concerts, theatre and films in and around Wantage and Grove or local arts, theatrical or music groups to join, subscribe to the Arts Hub newsletter by emailing artshubwantage@gmail.com

• Used printer ink cartridges can now be recycled at Cartridge UK, Wantage. Any recycled products will also help Sustainable Wantage with funding, as the group will receive extra donations for encouraging the recycling of the cartridges.

Wantage CE Primary School is asking locals for donations of log stumps and wooden pallets, to create log style benches and large bug hotels at the school’s woodland trail towards the back of the school field. Any companies, tree surgeons or individuals who might be able to help, please visit Wantage CE Primary School on Facebook for further information.

• More donations are needed to help provide schools and pupils in need of sportswear and equipment. All items need to be clean and in good condition to be recycled at Wild Wickets shop in Wantage. Please see the wish list for wanted sports equipment to know what can and can’t be donated.

• Still time for any bakers and cake enthusiasts to help The Volunteer Inn in Grove with its Coffee & Cake day on 12 March, in aid of Brain Tumour Research. Any food donations are welcome, whether home-made or store-bought, and a JustGiving page has been set up to get the ball rolling with fundraising.

• Wantage Town Under 18 team will be running 40 miles per player to raise local awareness and funds for Pancreatic Cancer UK, which is a charity close to their hearts. The players will be completing the run in memory of Matt Godwin who was many of the players’ first football coach. Please see their JustGiving page for further details and how to donate.

• Anyone who is interested in signing up for the Great North Run in September 2022 can participate in aid of Wantage-based Team Mikayla charity which grants wishes for children with cancer.

• The Vale of White Horse Community Lottery has provided funding for 50 local good causes since its first draw in September and the Council expects that over £30,000 will have been raised during its first year. Click here for more information and you can take part.

 Volunteer drivers are needed in the Wantage and Grove areas – click here for details.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Regular events

• Please see Wantage.com for time and dates for the various local church Christmas services plus events.

 Wantage Library events for all ages. See details on their Facebook page.

• Wantage Library’s reading group meet every 2nd Monday of the month from 6.30pm to 7.30pm. If you are interested in joining, contact the Library on Facebook or at wantage.library@oxfordshire.gov.uk to register your interest.

• Another reading group in Wantage are the Vale & Downland Museum Book Group, who meet inside the museum’s café on the second Friday of each month at 2pm. Any questions or queries can be sent to info@valeanddownlandmuseum.org.uk.

• Oxfordshire Mind runs a weekly meeting at Wantage Methodist Church for their Wantage Mental Health Support Group every Tuesday between 10am to noon. Please see this poster for further details.

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

• Wantage also hosts a market every Wednesday and Saturday between 8am to 3pm. For further details please see the Wantage Market Facebook page.

• Wantage Library has a wide range of books on family and local history as well as free online resources, many of which you can access from the comfort of your own home. See here for details.

 Walking Netball takes place at Old Mill Hall, Grove every Thursday between 12.30pm and 1.30pm. No previous experience is needed and all ages are more than welcome.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council took place on 13 December and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.) Click here to see the agenda for the meeting on 29 November. To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 11 January and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a discussion about what does and does not constitute a satisfactory reason for absence; the village plan; speeding; two new oak trees; the jubilee; financial matters; planning matters; and S106 contributions. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• There was also a special meeting of Grove Parish Council on 18 January and you can read the minutes here. This was mainly to consider the PC’s response to the Vale Council’s consultation on leisure needs and included a stinging rebuke about the possibility that S106 contributions allocated to Grove might end up being spent elsewhere. See also Use it or lose it above.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council took place on 8 December and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: public participation; actions from previous meeting; the MUGA; councillors’ responsibilities; financial matters; and planning matters. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council took place on 15 November and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council took place on 6 May and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Wantage area council contacts

Parishes: click here for Wantage Town CouncilGrove Parish CouncilWest Challow Parish CouncilEast Challow Parish CouncilArdington & Lockinge Parish CouncilWest Hanney Parish CouncilEast Hanney Parish Council and Letcombe Regis Parish Council.

Vale of White Horse District Council: click here to visit the website.

Oxfordshire County Councilclick here to visit the website.

Thursday 10 February 2022

This week’s news

• The BBC reports that there were 1,299 CV-19 cases in Vale of White Horse in the week 31 January to 6 February, down 625 on the week before. This equates to 942 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 805 (1,062 last week). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a more local level to be obtained.

• Click here for the recent (3 February) e-newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnston.

• Click here for the latest newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group: another bumper issue.

• Wantage Town Under 18 team will be running 40 miles per player to raise local awareness and funds for Pancreatic Cancer UK, which is a charity close to their hearts. The players will be completing the run in memory of Matt Godwin who was many of the players’ first football coach. Please see their JustGiving page for further details and how to donate.

• If anyone has any doubt about the value of defibrillators, this story from ITV News tells how a man from Wantage had his life saved because he suffered a heart attack in a van driven by his brother who was delivering defibrillators in a remote part of Scotland. What are the chances of that? So, if you’ve got a relative or friend who’s delivering defibrillators and they ask if you want to come along to help, or just for the ride, you could do worse than say “yes.”

• According to Wantage Town Council, a clear majority of the 823 people who participated in a survey on pedestrianisation of the western end of the Market Place and the proposed additional closure of the south side of the Market Place, voted yes to pedestrianisation.

• Speaking of surveys, Wantage Town Council has decided to make the most of the 20 is Plenty campaign and present an application to Oxfordshire County Council, the highway authority, for the introduction of 20 mph traffic speed limits across the town. Please have your say on the survey here and view more information here.

The Herald reports here that the Didcot Concert Orchestra were a delight for classical music fans at the Wantage Beacon on Sunday. The decision to play at the Wantage Beacon was taken after the recent closure of the Cornerstone Arts Centre in Didcot due to maintenance works. Photos can be seen here.

• Improvements being made to Mably Way/Denchworth Road Roundabout between 22 February to 22 April will cause a change to current traffic flow. The 4-way traffic light, traffic management plan is now available to view online.

• Please see the Sustainable Wantage February 2022 newsletter for updates and future events surrounding the group.

Good news that Hendreds Womens Institute has recruited new members onto the committee so the 101 year old WI organisation can keep going. Rural life has changed almost beyond recognition since the group set up in 1921 but members still value the friendships, mutual support and social contacts generated by the WI. They welcome ladies from the surrounding area including Wantage, Letcombe and the Springline villages. For more details please contact secretary Margaret Sharp on 01235 833367, m.l.r.sharp@btinternet.com

• The Ray Collins Charitable Trust will host a St George’s Day themed market on 24 April, with the hope of it being the largest market Wantage has ever seen. All proceeds raised on the day will go towards funding the trust’s community work for the rest of the year. Any business-owners or fellow fundraisers that would like to book a stall for the market can do so by contacting info@raycollinstrust.org, plus any other questions regarding the event may be answered by the information in this The Ray Collins Charitable Trust Facebook post.

• Oxfordshire Library’s e-book short story competition is still open for entries until 27 February 2022. Plenty of time for any keen authors to write a story below 3,000 words, for their chance to “have their stories published and featured on our Overdrive platform and the Libby app”. This is the eighth year the competition has run. Further details can be found on Oxfordshire Libraries website.

February’s Hanney News offers a colourful and comprehensive of news for East and West Hanney.

Transformational growth

In her latest article in the Herald (which you can also read here), Julie looks at the methods by which the Vale and the other districts in Oxfordshire agree their housing numbers ahead of their new local plans.

In this county ,the situation is complicated compared to that in West Berkshire, Swindon or Wiltshire in that there are two tiers of government in addition to the towns and parishes. The Oxfordshire Plan 2050 is, she explains, “the overarching document and will provide the framework which all other plans for the county must fit into.” However, if the districts don’t agree on the overall figures then, as she quotes one officer as saying at a recent meeting, the plan can’t be taken forward. This, combined with ever-changing government regulations and objections from parish and town councils and local pressure groups, seems to create all the ingredients necessary for an impasse. There are also district council elections looming up. Members of South Oxfordshire DC will need no reminding about the battle with the Housing Ministry that ensued after it tried to redraft the unadopted local plan it had inherited from the previous administration.

Julie points out that there are also deep divisions as to what kind of development should happen. “Transformational change” and a large number of new homes (about 150,000) was popular with developers  while a smaller number (more like 100,000) was favoured by local residents and community groups. Neither of these are very surprising. “Some local authorities,” she adds “are influenced by developers and want transformational growth.” Either way, it’s going to be a lot of new homes, an increase of between 33% and 50% of the current number in the county. The first step is agreeing the figures which is, as she says, going to be “difficult.”

All this is against the backdrop of possible plans to abolish all the organisations which are currently trying to thrash all this out and replace it with one authority which decides everything above town and parish level. This re-organisation (which has been discussed on and off for some time – see this article by Julie Mabberley from February 2017) would be different from another potential complication, that of devolution. This would devolve more powers, including for economic development, to the municipal structure and could lead to a directly elected mayor and another tier of government in the form of a combined authority. This could mean that Oxfordshire has not two but  a staggering three levels of local-decision making – “transformational growth” of a different kind. Any new body would doubtless want to have its influence of matters such as housing numbers.

This may not be a life issue right now but it could become so again. Goodness knows how long such questions would take to get decided with that number of participants: nor whether any structure is likely to offer much benefit to the inhabitants of OX12 who already seem to be getting a poor deal in terms of both high housing figures and inadequate infrastructure improvements to mitigate them. At least they know the W&GCG is fighting their corner on this one.

Community notices

• Bakers and cake enthusiasts are being called upon by The Volunteer Inn in Grove for its Coffee & Cake day on 12 March, which hopes to raise as much as possible for Brain Tumour Research. Any food donations are welcome, whether home-made or store-bought, and a JustGiving page has been set up to get the ball rolling with fundraising.

• Need the motivation to get fit in the New Year? Sign up to do the Great North Run in September 2022 in aid of the Wantage-based Team Mikayla charity which grants wishes for children with cancer.

• The Vale of White Horse Community Lottery has provided funding for 50 local good causes since its first draw in September and the Council expects that over £30,000 will have been raised during its first year. Click here for more information and you can take part.

 Volunteer drivers are needed in the Wantage and Grove areas – click here for details.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Sat 12 Feb Wantage Band at The Beacon.

• Tue 22 Feb Watery Wildlife Family Crafts 10am to 3pm Vale & Downland Museum, Wantage.

• Wed 23 Feb Korky Paul (illustrator of Winnie & Wilbur books) Meet & Greet 10.30am to 11.30am Wantage Library.

• Wed 23 Feb Improving Cycling & Walking in Wantage & Grove 7.30pm to 9pm Zoom Call.

• Wed 23 Feb Grove Garden & Local History Club 7.30pm to 10.30pm Grove Village Hall.

• Thu 24 Feb Bollywood Charity Dance Class 9.50am Old Mill Hall, Grove.

• Fri 25 Feb 70s Glam Rock Night 8.30pm Lord Nelson, Wantage.

• Fri 25 Feb The Flashback Band at The Bay Tree, Grove.

• Sat 26 Feb Ride ’22 1pm to 11pm The King Alfred’s Head, Wantage in aid of Papyrus UK which works to prevent teen suicide.

• Sun 27 Feb Wantage Circular Charity Walk 10am to 12.30pm Meeting at Lord Nelson Pub, Wantage.

• Regular events

• Please see Wantage.com for time and dates for the various local church Christmas services plus events.

 Wantage Library events for all ages. See details on their Facebook page.

• Wantage Library’s new library reading group meet every 2nd Monday of the month from 6.30pm to 7.30pm, which started on 13 December. If you are interested in joining, contact the Library on Facebook or at wantage.library@oxfordshire.gov.uk to register your interest.

• Another reading group in Wantage are the Vale & Downland Museum Book Group, who meet inside the museum’s café on the second Friday of each month at 2pm. Any questions or queries can be sent to info@valeanddownlandmuseum.org.uk.

• Oxfordshire Mind runs a weekly meeting at Wantage Methodist Church for their Wantage Mental Health Support Group every Tuesday between 10am to noon. Please see this poster for further details.

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

• Wantage also hosts a market every Wednesday and Saturday between 8am to 3pm. For further details please see the Wantage Market Facebook page.

• Wantage Library has a wide range of books on family and local history as well as free online resources, many of which you can access from the comfort of your own home. See here for details.

 Walking Netball takes place at Old Mill Hall, Grove every Thursday between 12.30pm and 1.30pm. No previous experience is needed and all ages are more than welcome.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council took place on 29 November and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.) Click here to see the agenda for the meeting on 29 November. To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 14 December and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the village plan; air quality; future sport and leisure provision in the parish; speeding; planning matters, including Grove Airfield and Crab Hill; financial matters, including the 2022-23 budget which was set at £323,141, an increase of 8.8%; the extravaganza; possible tree planting; and fishing in Letcombe Brook. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• There was also a special meeting of Grove Parish Council on 18 January and you can read the minutes here. This was mainly to consider the PC’s response to the Vale Council’s consultation on leisure needs and included a stinging rebuke about the possibility that S106 contributions allocated to Grove might end up being spent elsewhere. See also Use it or lose it above.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council took place on 8 December and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: public participation; actions from previous meeting; the MUGA; councillors’ responsibilities; financial matters; and planning matters. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council took place on 15 November and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council took place on 6 May and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Wantage area council contacts

Parishes: click here for Wantage Town CouncilGrove Parish CouncilWest Challow Parish CouncilEast Challow Parish CouncilArdington & Lockinge Parish CouncilWest Hanney Parish CouncilEast Hanney Parish Council and Letcombe Regis Parish Council.

Vale of White Horse District Council: click here to visit the website.

Oxfordshire County Councilclick here to visit the website.

Thursday 3 February 2022

This week’s news

• The BBC reports that there were 1,926 CV-19 cases in Vale of White Horse in the week 24 to 30 January, up 58 on the week before. This equates to 1,397 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 1,062 (1,002 last week). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a more local level to be obtained.

• The Vale Council announced on 27 January that it will considering proposals to make car parking in the district more sustainable, this last word being used in its financial rather than its newer environmental sense. The problem, the statement points out is that “council taxpayers have been subsidising car parking across the Vale for many years. This was costing taxpayers around £300,000 each year, and during Covid this has risen to £450,000 per year.” You can read more here.

• Click here for the recent (3 February) e-newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnston. I haven’t had a chance to read this today but will do before next week and will pick out any highlights then. Did he, for instance, manage to keep up is record of mentioning the reopening of the railway station at Grove every time he speaks in the Commons?

• Click here for the latest newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group: another bumperissue.

• The knit-bombing ninja of Wantage has struck once again, this time with a Valentine’s Day twist. Many photos have been posted to various Wantage Facebook groups to commend the tremendous artwork, which displays two cupids (bows and everything) sat on top of a giant love heart. Romantic for some, a bit sentimental for others…

Wantage Town Under 18 team will be 40 miles per player to raise local awareness and funds for Pancreatic Cancer UK, which is a charity close to their hearts. The players will be completing the run in memory of many of the player’s first football coach Matt Godwin. Please see their JustGiving page for further details and how to donate.

• Seven oak trees will be planted by Grove Parish Council during this weekend’s Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Service of Dedication at Kingcup Green, Grove. The short service starts from 2.30pm to commemorate the 70th anniversary of her majesty’s accession to the throne.

• Please see the Sustainable Wantage February 2022 newsletter for updates and future events surrounding the group.

• Arts Hub Wantage’s January newsletter is delighted to share news about the return of live entertainment including shows, concerts, workshops and theatre in and around Wantage.

• As previously announced, Electric Vehicle charging points will soon be installed at five of the council car parks across the Vale of the White Horse including Portway Car Park, Wantage OX12 9BU. In total 62 new charging points are being installed across the county by the district council to increase EV charging availability. Booking, tariff information and further links can be found on the Parish Council website.

• The Ray Collins Charitable Trust will host a St George’s Day themed market on 24 April, with the hope of it being the largest market Wantage has ever seen. All proceeds raised on the day will go towards funding the trust’s community work for the rest of the year. Any business-owners or fellow fundraisers that would like to book a stall for the market can do so by contacting info@raycollinstrust.org, plus any other questions regarding the event may be answered by the information in this The Ray Collins Charitable Trust Facebook post.

• Bakers and cake enthusiasts are being called upon by The Volunteer Inn in Grove for its Coffee & Cake day on 12 March, which hopes to raise as much as possible for Brain Tumour Research. Any food donations are welcome, whether home-made or store-bought, and a JustGiving page has been set up to get the ball rolling with fundraising.

• Improvements being made to Mably Way/Denchworth Road Roundabout between 22 February to 22 April will cause a change to current traffic flow. The 4-way traffic light, traffic management plan is now available to view online.

• As previously reported, The King Alfred’s Head, Wantage will host a charity event, fundraising for Papyrus UK, called Ride ’22 in honour of Conor Page. Tragically Conor passed away on 12 February 2018, after committing suicide at the age of 13. The event aims to not only raise money for the young peoples’ suicide prevention charity, but to also “raise awareness of teenage suicide in the hope that we can help stop this happening to another family.” Tickets for the event (which will be held on Saturday 26 February) can be booked online, with plenty of local shops, stores and live performers showing their support for the event. All stalls and performers have been (and will continue to be) announced via the Ride’22 Facebook page.

• As told last week, Vale & Downland Museum have announced their support for Parkinsons.Me by sponsoring an online talk event on Tuesday 8 February. Please see a Facebook post by Vale & Downland Museum for links and further information on the evening event.

• Oxfordshire Library’s e-book short story competition is still open for entries until 27 February 2022. Plenty of time for any keen authors to write a story below 3,000 words, for their chance to “have their stories published and featured on our Overdrive platform and the Libby app”. This is the eighth year the competition has run. Further details can be found on Oxfordshire Libraries website.

• Click here for the recent (22 December) statement from the leader of Vale of White Horse Council.

• Need the motivation to get fit in the New Year? Sign up to do the Great North Run in September 2022 in aid of the Wantage-based Team Mikayla charity which grants wishes for children with cancer.

• The Vale of White Horse Community Lottery has provided funding for 50 local good causes since its first draw in September and the Council expects that over £30,000 will have been raised during its first year. Click here for more information and you can take part.

 Volunteer drivers are needed in the Wantage and Grove areas – click here for details.

• This article on the Vale’s website looks back over the decade since the first enterprise zone was created in Oxfordshire.

Work from home if you can

In her regular column in the Herald (which you can also read here), Julie Mabberley looks at a report from two developers entitled Working from Home: Planning for the New Normal  which “supposedly highlights how having a dedicated space at home for doing their job supports the wellbeing of working people.” The report suggests that about half the respondents feel their current home is “unsuitable” for home working and only just over a quarter have a dedicated workspace rather than the end of the kitchen table or even in the garden shed.

The report “goes on to suggest that local authorities should be planning for larger homes rather than one- or two-bedroom homes to meet this need.” Hang on – but aren’t they going to cost more? Are houses not expensive enough as it is? Julie goes on to raise this very point.

Developers are in the business to make money and, economies of scale being what they are, the larger a home the more profitable it is. Having a rationale such as this to defend why more larger homes need to be built is another weapon in their already formidable armoury of getting what they want from the planning system. The assumptions are also predicated on the assumption that home working will become the norm. It will certainly be more common but, unless there’s another pandemic, not to the extent that happened in 2020 and 2021.

Another issue, which the article doesn’t refer to, is the broadband connection: and here we run into another aspect of government policy that affects people in different ways. According to these government figures, the Wantage area currently has 97.6% of residential and business properties able to get speeds of 30Mbps or above (slightly better than the national average) and 23.4 % able to get full fibre, try-locally providing speeds around 1,000Mbps (rather worse than the national average).

30Mbps is probably adequate for most online social life and business work such as Zoom calls but may not be for more intensive activities involving large uploads or serious database management.  How desirable a property is may have as much to with its connection speed as with its number of rooms: no point in a fancy south-facing office if your connection keeps hanging up or dropping off. As with the level on infrastructure in the area, it would seem that the Wantage and Grove area has a bit of catching up to do. Building more expensive homes with more rooms may not be the answer to the problem, much as developers would love this to become the norm.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

• Sat 5 Feb Repair Café 10am to 1pm The Mix, Wantage.

• Sun 6 Feb Betjeman Park Working Party 10am to noon Betjeman Millennium Park, Wantage.

• Sun 6 Feb Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Service of Dedication 2.30pm Kingcup Green, Grove.

• Tue 8 Feb Rhymetime Group 10.45am to 11.15am Grove Library.

Tue 22 Feb Watery Wildlife Family Crafts 10am to 3pm Vale & Downland Museum, Wantage.

• Wed 23 Feb Korky Paul (illustrator of Winnie & Wilbur books) Meet & Greet 10.30am to 11.30am Wantage Library.

• Wed 23 Feb Improving Cycling & Walking in Wantage & Grove 7.30pm to 9pm Zoom Call.

• Wed 23 Feb Grove Garden & Local History Club 7.30pm to 10.30pm Grove Village Hall.

Thu 24 Feb Bollywood Charity Dance Class 9.50am Old Mill Hall, Grove.

Fri 25 Feb 70s Glam Rock Night 8.30pm Lord Nelson, Wantage.

• Sat 26 Feb Ride ’22 1pm to 11pm The King Alfred’s Head, Wantage.

Sun 27 Feb Wantage Circular Charity Walk 10am to 12.30pm Meeting at Lord Nelson Pub, Wantage.

• Regular events

• Please see Wantage.com for time and dates for the various local church Christmas services plus events.

 Wantage Library events for all ages. See details on their Facebook page.

• Wantage Library’s new library reading group meet every 2nd Monday of the month from 6.30pm to 7.30pm, which started on 13 December. If you are interested in joining, contact the Library on Facebook or at wantage.library@oxfordshire.gov.uk to register your interest.

• Another reading group in Wantage are the Vale & Downland Museum Book Group, who meet inside the museum’s café on the second Friday of each month at 2pm. Any questions or queries can be sent to info@valeanddownlandmuseum.org.uk.

• Oxfordshire Mind runs a weekly meeting at Wantage Methodist Church for their Wantage Mental Health Support Group every Tuesday between 10am to noon. Please see this poster for further details.

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

• Wantage also hosts a market every Wednesday and Saturday between 8am to 3pm. For further details please see the Wantage Market Facebook page.

• Wantage Library has a wide range of books on family and local history as well as free online resources, many of which you can access from the comfort of your own home. See here for details.

 Walking Netball takes place at Old Mill Hall, Grove every Thursday between 12.30pm and 1.30pm. No previous experience is needed and all ages are more than welcome.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council took place on 29 November and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.) Click here to see the agenda for the meeting on 29 November. To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 14 December and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the village plan; air quality; future sport and leisure provision in the parish; speeding; planning matters, including Grove Airfield and Crab Hill; financial matters, including the 2022-23 budget which was set at £323,141, an increase of 8.8%; the extravaganza; possible tree planting; and fishing in Letcombe Brook. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• There was also a special meeting of Grove Parish Council on 18 January and you can read the minutes here. This was mainly to consider the PC’s response to the Vale Council’s consultation on leisure needs and included a stinging rebuke about the possibility that S106 contributions allocated to Grove might end up being spent elsewhere. See also Use it or lose it above.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council took place on 8 December and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: public participation; actions from previous meeting; the MUGA; councillors’ responsibilities; financial matters; and planning matters. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council took place on 15 November and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council took place on 6 May and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Wantage area council contacts

Parishes: click here for Wantage Town CouncilGrove Parish CouncilWest Challow Parish CouncilEast Challow Parish CouncilArdington & Lockinge Parish CouncilWest Hanney Parish CouncilEast Hanney Parish Council and Letcombe Regis Parish Council.

Vale of White Horse District Council: click here to visit the website.

Oxfordshire County Councilclick here to visit the website.

Thursday 27 January 2022

This week’s news

• The BBC reports that there were 1,734 CV-19 cases in Vale of White Horse in the week 17 to 23 January, up 465 on the week before. This equates to 1,257 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 1,002 (926 last week). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a more local level to be obtained.

• There are a few place still available at the Down to Earth Community Cafe this Saturday 29 January at The Methodist Churh Hall where a vegetarian meal will be created from surplus ingredients sourced from the Oxford Food Hub. You can join in the cooking from 3.30pm or arrive for the meal at 5.30pm. Information will also be shared about the work of Sustainable Wantage. There is no charge for meals but donations are appreciated on a ‘pay as you feel’ or ‘what you can afford’ basis. For more details please contact Kate Farrington on katefarrington10@gmail.com or listen to Penny’s interview with Kate here (from 2 minutes).

• Arts Hub Wantage’s January newsletter is delighted to share news about the return of live entertainment including shows, concerts, workshops and theatre in and around Wantage

Electric Vehicle charging points will soon be installed at five of the council car parks across the Vale of the White Horse including Portway Car Park, Wantage OX12 9BU. In total 62 new charging points are being installed across the county by the district council to increase EV charging availability. Booking, tariff information and further links can be found on the Parish Council website.

• The Ray Collins Charitable Trust is hosting a St George’s Day themed market on Sunday 24 April, with the hope of it being the largest market Wantage has ever seen. All proceeds raised on the day will go towards funding the trust’s community work for the rest of the year. Any business-owners or fellow fundraisers that would like to book a stall for the market can do so by contacting info@raycollinstrust.org, plus any other questions regarding the event may be answered by the information in this The Ray Collins Charitable Trust Facebook post.

• Bakers and cake enthusiasts are being called upon by The Volunteer Inn in Grove for its Coffee & Cake day on 12 March, which hopes to raise as much as possible for Brain Tumour Research. Any food donations are welcome, whether home-made or store-bought, and a JustGiving page has been set up to get the ball rolling with fundraising.

Wantage Town FC achieved their first league victory of 2022, with a 1-0 away win against Aylesbury Utd FC. It’s ‘The Freds’ first win since 9 November 2021 and the three points took them off of the bottom of the Southern League Division 1 Central table. Video highlights of the match can be seen on YouTube for all of Wantage’s fans to re-live.

Grove Parish Council has alerted locals that improvements being made to Mably Way/Denchworth Road Roundabout between 22 February to 22 April will cause a change to current traffic flow. The 4-way traffic light, traffic management plan is now available to view online.

• As previously reported, The King Alfred’s Head, Wantage will host a charity event, fundraising for Papyrus UK, called Ride ’22 in honour of Conor Page. Tragically Conor passed away on 12 February 2018, after committing suicide at the age of 13. The event aims to not only raise money for the young peoples’ suicide prevention charity, but to also “raise awareness of teenage suicide in the hope that we can help stop this happening to another family.” Tickets for the event (which will be held on Saturday 26 February) can be booked online, with further updates and information to be found on Facebook too.

• Vale & Downland Museum have announced their support for Parkinsons.Me by sponsoring an online talk event on Tuesday 8 February. Please see a Facebook post by Vale & Downland Museum for links and further information on the evening event.

• Oxfordshire Library’s e-book short story competition is still open for entries until 27 February 2022. Plenty of time for any keen authors to write a story below 3,000 words, for their chance to “have their stories published and featured on our Overdrive platform and the Libby app”. This is the eighth year the competition has run. Further details can be found on Oxfordshire Libraries website.

• The latest Letcombe Register newsletter covers news of Letcombe Regis and the surrounding area for January 2022.
• Click here for the latest (22 December) newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group.

• Click here for the recent e-newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnston.

• Click here for the recent (22 December) statement from the leader of Vale of White Horse Council.

• Need the motivation to get fit in the New Year? Sign up to do the Great North Run in September 2022 in aid of the Wantage-based Team Mikayla charity which grants wishes for children with cancer.

• The December edition of Mayor of Wantage’s Newsletter includes; details of upcoming local events, updates regarding ‘The Meanwhile Space Project’ and Market Place building renovations, as well as an update on what’s on at Vale & Downland Museum.

• The Vale of White Horse Community Lottery has provided funding for 50 local good causes since its first draw in September and the Council expects that over £30,000 will have been raised during its first year. Click here for more information and you can take part.

 Volunteer drivers are needed in the Wantage and Grove areas – click here for details.

• This article on the Vale’s website looks back over the decade since the first enterprise zone was created in Oxfordshire.

Use it of lose it

In her regular column in the Herald (which you can also read here), Julie Mabberley asks a very simple question: has the infrastructure in the area kept pace with the increased population? Some simple questions have complicated answers – “how does gravity work?” for example – but this isn’t one of them.

The answer is, she tells us, “a resounding no.”

She goes on to point out that population of Wantage and Grove has increased from about 18,500 in 2011 to about 24,500 now and probably to over  30,000 in the next five years. That’s the equivalent of having a town the size of Hungerford added to the settlements not once but twice. Hungerford is pretty well served for infrastructure. It has two leisure centres (one owned by WBC, on private), a large surgery, several playgrounds and sports fields and three schools (nursery, primary and secondary). It also has  – which Wantage used to have but currently at least does not – a railway station: but that’s a separate story.

Julie then looks at specific areas of non-expansion. These include the health centre (though hopefully this will be addresses by 2024), the Community Hospital (which has actually contracted in this time), the midwife-led maternity unit (insufficient staff) and the Health and Wellbeing Centre (closed in 2017 and “getting more derelict by the day.”) This is a pretty sorry progress report for a town in one of the richest counties in the country.

As far as education is concerned, one new primary school has opened since 2011 while the other schools have “expanded as much as they can.” Leisure facilities don’t look to be in great shape either with the long-planned new centre axed while the Vale’s promised leisure strategy having “hit the skids and not expected to be completed any time soon.”

More worrying still, she suggests that some of the developer contributions for the new leisure centre may need to be returned if a way cannot be found of using these which satisfies the agreement. I’m taking a wild guess here but suspect the developers are pretty clued up at ensuring that funds are only paid for the precise projects for which they were ear-marked at the time of the agreement. An investigation by Property Week suggested that, in 2019, local councils had £2.5bn of unspent developer contributions. Assuming that the Vale’s pot is proportionate to its population, this would equate to about £5m.

This figure could well be an under-estimate. At its meeting on 18 January, Grove PC stated that “a total of £3,474,384 of S106 monies has been received or agreed from developers in the vicinity alone for the now defunct Sports and Leisure Centre.” The minutes went on to report that “the Parish Council is very aggrieved that some of this money could be spent on other leisure projects around the Vale and not necessarily in Grove. The Parish Council insists that this money be spent in Grove on a new sports hall to be either located behind the Mably Way Health Centre or on the development site or co-located with the new Secondary School.”

A fair comment. The danger is that if for whatever reason the money can’t be spent in a way which all parties can agree is in keeping with the agreement then the money could not end up being lost. “Use it or lose it” is a phrase often used to encourage people to support a particular service or facility. The same phrase could also be applied to councils with regard to the money which is raised to create these in the first place.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

• Fri 28 Jan Live Music – Adam Matthews 8pm to 11pm Lord Nelson, Wantage.

Starts on 29 Jan Mindfulness for Health 10.30am to 12.30pm Online Event.

• Sat 29 Jan Book-folding Workshop 11am to noon Wantage Library.

Sat 29 Jan Crochet Workshop 1.30pm to 5.30pm The Mix, Wantage.

• Sun 30 Jan Winter Tree Identification Walk 10am to noon Betjeman Park, Wantage.

Tue 1 Feb Craft Club 7pm to 9.30pm The Mix, Wantage.

• Thu 3 Feb Harry Potter Book Night 7.45pm Wantage Library.

• Sat 5 Feb Repair Café 10am to 1pm The Mix, Wantage.

• Sun 6 Feb Betjeman Park Working Party 10am to noon Betjeman Millennium Park, Wantage.

• Tue 8 Feb Rhymetime Group 10.45am to 11.15am Grove Library.

Wed 23 Feb Korky Paul (illustrator of Winnie & Wilbur books) Meet & Greet 10.30am to 11.30am Wantage Library.

Wed 23 Feb Improving Cycling & Walking in Wantage & Grove 7.30pm to 9pm Zoom Call.

Sat 26 Feb Ride ’22 1pm to 11pm The King Alfred’s Head, Wantage.

• Regular events

• Please see Wantage.com for time and dates for the various local church Christmas services plus events.

 Wantage Library events for all ages. See details on their Facebook page.

• Wantage Library’s new library reading group meet every 2nd Monday of the month from 6.30pm to 7.30pm, which started on 13 December. If you are interested in joining, contact the Library on Facebook or at wantage.library@oxfordshire.gov.uk to register your interest.

• Another reading group in Wantage are the Vale & Downland Museum Book Group, who meet inside the museum’s café on the second Friday of each month at 2pm. Any questions or queries can be sent to info@valeanddownlandmuseum.org.uk.

• Oxfordshire Mind runs a weekly meeting at Wantage Methodist Church for their Wantage Mental Health Support Group every Tuesday between 10am to noon. Please see this poster for further details.

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

• Wantage also hosts a market every Wednesday and Saturday between 8am to 3pm. For further details please see the Wantage Market Facebook page.

Wantage Library has a wide range of books on family and local history as well as free online resources, many of which you can access from the comfort of your own home. See here for details.

 Walking Netball takes place at Old Mill Hall, Grove every Thursday between 12.30pm and 1.30pm. No previous experience is needed and all ages are more than welcome.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council took place on 29 November and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.) Click here to see the agenda for the meeting on 29 November. To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 14 December and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the village plan; air quality; future sport and leisure provision in the parish; speeding; planning matters, including Grove Airfield and Crab Hill; financial matters, including the 2022-23 budget which was set at £323,141, an increase of 8.8%; the extravaganza; possible tree planting; and fishing in Letcombe Brook. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• There was also a special meeting of Grove Parish Council on 18 January and you can read the minutes here. This was mainly to consider the PC’s response to the Vale Council’s consultation on leisure needs and included a stinging rebuke about the possibility that S106 contributions allocated to Grove might end up being spent elsewhere. See also Use it or lose it above.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council took place on 8 December and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: public participation; actions from previous meeting; the MUGA; councillors’ responsibilities; financial matters; and planning matters. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council took place on 15 November and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council took place on 6 May and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Wantage area council contacts

Parishes: click here for Wantage Town CouncilGrove Parish CouncilWest Challow Parish CouncilEast Challow Parish CouncilArdington & Lockinge Parish CouncilWest Hanney Parish CouncilEast Hanney Parish Council and Letcombe Regis Parish Council.

Vale of White Horse District Council: click here to visit the website.

Oxfordshire County Councilclick here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Marlborough area; Newbury area; Thatcham area; Compton and Downlands; Theale area; Wantage area; Swindon area.

News and views from across the area and beyond: please see the most recent Weekly News with Brian column.

Thursday 20 January 2022

This week’s news

• The BBC reports that there were 1,268 CV-19 cases in Vale of White Horse in the week 10 to 16 January, down 673 on the week before. This equates to 919 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 926 (1,447 last week). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a more local level to be obtained.

Wild Wantage are asking for the opinions of Wantage locals, who currently are Sovereign Housing residents, regarding their plans to enhance local green spaces and wildlife. To contact the group, please send an email to wildwantage@gmail.com where they would love to hear any thoughts on how to improve local green spaces.

• Free rolls of bin liners for food waste caddies can be collected from various libraries across Oxfordshire, including Wantage Library. According to a Facebook post from Oxfordshire Recycles “if Oxfordshire residents recycled all of the food waste that’s currently disposed of in general rubbish, it would save more then £2 million in disposal costs.”

• As we reported last week, The King Alfred’s Head, Wantage will host a charity event, fundraising for Papyrus UK, called Ride ’22. 24 February was supposed to be the day for Conor Page, family and friends, to celebrate his 18th birthday. Tragically Conor passed away on 12 February 2018, after committing suicide at the age of 13. The event aims to not only raise money for the young peoples’ suicide prevention charity, but to also “raise awareness of teenage suicide in the hope that we can help stop this happening to another family.” Tickets for the event (which will be held on Saturday 26 February) can be booked online, with further updates and information to be found on Facebook too.

• Vale & Downland Museum have been asked to produce a public display representing Wantage Cottage Hospital and are still asking for any memories, artefacts or photographs of the hospital which could be useful for their displays. Anybody who would be able to offer any help can contact the museum’s curator Suzie via email at curator@valeanddownlandmuseum.org.uk.

• GroW Families is delivering a free, 10 week Family Links Nurturing Programme for parents and carers in the Wantage and Grove area on Friday mornings between 9.45am and 11.45am. It starts on 21 January and runs until 1 April (no session 25 February for half-term break). The programme provides strategies for parenting children of all ages, and focuses on the four pillars of empathy, positive discipline, self awareness and appropriate expectations. Email contact@growfamilies.co.uk to book a space.

• Oxfordshire Library’s e-book short story competition is still open for entries until 27 February 2022. Plenty of time for any keen authors to write a story below 3,000 words, for their chance to “have their stories published and featured on our Overdrive platform and the Libby app”. This is the eighth year the competition has run. Further details can be found on Oxfordshire Libraries website.

• Sustainable Wantage is looking for volunteers to help fortnightly between 9am to 10am on Saturdays with collecting un-wanted and surplus food from local Waitrose and Sainsbury stores. For further details please email Jo at wantagemix@gmail.com.

• The latest Letcombe Register newsletter covers news of Letcombe Regis and the surrounding area for January 2022.
• Click here for the latest (22 December) newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group.

• Click here for the recent e-newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnston.

• Click here for the recent (22 December) statement from the leader of Vale of White Horse Council.

• Need the motivation to get fit in the New Year? Sign up to do the Great North Run in September 2022 in aid of the Wantage-based Team Mikayla charity which grants wishes for children with cancer.

• The December edition of Mayor of Wantage’s Newsletter includes; details of upcoming local events, updates regarding ‘The Meanwhile Space Project’ and Market Place building renovations, as well as an update on what’s on at Vale & Downland Museum.

• The Vale of White Horse Community Lottery has provided funding for 50 local good causes since its first draw in September and the Council expects that over £30,000 will have been raised during its first year. Click here for more information and you can take part.

 Volunteer drivers are needed in the Wantage and Grove areas – click here for details.

• This article on the Vale’s website looks back over the decade since the first enterprise zone was created in Oxfordshire.

No more leisure in OX12

Julie Mabberley’s column in the Herald (which you can also read here) returns to the question of the area’s infrastructure and specifically the proposed new leisure centre between Wantage and Grove the need for which had been identified and proved in 2013. She adds that £7m worth of developer contributions were allocated which, she suggests, “could have been multiplied through grants and lottery funding.” In 2020, however, the district council pulled the plug on the project.

She then quotes a statement from the Vale Council from early 2021 which said that “an independent review of leisure needs across the Wantage, Grove and Faringdon areas is underway to identify exactly what these alternative projects could be and the level of funding required to bring them forward,” and the council said this was to have been completed by March 2021. “Apparently,” Julie Mabberley continues, this survey was initiated “but most of the sports clubs in Wantage and Grove weren’t contacted and the results have not been released.” She goes on to refer to another sports project in the area, there all-weather pitch near the current leisure centre, which it seems now can’t be built because King Alfred’s School has withdrawn its support.

“It seems,” she concludes, “as though everyone is conspiring to stop the millions of pounds received from and promised by developers being spent for the benefit of residents of OX12.” This seems like a fair inference. The next election in the Vale will take place in May next year so, if still unresolved, this may well result in a promise to proceed. Mind you, it was promised before and wasn’t built. How many more homes have to go up in the area before this becomes seen as a sufficiently important item?

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

• Fri 21 Jan Local Author Talk – Nicola Cornick 6.30pm to 7.30pm Wantage Library.

• Wed 26 Jan Sustainable Session – January Pub Social 7.30pm Shoulder of Mutton, Wantage.

• Fri 28 Jan Live Music – Adam Matthews 8pm to 11pm Lord Nelson, Wantage.

• Sat 29 Jan Book-folding Workshop 11am to noon Wantage Library.

• Sun 30 Jan Winter Tree Identification Walk 10am to noon Betjeman Park, Wantage.

• Thu 3 Feb Harry Potter Book Night 7.45pm Wantage Library.

Sat 5 Feb Repair Café 10am to 1pm The Mix, Wantage.

Sun 6 Feb Betjeman Park Working Party 10am to noon Betjeman Millennium Park, Wantage.

Tue 8 Feb Rhymetime Group 10.45am to 11.15am Grove Library.

• Regular events

• Please see Wantage.com for time and dates for the various local church Christmas services plus events.

 Wantage Library events for all ages. See details on their Facebook page.

• Wantage Library’s new library reading group meet every 2nd Monday of the month from 6.30pm to 7.30pm, which started on 13 December. If you are interested in joining, contact the Library on Facebook or at wantage.library@oxfordshire.gov.uk to register your interest.

• Another reading group in Wantage are the Vale & Downland Museum Book Group, who meet inside the museum’s café on the second Friday of each month at 2pm. Any questions or queries can be sent to info@valeanddownlandmuseum.org.uk.

• Oxfordshire Mind runs a weekly meeting at Wantage Methodist Church for their Wantage Mental Health Support Group every Tuesday between 10am to noon. Please see this poster for further details.

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

• Wantage also hosts a market every Wednesday and Saturday between 8am to 3pm. For further details please see the Wantage Market Facebook page.

• If you’re interested in family and local history research, Wantage Library has a wide range of books about how to start your family tree, the local countryside and villages around Wantage as well as free online resources, many of which you can access from the comfort of your own home. See here for details.

 Walking Netball takes place at Old Mill Hall, Grove every Thursday between 12.30pm and 1.30pm. No previous experience is needed and all ages are more than welcome.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council took place on 29 November and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.) Click here to see the agenda for the meeting on 29 November. To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 14 December and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the village plan; air quality; future sport and leisure provision in the parish; speeding; planning matters, including Grove Airfield and Crab Hill; financial matters, including the 2022-23 budget which was set at £323,141, an increase of 8.8%; the extravaganza; possible tree planting; and fishing in Letcombe Brook. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council took place on 8 December and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: public participation; actions from previous meeting; the MUGA; councillors’ responsibilities; financial matters; and planning matters. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council took place on 6 May and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council took place on 20 September and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Wantage area council contacts

Parishes: click here for Wantage Town CouncilGrove Parish CouncilWest Challow Parish CouncilEast Challow Parish CouncilArdington & Lockinge Parish CouncilWest Hanney Parish CouncilEast Hanney Parish Council and Letcombe Regis Parish Council.

Vale of White Horse District Council: click here to visit the website.

Oxfordshire County Councilclick here to visit the website.

Thursday 13 January 2022

This week’s news

• The BBC reports that there were 1,936 CV-19 cases in Vale of White Horse in the week 3 to 9 January, down 132 on the week before. This equates to 1,404 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 1,447 (1,729 last week). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a more local level to be obtained.

• The King Alfred’s Head, Wantage will host a charity event, fundraising for Papyrus UK, called Ride ’22. 24 February was supposed to be the day for Conor Page, family and friends, to celebrate his 18th birthday. Tragically Conor passed away on 12 February 2018, after committing suicide at the age of 13. The event aims to not only raise money for the young peoples’ suicide prevention charity, but to also “raise awareness of teenage suicide in the hope that we can help stop this happening to another family.” Tickets for the event (which will be held on Saturday 26 February) can be booked online, with further updates and information to be found on Facebook too.

• Vale & Downland Museum has responded to an article from last week’s Wantage Herald, which explored the history behind Wantage Cottage Hospital. As a result of the article, the museum have been asked to produce a public display representing the hospital and are asking for any memories, artefacts or photographs of the hospital which could be useful for their displays. Anybody who would be able to offer any help can contact the museum’s curator Suzie via email at curator@valeanddownlandmuseum.org.uk.

Wantage Town FC confirmed on 9 January that manager Matt Biddle has resigned, with his assistant manager James Keller now taking on the duties as first team manager.

• BBC Radio Oxford is looking for any donations of unwanted Christmas presents, which will be used to raise money for the Children in Need charity appeal. Donation drop-off points are available across Oxfordshire, including one located at Wantage Leisure Centre. The last day to donate will be Monday 17 January.

• GroW Families is delivering a free, 10 week Family Links Nurturing Programme for parents and carers in the Wantage and Grove area on Friday mornings between 9.45am and 11.45am. It starts on 21 January and runs until 1 April (no session 25 February for half-term break). The programme provides strategies for parenting children of all ages, and focuses on the four pillars of empathy, positive discipline, self awareness and appropriate expectations. Email contact@growfamilies.co.uk to book a space.

• The Greyhound Inn in Letcombe Regis is currently closed for annual maintenance work to be completed. The pub will re-open at 4pm on Monday 17 January, according to The Letcombe Register (Issue 197, p 10).

• Oxfordshire Library’s e-book short story competition is still open for entries until 27 February 2022. Plenty of time for any keen authors to write a story below 3,000 words, for their chance to “have their stories published and featured on our Overdrive platform and the Libby app”. This is the eighth year the competition has run. Further details can be found on Oxfordshire Libraries website.

• Sustainable Wantage is looking for volunteers to help fortnightly between 9am to 10am on Saturdays with collecting un-wanted and surplus food from local Waitrose and Sainsbury stores. For further details please email Jo at wantagemix@gmail.com.

• Thames Valley Police and Crimes Commissioner, Matthew Barber, is asking residents across the Thames Valley area for their opinions for the 2022/23 Police Budget. An online survey can be responded to before the deadline of 5pm on Tuesday 18 January. Matthew Barber has stated the importance of any responses by saying “giving us your feedback, you can help shape decisions about police funding and how Thames Valley Police can continue to work to keep us all safe.”

• A new year and a new Letcombe Register newsletter containing activities and more all about the surrounding area and community for January 2022.
Click here for the latest (22 December) newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group.

• Click here for the recent e-newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnston.

• Click here for the recent (22 December) statement from the leader of Vale of White Horse Council.

• Need the motivation to get fit in the New Year? Sign up to do the Great North Run in September 2022 in aid of the Wantage-based Team Mikayla charity which grants wishes for children with cancer.

• The December edition of Mayor of Wantage’s Newsletter includes; details of upcoming local events, updates regarding ‘The Meanwhile Space Project’ and Market Place building renovations, as well as an update on what’s on at Vale & Downland Museum.

• The Vale of White Horse Community Lottery has provided funding for 50 local good causes since its first draw in September and the Council expects that over £30,000 will have been raised during its first year. Click here for more information and you can take part.

 Volunteer drivers are needed in the Wantage and Grove areas – click here for details.

• This article on the Vale’s website looks back over the decade since the first enterprise zone was created in Oxfordshire.

Too many homes, too little infrastructure”

These aren’t my words but those of Wantage’s MP David Johnston talking in the Commons earlier this month, as reported in the most recent of Julie Mabberley’s regular columns in the Herald (which you can also read here). The remark could form the strap line for the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group (WAGCG), of which she is a member.

She summarised his points as including “issues of new homes quality, land banking (suggesting “use it or lose it” planning permissions), infrastructure first and environmental standards.” All of these are real concerns throughout the country and would, if addressed, help create more (though probably not enough) and better (though probably not perfect) homes. The government’s 2021 white paper on the planning system, which seems to have been jettisoned by the new Minister Michael Gove, would have given more powers to developers and played strongly on the old trope that red tape and leaden-footed planning officers were the main causes of the so-called homes crisis. It’s hard to see how this light-touch approach would have done anything other than make all these problems much worse.

The infrastructure issue is a particular concern in the Wantage and Grove area but with developments that are already under way it’s a tricky one to fix. Developers are only obliged to make financial contributions or perform work in kind to mitigate the effect of their scheme. Existing deficits are the responsibility of the council, or the government, to deal with. Without extra help, areas such as this on, and Thatcham, will never catch up. Mr Johnston, and the WAGCG, are to be congratulated for continuing to highlight this issue. I’m sure that in his Commons address the MP also found the opportunity of mentioning the need to re-open the railway station at Grove, which I think he’s determined to talking about every time he’s called upon to speak.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

• Sat 15 Jan Repair Café The Mix, Wantage.

• Sat 15 Jan Nature Reserve Work Party 1.20pm to 4.30pm Letcombe Valley Community Nature Reserve.

• Tue 18 Jan Rhymetime Group 10.45am to 11.15am Grove Library.

• Tue 18 Jan Online Green Book Club 7.30pm to 8.30pm via Zoom Meeting.

• Fri 21 Jan Local Author Talk – Nicola Cornick 6.30pm to 7.30pm Wantage Library.

• Wed 26 Jan Sustainable Session – January Pub Social 7.30pm Shoulder of Mutton, Wantage.

• Fri 28 Jan Live Music – Adam Matthews 8pm to 11pm Lord Nelson, Wantage.

• Sat 29 Jan Book-folding Workshop 11am to noon Wantage Library.

Sun 30 Jan Winter Tree Identification Walk 10am to noon Betjeman Park, Wantage.

Thu 3 Feb Harry Potter Book Night 7.45pm Wantage Library.

• Regular events

• Please see Wantage.com for time and dates for the various local church Christmas services plus events.

 Wantage Library events for all ages. See details on their Facebook page.

• Wantage Library’s new library reading group meet every 2nd Monday of the month from 6.30pm to 7.30pm, which started on 13 December. If you are interested in joining, contact the Library on Facebook or at wantage.library@oxfordshire.gov.uk to register your interest.

• Another reading group in Wantage are the Vale & Downland Museum Book Group, who meet inside the museum’s café on the second Friday of each month at 2pm. Any questions or queries can be sent to info@valeanddownlandmuseum.org.uk.

• Oxfordshire Mind runs a weekly meeting at Wantage Methodist Church for their Wantage Mental Health Support Group every Tuesday between 10am to noon. Please see this poster for further details.

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

• Wantage also hosts a market every Wednesday and Saturday between 8am to 3pm. For further details please see the Wantage Market Facebook page.

• If you’re interested in family and local history research, Wantage Library has a wide range of books about how to start your family tree, the local countryside and villages around Wantage as well as free online resources, many of which you can access from the comfort of your own home. See here for details.

 Walking Netball takes place at Old Mill Hall, Grove every Thursday between 12.30pm and 1.30pm. No previous experience is needed and all ages are more than welcome.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council took place on 29 November and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.) Click here to see the agenda for the meeting on 29 November. To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 14 December and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the village plan; air quality; future sport and leisure provision in the parish; speeding; planning matters, including Grove Airfield and Crab Hill; financial matters, including the 2022-23 budget which was set at £323,141, an increase of 8.8%; the extravaganza; possible tree planting; and fishing in Letcombe Brook. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council took place on 8 December and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: public participation; actions from previous meeting; the MUGA; councillors’ responsibilities; financial matters; and planning matters. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council took place on 6 May and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council took place on 20 September and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Wantage area council contacts

Parishes: click here for Wantage Town CouncilGrove Parish CouncilWest Challow Parish CouncilEast Challow Parish CouncilArdington & Lockinge Parish CouncilWest Hanney Parish CouncilEast Hanney Parish Council and Letcombe Regis Parish Council.

Vale of White Horse District Council: click here to visit the website.

Oxfordshire County Councilclick here to visit the website.

Thursday 6 January 2022

This week’s news

• The BBC reports that there were 2,027 CV-19 cases in Vale of White Horse in the week 27 December to 2 January, up 417 on the week before. This equates to 1,470 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 1,729. See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a more local level to be obtained.

• Click here for the latest (22 December) newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group.

• Click here for the recent e-newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnston.

• Click here for the recent (22 December) statement from the leader of Vale of White Horse Council.

• The Mayor of Wantage shared some farewell pictures of the eight puppies that will start their journeys with Guide Dogs UK and Puppy Raisers to hopefully become valuable helpers for those in need support from man’s best friend. The mayor also mentions that the puppies (six black Labradors and 2two foster German shepherd/golden retriever cross) were born during the Remembrance week in November 2021, with the first born from the litter aptly named Poppy.

• GroW Families is delivering a free, 10 week Family Links Nurturing Programme for parents and carers in the Wantage and Grove area on Friday mornings between 9.45am and 11.45am. It starts on 21 January and runs until 1 April (no session 25 February for half-term break). The programme provides strategies for parenting children of all ages, and focuses on the four pillars of empathy, positive discipline, self awareness and appropriate expectations. Email contact@growfamilies.co.uk to book a space.

• Anyone looking for local football to watch may be interested in Wantage Town FC’s derby day match on Saturday 8 January, when they visit fellow Oxfordshire side Thame United. Recently the Alfredians haven’t travelled too far from home with their last two games being played against Kidlington FC and Didcot Town.

This month’s Wantage Cafe Scientifique talk will be back on zoom on Wednesday 12 January. The topic sounds interesting: The Harwell connection of the exposure and pursuit of Klaus Fuchs, the most dangerous spy in history.

• Congratulations to Letcombe Regis pub The Greyhound Inn for raising over £1,000 throughout November and December 2021 for homeless and vulnerable people charity StreetSmart. The money was kindly donated by visitors to the pub during the last two months of the year.

• The Greyhound Inn will be closed between 9 to 17 January for annual maintenance work to be completed. The pub will re-open at 4pm on Monday 17 January, according to The Letcombe Register (Issue 197, p 10).

• Oxfordshire Library’s e-book short story competition is still open for entries until 27 February 2022. Plenty of time for any keen authors to write a story below 3,000 words, for their chance to “have their stories published and featured on our Overdrive platform and the Libby app”. This is the eighth year the competition has run. Further details can be found on Oxfordshire Libraries website.

Sustainable Wantage is looking for volunteers to help fortnightly between 9am to 10am on Saturdays with collecting un-wanted and surplus food from local Waitrose and Sainsbury stores. For further details please email Jo at wantagemix@gmail.com.

• As reported by Wantage Herald, local author Terry Randall and MP David Johnston visited Vale & Downland Museum in Wantage to hand over a cheque for £500, all of which was to be donated to the museum. Terry’s book, ‘The Lost Manor House of the FitzWaryns‘, sales from his November-published book raised the sum and now he says “I have only a few copies left of the original 200.”

Thames Valley Police and Crimes Commissioner, Matthew Barber, is asking residents across the Thames Valley area for their opinions for the 2022/23 Police Budget. An online survey can be responded to before the deadline of 5pm on Tuesday 18 January. Matthew Barber has stated the importance of any responses by saying “giving us your feedback, you can help shape decisions about police funding and how Thames Valley Police can continue to work to keep us all safe.”

• A new year and a new Letcombe Register newsletter containing activities and more all about the surrounding area and community for January 2022.
• An electric vehicle charge point is being installed on Portway in Wantage by Park & Charge Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Council. Three chargers are also being installed in Abingdon and one in Faringdon. For the latest updates please check Park & Charge Oxfordshire’s Facebook page.

• Need the motivation to get fit in the New Year? Sign up to do the Great North Run in September 2022 in aid of the Wantage-based Team Mikayla charity which grants wishes for children with cancer.

• The December edition of Mayor of Wantage’s Newsletter includes; details of upcoming local events, updates regarding ‘The Meanwhile Space Project’ and Market Place building renovations, as well as an update on what’s on at Vale & Downland Museum.

• 2022 will be a year to celebrate Grove RFC, as it is the rugby club’s 50 year anniversary. To commemorate this, the club is compiling a collection of memories throughout the half-century that the club has been established for. They ask if you played for Grove or have memories of people who did, please contact GRFCat50@gmail.com.

• Click here for information about Sustainable Wantage‘s local environment and communities activities.

• The Vale of White Horse Community Lottery has provided funding for 50 local good causes since its first draw in September and the Council expects that over £30,000 will have been raised during its first year. Click here for more information and you can take part.

 Volunteer drivers are needed in the Wantage and Grove areas – click here for details.

• This article on the Vale’s website looks back over the decade since the first enterprise zone was created in Oxfordshire.

Health provision in OX12

In her regular weekly column in the Herald, which you can also read here, Julie Mabberly looks at development and planning issues (of which there are many) affecting the area. This week she considered the question “what, if any, health infrastructure are we expecting?”

This is a good question but one which she was unable to answer. “No one knows” would seem to be the only accurate response. She refers to the plans for the expansion to the Mably Way Health Centre, which have recently been submitted ten years after the need was identified. She refers to the continued closure of much of the Wantage Community Hospital. She refers to the fact that the current local plan, approved in 2016, is silent on any definite increase in health-care provision. She refers to the fact that “residents of OX12 attended nearly 50,000 outpatient and follow up appointments in Oxford between April 2017 and March 2019,” which seems powerfully to make the case for more services locally. Never mind the inconvenience, just consider the carbon: if half of these journeys were made by car, that’s 25,000 round trips of 35 miles, the equivalent of driving from New York to LA over 300 times.

The deficit between development and infrastructure seems particularly severe in OX12 (as it also is in Thatcham). Fortunately her organisation, the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group, exists to help highlight these. There seems no sign the group will be needing to be wound up any time soon. You can click here to see the archive of newsletters W&GCG produces, the most recent being a detailed one on 22 December 2021.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council took place on 29 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a minute’s silence for three recently deceased former councillors; the cemetery; the cancellation of the Mayor’s carol service; there allotments; the Market Place; planning matters; parking enforcement; the town’s newsletter; local health policy; reports from the district and county councillors; and the Wild Wantage project. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.) Click here to see the agenda for the meeting on 29 November. To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 9 November and you can read the minutes here.  To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council took place on 10 November and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council took place on 6 May and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council took place on 20 September and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

Thursday 23 December 2021

A look back at 2021

We’ve covered a lot of stories in this area in 2021, several on more than one occasion as things have changed or new facts come to light. We’ve listed and summarised a handful of these below. More information can be found by searching for the respective phrases in this post (and any for coverage of this area for earlier periods, which will be linked to at the foot of the post). 

• The Market Place pedestrianisation. This was introduced, on the west side of the square, in July 2020 and is set to continue until January 2022 at least (18 months seems like a sensible period of time to allow people to get used to the arrangements and assess the pros and cons). The Town Council has ambitions to make this a permanent feature. Unsurprisingly, not everyone agrees.

• Parking. It has long been claimed that there are too few legal car parking spaces in Wantage. Until recently, many people dealt with this by parking illegally on the accurate assumption that the Police (whose responsibility enforcement was) would have no resources to deal with this. This all changed in November when the job was handed over to the district council.

• Development and infrastructure. Many feel that the Wantage and Grove area has more than its fair share of the former and not nearly enough of the latter, and that the gap is widening. The Wantage and Grove Campaign Group exists, not to oppose all development, but to ensure that it is “proportionate and sustainable,” and and mitigating infrastructure “should enhance and improve the quality of life for its residents.” In 2021, the group has pointed out several examples of where the opposite has happened, as well highlighting a number of other related issues of importance to the future of the area.

• Wantage Road Railway station. This closed in December 1964 and since then there have been no stations on the 20-mile stretch between Didcot and Swindon. The area around Wantage has grown considerably in recent years, and will continue to do so. This, coupled with the climate emergency, makes the case for re-opening it stronger by the day. For reasons most of us find hard to understand, re-opening a station is far from a simple thing for a railway company to do. None the less, a number of campaigners including local MP David Johnston (who mentions the subject at every opportunity in the Commons) are continuing to lobby for this aspect of the Beeching cuts to be reversed.

This week’s news

Click here for the latest (22 December) newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group.

• Click here for the recent e-newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnston.

Click here for the recent (22 December) statement from the leader of Vale of White Horse Council.

Grove Parish Council thanked all local residents who attended their Christmas tree carol service on 16 December, especially as they raised £79 (which was added to by the parish council to make a nice, round £100) for Ray Collins Charitable Trust.

• 200 trees were planted by Wild Wantage volunteers at Wantage Cemetery which, as Sustainable Wantage mentions, “will create a hedge to greatly benefit our local wildlife, providing both food and shelter for many species of birds and mammals.”

Wantage Community Larder announced on 19 December that they received 458 food donations, which have been used for the Wantage Food Bank, through November and December 2021.

• Wantage Community Larder will be closed for Friday 24 and 31 December but will re-open on Friday 7 January 2022, as shared via Facebook.

The Wantage Mix Community Space have closed for the rest of 2021 and will re-open on Wednesday 5 January from 10am to 3pm.

• Wantage Library will be closed from 25 to 28 December and 1 to 3 January, with various opening times throughout the festive period and New Year.

• Oxfordshire Library’s e-book short story competition is still open for entries until 27 February 2022. Plenty of time for any keen authors to write a story below 3,000 words, for their chance to “have their stories published and featured on our Overdrive platform and the Libby app”. This is the 8th year the competition has run and further details can be found on Oxfordshire Libraries website.

Vale & Downland Museum will be closed from 25 December to 3 January, with a resumption of usual opening times (9.30am to 3.45pm) on 4 January.

• As previously reported, to help people recycle food over Christmas, rather than put it in the black bin, Wantage Library is giving away free food waste caddy bags. According to Oxfordshire County Council, “recycling food waste costs less than a quarter of the price of disposing of it with general rubbish. General rubbish in Oxfordshire is burnt to generate energy which already reduces greenhouse gas emissions compared to landfills, but recycling food waste doubles the climate change benefit. The recycling process generates green electricity and fertiliser that is used on farmland across the county. Each year the council already recycles nearly 25,000 tonnes of food waste – such as vegetable peel, bones, eggshells, plate scrapings and used teabags – but it estimates that a similar amount wrongly ends up in general waste.”

• An electric vehicle charge point is being installed on Portway in Wantage by Park & Charge Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Council. Three chargers are also being installed in Abingdon and one in Faringdon. For the latest updates please check Park & Charge Oxfordshire’s Facebook page.

• Need motivation to get fit in the New Year? Sign up to do the Great North Run in September 2022 in aid of the Wantage-based Team Mikayla charity which grants wishes for children with cancer.

• The December edition of Mayor of Wantage’s Newsletter was released last week which includes; details of upcoming local events, updates regarding ‘The Meanwhile Space Project’ and Market Place building renovations, as well as an update on what’s on at Vale & Downland Museum. The Mayor also took to Facebook to announce the cancelling of the 2021 Town Mayor’s Carol Service due to “technical and Covid-19 issues.”

• The Letcombe Register December 2021 newsletter can be downloaded here. It contains activities and more for the surrounding area and community.

• 2022 will be a year to celebrate Grove RFC, as it is the rugby club’s 50 year anniversary. To commemorate this, the club is compiling a collection of memories throughout the half-century that the club has been established for. They ask if you played for Grove or have memories of people who did, please contact GRFCat50@gmail.com.

• Click here for information about Sustainable Wantage‘s local environment and communities activities.

• The Vale of White Horse Community Lottery has provided funding for 50 local good causes since its first draw in September and the Council expects that over £30,000 will have been raised during its first year. Click here for more information and you can take part.

 Volunteer drivers are needed in the Wantage and Grove areas – click here for details.

• This article on the Vale’s website looks back over the decade since the first enterprise zone was created in Oxfordshire.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council took place on 29 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a minute’s silence for three recently deceased former councillors; the cemetery; the cancellation of the Mayor’s carol service; there allotments; the Market Place; planning matters; parking enforcement; the town’s newsletter; local health policy; reports from the district and county councillors; and the Wild Wantage project. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.) Click here to see the agenda for the meeting on 29 November. To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 9 November and you can read the minutes here.  To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council took place on 10 November and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council took place on 6 May and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 15 March 2021 and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

 

To see earlier Wantage & Surrounding Area Weekly News columns, please click here.

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