Wantage Area Weekly News sections – 2022 archive

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.

Click here for the 2022 archive

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Thursday 12 January 2023

This week we cover Mrs Harris, a lottery, a museum, a larder and energy vouchers. In the company of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group we also look at yet another piece of massive infrastructure that OX12 is being asked to host (and offer a perhaps not very practical suggestion as to how this could be turned into a tourist attraction) – plus there’s our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• Fancy a movie this weekend? The Beacon is showing the ‘feelgood fairytale’ Miss Harris Goes to Paris at 7.30pm this Saturday 14 January. It is the story of a house cleaner who falls in love with a Dior dress and embarks on an adventure to Paris. Click here to book your seat.

Vale Community Impact advice centre in the Market Square thanks the Wantage Mummers for their generous donation of £2,300, from the proceeds of their Boxing Day performances.

• VCI have also launched their brand new 500 Club lottery and invites residents to join for a chance to win a cash prize. The more members, the bigger the prizes. To sign up, email [email protected] by 31 January in time for the first draw in February. Each entry costs £5 per month. See here for more details and the membership form.

• Now that groundwater levels are rising (and rain is falling), concerns about flooding and sewage discharges of from overwhelmed sewers are back with us again. On the latter point, you can keep your eye on this map which has been produced by Thames Water. Traffic-light colours are used: red for discharging now; orange for discharges having happened in the last 48 hours; and green for not discharging now (but shows discharges since April 2022). The overall picture is, as one might expect, pretty awful.

The Vale and Downland Museum have a couple of interesting talks coming up later this month. On Thursday 19 January, Can onions cause ear ache?‘ focuses on the interesting world of 18th century medical advice. The following week on Wednesday 25 January, The largest smell in the kingdom, focuses on the story of how Wantage came to have the largest tannery in the country but by 1850 everything had disappeared. Click on the links to find out more about these events and book tickets.

• The Wantage Community Larder is now back. From the end of January there will be a new system where members book a slot for their collections. You can read more about this in their December newsletter here. For more information about the larder and future updates, follow their Facebook page. For a reminder of how the larder works, watch Penny’s video here.

• Want to de-stress while enjoying nature? The Mix are holding free, gentle, friendly, mindfulness walks every third Saturday of the month in 2023. The walking group will be led by accredited Mindfulness teacher Sally Harris at meet at The Mix before visiting different green spaces nearby, practicing mindful activities, to help recharge and feel more connected to nature. The first walk of the year will be on Saturday 21 January and the trail will be through Betjeman Park and Locks Lane, and along the Letcombe Brook. Booking ahead is essential, so please email [email protected] or phone 07768 767787 to secure your place this month. Click here for further details.

January news from Sustainable Wantage includes plans for their new Library of Things (where you get to borrow stuff you need instead of having to buy it), workshops and events at The Mix, the community fridge and a report on the primary school cycle project where reconditioned bikes and cycle training were supplied to selected Year 6 children in the Wantage area.

• The new Down to Earth cafe across the road from Waitrose carpark offers affordable ‘warm space’ lunches for £2 on Thursdays and toasted sandwiches for £2.50 on Tuesdays. See here for their full opening times.

The Ray Collins Trust is still offering support with £200 worth of energy vouchers if you live in Wantage & Grove or within 5 miles. If you are a family receiving benefits or an over 65 struggling on a pension you could be eligible for these vouchers to help you through the winter months. Contact the wonderful team at Vale Community Impact to apply on 01235 765348 or [email protected]

Click here for the latest newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group covering the many planning and development issues in ox12. The most recent one was published on 23 December 2022.

• For details of current roadworks visit the one.network site and search for Wantage.

• For the latest business news from South & Vale Business Support, please click here.

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

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

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

Digester dumping

I had no idea what an anaerobic digester was when I saw this in the headline of Julie Mabberley’s latest article in the Herald (which you can read here). Fortunately, she appends a definition: “anaerobic digestion is a process in which microorganisms break down organic matter in the absence of air. The process creates usable products such as biogas and natural fertilisers.” Well, who knew?

Why is she writing about this? you may ask. The reason is that it’s proposed that one of these digesters be built between Grove and Easy Hanney. She describes some aspects of the plan – including its scale, the number of lorry journeys it will result in and its water use – and concludes that it will be “essentially a large industrial plant” and “amongst the largest anaerobic digester plants in the UK.” This is an accolade that OX12 could possibly do without. One particularly striking statistic is that the tanks will be up to 17 metres high. I’m trying, and failing, to visualise what these might look like.

She asks at the end of the piece if this is yet another example of such projects being “dumped” in OX12. The reservoir, which she (and we) have referred to before is another one, and on an even more colossal scale. Clearly, if we’re going to have such things, they have to go somewhere: however, at least in the case of the reservoir, there seem to be doubts as to whether this is needed. Anaerobic digestion seems like a useful thing given how much waste we produce but should there perhaps not be more of  these but each on a smaller scale? The Wantage and Grove area seems to be being asked to take on more than its share of such things.

Another point of view – if you can forgive my lapse into flippancy for a moment – is that both plans should be conflated. An anaerobic digester on top of the vast reservoir would be an eye-catching 50m tall and so would probably become a tourist attraction in its own right. Then, on top of that, the Vale could build the leisure centre that was promised for Grove and Wantage the funding for which was pulled a few years ago. The digester could supply the power and the reservoir the water. And think of how great the views would be from the leisure centre’s windows. Looks like a win-win to me. I look forward to seeing those with the necessary technical expertise taking this ambitious plan forward. What could possibly go wrong?

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 4.30pm 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.

Vale Community Impact‘s facebook page has lots of tips to help you with the cost of living crisis.

• 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 [email protected]

If you own a bike, Neighbourhood Watch strongly recommends registering it on the bikeregister.com database as every police force in the country uses it to search for stolen and recovered bikes.

 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 14 Jan Miss Harris Goes to Paris, the Beacon, Wantage.

Sat 21 Jan Wantage Mindfulness Monthly Walk, meet at the Mix.

Sat 21 Jan 2TONE Live Music, Delaney’s Bar and Club.

Fri 27 Jan Bird Storytime and Craft, Wantage Library.

Thurs 16 Feb Children’s Creative Writing Workshop, Theale Library.

Fri 24 Feb Let it Be: A Celebration of Beatles Music, the Beacon, Wantage.

Sat 25 Mar Comedy Club with Milton Jones, the Beacon, Wantage.

Sat 27 May Comedy Club with Chris McCausland, the Beacon, Wantage.

• Regular events

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

• Wantage Café Scientifique hosts free science and technology talks at Wildwood cinema on the second Wednesday of the month. See here for how to go on their mailing list and links to previous talks on zoom.

• 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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 for which minutes are available was on 31 October 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 December and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: warm spaces; the village dinner; sewage; the allotments; a report from the County Councillor and District Councillors; proposed 20mph speed limit; reports from committees and working parties; financial matters; planning matters; speeding; and re-wilding.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 29 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 October 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, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 October and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 June 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 was on 9 March 2021 and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings 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, Shrivenham Parish Council, Watchfield 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.

Swindon Borough Council: click 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.

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

Thursday 5 January 2023

This week we cover a larder, mindfulness, a sustainable café, energy vouchers and business support. In the company of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group we also take another look at a proposed new reservoir and count the leaks from our water pipes – plus there’s our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• Following its break over the holidays, the Wantage Community Larder will next be back on Friday 6 January at the Beacon. There will be a new system from the end of January where members to book a slot for their collections. You can read more about this in their December newsletter here. For more information about the larder and future updates, follow their Facebook page. For a reminder of how the larder works, watch Penny’s video here.

• Want to de-stress while enjoying nature? The Mix are holding free, gentle, friendly, mindfulness walks every third Saturday of the month in 2023. The walking group will be led by accredited Mindfulness teacher Sally Harris at meet at The Mix before visiting different green spaces nearby, practicing mindful activities, to help recharge and feel more connected to nature. The first walk of the year will be on Saturday 21 January and the trail will be through Betjeman Park and Locks Lane, and along the Letcombe Brook. Booking ahead is essential, so please email [email protected] or phone 07768 767787 to secure your place this month. Click here for further details.

January news from Sustainable Wantage includes plans for their new Library of Things (where you get to borrow stuff you need instead of having to buy it), workshops and events at The Mix, the community fridge and a report on the primary school cycle project where reconditioned bikes and cycle training were supplied to selected Year 6 children in the Wantage area.

• The new Down to Earth cafe across the road from Waitrose carpark offers affordable ‘warm space’ lunches for £2 on Thursdays and toasted sandwiches for £2.50 on Tuesdays. See here for their full opening times.

Village halls that need finishing funds for well-developed projects can apply to the Platinum Jubilee Village Hall Fund by 20 January.

The Ray Collins Trust is still offering support with £200 worth of energy vouchers if you live in Wantage & Grove or within 5 miles. If you are a family receiving benefits or an over 65 struggling on a pension you could be eligible for these vouchers to help you through the winter months. Contact the wonderful team at Vale Community Impact to apply on 01235 765348 or [email protected]

Vale Community Impact office is proud to be recognised as a “Safe Place”, located in the Market Square, Wantage. If you are feeling anxious, lost, confused or are being abused or harassed you can go to them for help and support, as one of the designated Safe Places. The Safe Places scheme supports elderly people, people with dementia, those who may have physical or learning disability, people with mental health needs or someone who feels unwell. Click here fore more information about other Safe Spaces around the country, and look out for the Safe Places logo where you are.

Click here for the latest newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group covering the many planning and development issues in ox12. The most recent one was published on 23 December 2022.

• For details of current roadworks visit the one.network site and search for Wantage.

• For the latest business news from South & Vale Business Support, please click here.

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

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

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

Dumping the water

In her latest column in the Herald (which you can also read here) Julie Mabberley of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group considers the problem of water. Not the clean water that falls from the sky (usually too much or not enough), nor the dirty water that increasingly is overflowing from our sewerage system but the water that comes out of our taps. The water that appears here is, she points out, only about 75% of the amount that starts its journey towards our showers and kettles: the other 25% is lost en route. Imagine if oil or gas pipes, or financial transactions, had that level of attrition. Oh, it doesn’t matter, one might say – it’s only water.

However, we’re paying for this. Our bills include the cost of treating sewage, some of which doesn’t get traced and of purifying water, some of which never reaches us. Profits and dividends go the the shareholders, many of whom are offshore. How we get, clean, store, transport and re-cycle our water are increasingly being subjected to scrutiny on environmental grounds, a factor that probably didn’t test that high 20 years ago. All in all, it’s become a major national problem with requires fully joined-up national thinking. Was the privatisation really such a good idea? Would a nationalised industry have done any better?

These are hypothetical and to some extent political questions. What concerns Julie Mabberly, and all residents of OX12, is whether Thames Water’s claims that it will significantly reduce its leakages by 2050 can be believed, considering as she points out that “they haven’t hit any target that they have produced so far.” We’re expected to do our bit, too, reducing our usage by about 15%. Other water companies have different targets; which is odd, as humans’ need for H2O isn’t determined by what part of the country they live in.

The other thing that rightly bothers her is the proposed mega-reservoir between Wantage and Abingdon. The statistics stupefy: the size of 12,600 football pitches, with walls the height of about eight elephants and holding 100m cubic metres of water. Opinions differ, as she has expressed several times, as to whether this is the best solution.

Moreover, as she points out, this isn’t really for Thames Water customers” “The plan shows that up to 120 million litres per day could flow from Oxfordshire to Southern Water (Southampton) and up to 100 million litres per day could flow from here to Affinity Water (Slough).” To put it in business terms, the project seems mainly designed for the domestic export market. It looks, she concludes, as if “as usual” OX12 is “a dumping ground for construction that no-one else wants.”

Another thing that Julie has long been highlighting is the disparity between the amount of development in the area and the infrastructure created to support it. I suppose that, if this plan goes ahead, TW, the government and the local councils could say: “no infrastructure in the Wantage and Grove area – what are you talking about? We’ve just built you a lovely new reservoir. You won’t find any infrastructure bigger than that…”

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 4.30pm 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.

Vale Community Impact‘s facebook page has lots of tips to help you with the cost of living crisis.

• 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 [email protected]

If you own a bike, Neighbourhood Watch strongly recommends registering it on the bikeregister.com database as every police force in the country uses it to search for stolen and recovered bikes.

 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

Weds 11 Jan Café Scientifique: Dung Beetles!, Wildwood Cinema, Market Place, Wantage.

Sat 21 Jan Wantage Mindfulness Monthly Walk, meet at the Mix.

Sat 21 Jan 2TONE Live Music, Delaney’s Bar and Club.

Thurs 16 Feb Children’s Creative Writing Workshop, Theale Library.

Fri 24 Feb Let it Be: A Celebration of Beatles Music, the Beacon, Wantage.

Sat 25 Mar Comedy Club with Milton Jones, the Beacon, Wantage.

Sat 27 May Comedy Club with Chris McCausland, the Beacon, Wantage.

• Regular events

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

• Wantage Café Scientifique hosts free science and technology talks at Wildwood cinema on the second Wednesday of the month. See here for how to go on their mailing list and links to previous talks on zoom.

• 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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 for which minutes are available was on 31 October 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 December and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: warm spaces; the village dinner; sewage; the allotments; a report from the County Councillor and District Councillors; proposed 20mph speed limit; reports from committees and working parties; financial matters; planning matters; speeding; and re-wilding.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 29 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 October 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, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 October and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 June 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 was on 9 March 2021 and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings 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, Shrivenham Parish Council, Watchfield 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.

Swindon Borough Council: click 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.

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

Thursday 22 December 2022

We’re taking a couple of weeks off: normal service will be resumed on Thursday 5 January 2023.

Thursday 15 December 2022

This week we cover a market, a bake-off, volunteers, a safe place and colouring-in. We also take a look back at some of the stories we’ve covered in the area over the last 12 months (many of which are unfinished business)  – plus there’s our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• This Friday 16 December sees the last of Wantage Christmas Artisan Markets from 5pm to 8pm. Lovely stalls will be selling handmade and homemade products, food, drink including warming mulled wine and mead. Music and free entertainment for the children. See here for more.

• All are welcome to Wantage Baptist Church this Sunday 18 December for Carols by Candlelight at 6pm. Always an atmospheric evening, with traditional carols, some choir pieces, a short message of Christmas hope and free refreshments served afterwards.

• Did you know you can ‘treecycle’ your old real Christmas tree through the Sue Ryder charity? Register with them by Wednesday 4 January to get your real Christmas tree collected and recycled, in exchange for a donation. They’ll be collected between the 9 and 12 January. Click here for further details.

• Oxfordshire Recycles are running a prize draw for children to colour in an illustration of Scout, or prepare another craft which they have created at home from reusable items. Five winners will receive £20 of National Book Token vouchers. The competition closes on Friday 30 December. To check the full terms and conditions and for where you can download their scout illustration, click here.

• The new Down to Earth Cafe opening this weekend at the former Health and Wellbeing Centre in Stirlings Close, Wantage, OX12 7AX is introducing Toastie Tuesday from next Tuesday 20 December where anyone can enjoy a toasted sandwich with three filling options for an affordable £2.50 to take away or eat in from 12.30pm onwards. The cafe’s pre-Christmas opening hours will be available at their opening this Saturday 17 December at 3pm with free mince pies and coffee. Supported by the Wantage Town Council Wantage Town Council Love Wantage Wantage Community Larder and the Oxford Food Hub
The Ray Collins Trust thanks all the volunteers who packed 8,000 items into 150 Christmas Boxes in the Down to Earth Cafe for families and elderly residents this week. The food cost this year was a whopping £7,500 due to price rises so any donations are very welcome.
The Trust is still offering support with £200 worth of energy vouchers if you live in Wantage & Grove or within 5 miles. If you are a family receiving benefits or an over 65 struggling on a pension you could be eligible for these vouchers to help you through the winter months. Contact the wonderful team at Vale Community Impact to apply on 01235 765348 or [email protected]

The Kings Arms pub is holding a charity Christmas bake-off, will all money generated going towards the Ray Collins Charitable Trust. It costs £5 to enter, with categories for both children and adults in: Yule Logs, Mince Pies, Gingerbread and Christmas Cupcakes. The event will be taking place on Sunday 18 December, with entries needing to be in by 2pm, ahead of judging which will take place at 4pm. Pick up an entry form from the Kings Arms, or click here for more details.

Vale Community Centre requests that when you spend online this Christmas, please sign up to easyfundraising.org.uk so that the shops you buy from can donate back to their incredible charity. It’s super easy and it doesn’t cost you a penny. When you sign up please choose Vale Community Impact (Charity No. 1161144) which provides an independent advice service in Wantage and supports a lot of local residents.

December news from Sustainable Wantage includes tips for a Green Christmas on a budget, events at The Mix and a reality check about the climate crisis.

There are also opportunities to help out as a volunteer at the Hub, with various roles such as cooking, working in the café or community kitchen, running warming spaces and larder, as well as admin and virtual help too. For more information regarding volunteer opportunities email [email protected].

• Take a peek at some of the stunning paintings and sculptures at Dolphin Gallery just off Wantage Market Place. They also offer a great framing service and sell art supplies.

Vale Community Impact office is proud to be recognised as a “Safe Place”, located in the Market Square, Wantage. If you are feeling anxious, lost, confused or are being abused or harassed you can go to them for help and support, as one of the designated Safe Places. The Safe Places scheme supports elderly people, people with dementia, those who may have physical or learning disability, people with mental health needs or someone who feels unwell. Click here fore more information about other Safe Spaces around the country, and look out for the Safe Places logo where you are.

Click here for the latest newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group covering the many planning and development issues in ox12. The most recent one was published on 7 December 2022.

• For details of current roadworks visit the one.network site and search for Wantage.

• For the latest business news from South & Vale Business Support, please click here.

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

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

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

Christmas

• The Ray Collins Trust is pleased to announce it will be running their Christmas Day Dinner this year and providing 150 Christmas hampers to local families, over 65s and vulnerable adults thanks to three amazing donations that have made this possible again this year. If you are able to donate funds towards filling the hampers with lots of lovely treats please visit our website www.raycollinstrust.com or email [email protected]

Vale & Downland Museum has a lot of festive treats this Christmas.

• The Artisan Christmas Market is back in Wantage this Friday 16 December from 10am to 3pm. Come along to support local artisans, businesses and entertainers, with live music, stalls with local produce, arts, crafts, gifts, food, drink and loads more. Click here for more information.

A look back…

This will be the last news update of 2022: normal service will be resumed on 5 January 2023.

Over the last year we’ve published a large number of stories about this area. Some have been referred to many, many times: that’s not because we feel the need to re-cycle copy or go over old ground but because the issues themselves have not gone away, have re-surfaced or have, like a mutating virus, acquired new features which need considering.

At the foot of this post you’ll see a link to our archive section (which may in turn link to another one). Searching for any or part of the phrases mentioned in bold below will take you to the often multiple references to these issues. Many of these still have a lot of life left in them and so expect further coverage in 2023.

The two main things that tend to crop up are planning and flooding and/or sewage. These are the kind of things that normally we don’t think about at all: when they’re directly affecting us, however, it’s almost impossible to think about anything else. We’ve lost count of the number of times these have cropped up in our coverage (a few of the major ones are referred to below). Whenever we cover them, and indeed other stories, we try to present as many points of view as possible, explain the issues and provide links for further information.

Matters such as speeding, rights of way, dog mess,, jubilee and coronation festivities and defibrillators are, amongst a host of other things, dealt with by town and parish councils. We provide information on their activities and link to  the most recently available minutes, and provide a summary of these if they are reasonably recent.

We’ll be continuing to cover as many aspects of life in this area as we can in 2023 and beyond, seeking always to inform, explain, comment and (where appropriate) entertain. If there’s anything you’d like to see covered, or if you have anything to say about anything we’ve covered already, please email [email protected].

Here’s a brief summary, in no particular order, of some of the recurring stories in this area in 2022. It by no means refers to all the issues we’ve written about.

  • The Wantage and Grove Campaign Group provides tireless scrutiny of many planning and other issues in OX12. Most weeks we’ve taken the theme covered by the organisation’s column in the Herald and added some comments of our own, frequently drawing on similar experiences from further afield. Some of these are covered in the following points.
  • Infrastructure. There’s a lot of development in the area but rather less in the way of mitigating amenities and facilities.
  • The reservoir. The plan by Thames Water to build a structure of almost unimaginable vastness north of Wantage has, to put it mildly, provoked some opposition.
  • Pedestrianisation in Wantage. Another hot topic and one that is impossible to resolve in a way that pleases everyone.
  • Parking in Wantage. Exactly the same comment as above applies to this.
  • Wantage Road station in Grove. Plans to re-open this are regularly announced (often by local MP David Johnston) but no visible progress has been made. With the population of Wantage and Grove growing fast and a climate emergency having been declared, the case for doing this seems to get stronger by the day.

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 4.30pm 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.

Vale Community Impact‘s facebook page has lots of tips to help you with the cost of living crisis.

• 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 [email protected]

If you own a bike, Neighbourhood Watch strongly recommends registering it on the bikeregister.com database as every police force in the country uses it to search for stolen and recovered bikes.

 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

Fri 16 Dec A Christmas Symphony: starting soprano Nadia Eide, the Beacon.

Sat 17 Dec The Zoots: Sounds of the 80s, Old Mill Hall, Wantage.

Sat 21 Dec The Adventures of Robin Hood, the Beacon.

Sat 21 Dec Bookfolded Christmas Tree Workshop, Wantage Library.

Thurs 16 Feb Children’s Creative Writing Workshop, Theale Library.

• Regular events

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

• Wantage Café Scientifique hosts free science and technology talks at Wildwood cinema on the second Wednesday of the month. See here for how to go on their mailing list and links to previous talks on zoom.

• 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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.

Many councils do not hold meetings in August and many postponed their September meeting following the Queen’s death. 

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 1 August 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 November and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising from the previous meeting; warm spaces; sewage overflows; a report from the ward members; Ukrainian refugees; the climate emergency; the traveller site at Watchfield; chairman’s report; financial matters; planning matters; speeding; school liaison; there allotments; Tuckmill Meadows SSSI; and verge re-wilding.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 October 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 October 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, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 June and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 June 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 was on 9 March 2021 and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings 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, Shrivenham Parish Council, Watchfield 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.

Swindon Borough Council: click 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.

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

Thursday 8 December 2022

This week we cover caddy liners, a festive market, zero-carbon, volunteering, newsletters from the WAG Campaign Group and from the MP and a bake-off. We also look at the sheer scale of the proposed Abingdon reservoir (100bn litres and eight elephants high) which is now at yet another consultation state  – plus there’s our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• The Artisan Christmas Market is back in Wantage this weekend. Come along to support local artisans, businesses and entertainers, with live music, stalls with local produce, arts, crafts, gifts, food, drink and loads more. That’s on Sunday 11 December from 10am to 3pm. Click here for more information.

Oxfordshire Recycles are giving away a free roll of liners for your food caddy during December to help you recycle even more. Click here to find out where you can pick up your free liners from.

Lovely story here from Elmbrook Court Care Home on Grove Road about the benefits of a baby group’s visits to their elderly residents, especially one lady who had a serious stroke, from weekly visits by Grove and Wantage Families Community Group (GroW).

• Kate Farrington from Down to Earth has been doing pop-up community meals and classes with Sustainable Wantage and other groups for the past couple of years, encouraging people to cook sustainably. Now she is delighted to launch her own premises at The Old Stables Makespace, Stirlings Close, Wantage, OX12 7AX. This fixed abode will give her the scope to do so much with the community including chop-and-chat sessions, community cook-ins, training, creative cooking with children, environmental activities, inter-generational cooking programmes and more. Everybody is invited to the mince pie pop-in at 3pm on Saturday 17 December to hear more about her exciting plans.

• Quick reminder that Cycling UK Wantage‘s White Horse Cycle Challenge until Saturday 10 December is open to anyone to cycle to White Horse Hill, take a photo to prove it and share with Cycling UK Wantage via Facebook or email [email protected]. The group is fundraising for Whizz-Kidz, who provide mobility equipment to disabled children.

• On Sunday 11 December Cycling UK Wantage are holding their annual festive Mince Pie Rides to White Horse Hill. All local cyclists are invited to join them for mince pies and mulled wine in the NT car park at White Horse Hill, Uffington, between 11 am and 12 noon. Riders can either make their own way to the hill or join one of the four club rides starting from Wantage Market Place between 9:15 and 10am. Full details on the group’s website.

• Wantage-based EnergyNetiQ, claims to have developed “a zero-carbon energy cell shown to be able to release more energy (as heat) than was added to the water (as electricity).” If that’s for real, then all our problems could be over. Read the full story here.

December news from Sustainable Wantage includes tips for a Green Christmas on a budget, events at The Mix and a reality check about the climate crisis.

The Ray Collins Trust is still offering support with £200 worth of energy vouchers if you live in Wantage & Grove or within 5 miles. If you are a family receiving benefits or an over 65 struggling on a pension you could be eligible for these vouchers to help you through the winter months. Contact the wonderful team at Vale Community Impact to apply on 01235 765348 or [email protected]

The Kings Arms pub is holding a charity Christmas bake-off, will all money generated going towards the Ray Collins Charitable Trust. It costs £5 to enter, with categories for both children and adults in: Yule Logs, Mince Pies, Gingerbread and Christmas Cupcakes. The event will be taking place on Sunday 18th December, with entries needing to be in by 2pm, ahead of judging which will take place at 4pm. Pick up an entry form from the Kings Arms, or click here for more details.

Vale Community Centre requests that when you spend online this Christmas, please sign up to easyfundraising.org.uk so that the shops you buy from can donate back to their incredible charity. It’s super easy and it doesn’t cost you a penny. When you sign up please choose Vale Community Impact (Charity No. 1161144) which provides an independent advice service in Wantage and supports a lot of local residents.

There are also opportunities to help out as a volunteer at the Hub, with various roles such as cooking, working in the café or community kitchen, running warming spaces and larder, as well as admin and virtual help too. For more information regarding volunteer opportunities email [email protected].

• Wantage MP David Johnston’s latest2 newsletter has recently been published and you can click here to read it.

• Take a peek at some of the stunning paintings and sculptures at Dolphin Gallery just off Wantage Market Place. They also offer a great framing service and sell art supplies.

Vale Community Impact office is proud to be recognised as a “Safe Place”, located in the Market Square, Wantage. If you are feeling anxious, lost, confused or are being abused or harassed you can go to them for help and support, as one of the designated Safe Places. The Safe Places scheme supports elderly people, people with dementia, those who may have physical or learning disability, people with mental health needs or someone who feels unwell. Click here fore more information about other Safe Spaces around the country, and look out for the Safe Places logo where you are.

Click here for the latest newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group covering the many planning and development issues in ox12. The most recent one was published on 7 December 2022.

• For details of current roadworks visit the one.network site and search for Wantage.

• For the latest business news from South & Vale Business Support, please click here.

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

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

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

Christmas

• The Ray Collins Trust is pleased to announce it will be running their Christmas Day Dinner this year and providing 150 Christmas hampers to local families, over 65s and vulnerable adults thanks to three amazing donations that have made this possible again this year. If you are able to donate funds towards filling the hampers with lots of lovely treats please visit our website www.raycollinstrust.com or email [email protected]

Vale & Downland Museum has a lot of festive treats this Christmas.

100 billion litres

In her regular column in the Herald (which you can also read here), Julie Mabberley of the Wantage & Grove Campaign Group looks at what would be one of the biggest construction products in the south of England: the proposed reservoir between Wantage and Abingdon which would be built mainly above ground, take a decade to construct and would be, as the organisation Group Against Reservoir Development (GARD) suggests, the size of Gatwick Airport.

The articled the GARD website suggest a number of reasons why this project is problematic. These issues include uncertainty about the area’s population predictions, the seeming lack of interest by Thames Water in alternatives such as a pipeline from the Severn or fixing leaking pipes, the cost, the carbon footprint, safety concerns and the sheer scale of the thing (the walls, which will holding back 100bn litres of water, will be 25m high: imagine, if you can, eight fully grown elephants standing on top of each other.)

The matter has been being discussed for years. The most recent event was, as Julie Mabberley explains, “a water summit in Oxford by Oxfordshire CC in late November to look at recently released draft plans for future water supply from Water Resource South East (WRSE).” More information can be found on the WRSE website here. These are currently open for comments and the Wantage & Grove Campaign Team intends to do just that: however, the article continues, “these include two technical appendices, 16 supporting reports and 17 method statements so it could take us a while to work on a response.”

This is clearly not a simple subject. We all need water but questions seem to remain about whether this mega-project is the best way of ensuring we get it. Aside from anything else, I now can’t shake off the image of eight elephants standing on top of each other which I conjured up a couple of paragraphs ago. I know what I’m going to dreaming, or having nightmares, about tonight…

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 4.30pm 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.

Vale Community Impact‘s facebook page has lots of tips to help you with the cost of living crisis.

• 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 [email protected]

If you own a bike, Neighbourhood Watch strongly recommends registering it on the bikeregister.com database as every police force in the country uses it to search for stolen and recovered bikes.

 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 16 Dec A Christmas Symphony: starting soprano Nadia Eide, the Beacon.

Sat 17 Dec The Zoots: Sounds of the 80s, Old Mill Hall, Wantage.

Sat 21 Dec The Adventures of Robin Hood, the Beacon.

Sat 21 Dec Bookfolded Christmas Tree Workshop, Wantage Library.

Thurs 16 Feb Children’s Creative Writing Workshop, Theale Library.

• Regular events

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

• Wantage Café Scientifique hosts free science and technology talks at Wildwood cinema on the second Wednesday of the month. See here for how to go on their mailing list and links to previous talks on zoom.

• 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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.

Many councils do not hold meetings in August and many postponed their September meeting following the Queen’s death. 

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 1 August 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 November and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising from the previous meeting; warm spaces; sewage overflows; a report from the ward members; Ukrainian refugees; the climate emergency; the traveller site at Watchfield; chairman’s report; financial matters; planning matters; speeding; school liaison; there allotments; Tuckmill Meadows SSSI; and verge re-wilding.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 October 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 October 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, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 June and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 June 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 was on 9 March 2021 and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings 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, Shrivenham Parish Council, Watchfield 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.

Swindon Borough Council: click 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.

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

Thursday 1 December 2022

This week we cover Dickens, sustainability, energy vouchers, a bake-off and online fundraising. We also look at the tangled issue of the ownership of the common parts of estates and highlight a consultation about the Wellington Gate development  – plus there’s our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• This Friday 2 December is the long-awaited Wantage Dickensian Evening from 6pm until 9pm. All around the market place and other places around the town centre will be full of stalls and businesses. Click here for a list of just some of the event’s itinerary. 

• Over the weekend St Nicholas Primary School, East Challow, are holding their Christmas Fair. Come and buy gifts, play games, interactive crafts, see Santa in his grotto and much more. All funds raised will go towards the school. Taking place on Saturday 3 December from 1pm to 4pm.

• Wantage-based EnergyNetiQ, claims to have developed “a zero-carbon energy cell shown to be able to release more energy (as heat) than was added to the water (as electricity).” If that’s for real, then all our problems could be over. Read the full story here.

Following its success last Christmas, Wantage Band is basing this years concert on the festive masterpiece that is The Snowman. They’ll be performing this weekend. so to find out more and how to book your tickets here.

• Also on both Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 December, the Wantage Orchestra will be holding its Autumn Concert at Wantage Parish Church. The Wantage Orchestra joins forces with two choirs, East Oxford Community Choir and The Headington Singers, to perform Vaughan Williams’ major choral work A Sea Symphony. Click here to get your tickets.

December news from Sustainable Wantage includes tips for a Green Christmas on a budget, events at The Mix and a reality check about the climate crisis.

The Ray Collins Trust is still offering support with £200 worth of energy vouchers if you live in Wantage & Grove or within 5 miles. If you are a family receiving benefits or an over 65 struggling on a pension you could be eligible for these vouchers to help you through the winter months. Contact the wonderful team at Vale Community Impact to apply on 01235 765348 or [email protected]

Cycling UK Wantage‘s White Horse Cycle Challenge until Saturday 10 December is open to anyone to cycle to White Horse Hill, take a photo to prove it and share with Cycling UK Wantage via Facebook or email [email protected]. The group is fundraising for Whizz-Kidz, who provide mobility equipment to disabled children.

• On Sunday 11 December Cycling UK Wantage are holding their annual festive Mince Pie Rides to White Horse Hill. All local cyclists are invited to join them for mince pies and mulled wine in the NT car park at White Horse Hill, Uffington, between 11 am and 12 noon. Riders can either make their own way to the hill or join one of the four club rides starting from Wantage Market Place between 9:15 and 10am. Full details on the group’s website.

The Kings Arms pub is holding a charity Christmas bake-off, will all money generated going towards the Ray Collins Charitable Trust. It costs £5 to enter, with categories for both children and adults in: Yule Logs, Mince Pies, Gingerbread and Christmas Cupcakes. The event will be taking place on Sunday 18th December, with entries needing to be in by 2pm, ahead of judging which will take place at 4pm. Pick up an entry form from the Kings Arms, or click here for more details.

Vale Community Centre requests that when you spend online this Christmas, please sign up to easyfundraising.org.uk so that the shops you buy from can donate back to their incredible charity. It’s super easy and it doesn’t cost you a penny. When you sign up please choose Vale Community Impact (Charity No. 1161144) which provides an independent advice service in Wantage and supports a lot of local residents.

The Roots & Shoots Community Hub, based in Snells Hall, East Hendred run the HEG Community Larder, as well as a number of other initiatives to bring the community together and help ease the cost of living crisis. This includes the Cinnamon Café, which runs on Mondays and provides patrons with free hot food and drink and a donation box. The Community Kitchen on Tuesday and Fridays. They even have slow cookers they can lend and much more. Follow their Facebook page for more information and to keep up to date with all their news, or email [email protected].

There are also opportunities to help out as a volunteer at the Hub, with various roles such as cooking, working in the café or community kitchen, running warming spaces and larder, as well as admin and virtual help too. For more information regarding volunteer opportunities email [email protected].

• Wantage MP David Johnston’s November 2022 newsletter has recently been published and you can click here to read it.

• Take a peek at some of the stunning paintings and sculptures at Dolphin Gallery just off Wantage Market Place. They also offer a great framing service and sell art supplies.

Vale Community Impact office is proud to be recognised as a “Safe Place”, located in the Market Square, Wantage. If you are feeling anxious, lost, confused or are being abused or harassed you can go to them for help and support, as one of the designated Safe Places. The Safe Places scheme supports elderly people, people with dementia, those who may have physical or learning disability, people with mental health needs or someone who feels unwell. Click here fore more information about other Safe Spaces around the country, and look out for the Safe Places logo where you are.

Click here for the latest newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group covering the many planning and development issues in ox12.

• For details of current roadworks visit the one.network site and search for Wantage.

• For the latest business news from South & Vale Business Support, please click here.

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

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

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

Christmas

The Mix on Mill Street in Wantage is experimenting with a gift swap whenever they are open at least until the Dickensian Evening. Bring any unused, unwanted gifts and you can swap it for something you do want (or can give to someone else) for zero cost. Just check with a staff member or volunteer to make sure its good to donate. You can swap as many items as you like. Their opening times are 2pm to 6pm on Mondays, 10am to 3pm on Wednesdays and 10am to 1pm on Saturdays.

• The Ray Collins Trust is pleased to announce it will be running their Christmas Day Dinner this year and providing 150 Christmas hampers to local families, over 65s and vulnerable adults thanks to three amazing donations that have made this possible again this year. If you are able to donate funds towards filling the hampers with lots of lovely treats please visit our website www.raycollinstrust.com or email [email protected]

Vale & Downland Museum has a lot of festive treats this Christmas.

The common parts

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 couple of issues relating to the way that the common parts of developments such as open spaces, paths, hedges and drainage systems are owned, managed and maintained. Logic and common sense would seem to suggest that these should, as a matter of first refusal, be offered to the planning authority. Instead, we have a hotch-potch of arrangements with some things owned by one or other of the councils and others owned by developers, or estate management companies to whom these rights have been sold. These are then managed and maintained well, or badly, or not at all by companies which may or may not have any connection with the area and which may of may not remain solvent. District and parish councils may not always be the quickest organisations in the world but at least they aren’t going anywhere.

Julie Mabberley’s article looks at some of the complex ownership issues in OX12 and the fact that the residents need to pay management fees for the maintenance work. As she points out, it’s doubtful that many house purchasers “look at the detailed legal agreements between developers and councils to see what responsibilities they will inherit when the developments are completed.”

Wellington Gate’s Centre

The Wantage and Grove Campaign Group has also recently sent this message regarding the Grove Airfield development which we’re happy to reproduce verbatim:

“As you know Grove Airfield (also known as Wellington Gate) is a development of 2,500 homes being built by Persimmon and Charles Church. They have now completed 496 homes and will have to start work on the Local Centre for the development soon. They don’t have to complete the Community Hub until 1,250 homes are occupied but want to get planning consent for the retail units which will be close by. They have given us an advance copy of the draft design of the Centre to comment on before they submit the application. We have until 12 December to comment so not much time.

Our initial comments are that putting the key foodstore (probably Co-op or Tesco Extra but not Lidl or Aldi) directly opposite the primary school but parking further away may not be the best idea. The nearest bus stop will also be about 200m from this shop and from the Communty Centre. We’d really like to hear what you think. The Community Centre may be bigger than Old Mill Hall so this could become the new centre of Grove so it’s important that we think about it before it’s built.

“The document is available from our website either here or here. Any comments to me at [email protected] by 12 December, please.”

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 4.30pm 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.

Vale Community Impact‘s facebook page has lots of tips to help you with the cost of living crisis.

• 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 [email protected]

If you own a bike, Neighbourhood Watch strongly recommends registering it on the bikeregister.com database as every police force in the country uses it to search for stolen and recovered bikes.

 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 3 & Sun 4 Dec ‘The Snowman’ Concert’ by Wantage Silver Band, the Beacon.

Sat 3 Dec Theale High Street Christmas Market, Theale High Street.

 Sun 4 Dec Wantage Orchestra Autumn Concert, Wantage Parish Church.

Sat 16 Dec A Christmas Symphony: starting soprano Nadia Eide, the Beacon.

Sat 17 Dec The Zoots: Sounds of the 80s, Old Mill Hall, Wantage.

Sat 21 Dec The Adventures of Robin Hood, the Beacon.

• Regular events

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

• Wantage Café Scientifique hosts free science and technology talks at Wildwood cinema on the second Wednesday of the month. See here for how to go on their mailing list and links to previous talks on zoom.

• 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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.

Many councils do not hold meetings in August and many postponed their September meeting following the Queen’s death. 

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 1 August 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 November and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising from the previous meeting; warm spaces; sewage overflows; a report from the ward members; Ukrainian refugees; the climate emergency; the traveller site at Watchfield; chairman’s report; financial matters; planning matters; speeding; school liaison; there allotments; Tuckmill Meadows SSSI; and verge re-wilding.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 October 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 October 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, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 June and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 June 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 was on 9 March 2021 and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings 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, Shrivenham Parish Council, Watchfield 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.

Swindon Borough Council: click 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.

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

Thursday 24 November 2022

This week we cover a bake-off, a snowman, an MP, art and a swap shop. We also look at fairs and fayres (and olde and worlde)  – plus there’s our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

This weekend Wantage Town Football Club are holding its Christmas Market, on Friday 25 November from 5:30pm to 9pm. Come along to bag some goodies, enjoy some tasty treats and partake in some festive joy. Also on Sunday 27 November will be the Wantage Christmas Market, at the Market Place from10am to 3pm.

The Kings Arms pub is holding a charity Christmas bake-off, will all money generated going towards the Ray Collins Charitable Trust. It costs £5 to enter, with categories for both children and adults in: Yule Logs, Mince Pies, Gingerbread and Christmas Cupcakes. The event will be taking place on Sunday 18th December, with entries needing to be in by 2pm, ahead of judging which will take place at 4pm. Pick up an entry form from the Kings Arms, or click here for more details.

Vale Community Centre requests that when you spend online this Christmas, please sign up to easyfundraising.org.uk so that the shops you buy from can donate back to their incredible charity. It’s super easy and it doesn’t cost you a penny. When you sign up please choose Vale Community Impact (Charity No. 1161144) which provides an independent advice service in Wantage and supports a lot of local residents.

The Roots & Shoots Community Hub, based in Snells Hall, East Hendred run the HEG Community Larder, as well as a number of other initiatives to bring the community together and help ease the cost of living crisis. This includes the Cinnamon Café, which runs on Mondays and provides patrons with free hot food and drink and a donation box. The Community Kitchen on Tuesday and Fridays. They even have slow cookers they can lend and much more. On Friday 25 November they will be holding a community bingo night too. Follow their Facebook page for more information and to keep up to date with all their news, or email [email protected].

There are also opportunities to help out as a volunteer at the Hub, with various roles such as cooking, working in the café or community kitchen, running warming spaces and larder, as well as admin and virtual help too. For more information regarding volunteer opportunities email [email protected].

Following its success last Christmas, Wantage Band is combining the festive concert experience with the magic of cinema once again. With the death of Raymond Briggs in August this year, there has never been a better time for crowds to gather to enjoy the 1982 festive masterpiece that is The Snowman.  Find out more and how to book your tickets here.

• Wantage MP David Johnston’s November 2022 newsletter has recently been published and you can click here to read it.

• Take a peek at some of the stunning paintings and sculptures at Dolphin Gallery just off Wantage Market Place. They also offer a great framing service and sell art supplies.

Vale Community Impact office is proud to be recognised as a “Safe Place”, located in the Market Square, Wantage. If you are feeling anxious, lost, confused or are being abused or harassed you can go to them for help and support, as one of the designated Safe Places. The Safe Places scheme supports elderly people, people with dementia, those who may have physical or learning disability, people with mental health needs or someone who feels unwell. Click here fore more information about other Safe Spaces around the country, and look out for the Safe Places logo where you are.

Click here for the latest newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group covering the many planning and development issues in ox12.

• For details of current roadworks visit the one.network site and search for Wantage.

• For the latest business news from South & Vale Business Support, please click here.

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

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

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

Christmas

The Mix on Mill Street in Wantage is experimenting with a gift swap whenever they are open at least until the Dickensian Evening. Bring any unused, unwanted gifts and you can swap it for something you do want (or can give to someone else) for zero cost. Just check with a staff member or volunteer to make sure its good to donate. You can swap as many items as you like. Their opening times are 2pm to 6pm on Mondays, 10am to 3pm on Wednesdays and 10am to 1pm on Saturdays.

• The Ray Collins Trust is pleased to announce it will be running their Christmas Day Dinner this year and providing 150 Christmas hampers to local families, over 65s and vulnerable adults thanks to three amazing donations that have made this possible again this year. If you are able to donate funds towards filling the hampers with lots of lovely treats please visit our website www.raycollinstrust.com or email [email protected]

• Wantage Dickensian Evening will be on Friday 2 December with all the usual festive fun in the marketplace.

Vale & Downland Museum has a lot of festive treats this Christmas.

Fairs and fayres

In her regular column in the Herald (which you can also read here) Julie Mabberly of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group takes some time off from her seemingly never-ending task of scrutinising the various planning and development issues in OX12 and looks instead at some of the Christmas markets and fairs (or fairs) which are taking place in the area over the next month.

Her first question is “when did we change the spelling of fair?” I’ve had a quick chat with Mr Google to see if he can answer this but without any certain results. the OED dismissively describes “fayre” as “a pseudo-archaic spelling” of both fair (as in an event) and of fare (as in food and drink that’s provided. Like “olde” and “worlde” it does a job of conveying a sense of antiquity, though I’m not sure for how long it was spelt this way. Mind you, for much of our language’s life, spelling was a matter of regional and even individual preference. Chaucer, for example, spelled many words in several different ways and I’n sure that bloke from Stratford-upon-Avon whose name escapes me did too. With regard to these words, it seems you can’t go olde-school for any meanings of fair or fare. “There was good fayre at the Christmas fayre” would be OK (if a little cloying): “it’s not fayre that I got fined for fayre-dodging” would not be.

Where was I? Oh yes – click on the link about for a list of fairs and markets, for information about gift swapping at The Mix and an online shopping option which also makes donations to your favoured charity.

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 4.30pm 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.

Vale Community Impact‘s facebook page has lots of tips to help you with the cost of living crisis.

• 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 [email protected]

If you own a bike, Neighbourhood Watch strongly recommends registering it on the bikeregister.com database as every police force in the country uses it to search for stolen and recovered bikes.

 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 27 Nov Wantage Christmas Market, Wantage Market Place.

Sat 3 & Sun 4 Dec ‘The Snowman’ Concert’ by Wantage Silver Band, the Beacon.

Sat 3 Dec Theale High Street Christmas Market, Theale High Street.

 Sun 4 Dec Wantage Orchestra Autumn Concert, Wantage Parish Church.

Sat 16 Dec A Christmas Symphony: starting soprano Nadia Eide, the Beacon.

Sat 17 Dec The Zoots: Sounds of the 80s, Old Mill Hall, Wantage.

Sat 21 Dec The Adventures of Robin Hood, the Beacon.

• Regular events

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

• Wantage Café Scientifique hosts free science and technology talks at Wildwood cinema on the second Wednesday of the month. See here for how to go on their mailing list and links to previous talks on zoom.

• 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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.

Many councils do not hold meetings in August and many postponed their September meeting following the Queen’s death. 

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 1 August 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 October 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 11 October 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 26 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: reports from County and District Councillors; the Queen’s Green Canopy; reservoir consultations; solar charging; the car park; the Playscape; repairs and maintenance work; the cost-of-living crisis; financial matters; planning matters; the neighbourhood development plan; and traffic.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 June and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 June 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 was on 9 March 2021 and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings 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, Shrivenham Parish Council, Watchfield 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.

Swindon Borough Council: click 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.

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

Thursday 17 November 2022

This week we cover roots and shoots, volunteering, fundraising, parish mags and a swap shop. We also look at Julie Mabberley’s latest Herald column which looks at some of the planning reforms that the PM has hinted at and some others that might be beneficial – plus there’s our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

Vale Community Centre requests that when you spend online this Christmas, please sign up to easyfundraising.org.uk so that the shops you buy from can donate back to their incredible charity. It’s super easy and it doesn’t cost you a penny. When you sign up please choose Vale Community Impact (Charity No. 1161144) which provides an independent advice service in Wantage and supports a lot of local residents.

The Roots & Shoots Community Hub, based in Snells Hall, East Hendred run the HEG Community Larder, as well as a number of other initiatives to bring the community together and help ease the cost of living crisis. This includes the Cinnamon Café, which runs on Mondays and provides patrons with free hot food and drink and a donation box. The Community Kitchen on Tuesday and Fridays. They even have slow cookers they can lend and much more. On Friday 25 November they will be holding a community bingo night too. Follow their Facebook page for more information and to keep up to date with all their news, or email [email protected].

There are also opportunities to help out as a volunteer at the Hub, with various roles such as cooking, working in the café or community kitchen, running warming spaces and larder, as well as admin and virtual help too. For more information regarding volunteer opportunities email [email protected].

Following their success last Christmas, Wantage Band are combining the festive concert experience with the magic of cinema once again. With the loss of Raymond Briggs in August this year, there has never been a better time for crowds to gather to enjoy the 1982 festive masterpiece that is The Snowman.  Find out more and how to book your tickets here.

• Wantage MP David Johnston’s November 2022 newsletter has recently been published and you can click here to read it.

• Take a peek at some of the stunning paintings and sculptures at Dolphin Gallery just off Wantage Market Place. They also offer a great framing service and sell art supplies.

Vale Community Impact office is proud to be recognised as a “Safe Place”, located in the Market Square, Wantage. If you are feeling anxious, lost, confused or are being abused or harassed you can go to them for help and support, as one of the designated Safe Places. The Safe Places scheme supports elderly people, people with dementia, those who may have physical or learning disability, people with mental health needs or someone who feels unwell. Click here fore more information about other Safe Spaces around the country, and look out for the Safe Places logo where you are.

Click here for the latest newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group covering the many planning and development issues in ox12.

• For details of current roadworks visit the one.network site and search for Wantage.

• For the latest business news from South & Vale Business Support, please click here.

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

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

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

Christmas

The Mix on Mill Street in Wantage is experimenting with a gift swap whenever they are open at least until the Dickensian Evening. Bring any unused, unwanted gifts and you can swap it for something you do want (or can give to someone else) for zero cost. Just check with a staff member/volunteer to make sure its good to donate. You can swap as many items as you like. Their opening times are 2pm to 6pm on Mondays, 10am to 3pm on Wednesdays and 10am to 1pm on Saturdays.

• The Ray Collins Trust is pleased to announce they will be running their Christmas Day Dinner this year and providing 150 Christmas Hampers to local families, over 65s & vulnerable adults thanks to three amazing donations that have made this possible again this year. If you are able to donate funds towards filling the hampers with lots of lovely treats please visit our website www.raycollinstrust.com or email [email protected]

• The atmospheric 16th century barn at Sparsholt is hosting the Spirit of the Vale Christmas Fair on Thursday 24 November for a festive shopping occasion in aid of local groups.

• Wantage Dickensian Evening will be on Friday 2 December with all the usual festive fun in the marketplace.

Vale & Downland Museum has a lot of festive treats this Christmas.

Planning pledges

In her regular column in the Herald (which you can also read here), Julie Mabberley of the Wantage & Grove Campaign Group this week asks “will the Prime Minister’s pledges be kept?”

My word, I though when I read that, this is going to be a long piece. Her articles are normally about 400 words but you could easily write 30 times that many on this subject. The first paragraph, however, revealed that she was only concerned with his ideas for planning.

The task of reforming the planning system is a vast and thankless one. Many previous attempts have failed. Although Rishi Sunak hasn’t put it in these terms, it must be a bit like trying to deal with an elephant which has collapsed across a road, blocking most of the traffic. It doesn’t particularly want to move and anyone trying to make it do so it is likely to get gored or trampled. There is in any case no clear sense of to where, it having been got back on its feet, the elephant should be guided, nor who will lead it there. At the back of everyone’s minds must also be the suspicion that it could end up in an even worse place and that, all things considered, it might be better to leave it where it is and work round it.

There are a number of things that could be improved about the current system and the article looks at some of the ones that the PM has so far identified. These include some measures to speed up not only the process of creating local plans but also the pace at which developers then crack on with work that’s been approved. He has also “promised to review how assessments of local housing need are calculated, which he said are still based on 2014 statistics.” As Julie Mabberly points out, though, the 300,000 homes a year target or something like it seems here to stay. He has appointed Michael Gove back to his previous job as Secretary of State and Gove is “wedded” to this target. This is despite the fact that in recent years the country has come nowhere close to hitting it.

The bigger problem is perhaps not the total number of homes but their size and tenure. The private sector, in OX12 and elsewhere, is very good at creating studio or one-bed flats in former commercial space under permitted development rights or profitable four- our five-bed homes on new estates. Its the size between these that’s the trouble, particularly ones that are “affordable”, shared-ownership or social-rent. Councils need to build these themselves. Money can be borrowed from the PWLB (assuming loans can be made for home-building, but if they don’t that could be fixed). The bigger problem might be finding suitable land. Perhaps one reform Gove might want to consider is allowing councils to issue compulsory purchase orders for land that has been banked by developers and at rates which can be capped. This might introduce an element of use it or lose it into the property market. All a bit socialist, I know: but where the market can’t provide the solution, the government needs to step in.

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 4.30pm 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.

Vale Community Impact‘s facebook page has lots of tips to help you with the cost of living crisis.

• 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 [email protected]

If you own a bike, Neighbourhood Watch strongly recommends registering it on the bikeregister.com database as every police force in the country uses it to search for stolen and recovered bikes.

 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

Mon 21 Nov Tea, Cake & a Chat, Stanford Coffee Shop.

Thu 24 Nov Spirit of the Vale Christmas Fair, Sparsholt

Thu 24 Nov Bingo Night, Roots & Shoots Community Hub, Snells Hall, East Hendred.

Sun 27 Nov Wantage Christmas Market, Wantage Market Place.

Sat 3 & Sun 4 Dec ‘The Snowman’ Concert’ by Wantage Silver Band, the Beacon.

Sat 3 Dec Theale High Street Christmas Market, Theale High Street.

 Sun 4 Dec Wantage Orchestra Autumn Concert, Wantage Parish Church.

Sat 16 Dec A Christmas Symphony: starting soprano Nadia Eide, the Beacon.

Sat 17 Dec The Zoots: Sounds of the 80s, Old Mill Hall, Wantage.

Sat 21 Dec The Adventures of Robin Hood, the Beacon.

• Regular events

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

• Wantage Café Scientifique hosts free science and technology talks at Wildwood cinema on the second Wednesday of the month. See here for how to go on their mailing list and links to previous talks on zoom.

• 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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.

Many councils do not hold meetings in August and many postponed their September meeting following the Queen’s death. 

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 1 August 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 11 October 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 26 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: reports from County and District Councillors; the Queen’s Green Canopy; reservoir consultations; solar charging; the car park; the Playscape; repairs and maintenance work; the cost-of-living crisis; financial matters; planning matters; the neighbourhood development plan; and traffic.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 September 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 June and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 June 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 was on 9 March 2021 and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings 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, Shrivenham Parish Council, Watchfield 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.

Swindon Borough Council: click 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.

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

Thursday 10 November 2022

This week we cover bulbs, Wantage’s Chamber of Commerce, Ray Collins, David Johnston and a market garden. We also take a look at some of the items in the most recent Wantage & Grove Campaign Group’s newsletter, including zebras, snickets and an expanding surgery – plus there’s our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• Sustainable Wantage is holding a bulb planting event this weekend, on Saturday 12 November. Following a successful bulb planting in Vale Avenue last year; Grove Parish Council requested a similar planting activity be arranged for this year. Reportedly, an anonymous donor has provided funds for the Council to purchase 7,000 daffodil and tulip bulbs. This weekend they are to be planted in Willow Green between Brereton Drive and Millbrook School – close to the pedestrian crossing. If you would like to help or need further details,  please email [email protected]. Also keep up to date with events like this on the Sustainable Wantage Facebook page.

Wantage Chamber of Commerce invites all local businesses to a meeting at The Blue Boar at 5.30pm on Tuesday 15 November to discuss how to promote Wantage & Grove in the run up to Christmas.

• Wantage MP David Johnston’s November 2022 newsletter has recently been published and you can click here to read it.

The Mix on Mill Street in Wantage is experimenting with a gift swap whenever they are open at least until the Dickensian Evening. Bring any unused, unwanted gifts and you can swap it for something you do want (or can give to someone else) for zero cost. Just check with a staff member/volunteer to make sure its good to donate. You can swap as many items as you like. Their opening times are 2pm to 6pm on Mondays, 10am to 3pm on Wednesdays and 10am to 1pm on Saturdays.

• Wantage Market Garden was featured on ITV news this week to showcase the brilliant work done there by Style Acre CIC which supports adults with autism and learning difficulties. The garden is maintained by users of Style Acre and WCSS, and by volunteers from Sustainable Wantage and the local community. Its aim is to provide gardening opportunities for everyone, no matter their age or ability. If you love gardening but don’t have a garden, you want to garden but don’t know where to start or you just want to join in with gardening activities with a friendly group, do come and visit us. We are open to the community most Sundays from 2-4pm. Find us behind the Wantage Community Support Services building (next to Charlton Primary School). Cake is often available! For more details join their facebook group here.

• The Ray Collins Trust is pleased to announce they will be running their Christmas Day Dinner this year and providing 150 Christmas Hampers to local families, over 65s & vulnerable adults thanks to three amazing donations that have made this possible again this year. If you are able to donate funds towards filling the hampers with lots of lovely treats please visit our website www.raycollinstrust.com or email [email protected]
• The atmospheric 16th century barn at Sparsholt is hosting the Spirit of the Vale Christmas Fair on Thursday 24 November for a festive shopping occasion in aid of local groups.

Vale Community Impact office is proud to be recognised as a “Safe Place”, located in the Market Square, Wantage. If you are feeling anxious, lost, confused or are being abused or harassed you can go to them for help and support, as one of the designated Safe Places. The Safe Places national network are a collection of participating shops, community centres, libraries and cafes, offering a local safe place to come to. The South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse Safe Places Scheme aims to help vulnerable people feel confident and safe when out and about in the area, by building confident and safer communities. The Safe Places scheme supports elderly people, people with dementia, those who may have physical or learning disability, people with mental health needs or someone who feels unwell. Click here fore more information about other Safe Spaces around the country, and look out for the Safe Places logo where you are.

• Important reminder from ARK (Action for the River Kennet) that although it’s now November and we have had some rain, we are still in drought conditions with a hosepipe ban. And yet somehow our household usage is higher than normal. Thames Water are applying for licenses to extract water from local rivers which would be really harmful to wildlife so let’s all please save as much water in our homes as possible. The more water that is tied up in our houses and sewage systems, the less is in rivers, canals, ponds and lakes – as we must remember that we all share the same supply of the wet stuff.

Click here for the latest newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group covering the many planning and development issues in ox12.

• For details of current roadworks visit the one.network site and search for Wantage.

• For the latest business news from South & Vale Business Support, please click here.

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

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

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

Zebras, snickets. and an expanding surgery

Click here to see the latest (24 October) newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group. These are published roughly every month and it’s well worth signing up to receive them is you want keep up to date on the many issues with which this group concerns itself. It states that “We are not against any development in Wantage and Grove but: (a) developments should be proportionate and sustainable; and (b) the infrastructure should enhance and improve the quality of life for its residents. Monitoring these ambitions as regards OX12 provides plenty of work and is likely to continue to do so for some time..

This newsletter includes:

  • A new zebra crossing and double yellow lines on Charlton Village Road.
  • Good news about the steps in the Snicket between the Bovis development on King Alfred’s East Site and Charlton Road.
  • The Lidl plans for a store on Grove Road.
  • Some questions about where developer contributions are going.
  • The start of the work on the Health Centre expansion.
  • Two upcoming Patient Participation Groups’ AGMs (15 and 23 November).
  • A link to a very useful (and constantly added-to) guide to sports, cultural and community organisations in OX12.

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 4.30pm 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.

Vale Community Impact‘s facebook page has lots of tips to help you with the cost of living crisis.

• 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 [email protected]

If you own a bike, Neighbourhood Watch strongly recommends registering it on the bikeregister.com database as every police force in the country uses it to search for stolen and recovered bikes.

 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 12 Nov Film Night: Fisherman’s Friend, The Beacon.

Sat 12 Nov Bulb Planting with Sustainable Wantage, Willow Green (near Millbrook School).

Mon 21 Nov Tea, Cake & a Chat, Stanford Coffee Shop.

Thu 24 Nov Spirit of the Vale Christmas Fair, Sparsholt

Sun 27 Nov Wantage Christmas Market, Wantage Market Place.

Sat 3 & Sun 4 Dec ‘The Snowman’ Concert’ by Wantage Silver Band, the Beacon.

Sat 3 Dec Theale High Street Christmas Market, Theale High Street.

 Sun 4 Dec Wantage Orchestra Autumn Concert, Wantage Parish Church.

Sat 16 Dec A Christmas Symphony: starting soprano Nadia Eide, the Beacon.

Sat 17 Dec The Zoots: Sounds of the 80s, Old Mill Hall, Wantage.

Sat 21 Dec The Adventures of Robin Hood, the Beacon.

• Regular events

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

• Wantage Café Scientifique hosts free science and technology talks at Wildwood cinema on the second Wednesday of the month. See here for how to go on their mailing list and links to previous talks on zoom.

• 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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.

Many councils do not hold meetings in August and many postponed their September meeting following the Queen’s death. 

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 1 August 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 11 October 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 26 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: reports from County and District Councillors; the Queen’s Green Canopy; reservoir consultations; solar charging; the car park; the Playscape; repairs and maintenance work; the cost-of-living crisis; financial matters; planning matters; the neighbourhood development plan; and traffic.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 September 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 June and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 June 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 was on 9 March 2021 and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings 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, Shrivenham Parish Council, Watchfield 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.

Swindon Borough Council: click 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.

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

Thursday 3 November 2022

This week we cover a gift swap, fireworks, a lottery, a larder and a market. We also take a look at your local MP’s latest newsletter and consider “forgotten Wantage” – plus there’s our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

The Mix on Mill Street in Wantage is experimenting with a gift swap whenever they are open at least until the Dickensian Evening. Bring any unused, unwanted gifts and you can swap it for something you do want (or can give to someone else) for zero cost. Just check with a staff member/volunteer to make sure its good to donate. You can swap as many items as you like. Their opening times are 2pm to 6pm on Mondays, 10am to 3pm on Wednesdays and 10am to 1pm on Saturdays.

• This bonfire night, Classic FM, in partnership with the RSPCA, are doing a special radio programme on to help animals cope with firework noise. They will be playing classical music help calm and settle anxious pets on Friday 4 November and Saturday 5 November from 5-9pm.

Vale Community Impact office is proud to be recognised as a “Safe Place”, located in the Market Square, Wantage. If you are feeling anxious, lost, confused or are being abused or harassed you can go to them for help and support, as one of the designated Safe Places. The Safe Places national network are a collection of participating shops, community centres, libraries and cafes, offering a local safe place to come to. The South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse Safe Places Scheme aims to help vulnerable people feel confident and safe when out and about in the area, by building confident and safer communities. The Safe Places scheme supports elderly people, people with dementia, those who may have physical or learning disability, people with mental health needs or someone who feels unwell. Click here fore more information about other Safe Spaces around the country, and look out for the Safe Places logo where you are.

• Speaking of Vale Community Impact, they are currently running a fundraising lottery to help support all the fantastic work they do in the community. Tickets only cost £1 each and you could win a grand prize of £1000 in John Lewis vouchers. The next draw date will be on 5 November. Click here to grab your ticket.

• Important reminder from ARK (Action for the River Kennet) that although it’s noew November and we have had some rain, we are still in drought conditions with a hosepipe ban. And yet somehow our household usage is higher than normal. Thames Water are applying for licenses to extract water from local rivers which would be really harmful to wildlife so let’s all please save as much water in our homes as possible. The more water that is tied up in our houses and sewage systems, the less is in rivers, canals, ponds and lakes – as we must remember that we all share the same supply of the wet stuff.

Click here for the latest newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group covering the many planning and development issues in ox12.

• For details of current roadworks visit the one.network site and search for Wantage.

• For the latest business news from South & Vale Business Support, please click here.

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

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

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

News from Mr Johnston

I’m always impressed by anyone who regularly produces a newsletter (yes, I know we do it). Even if you don’t do all the work yourself it’s your signature on the borrow so you need to check it says what you want it to. They take time, care and organisation. Mr Johnston has done one every month, August 2021 excepted, since I signed up for early last year. Clearly, they tell the stories from his point of view but at least they say what he’s been up to.

I should add at this point that I’m not talking about Boris (who in any case has no “t” in his surname) but David Johnson, Wantage’s MP. His November 20223 newsletter has just been published and you can click here to read it. The points it covered included: a speech in the Commons about sewage discharges; lobbying ministers to try to get homes built to the latest environmental standards, rather than the standard at the time planning permission was given; organising a visit to parliament by a local school; promoting various campaigns on behalf of residents including concerning trolling and abuse of various kinds; and a number of visits to local schools, sports clubs and community groups in his constituency.

If there’s anything you’d like to ask him to help about or get involved with, his contact details can be found at the foot of the newsletter. Who knows, you might even end up being featured in a future edition…

Forgotten Wantage

In her latest column in the Herald (which you can also read here), Julie Mabberley of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group takes a brief trip to OX12 in the early 19th century.

Back then, she learned at a recent talk at the Vale & Downland Museum, it was known as “Black Wantage”on account of its “neglected and discreditable state.” “Black Wantage” is not a term that would sit well today but that was what they called it: then was then and now is now. She describes some of social evils which the town then faced, though it took until the 1840s for anything serious to be done about these.

Some might feel that the wait for significant improvements in the early 21st century might be almost as long. She suggests that “Forgotten Wantage” might be a suitable term to describe the town today. As recently as 2014, she reminds us, Wantasge won the Great British High Street award. “I’m not sure,” she suggested, “that the judges would be impressed if they came back to the town now with our Market Place dominated by charity shops, barbers and takeaways.”

She then lists (in her estimation, they are not long lists) the various things that Oxfordshire CC, the Vale DC and Wantage TC have done for the town recently. If you are from any of these organisations and would beg to differ, email [email protected] and let me know what you think are positive achievements. It would be great also to know of at least one project that all three municipal layers are working on collaboratively.

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 4.30pm 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.

Vale Community Impact‘s facebook page has lots of tips to help you with the cost of living crisis.

• 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 [email protected]

If you own a bike, Neighbourhood Watch strongly recommends registering it on the bikeregister.com database as every police force in the country uses it to search for stolen and recovered bikes.

 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

On now until Sat 5 Nov Wantage Literary Festival, various locations.

Fri 4 Nov Country Market, Victoria Cross Forecourt Victoria Cross Gallery, Market Place, Wantage.

Sat 12 Nov Film Night: Fisherman’s Friend, The Beacon.

Mon 21 Nov Tea, Cake & a Chat, Stanford Coffee Shop.

Sat 3 & Sun 4 Dec ‘The Snowman’ Concert’ by Wantage Silver Band, the Beacon.

 Sun 4 Dec Wantage Orchestra Autumn Concert, Wantage Parish Church.

Sat 16 Dec A Christmas Symphony: starting soprano Nadia Eide, the Beacon.

Sat 17 Dec The Zoots: Sounds of the 80s, Old Mill Hall, Wantage.

Sat 21 Dec The Adventures of Robin Hood, the Beacon.

• Regular events

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

• Wantage Café Scientifique hosts free science and technology talks at Wildwood cinema on the second Wednesday of the month. See here for how to go on their mailing list and links to previous talks on zoom.

• 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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.

Many councils do not hold meetings in August and many postponed their September meeting following the Queen’s death. 

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 20 June 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 26 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: reports from County and District Councillors; the Queen’s Green Canopy; reservoir consultations; solar charging; the car park; the Playscape; repairs and maintenance work; the cost-of-living crisis; financial matters; planning matters; the neighbourhood development plan; and traffic.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 September 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 September 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 June and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 June 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 was on 9 March 2021 and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings 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, Shrivenham Parish Council, Watchfield 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.

Swindon Borough Council: click 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.

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

Thursday 27 October 2022

This week we cover literature, beer, a message from ARK, freedom for the band and how, or if, OX12 will ever get the leisure facilities that it has been promised and which developers have already contributed to – plus there’s our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• This week we’ve been enjoying the delights of the Wantage Literary Festival. The festival started on Monday 23 October and will be running until Saturday 5 November, there will be a variety of talks, workshops, themed evenings and family-friendly shows based around a mixture of literature, poetry, comedy, history, science, the arts and much more. Events will be held at The Beacon, Wantage and Cob & Pen. Click here to see the list of events and book your places.

This week’s roster includes All Dogs Great and Small with Graeme Hall from Channel 5 on Friday, while on Staurday has a line-up of Major Jim Sibbald, on the history of Britain’s military relations with Russia, Helen Fry discussing her book regarding the ‘ultimate spymaster of WW2’, and Sunny Ormonde on her 22 years as Lillian Belamy on radio-staple The Archers. What a line-up!

• The Wantage Cage Scientifique‘s upcoming talk will be all about beer. James Kwan, an Associate Professor in Engineering Science at the University of Oxford and an enthusiastic amateur homebrewer, will be discussing the history of beer brewing up to its industrialisation, its impact on culture, and the science and engineering that underpins it. He will go over the basic process of brewing beer, its classification, and also provide some generic recipes with the hope that audience members will give it a go themselves. That’ll be happening over at the Wildwood Cinema on Wednesday 2 November at 6:30pm. More details can be found here.

• Have you heard of the ‘HallowClean’? It’s a week long initiative set by Tidy Up Britain to help keep or communities clean and tidy. The idea of the HallowClean is that you dress up in your scariest costume and go litter picking with your friends. Kind of like trick or treating but the real treat is a cleaner environment. You can even post #HallowClean with pictures in your costumes to let people know what you’re doing and maybe even more of your friends will want to get involved. Happy HallowClean.

• Important reminder from ARK (Action for the River Kennet) that although it’s late October and we have had some rain, we are still in drought conditions with a hosepipe ban. And yet somehow our household usage is higher than normal. Thames Water are applying for licenses to extract water from local rivers which would be really harmful to wildlife so let’s all please save as much water in our homes as possible. The more water that is tied up in our houses and sewage systems, the less is in rivers, canals, ponds and lakes – as we must remember that we all share the same supply of the wet stuff.

Arts Hub Wantage‘s Sept/Oct newsletter includes whisky tasting, Wantage Art Group exhibition, Wantage Literary Festival and much more.

Click here for the latest newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group covering the many planning and development issues in ox12.

• For details of current roadworks visit the one.network site and search for Wantage.

• For the latest business news from South & Vale Business Support, please click here.

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

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

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

Paying for leisure in OX12

When developers get planning consent, part of the deal is that they have to make contributions to help mitigate the effects of what they’re building. These essentially take two forms: Community Infrastructure Levies, or CIL, which are calculated based on the area of the property if it isn’t exempted (not all districts use these); and Section 106 agreements, or S106s, which are more bespoke and are in effect a private contact between the developer and the local planning authority (LPA).

The problem with S106s is that, unless both parties agree to vary the conditions, the money can only be spent on the specified projects. Let’s assume, for example, that a tidy amount of developer contributions was earmarked for a leisure centre which was then cancelled. What happens next?

In fact, we don’t need to imagine this. As Julie Mabberly from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group points out in her most recent column in the Herald (which you can also read here), “£ millions of developer contributions were put aside for the new Wessex Leisure Centre planned for Mably Way,” although that’s now been shelved. Meanwhile, nearly £79,000-worth of upgrades have taken place at the Leisure Centre in Abingdon, elsewhere in the Vale of White Horse. Has this money been allocated from ring-fenced funds for Abingdon or has there been some shifting around of the destinations? What will happen to the rest of the money ear-marked for the binned leisure centre in OX12? Will it need to be returned to the developers? This might be legally logical but also be really perverse: the leisure centre was cancelled due to a major funding problem, not because the need for the mitigation had disappeared.

Can some of the funds be spent on Wantage’s existing leisure centre, which seems from Julie Mabberley’s description of it to be in a pretty decrepit state? Possibly not. “it seems.” she concludes gloomily, “that Wantage is being forgotten again.” This is supported by her observation that questions about future plans for leisure facilities in OX12 were met first with a promise that a new Leisure Strategy would be completed in 2021 and, more recently, “that work won’t start on it until next year at the earliest.” Nothing has been done during this council term, she suggests to improve leisure facilities.

“It doesn’t seem to matter which political party is running the Council,” she concludes. “All of them seem to forget Wantage when there is money to be spent and only remember we exist when they need somewhere to put new homes.” It’s unlikely that the Vale Council has a committee which thinks up ways of screwing over communities on the edge of the district but, to some, it must feel that way. Wantage and Grove certainly seem to have suffered more than most. Having a lot of homes built in a short space of time can be traumatic for a community (but can also energise it). However, having lots of mitigation contributions promised for a project which is cancelled and which might then either be spent elsewhere or returned to the developers – that’s got to hurt.

The freedom of the band

At an extraordinary meeting of Wantage Town Council on 3 October, it was unanimously resolved that “in accordance with the provisions of Section 249 of the Local Government Act 1972 the Council admit Wantage Silver Band having rendered eminent services to Wantage over the past 50 years and in recognition of their dedication to supporting events in the Town and surrounding environs; providing musical education to many, irrespective of age and ability, and promoting Wantage throughout the world; we hereby grant them the Honorary Freedom of Wantage which is the highest honour that this Council can bestow.”

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 4.30pm 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.

Vale Community Impact‘s facebook page has lots of tips to help you with the cost of living crisis.

• 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 [email protected]

If you own a bike, Neighbourhood Watch strongly recommends registering it on the bikeregister.com database as every police force in the country uses it to search for stolen and recovered bikes.

 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

On now until Sat 5 Nov Wantage Literary Festival, various locations.

Wed 2 Nov Wantage Cafe Scientifique: Beer, Wildwood Cinema, Market Place.

Fri 4 Nov Country Market, Victoria Cross Forecourt Victoria Cross Gallery, Market Place, Wantage.

Sat 12 Nov Fisherman’s Friend Screening, the Beacon.

Sat 3 & Sun 4 Dec ‘The Snowman’ Concert’ by Wantage Silver Band, the Beacon.

Sat 17 Dec The Zoots: Sounds of the 80s, Old Mill Hall, Wantage.

• Regular events

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

• Wantage Café Scientifique hosts free science and technology talks at Wildwood cinema on the second Wednesday of the month. See here for how to go on their mailing list and links to previous talks on zoom.

• 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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.

Many councils do not hold meetings in August and many postponed their September meeting following the Queen’s death. 

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 20 June 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 26 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: reports from County and District Councillors; the Queen’s Green Canopy; reservoir consultations; solar charging; the car park; the Playscape; repairs and maintenance work; the cost-of-living crisis; financial matters; planning matters; the neighbourhood development plan; and traffic.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 September 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 September 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 June and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 June 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 was on 9 March 2021 and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings 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, Shrivenham Parish Council, Watchfield 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.

Swindon Borough Council: click 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.

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

Thursday 20 October 2022

This week we cover Nosferatu, OktoberFest, a literary Festival and a reading group. Using an article by the Wantage & Grove Campaign Group as out starting point, we take a look at why nothing, apart from the unexpected, can be expected from the planning system at present – plus there’s our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• Fancy something spooky to start your weekend? Well, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Nosferartu, the Beacon will be having a screening of the classic comedy-horror film on Friday 21 October, starting at 7:30pm. Click here to book online.

• This weekend kicks off the Grove OktoberFest, Old Mill Hall, Wantage. On both Friday 21 and Saturday 22 October, between 7pm and midnight, you can enjoy a range of real ales, pilsners and ciders as well as live music. Saturday tickets have already sold out, but there are still Friday tickets available. On Friday the live music acts will be from bands Flats & Sharps and Black Water County. To book tickets for Friday, and click here.

• Following that, this coming Monday also marks the beginning the long awaited Wantage Literary Festival. From Monday 24 October and running until Saturday 5 November, there will be a variety of talks, workshops, themed evenings and family-friendly shows based around a mixture of literature, poetry, comedy, history, science, the arts and much more. Events will be held at The Beacon, Wantage and Cob & Pen. Click here to see the list of events and book your places.

• Quick reminder to vote for 76 year old Reg Todd from Hamfield, Wantage who has worked in horseracing for 60 years and travels to Charlie Hills yard in Lambourn twice a day on his moped in all weathers to look after Ascot-winner Dark Shift. Reg has been shortlisted for Moment of the Year in horseracing. Please click on racingtv.com to vote for Reg and Dark Shift.

Arts Hub Wantage‘s Sept/Oct newsletter includes whisky tasting, Wantage Art Group exhibition, Wantage Literary Festival and much more.

Click here for the latest newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group covering the many planning and development issues in ox12.

• For details of current roadworks visit the one.network site and search for Wantage.

• For the latest business news from South & Vale Business Support, please click here.

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

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

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

Expect the unexpected

In her regular column in the Herald (which you can also read here), Julie Mabberley of the Wantage & Grove Campaign Group kicks off with the observation that “the only certainty in planning is uncertainty.” Few involved in the process would disagree with that. (The statement would also be equally true if “planning” were replaced by “politics”, “economics” or just about anything else at the moment.)

The problem seems to be threefold.

First, the government has been discussing, promising, proposing and then withdrawing proposed reforms to the planning system since 2019 (indeed, for l0nger than that) but little has become law. The system is unsatisfactory in many ways (including in the power that developers wield and the continuing shortage of affordable and social-rent homes) but none of the proposed measures appear to solve these fundamental problems. Furthermore, all changes proposed hitherto have foundered on the opposition of a sufficiency of MPs who feel that their constituencies would be adversely affected by any change. Julie Mabberley suggests that the Levelling up and Regeneration Bill announced in May might soon be on the bonfire as well.

The second issue is that this has not stopped the government from introducing new measures, such as the Investment Zones. I had a look at these in my 13 to 20 October This Week with Brian column. These would seem to create a wholly separate set of arrangements from the national norm within all of, or perhaps only part/s of, participating authorities. This may or may not satisfy any national economic goals but it certainly won’t make the planning system any simpler. Another proposed change is to developer contributions, with the S106 system being replaced by Infrastructure Levies. (The name could have been better chosen as some districts also use Community Infrastructure Levies, which are not the same thing.) As Julie Mabberley points out “the details of how this levy would be calculated have not been disclosed,” which therefore makes it impossible for planning authorities to know what their income from this might be.

The third is that, as Julie Mabberley points out, “even though all of the District Councils in Oxfordshire are working on Local Plans, no one knows what the laws which govern those local plans will be.” These local plans take an insane amount of time to prepare and risk being out of date before they’re even published. The longer they take and the more uncertainty there is in SW1, the worse this problem becomes. As South Oxfordshire discovered in 2019, they can also become politicised.

What all of this adds up to is, as her headline says, uncertainty. Donald Rumsfeld coined the terms “known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns.” Most of the planning system at present could be described as in a state of uncertain uncertainty: not only is there no agreement on what the problems of the system are, still less on how these should be addressed, but also no sense that the government has the will to drive through any reforms in the face of backbench opposition. Given what’s going on in Westminster at present, it would be wise not to hold your breath for any new initiatives which might resolve this.

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 4.30pm 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.

Vale Community Impact‘s facebook page has lots of tips to help you with the cost of living crisis.

• 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 [email protected]

If you own a bike, Neighbourhood Watch strongly recommends registering it on the bikeregister.com database as every police force in the country uses it to search for stolen and recovered bikes.

 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

Fri 21 Oct Nosferatu Film Screening, the Beacon, Wantage.

Fri 21 to Sat 22 Oct Grove OktoberFest, Old Mill Hall, Wantage.

Mon 24 Oct Wantage Literary Festival, various locations.

Fri 4 Nov Country Market, Victoria Cross Forecourt Victoria Cross Gallery, Market Place, Wantage.

Sat 17 Dec The Zoots: Sounds of the 80s, Old Mill Hall, Wantage.

• Regular events

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

• Wantage Café Scientifique hosts free science and technology talks at Wildwood cinema on the second Wednesday of the month. See here for how to go on their mailing list and links to previous talks on zoom.

• 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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.

Many councils do not hold meetings in August and many postponed their September meeting following the Queen’s death. 

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 20 June 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 26 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: reports from County and District Councillors; the Queen’s Green Canopy; reservoir consultations; solar charging; the car park; the Playscape; repairs and maintenance work; the cost-of-living crisis; financial matters; planning matters; the neighbourhood development plan; and traffic.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 September 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 September 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 June and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 June 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 was on 9 March 2021 and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings 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, Shrivenham Parish Council, Watchfield 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.

Swindon Borough Council: click 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.

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

Thursday 13 October 2022

This week we cover martial arts, a horse racing hero, a library festival, a beer and music festival and some local newsletters. In the company of the Wantage & Grove Campaign Group, we also look at the pros and cons of being a councillor (there are plenty of seats up for grabs next May) – plus there’s our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• Congratulations to Mark and Cristina Currie from Wantage who have raised more than £60,000 to start a new charity for children and adults with learning disabilities after their autistic daughter took an attempt on her life. Mark runs the SMAFO Oxford Martial Arts school in Didcot and the couple want to provide support through martial arts to help people like their daughter. The new charity, which is called The Hive, will be based in Wantage and will provide free martial arts workshops including for mobility, coordination and health and wellbeing. See more details on oxfordmail.co.uk.

• 76 year old Reg Todd from Hamfield, Wantage has worked in horseracing for 60 years and travels to Charlie Hills yard in Lambourn twice a day on his moped in all weathers to look after Ascot-winner Dark Shift. Reg has been shortlisted for Moment of the Year in horseracing. Please click on racingtv.com to vote for Reg and Dark Shift.

• For International Repair Day, The Mix’s monthly Repair Cafe will be in the Lockinge room at the Beacon, with volunteer fixers ready to help you with all kinds of repairs, including household and electrical items, bikes, clothing and textiles. There will also be tool sharpening and computer experts to help you declutter and speed up, find your way around email and internet. Bring along items small enough for one person to carry and please back up your data first. Any questions? Contact Jo on [email protected] or 07768 767787.

OktoberFest fans – don’t miss the cracking line-up of original bands (including The Wurzels) and a selection of local ales, pilsner, and ciders at Grove OktoberFest, Old Mill Hall on Friday 21 and Saturday 22 October.

Wantage Literary Festival, starts on Monday 24 October with a great line-up of literary events across various locations in Wantage.

Arts Hub Wantage‘s Sept/Oct newsletter includes whisky tasting, Wantage Art Group exhibition, Wantage Literary Festival and much more.

Click here for the latest newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group covering the many planning and development issues in ox12.

• For details of current roadworks visit the one.network site and search for Wantage.

• For the latest business news from South & Vale Business Support, please click here.

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

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

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

Who’d be a councillor?

In her latest column in the Herald (which you can also read here), Julie Mabberley of the Wantage & Grove Campaign Group points out how thankless the task of being a councillor can be. It can, of course, also be satisfying and is for many an opportunity to “put something back”.  She refers to an article I wrote a couple of weeks ago (Playing Politics) which pointed out that neither of the main things a councillor needs to do – representing their residents and making sure that the statutory work is done properly – require taking any political position. I largely agree with her resulting comment that “I don’t really understand why being a member of a political party helps.”

Her article then goes on to list some of the things that councillors do, and don’t do. The former mainly involve working under official guidelines and with officers. Some might be tempted, particularly in the months following their election, to develop ideas and projects of their own. However, we’ve all seen Yes, Minister and know who generally wins these battles.

In Wantage, the question of the council elections (which will take place in May) is of particular significance as the town’s residents will be electing not one, nor even two, but three tiers of government (the Town Council, the Vale of White Horse District Council and Oxfordshire County Council), all of which are political. The arguments against having political town councils seem to be even stronger than against having politicised district or county councils but it’s something the residents of Wantage, and numerous other places, seem to be stuck with.

She concludes with a reality check for anyone thinking of going into the job for the money. The current allowance for a District Councillor in the Vale is £5,575pa. Even the Leader of the Council, if your aspirations stretch that far, only gets £22,340. Like so many worthwhile things  – and the job indeed can be worthwhile – it has to be seen as partly its own reward. And, after all, someone has to do it. Why not you?

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 4.30pm 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.

Vale Community Impact‘s facebook page has lots of tips to help you with the cost of living crisis.

• 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 [email protected]

If you own a bike, Neighbourhood Watch strongly recommends registering it on the bikeregister.com database as every police force in the country uses it to search for stolen and recovered bikes.

 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 15 Oct Repair Cafe, The Beacon

Fri 21 to Sat 22 Oct Grove OktoberFest, Old Mill Hall, Wantage.

Mon 24 Oct Wantage Literary Festival, various locations.

• Regular events

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

• Wantage Café Scientifique hosts free science and technology talks at Wildwood cinema on the second Wednesday of the month. See here for how to go on their mailing list and links to previous talks on zoom.

• 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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.

Many councils do not hold meetings in August and many postponed their September meeting following the Queen’s death. 

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 20 June 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 26 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: reports from County and District Councillors; the Queen’s Green Canopy; reservoir consultations; solar charging; the car park; the Playscape; repairs and maintenance work; the cost-of-living crisis; financial matters; planning matters; the neighbourhood development plan; and traffic.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 September 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 26 July 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 June and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 June 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 was on 9 March 2021 and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings 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, Shrivenham Parish Council, Watchfield 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.

Swindon Borough Council: click 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.

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

Thursday 6 October 2022

This week we cover apples, a scientific café, whisky, parking, pedestrianisation, zebras and puffins – plus there’s our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

Sustainable Wantage‘s latest newsletter focuses on energy saving tips, apple pressing this Saturday, repair cafe at The Beacon on Saturday 15 October; watch Pam Ayres investigate local water voles at Letcombe Brook: loads of volunteering opportunities and a job offer – a short-term part-time contract to set up a ‘Library of Things’ and an appeal for a spare suitcase and old towels.

• Sadly there have been reports of bird flu found in poultry in Faringdon. According to this BBC report, “the H5N1 virus, which is highly contagious, was found in the birds at a premises near Faringdon, Vale of White Horse on Tuesday. A protection zone of 3km (1.8 miles) and surveillance zone of 10km (six miles) has been but in place.” See the latest news from DEFRA and advice on how to maximise biosecurity for your birds, however small your flock is.

• The next Wantage Cafe Scientifique talk at Wildwood on Wednesday 12 October is about Fusion Energy: closer than you think with Valerie Jamieson.

Arts Hub Wantage‘s Sept/Oct newsletter includes whisky tasting, Wantage Art Group exhibition, Wantage Literary Festival and much more.

Click here for the latest newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group covering the many planning and development issues in ox12.

• For details of current roadworks visit the one.network site and search for Wantage.

• For the latest business news from South & Vale Business Support, please click here.

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

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

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

Parking and pedestrianisation

These two issues, which are separate though in some ways connected, have been live in Wantage for some time and are likely to remain so. In this separate post, we take a look at the background and consider a a few reasons why the parking problem has got worse recently. We also suggest some ways this can be improved. Read more here.

Zebras and puffins

In her regular column in the Herald (which you can also read here), Julie Mabberley of the Wantage & Grove Campaign Group wonders why it’s taking so long for Oxford CC to effect this transformation near the Fitzwaryn School in Wantage. She is a governor of the school and says that there have been several “near misses” at the crossing involving pupils. The proposal is to turn “a zebra crossing (with Belisha beacons) into a puffin crossing (with traffic lights).”

She expresses disappointment that no budget or design resources have been set aside, this despite the fact that the Wantage Eastern Link Road is getting built which will “move traffic around Wantage and along Mably Way to the Denchworth Road, past Fitzwaryn School.”

Trying to get a council to make any changes to highways, whether it’s new speed limits or turning puffins into zebras, takes what many feel to be an inordinate length of time. For those who are affected by the problems it certainly seems inordinate; for the council, the main aim (aside for not spending money unless it has to, which is reasonable enough) seems to be to make the process long and as technical, so putting off as many people as possible and setting the least number of precedents. Something tells me that Julie Mabberley is unlikely to be so easily dissuaded. However, it might be wise to expect that the zebra will be there for some time yet.

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 4.30pm 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.

Vale Community Impact‘s facebook page has lots of tips to help you with the cost of living crisis.

• 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 [email protected]

If you own a bike, Neighbourhood Watch strongly recommends registering it on the bikeregister.com database as every police force in the country uses it to search for stolen and recovered bikes.

 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 8 Oct Apple Pressing, The Beacon

• Sat 15 Oct Repair Cafe, The Beacon

Fri 21 to Sat 22 Oct Grove OktoberFest, Old Mill Hall, Wantage.

Mon 24 Oct Wantage Literary Festival, various locations.

• Regular events

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

• Wantage Café Scientifique hosts free science and technology talks at Wildwood cinema on the second Wednesday of the month. See here for how to go on their mailing list and links to previous talks on zoom.

• 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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.

Many councils do not hold meetings in August and many postponed their September meeting following the Queen’s death. 

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 20 June 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 26 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: reports from County and District Councillors; the Queen’s Green Canopy; reservoir consultations; solar charging; the car park; the Playscape; repairs and maintenance work; the cost-of-living crisis; financial matters; planning matters; the neighbourhood development plan; and traffic.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 September 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 26 July 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 June and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 June 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 was on 9 March 2021 and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings 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, Shrivenham Parish Council, Watchfield 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.

Swindon Borough Council: click 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.

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

Thursday 29 September 2022

This week we cover twitchers, another example of infrastructure problems, an open day at the Beacon and stolen bikes. In the company of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group we also take a look at water (how to move it, save it and store it)  – plus there’s our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• Wantage made headlines in the Daily Mail this week when a rare bird attracted a flock of twitchers. The common nightjar seems to be obliviously asleep atop a wooden fence while a crowd of men with big lensed cameras look on from a respectful distance.

This story in the Oxford Mail about a family who have recently moved into the new Kingsgrove development but haven’t been able to get both their children into the nearest school is a reminder of how important it is to get the infrastructure right. The council is having to pay for a taxi for the mother, who can’t drive for medical reasons, to take her younger son to a school three miles away.

• Everyone is invited to join The Beacon’s open day on Sunday 2 October for an afternoon of free fun for all – plus a taste of the different events and activities regularly on offer at the Wantage landmark building.

The next Wantage Cafe Scientifique talk at Wildwood on Wednesday 12 October is about Fusion Energy: closer than you think with Valerie Jamieson.

Arts Hub Wantage‘s Sept/Oct newsletter includes whisky tasting, Wantage Art Group exhibition, Wantage Literary Festival and much more.

There are a lot of bikes being stolen at the moment by theives who have bolt cutters so it doesn’t seem to matter how good your lock is. Neighbourhood Watch strongly recommend registering your bike on the bikeregister.com database as every police force in the country uses it to search for stolen and recovered bikes.

Click here for the latest newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group covering the many planning and development issues in ox12.

• For details of current roadworks visit the one.network site and search for Wantage.

• For the latest business news from South & Vale Business Support, please click here.

• For the latest Wantage & Grove Campaign Group newsletter, click here.

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

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

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

All this water

In her regular column in the Herald (which you can also read here) Julie Mabberley of the Wantage & Grove Campaign Group looks at water: specifically how to get if from A to B without losing too much of it and how best to build places to store it.

There are 326 million trillion gallons of water on the planet most of which at any one time is or seems to be in the wrong place. Moving it around is a problem humans have grappled with evert since we started settling down as farmers and it’s fair to say that we haven’t really cracked it yet. Forgive the pun, but cracks are one of the problem. As Julie Mabberley points out, about 20% of water that is put in at one end of a pipe never gets to the other end due to leaks. It seems the UK is right in the relegation positions in the league table on this one, with only Poland and Cyprus doing worse. As she points out, privatisation has caused a further leakage, this time of dividends to shareholders, who are often offshore. Belatedly, a combination of public pressure, government action and some signs of teeth-sharpening on the part of OfWat and the Environment Agency seem likely to produce results.

It’s going to be slow work, through. Her article quotes The Guardian as saying that only 0.05% of “Britain’s crumbling pipe network” is being replaced every 12 months: 1 2,000 year project, in all. To put it another way, if this job had started when Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane in AD32 it would still be ten years away from being finished.

She then turns to something of more immediate concern to residents of OX12: reservoirs. Few will be unaware that a massive one is proposed just north of the railway line in the East Hanney and Steventon area. She points out that “building a reservoir is one of the most expensive infrastructure projects that a government can invest in.” She further suggests that it would be more efficient to build pipes to bring water from the wetter wares further west – as long, of course, as they don’t leak.

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 4.30pm 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.

Vale Community Impact‘s facebook page has lots of tips to help you with the cost of living crisis.

• 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 [email protected]

• 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 2 Oct Wantage Local Artisan Market, Wantage Market Place.

Sun 2 Oct Open Day at The Beacon.

Fri 21 to Sat 22 Oct Grove OktoberFest, Old Mill Hall, Wantage.

Mon 24 Oct Wantage Literary Festival, various locations.

• Regular events

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

• Wantage Café Scientifique hosts free science and technology talks at Wildwood cinema on the second Wednesday of the month. See here for how to go on their mailing list and links to previous talks on zoom.

• 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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 that many parish and town councils do not hold meetings in August. In addition, meetings which were scheduled to have taken place during the period of mourning following the death of the Queen (8 to 19 September) would have been cancelled or postponed.

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 for which minutes are available was on 20 June 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 September 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 26 July 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 24 August 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, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 June and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 June 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 was on 9 March 2021 and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings 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, Shrivenham Parish Council, Watchfield 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.

Swindon Borough Council: click 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.

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

 

Thursday 22 September 2022

This week we cover an exhibition, a marathon, walking history and cake. We also take a look, in the company of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group, at the extent to which developers can be compelled to provide things like football pitches – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• Staff from the Vale & Downland Museum have carefully collected all the tributes that had been placed at the King Alfred Statue in the Market Place in memory of Queen Elizabeth II. Once they have all dried out, they will be added to their collection for future generations to see how the community marked the death of our longest reigning Queen. The flowers left at the statue will be composted to be used for a tree of commemoration.

• Local historian Trevor Hancock’s walking history tour around Wantage town this Saturday is nearly sold out. Click here to grap the last tickets.

• This Sunday 25 September, Richmond Village in Letcombe Regis is hosting a Vintage Transport Display, with vintage and classic cars, steam engines and motorcycles, from 10.30am to 3.30pm. Entry is free to all so why not pop over to admire the vehicles and enjoy the refreshments. See more details here.

Arts-Hub Wantage‘s new Sept/Oct newsletter includes whisky tasting, Wantage Art Group exhibition, Wantage Literary Festival and much more.

Kingsgrove Community Day at Kingsgrove Square, Rutherford Road, Wantage on Saturday 24 September from noon to 4pm offers the chance for local residents to get involved with plans for the new Central Park and Community Hub. There will be fun families activities, stalls, food and drink and talks from local organisations such as HarBUG, Wild Wantage, Girl Guiding Wantage and Wantage Town FC. Come along or please email [email protected] if you would like more information.

• Over in Ardington, Vale Community Impact will be hosting a Tea, Cake & a Chat on Monday 26 September at the Loyd Lindsey Room on Ardington High Street for anyone feeling lonely or isolated, or simply wanting to meet new people in the area. If you need a lift to get there then call the VCI on 07458 130408 and they can arrange pick-up. Click here for more details.

• Residents with an OX12 postcode  can still have their say on the impact of the cost of living crisis in the local community. Before 1 October please click here to complete this survey being organised by Vale Community Impact and the Ray Collins Charitable Trust

• Speaking of the Ray Collins Charitable Trust, local Mark Bennett will be participating in the London Marathon on 2 October, in aid of them. In case you’re unaware, the Trust aims to provide relief of poverty for the elderly, sick, disabled, injured and disadvantaged people of Wantage and surrounding area. If you would like to support Mark and the Trust, you can make a donation via his Facebook page.

Click here for the latest newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group covering the many planning and development issues in ox12.

• For details of current roadworks visit the one.network site and search for Wantage.

• For the latest business news from South & Vale Business Support, please click here.

• For the latest Wantage & Grove Campaign Group newsletter, click here.

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

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

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

Another political football

As mentioned regularly in the Newbury Area Weekly News column (most recently this week), football pitches have become a burning political issue in West Berkshire. Not only there, it seems. In her 14 September column in the Herald, which you can also read here, Julie Mabberley of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group asks why the homebuilders Persimmon can’t provide football pitches.

According to the contract signed by Persimmon, she explains, the developer has to “deliver facilities for the residents at various points during the buildout.” One such was a replacement football training pitch and temporary changing facilities, which needed to be in place “by the time that 50 homes were occupied and before the old training pitch was removed.” The first 50 homes were occupied way back in late 2019 and the old pitch has gone but the new one will not, it seems, be handed over to Grove Parish Council until late 2022 (three years late). Julie Mabberley also points out that Persimmon is behind schedule on a number of other mitigations, including a primary school and some allotments.

When developers build they are obliged to mitigate the effect of what they do and to contribute towards the infrastructure that the new homes require. There are two ways this can happen. Either the developer makes a financial contributions (through CIL or Section 106 agreements); or it is agreed that the developer will build them itself. Neither solution is without its problems. Section 106 agreements need to specify exactly what the money will be used for and so, if the need changes or vanishes, the payment may need to be returned. All obligations are also easier to agree than to enforce. Property companies are adept at using every trick known to humankind to avoid, delay or reduce anything that’s been agreed. Such is the power that large developers have in the planning system that a viable reaction to the problem of an unwelcome obligation is simply not to do the work, or do it only when it suits the developer, and dare the planning authority to do anything about it.

Sadly, planning authorities often seem to lack both the taste and the funds for this kind of battle. Julie Mabberley asked the Vale Council if it would place a “stop” notice on the development until the work had been done. She was told that “they couldn’t do this: it would be against the law. But,” Julie asks, “isn’t Persimmon breaking the law anyway?” The Vale could take the developers to court but that is a slow, uncertain and expensive way of deciding anything.  She suggests that “there should be a penalty clause that requires an additional sum to be paid to the Council for every week that facilities for the residents are delayed.” That would be great if the developers could be trusted to pay it (which they probably couldn’t). They could be asked to make a deposit against such a risk before work started, but if they said “no” what would the council’s next move be? They could also be compelled to build the communal things like schools and shops first, but they’d probably say “no” to that as well.

The UK government has effectively outsourced pretty much all home building to private companies, many of which are sharp-witted and profitable (which iswhat private companies need to be to survive). These firms can also pay higher salaries than planning authorities and so will employ more and probably better people. It’s as well to recognise this reality. Most councils are probably fairly happy if about the specified number of houses are built to approximately the specified standard, more or less to the agreed timescale and with most of the promised mitigations. Perfection is, of course, never possible in this imperfect world; the planning system at preset falls particularly far short of this ideal.

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 4.30pm 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.

Vale Community Impact‘s facebook page has lots of tips to help you with the cost of living crisis.

• 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 [email protected]

• 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 24 Sept Kingsgrove Community Day, Kingsgrove Square, Rutherford Road, Wantage.

Sat 24 Sept Wantage History Tour, Vale & Downland Museaum.

Sun 2 Oct Wantage Local Artisan Market, Wantage Market Place.

Fri 21 to Sat 22 Oct Grove OktoberFest, Old Mill Hall, Wantage.

Mon 24 Oct Wantage Literary Festival, various locations.

• Regular events

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

• Wantage Café Scientifique hosts free science and technology talks at Wildwood cinema on the second Wednesday of the month. See here for how to go on their mailing list and links to previous talks on zoom.

• 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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 that many parish and town councils do not hold meetings in August. In addition, meetings which were scheduled to have taken place during the period of mourning following the death of the Queen (8 to 19 September) would have been cancelled or postponed.

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 for which minutes are available was on 20 June 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 26 July and you can read the minutes here. Matters covered included: drainage problems at the Recreation Ground (see separate sections above); Grove Airfield and Crab Hill; the Active Travel Group; the Parish Council reception; committee reports; 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: trees; the puffin crossing on the A338;  the MUGA and the car park; the neighbourhood plan; the play-art project; dog signs; financial matters; and planning matters.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 June and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 June 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 June 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 was on 9 March 2021 and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings 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, Shrivenham Parish Council, Watchfield 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.

Swindon Borough Council: click 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.

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

Thursday 15 September 2022

This week we cover local mourning for the Queen, tea, cake, chat, business support and the X1 – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Note: due to the period of mourning which will end after the Queen’s funeral on Monday 19 September, a number of events and activities may be postponed or cancelled, perhaps at short notice. We have highlighted those that we are aware of but you are advised to check in advance with the organisers.

This week’s news

• As the nation continues to mourn the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, in our local communities residents, businesses and officials have been paying their respects to her memory. Wantage Town Council have set up a floral tribute area for the Queen around King Alfred’s statue in Wantage Market Place. Please remove all cellophane from flowers left as the intention is to compost the flowers after the period of National Mourning in preparation for the planting of a tree in honour of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The nets are to prevent the flowers blowing into the road. Books of Condolences are held at The Beacon and Wantage Parish Church and you can also leave messages on the town council’s website.

• As you are probably now aware, Monday 19 September will be the day of the Queen’s funeral and has been declared a national bank holiday. All schools will be closed, as well as many business, including most supermarkets, as a mark of respect and in order to allow employees to observe the event.

• The Vale Community Impact and the Ray Collins Charitable Trust are very concerned about the impact of the cost of living crisis in the local community. They are asking residents with an OX12 postcode to complete a short survey to gauge insights on how the rise in energy and food prices is affecting you and/or your family members. The results may help them to attract funds to help more households in our community cope with the crisis. If you would like to share your views, click here to complete the survey, before the 1 October.

• Speaking of the Ray Collins Charitable Trust, local Mark Bennett will be participating in the London Marathon on 2 October, in aid of raising money of  the aforementioned charity. In case you’re unaware, the Trust aims to provide relief of poverty for the elderly, sick, disabled, injured and disadvantaged people of Wantage and surrounding area. If you would like to support Mark and the Trust, you can make a donation via his Facebook page.

• Over in Ardington, the Vale Community Impact group will be hosting a Tea, Cake & a Chat event for anyone feeling lonely or isolated, or simply wanting to meet new people in the area. If you need a lift to get there then call the VCI on 07458 130408 and they can arrange pick-up. The event will be held on Monday 26 September at the Lloyds Lindsey Room on Ardington High Street. Click here fore more details.

• A reminder that, following a local campaign and petition, the X1 bus service between Oxford and Wantage via Abbingdon will now also stop at Hinksey Green. In January the stop was withdrawn from the route, but due to public backlash the stop has agreed to be reinstated – at least for a trial period of six months. More information about this can be found here.

Click here for the latest newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group covering the many planning and development issues in ox12.

• For details of current roadworks visit the one.network site and search for Wantage.

• For the latest business news from South & Vale Business Support, please click here.

• For the latest Wantage & Grove Campaign Group newsletter, click here.

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

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

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

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 4.30pm 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.

Vale Community Impact‘s facebook page has lots of tips to help you with the cost of living crisis.

• 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 [email protected]

• 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

Note: following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on 8 September, some events over the following few days may be cancelled or postponed. Please check with the organisers.

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

• Dates for the diary

Sun 18 Sept Wantage Food and Crafts Festival, Wantage Market Place.

Sun 18 Sept Wantage Food & Craft Festival organised by the Ray Collins Trust.

Sat 24 Sept Wantage History Tour, Vale & Downland Museaum.

Sun 2 Oct Wantage Local Artisan Market, Wantage Market Place.

Fri 21 to Sat 22 Oct Grove OktoberFest, Old Mill Hall, Wantage.

Mon 24 Oct Wantage Literary Festival, various locations.

• Regular events

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

• Wantage Café Scientifique hosts free science and technology talks at Wildwood cinema on the second Wednesday of the month. See here for how to go on their mailing list and links to previous talks on zoom.

• 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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 for which minutes are available was on 20 June 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 26 July and you can read the minutes here. Matters covered included: drainage problems at the Recreation Ground (see separate sections above); Grove Airfield and Crab Hill; the Active Travel Group; the Parish Council reception; committee reports; 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: trees; the puffin crossing on the A338;  the MUGA and the car park; the neighbourhood plan; the play-art project; dog signs; financial matters; and planning matters.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 June and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 June 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 June 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 was on 9 March 2021 and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings 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, Shrivenham Parish Council, Watchfield 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.

Swindon Borough Council: click 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.

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

Friday 9 September 2022

This week we cover local mourning for the Queen, a musical fundraiser, a historic mill, a scientific café and an altered bus route. We also take a look at proposed yellow lines and a delayed decision about some discriminatory steps – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

Wantage Town Council has set up a floral tribute area for the Queen around King Alfred’s statue in Wantage Market Place. Please remove all cellophane from flowers left as the intention is to compost the flowers after the period of National Mourning in preparation for the planting of a tree in honour of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The nets are to prevent the flowers blowing into the road. Books of Condolences are held at The Beacon and Wantage Parish Church and you can also leave messages on the town council’s website. The Mayor invites residents to the Proclamation of the Accession of King Charles III at 2pm in Wantage Marketplace on Sunday 11 September. For more details please see the Mayor of Wantage’s facebook page.

• This weekend there’s a fundraising music evening to raise money for JDRS UK’s research into types 1 diabetes. Happening over at the Old Mill Hall in Grove there will be live music from The Undercovers, putting their own unique spin on music from Led Zeppelin, Girls Aloud, The Black Keys and music more. Taking place at 7pm on Saturday 10 September, click here for more information and to book tickets.

• Sadly, the rising cost in energy crisis is already claiming victims in our local community. The historic Wessex Mill in Mill Street which has operated in Wantage since the 1800’s, has announced that it will cease production at the end of the year. The Munsey family, who have been milling flour in Oxfordshire for five generations, have said energy prices hikes have made the business unsustainable. However it is hopefully not all bad news as the mill will be put in the hands of Doves Farm, based in Hungerford, who plan to continue milling on the site. More of this story in The Herald here.

• Wantage Café Scientifique hosts free science and technology talks at Wildwood cinema on the second Wednesday of the month. The next one will be ‘Walking on Water: how your joints work and why you get arthritis’ on Wednesday 14 September. See here for how to go on their mailing list and links to previous talks on zoom.

• Plans are moving ahead for the new Lidl in Grove. The latest plan, which was submitted in February was unanimously approved last month by The Vale of White Horse District Council’s planning committee. The CEO of Lidl has confirmed they are aiming to start construction next spring 2023, although an exact date has not yet been confirmed. The store is to be built on a field east of Grove Road, next to Elm Farm Business Park. More information on this story can be found in the Oxford Mail.

• Following a local campaign and petition, the X1 bus service between Oxford and Wantage via Abbingdon will now also stop at Hinksey Green. In January the stop was withdrawn from the route, but due to public backlash the stop has agreed to be reinstated – at least for a trial period of six months. More information about this can be found here.

Click here for the latest newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group covering the many planning and development issues in ox12.

• For details of current roadworks visit the one.network site and search for Wantage.

• For the latest business news from South & Vale Business Support, please click here.

• For the latest Wantage & Grove Campaign Group newsletter, click here.

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

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

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

Lines and steps

In her regular column in the Herald (which you can also read here), Julie Mabberley of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group has a look at two issues: yellow lines and discriminatory steps.

We all know what double yellow lines look like and what they mean. Anyone in the area of Charlton Village Road may soon be seeing more of these and Julie Mabberley’s article explains where these are planned. It will, she adds, “be interesting to see if the new restrictions are enforced – especially between 8.30 and 9.00 and 2.45 and 3.30” (school drop-off and pick-up times).

Parking restrictions are an excellent example of how humans assess and manage risk. The calculation of the length of time we’ll be parked for, the likelihood of this causing any clear and present risk or danger, the chances of a traffic warden appearing (or if there might be any cameras) and the size of any resulting fine are assessed in a couple of seconds and a decision taken. Where parking is permitted but payment is required, the cost of the ticket and the ease with which one can buy it are factored in as well. There’s also (perhaps) a moral question: if I regularly park in a town and, in defiance of the regulations, never put any money in the machine but quite happily pay any parking ticket I get, am I actually doing anything wrong? Drivers in OX12 have have ever-increasing opportunities to work through these risk assessments and moral dilemmas.

As her article explains, you have until 30 September to submit comments on these proposals by clicking here.

Turning to the less obvious matter of the discriminatory steps, the second part of Julie Mabberley’s article considers the alleyway in the new development off Springfield Road which was described by the developers as “a key pedestrian link. Unfortunately,” she adds, “they don’t seem to have read their own material” as the path has been levelled and “discriminatory” steps put in. A retrospective application was put in to try to get this change of plan approved but, “nine months later we still await the decision of the District Council.” It seems odd that the developers decided to spend money on doing something that they hadn’t got permission for whereas leaving matters as they were would have infringed no conditions and cost them nothing. Mind you, nothing about the planning system surprises me any more.

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 4.30pm 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.

Vale Community Impact‘s facebook page has lots of tips to help you with the cost of living crisis.

• 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 [email protected]

• 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

Note: following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on 8 September, some events over the following few days may be cancelled or postponed. Please check with the organisers.

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

• Dates for the diary

Sat 10 Sept Fundraising Music Night, Old Mill Hall, Grove.

Sun 18 Sept Wantage Food and Crafts Festival, Wantage Market Place.

Wed 14 Sept Free Wantage Cafe Scientifique Talk, Wildwood, Wantage.

Sat 24 Sept Wantage History Tour, Vale & Downland Museaum.

Sun 2 Oct Wantage Local Artisan Market, Wantage Market Place.

Fri 21 to Sat 22 Oct Grove OktoberFest, Old Mill Hall, Wantage.

Mon 24 Oct Wantage Literary Festival, various locations.

• Regular 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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 for which minutes are available was on 20 June 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 26 July and you can read the minutes here. Matters covered included: drainage problems at the Recreation Ground (see separate sections above); Grove Airfield and Crab Hill; the Active Travel Group; the Parish Council reception; committee reports; 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: trees; the puffin crossing on the A338;  the MUGA and the car park; the neighbourhood plan; the play-art project; dog signs; financial matters; and planning matters.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 June and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 June 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 March 2021 and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings 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, Shrivenham Parish Council, Watchfield 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.

Swindon Borough Council: click 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.

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

Thursday 1 September 2022

We didn’t do a news update for 1 September 2022 as were having a week off. However, the 25 August section below will include much information that’s still relevant, including regarding community organisations and recurring events (please email [email protected] if you would like information about your organisation to be included here).

Many of the news items that we covered last week also remain relevant as they relate to issues that are still active or to events that are yet to take place. The normal service of updating these will resume on 8 September.

Many of the articles we’ve written on OX12 have been commentaries on the weekly pieces in the Herald written by Julie Mabberley of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group. Wantage and Grove needs a campaign group because of the vast increase in the amount of development in the area which is not in many people’s view being matched by a corresponding growth in the infrastructure required to support it.

Under the deeply confusing structure of local government in this country, Wantage and Grove are in a two-tier structure, with the Vale of White Horse  DC and Oxfordshire CC sitting above it (this is unlike West Berkshire and Wiltshire which are single-tier). This perhaps has the effect of making any decisions there, on planning or anything else, slower and more opaque. OX12 also suffers from being in same county as Oxford, a city whose continued growth seems to be regarded as an article of faith by the government and yet which is unable to provide all the homes it claims it requires within its own boundaries, the surrounding districts thus being expected to take up the slack. The recent abandonment of the Oxfordshire 2050 plan (see the 18 August column below) doesn’t seem likely to increase the agreement between the various councils as to what the respective housing numbers should be. Opinions currently vary widely.

One thing’s that’s for sure is that the build-out in the Wantage and Grove area will continue for some time yet. The result will be that by 2030 the combined population of the settlements will be about double what they were in 2011 (and the open land between all but eroded). With that will come the continued need for a pressure group to help keep an eye on what’s going on and what is proposed. We’ll be continuing to follow the work that this group is doing.

Thursday 25 August 2022

This week we cover garden parties, an advice centre, new directors and an arts hub. We also take a look at the challenges faced in providing the area with a decent and safe cycling network – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• With the last few weeks of summer drawing in, it’s time to make the most of the lovely pleasant evenings and summer-y activities while they still last. This weekend to celebrate the Bank Holiday, The Greyhound Inn is throwing a Garden Party on Monday 29 August. Come along for some outdoor cooking, live music and enjoy a nice drink, some great food and a lively, fun atmosphere.
• We have written a lot about community larders over recent months and were interested to see for ourselves how they work so Penny recently visited the Wantage Community Larder at The Beacon to find out how they save residents money and prevent a shocking amount of food waste. Watch the short video Penny made with our work experience student Georgie Hartley from King Alfred’s who volunteers at the larder for her Duke of Edinburgh award. For more about the larder see their facebook page here.
• If you would like an opportunity to support the community please consider becoming a trustee of the Vale Community Impact advice centre which provides invaluable advice and transport for many people in need. Trustee meetings are every three months. For more details please see here or contact Kathy at [email protected].

• Quick reminder about the hosepipe ban that was introduced this week, as whatever rain we now have still isn’t enough to replenish the low water levels in reservoirs and rivers. You can still use mains water to fill watering cans and buckets, and gardeners say this is a more efficient way to the water the garden so please make every drop count. There are exemptions for Blue Badge holders, or those on Thames Water’s Priority Register with restricted mobility, who find carrying a bucket or watering can difficult. And while the temporary ban does not cover businesses, Thames Water is asking businesses across its area to be mindful of the drought and to use water wisely, for example, by not washing commercial vehicles or turning off water features on their properties. See more details here.

• Inspired by the Lionesses’ Euro 2022 victory? The Wantage Ladies FC are looking for new players to join their team. They train at 7pm on Thursdays at the Wantage football club and for more information, contact Nicky on 07974 805547. Also Abingdon Youth are putting together a new U8 Girls Team, for children aged six to eight years. Training will be on Tuesday evening, with matches on Saturday mornings. For more information see facebook here or contact Stacey at [email protected].

• If you’re looking for something to do with your kids this summer check out our guide to summer fun which includes free gaming and Pokémon scavenger hunt at The Toy Planet; Lego Club, hands on history and craft at The Vale and Downland Museum, Wantage Splash Pad and affordable YouMove family activities across Oxfordshire. See here for all the details.

Click here for the latest newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group covering the many planning and development issues in ox12.

• St Mary’s Church in Wantage is hosting afternoon teas every Sunday between 2.30pm and 5.30pm during the summer for those that usually visit the church or those who just love afternoon tea.

• The July/August newsletter from Arts Hub Wantage includes opera at The Beacon, songs from screen and stage at Letcombe Regis Village Hall and much, much more.

• The Vale Academy Trust (VAT) is looking to recruit three new directors, to take up their roles from October 2022.  The VAT is a multi-academy trust which runs nine schools in the Wantage and Abingdon areas.  The Board of 12 pro bono directors is responsible for setting the strategic direction of the Trust, deciding overall policy, defining goals, setting targets and evaluating performance. See here for more.

•  The season of summer fetes is in full flow, and Shrivenham is no exception. On Saturday 27 August from midday onwards Shrivenham Village Fete will offer live music, children’s races, fancy dress competitions, a plethora of stalls and a classic car display. The hawk display will be a particular eye catcher, so be sure to put this date in your diary. See more here.

• For details of current roadworks visit the one.network site and search for Wantage.

• For the latest business news from South & Vale Business Support, please click here.

• For the latest Wantage & Grove Campaign Group newsletter, click here.

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

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

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

On your bike

In her regular column in the Herald (which you can also read here), Julie Mabberley of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group tells us the Oxfordshire Local Transport and Connectivity Plan “has a commitment to develop Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs) for all main urban settlements (over 10,000 inhabitants) across the county by 2025.” She has two immediate concerns about this.

The first is that “there is no mention of any funding to make anything happen.” The second is that, although new developments might have dedicated cycle lane, once out on the main road it’s a completely different story, with all manner of hazards ranging from lorries to potholes.

She suggests that “the reason for these ambitious plans is so that if any grant funding is available the ideas are already formulated so putting in a grant application is much easier.” You need a promise, in other words: you might be slaughtered by the votes when you can live up to it but at least, if a pot of cash appears from London, you can show that it matches this particular policy. Whether that policy is any longer applicable to the district is, of course, another matter.

The sad fact is that, just as history has been written by the victors, so pretty much all development plans for the last 100-odd years have been written by motorists. That is slowly starting to change but, as Julie Mabberley points out, the lovely cycle lanes in some new estates only make the highway provision seem even more perilous. Large roundabouts, for example, are almost impossible for a cyclist to navigate safely and yet most rural journeys will have many of these. Re-designing all of this would be even more expensive than re-building our sewage system (which is saying something). As the old joke  has it, no matter you want to go, I wouldn’t start from here.

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 4.30pm 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.

Vale Community Impact‘s facebook page has lots of tips to help you with the cost of living crisis.

Wantage Café Scientifique hosts free science and technology talks at Wildwood cinema on second Wednesday of the month. The next one will be Walking on Water: how your joints work and why you get arthritis on Wednesday 14 September. See here for how to go on their mailing list and links to previous talks on zoom.

• 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 [email protected]

• 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 27 Aug Live Music from Mothergirth, at the Lord Nelson Pub, Wantage.

• Mon 29 Aug Bank Holiday Garden Party, The Greyhound Inn.

Sun 18 Sep Wantage Food and Crafts Festival, Wantage Market Place.

Sun 2 Oct Wantage Local Artisan Market, Wantage Market Place.

Fri 21 to Sat 22 Oct Grove OktoberFest, Old Mill Hall, Wantage.

Mon 24 Oct Wantage Literary Festival, various locations.

• Regular events

• The Wantage splash pad is now open for the summer, every day from 10.30am and 7pm. See more here.

 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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 for which minutes are available was on 20 June 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 for which minutes are available was on 26 July and you can read the minutes here. Matters covered included: drainage problems at the Recreation Ground (see separate sections above); Grove Airfield and Crab Hill; the Active Travel Group; the Parish Council reception; committee reports; 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 for which minutes are available was on 13 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: trees; the puffin crossing on the A338;  the MUGA and the car park; the neighbourhood plan; the play-art project; dog signs; 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 Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 June and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 June 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 was on 21 March 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 for which minutes are available was 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 Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available was 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, Shrivenham Parish Council, Watchfield 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.

Swindon Borough Council: click 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.

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

Thursday 18 August 2022

This week we cover volunteers, e-scooters, swap shops and football. We also take a look at the problems of Grove’s two-legged mole, report on success at the second attempt for Lidl and  consider how and by whom the county’s housing targets are going to be decided given the collapse of the Oxfordshire 2050 project– plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• Congratulations to the Ray Collins Charitable Trust for their day trip this week taking a coach to Southsea with 12 Wantage families including 33 children. Thanks to the support from the community, the trust was able to pay for coach and everyone’s lunch. The week before they took a coachload to the Cotswold Wildlife Park and they are promising some more good news for the community coming soon.
• If you would like an opportunity to support the community please consider becoming a trustee of the Vale Community Impact advice centre which provides invaluable advice and transport for many people in need. Trustee meetings are every three months. For more details please see here or contact Kathy at [email protected].

Be Free Young Carers, a local Oxfordshire based charity, is desperately seeking new volunteers. The charity helps support young carers and their families, offering them respite activities for the carers and trips where they can relax, have fun and focus on being a kid. Volunteers are needed to help run these trips and ensure the safety of the children. Safeguarding training will be provided. Most activity days take place during the school holidays and you have total control in how many you take part in. If this sounds like you would be interested in, please contact Katrina at [email protected] for more information, or alternatively you can find the application form here.

• Maybe it’s a school holiday thing but there have been more reports of e-scooters racing past Sainsbury’s entrance amongst pedestrians and shooting out onto roads infront of oncoming vehicles. Although larger cities like Oxford and Bristol have official e-scooter rentals, the use of privately-owned e-scooters is illegal on public land. At the moment they should only be ridden on the owner’s private property as they are unlicensed, untaxed and uninsured. For more details see our article here. Local PCSOs are aware of the problem. If you have any issues please report them to the police online or call 999 in an emergency or 101 in a non-emergency situation. If an e-scooter rider is stopped by the police they risk having their scooter seized, penalty points on their licence and a fine.

• This week’s long-awaited downpour was substantial but not substantial enough to raise our extremely low river and reservoir levels caused by the driest July since 1885. As a result, Thames Water will be implementing a hosepipe ban from Wednesday 24 August. You can still use mains water to fill watering cans and buckets, and gardeners say this is a more efficient way to the water the garden so please make every drop count. There are exemptions for Blue Badge holders, or those on Thames Water’s Priority Register with restricted mobility, who find carrying a bucket or watering can difficult. And while the temporary ban does not cover businesses, Thames Water is asking businesses across its area to be mindful of the drought and to use water wisely, for example, by not washing commercial vehicles or turning off water features on their properties. See more details here.

• The Toy Planet near Sainsbury’s is running free Pokémon swap shops every Friday throughout August from 4pm to 6pm for fans to swap cards or newbies to learn how to play. See their facebook page here for more fun they offer for all the family – and the shop is lovely and cool in this heat…

• Inspired by the Lionesses’ Euro 2022 victory? The Wantage Ladies FC are looking for new players to join their team. They train at 7pm on Thursdays at the Wantage football club and for more information, contact Nicky on 07974 805547. Also Abingdon Youth are putting together a new U8 Girls Team, for children aged six to eight years. Training will be on Tuesday evening, with matches on Saturday mornings. For more information see facebook here or contact Stacey at [email protected].

• If you’re looking for something to do with your kids this summer check out our guide to summer fun which includes free gaming and Pokémon scavenger hunt at The Toy Planet; Lego Club, hands on history and craft at The Vale and Downland Museum, Wantage Splash Pad and affordable YouMove family activities across Oxfordshire. See here for all the details.

Click here for the latest newsletter from the  Wantage and Grove Campaign Group covering the many planning and development issues in ox12.

• St Mary’s Church in Wantage is hosting afternoon teas every Sunday between 2.30pm and 5.30pm during the summer for those that usually visit the church or those who just love afternoon tea.

• The July/August newsletter from Arts Hub Wantage includes opera at The Beacon, songs from screen and stage at Letcombe Regis Village Hall and much, much more.

• The Vale Academy Trust (VAT) is looking to recruit three new directors, to take up their roles from October 2022.  The VAT is a multi-academy trust which runs nine schools in the Wantage and Abingdon areas.  The Board of 12 pro bono directors is responsible for setting the strategic direction of the Trust, deciding overall policy, defining goals, setting targets and evaluating performance. See here for more.

•  The season of summer fetes is in full flow, and Shrivenham is no exception. On Saturday 27 August from midday onwards Shrivenham Village Fete will offer live music, children’s races, fancy dress competitions, a plethora of stalls and a classic car display. The hawk display will be a particular eye catcher, so be sure to put this date in your diary. See more here.

• For details of current roadworks visit the one.network site and search for Wantage.

• For the latest business news from South & Vale Business Support, please click here.

• For the latest Wantage & Grove Campaign Group newsletter, click here.

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

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

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

Grove’s two-legged mole

A good part of the minutes of the meeting of Grove PC on 26 July is taken up with (i) a discussion on a report from the Clerk on the progress of the drainage and sand dressing on the Recreation Ground; (ii) a complaint from Grove Challengers FC about the state of the pitches on this site; and (iii) four questions from the public on the same topic.

Right from the off, it was clear that much of the discussion was way above my head. Why, one Councillor asked the Clerk, “had the Council used the Tomlin two-legged mole drainer instead of just the Vertidrain spiker?” (Tomalin, the two-legged mole drainer could be character from a surreal kid’s story while Vertidrain Spiker sounds like he’s straight out of Game of Thrones.) This wasn’t fiction, however, but really happening. The work doesn’t seem to have fixed the pre-existing problems and may have caused new ones. There were several suggestions as to how the matter can be resolved. One councillor said that “everyone knows what to do in theory, but not in practice,” an observation which could accurately summarise a lot of discussions and comments made by people about projects that had run into problems. Good luck to Grove PC in getting this one sorted.

Second time lucky for Lidl

The planning application for what is likely to be a Lidl supermarket between Wantage and Grove was approved at the Vale’s Planning Committee this week on Wednesday 17 August. You can click here to see the video of the meeting. This was the second attempt to get the green light: the previous application was refused about 18 months ago, mainly because of the possible competition with the Groveland’s Shopping Centre (which has been designated as a local service centre and so permitting any threat to it would be to risk breaching policy). The refusal was greeted with a certain amount of local dismay but the applicant took it on the chin and came back with plans for a slightly smaller store which the committee felt able to approve.

The officers’ recommendation was that it be refused but they themselves asked that it decided by the committee; a sure sign that the matter was felt to be finely balanced and worth a fresh look. In the event, the application was passed by seven votes to zero. A number of people spoke at the meeting, including Councillors Andrew Crawford and Ben Mabbett, both of whom represent neighbouring wards. Both spoke in support of the application.

I said at the top that it “is likely to be a Lidl store” because the application is for the building and the general use to which it will be put, not for a particular owner or tenant. In the same way, the planning authority cannot specify the business model of the shop: however the committee did add a condition about the the way the floor area will be used which is designed to discourage conventional supermarkets. A discount supermarket is what local residents have requested, as reported by two district councillors (see below): in addition one Facebook poll reported overwhelming support for this kind of retail outlet.

Some people, on the other hand, maintain that the store is in the wrong location. However, I understand that six other venues were looked at, each of which was in different ways problematic. Everything is in the wrong location for someone. This solution, however, seems to have the support of the large majority, which is probably the best that most decisions can expect.

There are 32 planning conditions in all, many dealing with usual matters such as construction and delivery hours. I understand there will also be ones relating to matters such as EV charge points and PV panels. These are likely to be increasingly common aspects of planning conditions in the future. Let’s hope that the Vale’s enforcement team is able to ensure that, once agreed, they actually happen

“I’m absolutely delighted by the decision,” said Vale of White Horse Councillor Ben Mabbett. “It didn’t have to be this tough. The community really got involved and clearly expressed what people wanted to see – hopefully that will soon be provided. I have never received so many emails, letters and phone calls on a planning matter before, most of them supporting the application.” Councillor Ron Batstone echoed this view: talking to Grove PC on 26 July he said that he and other councillors and officers were being “overwhelmed” with emails about the application: all were in support of it. Normally in planning matters it’s the other way around.

Oxfordshire 2050 and OX12

In her regular column in the Herald (which you can also read here), Julie Mabberley of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group looks at the abandonment of the Oxfordshire 2050 Plan. This has, according to the BBC, so far cost £2.5m. The Future Oxfordshire Partnership (FOP) which ran this was set up in 2018 with the aim of creating a common view between the five constituent planning authorities as to the area’s housing needs. It has, however, proved impossible to come up with a housing allocation across the county that everyone is happy with, the more so as three out of the five are now of a different political persuasion than in 2018.

The basic tension is that Oxford City feels that it has need of a considerable number of dwellings to maintain its economy but that it cannot provide all these within its boundaries: while several of the districts feel that they are being asked to build more houses than is needed and than they can easily provide. In 2019, the new administration at South Oxfordshire DC was elected largely on a platform of redrafting the local plan (which the previous council had completed but not had ratified) to reduce the housing figures. It was, however, told by the then Housing Minister Robert Jenrick that it would have to adopt the plan or have its planning powers taken away. So much, as many observed, for local democracy.

The abandonment of the Ox2050 project seems to have accepted the fact that the five councils can’t agree on this matter. The FOP has said “the issues of housing needs will now be addressed through individual Local Plans for each of the City and Districts…and that the Councils will cooperate with each other and with other key bodies as they prepare their Local Plans.” Will, they though? And what will happen if they don’t and come up with wildly differing figures, as seems possible.

Julie Mabberley adds that “the big question is whether the Oxfordshire Growth Needs Assessment (OGNA) – which defined the housing numbers which were so contentious – will continue to be used by each district to justify housing need.” By her calculations, the county’s actual housing needs (90,000 more homes by 2050) are 30,000 less than the lowest of the several figures that the OGNA has proposed. The methodology used to create the OGNA figures were recently sharply criticised by a consultants as being “unjustified and contrary to government guidance.”

So there we have it: a co-operative body that was unable to co-operate, a plan that couldn’t be agreed on and an underlying methodology which stands accused of being defective. One solution is, as Julie Mabberley says, is to start again with a new document “which follows government guidance, is transparent, reflects the challenges faced in the real world, and which we all get to comment on before the Local Plan is produced.” All this will take time, of course. Meanwhile, there are elections coming up which will increasingly occupy the time and energies of councillors. Housing numbers are sure to be a major issue in all the council elections in May 2023: the trouble is that, at the moment, there seems no clear sense of what these figures might be, how or by whom they’ll be calculated and what will happen if the districts cannot provide the homes that the City says it so badly needs.

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 4.30pm 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.

Vale Community Impact‘s facebook page has lots of tips to help you with the cost of living crisis.

Wantage Café Scientifique hosts free science and technology talks at Wildwood cinema on second Wednesday of the month. The next one will be Walking on Water: how your joints work and why you get arthritis on Wednesday 14 September. See here for how to go on their mailing list and links to previous talks on zoom.

• 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 [email protected]

• 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

Thurs 18 to Sat 20 Aug Kinky Boots, King Alfred’s Academy Theatre.

Sat 20 Aug Retro Revival, The Swan, Wantage.

Tue 23 Aug Swings and Smiles Sensory Play, Fitzwaryn School, Wantage.

Sun 18 Sep Wantage Food and Crafts Festival, Wantage Market Place.

Sun 2 Oct Wantage Local Artisan Market, Wantage Market Place.

Fri 21 to Sat 22 Oct Grove OktoberFest, Old Mill Hall, Wantage.

• Regular events

• The Wantage splash pad is now open for the summer, every day from 10.30am and 7pm. See more here.

 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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 for which minutes are available was on 20 June 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 for which minutes are available was on 26 July and you can read the minutes here. Matters covered included: drainage problems at the Recreation Ground (see separate sections above); Grove Airfield and Crab Hill; the Active Travel Group; the Parish Council reception; committee reports; 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 for which minutes are available was on 13 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: trees; the puffin crossing on the A338;  the MUGA and the car park; the neighbourhood plan; the play-art project; dog signs; 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 Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 June and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 June 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 was on 21 March 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 for which minutes are available was 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 Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available was 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, Shrivenham Parish Council, Watchfield 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.

Swindon Borough Council: click 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.

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

Thursday 11 August 2022

This week we look at a cool swap-shop, a female football team, some local work experience and a couple of possible solutions – neither of them, it seems, trouble-free – for solving the area’s water shortage – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• Local amateur dramatics group Look Theatre are bringing the West End to Wantage with their performance of the hit-musical Kinky Boots. Shows will take place at the Alfred’s Academy Theatre from Thursday 18 to Saturday 20 August. Book your tickets here.

• We were pleased to have King Alfred’s Year 10 student Georgie Hartley on work experience with us recently. Here is an account of Georgie’s week with us which included article writing, website editing, radio interview, reviewing an art exhibtion at The Dolphin Gallery, making a video of Wantage Community Larder, straplining and chicken wrangling.

• The Toy Planet near Sainsbury’s is running free Pokémon swap shops every Friday throughout August from 4pm to 6pm for fans to swap cards or newbies to learn how to play. See their facebook page here for more fun they offer for all the family – and the shop is lovely and cool in this heat…

• Inspired by the Lionesses’ Euro 2022 victory? The Wantage Ladies FC are looking for new players to join their team. They train at 7pm on Thursdays at the Wantage football club and for more information, contact Nicky on 07974 805547. Also Abingdon Youth are putting together a new U8 Girls Team, for children aged six to eight years. Training will be on Tuesday evening, with matches on Saturday mornings. For more information see facebook here or contact Stacey at [email protected].

• If you’re looking for something to do with your kids this summer check out our guide to summer fun which includes free gaming and Pokémon scavenger hunt at The Toy Planet; Lego Club, hands on history and craft at The Vale and Downland Museum, Wantage Splash Pad and affordable YouMove family activities across Oxfordshire. See here for all the details.

Click here for the latest newsletter from the  Wantage and Grove Campaign Group covering the many planning and development issues in ox12.

• St Mary’s Church in Wantage is hosting afternoon teas every Sunday between 2.30pm and 5.30pm during the summer for those that usually visit the church or those who just love afternoon tea.

• The July/August newsletter from Arts Hub Wantage includes opera at The Beacon, songs from screen and stage at Letcombe Regis Village Hall and much, much more.

• The Vale Academy Trust (VAT) is looking to recruit three new directors, to take up their roles from October 2022.  The VAT is a multi-academy trust which runs nine schools in the Wantage and Abingdon areas.  The Board of 12 pro bono directors is responsible for setting the strategic direction of the Trust, deciding overall policy, defining goals, setting targets and evaluating performance. See here for more.

• For details of current roadworks visit the one.network site and search for Wantage.

• For the latest business news from South & Vale Business Support, please click here.

• For the latest Wantage & Grove Campaign Group newsletter, click here.

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

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

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

Water, water…

In her regular column in the Herald, which you can read here, Julie Mabberley of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group looks at a couple of proposed ways to solve the problem of periodic and seemingly ever-more-likely water shortages. One of these is the Thames Gateway Water Treatment Works at the Thames Estuary which can in theory produce enough drinking water for everyone in the country to have two litres of the stuff a day. Unfortunately, it’s only used during droughts (so, as she points out, it hasn’t ever been used for real since it was opened ten years ago, though it’s tested every year). We’re a bit short of the wet stuff right now: how disappointing, therefore, that TW has announced that “due to further necessary planned work the plant is currently out of service. Our teams are working as fast as possible to get it ready for use early next year, to achieve protection to our supplies if we were to have another dry winter.” We have a dry summer and autumn to get through first. Julie Mabberley quotes an “industry insider” as saying that the desalination plant was based on a gamble about water salinity that didn’t pay off. This seems a bit dismal as we’re dealing with a multi-billion-pound company using tried-and-tested technology .

The water shortage will also, Julie Mabberley points out, “increase the pressure to build the giant reservoir between East Hanney, Marcham, Drayton and Steventon.” This has faced a number of objections, not least due to its massive scale: it would be nearly seven square kilometres in area with walls about 30 meters high: a disaster movie waiting to happen, particularly as the wall will probably be built by the lowest bidder. She questions whether, if TW can’t get a desalination plant to work properly, “what hope we have of its building an above-ground reservoir using untried techniques?” A pipeline from the Severn to the Thames is her favoured plan: others may disagree.

There are about 325 million cubic miles of water on the earth. The sad fact is that any one time a good deal of it is, from a human point of view, in the wrong place: or, as Thames Water has recently discovered, of the wrong salinity. About one fifth of the planet’s fresh water is in Lake Baikal in Siberia (so I doubt any of us are going to be able to get hold of any of that the way things are in the world). I leave you with one staggering statistic (taken from Colin Thuberon’s superb book In Siberia): if Lake Baikal were emptied of all its water and every single river in the world were diverted to its basin for an entire year, it would still not be refilled. Now that’s what I call a reservoir…

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 4.30pm 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.

Vale Community Impact‘s facebook page has lots of tips to help you with the cost of living crisis.

Wantage Café Scientifique hosts free science and technology talks at Wildwood cinema on second Wednesday of the month. The next one will be Walking on Water: how your joints work and why you get arthritis on Wednesday 14 September. See here for how to go on their mailing list and links to previous talks on zoom.

• 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 [email protected]

• 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

Thurs 18 to Sat 20 Aug Kinky Boots, King Alfred’s Academy Theatre.

Sat 20 Aug Retro Revival, The Swan, Wantage.

Tue 23 Aug Swings and Smiles Sensory Play, Fitzwaryn School, Wantage.

Sun 18 Sep Wantage Food and Crafts Festival, Wantage Market Place.

Fri 21 to Sat 22 Oct Grove OktoberFest, Old Mill Hall, Wantage.

• Regular events

• The Wantage splash pad is now open for the summer, every day from 10.30am and 7pm. See more here.

 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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 for which minutes are available was on 20 June 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 Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 June and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 June 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 Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 June 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 East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 May 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 for which minutes are available was on 21 March 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 for which minutes are available was 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 Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available was 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, Shrivenham Parish Council, Watchfield 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.

Swindon Borough Council: click 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.

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

Thursday 4 August 2022

This week we look forward to a market, shout out for some female footballers and learn a new word, thanks to Oxfordshire CC and the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group: plus there’s our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• This weekend the Hanney Market is back at the Black Horse in East Hanney. From 10am to 4pm this Saturday 6 August you can enjoy a range of stalls from local businesses, as well as food, drinks, bacon and sausage rolls. Click here for more information.

• Inspired by the Lionesses’ Euro 2022 victory? The Wantage Ladies FC are looking for new players to join their team. They train at 7pm on Thursdays at the Wantage football club and for more information, contact Nicky on 07974 805547. Also Abingdon Youth are putting together a new U8 Girls Team, for children aged 6 to 8 years. Training will be on Tuesday evening, with matches on Saturday mornings. For more information see facebook here or contact Stacey at [email protected].

• If you’re looking for something to do with your kids this summer check out our guide to summer fun includes free gaming and Pokémon scavenger hunt at The Toy Planet; Lego Club, hands on history and craft at The Vale and Downland Museum, Wantage Splash Pad and affordable YouMove family activities across Oxfordshire. See here for all the details.

• Do you have an hour to spare either Wednesday morning and/or afternoon as a volunteer driver? Vale Community Impact advice centre have two clients who want to attend the October Club in Wantage, but currently do not have transport. The October Club cares for people suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia, providing brief respite and support for carers and relatives. If you are able to help, you will be reimbursed at a rate of 45p per mile. Please contact: [email protected].

• Reminder that building work at Newbury Street GP practice means there is currently a one-way system in operation for all vehicles, with disabled parking near the new entrance. Please drive slowly especially as there will be pedestrians on the road as well. Please see their facebook page for more details.

Click here for the latest newsletter from the  Wantage and Grove Campaign Group covering the many planning and development issues in ox12.

• St Mary’s Church in Wantage is hosting afternoon teas every Sunday between 2.30pm and 5.30pm during the summer for those that usually visit the church or those who just love afternoon tea.

• Calling all runners and running groups – if you’re entering the London Landmarks Half Marathon (or any other races) and want to fundraise for a local charity, please get in touch with Vale Community Impact in Wantage.  They would love your support and to support you and share your story. VCI provides citizens advice and runs the Community Transport and Good Neighbour Schemes: in the Vale, for the Vale.

• The July/August newsletter from Arts Hub Wantage includes opera at The Beacon, songs from screen and stage at Letcombe Regis Village Hall and much, much more.

• The Vale Academy Trust (VAT) is looking to recruit three new directors, to take up their roles from October 2022.  The VAT is a multi-academy trust which runs nine schools in the Wantage and Abingdon areas.  The Board of 12 pro bono directors is responsible for setting the strategic direction of the Trust, deciding overall policy, defining goals, setting targets and evaluating performance. See here for more.

• For details of current roadworks visit the one.network site and search for Wantage.

• For the latest business news from South & Vale Business Support, please click here.

• For the latest Wantage & Grove Campaign Group newsletter, click here.

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

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

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

No change (but plenty of optioneering)

In her regular column in the Herald (which you can also read here) Julie Mabberley of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group takes a look at the latest Oxfordshire Local Transport and Connectivity Plan (LTCP5) which was recently approved by the County Council. This includes an “update on the delivery” of items in the last transport plan in 2015 which covered matters such as improvements on the A417 corridor, including congestion reduction, junction improvements, footpath and cycleway improvements and speed limit reviews. All good and necessary things, as anyone who uses the road and its offshoots would agree.

Sadly, Julie Mabberley reports, the new report states “No change – the updated area strategy will consider this further” against this item: in other words, she says, “nothing has been done.”

She also refers to another aspiration from 2015 concerning the planned changes to Featherbed Lane and Frilford Lights. The news here is that it’s currently at “optioneering” stage. I’d never heard of this word before so I looked it up. The first definition I found came from an website aimed at people who want to invest in New Zealand and describes it “as the commonly used term to describe the in-depth consideration of various alternatives and options to find the best or preferred alternative or option.” This seems to translate as “identifying” or “selecting” but these aren’t nearly exciting enough: the -eering suffix conveys the precision of “engineering” without the boring “engine” bit at the front: while the “option” prefix shows that choice is involved. Scientific rigour and free will – what’s not to like? I’d quibble with describing this as “commonly used” but perhaps I move in the wrong circles.

There’s more. As well as optioneering, the Council is also “appraising potential interventions,” a phrase which like so many municipal utterances manages to be obscure, pompous and menacing in roughly equal measure. All this work is, the report concludes, due to be completed by March 2022. As Julie Mabberley reminds us, it’s now August 2022. Perhaps OCC needs to implement some real-time calendar solutions. If they can’t do this themselves, I’m sure there are plenty of consultants who can prepare a rigorous and robust month-order sequencing analysis for them.

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 4.30pm 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.

Wantage Café Scientifique hosts free science and technology talks at Wildwood cinema on second Wednesday of the month. The next one will be Walking on Water: how your joints work and why you get arthritis on Wednesday 14 September. See here for how to go on their mailing list and links to previous talks on zoom.

• 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 [email protected]

• 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 6 Aug Hanney Market, The Black Horse, Wantage.

Sat 20 Aug Retro Revival, The Swan, Wantage.

Tue 23 Aug Swings and Smiles Sensory Play, Fitzwaryn School, Wantage.

Sun 18 Sep Wantage Food and Crafts Festival, Wantage Market Place.

• Regular events

• The Wantage splash pad is now open for the summer, every day from 10.30am and 7pm. See more here.

 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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 for which minutes are available was on 20 June 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 Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 June and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 June 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 Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 June 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 East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 May 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 for which minutes are available was on 21 March 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 for which minutes are available was 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 Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available was 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, Shrivenham Parish Council, Watchfield 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.

Swindon Borough Council: click 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.

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

Thursday 28 July 2022

This week we look at the last acts in the summer festival, do some running, appeal for volunteers and report on a suggestion to combine a supermarket and a school: plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

Wantage Summer Arts Festival finishes this Sunday 31 July so don’t miss the events coming up this weekend including a Flanagan and Allan Tribute, a Festival Rock Party and Bass Band music at the Market Place. See their website here for all the details.

Wantage Silver Band invites you to enjoy an entertaining summer afternoon this Sunday 31 July when they play in Wantage Marketplace. See details here.

• Do you have an hour to spare either Wednesday morning and/or afternoon as a volunteer driver? Vale Community Impact advice centre have two clients who want to attend the October Club in Wantage, but currently do not have transport. The October Club cares for people suffering from alzheimers and dementia, providing brief respite and support for carers and relatives. If you are able to help, you will be reimbursed at a rate of 45p per mile. Please contact: [email protected].

• If you’re looking for something fun and educational to do with your little ones this summer check out our guide to summer fun includes Lego Club, hands on history and craft at The Vale and Downland Museum, Wantage & Grove Play & Activity Day on Sat 30 July, Wantage Splash Pad and affordable YouMove family activities across Oxfordshire. See here for all the details

• Reminder that building work at Newbury Street GP practice means there is currently a one-way system in operation for all vehicles, with disabled parking near the new entrance. Please drive slowly especially as there will be pedestrians on the road as well. Please see their facebook page for more details.

Sustainable Wantage’s July news includes 100 tonnes of ‘stuff’ being saved from rescued bikes, fixed laptops and repaired tools to ‘surplus’ food eaten via the Community Fridge and the Community Larder, help needed to run their nappy library, stationery items wanted for schools via The Mix, Repair Cafes, Wild Wantage news, Community Cook-in, Craft workshops, grants for heat pumps and biomass boilers.

Click here for the latest newsletter from the  Wantage and Grove Campaign Group covering the many planning and development issues in ox12.

• St Mary’s Church in Wantage is hosting afternoon teas every Sunday between 2.30pm and 5.30pm during the summer for those that usually visit the church or those who just love afternoon tea.

• Calling all runners and running groups – if you’re entering the London Landmarks Half Marathon (or any other races) and want to fundraise for a local charity, please get in touch with Vale Community Impact in Wantage.  They would love your support and to support you and share your story. VCI provides citizens advice and runs the Community Transport and Good Neighbour Schemes: in the Vale, for the Vale.

• The July/August newsletter from Arts Hub Wantage includes opera at The Beacon, songs from screen and stage at Letcombe Regis Village Hall and much, much more.

• The Vale Academy Trust (VAT) is looking to recruit three new directors, to take up their roles from October 2022.  The VAT is a multi-academy trust which runs nine schools in the Wantage and Abingdon areas.  The Board of 12 pro bono directors is responsible for setting the strategic direction of the Trust, deciding overall policy, defining goals, setting targets and evaluating performance. See here for more.

• For details of current roadworks visit the one.network site and search for Wantage.

• For the latest business news from South & Vale Business Support, please click here.

• For the latest Wantage & Grove Campaign Group newsletter, click here.

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

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

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

Top-floor education

In her regular column in the Herald (which you can also read here), Julie Mabberley of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group looks at Lidl, a company which has been knocking on the door on OX12 for some time but has yet to get permission for building a supermarket in the area. The latest application was lodged last year and “opinion is split for and against.” (See the Planning News section of the 20 July Wantage and Grove Campaign Group newsletter for more on this.)

Julie Mabberley points out that not only is it using up one of the increasingly rare greenfield sites in the Grove and Wantage area but it would also be situated on the main cycleway between the two places (assuming one accepts that they are two separate places any more).  Convenient, no doubt: but “any supermarket car park has a stream of traffic  during opening hours and (given the level of interest shown) this definitely won’t be any different and will make using the cycleway very difficult.”

S0, she asks: is there anywhere else?

It seems there might be. Lidl has, she explains, recently built a store in Twickenham in south west London which has a primary school above it. She describes it as “a prime example of modern architecture which could be matched here if the planners and developers were creative enough.” She adds that new primary schools are being built on the Grove Airfield site, so that might be a possibility. To reach fruition, however,  a large supermarket chain, a local education authority and a district council would need to work in close co-operation: and that might be a little too much to hope for.

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 4.30pm 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.

Wantage Café Scientifique hosts free science and technology talks at Wildwood cinema on second Wednesday of the month. The next one will be Walking on Water: how your joints work and why you get arthritis on Wednesday 14 September. See here for how to go on their mailing list and links to previous talks on zoom.

• 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 [email protected]

• 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

Fri 29 July Tribute to Flanagan & Allen and Flanders & Swann, The Beacon, Wantage.

Sat 30 July Texas Tornados Line-Dancing, Comrades Club, Wantage.

Sat 30 July Festival Rock Party, The Beacon, Wantage.

Sun 31 July Marketplace Brass, Wantage.

Sat 20 Aug Retro Revival, The Swan Wantage.

Tue 23 Aug Swings and Smiles Sensory Play, Fitzwaryn School, Wantage.

Sun 18 Sep Wantage Food and Crafts Festival, Wantage Market Place.

• Regular events

• The Wantage splash pad is now open for the summer, every day from 10.30am and 7pm. See more here.

 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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 for which minutes are available was on 28 March 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 Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 June and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: and address by the CEO off the Vale Academy Trust, followed by a Q&A session; the oak trees on Kingcup Green; a missing o’fishing policy; the proposed new floodlit training pitch; reports from the district and country councillors; financial matters; an update on the Grove Airfield and Crab Hill developments; grant applications; possible boundary changes; committee reports; 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 Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 June 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 East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 May 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 for which minutes are available was on 21 March 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 for which minutes are available was 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 Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available was 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, Shrivenham Parish Council, Watchfield 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.

Swindon Borough Council: click 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.

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

Thursday 21 July 2022

This week we look at a summer festival, take some afternoon tea, pass on a message from the GPs and drop into a developer’s consultation event: plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

Wantage Summer Arts Festival runs until 31 July and offers a huge range of creative and performing arts in and around the town. See their website here for all the details. Festival events coming up this weekend include: an opera performance of Rigoletto,  a ballet performance of Don Quixote and music in the Market Square.

Newbury Street GP practice reassures patients that usual services are not disrupted during the Health Centre extension works but it apologises for any inconvenience caused. During this time all visitors and patients to the Health Centre should use the new entrance towards the rear of the building on the Church Street side. There will be a one-way system in operation for all vehicles, with disabled parking near the new entrance. There will be plenty of signs to guide everyone. Please see their facebook page for more details.

Sustainable Wantage’s July news includes 100 tonnes of ‘stuff’ being saved from rescued bikes, fixed laptops and repaired tools to ‘surplus’ food eaten via the Community Fridge and the Community Larder, help needed to run their nappy library, stationery items wanted for schools via The Mix, Repair Cafes, Wild Wantage news, Community Cook-in, Craft workshops, grants for heat pumps and biomass boilers.

• Fancy something different and a little spooky this month? Don’t miss Mike White’s last Wantage Ghost Walks on Thursday 28 July,at 9pm. You can find more information here.

Click here for the latest newsletter from the  Wantage and Grove Campaign Group covering the many planning and development issues in ox12.

• St Mary’s Church in Wantage is hosting afternoon teas every Sunday between 2.30pm and 5.30pm during the summer for those that usually visit the church or those who just love afternoon tea.

• Calling all runners and running groups – if you’re entering the London Landmarks Half Marathon (or any other races) and want to fundraise for a local charity, please get in touch with Vale Community Impact in Wantage.  They would love your support and to support you and share your story. VCI provides citizens advice and runs the Community Transport and Good Neighbour Schemes: in the Vale, for the Vale.

• The July/August newsletter from Arts Hub Wantage includes opera at The Beacon, songs from screen and stage at Letcombe Regis Village Hall and much, much more.

• The Vale Academy Trust (VAT) is looking to recruit three new directors, to take up their roles from October 2022.  The VAT is a multi-academy trust which runs nine schools in the Wantage and Abingdon areas.  The Board of 12 pro bono directors is responsible for setting the strategic direction of the Trust, deciding overall policy, defining goals, setting targets and evaluating performance. See here for more.

• Our guide to summer fun includes kids cooking workshops, Lego Club at The Vale and Downland Museum, Wantage & Grove Play & Activity Day on Sat 30 July, Wantage Splash Pad and affordable YouMove family activities across Oxfordshire. See here for all the details.

• For details of current roadworks visit the one.network site and search for Wantage.

• For the latest business news from South & Vale Business Support, please click here.

• For the latest Wantage & Grove Campaign Group newsletter, click here.

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

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

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

Kingsgrove’s consultation

Last week we had Georgie Hartley, a Year 10 student from King Alfred’s, with us on work experience. To provide her with a range of journalistic experiences, Penny took her along to the developers pop-up consultation at Kingsgrove on 15 July. They met, amongst others, Nicky Brock from Carter Jonas who explained that the main purpose of the consultation was to make it clear to the public that the new application for 560 houses was not in addition to the 1,540 already approved. Only 40 extra homes have actually been added to the plans for the final three phases of Kingsgrove and some of these will be second-storey flats above shops.

See here for the building timeline and outline application and please give your feedback by using the form here below by Friday 29 July. If you have any questions or comments in the meantime, email [email protected].

Penny and Georgie’s impression of the development as a whole was positive. The site is huge and obviously there is still a lot of ongoing construction but the new primary school, which now caters for Reception to Year 3, looked impressive and there is a friendly cafe nearby run by Marco Polo bakery as well as plans for a community centre, a pub, woodlands, recreational areas and even allotments. Of course, the purpose of such public-facing events is to create a positive impression but that’s not to say that this can’t also be the reality. Certainly these events are worth attending. Have a look at the weblink above and decide for yourself. This may not be last such public meeting on this development as the project is not set to be completed until 2031.

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 4.30pm 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.

Wantage Café Scientifique hosts free science and technology talks at Wildwood cinema on second Wednesday of the month. The next one will be Walking on Water: how your joints work and why you get arthritis on Wednesday 14 September. See here for how to go on their mailing list and links to previous talks on zoom.

• 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 [email protected]

• 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

Until 31 July Wantage Summer Arts Festival

Fri 22 July Wantage Country Market, Wantage Market Place.

Sat 23 July Swings and Smiles Sensory Play, Fitzwaryn School, Wantage.

Thu 28 July Wantage Ghost Walk

Sat 30 July Texas Tornados Line-Dancing, Comrades Club, Wantage.

Tue 23 Aug Swings and Smiles Sensory Play, Fitzwaryn School, Wantage.

Sun 18 Sep Wantage Food and Crafts Festival, Wantage Market Place.

• Regular events

• The Wantage splash pad is now open for the summer, every day from 10.30am and 7pm. See more here.

 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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. (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 Watchfield Parish Council took place on 21 June and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 14 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: and address by the CEO off the Vale Academy Trust, followed by a Q&A session; the oak trees on Kingcup Green; a missing o’fishing policy; the proposed new floodlit training pitch; reports from the district and country councillors; financial matters; an update on the Grove Airfield and Crab Hill developments; grant applications; possible boundary changes; committee reports; 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 Shrivenham Parish Council took place on 6 June 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 East Hanney Parish Council took place on 18 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the election of a Chair and Deputy; formal business; financial matters; the jubilee; the playscape; the neighbourhood development plan; the wildflower areas; dog signs; 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 21 March 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 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 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, Shrivenham Parish Council, Watchfield 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.

Swindon Borough Council: click 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.

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

Thursday 14 July 2022

This week we pass on an invite from a developer for an information event, take a look at 100 tonnes of stuff and do a spot of ghost hunting. We also have our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

Wantage Summer Arts Festival runs until 31 July and offers a huge range of creative and performing arts in and around the town. See their website here for all the details.

Sustainable Wantage’s July news includes 100 tonnes of ‘stuff’ being saved from rescued bikes, fixed laptops and repaired tools to ‘surplus’ food eaten via the Community Fridge and the Community Larder, help needed to run their nappy library, stationery items wanted for schools via The Mix, Repair Cafes, Wild Wantage news, Community Cook-in, Craft workshops, grants for heat pumps and biomass boilers.

• Fancy something different and a little spooky this month? Mike White is hosting Wantage Ghost Walks every Thursday in July. The last two available are the 21 and 28 of July 9pm. You can find more information here.

• There is a list of proposed roadworks happening soon in the area, you can find them all here on The Herald and just scroll down to The Vale of the White Horse section.

• St Mary’s Church in Wantage is hosting afternoon teas every Sunday between 2.30pm and 5.30pm between June and September for those that usually visit the church or those who just love afternoon tea.

• The July/August newsletter from Arts Hub Wantage includes opera at The Beacon, songs from screen and stage at Letcombe Regis Village Hall and much, much more.

• The Vale Academy Trust (VAT) is looking to recruit three new directors, to take up their roles from October 2022.  The VAT is a multi-academy trust which runs nine schools in the Wantage and Abingdon areas.  The Board of 12 pro bono directors is responsible for setting the strategic direction of the Trust, deciding overall policy, defining goals, setting targets and evaluating performance. See here for more.

• Our guide to summer fun includes the popular Lego Club at The Vale and Downland Museum, Wantage & Grove Play & Activity Day on Sat 30 July and Wantage Splash Pad. See here for all the details.

•  Roadworks are taking place in Wantage as Wantage Road is to have night closures until 1 October. See more here on the one.network site.

• The Vale Community Impact advice centre behind Barclays Bank in Wantage is recruiting a voluntary Community Transport team member. Please do take a look and share it with anyone who may be interested in applying for this role.

• For the latest business news from South & Vale Business Support, please click here.

• For the latest Wantage & Grove Campaign Group newsletter, click here.

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

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

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

Another plan, another consultation

If you live in the OX12 area it’s pretty much a full-time job keeping up with all the planning projects, which can take a decade or more from application to completion. One organisation that helps keep tabs on all of this is the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group, whose website you can visit by clicking here. One of the recurring themes in the W&GCG’s newsletters, and in the Herald column which spokesperson Julie Mabberley pens every week, is the extent to which the infrastructure improvements fail to keep pace with the new homes being built, to the detriment of everyone (except, perhaps, the profits of the developers). There’s also the sheer scale of the change which will result in Wantage and Grove soon having about twice as many inhabitants as they did a decade ago.

I’m not quite sure what if any obligation there is on developers to consult on their plans but some find it expedient to do so. One such is taking place at the Kingsgrove Cafe on Friday 15 July between 2.30pm and 7pm. The full text of the invitation which we received is as follows:

“St Modwen is preparing to submit an outline planning application for the final three phases of Kingsgrove, known as Grove East, Grove West and South West. 520 homes have already been approved for these neighbourhoods and the team is looking to add around 40 additional homes to the application area, bringing the total number to 560 in these phases and 1,540 across the whole development. The additional homes would provide much needed local housing and would not impact on any of the planned infrastructure or reduce any open space. The housing would be within existing development parcels and above the retail units in the local centre.

“Representatives from St Modwen will be at the Kingsgrove Café, Kingsgrove Public Square, Rutherford Road, OX12 7FX on Friday 15 July between 2.30pm and 7pm for the pop-up consultation to answer any questions you may have. Further information will be available on our website www.kingsgrovewantage.co.uk after 15 July. If you have any questions or comments, please email: [email protected].”

Representatives from the W&GCG may well also be there and will probably have their own questions. So might you. If you go and have any comments about what you saw or heard, please email [email protected] and we’ll do our best to feature these in future editions of this column.

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 4.30pm 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.

Wantage Café Scientifique hosts free science and technology talks at Wildwood cinema on second Wednesday of the month. The next one will be Walking on Water: how your joints work and why you get arthritis on Wednesday 14 September. See here for how to go on their mailing list and links to previous talks on zoom.

Sustainable Shrivenham is still fundraising to open a Sustainable Community Hub in a vacant building on Shrivenham High Street for a clothing and toy exchange; a monthly repair café; a tool library; a scrap store; a recycling collection (for items not collected curbside); as well as workshops, talks and information for sustainable living. They need to raise £16,000 for the initial set-up and first year of running costs. The Hub aims to open up this summer and is currently running a GoFundMe page, so if you are interested in the Sustainable Community Hub becoming a reality, please consider donating.

• 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 [email protected]

• 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 16 July Race Night at Wantage Town FC.

Sat 16 July Wantage Choral Society Summer Concert at Letcombe Regis Town Hall

Sun 17 July Wantage Silver Band, Wantage Town Square.

Sun 17 July Summer Evening Walk with Nick Adams, from The Royal Oak in Bishopstone.

Mon 18 to Tue 19 July A French Market, Wantage Town  Square.

Tue 19 July Tour of Wantage Market Gardens.

Thu 21 July Wantage Ghost Walk

Thu 28 July Wantage Ghost Walk

Sun 18 Sep Wantage Food and Crafts Festival in Wantage Market Place.

• Regular events

• The Wantage splash pad is now open for the summer, every day from 10.30am and 7pm. See more here.

 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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. (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 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: and address by the CEO off the Vale Academy Trust, followed by a Q&A session; the oak trees on Kingcup Green; a missing o’fishing policy; the proposed new floodlit training pitch; reports from the district and country councillors; financial matters; an update on the Grove Airfield and Crab Hill developments; grant applications; possible boundary changes; committee reports; 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 Shrivenham Parish Council took place on 6 June 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 East Hanney Parish Council took place on 18 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the election of a Chair and Deputy; formal business; financial matters; the jubilee; the playscape; the neighbourhood development plan; the wildflower areas; dog signs; 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 Watchfield Parish Council took place on 19 April and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council took place on 21 March 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 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 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, Shrivenham Parish Council, Watchfield 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.

Swindon Borough Council: click 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.

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

Thursday 7 July 2022

This week we try to sort out a slew of TLAs (three-letter acronyms) which have been presented to us as part of local health reforms and take a look at the forthcoming Wantage Summer Arts Festival. We also have our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

Wantage MP David Johnston’s latest e-newsletter recaps his highlights of June, namely his second Wantage and Didcot Climate Summit; troops from 11 EOD & Search regiment visiting Parliament; celebrating the Platinum Jubilee at events across the constituency; visiting local Ukrainian refugees and their host families, in addition to plenty of activity in the House of Commons which included debating the problems of getting dentist and GP appointments, waterway pollution and pension contributions.

Wantage Summer Arts Festival runs until 31 July and offers a huge range of creative and performing arts in and around the town. See their website here for all the details.

• Congratulations to Wantage 9th Brownies for raising over £200 for The Mix by collecting pennies in Smartie tubes and having a cake sale. This will allow The Mix on Mill Street to be open for all the Saturdays in July to offer five Community Fridge sessions and two Repair Cafes.

• The July/August newsletter from Arts Hub Wantage includes opera at The Beacon, songs from screen and stage at Letcome Regis Village Hall and much, much more.

The Dolphin Gallery celebrates Ridgeway Landscapes throughout July with originals from Anna Dillon amongst others, plus Sue Wheeler lino cuts, Michelle Wallington and Lin Kerr. All welcome to come and meet the artists at the gallery’s Open Pimms and Music Evening from 6pm on Thursday 14 July.

Wantage Café Scientifique hosts free science and technology talks at Wildwood cinema on second Wednesday of the month. The next one is on Wed 13 July talk on Dentistry for Dummies then after the August break the next one will be Walking on Water: how your joints work and why you get arthritis on Wednesday 14 September. See here for how to go on their mailing list and links to previous talks on zoom.

• A small update for those that use Manor Road to walk children to school or otherwise, the overgrown hedge problem has been resolved and the hedge has been pruned. The update can be found here.

• Congratulations to the Fitzwaryn School on Denchworth Road in Wantage for achieving, yet again, an outstanding rating by Ofsted in its latest inspection. The special education school is described as a “joyful place to learn”. See more here on Oxford Mail.

• After their recent carnival success, the Ray Collins Charitable Trust has already planned the next big event for Wantage; a Food and Crafts Festival on Sunday 18 September from 10am to 4pm with a huge variety of stalls.

• Just over 100 pupils from the Vale Academy Trust and the South Oxfordshire Ogden Trust Partnership gathered to celebrate science at the South Oxfordshire Science Fair Grand Final a few weeks ago. See full report here on this exciting day of discovery for local students.

• The same Vale Academy Trust (VAT) is looking to recruit three new directors, to take up their roles from October 2022.  The VAT is a multi-academy trust which runs nine schools in the Wantage and Abingdon areas.  The Board of 12 pro bono directors is responsible for setting the strategic direction of the Trust, deciding overall policy, defining goals, setting targets and evaluating performance. See here for more.

• The Vale and Downland Museum has the solution for parents with kids who love lego this summer holiday by hosting the Lego Club again every Monday and Wednesday between 10am and 11am and again at 11.30am and 12.30pm. The club starts on Monday 25 July and costs £2 per child. More can be found on the website here.

• Multiple roadworks are taking place in Wantage as Wantage Road is to have night closures until 1 October. See more here on the one.network site.

• The Vale Community Impact advice centre behind Barclays Bank in Wantage is recruiting a voluntary Community Transport team member. Please do take a look and share it with anyone who may be interested in applying for this role.

• For the latest business news from South & Vale Business Support, please click here.

• Sustainable Wantage is requesting donations of second-hand 24″ and 26″ children’s bikes to equip Year 6s in Wantage and Grove for Bikeability Training. See more details here.

• For the latest Wantage & Grove Campaign Group newsletter, click here.

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

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

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

Restructuring health

Anyone who is suffers from acute acronym aversion (AAA, I guess it’s known as) might want to look away now.

In her latest column in the Herald (which you can also read here), Julie Mabberley of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group looks at some changes to health provision in Oxfordshire. In summary, BOB ICB has taken over  from OCCG, this in addition to the OUH, the OHT and 7o NHS GPs, though the OHSC will continue for at least another year. All clear so far? See her article for an explanation if any of these terms are unfamiliar.

These changes may have been made for excellent and necessary reasons: who am I to judge? However, as Julie Mabberley points out, the first result of such mergers is often that most of the staff “will probably spend the next year trying to work out what their new roles are and how to preserve their positions.” As the long-term aim is, presumably, efficiency, a number of people will probably eventually lose their jobs which “is likely to mean even more cost in the short term to cover the costs of redundancy packages”: also that some of the additional funding from the Government for the NHS “will be spent on the re-organisation rather than on front-line services.”

Her concern is that the OX12 area is “likely to be even more lost than it has been as part of Oxfordshire NHS.” Any organisation would strenuously deny that it regards any part of its district, such as those on the edges, as being of second-class importance. Julie Mabberley and the W&GCG, and others, would doubtless argue that it’s hard to draw any other inference from how the area’s services have been handled in recent years, particularly when one considers the vast increase in the population which has either already happened or is planned. It’s impossible to tell how all this will pan nor what, or even if, any benefits will be felt. As she concludes, “we’ll have to wait and SWH.” Sorry, I mean “see what happens.” These acronyms are clearly very infectious…

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 4.30pm every Friday. Prevent food from being wasted. Costs just £3.50 per week for 14 items or £7 per week for 28. For more information, please follow the larder on Facebook.

Sustainable Shrivenham is still fundraising to open a Sustainable Community Hub in a vacant building on Shrivenham High Street for a clothing and toy exchange; a monthly repair café; a tool library; a scrap store; a recycling collection (for items not collected curbside); as well as workshops, talks and information for sustainable living. They need to raise £16,000 for the initial set-up and first year of running costs. The Hub aims to open up this summer and is currently running a GoFundMe page, so if you are interested in the Sustainable Community Hub becoming a reality, please consider donating.

• 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 [email protected]

• 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

• Wed 13 July Wantage Café Scientifique: Dentistry for Dummies.

Mon 25 Jul Lego Club at the Vale and Downland Museum. Running all through the summer holiday.

Sun 18 Sep Wantage Food and Crafts Festival in Wantage Market Place.

• Regular events

• The Wantage splash pad is now open for the summer, every day from 10.30am and 7pm. See more here.

 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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. (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 Shrivenham Parish Council took place on 6 June 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 East Hanney Parish Council took place on 18 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the election of a Chair and Deputy; formal business; financial matters; the jubilee; the playscape; the neighbourhood development plan; the wildflower areas; dog signs; 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 Watchfield Parish Council took place on 19 April and you can download the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 5 April 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 21 March 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 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 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, Shrivenham Parish Council, Watchfield 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.

Swindon Borough Council: click 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.

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

Thursday 30 June 2022

This week we look at how much politicians know about what the people they represent want and highlight one consultation which might result in some significant changes to the area. We also have our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• The recent Wantage Carnival was a huge success and Ray Collins thanks all his trustees, stall holders, funfair crew, bands and PA crew and most importantly everyone who came out in their thousands and created the most incredible atmosphere. So many happy faces all enjoying themselves again.

• Last chance to see the Betjeman Millenium Park Exhibition at the Vale & Downland Museum, which closes this Saturday 2 July.

• A small update for those that use Manor Road to walk children to school or otherwise, the overgrown hedge problem has been resolved and the hedge has been pruned. The update can be found here.

• An updated concept plan for the pedestrianisation of Wantage has been revealed after the last plan did not cover the necessary conditions. A full look of the plans is available here from The Herald.

• As mentioned last week, there’s a consultation by Oxfordshire CC (which closes on 1 July) as to whether the pedestrianisation experiment in Wantage, introduced in 2021 as a Covid-recovery and active-travel scheme and since extended, should be continued.

The Mix in Wantage is spending this month mapping the list of wildlife friendly features around the area. The group are asking residents to pop in and add anything they might have in their garden or home that is fit for the wildlife. See here for more.

• Quick reminder that the Wantage splash pad is open every day during the summer from 10.30am and 7pm. See more here.

• Multiple roadworks are taking place in Wantage as Reading Road is set to have work underway until 1 July, Wantage Road to have night closures until 1 October and Orchard Way to be closed completely until 1 July. See more here on the one.network site.

• The Vale Community Impact advice centre behind Barclays Bank in Wantage is recruiting a voluntary Community Transport team member. Please do take a look and share it with anyone who may be interested in applying for this role.

• For the latest business news from South & Vale Business Support, please click here.

• Sustainable Wantage is requesting donations of second-hand 24″ and 26″ children’s bikes to equip Year 6s in Wantage and Grove for Bikeability Training. See more details here.

• For the latest Wantage & Grove Campaign Group newsletter, click here.

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

• Many congratulations to The King and Queen in Longcott which has been awarded the accolade of being the best country pub in the Vale of White Horse by CAMRA. We’ve been there several times as some friends of ours live just round the corner and it is indeed worth a visit. What’s remarkable about this is that Danielle and Markus have only been in charge of the pub for a couple of years and it’s the first one they’ve ever run – naturals, clearly…

• Wantage MP David Johnston’s latest e-newsletter can be read here.

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

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

How much do they know?

In her recent column in the Herald (which you can also read here), Julie Mabberley of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group asks whether politicians are omniscient. I don’t think she believes that they are but suggests a couple of reasons why some of them, from the PM down, behave as if they think they might be or that it doesn’t matter.

She quotes two unnamed local politicians, one of whom said that consultations weren’t needed because he’d been elected to get on with the job; and another that she knows what people want so doesn’t need to talk to them. These points of view are perhaps not as unreasonable as they seem. This isn’t Switzerland, where a national referendum is needed to decide virtually everything. Referendums are costly and time-consuming (and also have the awkward habit of producing unwelcome answers – as the hapless David Cameron discovered in 2016, you should never ask a question unless you know what the answer is going to be). As for “knowing what people want” this could perhaps be translated as “knowing what my political party has decided to do.” In such cases, asking questions is not going to change anyone’s mind and it’s pointless to pretend otherwise. There is also much to be said for choosing a course and sticking to it, for a limited time (four years in the case of councils, which seems about right).

The problem comes when something new emerges which the manifesto or the last consultation hadn’t anticipated. At what point should you ask for the views of the electorate? Informally, politicians probably get a good deal of feedback from surgeries, correspondence and the local newspapers and websites. Such changes can be unwelcome but are also a blessing for politicians: for they can, as Julie Mabberley points out, be used to justify virtually any failure to achieve a promised objective. Covid, to pick just one example, has provided ample opportunities for this.

She argus that if circumstances change, politicians “should ask their electorate what they want instead, not just assume that they are omniscient and know what we are thinking.” In an ideal world that might be right. However, things change all the time and it’s not always easy to say what changes will have long-term, game-changing implications and which ones won’t. Also, how should the question be phrased? How should it be communicated? How minding will its results be? Most consultations tend to last for six weeks with at least another three for digesting the results. Even if this time period were halved, the delay in making a decision might be stultifying. Ultimately, politicians are like officers sent into battle to achieve a particular objective. Unexpected tactical problems and opportunities will crop up all the time and they can’t keep coming back for fresh orders from the 100,000-odd people who elected them. The best we can hope is that they’re skilled enough to think on their feet and honest enough to stick to the principles of what they were elected to accomplish. This might, of course, be asking too much of them: but that’s what they signed up for. I’m not sure I’d want them asking me what they should do next every 20 minutes.

That said, there are a number of checks on their actions and these include consultations which are either obliged to take place or which deemed expedient, politically or otherwise. Julie Mabberley lists some of these in her article. A good council, at whatever level, will ensure that any future consultations are carefully phrased and given wide publicity. These messages will, however, generally only reach the fairly small percentage of residents who pay any attention to what the council is up to. The matters they deal with are often important so and likely to have a direct impact on you: so, if you’re not already plugged in to local municipal activity, it’s worth signing up to any relevant newsletters from your council (as well as from organisations like the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group and Penny Post, which provide commentary) so you can see if what the councils are doing and how you can have your say if you disagree. There may even be the odd consultation to respond do: and, speaking of which…

All change?

A recent press release from the Vale and South Oxfordshire Councils refers to “another chance to comment on changes which could affect how their local area is run.” The councils are carrying out a Community Governance Review “which involves reviewing parish arrangements, inviting requests for changes and then implementing any which would benefit the local area. The review could result in changes like altering a parish boundary, creating or merging a parish, changing a parish name, or changing the local electoral arrangements.”

Last year, all parish councils were invited to suggest the changes they wanted to see in their local area and earlier this year residents were then asked to comment on the initial proposals. Following more than 360 responses from the public and review by the councils’ Corporate Governance and Electoral Issues Committees, people can now comment on the revised draft proposals. In the Vale of White Horse people will be able to have their say on proposals for Grove, Grove (East Challow), Kingston Bagpuize with Southmoor (Fyfield & Tubney), North Hinksey, South Hinksey (Kennington), Sunningwell (Wootton and Cumnor), Wootton and Uffington. You can click here to take part, which you need to have done by noon on Friday 29 July 2022. So, if you wake up one morning and find that you’re suddenly living in a place called Bagpuize Grove-cum-Challow, this will be why. You had to chance to object…

Community notices

• Reminder to 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.

• 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 [email protected]

• 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

Betjeman Millenium Park Exhibition, The Vale and Downland Museum until 2 July

• Wantage Café Scientifique: Dentistry for Dummies Wed 13 July

• Regular events

• The Wantage splash pad is now open for the summer, every day from 10.30am and 7pm. See more here.

 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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. (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 18 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the election of a Chair and Deputy; formal business; financial matters; the jubilee; the playscape; the neighbourhood development plan; the wildflower areas; dog signs; 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 Grove Parish Council took place on 5 April 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 21 March 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 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 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.

Archives

To see earlier Wantage & Surrounding Area Weekly News columns, please click here.

Thursday 23 June 2022

This week we look at a delay to a local plan and draw your attention to consultation on the pedestrianisation area in Wantage which closes on 1 July. We also have our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• The Wantage Carnival, which is being run by the Ray Collins Charitable Trust this Sunday 26 June will host local bands, lots of stalls, a huge funfair and more. See more here. A full schedule of the day can be found here too. They are still looking for donations of tombola prizes and alcohol and pamper donations to contribute to hamper prizes. If you can help, please contact them on facebook or email [email protected]  These donations will enable the charity to keep helping those most in need in the community.

• As mentioned last week, there’s a consultation by Oxfordshire CC (which closes on 1 July) as to whether the pedestrianisation experiment in Wantage, introduced in 2021 as a Covid-recovery and active-travel scheme and since extended, should be continued.

The Mix in Wantage is spending this month mapping the list of wildlife friendly features around the area. The group are asking residents to pop in and add anything they might have in their garden or home that is fit for the wildlife. See here for more.

• Quick reminder that the Wantage splash pad is open every day during the summer from 10.30am and 7pm. See more here.

Wantage Community Larder celebrated it’s first birthday earlier this month. In their first year they have distributed 22.4 tonnes of food and currently have 138 members. They work with local organisations to help reach those most in need of food support. Food Bank funding also helps people move beyond emergency food parcels by covering the larder joining fee and first 3 months subscription. This gives people the opportunity to try out the larder and see if it will work for them. See more on the larder’s facebook page here.

• Multiple roadworks are taking place in Wantage as Reading Road is set to have work underway until 1 July, Wantage Road to have night closures until 1 October and Orchard Way to be closed completely until 1 July. See more here on the one.network site.

• For those that use Manor Road to walk children to school or otherwise, the overgrown hedge problem has been reported and is soon to be resolved. See here for the full report.

• The wonderful North Wessex Downs Walking Festival finishes this Sunday 26 June so click here if you want to book place on one of the last remaining walks.

• You may be aware already of the railway strikes that are taking place this weekend, which will impact a lot of travel routes across the area. A full list of details and affected routes can be found here.  A full timetable of the strikes is also available here on the GWR site.

• The Vale Community Impact advice centre behind Barclays Bank in Wantage is recruiting a paid part-time Advice Services Supervisor and a voluntary Community Transport team member. Please do take a look and share it with anyone who may be interested in applying for this roles.

• The Herald has released the latest hygiene ratings in Oxfordshire this week. See some more ratings and other information across the area here.

• For the latest business news from South & Vale Business Support, please click here.

• Sustainable Wantage is requesting donations of second-hand 24″ and 26″ children’s bikes to equip Year 6s in Wantage and Grove for Bikeability Training. See more details here.

• Quick reminder that scammers are taking advantage of the cost-of-living crisis to defraud people who are under financial pressure. Local Citizens Advice offices have seen recent cases where clients have lost thousands of pounds to investment scams and fake energy rebate scams from energy companies or local authorities. See here for how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught. Above all don’t feel ashamed, this is what the scammers rely on so you don’t warn others. Penny got caught once. You need to tell family, friends and report it to protect others.

• For the latest Wantage & Grove Campaign Group newsletter, click here.

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

• Wantage MP David Johnston’s latest newsletter includes an invitation to the Wantage & Didcot Climate Summit 9am to 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, and much more.

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

Another delayed plan

In her regular column in the Herald (which you can also read here), Julie Mabberly of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group refers to the delay the adoption of the Oxfordshire 2050 plan until the end of 2024. The Future Oxfordshire Partnership is, she explains, “now working out what the new timetable will look like and the Councillors and Officers now have the opportunity to review the plan and consider whether another consultation should be carried out.” This follows the recent news that West Berkshire’s local plan will be running six months late.

These documents take years to produce and so risk being out of date before they’re even published. The Vale’s Leader Emily Smith has said that it was important that the data on housing numbers was up to date and that the Council would be “commissioning additional work.” The housing numbers for Oxfordshire have been subject to considerable debate, opinions differing as to how many homes the city of Oxford needs to demand of its neighbouring districts. This can sometimes cause a collision between the forces of planning process and of democratic will. In 2019, South Oxfordshire’ District Council’s (SODC) opposition parties fought and won the campaign based on their promise to overturn the local plan, which had green examined but not ratified. The then Housing Minister Robert Jenrick stepped in and said that SODC had to adopt it or face being stripped of its planning powers. SODC adopted the plan.

Julie Mabberley refers to fresh criticisms of the methodology used to calculate the housing numbers commissioned by the Cherwell Development Watch Alliance. Emily Smith is reported as having said that “if this report were submitted in response to [The Vale Council’s] next consultation they would be happy to give it formal consideration.” Julie Mabberley concludes that “the projections for future housing growth across Oxfordshire are in question and we have no idea what and when any new (or amended) proposals will be in place.” The planners are, as she puts it, “running to stand still.” Certainly this work appears to burn up a good deal of effort over a very long period and risks producing results which are disconnected from the reality. At present, the main realities facing the housing market are (i) creating more affordable homes; (ii) addressing the climate emergency; and (iii) ensuring that mitigating infrastructure is in place. If people don’t get the homes or the facilities they need they’ll move elsewhere: they can’t wait forever. As for the climate emergency, that is implacable. Given all of this, surely there’s some merit in looking at how policy-making can be speeded up, even if it involves taking a few calculated risks. The interminable delays in getting new policies agreed seems currently to be the greater danger.

Community notices

• Reminder to 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.

• 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 [email protected]

• 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

Betjeman Millenium Park Exhibition, The Vale and Downland Museum until 2 July.

Sun 26 June Wantage Carnival

• Regular events

• The Wantage splash pad is now open for the summer, every day from 10.30am and 7pm. See more here.

 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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. (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 18 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the election of a Chair and Deputy; formal business; financial matters; the jubilee; the playscape; the neighbourhood development plan; the wildflower areas; dog signs; 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 Grove Parish Council took place on 5 April 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 21 March 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 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 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 16 June 2022

This week we draw residents’ attention to a survey from Oxfordshire CC about extending the pedestrianisation area in Wantage which closes on 1 July. We also have our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• A consultation is in place to discover which areas of Wantage Market Place should remain closed to traffic. After recent temporary closures and that with the Big Jubilee Lunch in the Market Place, the idea has arisen to keep the areas closed to make the square safer for pedestrians as well as more appealing to residents and visitors. See more on the plan here from The Herald.

• The Vale Community Impact advice centre behind Barclays Bank in Wantage is recruiting a paid part-time Advice Services Supervisor and a voluntary Community Transport team member.. Please do take a look and share with anyone who may be interested in applying for this roles.

• The North Wessex Downs Walking Festival is going really well with something for everyone, from family friendly and wheelchair accessible guided walks to 9 mile hikes. Coming up in the Wantage area are Letcombe Brook Discovery Trail on Saturday 25 June and Literary Hitchhiking in Up on the Downs on Sunday 26 June, a walk in the footsteps of literary giants like John Betjeman. Starting on the Ridgeway, this undulating 9 mile route mainly follows old green ways.  In addition to some literary discoveries along the way, this is a great walk for stunning panoramic views, wildflowers and butterflies.

• For the latest business news from South & Vale Business Support, please click here.

• Sustainable Wantage is requesting donations of second-hand 24″ and 26″ children’s bikes to equip Year 6s in Wantage and Grove for Bikeability Training. See more details here.

• If you need some last minute Father’s Day gift ideas for Sunday, see our quick guide here to some simple, eco-friendly options.

• Unfortunately scammers are taking advantage of the cost-of-living crisis to defraud people who are under financial pressure. Local Citizens Advice offices have seen recent cases where clients have lost thousands of pounds to investment scams and fake energy rebate scams from energy companies or local authorities. See here for how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught. Above all don’t feel ashamed, this is what the scammers rely on so you don’t warn others. Penny got caught once. You need to tell family, friends and report it to protect others.

The Mix in Wantage is spending this month mapping the list of wildlife friendly features around the area. The group are asking residents to pop in and add anything they might have in their garden or home that is fit for the wildlife. See here for more.

• Quick reminder of the Wantage Carnival, which is being run by the Ray Collins Charitable Trust on Sunday 26 June which will host local bands, stalls a huge funfair and more. See more here. A full schedule of the day can be found here too.

• For the latest Wantage & Grove Campaign Group newsletter, click here.

• The Arts Hub Wantage May/June 2022 Newsletter can be read here. It covers cinema back at The Beacon, Jubliee festivities, Morris Men and much more.

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

• Wantage MP David Johnston’s latest newsletter includes an invitation to the Wantage & Didcot Climate Summit 9am to 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, and much more.

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

Café society

An article in the Herald refers to a consultation by Oxfordshire CC (which closes on 1 July) as to whether the pedestrianisation experiment, introduced in 2021 as a Covid-recovery and active-travel scheme and since extended, should be continued. It appears from the various documents that the current arrangements will expire in June 2023 unless they renewed. Some, including it would seem many members of Wantage Town Council, would like to see this become permanent. Not all agree, with some users citing parking problems and the fact that it’s deterring people from visiting Wantage: “Enough people go out of town to do their shopping as it is,” the article quotes one FB user as saying. I spoke to one resident of a nearby village who goes into the town most days and who felt differently. “I think the pedestrianisation is great,” they told me we need something to bring people to the the town and on a sunny day it’s a really nice vibe.”  Concerns have also been expressed about the loss of the car-parking spaces, although this is perhaps a separate issue, particularly since November 2021 when parking enforcement was passed from the Police to Oxfordshire CC.

Such measures are rarely going to produce unanimous support as the interests of pedestrians, motorists, taxi drivers, cyclists, retailers, shoppers and the emergency services are rarely completely aligned. What OCC appears to have done well (which West Berkshire Council did not when trialling a similar scheme in Newbury) is to run it for a long enough period and across all the seasons to enable its impacts to be assessed. Whatever your views are, please reply to the above-mentioned consultation by 1 July. The results will then be considered and discussions will take place between OCC and Wantage TC and other interested parties. Nothing is going to change until that’s all happened.

Community notices

• Reminder to 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.

• 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 [email protected]

• 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

Betjeman Millenium Park Exhibition, The Vale and Downland Museum until 2 July.

Sun 26 June Wantage Carnival

• Regular events

• The Wantage splash pad is now open for the summer, every day from 10.30am and 7pm. See more here.

 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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. (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 18 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the election of a Chair and Deputy; formal business; financial matters; the jubilee; the playscape; the neighbourhood development plan; the wildflower areas; dog signs; 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 Grove Parish Council took place on 5 April 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 21 March 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 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 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 9 June 2022

This week we take a quick look at the new Wantage neighbourhood development plan, now open for public consultation. We also have coverage of local jubilee celebrations, our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• The BBC reports that there were 136 CV-19 cases in Vale of White Horse in the week 16 to 22  May, no change from the week before. This equates to 99 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 71 (82 the week before). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a more local level to be obtained.

• Many congratulations to everyone involved in organising the numerous jubilee events across the district. All the ones that we attended or have heard about were hugely successful. A particular vote of thanks goes to whoever was in charge of the weather: the forecast for much of the weekend was depressingly dire but generally seems to have relented at the last moment. You can click here to see our look back at some of the celebrations across the area. If there are any you would like to see included, please email [email protected] and include a link to the relevant website or FB page.

• The North Wessex Downs Walking Festival kicks off this Saturday 11 June offering 28 walks across the length and breadth of the stunning North Wessex Downs. There is something for everyone, from family friendly and wheelchair accessible guided walks to 9 mile hikes. See here for how to book your walks.

• Thank-yous all round from the team that led the Big Jubilee Lunch last weekend, to all of those that came out and celebrated the day. More photos here that capture the lunch and big day. Queen even popped up on a postbox in Wantage

Sustainable Wantage’s June newsletterincludes walks, talks, volunteering opportunities and the upcoming Wildlife Discovery Day on Saturday 11 June between noon and 3pm at the Wantage Market Garden which will help you discover what is hiding in your green beds, enjoy pond dipping and nature crafts. Entry is free and refreshments will be available however picnics are recommended. Email [email protected] or [email protected] for more information.

• Sustainable Wantage is also requesting donations of second hand 24″ and 26″ children’s bikes to equip Year 6s in Wantage and Grove for Bikeability Training. See more details here.

The Mix in Wantage is spending this month mapping the list of wildlife friendly features around the area. The group are asking residents to pop in and add anything they might have in their garden or home that is fit for the wildlife. See here for more.

• The Open Gardens event in East Hendred is taking place this Sunday 12 June. The open garden, in aid of East Hendred Heritage Trust, is home to a wide range of gorgeous scenery and a vineyard. More about the day can be found here for those interested.

• Quick reminder of the Wantage Carnival, which is being run by the Ray Collins Charitable Trust on Sunday 26 June which will host local bands, stalls a huge funfair and more. See more here. A full schedule of the day can be found here too.

• The Women’s Tour race starts in Oxford this Saturday 11 June so there will be roadblocks in and around Wantage in place to ensure safety. See the roadmap here for more information.

• For the latest Wantage & Grove Campaign Group newsletter, click here.

• The Arts Hub Wantage May/June 2022 Newsletter can be read here. It covers cinema back at The Beacon, Jubliee festivities, Morris Men and much more.

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

• Wantage MP David Johnston’s latest newsletter includes an invitation to the Wantage & Didcot Climate Summit 9am to 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.

A new plan

In her regular column in the Herald (which you can also read here), Julie Mabberly of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group refers to the fact that the consultation on the Wantage neighbourhood development plan is now open. She explains that the original NDP “was rejected by an inspector in 2016 relating to the proposed town centre and green-spaces policies.” The offending policies have been modified or removed but “all other policies remain unchanged from the document published in 2016 and the updated version of the plan published and informally consulted upon in November 2020. No new policies have been added.”

In her article, she lists some of the main areas of concern that residents expressed when the process was started eight years ago. These include car parking, congestion, a lack of retail variety, the dearth of facilities and the lack of a railway station. “I’m not sure anything has changed,” she comments, but adds that she’s “not sure what the neighbourhood plan can do to change any of this.” Indeed many of them are societal or in the gift of organisations like private-sector landlords, GWR and Network Rail to resolve. Not to do an NDP might look like indifference; to do one might create unrealistic aspirations. Given how much work these take to do, it’s to hoped that something positive will emerge from it: also that, on this occasion, it actually passes the inspector’s examination.

Community notices

• Reminder to 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.

• 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 [email protected]

• 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

Betjeman Millenium Park Exhibition, The Vale and Downland Museum until 2 July.

Sat 11 June Wildlife Discovery Day at Wantage Market Garden.

Sun 26 June Wantage Carnival

• Regular events

• The Wantage splash pad is now open for the summer, every day from 10.30am and 7pm. See more here.

 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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. (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 18 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the election of a Chair and Deputy; formal business; financial matters; the jubilee; the playscape; the neighbourhood development plan; the wildflower areas; dog signs; 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 Grove Parish Council took place on 5 April 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 21 March 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 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 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 2 June 2022

This week we take a look back at some of the main stories in this area that we’ve covered in the last six months or so, many of which are still live and will be returned to in due course. We also have our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities (including jubilee-related ones) and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• The BBC reports that there were 136 CV-19 cases in Vale of White Horse in the week 16 to 22  May, no change from the week before. This equates to 99 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 71 (82 the week before). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a more local level to be obtained.

Click here for our guide to jubilee events across the area including Wantage’s Big Jubilee Lunch on Sunday in the Market Place between 10.30am and 4pm.

Sustainable Wantage’s June newsletter includes walks, talks, volunteering opportunities and the upcoming Wildlife Discovery Day on Saturday 11 June between noon and 3pm at the Wantage Market Garden which will help you discover what is hiding in your green beds, enjoy pond dipping and nature crafts. Entry is free and refreshments will be available however picnics are recommended. Email [email protected] or [email protected] for more information.

• The next Wantage Cafe Scientifique meeting is on Wednesday 8 June at 7.30pm and covers “The Plight of the World’s Coral Reefs”. Led by Bryan Wilson who will share the highs and lows of his research experience.

• The Wantage Community Larder is celebrating its one year anniversary this month. The larder has been able to donate 22.4 tonnes of food in the year and now has amassed 138 members. For more of the endeavours, click here.

• Sticking with anniversaries, the Vale and Downland Museum is hosting a 20-year anniversary celebration of Betjeman Millenium Park with an exhibition. See more details here about the event. Entry is free but donations are always appreciated.

• The Women’s Tour race starts in Oxford on Saturday 11 June so there will be roadblocks in and around Wantage in place to ensure safety. See the roadmap here for more information.

• For the latest Wantage & Grove Campaign Group newsletter, click here.

• The Arts Hub Wantage May/June 2022 Newsletter can be read here. It covers cinema back at The Beacon, Jubliee festivities, Morris Men and much more.

• For a list of roadworks planned in the Vale, have a look here. Scroll down to find the Vale of White Horse section. Works are planned on the A34 and M4.

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

• Wantage MP David Johnston’s latest newsletter includes an invitation to the Wantage & Didcot Climate Summit 9am to 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.

A look back…

See below for a brief summary of some of the recurring issues we’ve covered, often more than once, in the last six months or so. Many of these are still live and so will be returned to in the future. In all cases, you can see more by clicking on link to the archive section at the foot of this post (there’s also a further link at the foot of that to earlier columns) and then then searching for the relevant key word/s.

If there are any other matters that you think should be covered, or if you have any views or comments and the ones we’ve covered to date, please email [email protected]

Development and infrastructure. Wantage and Grove is fortunate in having an active campaign group (called, logically enough, the Wantage & Grove Campaign Group) and its spokesperson Julie Mabberly writes a regular column in the Herald, the archive of which you can see here on the W&GCG’s website. This at times moves onto other related topics but mainly focusses on the disparity between the amount of development in the area and the infrastructure such as health, leisure, educational and transport services which exists, or is planned, to support this. The gulf is, she suggests, getting wider and she has seen little to reassure her in the latest plans emanating from the Vale and Oxfordshire Councils. We’ll be continuing to draw attention to and commenting on these articles and other related matters.

Wantage Road railway station. The case for re-opening this station (which was Beeching-ed in 1964) gets stronger by the day but there appear to be almost insuperable financial, logistical and timetabling obstacles to this that appear to make it about as complex as building a chocolate escalator to the moon. Local MP David Johnston has made this one of his priorities and manages to work this into almost every speech he makes in the Commons. See here for his most recent mention of this, on 27 May.

Community notices

• Reminder to 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.

• 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 [email protected]

• 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 5 June Jubilee Picnic in Wantage Market Place

Sat 11 June Wildlife Discovery Day at Wantage Market Garden.

Sun 26 June Wantage Carnival

• Regular events

• The Wantage splash pad is now open for the summer, every day from 10.30am and 7pm. See more here.

 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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. (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 18 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the election of a Chair and Deputy; formal business; financial matters; the jubilee; the playscape; the neighbourhood development plan; the wildflower areas; dog signs; 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 Grove Parish Council took place on 5 April 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 21 March 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 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 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 26 May 2022

This week we look at the future of OX12 and refer you to the document produced as a result of the recent AGM of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group: as ever the main emphasis in on the seeming disconnect between the number of new homes in the area and the infrastructure needed to support these. We also cover local jubilee celebrations, a big bowls weekend, a wildlife discovery day, the local MP’s latest newsletter and Wantage’s summer splash pads.

Scroll down for more on these and other local news stories, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• The BBC reports that there were 135 CV-19 cases in Vale of White Horse in the week 9 to 15  May, down 36 from the week before. This equates to 98 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 82 (108 last week).Note that, as of 26 May, these were the most recently available figures.  See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a more local level to be obtained.

• You may be aware that there will be some celebrations taking place between 2 and 5 June. Click here for our guide to jubilee events across the area.

• Wantage Bowling Club is hosting a Big Bowls Weekend open day this Friday 27 May which will allow people to try bowls at no expense. All equipment is going to be provided and more can be found here.

• The next Wantage community cook-in that creates delicious dishes from surplus food is this Saturday 28 May between 3.30pm and 8.30pm. Everyone is invited to either cook, eat or bring a container for a takeaway. See more on the Facebook page here.

• For the latest Wantage & Grove Campaign Group newsletter, click here.

• The Vale is relaunching the splash pads in and around Wantage for the summer. Wantage’s splash pads will be on from 10.30am and 7pm. Abingdon’s splash pads will be on from 9am until 5pm. See more here.

• The first 10 of the planned 62 electric vehicle chargers have been installed in Cattle Market carpark in Abingdon. The remaining 52 are due to come online in the next few days at other council-run car parks: Portway in Wantage, Audlett Drive, West St Helens in Abingdon and Southampton Street in Faringdon. See more details here on the Vale District Council’s website.

• The Arts Hub Wantage May/June 2022 Newsletter can be read here. It covers cinema back at The Beacon, Jubliee festivities, Morris Men and much more.

• For a list of roadworks planned in the Vale, have a look here. Scroll down to find the Vale of White Horse section. Works are planned on the A34 and M4.

• As you may be aware, the Jubilee celebrations are all underway for Sunday 5 June, including the Big Jubilee Lunch which is to take place in Wantage Market Place between 10.30am and 4pm.

• The District Council is 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 [email protected] or [email protected] for more information.

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

• 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.

The future of OX12

In her regular column in the Herald (which you can also read here), Julie Mabberley of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group asks this very question. It is, she points out, one she will be trying to answer in her address to the group’s AGM which took place earlier this week. A report on this has recently been published on the W&GCG’s website and you can click here to see it.

In her column, she refers to applications for over 8,000 homes which have since 2011 either been approved or are awaiting determination. She refers the the road improvements (and that only one, the Wantage Eastern Relief Road, has yet assumed physical shape and is set to be finished next year). She also refers to cycleways, health centres, schools, leisure centres and open spaces, again highlighting the gap between what she and many others feel is needed and what has actually appeared, or even promised. She also talks about whether Wantage town centre can cope with the new homes and raises the question – which, in terms of the gap between the settlements, demands to be asked – of other Wantage and Grove should be combined. She doesn’t mention the re-opening of the railway station at Grove: perhaps she ran out of space.

The recurring theme of her columns, which is backed up by many others I’ve spoken to, is that there’s a huge gap between the infrastructure the OX12 area needs and what it seems to be getting. It’s been suggested that being on the very edge of both the Vale and Oxfordshire doesn’t help. Having a place of international status and influence like  like Oxford in the county can’t help either as the city demands the more housing be created for it but is unable to supply very much of this itself. Outlying areas seem to be bearing the brunt. “I’m trying to work out,” she says in her article, ” how long it will take for the whole of OX12 to be one large housing development.” Many others are asking the same question.

Community notices

• Reminder to 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.

• 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 [email protected]

• 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 5 June Jubilee Picnic in Wantage Market Place

Sat 11 June Wildlife Discovery Day at Wantage Market Garden. Email [email protected] or [email protected] 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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 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 19 May 2022

Scroll down for levelling up, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• The BBC reports that there were 135 CV-19 cases in Vale of White Horse in the week 9 to 15  May, down 36 from the week before. This equates to 98 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 82 (108 last week). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a more local level to be obtained.

• Thanks to King Alfred’s student James Kent for his fascinating history of Betjeman Millenium Park, Wantage’s hidden tranquil green space which is a haven for walkers, wildlife and the written word. To celebrate the park’s 20th anniversary, James looks back at how the former derelict wasteland was transformed into the vibrant hub it is today and why it is still so important. Named after local poet and former poet laureate Sir John Betjeman (who lived in Wantage from 1951-1972) and dedicated to the start of the new millennium, the park is certainly not your ordinary piece of flat and neatly squared out urban greenery. Being host to semi-wild woodland, engraved sculptures, a circle of ancient sarsen stones (the same as in Stonehenge), three educational exhibits and even a performance area this is less of a park and more of a centre of life. Read James’ article here and pop in to see the Betjeman Millenium Park Exhibition at the Vale & Downland Museum which opened this week and runs until 2 July.

• The AGM of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group will be at 7.30pm on Wednesday, 25 May in Wantage Methodist Church. You can either attend in person or join us virtually on Zoom. Julie Mabberly will be taiking about her view of the future for OX12. This will summarise everything which has happening in the last ten years, the new local plan consultation and and what infrastructure should be provided with the money from past and future developments. “We already know about 2,000 more homes which developers would like to build here (most of which aren’t included in the current local plan),” she commented. “We really need to plan for a load of infrastructure and fire up all of the councils to make sure that the infrastructure gets delivered so come and join in the conversation.” If you want to attend via Zoom then click here . Only members can vote at the meeting but anyone can attend.

Campaign groups like W&GCG are important. The level of actual and proposed development in Wantage and Grove exceeds, in relative terms, anything in any other area we cover (with the possible exception of Thatcham) and has region-changing implications. The planning and development process is long, complex, expensive and technical and it’s easy to miss key windows when you have your chance to have your say. The same goes for matters such as health provision. The group’s website has the following message: “We are not against any development in Wantage and Grove but developments should be proportionate and sustainable and the infrastructure should enhance and improve the quality of life for its residents.” In the several years that we’ve been following its work, this is exactly what we’ve seen. I’d recommend that anyone who is concerned by or merely interested in the changes that the area is undergoing should subscribe to the W&GCG’s newsletters and consider following any recommendations about action or engagement that these propose.

• Speaking of which, click here to see the archive of the group’s newsletters: the most recent one is at the top.

• The next Wantage community cook-in that creates delicious dishes from surplus food is on Saturday 28 May between 3.30pm and 8.30pm. Everyone is invited to either cook, eat or bring a container for a takeaway. See more on the Facebook page here.

• The Arts Hub Wantage May/June 2022 Newsletter can be read here. It covers cinema back at The Beacon, Jubliee festivities, Morris Men and much more.

• For a list of roadworks planned in the Vale, have a look here. Scroll down to find the Vale of White Horse section. Works are planned on the A34 and M4.

• As you may be aware, the Jubilee celebrations are all underway for Sunday 5 June, including the Big Jubilee Lunch which is to take place in Wantage Market Place between 10.30am and 4pm.

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

• 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 [email protected] or [email protected] for more information.

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

• 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.

Levelling up

In her regular column in the Herald (which you can also read here), Julie Mabberly of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group reflects not only on the the new joint local plan for South Oxfordshire and the Vale but also on yet another government attempt to reform the planning system.

Attempts to do this in the past seem to have been as difficult as getting the sun to rise in the west and have been about as successful. Julie lists various features of this. These include a plan to merge developer contributions (S106 agreements and Community Infrastructure Levies),in a new system called, confusingly, the Infrastructure Levy. There will also be mandatory local design codes and “a new requirement for local authorities to prepare infrastructure delivery strategies to outline how the money will be spent and what the spending priorities are.” Her expectation of how effective the last one would seem to be low: “given the cancellation of our new leisure centre and the lack of a published leisure strategy for the Vale,” she comments, “I don’t have confidence that any strategy would be followed anyway.”

The walrus in the room (elephants in the room are so last year) with any planning reforms is that most matters of any importance – including, for the majority of houses, what gets built, and where, and at what sale price – is in the hands of private developers. This is not a knock at the private sector and I doubt that if all homes were built by the government that the problems would be solved. The three crucial points are that the developers control the land supply; that they are not in business to execute government policy on housing numbers, infrastructure or anything else; and that the kind of homes that most areas need (smaller houses and affordable/social-rent one) are less profitable to build than large family homes: or, at the other end of the scale, studio flats carved our of re-purposed commercial buildings under Permitted Development Rights, some of which will have things like windows. These aren’t easy problems not fix but it doesn’t seem that tinkering with the existing system is going to fix them.

There’s also the question of local decision-making, something which one hears a lot about at general-election time but is otherwise more honoured in the breach than the observance. The pandemic provided many examples of where a local approach worked better, through this was not the view of the then Secretary of State Robert “Westferry” Jenrick when he strong-armed South Oxfordshire into ratifying a completed but unadopted local plan which the new administration in 2019 had been elected on a platform which dominated by the promise to review it.

Julie Mabberly points to two aspects which neatly summarise this desire to pay lip-service to local opinions but a reluctance to put it into practice. The proposed reforms, she observes, “require each local plan to be limited to locally specific matters such as allocating land for development, detailing required infrastructure and setting out principles of good design.” However, she goes on, “general policies on issues that apply in most areas will be set out nationally and contained in a suite of National Development Management Policies, which will have the same weight as plans.” If these include stipulations on matters such as sustainability then all well and good: these, however, apply to “all” areas not just to “most”. Her conclusion may well be yours: “So, less local democracy then.”

Community notices

• The Vale Community Impact advice centre in Wantage marketplace 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 [email protected]

• Reminder to 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.

• 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 [email protected]

• 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 5 June Jubilee Picnic in Wantage Market Place

Sat 11 June Wildlife Discovery Day at Wantage Market Garden. Email [email protected] or [email protected] 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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 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 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 [email protected]

• 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 [email protected] or [email protected] 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 [email protected]

• 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 [email protected] or [email protected] 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

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 [email protected] or [email protected] 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 [email protected]

• 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 [email protected] or [email protected] for information.

Sun 26 June