Wantage Area Weekly News – 2023 Archive

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

Please note that this section is presented as an archive of past columns and is not updated (except by the addition of the previous post every week). 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

Click here for the 2024 archive

Thursday 21 December 2023

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: carols, parking, science, art and jokes – plus a look back at some of the main things we’ve covered in this column in 2023. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Wantage area events include: drones, a run and art. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

• This Sunday, celebrate Christmas Eve with the local community in the Wantage Market Square for Carols around the Christmas Tree. The Mayor will be in attendance, as well as Wantage Brass Band providing the instrumentals. That starts at 6:30pm. You can also catch the Wantage Brass Band at the Market place on Saturday 23 December from 10am to 12pm.

• The Wantage Cage Scientifique will be starting up the new year with a talk on ‘Drone Delivery: The future of Urban Air Taxis’ on Wednesday 10 January 2024. The talk is by Michael Merritt, who has a background in Aerospace Engineering and is currently responsible for strategy and operations at Skyports. To learn more click here.

• Quick reminder about Ray Collins Charitable Trust annual Christmas Appeal for 2023. If you are in a position to help those less fortunate in our community, you can make a donation via their website here.

Shoppers in Wantage can take advantage of free parking this Saturday 23 December, as part of an initiative to help encourage buying local. To learn more and find out about other towns affected, click here.

• Our local hospitals are under extra pressure during the Junior Doctor strike 20 to 22 December and 3 to 8 January.  Statement from Great Western Hospital in Swindon: While we will continue to provide urgent and emergency care, hospital may not be the best place to be seen for your treatment needs. If you have an appointment with us, you should continue to come to the hospital. Anyone whose appointment is cancelled or postponed will be contacted directly. For latest updates follow GWH’s facebook page. – likewise Reading’s Royal Berkshire Hospital’s facebook page here.

• While Christmas can be a time of enormous joy for many, heightened emotions can also magnify loneliness and grief. If you find Christmas stressful or depressing, you are not alone. See here for advice and help that is available.

• At this time of year when all normal routines take a buffeting and emotions can be stretched, a little levity and lightheartedness doesn’t go amiss. With this in mind, we folk at Penny Post are challenging each other to come up with the best Christmas cracker joke – or should we saw the worst because there is a good psychological reason why cracker jokes are so bad. Perhaps you and yours could do the same? Here is one to get you started – What do frogs wear on their feet ? Open-toad sandals…

Wantage Market Garden’s work parties meet at the garden on Sundays 2 to 4pm throughout December. Gardening volunteers enjoy the rewards of surplus veg, good conversation and excellent cake! All welcome. See more details here.

Wantage Art Group‘s first meeting of 2024 is on Wednesday 17 January Using Sketchbooks at their new venue of East Challow Village Hall. New members and visitors (£5) always welcome.

• Residents in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse, put your knowledge of food waste to the test and be in with the chance of winning a voucher worth £100 for a local farm shop and a hamper containing items to help reduce your waste. Click here to learn more.

• You can read David Johnston MP’s latest (22 December 2023) newsletter by clicking here.

Click here (and also here for Christmas and new-year 2023-24 opening hours) for the latest news from the Wantage Bookshop.

• A look back at 2023

Each week in 2023, with a couple of exceptions, we’ve provided an overview of what’s been going on in the area. The more important ones have merited their own sections. Some of these have been referred to time and time again as there are very few issues of any significance that can get resolved within seven days. 

All the previous versions of this column are archived: follow the links at the foot of this post and then thereafter to locate them. You can use search (command + F on a Mac, control + F on a PC) to find a particular subject. Many of these appear very frequently. Here I’ve picked out a few stories in this area we’ve covered this year.

• The main theme in our coverage of OX12 has been inspired by the newsletters and (until the autumn) the columns in the Herald  produced by the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group. One of its principal beefs – aside from trying to keep pace with all the issues arising from the breakneck pace of housing development – is the lack of suitable infrastructure. As in Thatcham, this has lagged far behind the increase in population in recent years and the W&GCG exists to try to do something about this. We’ve been happy to help share its messages and to embellish these with some thoughts of our own.

• The most divisive issue in Wantage this year was the attempt to extend the Market Square pedestrianisation, something which led to a determined and concerted pushback by several of the affected businesses, none of which seem to have been consulted by either Wantage Town Council or the highways authority, Oxfordshire CC. We gave considerable coverage to this, including the views of the residents and (in so far as we were able to get them) of the councils. We’ll be keeping an eye on this and cover any future proposed changes and consultations.

• No one can fault David Johnston MP for his determination to get Wantage Road station re-opened. Unlike some local campaigns by MPs which only start once a general election is visible on the horizon, he’s been at this since he was elected. The case for this seems to be more and more powerful which each house that’s built: unfortunately, the logistics of the railway operators dance to a rather different tune. We’ll continue to cover this, hopefully with some good news at the next DfT funding round.

Other matters that we’ve covered included planning applications and the disputes that sometimes attend these; the local election in the Vale in May (which resulted in no change of control); the campaigns opposing the proposed vast reservoir between Wantage and Abingdon; the nutrient neutrality regulations; and the arrival of the Wantage Bookshop in Mill Street. We also provide a link to the most recent town and parish council minutes and, for the first few weeks after they’re published, provide a summary of these.

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.

• Sustainable Wantage runs a Library of Things to help reduce consumption and waste, enable people to save money and do things they might not otherwise do and to help to build a mind-set in our community that sharing things is an excellent option.

Sustainable Wantage Draughtbusters offer free visits to assess and fix draughts in your house, which could help you save energy, reduce bills and reduce your carbon footprint. To book the busters contact wantagemix@gmail.com or 07768 767787 and their team will get in touch and arrange a visit. Click here to learn more.

• Vale Community Impact seeks new volunteers for various roles including advisors, ‘good neighbours’ and drivers. Please contact them on 01235 765348 or recruitment@vci.org.uk for more details.

Wantage Art Group will meet at East Challow Village Hall in 2024 on the third Wednesday of each month. The first meeting of the year is at 7.30pm on Wednesday 17 January with Kate Bennet on Botanical Painting, further details to follow. All welcome, visitors £5.

IT support is available at Down to Earth community cafe (across the main road from the library) on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Pop along and talk to Rich the IT Guy – your one-stop shop for jargon-free IT support.

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

• Wantage and Grove Children’s Clothing Bank collects used and new clothing for kids up to 14 years old. Collection points include Wantage Parish Church and St John’s Church Grove. Please click here to see the full list, plus opening hours. Or message them at w.g.clothesbank@gmail.com or via their Facebook page to arrange individual drop off/collection.

• Wantage Tennis Club is open for new membership. See here for more details.

Betjeman Millennium Park relies on volunteers. If you would like to help with any aspect of the park please see here for how to get involved.

• Wantage Parish Church offers a hot ‘Around Table‘ meal every Wednesday to eat in or take-away between 3.30pm and 7pm. Supported by Oxford Food Hub.

• Walkers, horse-riders, off road cyclists please be mindful of your impact on ground-nesting birds this spring and summer. Of course dogs love to romp but skylarks and nightjars are endangered species and if an adult is disturbed they will not return to their nest, leaving their chicks to die. Please see more details here about national requirements for dog walkers between 1 March and 31 July.

• The Mix on Mill Street runs lots of workshops, repair cafes, refillables, recycling projects. Please follow them on facebook or contact Jo on wantagemix@gmail.com

For info on concerts, theatre and films in and around Wantage and Grove or local arts, theatrical or music groups to join, subscribe to the Arts Hub newsletter by emailing artshubwantage@gmail.com

If you own a bike, Neighbourhood Watch strongly recommends registering it on the Bike Register 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 24 Dec Christmas Carols with the Wantage Silver Band, Wantage Market Square.

Sun 24 Dec Wantage Market Garden Working Party, behind Wantage Community Support Services Building.

Wed 10 Jan Café Scientifique: Drone Delivery Talk, Wildwood Cinema, 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.

• Grove Park Run is a free community 5k walk/run/jog for all abilities every Saturday morning at Grove Fields, Mably Way, OX12 9BN. Dogs and children are allowed. For more information, please visit parkrun.org.uk/grovefields.

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

• Wantage Art Group is a friendly, mixed ability group that meets monthly at Charlton Holy Trinity Church that offers great demonstrations and interesting talks. Their next meeting on Wednesday 19 April. See here for the rest of the year’s schedule and details on how to join the group.

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

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

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

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

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

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

News from your local council

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

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 26 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.)
To see the dates and agendas of future meetings, 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 21 November and you can read the minutes here. This was a special meeting and was concerned with only two items: planning application P23/V2416/DIS; and flooding on the Recreation Ground.
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 East Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 November 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 Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 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, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 November and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings 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 1 November 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 Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 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 Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 October and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), the agendas and past minutes, please click here

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 July 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 West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 July and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, 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 CouncilWatchfield 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 December 2023

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: floods, mindfulness, lunches, work parties, free parking and the bookshop – plus a look at all the issues which attend the possible re-opening of Wantage Road station.  See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Wantage area events include: drones, a run and art. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

• Need a break from all the hustle and bustle of the festive season? This Saturday 16 December join Sustainable Wantage for a gentle, friendly, free mindfulness walk. Meeting at The Mix on Mill Street, the walk will go to different green spaces nearby, using mindful activities to help slow down, recharge and feel more connected to nature. Click here to learn more and book a place.

Mellor’s Garage on Faringdon Road in West Challow is famous for the low fuel prices that they consistently offer their customers. At the moment though they are also famous for the flooding issues along their road. However they want to reassure everyone that their forecourt is raised and not flooded and the businesses in the W&G estate are still open and accessible so please don’t stop using them. If you are travelling from Faringdon they suggest you seek an alternative route bringing you down to Silver Lane opposite Mellors for access to fuel/shop/workshop/launderette/car wash etc

• Thanks to funding from Clarion Housing, Down to Earth Community Cafe in Wantage is offering free community lunches every Tuesday from 11.30 – 2pm. This is not only for people experiencing difficulty during the cost of living crisis, it is for everyone in the community, a social space to meet others and have a chat. If you would like to pay a little towards your meal, there is a ‘pay as you feel’ donation box. But this is by no means expected – just pop in, warm up and fill up. Listen more here to Kate Farrington’s interview on BBC Radio Oxford (from 1 hour 16 mins).

Shoppers in Wantage can take advantage of free parking this Saturday 16 and Saturday 23 December, as part of an initiative to help encourage buying local. To learn more and find out about other towns affected, click here.

Wantage Market Garden’s work parties meet at the garden on Sundays 2 to 4pm throughout December. Gardening volunteers enjoy the rewards of surplus veg, good conversation and excellent cake! All welcome. See more details here.

• Residents in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse, put your knowledge of food waste to the test and be in with the chance of winning a voucher worth £100 for a local farm shop and a hamper containing items to help reduce your waste. Click here to learn more.

• Quick reminder about Ray Collins Charitable Trust annual Christmas Appeal for 2023. If you are in a position to help those less fortunate in our community, you can make a donation via their website here.

Click here (and also here) for the latest news from the Wantage Bookshop.

• Wantage’s station

No immediate news or progress on this, but that’s not for want of effort by many campaigners, including the mp David Johnston, who have log been complaining that the climate emergency and the rapidly expanding population of Grove and Wantage make re-opening this increasingly desirable. It’s not as if the line has to be built, after all.

Northing about the finances or the logistics of railways is simple, however. The possibility of this happening seems to depend on a number of other things happening first, including possibly direct stopping trains from Bristol to Oxford. Unless a new platform were built at Didcot, I don’t see how trains could stop there, which would make changing to get to London cumbersome. You see what I mean? In a mere two sentences I’ve managed to introduce a problem and then thoroughly confuse myself.

Perhaps clicking here on the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group’s website might be a better place to start. This articles and the ones it links to “describe the attempts to re-open a station at Grove and indicate the issues that need to be resolved for that to happen.”

If there are any firm updates then we’ll cover these as soon as possible. So too, I can fairly certain, will David Johnston. Indeed, if the station gets re-opened he’ll probably drive around the area in an open-topped car announcing the news through a megaphone.

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.

• Sustainable Wantage runs a Library of Things to help reduce consumption and waste, enable people to save money and do things they might not otherwise do and to help to build a mind-set in our community that sharing things is an excellent option.

Sustainable Wantage Draughtbusters offer free visits to assess and fix draughts in your house, which could help you save energy, reduce bills and reduce your carbon footprint. To book the busters contact wantagemix@gmail.com or 07768 767787 and their team will get in touch and arrange a visit. Click here to learn more.

• Vale Community Impact seeks new volunteers for various roles including advisors, ‘good neighbours’ and drivers. Please contact them on 01235 765348 or recruitment@vci.org.uk for more details.

Wantage Art Group will meet at East Challow Village Hall in 2024 on the third Wednesday of each month. The first meeting of the year is at 7.30pm on Wednesday 17 January with Kate Bennet on Botanical Painting, further details to follow. All welcome, visitors £5.

IT support is available at Down to Earth community cafe (across the main road from the library) on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Pop along and talk to Rich the IT Guy – your one-stop shop for jargon-free IT support.

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

• Wantage and Grove Children’s Clothing Bank collects used and new clothing for kids up to 14 years old. Collection points include Wantage Parish Church and St John’s Church Grove. Please click here to see the full list, plus opening hours. Or message them at w.g.clothesbank@gmail.com or via their Facebook page to arrange individual drop off/collection.

• Wantage Tennis Club is open for new membership. See here for more details.

Betjeman Millennium Park relies on volunteers. If you would like to help with any aspect of the park please see here for how to get involved.

• Wantage Parish Church offers a hot ‘Around Table‘ meal every Wednesday to eat in or take-away between 3.30pm and 7pm. Supported by Oxford Food Hub.

• Walkers, horse-riders, off road cyclists please be mindful of your impact on ground-nesting birds this spring and summer. Of course dogs love to romp but skylarks and nightjars are endangered species and if an adult is disturbed they will not return to their nest, leaving their chicks to die. Please see more details here about national requirements for dog walkers between 1 March and 31 July.

• The Mix on Mill Street runs lots of workshops, repair cafes, refillables, recycling projects. Please follow them on facebook or contact Jo on wantagemix@gmail.com

For info on concerts, theatre and films in and around Wantage and Grove or local arts, theatrical or music groups to join, subscribe to the Arts Hub newsletter by emailing artshubwantage@gmail.com

If you own a bike, Neighbourhood Watch strongly recommends registering it on the Bike Register 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 Mindfulness Walk, meeting at the Mix, Wantage.

Sun 17 Dec Wantage Market Garden Working Party, behind Wantage Community Support Services Building.

Sun 24 Dec Christmas Carols with the Wantage Silver Band, Wantage Market Square.

Sun 24 Dec Wantage Market Garden Working Party, behind Wantage Community Support Services Building.

Wed 10 Jan Café Scientifique: Drone Delivery Talk, Wildwood Cinema, 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.

• Grove Park Run is a free community 5k walk/run/jog for all abilities every Saturday morning at Grove Fields, Mably Way, OX12 9BN. Dogs and children are allowed. For more information, please visit parkrun.org.uk/grovefields.

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

• Wantage Art Group is a friendly, mixed ability group that meets monthly at Charlton Holy Trinity Church that offers great demonstrations and interesting talks. Their next meeting on Wednesday 19 April. See here for the rest of the year’s schedule and details on how to join the group.

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

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

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

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

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

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

News from your local council

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

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 26 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.)
To see the dates and agendas of future meetings, 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 21 November and you can read the minutes here. This was a special meeting and was concerned with only two items: planning application P23/V2416/DIS; and flooding on the Recreation Ground.
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 East Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 November and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; a councillor vacancy; a report from the County and the District Councillors; planning matters; financial matters; traffic and highways; repairs and maintenance; the allotments; and recreation areas.
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 7 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: speeding; a possible neighbourhood development plan; financial matters; repairs and maintenance; fly tipping; and power cuts.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings 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 1 November 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 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, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 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 Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 October and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), the agendas and past minutes, please click here

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 July 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 West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 July and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, 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 CouncilWatchfield 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 December 2023

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: artisans, markets, parking, food waste and the Bookshop – plus a look at two campaigns in David Johnston MP’s latest newsletter. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Wantage area events include: Christmas events and Wantage Market Garden work parties. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

• This weekend is the Local Artisan Christmas Market, Wantage Market Square. There will be lots of exciting stalls, live music and children’s entertainment. That’s on Sunday 10 December, from 10am to 3pm, click here for more details.

Shoppers in Wantage can take advantage of free parking on Saturday 9, Saturday 16 and Saturday 23 December, as part of an initiative to help encourage buying local. To learn more and find out about other towns affected, click here.

Wantage Market Garden is a beautiful space for the community to learn how to grow fruit and vegetables in a sustainable and attractive way, and it’s a great space for community activities. If you would like to help, Sustainable Wantage work parties meet at the garden on Sundays 2 – 4pm throughout December. Gardening volunteers enjoy the rewards of surplus veg, good conversation and excellent cake! all welcome. See more details here.

Sustainable Wantage’s latest newsletter for December looks at the Draughtbusters, the Christmas gift swap at the Mix, a thank you to Westmill Solar for a grant towards  the community larder at the Bacon, as well as volunteering opportunities.

• Wantage MP David Johnston’s survey on the condition of the roads in his constituency includes potholes, congestion, speeding and other safety concerns. You can click here to take part in the survey.

• Residents in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse, put your knowledge of food waste to the test and be in with the chance of winning a voucher worth £100 for a local farm shop and a hamper containing items to help reduce your waste. Click here to learn more.

Wantage Art Group is changing its venue and from January will be meeting at East Challow Village Hall on the third Wednesday of each month. The first meeting of the year is at 7.30pm on Wednesday 17 January with Kate Bennet on Botanical Painting, further details to follow. All welcome, visitors £5.

Wantage Town Council’s December Newsletter includes the Mayor’s Christmas message, various Christmas events, community hospital and Market Place pedestrianisation updates, by-pass construction and more.

Sustainable Wantage Draughtbusters offer free visits to assess and fix draughts in your house, which could help you save energy, reduce bills and reduce your carbon footprint. To book the busters contact wantagemix@gmail.com or 07768 767787 and their team will get in touch and arrange a visit. Click here to learn more.

• Quick reminder about Ray Collins Charitable Trust annual Christmas Appeal for 2023. For twelve years now the trust have helped local families and elderly residents with food hampers and a Christmas Day dinner. With the cost-of-living crisis biting hard this year it’s needed more than ever. If you are in a position to help those less fortunate in our community, you can make a donation via their website here.

Click here (and also here) for the latest news from the Wantage Bookshop.

• An MP writes

The latest newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnston has recently dropped into my in box and you can read it here.

For some reason, a lot of MPs in the area are currently conducting surveys on matters which might be seen as vote winners. I can’t imagine why that might be. Though one could question the timing, it’s undeniably a good thing that local representatives are seeking to highlight local issues. The trick is to come support something that’s self-evidently a good thing but which also cannot produce any definite results (and so be shown as having failed) before the election, whenever that proves to be. It also helps if the initiative merely involves putting pressure on another organisation so that, if nothing happens, you can blame them.

These carping sentiments out of the way, David Johnston’s survey concerns the local roads, something which most would agree could bear improvement. He says that he “to give you the opportunity to tell me exactly where you are seeing issues on our roads that need to be resolved – including potholes, congestion, speeding and other safety concerns. I experience these issues myself when I drive around our area and have raised every issue that has been reported to me by constituents with the Council and the Highways Authorities, who are responsible for maintaining our roads.

“While this has resulted in some potholes and safety issues being fixed, there is more to do, and I want to pull together a complete map of all the issues we are facing – and where. I will then use this map to show the Council and Highways Authorities exactly where there are issues that need to be addressed. I want to hear from as many people as possible so that we have the best data to make the case, so please do take part on my website here.”

David Johnston also refers to another campaign which, to his credit, he has been promoting since the day he was elected – the re-opening of Wantage Road station. “Andy Holding, of the Wantage and Grove Station Supporters Group,” he writes, “kindly provided the final 2,127th signature for my petition to re-open Grove Station. It was good to update him on our progress and I will soon be presenting the petition to the House and meeting with the Rail Minister. We will continue to work together on this vital campaign.”

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.

• Sustainable Wantage runs a Library of Things to help reduce consumption and waste, enable people to save money and do things they might not otherwise do and to help to build a mind-set in our community that sharing things is an excellent option.

• Vale Community Impact seeks new volunteers for various roles including advisors, ‘good neighbours’ and drivers. Please contact them on 01235 765348 or recruitment@vci.org.uk for more details.

IT support is available at Down to Earth community cafe (across the main road from the library) on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Pop along and talk to Rich the IT Guy – your one-stop shop for jargon-free IT support.

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

• Wantage and Grove Children’s Clothing Bank collects used and new clothing for kids up to 14 years old. Collection points include Wantage Parish Church and St John’s Church Grove. Please click here to see the full list, plus opening hours. Or message them at w.g.clothesbank@gmail.com or via their Facebook page to arrange individual drop off/collection.

• Wantage Tennis Club is open for new membership. See here for more details.

Betjeman Millennium Park relies on volunteers. If you would like to help with any aspect of the park please see here for how to get involved.

• Wantage Parish Church offers a hot ‘Around Table‘ meal every Wednesday to eat in or take-away between 3.30pm and 7pm. Supported by Oxford Food Hub.

• Walkers, horse-riders, off road cyclists please be mindful of your impact on ground-nesting birds this spring and summer. Of course dogs love to romp but skylarks and nightjars are endangered species and if an adult is disturbed they will not return to their nest, leaving their chicks to die. Please see more details here about national requirements for dog walkers between 1 March and 31 July.

• The Mix on Mill Street runs lots of workshops, repair cafes, refillables, recycling projects. Please follow them on facebook or contact Jo on wantagemix@gmail.com

For info on concerts, theatre and films in and around Wantage and Grove or local arts, theatrical or music groups to join, subscribe to the Arts Hub newsletter by emailing artshubwantage@gmail.com

If you own a bike, Neighbourhood Watch strongly recommends registering it on the Bike Register 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 10 Dec Local Artisan Christmas Market, Wantage Market Square.

Sat 16 Dec Mindfulness Walk, meeting at the Mix, Wantage.

Sun 17 Dec Wantage Market Garden, behind Wantage Community Support Services Building, Charlton Village rd.

Sun 24 Dec Christmas Carols with the Wantage Silver Band, Wantage Market Square.

Sun 24 Dec Wantage Market Garden, behind Wantage Community Support Services Building, Charlton Village rd.

Wed 10 Jan Café Scientifique: Drone Delivery Talk, Wildwood Cinema, 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.

• Grove Park Run is a free community 5k walk/run/jog for all abilities every Saturday morning at Grove Fields, Mably Way, OX12 9BN. Dogs and children are allowed. For more information, please visit parkrun.org.uk/grovefields.

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

• Wantage Art Group is a friendly, mixed ability group that meets monthly at Charlton Holy Trinity Church that offers great demonstrations and interesting talks. Their next meeting on Wednesday 19 April. See here for the rest of the year’s schedule and details on how to join the group.

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

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

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

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

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

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

News from your local council

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

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 26 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.)
To see the dates and agendas of future meetings, 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 21 November and you can read the minutes here. This was a special meeting and was concerned with only two items: planning application P23/V2416/DIS; and flooding on the Recreation Ground.
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 East Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 November and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; a councillor vacancy; a report from the County and the District Councillors; planning matters; financial matters; traffic and highways; repairs and maintenance; the allotments; and recreation areas.
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 7 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: speeding; a possible neighbourhood development plan; financial matters; repairs and maintenance; fly tipping; and power cuts.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings 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 1 November and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: parking on the High Street; the 20mph zones; county and district councillors’ reports; committee reports; financial matters; planning matters; speeding; repairs and maintenance; and the allotments.
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 17 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 Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 October and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), the agendas and past minutes, please click here

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 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, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 July 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 West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 July and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, 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 CouncilWatchfield 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 November 2023

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: Dickens, the bookshop, an appeal, trees, parking and shopping – plus a reminder about David Johnston MP’s roads’ survey. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Wantage area events include: Wantage Literary Festival and Funny Bones. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

• This Friday 1 December is of course Dickensian Evening in Wantage Market Place and the Vale & Downland Museum. Wantage Chamber of Commerce would like to remind everyone that the market square car park will be closed from 6am to ensure there are no cars parked in the way for the safe and staggered arrival of attractions.  The full road closure will take effect from midday. The festivities start at 6pm in the market place – don’t forget to dress up as a Dickens’ character or Victorian if you can. To learn more click here.

Wantage Town Council’s Newsletter for December includes the Mayor’s Christmas message, various Christmas events, community hospital and Market Place pedestrianisation updates, by-pass construction and more.

• The Wantage Methodist Church will be holding their Christmas Tree Festival this weekend to raise money for Blood Cancer UK. Come and see the decorated trees in Chapel, with stalls and refreshments in the hall on Dickensian Evening. Refreshments are free, but donations to the charity are appreciated. Click here for details.

• There will be a Christmas Shopping event in Shrivenham this Saturday, to raise money for the local youth football club. There will be stalls selling a variety of items from crafts, to sweets, candy floss, giftware, art, beauty gifts, textiles, as well as raffles prizes to be won including football tickets, meat hampers, meal vouchers and a prize from every stall. This will be taking place at the Prince of Wales pub on Shrivenham High Street, from 10am to 1pm.

Sustainable Wantage Draughtbusters offer free visits to assess and fix draughts in your house, which could help you save energy, reduce bills and reduce your carbon footprint. To book the busters contact wantagemix@gmail.com or 07768 767787 and their team will get in touch and arrange a visit. Click here to learn more.

• Quick reminder about Ray Collins Charitable Trust annual Christmas Appeal for 2023. For twelve years now the trust have helped local families and elderly residents with food hampers and a Christmas Day dinner. With the cost-of-living crisis biting hard this year it’s needed more than ever. If you are in a position to help those less fortunate in our community, you can make a donation via their website here.

Shoppers in Vale of White Horse can take advantage of free parking on select days this December, as part of an initiative to help encourage buying local. Wantage will have free parking on Saturday 9, Saturday 16 and Saturday 23 December. To learn more and find out about other towns affected, click here.

Click here (and also here) for the latest news from the Wantage Bookshop.

• David on the road

Wantage MP David Johnston has launched a survey to on the condition of the roads in his constituency. “Since I was elected as your MP in 2019,” he writes, “many local residents have been in touch with me to share their concerns about the condition of our roads. I share these concerns and I experience these issues myself when I drive around our area.

“I have been campaigning to improve our roads and I have now launched my Local Roads Survey to give you the opportunity to tell me exactly where you are seeing issues on our roads that need to be resolved – – including potholes, congestion, speeding and other safety concerns.

“I have raised every issue that has been reported to me by constituents with the Council and the Highways Authorities, who are responsible for maintaining our roads. I am glad that this has resulted in some potholes and safety issues being fixed but there is more to do, and I want to pull together a complete map of all the issues we are facing, and where. I will then use this map to show the Council and Highways Authorities exactly where there are issues that need to be addressed. I want to hear from as many people as possible so that we have the best data to make the case.”

You can click here to take part in the survey.

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.

• Sustainable Wantage runs a Library of Things to help reduce consumption and waste, enable people to save money and do things they might not otherwise do and to help to build a mind-set in our community that sharing things is an excellent option.

• Vale Community Impact seeks new volunteers for various roles including advisors, ‘good neighbours’ and drivers. Please contact them on 01235 765348 or recruitment@vci.org.uk for more details.

IT support is available at Down to Earth community cafe (across the main road from the library) on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Pop along and talk to Rich the IT Guy – your one-stop shop for jargon-free IT support.

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

• Wantage and Grove Children’s Clothing Bank collects used and new clothing for kids up to 14 years old. Collection points include Wantage Parish Church and St John’s Church Grove. Please click here to see the full list, plus opening hours. Or message them at w.g.clothesbank@gmail.com or via their Facebook page to arrange individual drop off/collection.

• Wantage Tennis Club is open for new membership. See here for more details.

Betjeman Millennium Park relies on volunteers. If you would like to help with any aspect of the park please see here for how to get involved.

• Wantage Parish Church offers a hot ‘Around Table‘ meal every Wednesday to eat in or take-away between 3.30pm and 7pm. Supported by Oxford Food Hub.

• Walkers, horse-riders, off road cyclists please be mindful of your impact on ground-nesting birds this spring and summer. Of course dogs love to romp but skylarks and nightjars are endangered species and if an adult is disturbed they will not return to their nest, leaving their chicks to die. Please see more details here about national requirements for dog walkers between 1 March and 31 July.

• The Mix on Mill Street runs lots of workshops, repair cafes, refillables, recycling projects. Please follow them on facebook or contact Jo on wantagemix@gmail.com

For info on concerts, theatre and films in and around Wantage and Grove or local arts, theatrical or music groups to join, subscribe to the Arts Hub newsletter by emailing artshubwantage@gmail.com

If you own a bike, Neighbourhood Watch strongly recommends registering it on the Bike Register 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 1 Dec Dickensian Evening, Vale & Downlands Museum.

• Fri 1 Dec Dickensian Evening, Wantage Market Square.

Fri 1 to Sun 3 Dec Christmas Tree Festival, Wantage Methodist Church.

• Sat 2 Dec Wantage Band: The Snowman Live, The Beacon, Wantage.

• Sat 2 Dec Christmas Shopping Event Fundraiser, the Price of Wale pub,  Shrivenham High Street.

Mon 4 Dec Good Neighbour Pop-up Café Shrivenham, Shrivenham Sports Pavilion, Highworth Road.

Sun 10 Dec Local Artisan Christmas Market, Wantage Market Square.

Sun 24 Dec Christmas Carols with the Wantage Silver Band, Wantage Market Square.

Wed 10 Jan Café Scientifique: Drone Delivery Talk, Wildwood Cinema, 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.

• Grove Park Run is a free community 5k walk/run/jog for all abilities every Saturday morning at Grove Fields, Mably Way, OX12 9BN. Dogs and children are allowed. For more information, please visit parkrun.org.uk/grovefields.

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

• Wantage Art Group is a friendly, mixed ability group that meets monthly at Charlton Holy Trinity Church that offers great demonstrations and interesting talks. Their next meeting on Wednesday 19 April. See here for the rest of the year’s schedule and details on how to join the group.

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

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

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

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

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

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

News from your local council

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

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 26 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.)
To see the dates and agendas of future meetings, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 November and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; a councillor vacancy; a report from the County and the District Councillors; planning matters; financial matters; traffic and highways; repairs and maintenance; the allotments; and recreation areas.
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 7 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: speeding; a possible neighbourhood development plan; financial matters; repairs and maintenance; fly tipping; and power cuts.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings 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 12 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 and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 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 Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 October and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), the agendas and past minutes, please click here

• The most recent meeting of Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 4 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 13 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, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 July 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 West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 July and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, 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 CouncilWatchfield 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 23 November 2023

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: supper, draughts, parking, a tree and an appeal – plus a look, in the company of the Wantage and Grove Community Group, at proposed boundary changes in OX12. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Wantage area events include: Wantage Literary Festival and Funny Bones. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

• This Saturday 25 November the Wantage Silver Band will be holding its Christmas Supper Concert, featuring a fun programme with plenty of musical and seasonal delights from 7.30pm at the Bandhall, Tugwell Field. A buffet supper is included in the tickets price of £14 and are available at the Regent Bookshop, in Wantage or Brett’s Pharmacy in Grove. Alternatively you can email annchadwick@hotmail.com or ring 01235 770378.

• The lovely Down to Earth community cafe (across the main road from the library) offers IT support on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Pop along and talk to Rich the IT Guy – your one-stop shop for jargon-free IT support.

The lovely Dolphin Gallery in Wantage town centre is offering 40% off selected artwork until the end of November.

• In addition to the Vale of White Horse District Council’s recent announcement in support for Afghan families through the ARAP resettlement scheme, the Ministry of Defence is providing short term temporary homes in the Vale of White Horse for a number of new families who supported the UK’s military operations in Afghanistan. You can read more about this story here.

• Winter is starting to settle in and if you can feel the cold air creeping in you home, Sustainable Wantage Draughtbusters offer free visits to assess and fix draughts in your house, which could help you save energy, reduce bills and reduce your carbon footprint. To book the busters contact wantagemix@gmail.com or 07768 767787 and their team will get in touch and arrange a visit. Click here to learn more.

• The Ray Collins Charitable Trust is launching its annual Christmas Appeal for 2023. For twelve years now the trust have helped local families and elderly residents with food hampers and a Christmas Day dinner. With the cost-of-living crisis biting hard this year it’s needed more than ever. If you are in a position to help those less fortunate in our community, you can make a donation via their website here.

Shoppers in Vale of White Horse can take advantage of free parking on select days this December, as part of an initiative to help encourage buying local. Wantage will have free parking on Saturday 9, Saturday 16 and Saturday 23 December. To learn more and find out about other towns affected, click here.

• Can you make upcycled or natural decorations for The Wantage Mix’s Christmas tree to help people think a bit differently about Christmas? Last year volunteers decorated the tree with hand-sewn felt animals. If you can help please contact Jo at josustainablewantage@gmail.com or call 07918 148828.

Click here for the latest news from the Wantage Bookshop.

• Changing the borders

The most recent (16 November) newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group refers to the Electoral Commission’s planned changes to the boundaries used for the election of County Councillors.

“There are,” the article explains, “currently two County Councillors for Grove and Wantage, with the rest of OX12 being represented by Councillors for the Hendreds and Harwell; Shrivenham (including the Challows); and Kingston and Cumnor (including the Hanneys). The proposals are for individual County Councillors representing Wantage (not including Charlton & Kingsgrove); Grove; Charlton, the Hendreds and Blewbury; Drayton, Sutton Courtnay and Steventon (including the Hanneys); and Shrivenham (including the Challows). It doesn’t appear that there are any changes to District Council Councillors but Wantage will have three wards within the Town Council: Charlton, Segsbury and Wantage (with Wantage including the area south of Charlton Road and everything south of Letcombe Brook).”

Every time the Electoral Commission bods get their maps and calculators out people are inclined to shout “foul” on the grounds that the new divisions are unwelcome, artificial or politically biased. The first two may sometimes apply, at least until people have got used to them, but I don’t think that political favouritism is anything to worry about. By law, the population of all parliamentary constituencies have to be within five percent of the national average (a few exceptions like the Isle of Wight aside) and I imagine that similar rules apply for ward boundaries. People have the irrititing habit of moving house without asking the Electoral Commission’s permissions and so, every five or ten years, it has to go and re-draw some of the lines on the map.

To se the details and comment on these proposals please click here. You have until 11 December to make your views known.

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.

• Sustainable Wantage runs a Library of Things to help reduce consumption and waste, enable people to save money and do things they might not otherwise do and to help to build a mind-set in our community that sharing things is an excellent option.

• Vale Community Impact seeks new volunteers for various roles including advisors, ‘good neighbours’ and drivers. Please contact them on 01235 765348 or recruitment@vci.org.uk for more details.

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

• Wantage and Grove Children’s Clothing Bank collects used and new clothing for kids up to 14 years old. Collection points include Wantage Parish Church and St John’s Church Grove. Please click here to see the full list, plus opening hours. Or message them at w.g.clothesbank@gmail.com or via their Facebook page to arrange individual drop off/collection.

• Wantage Tennis Club is open for new membership. See here for more details.

Betjeman Millennium Park relies on volunteers. If you would like to help with any aspect of the park please see here for how to get involved.

• Wantage Parish Church offers a hot ‘Around Table‘ meal every Wednesday to eat in or take-away between 3.30pm and 7pm. Supported by Oxford Food Hub.

• Walkers, horse-riders, off road cyclists please be mindful of your impact on ground-nesting birds this spring and summer. Of course dogs love to romp but skylarks and nightjars are endangered species and if an adult is disturbed they will not return to their nest, leaving their chicks to die. Please see more details here about national requirements for dog walkers between 1 March and 31 July.

• The Mix on Mill Street runs lots of workshops, repair cafes, refillables, recycling projects. Please follow them on facebook or contact Jo on wantagemix@gmail.com

For info on concerts, theatre and films in and around Wantage and Grove or local arts, theatrical or music groups to join, subscribe to the Arts Hub newsletter by emailing artshubwantage@gmail.com

If you own a bike, Neighbourhood Watch strongly recommends registering it on the Bike Register 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 25 Nov Wantage Community Brass Christmas Supper Concert, The Bandwell Hall, Tugwell Field.

• Fri 1 Dec Dickensian Evening, Vale & Downlands Museum.

• Sat 2 Dec Wantage Band: The Snowman Live, The Beacon, Wantage.

Mon 4 Dec Good Neighbour Pop-up Café Shrivenham, Shrivenham Sports Pavilion, Highworth Road.

• 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.

• Grove Park Run is a free community 5k walk/run/jog for all abilities every Saturday morning at Grove Fields, Mably Way, OX12 9BN. Dogs and children are allowed. For more information, please visit parkrun.org.uk/grovefields.

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

• Wantage Art Group is a friendly, mixed ability group that meets monthly at Charlton Holy Trinity Church that offers great demonstrations and interesting talks. Their next meeting on Wednesday 19 April. See here for the rest of the year’s schedule and details on how to join the group.

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

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

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

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

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

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

News from your local council

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

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 26 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.)
To see the dates and agendas of future meetings, 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 7 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: speeding; a possible neighbourhood development plan; financial matters; repairs and maintenance; fly tipping; and power cuts.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings 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 12 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 and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 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 11 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 Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 October and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), the agendas and past minutes, please click here

• The most recent meeting of Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 4 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 13 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, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 July 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 West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 July and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, 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 CouncilWatchfield 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 16 November 2023

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: cards, mindfulness, trees, draught-busting and Ray Collins – plus a look at financial jigsaw that needs to be completed before the Wantage Leisure Centre work can be completed and the latest news from the Wantage & Grove Campaign Group . See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Wantage area events include: Wantage Literary Festival and Funny Bones. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

• There was a good turn-out for the Remembrance Parade last Sunday despite the weather. For photos and video see the facebook page of 4624 Squadron Reserves who were honoured to march in the parade.

• Winter is starting to settle in and if you can feel the cold air creeping in you home, Sustainable Wantage Draughtbusters offer free visits to assess and fix draughts in your house, which could help you save energy, reduce bills and reduce your carbon footprint. To book the busters contact wantagemix@gmail.com or 07768 767787 and their team will get in touch and arrange a visit. Click here to learn more.

• The Christmas Gift Swap over at The Mix is once again open for this festive season. If you have a gift or new item you don’t want or need, come along and swap it for something you like. Click here for more information.

• The Ray Collins Charitable Trust is launching its annual Christmas Appeal for 2023. For twelve years now the trust have helped local families and elderly residents with food hampers and a Christmas Day dinner. With the cost-of-living crisis biting hard this year it’s needed more than ever. If you are in a position to help those less fortunate in our community, you can make a donation via their website here.

Shoppers in Vale of White Horse can take advantage of free parking on select days this December, as part of an initiative to help encourage buying local. Wantage will have free parking on Saturday 9, Saturday 16 and Saturday 23 December. To learn more and find out about other towns affected, click here.

• Want to de-stress while enjoying nature? Every third Saturday of the month, the Mindfulness Walk group meets at the Mix from 11am to 12:30pm. It is a friendly, gentle walk, visiting different green spaces nearby, using mindful activities to help us slow down, recharge and feel more connected to nature. If you would like to book a free place, click here. To learn more contact wantagemix@gmail.com.

Latest business news from South & Vale Business Support includes understanding the net-zero challenge for SMEs and Rural England Prosperity Fund grant application now open.

• Can you make upcycled or natural decorations for The Wantage Mix’s Christmas tree to help people think a bit differently about Christmas? Last year volunteers decorated the tree with hand-sewn felt animals. If you can help please contact Jo at josustainablewantage@gmail.com or call 07918 148828.

Click here for the latest news from the Wantage Bookshop.

A financial jigsaw

It was recently announced that swimming pools across South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse have been awarded a total of £441,542 funding through Sport England to help finance the running of six of its Better UK swimming facilities. The Wantage Leisure Centre has been listed as among those to benefit from the grant. The award will help ensure residents continue to have access to good swimming facilities across the two districts. You can click here to learn more.

We’ve written several times before about the problems of the infrastructure in OX12 and how this has not kept pace with the amount of housing development. The provision of leisure centres is particularly emotive as there had been plans for a new centre between Wantage and Grove (to the extent that these are not now one place) but this was cancelled a few years ago. We had a work-experience pupil from Wantage at Penny Post earlier this year. She was a competitive swimmer and told us some hair-raising stories about Wantage Leisure Centre ‘s poor state of repair. This in turn prompted a call to the Vale of White Horse Council’s Executive Member for Finance, Andy Crawford. As a result of this, we wrote an article on this – see Pain and Gain at the Leisure Centre in the 13 July 2023 edition of this column.

Could this latest funding announcement mark the start of a period of regeneration for the beleaguered facility? Well, yes and no…

This money can only be used to help the operator with its costs. All have increased considerably in the last eighteen months, this following all the disruption caused by the pandemic. It thus won’t result in any improvements to the Centre. Other funding is available for this: the challenge, though, is fitting together all the various bits of the funding jigsaw so that the results end up matching the picture on the lid.

In a more rational world, the government would fund councils properly and let them spend the money as they saw fit. As it is, Whitehall tends to organise a series of beauty contests, talent shows, lotteries or what you will with cash prizes being awarded to the councils which are best able to make a compelling claim for their projects. Much of this needs to be spent on specific projects and within a specific period.

Other money also comes from CIL or S106 contributions from developers. These are often paid late and unwillingly and, in the latter case, are subject to equally tight restrictions as regards time and purpose. Sometimes, S106 money is sat in a council’s account for years because it’s for a project that can’t be started until all the funding is provided. In some cases a time period might elapse and the money need to be returned. In others, the specific goal of the original agreement can’t now be achieved so the terms need to be renegotiated. Once the funding has been secured, it has to be spent in the correct order. One can’t lay a new football pitch, for instance, until the site has been cleared but the terms of the funding may mean that the former needs to be spent before the latter.

Delays have to be factored in as well. All jobs are put out to tender and a company that lost out has the right to appeal. That can take months to sort out, by which time the firm that won the deal may want to raise their quote or announces that it now can’t do the job any longer as something else has come up. Then, every four years, there are elections which don’t change the officers but might well alter to priorities of the council members. All in all, it’s perhaps a wonder that anything happens at all.

Something of this kind of financial and logistical jigsaw puzzle is at work at Wantage Leisure Centre. As well as the Sport England money, there are at least three separate pots of money.

One, granted through Salix for a decarbonisation project, needs to have been substantially spent by the end of March. This includes badly needed work on the roof. Until that’s happened, it’s not prudent or perhaps even possible to start work on the second project, that of improving to the changing rooms using ear-marked S106 funds. It’s hoped that this will start in the new year.

A third project, funded by a mixture of S106 money and the council’s own funds, will result in a new learner pool. This is, it appears, particularly complex as there are a number of legal issues concerning land ownership to be sorted out before work can start.

The Vale’s freedom of action is also constrained with the leisure centre as there’s a joint-user agreement involving other parties including King Alfred’s and Oxfordshire CC. Other money will doubtless be agreed or pitched for to cover other upgrades, all of which will be subject to similar conditions and added to the ever-changing jigsaw puzzle.

I spoke to the Vale’s Andy Crawford about this on 17 November and he confirmed that there were indeed a good many things that needed to be fitted together. He added that he was confident that the Wantage Leisure Centre would, when these projects had been completed, be “considerably improved and enhanced.” When that day proves to be, however, is currently uncertain.

A charm offensive

The latest Wantage and Grove Campaign Group newsletter reports that Thames Water “has been holding a couple of drop-in events recently as part of their charm offensive for the reservoir. Unfortunately they are are still not doing any analysis about the impact of possible flooding, or of property damage and loss of life in a Dam Breach accident. The Reservoir fails to conform to key DEFRA guidelines about the siting of high risk reservoirs but is still being recommended.”

More information on this campaign can be seen on the Group Against reservoir Development (GARD) website. Both W&GCG and GARD have long campaigned against this proposal claiming amongst other things that it dangerous and unnecessary.

Other matters covered in the above-mentioned W&GCG newsletter include the health centre extension, Mably Way communiqués, leisure-centre money (see also the section above), the public toilets in Kingsgrove, a winter hub, a creative workshop and proposed electoral changes for country councillors.

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.

• Sustainable Wantage runs a Library of Things to help reduce consumption and waste, enable people to save money and do things they might not otherwise do and to help to build a mind-set in our community that sharing things is an excellent option.

• Vale Community Impact seeks new volunteers for various roles including advisors, ‘good neighbours’ and drivers. Please contact them on 01235 765348 or recruitment@vci.org.uk for more details.

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

• Wantage and Grove Children’s Clothing Bank collects used and new clothing for kids up to 14 years old. Collection points include Wantage Parish Church and St John’s Church Grove. Please click here to see the full list, plus opening hours. Or message them at w.g.clothesbank@gmail.com or via their Facebook page to arrange individual drop off/collection.

• Wantage Tennis Club is open for new membership. See here for more details.

Betjeman Millennium Park relies on volunteers. If you would like to help with any aspect of the park please see here for how to get involved.

• Wantage Parish Church offers a hot ‘Around Table‘ meal every Wednesday to eat in or take-away between 3.30pm and 7pm. Supported by Oxford Food Hub.

• Walkers, horse-riders, off road cyclists please be mindful of your impact on ground-nesting birds this spring and summer. Of course dogs love to romp but skylarks and nightjars are endangered species and if an adult is disturbed they will not return to their nest, leaving their chicks to die. Please see more details here about national requirements for dog walkers between 1 March and 31 July.

• The Mix on Mill Street runs lots of workshops, repair cafes, refillables, recycling projects. Please follow them on facebook or contact Jo on wantagemix@gmail.com

For info on concerts, theatre and films in and around Wantage and Grove or local arts, theatrical or music groups to join, subscribe to the Arts Hub newsletter by emailing artshubwantage@gmail.com

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

• Tue 21 Nov Last 2023 HUGS Collection for Ukraine, Hungerford

Sat 25 Nov Wantage Community Brass Christmas Supper Concert, The Bandwell Hall, Tugwell Field.

• Fri 1 Dec Dickensian Evening, Vale & Downlands Museum.

• Sat 2 Dec Wantage Band: The Snowman Live, The Beacon, Wantage.

Mon 4 Dec Good Neighbour Pop-up Café Shrivenham, Shrivenham Sports Pavilion, Highworth Road.

• 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.

• Grove Park Run is a free community 5k walk/run/jog for all abilities every Saturday morning at Grove Fields, Mably Way, OX12 9BN. Dogs and children are allowed. For more information, please visit parkrun.org.uk/grovefields.

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

• Wantage Art Group is a friendly, mixed ability group that meets monthly at Charlton Holy Trinity Church that offers great demonstrations and interesting talks. Their next meeting on Wednesday 19 April. See here for the rest of the year’s schedule and details on how to join the group.

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

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

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

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

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

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

News from your local council

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

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 26 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.)
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 Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 11 October and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: staffing matters; a councillor vacancy; reports from district and county councillors; planning matters; flood alleviation; financial matters; public art; repairs and maintenance; and correspondence.
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 4 October and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; a presentation from SAGA; parking issues; a report from the county and district councillors; reports from committees and working groups; financial matters; planning matters; the school; speeding; environmental matters; S1§06 and CIL funds; and the allotments.
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 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, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 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 East Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 September and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), the agendas and past minutes, please click here

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 September and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 July 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 West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 July and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), 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 18 July 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.

• 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 CouncilWatchfield 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 9 November 2023

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: music, remembrance, cards, a gift swap, business support and the bookshop. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Wantage area events include: Wantage Literary Festival and Funny Bones. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

• This Sunday is of course Remembrance Day, and the Wantage Parish Church Choir and Wantage Silver Band are joining forces to hold a Music for Remembrance Concert at 3pm at Wantage Parish Church. As well as the sounding of the traditional Last Post and Elgar’s Nimrod, the concert will feature Tallis Variations by Philip Sparke. Tickets can be bought here for £8 (under 16s are free) and all profits will be donated to Royal British Legion.

• Speaking of the Wantage Silver Band, they are celebrating their second place ranking at the Wychavon Festival last weekend, out for the 20 other bands in their category. Take a look at their Facebook post to see some lovely picture from the event.

• The Mix are once again holding their Christmas Gift Swap this festive season. They could use a few donations to start their ‘float’ of items, so if you have any unwanted gifts please drop them off before Saturday 11 November, when the swap officially starts. Last year more than 300 gifts got swapped. Click here for more information.

• Last chance to buy Charity Christmas Cards from The Vale & Downland Museum as their sale closes this Saturday 11 November.  Click here for more information.

Spirit of the Vale invites you to their famous Christmas Fair in aid of West Berks Mencap on Thursday 16 November in a gorgeous 16th century barn in Sparsholt.  Have a lovely time browsing 30 carefully selected stalls between 10am and 7.30pm while Childrey Stores serves delicious refreshments all day and cocktails and canapes are served in the barn from 6pm. And take advantage of the new Wish List Service where you do your shopping and fill out your Spirit Wish List as you go, get your partner/mother/sister/friend to come and they will get your list so you get what you want on Christmas Day too. Free parking and free entry.

Swimming pools across South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse have been awarded a total of £441,542 funding through Sport England to help finance the running of six of its Better UK swimming facilities. The Wantage Leisure Centre has been listed as among those to benefit from the grant. The award will help ensure residents continue to have access to good swimming facilities across the two districts. Click here to learn more.

Latest business news from South & Vale Business Support includes understanding the net-zero challenge for SMEs and Rural England Prosperity Fund grant application now open.

• The Wantage Art Group‘s next meeting will be with Franchesca Shakespeare on the subject of painting and teaching. As usual members are free and guest can pay £5 to join in. That’s on Wednesday 15 November, 7:30pm, at the Holy Trinity Church in Charlton.

• Can you make upcycled or natural decorations for The Wantage Mix’s Christmas tree to help people think a bit differently about Christmas? Last year volunteers decorated the tree with hand-sewn felt animals. If you can help please contact Jo at josustainablewantage@gmail.com or call 07918 148828.

Click here for the latest news from the Wantage Bookshop.

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.

• Sustainable Wantage runs a Library of Things to help reduce consumption and waste, enable people to save money and do things they might not otherwise do and to help to build a mind-set in our community that sharing things is an excellent option.

• Vale Community Impact seeks new volunteers for various roles including advisors, ‘good neighbours’ and drivers. Please contact them on 01235 765348 or recruitment@vci.org.uk for more details.

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

• Wantage and Grove Children’s Clothing Bank collects used and new clothing for kids up to 14 years old. Collection points include Wantage Parish Church and St John’s Church Grove. Please click here to see the full list, plus opening hours. Or message them at w.g.clothesbank@gmail.com or via their Facebook page to arrange individual drop off/collection.

• Wantage Tennis Club is open for new membership. See here for more details.

Betjeman Millennium Park relies on volunteers. If you would like to help with any aspect of the park please see here for how to get involved.

• Wantage Parish Church offers a hot ‘Around Table‘ meal every Wednesday to eat in or take-away between 3.30pm and 7pm. Supported by Oxford Food Hub.

• Walkers, horse-riders, off road cyclists please be mindful of your impact on ground-nesting birds this spring and summer. Of course dogs love to romp but skylarks and nightjars are endangered species and if an adult is disturbed they will not return to their nest, leaving their chicks to die. Please see more details here about national requirements for dog walkers between 1 March and 31 July.

• The Mix on Mill Street runs lots of workshops, repair cafes, refillables, recycling projects. Please follow them on facebook or contact Jo on wantagemix@gmail.com

For info on concerts, theatre and films in and around Wantage and Grove or local arts, theatrical or music groups to join, subscribe to the Arts Hub newsletter by emailing artshubwantage@gmail.com

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 until Sat 11 Nov Charity Christmas Card Sale, Vale & Downland Museum.

Wed 15 Nov Wantage Art Group Painting with Francesca Shakespeare, Holy Trinity Church, Charlton.

Thurs 16 Nov ‘The Curious Case of Mumming’, Vale & Downland Museum.

Thurs 16 Nov Spirit of the Vale Christmas Fair, Sparsholt

Sat 25 Nov Wantage Community Brass Christmas Supper Concert, The Bandwell Hall, Tugwell Field.

• Fri 1 Dec Dickensian Evening, Vale & Downlands Museum.

• Sat 2 Dec Wantage Band: The Snowman Live, The Beacon, Wantage.

Mon 4 Dec Good Neighbour Pop-up Café Shrivenham, Shrivenham Sports Pavilion, Highworth Road.

• 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.

• Grove Park Run is a free community 5k walk/run/jog for all abilities every Saturday morning at Grove Fields, Mably Way, OX12 9BN. Dogs and children are allowed. For more information, please visit parkrun.org.uk/grovefields.

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

• Wantage Art Group is a friendly, mixed ability group that meets monthly at Charlton Holy Trinity Church that offers great demonstrations and interesting talks. Their next meeting on Wednesday 19 April. See here for the rest of the year’s schedule and details on how to join the group.

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

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

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

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

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

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

News from your local council

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

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 26 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.)
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 Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 11 October and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: staffing matters; a councillor vacancy; reports from district and county councillors; planning matters; flood alleviation; financial matters; public art; repairs and maintenance; and correspondence.
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 4 October and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; a presentation from SAGA; parking issues; a report from the county and district councillors; reports from committees and working groups; financial matters; planning matters; the school; speeding; environmental matters; S1§06 and CIL funds; and the allotments.
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 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, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 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 East Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 September and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), the agendas and past minutes, please click here

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 September and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 July 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 West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 July and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), 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 18 July 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.

• 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 CouncilWatchfield 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 2 November 2023

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: a science café, concerts, cards, trees and the bookshop – plus a quick look at what the local MP has been unto (including continuing his campaign to re-open Grove station) and some good news for Sweatbox. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Wantage area events include: Wantage Literary Festival and Funny Bones. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

• This month’s Wantage Cafe Scientifique on Wednesday 8 November will be about the use of ‘Synchrotron generated X-rays to probe biological molecules’, with the aim of understanding their atomic structure and how it has increased our understanding of biological mechanisms, as well as its role as a tool for pharmacological investigation of emerging new drugs. The talk will be given by David Aragao, a Senior instrument scientist at Diamond Light at Wildwood Cinema. Click here for more information.

Local author Millie Stone is starting a new 6 week Creative Writing course for poetry, fiction and life writing in Ardington next Tuesday 7 November. Click here for details and how to book.

Wantage Community Brass have announced the date of their annual Christmas Supper Concert on Saturday 25 November. The concert will be located at the Bandhall at Tugwell Fields at 7.30pm and will feature a fun program with plenty of musical and seasonal delights. There will also be a buffet and drinks available. Tickets are £14 and available from the Regent Bookshop, Wantage, Brett’s Pharmacy, Grove or email annchadwick@hotmail.com.

• The Wantage Art Group‘s next meeting will be with Franchesca Shakespeare on the subject of painting and teaching. As usual members are free and guest can pay £5 to join in. That’s on Wednesday 15 November, 7:30pm, at the Holy Trinity Church in Charlton.

 Wantage Life Drawing group is looking for life drawing models for their monthly sessions. Please contact them via this link to their facebook and whatsapp accounts. (Apologies for wrong contact details last eek – now corrected).

• Residents who are subscribed to the district council brown bin garden waste service in the Vale of White Horse can have extra garden waste collected for free, on their normal collection day only, until 10 November.

 The Vale & Downland Museum is holding a Charity Christmas Card Sale from Monday 30 October until Saturday 11 November. A great time to stock up and help good causes. Click here for more information.

• Can you make upcycled or natural decorations for The Wantage Mix’s Christmas tree to help people think a bit differently about Christmas? Last year volunteers decorated the tree with hand-sewn felt animals. If you can help please contact Jo at josustainablewantage@gmail.com or call 07918 148828.

Click here for the latest news from the Wantage Bookshop.

• For those wondering what to do with their pumpkins after Halloween, here are some creative suggestions. Just please don’t leave them on the ground in your garden or in woodland, as they are dangerous to hedgehogs and attract rats – see more in this request by the Woodland Trust

• An MP writes

The October newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnston has just arrived in my in-box and you can read it by clicking here. No communication from or speech by him is complete until he’s mentioned his campaign to re-open Grove station and this one doesn’t disappoint. “Thank you very much to the 2,120 people who signed my petition to re-open the station,” he writes. “It shows again the huge strength of feeling on this locally, and I will now be presenting it to the Department for Transport to make the case to them. Stay tuned!”

What else has he been up to? Meeting constituents, welcoming work-experience students, helping to tackle anti-Semitism and talking to charities all feature. He’s also been looking at Christmas card designs, dealing with Thames Water, up in a plane and out to lunch.

• Sweatbox

Children across Wantage, Grove and nearby neighbourhoods will soon have more exciting youth activities on offer, thanks to a funding boost for Sweatbox Community Youth Services. Sweatbox is set to receive £82,166 from Vale of White Horse District Council to expand their weekly youth activities, which include sports, arts and more.  Specifically, the funds will support two years of a proposed six-year project to provide new weekly youth activities and expand Sweatbox’s Friday night Youth Services.

You can read more information here.

Latest local newsletters

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.

• Sustainable Wantage runs a Library of Things to help reduce consumption and waste, enable people to save money and do things they might not otherwise do and to help to build a mind-set in our community that sharing things is an excellent option.

• Vale Community Impact seeks new volunteers for various roles including advisors, ‘good neighbours’ and drivers. Please contact them on 01235 765348 or recruitment@vci.org.uk for more details.

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

• Wantage and Grove Children’s Clothing Bank collects used and new clothing for kids up to 14 years old. Collection points include Wantage Parish Church and St John’s Church Grove. Please click here to see the full list, plus opening hours. Or message them at w.g.clothesbank@gmail.com or via their Facebook page to arrange individual drop off/collection.

• Wantage Tennis Club is open for new membership. See here for more details.

Betjeman Millennium Park relies on volunteers. If you would like to help with any aspect of the park please see here for how to get involved.

• Wantage Parish Church offers a hot ‘Around Table‘ meal every Wednesday to eat in or take-away between 3.30pm and 7pm. Supported by Oxford Food Hub.

• Walkers, horse-riders, off road cyclists please be mindful of your impact on ground-nesting birds this spring and summer. Of course dogs love to romp but skylarks and nightjars are endangered species and if an adult is disturbed they will not return to their nest, leaving their chicks to die. Please see more details here about national requirements for dog walkers between 1 March and 31 July.

• The Mix on Mill Street runs lots of workshops, repair cafes, refillables, recycling projects. Please follow them on facebook or contact Jo on wantagemix@gmail.com

For info on concerts, theatre and films in and around Wantage and Grove or local arts, theatrical or music groups to join, subscribe to the Arts Hub newsletter by emailing artshubwantage@gmail.com

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

• Now until Sat 4 Nov The Wantage Literature Festival, Wantage.

On until Sat 11 Nov Charity Christmas Card Sale, Vale & Downland Museum.

Sat 4 Nov Community Churchyard Work Party, St Mary’s Church, Burghfield.

Mon 6 Nov Good Neighbour Pop-up Café Ardington, Loyd Lindsay Rooms, Ardington High Street.

Wed 8 Nov ‘Synchrotron Generated X-rays’ Talk, Wildwood Cinema.

Wed 15 Nov Wantage Art Group Painting with Francesca Shakespeare, Holy Trinity Church, Charlton.

Thurs 16 Nov ‘The Curious Case of Mumming’, Vale & Downland Museum.

Sat 25 Nov Wantage Silver Band Christmas Concert, The Bandwell Hall, Tugwell Field.

• Fri 1 Dec Dickensian Evening, Vale & Downlands Museum.

• Sat 2 Dec Wantage Band: The Snowman Live, The Beacon, Wantage.

Mon 4 Dec Good Neighbour Pop-up Café Shrivenham, Shrivenham Sports Pavilion, Highworth Road.

• 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.

• Grove Park Run is a free community 5k walk/run/jog for all abilities every Saturday morning at Grove Fields, Mably Way, OX12 9BN. Dogs and children are allowed. For more information, please visit parkrun.org.uk/grovefields.

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

• Wantage Art Group is a friendly, mixed ability group that meets monthly at Charlton Holy Trinity Church that offers great demonstrations and interesting talks. Their next meeting on Wednesday 19 April. See here for the rest of the year’s schedule and details on how to join the group.

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

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

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

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

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

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

News from your local council

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

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 26 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.)
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 Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 11 October and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: staffing matters; a councillor vacancy; reports from district and county councillors; planning matters; flood alleviation; financial matters; public art; repairs and maintenance; and correspondence.
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 4 October and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; a presentation from SAGA; parking issues; a report from the county and district councillors; reports from committees and working groups; financial matters; planning matters; the school; speeding; environmental matters; S1§06 and CIL funds; and the allotments.
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 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, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 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 East Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 September and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), the agendas and past minutes, please click here

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 September and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 July 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 West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 July and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), 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 18 July 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.

• 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 CouncilWatchfield 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 26 October 2023

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: grants, things, a silver band, cards and business support – plus a quick look back at the first couple of months of the Wantage Bookshop in Mill Street and information about local grants available through the Vale Council. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Wantage area events include: Wantage Literary Festival and Funny Bones. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

• Quick reminder to put your clocks back this Saturday and enjoy an extra hour in bed…

•  South & Vale Business Support’s latest newsletter includes grant schemes for local businesses.

 Wantage Life Drawing group is looking for life drawing models for their monthly sessions. Please contact them via this link to their facebook and whatsapp accounts. (Apologies for wrong contact details – now corrected).

• Sustainable Wantage thank Berkshire Young Farmers for their Harvest Festival donations of loads of food and nearly £300. “It is really encouraging to know that young farmers are supporting sustainability in so many ways!”.

 The Vale & Downland Museum is holding a Charity Christmas Card Sale from Monday 30 October until Saturday 11 November. A great time to stock up and help good causes. Click here for more information.

Wantage Silver Band has vacancies for a new Principal Euphonium and a Baritone Soloist. If you fit either of those roles and might be interested in joining, contact Gav Clemons (Band Manager) on gavin.clemons@gmail.com for more information.

• If you fancy a Halloween movie night why not borrow everything you need from the Library of Things recently set up by Sustainable Wantage? You can borrow a projector, screen, bunting and even a snack serving tray completely for free. See here for how it works.

• Can you make upcycled or natural decorations for The Wantage Mix’s Christmas tree to help people think a bit differently about Christmas? Last year volunteers decorated the tree with hand-sewn felt animals. If you can help please contact Jo at josustainablewantage@gmail.com or call 07918 148828.

• Residents who are subscribed to the district council brown bin garden waste service in the Vale of White Horse can have extra garden waste collected for free, on their normal collection day only, between 30 October and 10 November.

Click here for the latest news from the Wantage Bookshop.

• Wantage’s books

On 7 August, Wantage witnessed the opening of the Wantage Bookshop, on the site of the former Mad Hatter Bookshop in Mill Street. The Wantage Bookshop is owned by Emma and Alex Milne-White who also run the multi-award-winning Hungerford Bookshop in the High Street which regularly hosts events and which always can get what you need the next day if it doesn’t have it already. These points aside, how good is that shop? I’ll give you just one example.

Some years ago, I went in to buy a birthday present for a friend whom we were seeing that evening. Emma asked me what kind of stuff she liked. I confessed I didn’t know. After a bit of indecisive browsing, I suggested one. “Who’s it for, if I may ask?” Emma said. I told her. “Ah – she bought that book a few weeks ago,” Emma told me, “but she was also thinking about getting this one.” I bought it. The gift went down very well. Now, that’s what I call product expertise and local knowledge (to say nothing of good memory)…

So, how have things gone since the new shop was opened?

“We’ve had a very warm welcome in our first few months of opening,” Emma told me this week. “It’s been lovely getting to know the town a bit better and meeting so many of its lovely bookish inhabitants. We’ve hosted Oxfordshire’s largest book group, The Failed Bookclub, for wine and book chat before their meetings and also held a book-signing event with thriller writer Felix Francis We’re currently enjoying supporting Wantage Literary Festival (which runs until 4 November) and are excited to be returning to one of our favourite Christmas gift fairs, Spirit of the Vale at Edmonton House in Sparsholt. So – all good!”

The Wantage Bookshop now produces a newsletter (as the Hungerford one has done for some time) which highlights forthcoming events, special offers, reading recommendations and any new initiatives such as late-night opening in the run-up to Christmas. You can see the most recent one by clicking here. To sign up to the newsletters for yourself, and so be the first to hear about all of this excellent bookish stuff, please click here.

• Local grants

A new grant scheme has launched for rural businesses and organisations based in South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse. The fund is designed to support capital projects for small businesses and community infrastructure that help to improve productivity and strengthen the rural economy and rural communities. Interested parties are encouraged to submit their application before midday on Friday 24 November 2023 by visiting the Vale of White Horse District Council website.

Vale of White Horse District Council has secured this funding through the government’s Rural England Prosperity Fund (REPF) as part of the levelling up agenda. Grant funding is available for small scale investment in micro and small enterprises in rural areas, growing the local social economy and supporting innovation, investment in capacity building and infrastructure support for local civil society and community groups.Example projects include the diversification of farm buildings outside of agriculture, establishment of rural community businesses and net-zero infrastructure. 

Latest local newsletters

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.

• Sustainable Wantage runs a Library of Things to help reduce consumption and waste, enable people to save money and do things they might not otherwise do and to help to build a mind-set in our community that sharing things is an excellent option.

• Vale Community Impact seeks new volunteers for various roles including advisors, ‘good neighbours’ and drivers. Please contact them on 01235 765348 or recruitment@vci.org.uk for more details.

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

• Wantage and Grove Children’s Clothing Bank collects used and new clothing for kids up to 14 years old. Collection points include Wantage Parish Church and St John’s Church Grove. Please click here to see the full list, plus opening hours. Or message them at w.g.clothesbank@gmail.com or via their Facebook page to arrange individual drop off/collection.

• Wantage Tennis Club is open for new membership. See here for more details.

Betjeman Millennium Park relies on volunteers. If you would like to help with any aspect of the park please see here for how to get involved.

• Wantage Parish Church offers a hot ‘Around Table‘ meal every Wednesday to eat in or take-away between 3.30pm and 7pm. Supported by Oxford Food Hub.

• Walkers, horse-riders, off road cyclists please be mindful of your impact on ground-nesting birds this spring and summer. Of course dogs love to romp but skylarks and nightjars are endangered species and if an adult is disturbed they will not return to their nest, leaving their chicks to die. Please see more details here about national requirements for dog walkers between 1 March and 31 July.

• The Mix on Mill Street runs lots of workshops, repair cafes, refillables, recycling projects. Please follow them on facebook or contact Jo on wantagemix@gmail.com

For info on concerts, theatre and films in and around Wantage and Grove or local arts, theatrical or music groups to join, subscribe to the Arts Hub newsletter by emailing artshubwantage@gmail.com

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

Now until Sun 29 Oct: King Alfred’s Sixth Form art exhibition, Vale and Downlands Museum.

• Now until Sat 4 Nov The Wantage Literature Festival, Wantage.

Mon 30 Oct to Sat 11 Nov Charity Christmas Card Sale, Vale & Downland Museum.

Thurs 16 Nov ‘The Curious Case of Mumming’, Vale & Downland Museum.

• Fri 1 Dec Dickensian Evening, Vale & Downlands Museum.

• Sat 2 Dec Wantage Band: The Snowman Live, 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.

• Grove Park Run is a free community 5k walk/run/jog for all abilities every Saturday morning at Grove Fields, Mably Way, OX12 9BN. Dogs and children are allowed. For more information, please visit parkrun.org.uk/grovefields.

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

• Wantage Art Group is a friendly, mixed ability group that meets monthly at Charlton Holy Trinity Church that offers great demonstrations and interesting talks. Their next meeting on Wednesday 19 April. See here for the rest of the year’s schedule and details on how to join the group.

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

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

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

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

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

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

News from your local council

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

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 26 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.)
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 4 October and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; a presentation from SAGA; parking issues; a report from the county and district councillors; reports from committees and working groups; financial matters; planning matters; the school; speeding; environmental matters; S1§06 and CIL funds; and the allotments.
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 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the reservoir plans; matters arising; the NDP; governance issues; 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 East Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 September and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: a councillor co-option; reports from Country and District Councillors; planning matters; financial matters; repairs and maintenance; and speeding.
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 12 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 East Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 September and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), the agendas and past minutes, please click here

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 September and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 July 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 West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 July and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), 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 18 July 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.

• 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 CouncilWatchfield 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 19 October 2023

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: a festival, a band, a reservoir, things, and Christmas trees – plus the latest developments on the plans to extend (or not) the pedestrianised area in Wantage’s Market Square. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Wantage area events include: Wantage Literary Festival and Funny Bones. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

• This weekend kicks off the Wantage Literary Festival from Saturday 21 October until Saturday 4 November. There will be various talks and events on a variety of different topics and genres. As well as the bookable talks, are also free activities including a Harry Potter trail (collect a map from Wantage Library), a comic book workshop and Storytime. There are activities suitable for all ages, so to see also the events on offer click here.

• This weekend also sees Wantage Silver Band joining forces with Oxford University Brass Band for the Michaelmas Term concert. They invite you to the St John’s College Auditorium on the Sunday 22 October for a wonderful night of music. Tickets can be bought here.

• If you fancy a Halloween movie night why not borrow everything you need from the Library of Things recently set up by Sustainable Wantage? You can borrow a projector, screen, bunting and even a snack serving tray completely for free. See here for how it works.

• The Vale & Downlands Museum have had some wonderful visits from local schools recently, learning all about everything from the Stone Age to the Victorians. Their Learning Officer is only able to provide these excellent opportunities with the support of volunteers and they would love to have more volunteers joining the team. If you are interested in finding out more about how you can help the schools activities, please contact Caroline by email learning@valeanddownlandmuseum.org.uk or call 01235 771447.

• Can you make upcycled or natural decorations for The Wantage Mix’s Christmas tree to help people think a bit differently about Christmas? Last year volunteers decorated the tree with hand-sewn felt animals. If you can help please contact Jo at josustainablewantage@gmail.com or call 07918 148828.

• The Oxford Mail points out that in Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire in 2019, around 1,400 people in 400 houses were told to leave their properties with just minutes’ notice as a dam threatened to burst. This is a situation that could threaten the residents of East Hanney, and perhaps other places, if the proposed mega reservoir is built between Wantage and Abingdon. Many groups, including GARD and the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group, have long questioned the safety of, and indeed the need for, such a monster on our doorsteps. The decision has yet to be taken.

Click here for the latest news from the Wantage Bookshop.

• Four points on the pedestrian plans

The matter of the proposed extension of the pedestrianised area of Wantage’s Market Square has been covered several times (see below over the last five weeks or so).

The current situation appears to be that Wantage Town Council announced that “Following a meeting with the businesses and taxi drivers on 2 October, it has been proposed that the current scheme for west-end pedestrianisation be temporarily retracted. The Council will work together with the businesses and taxi drivers to attempt to propose an amended scheme which resolves their concerns but also remains acceptable to OCC Highways. This proposal is subject to approval at the full council meeting on 16 October, after which we will confirm the next steps in the process.”

This prompted four questions from a local business owner on 18 October, to which the Town Clerk responded the same day (a commendably fast response), WTC’s replies being in italics:

  1. Was this proposal confirmed at your full council meeting on the 16 October? Yes.
  2. Have you followed up with the taxi drivers who emailed you two weeks ago about the misleading comments made at the 2 October meeting about the legality and valid licensing of the existing rank. It is their contention that they could legally demand full reinstatement of the original rank so it is in your interests to do so. This is still  being looked into.
  3. Has Oxfordshire CC been spoken to and advised of this outcome? Yes, OCC has been made aware of this.
  4. How do we move forward with this? Has a new Councillor been appointed with whom we can discuss a new proposal? We are working on a plan to take this forward and will be in touch shortly.

Cautiously, one might say that this represents a great improvement on how matters were being conducted before. More news as we get it.

Latest local newsletters

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.

• Sustainable Wantage runs a Library of Things to help reduce consumption and waste, enable people to save money and do things they might not otherwise do and to help to build a mind-set in our community that sharing things is an excellent option.

• Vale Community Impact seeks new volunteers for various roles including advisors, ‘good neighbours’ and drivers. Please contact them on 01235 765348 or recruitment@vci.org.uk for more details.

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

• Wantage and Grove Children’s Clothing Bank collects used and new clothing for kids up to 14 years old. Collection points include Wantage Parish Church and St John’s Church Grove. Please click here to see the full list, plus opening hours. Or message them at w.g.clothesbank@gmail.com or via their Facebook page to arrange individual drop off/collection.

• Wantage Tennis Club is open for new membership. See here for more details.

Betjeman Millennium Park relies on volunteers. If you would like to help with any aspect of the park please see here for how to get involved.

• Wantage Parish Church offers a hot ‘Around Table‘ meal every Wednesday to eat in or take-away between 3.30pm and 7pm. Supported by Oxford Food Hub.

• Walkers, horse-riders, off road cyclists please be mindful of your impact on ground-nesting birds this spring and summer. Of course dogs love to romp but skylarks and nightjars are endangered species and if an adult is disturbed they will not return to their nest, leaving their chicks to die. Please see more details here about national requirements for dog walkers between 1 March and 31 July.

• The Mix on Mill Street runs lots of workshops, repair cafes, refillables, recycling projects. Please follow them on facebook or contact Jo on wantagemix@gmail.com

For info on concerts, theatre and films in and around Wantage and Grove or local arts, theatrical or music groups to join, subscribe to the Arts Hub newsletter by emailing artshubwantage@gmail.com

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

until Sun 29 Oct: King Alfred’s Sixth Form art exhibition, Vale and Downlands Museum.

• Sat 21 Oct to Sat 4 Nov The Wantage Literature Festival, Wantage.

• Wed 25 Oct Funny Bones Spooky Activity Event, Vale & Downlands Museum.

• Fri 1 Dec Dickensian Evening, Vale & Downlands Museum.

• Sat 2 Dec Wantage Band: The Snowman Live, 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.

• Grove Park Run is a free community 5k walk/run/jog for all abilities every Saturday morning at Grove Fields, Mably Way, OX12 9BN. Dogs and children are allowed. For more information, please visit parkrun.org.uk/grovefields.

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

• Wantage Art Group is a friendly, mixed ability group that meets monthly at Charlton Holy Trinity Church that offers great demonstrations and interesting talks. Their next meeting on Wednesday 19 April. See here for the rest of the year’s schedule and details on how to join the group.

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

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

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

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

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

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

News from your local council

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

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 26 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.)
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 13 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the reservoir plans; matters arising; the NDP; governance issues; 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 East Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 September and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: a councillor co-option; reports from Country and District Councillors; planning matters; financial matters; repairs and maintenance; and speeding.
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 Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 September and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), the agendas and past 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 Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 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 Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 September and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 July 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 West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 July and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), 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 18 July 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.

• 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 CouncilWatchfield 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 12 October 2023

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: art, Christmas trees, volunteers, apples and Dickens – plus a farewell to a long-running local column. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Wantage area events include: Burghtoberfest, Mama Mia, scarecrow, pumpkin and Halloween fun. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

• Talented A Level Art Students from King Alfred’s Sixth Form are currently showcasing pieces from their exam and coursework, at the Squires Gallery at the Vale and Downlands Museum. On display from now until 29 October, admission is free but donations to the museum are welcome.
• Can you make upcycled or natural decorations for The Wantage Mix’s Christmas tree to help people think a bit differently about Christmas? Last year volunteers decorated the tree with hand-sewn felt animals. If you can help please contact Jo at josustainablewantage@gmail.com or call 07918 148828.

• Quick reminder if you have spare apples to book an apple pressing session this Sunday 15 October at the Down to Earth Cafe at The Old Stables. Maximum of 3 buckets of apples per person. To book contact Jo on josustainablewantage@gmail.com or call 07918 148828. It costs £2 a bottle (if your apples make more juice than you need you can choose how many to take home).

• At last Sunday’s working party, Betjeman Millennium Park volunteers created a stumpery for ferns by digging a deep trench, filling it with old logs so the timber should hopefully rot down gradually into the rich, woody soil that ferns enjoy, while the varying sizes and shapes of the logs form a natural-looking structure which will be planted up with ferns next month. If you would like to help with any aspect of the park please see here for how to get involved.

• If you would like a stall in the Vale & Downland’s Museum on the Dickensian Evening on Friday 1 December from 4pm to 9pm, contact hconder@valeanddownlandmuseum.org.uk. The small amount of money from the hire of the stalls goes towards the ongoing upkeep and improvement of the museum.

Click here for the latest news from the Wantage Bookshop.

• Goodbye and thank you

Over the last few years I’ve regularly referred to the weekly columns in the Herald by Julie Mabberley of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group. These have often focussed on planning- and infrastructure-related issues (generally the abundance of the former and the lack of the latter): as well as explaining, in the small amount of space accorded to her considering what could be said, the often bewildering decision-making processes in an are with three tiers of local government and any number of other boards and organisations health, planning, policing and all the east of them.

This will no longer be happening as the Herald has a recently announced that it has asked her to vacate the column, the last one being on 27 September. I shall miss these as they were always informative and thought-provoking and generally provided a springboard for me to write something about whatever she was discussing or something related to it. It also seems to weaken the paper as in some issues her column contained to only references to Wantage or Grove that I could find there apart from the ones that appeared on the masthead.

In this final article she looks back at some of the issues that she’s covered across nearly 400 columns. Many of these remain work in progress. The Wantage and Grove Campaign Group’s work continues and you can keep up date with this, and sign up to its newsletters, via the WAGCG website.

Latest local newsletters

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.

• Sustainable Wantage runs a Library of Things to help reduce consumption and waste, enable people to save money and do things they might not otherwise do and to help to build a mind-set in our community that sharing things is an excellent option.

• Vale Community Impact seeks new volunteers for various roles including advisors, ‘good neighbours’ and drivers. Please contact them on 01235 765348 or recruitment@vci.org.uk for more details.

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

• Wantage and Grove Children’s Clothing Bank collects used and new clothing for kids up to 14 years old. Collection points include Wantage Parish Church and St John’s Church Grove. Please click here to see the full list, plus opening hours. Or message them at w.g.clothesbank@gmail.com or via their Facebook page to arrange individual drop off/collection.

• Wantage Tennis Club is open for new membership. See here for more details.

• Wantage Parish Church offers a hot ‘Around Table‘ meal every Wednesday to eat in or take-away between 3.30pm and 7pm. Supported by Oxford Food Hub.

• Walkers, horse-riders, off road cyclists please be mindful of your impact on ground-nesting birds this spring and summer. Of course dogs love to romp but skylarks and nightjars are endangered species and if an adult is disturbed they will not return to their nest, leaving their chicks to die. Please see more details here about national requirements for dog walkers between 1 March and 31 July.

• The Mix on Mill Street runs lots of workshops, repair cafes, refillables, recycling projects. Please follow them on facebook or contact Jo on wantagemix@gmail.com

For info on concerts, theatre and films in and around Wantage and Grove or local arts, theatrical or music groups to join, subscribe to the Arts Hub newsletter by emailing artshubwantage@gmail.com

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 15 Oct Apple Pressing, the Old Stables, Stirlings Close, Wantage.

• Sat 21 Oct to Sat 4 Nov The Wantage Literature Festival, Wantage.

• Sun 22 Oct Wantage Silver Band & Oxford Michaelmas Concert, St John’s College Auditorium, Oxford.

• Wed 25 Oct Funny Bones Spooky Activity Event, Vale & Downlands Museum.

• Fri 1 Dec Dickensian Evening, Vale & Downlands Museum.

• Sat 2 Dec Wantage Band: The Snowman Live, The Beacon, Wantage.

• Sun 3 Dec Wantage Band: The Snowman Live, The Amey Theatre, Abingdon.

• 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.

• Grove Park Run is a free community 5k walk/run/jog for all abilities every Saturday morning at Grove Fields, Mably Way, OX12 9BN. Dogs and children are allowed. For more information, please visit parkrun.org.uk/grovefields.

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

• Wantage Art Group is a friendly, mixed ability group that meets monthly at Charlton Holy Trinity Church that offers great demonstrations and interesting talks. Their next meeting on Wednesday 19 April. See here for the rest of the year’s schedule and details on how to join the group.

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

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

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

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

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

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

News from your local council

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

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 26 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.)
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 Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 September and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: a councillor co-option; reports from Country and District Councillors; planning matters; financial matters; repairs and maintenance; and speeding.
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. Items covered included: the Clerk’s summary report regarding the previous meeting; District Councillors’ reports; updates on Grove airfield and Crab Hill; speed limits in Grove; a proposed 10% increase in the precept; the Village Plan Working Group; the Chair’s report; 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 September and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; speeding; County and District Councillors’ report; financial matters; planning matters; and speeding.
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 5 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a possible NDP; planning matters; reports from the district councillor; financial matters; repairs and maintenance; and power-supply problems.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 July 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 West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 July and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), 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 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, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), the agendas and past minutes, please click here

• The most recent meeting of Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 29 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.

• 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 CouncilWatchfield 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 October 2023

This week we cover a silver band, art, science, apples, active travel and volunteering – plus there’s our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Scroll down below “This weeks news” for some thoughts on what appears to be a re-think and a re-boot with regard to the pedestrianisation plans in Wantage’s Market Square.

This week’s news

• This weekend the Wantage Silver Band will be performing their Annual Celebration Concert on Tugwell Field. As well as an entire afternoon of live music with 8 bands performing, there will be a BBQ, food and drinks, tombola and raffle, games and much more. That’s on Saturday 8 October, starting from 1pm. Admission and parking is free.

• If you haven’t seen Wantage Art Group’s exhibition of member’s work at the Vale & Downlands Museum, in the Squires Gallery pop in before it closes end of Saturday 7 October. Admission is free and the group also welcomes new members.

• The next Wantage Café Scientifique talk on Wednesday 11 October at Wildwood will be on ‘Space Sweepers: Removing Debris and cleaning the Orbital Highway’. The talk will be deliverd by Zoe Tenacci, who works for Astroscale Ltd – a company specialising in space sustainability via safe and sustainable development of space and on-orbit servicing. Click here for more information.

Sustainable Wantage have just released their latest October newsletter. This month’s issue includes a list of their upcoming activities, Draught Busters, plus lots of events and volunteering opportunities. Sustainable Wantage is a Community Benefit Society, a special form of co-operative, owned and run by members. It costs just £5 per year to be a member, plus a one-off payment of £1 to buy a share in the co-op. Click here for more details including how to apply.

• Sustainable Wantage are running an Apple Pressing session on Sunday 15 October at the Down to Earth Cafe at The Old Stables. If you can donate any empty bottles please drop them off at The Mix before Saturday 14 October. See here for more details.

• Speaking of the Vale & Downland’s Museum, they have started planning this year’s Dickensian Evening and are looking for local crafts people, artists, charities or small business to accompany who might be interested in hiring a stall on the evening. The event will be on Friday 1 December from 4pm to 9pm. If you are interested please get in touch for more information hconder@valeanddownlandmuseum.org.uk. The small amount of money from the hire of the stalls goes towards the ongoing upkeep and improvement of the museum.

• Have you ever wondered what volunteering at the museum would be like?  On Wednesday 11 October the Vale & Downlands Museum will be holding their first Volunteer Recruitment Morning. Meet some of the museum team and see what volunteer roles are available. Click here for details.

• The Wantage and Grove Active Travel (WAGAT) Group are asking for the local community’s views on the current state of infrastructure for walking, wheeling and cycling in the area, as well as current preferences for transport use on local journeys and hopes for the future. Click here to take part in the survey. If you have any questions contact the info.suswantage@gmail.com.

• The wonderful Betjeman Millenium Park in the heart of Wantage is run by volunteers and they need help with administration, social media, community engagement and fundraising. Litter pickers are also much appreciated. Please see here for how to get involved.

• The Trussell Trust’s Step Up September Challenge is in aid of preventing the need for FoodbanksPlease click here if you would like to sponsor Team Penny Post in this challenge.

• If you would like to find out about volunteering opportunities in the Wantage area please contact Vale Community Impact.

• 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 Supportplease click here.

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

A re-boot in the air

In the last month or so we’ve been covering the story of the proposed changes to the pedestrianisation and parking arrangements in the West End of Wantage’s Market Square. Any schemes of this kind always produce a wide range of opinions and it’s never possible to satisfy everyone. However, the big problem here seems to have been poor communication.

I’m happy to report that in the last few days there seems to have been something of a re-think. I understand that Wantage Town Council has decided to retract the current plans and has conceded that any proposals or projects which might affect the businesses in the town will be discussed with the Chamber of Commerce as the representative of the local business community. This would be a welcome improvement on the situation that has prevailed hitherto. I’ll be hoping to get a statement from the two organisations – or, better still, a joint one – which I’ll publish.

As well as creating a bit more harmony and shared purpose in the town, such a re-boot would pay handsome dividends in terms of the relations with Oxfordshire CC (which is also the highways authority) and the Vale of White Horse Council (which is also the planning authority). Future plans affecting Wantage will emerge from both of these and it’s important that the town’s response, whether in support of any proposals or not, be broadly based. All councils operate under regulations and constraints that can be mystifying to an outsider and it’s important that these are widely understood. A closer relationship between WTC and the Chamber would assist with this.

Apart from things emanating from its two local authorities, there are other issues with which Wantage has to contend. As the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group is constantly reminding us, there is something of an infrastructure deficit in OX12 as a result of the breakneck pace of housing development, which affects many aspects of local life including leisure facilities and healthcare provision. Future housing proposals also need to be considered and responded to. The issues of transport to and parking in the town are in many ways unsatisfactory. There’s also the decades-long campaign to re-open the railway station into which the local MP has thrown himself. The spectre of the planned mega-reservoir to the north of the town refuses to go away. The neighbourhood development plan needs to be finished. Many of these issues also affect Grove, which has its own parish council (although, for many practical purposes, Wantage and Grove can increasingly be regarded as one place: which presents a separate set of challenges). All of these are issues which Wantage (and Grove) need to face collectively. Having the council/s and the Chamber working together is an important first step.

Finally, it’s worth pointing out that many grants are available from Whitehall and elsewhere of which I’m sure Wantage Town Council is aware. A pre-condition for some of these is being able to demonstrate a wide level of community support. It’s for this reason that town centre strategies, initiated by West Berkshire Council, are currently being created in Newbury, Hungerford and Thatcham at which all the main stakeholders have a seat at the table and which Penny Post is covering and supporting. If anything similar emerges in OX12 we’ll be happy to give this publicity as well.

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.

• Sustainable Wantage runs a Library of Things to help reduce consumption and waste, enable people to save money and do things they might not otherwise do and to help to build a mind-set in our community that sharing things is an excellent option.

• Vale Community Impact seeks new volunteers for various roles including advisors, ‘good neighbours’ and drivers. Please contact them on 01235 765348 or recruitment@vci.org.uk for more details.

• Wantage and Grove Children’s Clothing Bank collects used and new clothing for kids up to 14 years old. Collection points include Wantage Parish Church and St John’s Church Grove. Please click here to see the full list, plus opening hours. Or message them at w.g.clothesbank@gmail.com or via their Facebook page to arrange individual drop off/collection.

• Wantage Tennis Club is open for new membership. See here for more details.

• Wantage Parish Church offers a hot ‘Around Table’ meal every Wednesday to eat in or take-away between 3.30pm and 7pm. Supported by Oxford Food Hub.

• Walkers, horse-riders, off road cyclists please be mindful of your impact on ground-nesting birds this spring and summer. Of course dogs love to romp but skylarks and nightjars are endangered species and if an adult is disturbed they will not return to their nest, leaving their chicks to die. Please see more details here about national requirements for dog walkers between 1 March and 31 July.

• The Mix on Mill Street runs lots of workshops, repair cafes, refillables, recycling projects. Please follow them on facebook or contact Jo on wantagemix@gmail.com

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

• 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

until Sat 7 Oct Wantage Art Group Exhibition, Vale & Downlands Museum, Squires Gallery.

Sat 7 Oct Wantage Silver Band Annual Concert, Tugwell Field, Reading Road, Wantage.

Sat 7 Oct Pop-Up Craft Stall, Vale & Downlands Museum, Wantage.

• Wed 11 Oct Wantage Café Scientifique: Space Sweepers, Wildwood Cinema, Wantage.

• Wed 11 Oct Volunteer Recruitment Evening, Vale & Downlands Museum.

• Wed 11 Oct Good Neighbour Pop-Up Café, Shrivenham Sports Pavilion.

• Thur 12 Oct C.S. Lewis & J.R.R Tolkin Talk, Vale & Downlands Museum, Wantage.

• Sun 15 Oct Apple Pressing, the Old Stables, Stirlings Close, Wantage.

• Sat 21 Oct to Sat 4 Nov The Wantage Literature Festival, Wantage.

• Sun 22 Oct Wantage Silver Band & Oxford Michaelmas Concert, St John’s College Auditorium, Oxford.

• Wed 25 Oct Funny Bones Spooky Activity Event, Vale & Downlands Museum.

• Fri 1 Dec Dickensian Evening, Vale & Downlands Museum.

• Sat 2 Dec Wantage Band: The Snowman Live, The Beacon, Wantage.

• Sun 3 Dec Wantage Band: The Snowman Live, The Amey Theatre, Abingdon.

• 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.

• Grove Park Run is a free community 5k walk/run/jog for all abilities every Saturday morning at Grove Fields, Mably Way, OX12 9BN. Dogs and children are allowed. For more information, please visit parkrun.org.uk/grovefields.

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

• Wantage Art Group is a friendly, mixed ability group that meets monthly at Charlton Holy Trinity Church that offers great demonstrations and interesting talks. Their next meeting on Wednesday 19 April. See here for the rest of the year’s schedule and details on how to join the group.

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

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

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

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

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

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

News from your local council

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

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 26 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.)
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 Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 September and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: a councillor co-option; reports from Country and District Councillors; planning matters; financial matters; repairs and maintenance; and speeding.
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 September and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; speeding; County and District Councillors’ report; financial matters; planning matters; and speeding.
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 5 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a possible NDP; planning matters; reports from the district councillor; financial matters; repairs and maintenance; and power-supply problems.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings 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 1 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, 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 17 July 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 West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 July and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), 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 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, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), the agendas and past minutes, please click here

• The most recent meeting of Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 29 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.

• 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 CouncilWatchfield 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 September 2023

This week we cover Dickens, art, travel, talent and volunteering – plus there’s our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Scroll down below “This weeks news” for a further development regarding the pedestrianisation in Wantage’s Market Square and, in the company of the Wantage & Grove Campaign Group, a look at issues of variety and sustainability in new housing developments.

We’re taking a bit of time off so this post will next be updated on Thursday 5 October.

This week’s news

• The Wantage Art Group are holding an exhibition of member’s work at the Vale & Downlands Museum, in the Squires Gallery. Admission is free and you can visit the exhibit from Monday 25 September to Saturday 7 October.

• Speaking of the Vale & Downland’s Museum, they have started planning this year’s Dickensian Evening and are looking for local crafts people, artists, charities or small business to accompany who might be interested in hiring a stall on the evening. The event will be on Friday 1 December from 4pm to 9pm. If you are interested please get in touch for more information hconder@valeanddownlandmuseum.org.uk. The small amount of money from the hire of the stalls goes towards the ongoing upkeep and improvement of the museum.

• Have you ever wondered what volunteering at the museum would be like?  On Wednesday 11 October the Vale & Downlands Museum will be holding their first Volunteer Recruitment Morning. Meet some of the museum team and see what volunteer roles are available. Click here for details.

• The Kingsgrove Community Day is returning on Saturday 30 September. There will be an Afternoon of Fun at the Kingsgrove Public Square from 2pm to 6pm, followed by a Hog Roast & Music at the school in the evening from 6pm to 9pm.

•  On a related note, they are also very keen to showcase local talented residents of Kingsgrove at the event, so if you are an artist, jewellery maker, photographer, woodturner, artisan baker or suchlike, Anne Richardson, the Community Development Officer would like to hear from you. Get in touch at kingsgrovecommunity@southandvale.gov.uk or call 07801 203572.

• Quick reminder that Sustainable Wantage‘s September newsletter includes their 10th anniversary celebrations, apple press for hire, lots of events and volunteering opportunities. Sustainable Wantage is a Community Benefit Society, a special form of co-operative, owned and run by members. It costs just £5 per year to be a member, plus a one-off payment of £1 to buy a share in the co-op. Click here for more details including how to apply.

• The Wantage and Grove Active Travel (WAGAT) Group are asking for the local community’s views on the current state of infrastructure for walking, wheeling and cycling in the area, as well as current preferences for transport use on local journeys and hopes for the future. Click here to take part in the survey. If you have any questions contact the info.suswantage@gmail.com.

• The wonderful Betjeman Millenium Park in the heart of Wantage is run by volunteers and they need help with administration, social media, community engagement and fundraising. Litter pickers are also much appreciated. Please see here for how to get involved.

• The Trussell Trust’s Step Up September Challenge is in aid of preventing the need for FoodbanksPlease click here if you would like to sponsor Team Penny Post in this challenge.

• If you would like to find out about volunteering opportunities in the Wantage area please contact Vale Community Impact.

• 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 Supportplease click here.

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

Slightly fake and slightly efficient

In her recent article in the Herald, which you can read here, Julie Mabberley of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group makes two very good points about the new dwellings being built in Ox12, recently dubbed “Britain’s House-building Capital” by the Sunday Times.

The first is that that new homes tend to look a bit same-y. It’s obviously better to live in a home that’s a carbon copy of its neighbours than to have no home at all but, as she points out, “the government requires new homes to be beautiful but doesn’t care if they all look the same and slightly fake.” In response, developers would point to to their balance sheets and explain that it’s a lot more expensive to indulge in too many different designs (a point she concedes). As Henry Ford said about his Model T cars, “people can have them in any colour they like as long as it’s black.”

It’s also true that there are so many homes being built in OX12 that to have each one significantly different from the others would require a truly prodigious range of architectural styles. The results would very be interesting and would perhaps attract town planners and architects from far and wide. More likely are rows or blocks of things that look similar which can have a rather depressing effect on the spirit: but not as much as being homeless.

Julie Mabberley’s second point concerns our old friend sustainability. She reminds us that the brochure of the prospective development at Grove Gateway says that the homes will be “designed to be the highest quality and energy efficiency standards”. As she points out, “unfortunately, the building regulations don’t require a very high energy efficiency standard yet – they don’t even require homes to be fitted with solar panels or waste water heat recovery systems.”

This may change when “the Future Homes Standard (yet to be fully defined) is supposed to be mandatory in 2025.” Well, we were supposed to phasing out fossil-fuel cars by 203 and look what happened to that aspiration. She also points out that the new regulations may permit developers to persist with the old standards if work has started in the first 12 months of the new arrangements.

It’s important to stress that developers are running businesses and have to make profits. All companies will extract whatever advantage they can from any loopholes in order to benefit their shareholders: it’s to them that they are answerable, not the Housing Minister.

One such loophole here might be the definition of “started”. If this is the same as that required to enable planning permission to stay active after three years then it need be little more than, as the saying goes, “a spade in the ground.” If I were a developer, I would want to get as many homes as possible “started” in this first-12-month-period which could then be completed at leisure to the less demanding standards. The big question is perhaps not therefore if there are enough architectural styles in OX12, but if there are enough spades…

Pedestrianisation consultation closed – or has it?

A few weeks ago I wrote an article, which has had a large number of views, about the plans to extend the pedestrianisation in Wantage’s Market Square and some of the local reactions to what was intended, in so far as they or I understood what was proposed and why. The consultation has closed on 15 September but an email sent to Oxfordshire CC on that day from a local taxi firm suggests that due process was not followed. This may require the consultation needing to be-opened. You can read the article, with more details on this recent development at the top, by clicking here.

There matters rest for now. We’re taking ten days off so any further news on this will be covered on Thursday 5 October.

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.

• Sustainable Wantage runs a Library of Things to help reduce consumption and waste, enable people to save money and do things they might not otherwise do and to help to build a mind-set in our community that sharing things is an excellent option.

• Vale Community Impact seeks new volunteers for various roles including advisors, ‘good neighbours’ and drivers. Please contact them on 01235 765348 or recruitment@vci.org.uk for more details.

• Wantage and Grove Children’s Clothing Bank collects used and new clothing for kids up to 14 years old. Collection points include Wantage Parish Church and St John’s Church Grove. Please click here to see the full list, plus opening hours. Or message them at w.g.clothesbank@gmail.com or via their Facebook page to arrange individual drop off/collection.

• Wantage Tennis Club is open for new membership. See here for more details.

• Wantage Parish Church offers a hot ‘Around Table’ meal every Wednesday to eat in or take-away between 3.30pm and 7pm. Supported by Oxford Food Hub.

• Walkers, horse-riders, off road cyclists please be mindful of your impact on ground-nesting birds this spring and summer. Of course dogs love to romp but skylarks and nightjars are endangered species and if an adult is disturbed they will not return to their nest, leaving their chicks to die. Please see more details here about national requirements for dog walkers between 1 March and 31 July.

• The Mix on Mill Street runs lots of workshops, repair cafes, refillables, recycling projects. Please follow them on facebook or contact Jo on wantagemix@gmail.com

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

• 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 25 Sept to Sat 7 Oct Wantage Art Group Exhibition, Vale & Downlands Museum, Squires Gallery.

• Sat 30 Sept Kingsgrove Community Day, Kingsgrove Public Square, Rutherford Road Wantage.

• Wed 11 Oct Volunteer Recruitment Evening, Vale & Downlands Museum.

• Fri 1 Dec Dickensian Evening, Vale & Downlands Museum.

• 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.

• Grove Park Run is a free community 5k walk/run/jog for all abilities every Saturday morning at Grove Fields, Mably Way, OX12 9BN. Dogs and children are allowed. For more information, please visit parkrun.org.uk/grovefields.

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

• Wantage Art Group is a friendly, mixed ability group that meets monthly at Charlton Holy Trinity Church that offers great demonstrations and interesting talks. Their next meeting on Wednesday 19 April. See here for the rest of the year’s schedule and details on how to join the group.

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

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

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

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

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

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

News from your local council

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

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 26 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.)
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 1 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Vale and Downland Museum Trust (see separate section above); reports from the Clerk, the Chair and the County and the District Councillors; planning matters; and repairs and maintenance.
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 West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 July and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 July 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 12 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, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 11 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), the agendas and past minutes, please click here

• The most recent meeting of Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 July 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 Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 29 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 Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 May 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.

• 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 CouncilWatchfield 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 September 2023

This week we cover art, active travel, a community day, volunteers and roadworks – plus there’s our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Scroll down below “This weeks news” for another look at the consultation on changes to the pedestrianisation in Wantage’s Market Square and a recent presentation by the Vale and Downland Museum to Grove PC.

This week’s news

• Next Wednesday 20 September, Wantage Art Group will be holding their next meeting. This one will be about Abstract Art with Mike White, a tutor at the Marlborough College Summer School. Click here for more information.

• The Kingsgrove Community Day is returning on Saturday 30 September. There will be an Afternoon of Fun at the Kingsgrove Public Square from 2pm to 6pm, followed by a Hog Roast & Music at the school in the evening from 6pm to 9pm.

•  On a related note, they are also very keen to showcase local talented residents of Kingsgrove at the event, so if you are an artist, jewellery maker, photographer, woodturner, artisan baker or suchlike, Anne Richardson, the Community Development Officer would like to hear from you. Get in touch at kingsgrovecommunity@southandvale.gov.uk or call 07801 203572.

• Quick reminder that Sustainable Wantage‘s September newsletter includes their 10th anniversary celebrations, apple press for hire, lots of events and volunteering opportunities. Sustainable Wantage is a Community Benefit Society, a special form of co-operative, owned and run by members. It costs just £5 per year to be a member, plus a one-off payment of £1 to buy a share in the co-op. Click here for more details including how to apply.

• The Wantage and Grove Active Travel (WAGAT) Group are asking for the local community’s views on the current state of infrastructure for walking, wheeling and cycling in the area, as well as current preferences for transport use on local journeys and hopes for the future. Click here to take part in the survey. If you have any questions contact the info.suswantage@gmail.com.

• The wonderful Betjeman Millenium Park in the heart of Wantage is run by volunteers and they need help with administration, social media, community engagement and fundraising. Litter pickers are also much appreciated. Please see here for how to get involved.

• The Trussell Trust’s Step Up September Challenge is in aid of preventing the need for FoodbanksPlease click here if you would like to sponsor Penny doing the challenge.

• If you would like to find out about volunteering opportunities in the Wantage area please contact Vale Community Impact.

• 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 Supportplease click here.

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

Pedestrianisation problems

Last week, I wrote an article about the proposed changes to the traffic arrangements at the western end of Wantage’s Market Square. I’m not going to go into the details of these proposals – in so far as I or anyone else understands them – but will add two points.

The first, as evinced by the comments on the post about this article on the Wantage and Grove Community FB page, is further proof of the adage that no pedestrianisation or traffic-alteration project proceeds without  controversy. Some of those commenting feel that the plans will kill the shops, others that the only solution to the problems the town faces is to pedestrianise the whole Market Square. Both points of view have their merits. The truth may, in the rather boring way it often does, lie somewhere in-between.

A similar war of words is being waged in Newbury, where the new West Berkshire Council administration wants to press ahead with a pedestrianisation of a far larger part of the town centre under the same experimental traffic order approach that was used to trial Wantage’s a few years ago. The implementation of this has, for various reasons, been delayed. What has not are the cries of opposition. Some may be well founded. Some may not.

West Berkshire Council is essentially planning to trial an extension of a scheme that already exists. After an experimental period (which can be up to 18 months), during which tweaks will be made if necessary, there will be a consultation and a final decision taken.

The important difference between Wantage’s scheme and Newbury’s is that, in the latter case, I feel there is a reasonably clear understanding of what has been proposed and why. Something like it was also employed as a hospitality boost in the first pandemic summer. The implications of a longer trail may not be clear: but then again, they won’t be until the thing is tested.

The far more minor changes to the much smaller affected are in Wantage’s Market Square, on the other hand, have created far more sound and fury. As the above-mentioned article considers, the main criticism is that neither individual businesses, not the Wantage Chamber of Commerce, nor local organisations like the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group, nor local media groups like us, have been involved in any process or event for the latest changes to be explained and for dissenting opinions to be considered.

The proposed changes may be benign – though many local traders think not – but the point is that they’re uncertain. This allows everyone the opportunity to fill in their own gaps in the data; which in turn leads to further divisiveness and uncertainty.

The two organisations most involved – some might say implicated – in this, Wantage Town Council (WTC, which has long supported such changes) and Oxfordshire County Council (OCC, the highways authority) have restricted themselves to the purely technical and procedural responses, in the former case only as a result of pressure from some of the local business owners.

The whole thing looks like a PR disaster. Whether WTC or OCC care about such matters is not something I can comment on. Perhaps they’re indifferent. The local organisations referred to above, however, are anything but indifferent to the possible challenges to their businesses. If they’re wrong, it would have been easy for WTC and OCC to have explained away the concerns in advance. If they’re right, then WTC and OCC are quite possibly wrong.

The Vale and Downland Museum

The following notes are taken verbatim from the minutes of Grove Parish Council on 1 August.

“Geoff Rice and Suzie Tilbury of the Vale and Downland Museum Trust introduced themselves to the Council. Geoff Rice (Treasurer of the Vale and Downland Museum) said that the Trustees decided before the pandemic that they wanted to reach out to other local museums, to local history societies, and to others with a special interest in history. Just as importantly they wanted to reach out beyond Wantage, to Grove and to the local villages.

“Now being able to revive this initiative the Museum has organised an evening on 27 September to which it is inviting representatives of interested parties. The object will be to find out how the Museum can provide support for others, and how we can do more by working together. We very much hope that a representative of Grove Parish Council will be able to attend this event.

“Suzie Tilbury (Curator of the Vale and Downland Museum) gave a short presentation on the history and background behind the Museum. She also covered the interactive museum galleries, the Public Access Research Library, the various exhibitions, activities and events, volunteers, collections and archives. She then spoke about the need to ‘capture’ Grove and its history; the former Grove Airfield, the history of Williams F1 and other historical ties that could be exhibited in the Museum in the future.

At the end of the presentation, the Chairman thanked Geoff Rice and Suzie Tilbury for the informative presentation and they left the meeting.”

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.

• Sustainable Wantage runs a Library of Things to help reduce consumption and waste, enable people to save money and do things they might not otherwise do and to help to build a mind-set in our community that sharing things is an excellent option.

• Vale Community Impact seeks new volunteers for various roles including advisors, ‘good neighbours’ and drivers. Please contact them on 01235 765348 or recruitment@vci.org.uk for more details.

• Wantage and Grove Children’s Clothing Bank collects used and new clothing for kids up to 14 years old. Collection points include Wantage Parish Church and St John’s Church Grove. Please click here to see the full list, plus opening hours. Or message them at w.g.clothesbank@gmail.com or via their Facebook page to arrange individual drop off/collection.

• Wantage Tennis Club is open for new membership. See here for more details.

• Wantage Parish Church offers a hot ‘Around Table’ meal every Wednesday to eat in or take-away between 3.30pm and 7pm. Supported by Oxford Food Hub.

• Walkers, horse-riders, off road cyclists please be mindful of your impact on ground-nesting birds this spring and summer. Of course dogs love to romp but skylarks and nightjars are endangered species and if an adult is disturbed they will not return to their nest, leaving their chicks to die. Please see more details here about national requirements for dog walkers between 1 March and 31 July.

• The Mix on Mill Street runs lots of workshops, repair cafes, refillables, recycling projects. Please follow them on facebook or contact Jo on wantagemix@gmail.com

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

• 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

• Wed 20 Sept Wantage Art Group: Abstract Art, Holy Trinity Church, Charlton.

• Sat 30 Sept Kingsgrove Community Day, Kingsgrove Public Square, Rutherford Road 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.

• Grove Park Run is a free community 5k walk/run/jog for all abilities every Saturday morning at Grove Fields, Mably Way, OX12 9BN. Dogs and children are allowed. For more information, please visit parkrun.org.uk/grovefields.

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

• Wantage Art Group is a friendly, mixed ability group that meets monthly at Charlton Holy Trinity Church that offers great demonstrations and interesting talks. Their next meeting on Wednesday 19 April. See here for the rest of the year’s schedule and details on how to join the group.

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

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

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

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

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

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

News from your local council

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

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 26 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.)
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 1 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Vale and Downland Museum Trust (see separate section above); reports from the Clerk, the Chair and the County and the District Councillors; planning matters; and repairs and maintenance.
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 West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 July and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 July 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 12 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, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 11 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), the agendas and past minutes, please click here

• The most recent meeting of Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 July 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 Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 29 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 Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 May 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.

• 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 CouncilWatchfield 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 8 September 2023

This week we cover waste, cafés, creative writing, food banks and treasures – plus there’s our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Scroll down below “This weeks news” for a closer look the consultation on changes to the pedestrianisation in Wantage’s Market Square and the possible return of the plans for the mammoth reservoir to the north of Wantage

Apologies that this is a day late. As many of you will know, we were recently beset by IT problems severe enough to make us wonder if we’d ever get this out at all. Apologies on behalf of the gremlin or gremlins responsible.

This week’s news

• This weekend, 2Good2Waste will be at the Wantage Artisan Market this Sunday 10 September, from 10am to 3pm, in the Market Square. Run by Ali Smith, she collects and recycles gifted or charity bought clothes and fabric and resells to raise money for MacMillan Cancer Support. Click here to learn more or visit their JustGiving page to donate to their cause.
• Sustainable Wantage‘s September newsletter includes their 10th anniversary celebrations, apple press for hire, lots of events and volunteering opportunities. Sustainable Wantage is a Community Benefit Society, a special form of co-operative, owned and run by members. It costs just £5 per year to be a member, plus a one-off payment of £1 to buy a share in the co-op. Click here for more details including how to apply.

• The Wantage and Grove Active Travel (WAGAT) Group are asking for the local community’s views on the current state of infrastructure for walking, wheeling and cycling in the area, as well as current preferences for transport use on local journeys and hopes for the future. Click here to take part in the survey. If you have any questions contact the info.suswantage@gmail.com.

• Next week, the Friends of the Vale & Downland Museum invite you to hear Edward Caswell’s fascinating talk on ‘Treasures of Oxfordshire’ in which Edward, the Finds Liaison Officer for Oxfordshire, will be sharing some of the amazing treasures that have been found. That’s next Thursday 13 September at the Vale & Downland Museum. Click here for tickets.

• Wantage’s Vale Community Impact independent advice centre runs free monthly Good Neighbour Pop-up Cafes for anyone who fancies a chat and a cuppa. The next one is in Uffington on Wednesday 13 September.

• The wonderful Betjeman Millenium Park in the heart of Wantage is run by volunteers and they need help with administration, social media, community engagement and fundraising. Litter pickers are also much appreciated. Please see here for how to get involved.

• Letcombe Regis Riding Club are hosting an Equine Car Boot Sale this Sunday 10 September from 10am to 12am, behind the Village Hall. Sellers to arrive 9.30am, £12 per Online payments only, please register here.

• Next week the Wantage Café Scientfique is back with its September talk on ‘Eels and the Thames Catchment Community’ with Anna Forbes from the Thames Rivers Trust, a pilot project aiming to improve the future of the European Eel, a species listed as ‘critically endangered’. That’s on Wednesday 13 September at the Wildwood Cinema. Click here for details.

• The Trussell Trust’s Step Up September Challenge is in aid of preventing the need for FoodbanksPlease click here if you would like to sponsor Penny doing the challenge.

• Local author Millie Stone is running a six week Creative Writing Course in Letcombe Regis on Monday mornings starting at 10.30am on Monday 11 September. The course is for writers of any genre (including poetry, fiction and life writing) or level of experience. See here for details and how to book your place.

• Do you have plans for crime prevention projects in your community? Applications for the latest round of Thames Valley Police’s Community Fund are now open, with £200,000 of grant funding available for community group projects to help prevent crime across Thames Valley. Application deadline is 12pm on Monday 11 September.

• The Vale and Downland Museum are asking for artefact loans for a new exhibition about local artist Beryl Maile. If you have something suitable, get in touch with them at assistantcurator@valeanddownlandmuseum.org.uk with any material or questions.

• August news from Sustainable Wantage includes Repair Cafes at The Mix and how to book your slot, Mindfulness Walk, volunteering opportunities at the community garden.

• Wantage Art Group’s next meeting on Wednesday 20 September will be on the subject of  Abstract Art: Discussion and Demo with Mike White, a tutor at the Marlborough College Summer School. Click here for more information.

• If you would like to find out about volunteering opportunities in the Wantage area please contact Vale Community Impact.

• 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 Supportplease click here.

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

Wantage’s West End

As mentioned last week, there are plans to make further changes to the arrangements at the west end of Wantage’s Market Square. This all seems to have got far more complex and divisive than it might have done and I must confess to finding it all a bit confusing. There seem to be several issues here.

In this separate post, and having spoken to a number of people with views on the issue, I take a look at what seem to be the four main questions: what is proposed; why is this happening; has there been adequate consultation; and what happens next?

150 million cubic metres and five elephants

Can you visualise that? No, nor can I. If WRSE (an alliance of six water companies) gets its way you won’t need to visualise it  you’ll be able to see it to the north of Wantage. You’ll be able to see it from a fair distance away as the walls will be 15m high: imagine if you can five fully grown elephants balanced on each other’s backs. Yes, that big.

Julie Mabberley of the Wantage and Grove campaign Group looks at the latest news on this in her most recent Herald article (which you can also read here). She summaries the views of the main groups, including her own, which have opposed the plan and suggests that, aside from all its other problems, the estimates of usage and demand seem very imprecise.

I haver only one point to add to her excellent summary. There is surely a safety issue. OK, I know this is always trotted out as an objection at these times but the scale of the thing makes it on a different level from most developments (five elephants and 150m cubic metres, remember). I wouldn’t like to be within flooding distance of that. The material used will be pretty important. Time to give RAAC another chance?

Also, as Julie Mabberley does point out, when it comes to keeping water where it’s meant to be (ie not leaking out of pipes or gushing into chalk streams), the water companies’ records are not that great. I suppose the one consolation is that, if it does happen, that’ll be one chunk of land that can’t have any more homes built on it. The way things are going I doubt there’ll be many other empty plots by then.

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.

• Sustainable Wantage runs a Library of Things to help reduce consumption and waste, enable people to save money and do things they might not otherwise do and to help to build a mind-set in our community that sharing things is an excellent option.

• Vale Community Impact seeks new volunteers for various roles including advisors, ‘good neighbours’ and drivers. Please contact them on 01235 765348 or recruitment@vci.org.uk for more details.

• Wantage and Grove Children’s Clothing Bank collects used and new clothing for kids up to 14 years old. Collection points include Wantage Parish Church and St John’s Church Grove. Please click here to see the full list, plus opening hours. Or message them at w.g.clothesbank@gmail.com or via their Facebook page to arrange individual drop off/collection.

• Wantage Tennis Club is open for new membership. See here for more details.

• Wantage Parish Church offers a hot ‘Around Table’ meal every Wednesday to eat in or take-away between 3.30pm and 7pm. Supported by Oxford Food Hub.

• Walkers, horse-riders, off road cyclists please be mindful of your impact on ground-nesting birds this spring and summer. Of course dogs love to romp but skylarks and nightjars are endangered species and if an adult is disturbed they will not return to their nest, leaving their chicks to die. Please see more details here about national requirements for dog walkers between 1 March and 31 July.

• The Mix on Mill Street runs lots of workshops, repair cafes, refillables, recycling projects. Please follow them on facebook or contact Jo on wantagemix@gmail.com

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

• 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

• Wed 13 Sept Wantage Café Scientifique: Eels Talk, Wildwood Cinema.

• Wed 13 Sept Uffington Good Neighbour Pop-Up, Thomas Hughes Memorial Hall, Uffington.

• Thurs 14 Sept Treasures of Oxfordshire Talk, Vale & Downlands Museum.

• Wed 20 Sept Wantage Art Group: Abstract Art, Holy Trinity Church, Charlton.

• 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.

• Grove Park Run is a free community 5k walk/run/jog for all abilities every Saturday morning at Grove Fields, Mably Way, OX12 9BN. Dogs and children are allowed. For more information, please visit parkrun.org.uk/grovefields.

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

• Wantage Art Group is a friendly, mixed ability group that meets monthly at Charlton Holy Trinity Church that offers great demonstrations and interesting talks. Their next meeting on Wednesday 19 April. See here for the rest of the year’s schedule and details on how to join the group.

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

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

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

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

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

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

News from your local council

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

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 26 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.)
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 West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 July and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: speeding; there 20mph speed limit; highways; reports from the country and the district councillors; repairs and maintenance; financial matters; and tree works.
To see the dates and agendas of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), 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 11 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: speeding; a proposed neighbourhood development plan; reports from the district and county councillors; financial matters; planning matters; defibrillators; and street lights.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings 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 6 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 Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), the agendas and past minutes, please click here

• The most recent meeting of Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 July and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; a proposed 20mph speed limit; allotments; highways; repairs and maintenance; candidates for co-option; reports from the country and the district councillors; committees and working groups; financial matters; planning matters; speeding; and environmental 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 Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 29 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 21 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 East Hanney 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, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 May 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.

• 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 CouncilWatchfield 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 31 August 2023

This week we cover science, writing, a community café, donations, sustainability and local art – plus there’s our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Scroll down below “This weeks news” for a look a consultation on changes to the pedestrianisation in Wantage’s Market Square and the possible demise of the nutrient neutrality regulations which affect planning decisions in some parts of this area.

This week’s news

Betjeman Millenium Park is wonderful sanctuary in the heart of Wantage. They hold monthly working parties for weeding, planting and trimming – and having a cup of tea, a biscuit and a chat. They are also keen to recruit volunteers to help with administration, social media, community engagement and fundraising. Litter pickers are also much appreciated. Please see here for how to get involved.

• After a summer break, the Wantage Café Scientfique is back with its September talk on ‘Eels and the Thames Catchment Community’ with Anna Forbes from the Thames Rivers Trust, a pilot project aiming to improve the future of the European Eel, a species listed as ‘critically endangered’. That’s on Wednesday 13 September at the Wildwood Cinema. Click here for details.

Down to Earth Community Cafe at The Old Stables, Stirlings Close (opposite Wantage Library) has a new tagine on their warmer menu for cooler weather. If you need a little help paying for your meal, they also have a ‘pay it forward’ scheme to which their customers have been donating generously. This means, all you need to do is pay with a disk at the till – no questions asked.

• The Trussell Trust’s Step Up September Challenge is an inspiration to walk 30 minutes each day of the month to raise funds to help build a future where nobody needs to use a food bank. If you would like to join our Penny Post Team, please search for ‘Penny’ when it asks you to find a team (thanks to Leo Sumner for setting this up). Or if you prefer to sponsor Penny, please do so here.

• Local author Millie Stone is running a six week Creative Writing Course in Letcombe Regis on Monday mornings starting at 10.30am on Monday 11 September. The course is for writers of any genre (including poetry, fiction and life writing) or level of experience. See here for details and how to book your place.

Wantage’s Vale Community Impact independent advice centre runs free monthly Good Neighbour Pop-up Cafes for anyone who fancies a chat and a cuppa. The next one is in Uffington on Wednesday 13 September.

• Do you have plans for crime prevention projects in your community? Applications for the latest round of Thames Valley Police’s Community Fund are now open, with £200,000 of grant funding available for community group projects to help prevent crime across Thames Valley. Application deadline is 12pm on Monday 11 September.

• The Vale and Downland Museum are asking for artefact loans for a new exhibition about local artist Beryl Maile. If you have something suitable, get in touch with them at assistantcurator@valeanddownlandmuseum.org.uk with any material or questions.

Sustainable Shrivenham are now collecting donations for Smalls for All, a charity that collects underwear for people in deprived parts of Africa and the UK who can’t afford or can’t get any. They need donations of: new ladies’ pants sizes 8-14, new children’s pants age 3 to 5, new men’s pants sizes XS-L, new or ‘gently worn’ bras. They can be dropped off at The Hub on Shrivenham High Street on their typical opening days (Wednesday 10am-4pm or Saturday 9am to 6pm).

• If you are looking for free activities for your kids this month check out the Pokemon Swap Shop at The Toy Planet near Wantage Sainsbury’s from 4 to 7pm every Friday.

August news from Sustainable Wantage includes Repair Cafes at The Mix and how to book your slot, Mindfulness Walk, volunteering opportunities at the community garden.

Wantage Art Group’s next meeting on Wednesday 20 September will be on the subject of  Abstract Art: Discussion and Demo with Mike White, a tutor at the Marlborough College Summer School. Click here for more information.

• If you would like to find out about volunteering opportunities in the Wantage area please contact Vale Community Impact.

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.

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

Traffic in the market

Pedestrianisation plans in towns are rarely free of controversy. It’s rare, and perhaps impossible, to hit upon a scheme which satisfies shoppers, retailers, delivery vehicles, cyclists, motorists, pedestrians and the emergency services. The problem is compounded by the fact that councils have a number of objectives, including supporting businesses and reducing emissions, which often work against each other.

The scheme in Wantage’s Market Place is no exception. The experimental traffic order to trial a pedestrianised area at the western end of the Market Square was made permanent in March 2023 and Oxfordshire CC ihas said that “following further comments from the public and retail properties, some proposed adjustments are being considered.” More information can be seen here (which also includes details of how to make your views known). The main changes were summarised by the OCC officer in charge of the scheme as being as follows:

  1. driving into/through the closed area will continue to be prohibited within Market Place,
  2. the 30-minute time limited parking places on the west side of Alfred Street and the southern side of Market Square will be removed,
  3. the motorcycle parking places on the west side of Alfred Street will be removed,
  4. the two existing disabled persons’ parking places on the south side of Market Square will be relocated further eastwards, adjacent to the new proposed ‘horse-shoe’ carriageway alignment, and
  5. the taxi rank located on the north side of Market Square will be relocated further eastwards to sit adjacent to the new proposed ‘horse-shoe’ arrangement, and shortened slightly, with two spaces at the southwest end to be `shared use` ie to allow general loading from 5am to 10am and from 2.30pm to 4pm all days (one hour stay, no return within one hour) and for taxis outside of these times.

Opinions differed about the scheme in March 2023 and misgivings continue. Steve Gills, who runs Webbs of Wantage which runs eight Hackney cabs in and around the town, told Penny Post that he was concerned that the shared parking arrangements (point e above) would cause problems even greater than those which sometimes apply at present. Rob Corlett, who owns the Dolphin Art Gallery, said that there has “as usual been no Wantage Town Council discussion with businesses” and criticised the “completely inadequate provision for suppliers and customers being able to access the shops.” He fears the proposal will “hammer the shops all around the square.” Other local retailers to whom we spoke repeated the comment about the lack of communication from the Town Council and re-iterated the concern about how deliveries would be affected.

Any comments must be received by 5pm on Friday 15 September 2023.

Nutrient neutrality

In the last eighteen months we’ve heard a lot about these Natural England regulations which were introduced in several parts of the country including Lambourn catchment area (which includes a good chunk of West Berkshire and also extends into the Vale of White Horse and Wiltshire) last year. The intention was to reduce the amount of phosphates and nitrates which entered our waterways; and the number-one target was held to be new housing developments of any size. Trying to implement these new regulations caused local planning departments considerable headaches and certainly caused delay to decision-making. Now, just when officers seem to have got their heads round the issue, the government has said that it wants to do away with the whole thing. This will, Whitehall’s rationale runs, remove another EU-imposed shackle on national growth and help ensure that we get our house-building targets back on track.

In this separate post, we take a look at what the nutrient neutrality policies are (and are not), why they are in several ways misguided and what positive effects they have so far had. We also consider the political time and the legal implications of the announcement and wonder if the environment has, as campaigner and musician Feargal Sharkey suggested, “been left to fend for itself.”

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.

Sustainable Wantage runs a Library of Things to help reduce consumption and waste, enable people to save money and do things they might not otherwise do and to help to build a mind-set in our community that sharing things is an excellent option. 

Vale Community Impact seeks new volunteers for various roles including advisors, ‘good neighbours’ and drivers. Please contact them on 01235 765348 or recruitment@vci.org.uk for more details.

Wantage and Grove Children’s Clothing Bank collects used and new clothing for kids up to 14 years old. Collection points include Wantage Parish Church and St John’s Church Grove. Please click here to see the full list, plus opening hours. Or message them at w.g.clothesbank@gmail.com or via their Facebook page to arrange individual drop off/collection.

Wantage Tennis Club is open for new membership. See here for more details.

Wantage Parish Church offers a hot ‘Around Table’ meal every Wednesday to eat in or take-away between 3.30pm and 7pm. Supported by Oxford Food Hub.

Walkers, horse-riders, off road cyclists please be mindful of your impact on ground-nesting birds this spring and summer. Of course dogs love to romp but skylarks and nightjars are endangered species and if an adult is disturbed they will not return to their nest, leaving their chicks to die. Please see more details here about national requirements for dog walkers between 1 March and 31 July.

The Mix on Mill Street runs lots of workshops, repair cafes, refillables, recycling projects. Please follow them on facebook or contact Jo on wantagemix@gmail.com

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

• 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 2 Sept Repair Cafe at The Mix

Wed 13 Sept Wantage Café Scientifique: Eels Talk, Wildwood Cinema.

Wed 13 Sept Uffington Good Neighbour Pop-Up, Thomas Hughes Memorial Hall, Uffington.

Thurs 14 Sept Treasures of Oxfordshire Talk, Vale & Downlands Museum.

Wed 20 Sept Wantage Art Group: Abstract Art, Holy Trinity Church, Charlton.

• 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.

Grove Park Run is a free community 5k walk/run/jog for all abilities every Saturday morning at Grove Fields, Mably Way, OX12 9BN. Dogs and children are allowed. For more information, please visit parkrun.org.uk/grovefields.

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

Wantage Art Group is a friendly, mixed ability group that meets monthly at Charlton Holy Trinity Church that offers great demonstrations and interesting talks. Their next meeting on Wednesday 19 April. See here for the rest of the year’s schedule and details on how to join the group.

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

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

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

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

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

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

News from your local council

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

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 26 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.)
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 West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 July and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: speeding; there 20mph speed limit; highways; reports from the country and the district councillors; repairs and maintenance; financial matters; and tree works.
To see the dates and agendas of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), 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 11 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: speeding; a proposed neighbourhood development plan; reports from the district and county councillors; financial matters; planning matters; defibrillators; and street lights.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings 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 6 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 Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), the agendas and past minutes, please click here

• The most recent meeting of Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 July and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; a proposed 20mph speed limit; allotments; highways; repairs and maintenance; candidates for co-option; reports from the country and the district councillors; committees and working groups; financial matters; planning matters; speeding; and environmental 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 Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 29 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 21 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 East Hanney 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, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 May 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.

• 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 August 2023

This week we cover repairs, writing, art, crime prevention, a toy swap and free lunches – plus there’s our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Scroll down below “This weeks news” for a look at yet another proposed development in the area which may (or then again may not) result in the re-opening of the Wantage Road station.

This week’s news

• The Mix on Mill Street runs monthly Repair Cafés on the first Saturday of the month and the next one is on Saturday 2 September. They have volunteer fixers ready to help you repair all kinds of household and electrical items from clothing and tools to hairdryers and hoovers. Advanced booking is required so they can match you up with the right repairer for your item, please contact Jo at wantagemix@gmail.com or 07768 767787. Click here for more details.

• The Vale and Downland Museum are planning a new exhibition about local artist Beryl Maile and are making appeal for any donations that will help bring the exhibit to life. They are looking for any materials related to Beryl or her art that you would be willing to donate or loan for the exhibition. If you have something suitable, get in touch with them at assistantcurator@valeanddownlandmuseum.org.uk with any material or questions.

• Local author Millie Stone is running a six week Creative Writing Course in Letcombe Regis on Monday mornings starting at 10.30am on Monday 11 September. The course is for writers of any genre (including poetry, fiction and life writing) or level of experience. See here for details and how to book your place.

• Do you have plans for crime prevention projects in your community? Applications for the latest round of Thames Valley Police’s Community Fund are now open, with £200,000 of grant funding available for community group projects to help prevent crime across Thames Valley. Application deadline is 12pm on Monday 11 September.

• Sustainable Shrivenham have been re-thinking their approach to the clothing swap and are now instead doing monthly clothing pop-up at the Hub. Each month will focus on a different type of clothing, for September it will be ‘adult clothing’. They are currently accepting donations for washed adult clothing which are free from stains and damage. Click here for more information. They still have a collection of second-hand school uniforms year-round. They also accept donations, if you’re looking for somewhere to take your old clothes. Click here for details.

Wantage’s Vale Community Impact independent advice centre and volunteer transport and neighbourhood support hub, has just held their 6th lottery draw with 6 lucky winners taking home £50 each. They would love just a few more people to play their charity 500 Club lottery, for just £5 per month. The more people who join, the bigger the winnings. Please email them on help@vci.org.uk to take part. The 500 Club is a great way to support their vital charitable work and be in with a chance of winning a fantastic cash prize.
• If you are looking for free activities for your kids this month check out the Pokemon Swap Shop at The Toy Planet near Wantage Sainsbury’s from 4 to 7pm every Friday.

August news from Sustainable Wantage includes Repair Cafes at The Mix and how to book your slot, Mindfulness Walk, volunteering opportunities at the community garden.

Wantage Art Group is on a break this month, however their next meeting on Wednesday 20 September will be on the subject of  Abstract Art: Discussion and Demo with Mike White, a tutor at the Marlborough College Summer School. Click here for more information.

• Looking for something to keep the kids entertained over the summer holidays? The Vale and Downland Museum have a range of fun activities running throughout the summer, including drop-in craft sessions, pottery, Storytime, Lego club, workshops and more. Click here to see their schedule.

• East Hendred Community Larder is providing free lunches of a sandwich, fruit, snack and a dessert, every Monday throughout the summer holidays. Donations are welcomed but not expected. Bagged lunches can be picked up from the steel trolley at Snells Hall between 12:30 and 1pm. Click here for details.

• Our Summer Holiday Guide includes lots to do with your kids this summer including a full programme of summer holiday activities at The Toy Planet and the Vale & Downland Museum.

• If you would like to find out about volunteering opportunities in the Wantage area please contact Vale Community Impact.

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.

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

Grove Gateway

In her latest Herald column (which you can read here), Julie Mabberley of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group takes a look at a proposal by the land-promotion company Richborough to sell the benefits of a hypothetical development between Grove and East Hanney which it has termed, rather unevocitively, as “Grove Gateway.” Julie Mabberley highlights the four main advantages in the proposed masterplan.

The first is that it would enable Wantage Road station to be re-opened. “Yes,” she comments, “we’d like a station at Grove but it isn’t a Government priority and not in Network Rail plans so I don’t think they can deliver it.”

The second is that would provide “significant employment land.” Julie’s comment: “That’s what Savills said about the adjacent land just south of the railway but that turned into more homes.”

The third is that it “has the opportunity to deliver a significant net gain in biodiversity, green infrastructure and public open space” as part of “a truly landscape-led approach.” (I had to look this last phrase up. According to Valley Provincial, “landscape-led developments emphasise the importance of reconnecting urban dwellers with nature.”) Julie Mabberley asks “what can be better than unadulterated farmland for providing biodiversity and green infrastructure, so why put houses on it?” Actually, I’m not completely with her on this one. Farmland is certainly green but it’s rarely bio-diverse. Moreover, the compacting effect of tractors and harvesters doesn’t make it particularly good at absorbing heavy rainfall. None the less, any bio-diversity gain from a development would probably be fairly marginal, even if it could be enforced. Replanting or widening hedgerows on the editing land would probably be more beneficial.

The fourth is that the development would “Create new homes…that are designed to be the highest quality and energy efficiency standards.” Julie says that “I don’t know any developer working around here who would build 900 zero carbon homes or build bungalows so I can’t see this happening either.” If built, the homes will doubtless not exceed the prevailing requirements, whatever they happen to be.

So, in her opinion, no station, no employment, little or no bio-diversity and a bare minimum of sustainable features. Another housing development, in other words. No word about infrastructure mitigation, at least not in the parts she’s quoted. That will probably be the bare minimum as well, and less than that if the developers can come up with a compelling viability assessment.

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.

Sustainable Wantage runs a Library of Things to help reduce consumption and waste, enable people to save money and do things they might not otherwise do and to help to build a mind-set in our community that sharing things is an excellent option. 

Vale Community Impact seeks new volunteers for various roles including advisors, ‘good neighbours’ and drivers. Please contact them on 01235 765348 or recruitment@vci.org.uk for more details.

Wantage and Grove Children’s Clothing Bank collects used and new clothing for kids up to 14 years old. Collection points include Wantage Parish Church and St John’s Church Grove. Please click here to see the full list, plus opening hours. Or message them at w.g.clothesbank@gmail.com or via their Facebook page to arrange individual drop off/collection.

Wantage Tennis Club is open for new membership. See here for more details.

Wantage Parish Church offers a hot ‘Around Table’ meal every Wednesday to eat in or take-away between 3.30pm and 7pm. Supported by Oxford Food Hub.

Walkers, horse-riders, off road cyclists please be mindful of your impact on ground-nesting birds this spring and summer. Of course dogs love to romp but skylarks and nightjars are endangered species and if an adult is disturbed they will not return to their nest, leaving their chicks to die. Please see more details here about national requirements for dog walkers between 1 March and 31 July.

The Mix on Mill Street runs lots of workshops, repair cafes, refillables, recycling projects. Please follow them on facebook or contact Jo on wantagemix@gmail.com

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

• 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 2 Sept Repair Cafe at The Mix

Thurs 14 Sept Treasures of Oxfordshire Talk, Vale & Downlands Museum.

Wed 20 Sept Wantage Art Group: Abstract Art, Holy Trinity Church, Charlton.

• 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.

Grove Park Run is a free community 5k walk/run/jog for all abilities every Saturday morning at Grove Fields, Mably Way, OX12 9BN. Dogs and children are allowed. For more information, please visit parkrun.org.uk/grovefields.

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

Wantage Art Group is a friendly, mixed ability group that meets monthly at Charlton Holy Trinity Church that offers great demonstrations and interesting talks. Their next meeting on Wednesday 19 April. See here for the rest of the year’s schedule and details on how to join the group.

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

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

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

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

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

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

News from your local council

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

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 26 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.)
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 West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 July and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: speeding; there 20mph speed limit; highways; reports from the country and the district councillors; repairs and maintenance; financial matters; and tree works.
To see the dates and agendas of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), 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 11 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: speeding; a proposed neighbourhood development plan; reports from the district and county councillors; financial matters; planning matters; defibrillators; and street lights.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings 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 6 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the internal audit; and planning matters (two of which concerned the proposed discharge of conditions to which GPC objected as they seemed to threaten the chances of the Leycombe Brook Bridge ever being built).
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 5 July and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; a proposed 20mph speed limit; allotments; highways; repairs and maintenance; candidates for co-option; reports from the country and the district councillors; committees and working groups; financial matters; planning matters; speeding; and environmental 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 Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 29 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 21 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 East Hendred 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), the agendas and past minutes, please click here

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney 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, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 May 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.

• 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 August 2023

This week we cover public art, many meetings , wildlife discovery, sustainable news, art and clothes – plus there’s our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Scroll down below “This weeks news” for a look at the latest silly-season news from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group.

This week’s news

• The Oxfordshire Museum is holding its first public art competition for everyone over age 11. The theme is ‘Discovery’ and most media is accept with a few exceptions (see link).  The 50 best pieces will be selected for exhibition at the Museum from Saturday 16 September to Sunday 5 November and three overall prize winners will be selected. Click here for further details and to submit your entry. All entry forms must be submitted by 9am on Monday 21 August.

• This Saturday 19 August, is the Wildlife Trust Discovery Day at the Letcombe Valley reserve. There will be nature craft, making bird boxes, den building and mud kitchens and much more. The event is free to attend and no booking required. Click here to find out more.

• We were pleased to visit the lovely new Wantage Bookshop on Mill Street last weekend and it was great to bump into Faith from Wantage Cafe Scientifique, local author and historian Nicola Cornick and Maeri and Steve from Wantage Chamber of Commerce. Hopefully the bookshop will become another community hub for the town.

Wantage’s Vale Community Impact independent advice centre and volunteer transport and neighbourhood support hub, has just held their 6th lottery draw with 6 lucky winners taking home £50 each. They would love just a few more people to play their charity 500 Club lottery, for just £5 per month. The more people who join, the bigger the winnings. Please email them on help@vci.org.uk to take part. The 500 Club is a great way to support their vital charitable work and be in with a chance of winning a fantastic cash prize.
• If you are looking for free activities for your kids this month check out the Pokemon Swap Shop at The Toy Planet near Wantage Sainsbury’s from 4 to 7pm every Friday.

August news from Sustainable Wantage includes Repair Cafes at The Mix and how to book your slot, Mindfulness Walk, volunteering opportunities at the community garden.

• A few volunteers are needed on Monday 21 August to help with gardening and weeding at the Community Garden renovation, Maude House, in Charlton. Please bring some tough boots and gloves/spare hand tools. For more information, please message Tom: wildwantage@gmail.com

Wantage Art Group is on a break this month, however their next meeting on Wednesday 20 September will be on the subject of  Abstract Art: Discussion and Demo with Mike White, a tutor at the Marlborough College Summer School. Click here for more information.

• Need new back to school clothes? Sustainable Shrivenham, located at the Hub have a collection of second-hand uniforms year-round. They also accept donations, if you’re looking for somewhere to take your old clothes. Click here for details.

• Looking for something to keep the kids entertained over the summer holidays? The Vale and Downland Museum have a range of fun activities running throughout the summer, including drop-in craft sessions, pottery, Storytime, Lego club, workshops and more. Click here to see their schedule.

• East Hendred Community Larder is providing free lunches of a sandwich, fruit, snack and a dessert, every Monday throughout the summer holidays. Donations are welcomed but not expected. Bagged lunches can be picked up from the steel trolley at Snells Hall between 12:30 and 1pm. Click here for details.

• Alex and Emma Milne-White from Hungerford Bookshop who have bought the Madhatter Bookshop on Mill Street are planning to re-open as Wantage Bookshop in August.  Watch this space as we hear more news when they are back from their holiday.

• Our Summer Holiday Guide includes lots to do with your kids this summer including a full programme of summer holiday activities at The Toy Planet and the Vale & Downland Museum.

• If you would like to find out about volunteering opportunities in the Wantage area please contact Vale Community Impact.

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.

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

Silly season in OX12

“There are always a few silly ideas that surface in the summer holidays and this year is no different,” the 15 August newsletter from the Wantage & Grove Campaign Group begins. It then looks at “a speculative proposal” to build 900 homes in Grove which also promises to “assist” (whatever that might mean) in getting Wantage Road station re-opened; this despite the fact that “it’s not in either the Government or Network Rail’s plans for the foreseeable future – but it’s a good selling point for the proposal.”

The newsletter than looks at an attempt by the Monks Farm development to remove the restriction allowing only 55 dwellings to be built until the bridge over Letcombe Brook is completed. This received so many local objections that the application was withdrawn. “I believe,” the newsletter continues, “that discussions are underway between interested parties” so we may not have heard the end of it.

There’s also news on changes to government funding for LEPs (local enterprise partnerships) and how this should “remove at least one conundrum” faced by council leaders who find themselves conflicted by sitting on the OxLEP board as well. There are also some thoughts on Wantage’s proposed 20mph speed limit, a zig-zag footpath at Crab Hill, and problems with school drop-offs.

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.

Sustainable Wantage runs a Library of Things to help reduce consumption and waste, enable people to save money and do things they might not otherwise do and to help to build a mind-set in our community that sharing things is an excellent option. 

Vale Community Impact seeks new volunteers for various roles including advisors, ‘good neighbours’ and drivers. Please contact them on 01235 765348 or recruitment@vci.org.uk for more details.

Wantage and Grove Children’s Clothing Bank collects used and new clothing for kids up to 14 years old. Collection points include Wantage Parish Church and St John’s Church Grove. Please click here to see the full list, plus opening hours. Or message them at w.g.clothesbank@gmail.com or via their Facebook page to arrange individual drop off/collection.

Wantage Tennis Club is open for new membership. See here for more details.

Wantage Parish Church offers a hot ‘Around Table’ meal every Wednesday to eat in or take-away between 3.30pm and 7pm. Supported by Oxford Food Hub.

Walkers, horse-riders, off road cyclists please be mindful of your impact on ground-nesting birds this spring and summer. Of course dogs love to romp but skylarks and nightjars are endangered species and if an adult is disturbed they will not return to their nest, leaving their chicks to die. Please see more details here about national requirements for dog walkers between 1 March and 31 July.

The Mix on Mill Street runs lots of workshops, repair cafes, refillables, recycling projects. Please follow them on facebook or contact Jo on wantagemix@gmail.com

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

• 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 19 Aug Letcombe Valley Discovery Day

Sat 2 Sept Repair Cafe at The Mix

Wed 20 Sept Wantage Art Group: Abstract Art, Holy Trinity Church, Charlton.

• 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.

Grove Park Run is a free community 5k walk/run/jog for all abilities every Saturday morning at Grove Fields, Mably Way, OX12 9BN. Dogs and children are allowed. For more information, please visit parkrun.org.uk/grovefields.

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

Wantage Art Group is a friendly, mixed ability group that meets monthly at Charlton Holy Trinity Church that offers great demonstrations and interesting talks. Their next meeting on Wednesday 19 April. See here for the rest of the year’s schedule and details on how to join the group.

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

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

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

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

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

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

News from your local council

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

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 26 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.)
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 West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 July and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: speeding; there 20mph speed limit; highways; reports from the country and the district councillors; repairs and maintenance; financial matters; and tree works.
To see the dates and agendas of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), 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 11 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: speeding; a proposed neighbourhood development plan; reports from the district and county councillors; financial matters; planning matters; defibrillators; and street lights.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings 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 6 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the internal audit; and planning matters (two of which concerned the proposed discharge of conditions to which GPC objected as they seemed to threaten the chances of the Leycombe Brook Bridge ever being built).
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 5 July and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; a proposed 20mph speed limit; allotments; highways; repairs and maintenance; candidates for co-option; reports from the country and the district councillors; committees and working groups; financial matters; planning matters; speeding; and environmental 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 Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 29 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 21 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 East Hendred 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), the agendas and past minutes, please click here

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney 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, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 May 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.

• 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 August 2023

This week we cover toys, art, a lottery, lunches, school uniforms and museum activities – plus there’s our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Scroll down below “This weeks news” for a look at plans to increase the tourism footfall in the area, a super-sized village and an introduction to Wantage’s new bookshop.

This week’s news

The Toy Planet retro gaming and modern collactables store near Sainsbury’s is pleased to be re-open after some building issues and Tom and Steve thank everyone for their support and offers of help. You can collect forms for their Wantage Town Lego Mini Hunt from them until 3 September. The shop also runs free Pokeman Swap Shops every Friday 4 to 7pm.

Wantage’s Vale Community Impact independent advice centre and volunteer transport and neighbourhood support hub, has just held their 6th lottery draw with 6 lucky winners taking home £50 each. They would love just a few more people to play their charity 500 Club lottery, for just £5 per month. The more people who join, the bigger the winnings. Please email them on help@vci.org.uk to take part. The 500 Club is a great way to support their vital charitable work and be in with a chance of winning a fantastic cash prize.

August news from Sustainable Wantage includes Repair Cafes at The Mix and how to book your slot, Mindfulness Walk, volunteering opportunities at the community garden.

• A few volunteers are needed on Monday 21 August to help with gardening and weeding at the Community Garden renovation, Maude House, in Charlton. Please bring some tough boots and gloves/spare hand tools. For more information, please message Tom: wildwantage@gmail.com

Wantage Art Group is on a break this month, however their next meeting on Wednesday 20 September will be on the subject of  Abstract Art: Discussion and Demo with Mike White, a tutor at the Marlborough College Summer School. Click here for more information.

• Need new back to school clothes? Sustainable Shrivenham, located at the Hub have a collection of second-hand uniforms year-round. They also accept donations, if you’re looking for somewhere to take your old clothes. Click here for details.

• Looking for something to keep the kids entertained over the summer holidays? The Vale and Downland Museum have a range of fun activities running throughout the summer, including drop-in craft sessions, pottery, Storytime, Lego club, workshops and more. Click here to see their schedule.

• East Hendred Community Larder is providing free lunches of a sandwich, fruit, snack and a dessert, every Monday throughout the summer holidays. Donations are welcomed but not expected. Bagged lunches can be picked up from the steel trolley at Snells Hall between 12:30 and 1pm. Click here for details.

• Alex and Emma Milne-White from Hungerford Bookshop who have bought the Madhatter Bookshop on Mill Street are planning to re-open as Wantage Bookshop in August.  Watch this space as we hear more news when they are back from their holiday.

• Our Summer Holiday Guide includes lots to do with your kids this summer including a full programme of summer holiday activites at The Toy Planet and the Vale & Downland Museum.

• If you would like to find out about volunteering opportunities in the Wantage area please contact Vale Community Impact.

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.

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

New books in town

Wantage Bookshop opened on Mill Street this week (taking over the Madhatter Bookshop). The new owners are Emma and Alex Milne-White who’ve run the Hungerford Bookshop since 2006.

So what can residents of Wantage expect?

First of all – and this seems hardly worth saying but I shall anyway – a love and knowledge of books. These people know their stuff. I’m constantly amazed by how much they’ve read and the succinct summaries they provide which are generally spot on.

Second, plenty of events. The Hungerford Bookshop has about two a month and it also works with other organisations to create and support events such as Newbury Corn Exchange, The Retreat, the Hub and local festivals. Many are author events but some a bit more unusual: the recent Summer Reading Celebration, for instance (an eclectic mix of five authors introducing their books and sharing their favourite recent reads with customers over Pimms and wine in the courtyard behind the bookshop). Further such panel-style events are planned.

Thirdly, a good number of awards. In 2009, for example, Hungerford Bookshop won Independent Bookshop of the Year at the British Book Awards and in 2020 it won Best in Business (overall winner) at The Newbury Weekly News’ Business Awards. There have been several others as well. Expect more for the Wantage sister shop.

Finally, a warm welcome. If you’ve seen the excellent Black Books TV comedy about a superbly grumpy and sociopathic bookshop owner, imagine the exact opposite and you’ll get the idea. Indeed, this aspect can be put to the test very soon – Emma and Alex are welcoming everyone to a glass of fizz this Saturday 12 August between noon and 4pm. See you there…

Tourism in the Vale

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils, in collaboration with Tourism South East (TSE) Research, are calling for community feedback as part of their latest tourism research project. The study features surveys for residents, businesses, and visitors to gather a comprehensive picture of the current state of tourism across the districts. This will help us identify challenges faced by the industry, uncover exciting opportunities to improve visitor experiences and assess our sustainability and accessibility standards. 

To thank those who share their feedback, all respondents will go into the draw to win one of three £75 gift cards (Terms and Conditions available online). 

The project is funded by the UK government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which aims to build pride in place and increase life chances across the UK by empowering places to identify and build on their own strengths and needs at a local level. 

 “We want to enhance our tourism experiences for both residents and visitors to enjoy, from our cultural centres and high streets, to our countryside and natural attractions,” Neil Fawcett, Cabinet Member for Strategic Partnerships and Place at Vale of White Horse District Council, said. “I look forward to reviewing your feedback and using it to help guide our work to best support our tourism industry.” 

The Resident and Business surveys are open until 13 August, and the Visitors survey is open until late September. Find out more and complete your relevant survey on the Vale of White Horse have your say webpage. Hard copy questionnaires are also available on request. 

A super-sized village

In her latest Herald article, which you can also read here, Julie Mabberley of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group refers to an accolade recently bestowed on OX12 which some current residents might view with misgiving. She’s referring to a recent article in the Sunday Times which said that “this corner of Oxfordshire has quietly become Britain’s housebuilding capital. Between the 2011 and 2021 censuses, the constituency of Wantage grew by 9,390 households, a rise of 21 per cent — more than any other in Britain.” The WaGCG has been campaigning on matters arising from this – mainly the lack of infrastructure to meet the needs of all these new inhabitants – for some time. It seems unlikely its work will be done soon.

The ST article also refers to “Great Western Park, a new village of 3,300 homes built throughout the 2010s.” This made Julie Mabberley wonder what is the definition of a village.

Cities and towns must have, or once have had, a charter. They aren’t, however distinguished or defined by their size. St David’s in Wales is a city but has a population of about 1,850: Northampton is a town but over 240,000 people live there. I suppose a village is therefore anything that isn’t a town or a city (or a hamlet, which introduces a fresh complexity at the bottom end). If somewhere is quite new, as GWP is, and hasn’t applied for a town charter, I suppose it can call itself a village. This also probably helps with the marketing by the developer’s sales team. Mind you, “Great Western Park” isn’t a very village-y kind of name. Any suggestions for something a bit more rustic?

The National Geographic defines a village as “a small settlement usually found in a rural setting that is generally larger than a “hamlet” but smaller than a “town”. Some geographers specifically define a village as having between 500 and 2,500 inhabitants.” This isn’t particularly useful for those seeking precision. The last definition would rule out GWP as 3,300 homes would contain about 8,000 people. This is about the same size as Grove (which is also a village).

The claim to be the largest village in the country has been made by many communities. Wikipedia’s page on the subject suggests that Ecclesfield in South Yorkshire, with over 32,000 inhabitants, is currently in pole position. Kidlington in Oxfordshire, to which Julie Mabberley refers in the piece, is claimed by its parish council to be “the second largest village England” although it’s only sixth on Wikipedia’s list. Clearly we’re dealing here with a definition that borders on the subjective.

Given the amount of development in OX12, it’s perhaps appropriate that it should be spawning super-sized villages. Just as police officers everywhere always seem to be getting younger, the villages here seem to be getting larger. The job of organisations like the WAGCG is to ensure that settlements that are towns in all but name don’t have facilities and infrastructure that would more often be associated with a village, howsoever defined.

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.

Sustainable Wantage runs a Library of Things to help reduce consumption and waste, enable people to save money and do things they might not otherwise do and to help to build a mind-set in our community that sharing things is an excellent option. 

Vale Community Impact seeks new volunteers for various roles including advisors, ‘good neighbours’ and drivers. Please contact them on 01235 765348 or recruitment@vci.org.uk for more details.

Wantage and Grove Children’s Clothing Bank collects used and new clothing for kids up to 14 years old. Collection points include Wantage Parish Church and St John’s Church Grove. Please click here to see the full list, plus opening hours. Or message them at w.g.clothesbank@gmail.com or via their Facebook page to arrange individual drop off/collection.

Wantage Tennis Club is open for new membership. See here for more details.

Wantage Parish Church offers a hot ‘Around Table’ meal every Wednesday to eat in or take-away between 3.30pm and 7pm. Supported by Oxford Food Hub.

Walkers, horse-riders, off road cyclists please be mindful of your impact on ground-nesting birds this spring and summer. Of course dogs love to romp but skylarks and nightjars are endangered species and if an adult is disturbed they will not return to their nest, leaving their chicks to die. Please see more details here about national requirements for dog walkers between 1 March and 31 July.

The Mix on Mill Street runs lots of workshops, repair cafes, refillables, recycling projects. Please follow them on facebook or contact Jo on wantagemix@gmail.com

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

• 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 19 Aug Letcombe Valley Discovery Day

Sat 2 Sept Repair Cafe at The Mix

Wed 20 Sept Wantage Art Group: Abstract Art, Holy Trinity Church, Charlton.

• 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.

Grove Park Run is a free community 5k walk/run/jog for all abilities every Saturday morning at Grove Fields, Mably Way, OX12 9BN. Dogs and children are allowed. For more information, please visit parkrun.org.uk/grovefields.

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

Wantage Art Group is a friendly, mixed ability group that meets monthly at Charlton Holy Trinity Church that offers great demonstrations and interesting talks. Their next meeting on Wednesday 19 April. See here for the rest of the year’s schedule and details on how to join the group.

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

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

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

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

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

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

News from your local council

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

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 26 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.)
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 West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 July and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: speeding; there 20mph speed limit; highways; reports from the country and the district councillors; repairs and maintenance; financial matters; and tree works.
To see the dates and agendas of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), 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 11 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: speeding; a proposed neighbourhood development plan; reports from the district and county councillors; financial matters; planning matters; defibrillators; and street lights.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings 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 6 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the internal audit; and planning matters (two of which concerned the proposed discharge of conditions to which GPC objected as they seemed to threaten the chances of the Leycombe Brook Bridge ever being built).
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 5 July and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; a proposed 20mph speed limit; allotments; highways; repairs and maintenance; candidates for co-option; reports from the country and the district councillors; committees and working groups; financial matters; planning matters; speeding; and environmental 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 Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 29 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 21 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 East Hendred 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), the agendas and past minutes, please click here

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney 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, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 May 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.

• 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 August 2023

This week we cover a charitable trust, sustainability, clothes, roadworks and volunteering – plus there’s our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Scroll down below “This weeks news” for a look at indecision day with a new bridge, a re-launch of the Chamber of Commerce and an offer for local artists from the Newbury Show.

This week’s news

• The Ray Collins Charitable Trust organised a trip to London earlier this week with 53 Ukrainians funded by the Ruby & Will George Trust. Their lovely Facebook post details their guided tour of the Houses of Parliament, a walk in St James Park and outside Buckingham Palace, and then a visit to the Natural History Museum. It sounds like a great time was had by all.

August news from Sustainable Wantage includes Repair Cafes at The Mix and how to book your slot, Mindfulness Walk, volunteering opportunities at the community garden.

Wantage Silver Band brings you Live Brass in the Market Place this Sunday 6 August.

Latest news from David Johnston MP for Wantage includes his inaugural Farmers’ Forum with Mark Spencer, the Farming Minister and hosting his third annual Climate Summit with Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero.

• Need new back to school clothes? Sustainable Shrivenham, located at the Hub have a collection of second-hand uniforms year-round. They also accept donations, if you’re looking for somewhere to take your old clothes. Click here for details.

• Looking for something to keep the kids entertained over the summer holidays? The Vale and Downland Museum have a range of fun activities running throughout the summer, including drop-in craft sessions, pottery, Storytime, Lego club, workshops and more. Click here to see their schedule.

• East Hendred Community Larder is providing free lunches of a sandwich, fruit, snack and a dessert, every Monday throughout the summer holidays. Donations are welcomed but not expected. Bagged lunches can be picked up from the steel trolley at Snells Hall between 12:30 and 1pm. Click here for details.

• Alex and Emma Milne-White from Hungerford Bookshop who have bought the Madhatter Bookshop on Mill Street are planning to re-open as Wantage Bookshop in August.  Watch this space as we hear more news when they are back from their holiday.

• Our Summer Holiday Guide includes lots to do with your kids this summer including a full programme of summer holiday activites at The Toy Planet and the Vale & Downland Museum.

• If you would like to find out about volunteering opportunities in the Wantage area please contact Vale Community Impact.

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.

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

A chamber re-launched

Penny was pleased to be invited to the summer social event this week of the re-launched Wantage Chamber of Commerce.  Held at the Dolphin Gallery, which provides a lovely backdrop of pictures and sculptures in the garden, it was good to see new faces and catch up with traders and business owners from across the town. A quintet from the renowned Wantage Silver Band provided a festive atmosphere for Chamber members to network, socialize, and celebrate the local business community.

“This is our first social event since pre-Covid and it was long overdue,” said Maeri Howard, Marketing and Membership Co-ordinator of the Chamber. “It was wonderful to bring together Wantage business owners and professionals to meet new members, reconnect with existing members, and kick off the new committee year.”

The new committee has exciting plans for the future of the Chamber and would like to hear from all local businesses who would like to get involved. See here for details.

Indecision time

In her latest article in the Herald, which you can also read here, Julie Mabberley of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group looks at another tale of a bridge which has, like the one over the Letcombe Brook that she and we referred to last week, but a rather larger one over the Thames south of Oxford and east of Didcot. Given that a good number of people in OX12 travel to these places regularly, anything that affects the journey is likely to be of local interest.

As Julie Mabberley points out, “Oxfordshire County Council is both the planning applicant and the body responsible for determining the application.” (It has another hat in the ring here as well as it’s also the highways authority). It may therefore seem strange that OCC’s planning committee rejected the plans at the end of last month. That was never going to be the end of the story and that matter has been called in for review by Whitehall which will result in months or years of delays. ‘This will affect the timetable for the joint local plan,” the article continues, “as a total rethink may be required if these infrastructure plans are rejected.”

The uncertainty doesn’t end there. Proposed changes to the National Planning Policy Framework and to local plans are up in the air and Michael Gove has recently announced another consultation – a very good way of kicking a difficult issue done the road – on reforming local plans. As Julie Mabberly concludes, “it seems that the Government really can’t make decisions.”

So, what we seem to have to have here is a bridge which may or may not be acceptable to the very organisation that’s responsible for applying for it, the decision on which will at some point be determined by the Planning Inspector or the Secretary of State according to new NPPF guidelines that may or may nor be in force at the time. This decision on which may or may not affect the district council’s local plans, the regulations concerning which may or may not be the same as they are now. All in all, it would be well to regard the bridge – and the refreshed local plans for the Vale and South Oxfordshire – as being largely hypothetical for the time being.

An offer from the Show

After a three-year pause – two due to Covid and the third to a change of management – the Newbury Show is back on 16 and 17 September. The organisers have recently announced a special offer for any local artists, artisans and craftspeople who want to take a stall. A 3m x 3m stand will cost only £300 for anyone within 15 miles of the Showground, rather than the usual £500. The Show is expected to attract 50,000 people over the weekend, so one way of looking at this is having about one third of the population of West Berkshire coming to see your wares.

For more information on this offer, and the Show generally, click 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.

Sustainable Wantage runs a Library of Things to help reduce consumption and waste, enable people to save money and do things they might not otherwise do and to help to build a mind-set in our community that sharing things is an excellent option. 

Vale Community Impact seeks new volunteers for various roles including advisors, ‘good neighbours’ and drivers. Please contact them on 01235 765348 or recruitment@vci.org.uk for more details.

Wantage and Grove Children’s Clothing Bank collects used and new clothing for kids up to 14 years old. Collection points include Wantage Parish Church and St John’s Church Grove. Please click here to see the full list, plus opening hours. Or message them at w.g.clothesbank@gmail.com or via their Facebook page to arrange individual drop off/collection.

Wantage Tennis Club is open for new membership. See here for more details.

Wantage Parish Church offers a hot ‘Around Table’ meal every Wednesday to eat in or take-away between 3.30pm and 7pm. Supported by Oxford Food Hub.

Walkers, horse-riders, off road cyclists please be mindful of your impact on ground-nesting birds this spring and summer. Of course dogs love to romp but skylarks and nightjars are endangered species and if an adult is disturbed they will not return to their nest, leaving their chicks to die. Please see more details here about national requirements for dog walkers between 1 March and 31 July.

The Mix on Mill Street runs lots of workshops, repair cafes, refillables, recycling projects. Please follow them on facebook or contact Jo on wantagemix@gmail.com

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

• 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 4 Aug Farringdon Play & Activity Day, Farringdon Town FC, Tucker Lane.

Sat 5 Aug Repair Cafe at The Mix

Sun 19 Aug Letcombe Valley Discovery Day

Sat 2 Sept Repair Cafe at The Mix

• 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.

Grove Park Run is a free community 5k walk/run/jog for all abilities every Saturday morning at Grove Fields, Mably Way, OX12 9BN. Dogs and children are allowed. For more information, please visit parkrun.org.uk/grovefields.

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

Wantage Art Group is a friendly, mixed ability group that meets monthly at Charlton Holy Trinity Church that offers great demonstrations and interesting talks. Their next meeting on Wednesday 19 April. See here for the rest of the year’s schedule and details on how to join the group.

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

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

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

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

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

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

News from your local council

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

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 26 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.)
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 West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 July and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: speeding; there 20mph speed limit; highways; reports from the country and the district councillors; repairs and maintenance; financial matters; and tree works.
To see the dates and agendas of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), 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 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the internal audit; and planning matters (two of which concerned the proposed discharge of conditions to which GPC objected as they seemed to threaten the chances of the Leycombe Brook Bridge ever being built).
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 5 July and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; a proposed 20mph speed limit; allotments; highways; repairs and maintenance; candidates for co-option; reports from the country and the district councillors; committees and working groups; financial matters; planning matters; speeding; and environmental 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 Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 29 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 21 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 East Hendred 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), the agendas and past minutes, please click here

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney 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, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 20 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 7 March and you can read 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 July 2023

This week we cover last call for a consultation, bikes, food, a bookshop, arts and lunches – plus there’s our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Scroll down below “This weeks news” for a look at the need sometimes to do one thing before you can do something else.

This week’s news

• Last chance to have your say regarding the proposal to introduce a blanket 20mph speed limit throughout Wantage. Please complete Oxfordshire County Council’s brief survey before 5pm this Friday 28 July.

• This weekend, Dr Bike will be at the Wantage Market Place providing free comprehensive ‘M-Check’ on bicycles, to ensure that the cycle is safe to ride. If any parts need replacing these can be provided and fitted at cost (no labour charges). Bring along your bike anytime on Saturday between 9am to 2pm. Click here for more information.

• In the seven months that the Down to Earth Community Cafe has been open, their lovely volunteers have collectively given an incredible 420 hours of their time. The training and surplus food cafe in Stirlings Close (across the main road from the library) is well worth a visit. Their varied menu includes Korean vegetable pancake with dipping sauce, sweet sticky shitake mushrooms plus a healthy children’s option every week too!

• East Hendred Community Larder is providing free lunches of a sandwich, fruit, snack and a dessert, every Monday throughout the summer holidays. Donations are welcomed but not expected. Bagged lunches can be picked up from the steel trolley at Snells Hall between 12:30 and 1pm. Click here for details.

• Alex and Emma Milne-White from Hungerford Bookshop who have bought the Madhatter Bookshop on Mill Street are planning to re-open as Wantage Bookshop in August.  Watch this space as we hear more news when they are back from their holiday.

• Our Summer Holiday Guide includes lots to do with your kids this summer including a full programme of summer holiday activites at The Toy Planet and the Vale & Downland Museum.

Grove Park Run is a free community 5k walk/run/jog, every Saturday morning at Grove Fields, Mably Way, OX12 9BN. It is highly recommended for runners of all abilities. Dogs and children are allowed (children under 11 must be with an adult and dogs must be on short, hand held leads). For more information, please visit www.parkrun.org.uk/grovefields.

• The Wantage Summer Arts Festival is now on and will continue throughout the month. There will be a huge range of arts, crafts, musical and cultural events taking place around the town. Some activities may have limited spaces, so make such you book in advance to avoid missing out. Click here to read the full programme of activities.

• If you would like to find out about volunteering opportunities in the Wantage area please contact Vale Community Impact.

Sustainable Wantage‘s July news includes a chance to get your bicycle checked by Dr Bike in the market place on Saturday 29 July and lots 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.

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

Building bridges

In her latest article in the Herald, which you can also read here, Julie Mabberley of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group looks at a tangled and unfinished story of the kind that OX12 seems to specialise in. It involves a link road, two housing developments, several planning conditions, a small parcel of third-party land, a brook and a so far hypothetical bridge.

The episode shows how in any human endeavour there are some tasks that can happen simultaneously but others that need to be contingent on something happening. If you’re going on holiday, for instance, you can pack, book your flight and arrange for someone to feed the cats in any order you like but you can’t get on the plane until you produce your passport.

If you’re building houses, you will at some point run into this. In the cases Julie Mabberley is considering, a relief road (the Grove Northern Link Road, or GNLR) has to be built before a certain number of homes have been occupied on the Airfield site: while a similar condition applies to the David Wilson development near the cemetery with regard to an access toad to the A338. These have been known about for some time, indeed since the approval was granted. It was also known that there were some obstacles to these. This like our holidaymaker knowing that their passport is lost or out of date but taking no particular action to remedy the problem.

Here the analogy breaks down. If you have no passport you can be as certain as you can about anything that you will not get on the plane. For developers, though, a number of other options present themselves, depending on the seriousness of the matter.

One is simply to ignore the condition and hope that no one is going to notice. This is unlikely to work with something as major or as visible as a road.

Another is to do something different that’s more attractive to you. Near Newbury there was a case where the developers discovered that the site for an allotment was unsuitable because of flooding – something the parish council had been saying for years – so it was then proposed that they create something smaller, and less suitable in other ways, and in a different place. The battle on this continues.

A third option is to go back to the planning authority and get the condition removed. That can work if changed conditions can be demonstrated or if the developer is in a particular position of power with regard to the council, such as with fulfilling a housing target. This is, Julie Mabberley’s article explains, where matters have got to with the David Wilson homes site. “Grove Parish Council strongly believes,” she says, “that if this planning condition is removed, the new Letcombe Brook Bridge will never be built and would therefore jeopardise the completion of the Northern Link Road.” Part of the problem here seems that DWH is “finding it very difficult to draw up plans for the bridge that are acceptable to the Environment Agency,” something she finds hard to understand. As a result, the bridge may not be ready until 2025 and “they would like to build more homes before this.” Well. of course they would.

The fourth option is just to do whatever has been asked – turn up on time with your passport and wait in line. Of course, this does happen: but any one of the first three things also happen irritatingly often. Goodness knows how much officer time, taxpayers’ money and human intelligence is wasted on trying to sort all this out thereafter. A lot, I suspect.

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.

Sustainable Wantage runs a Library of Things to help reduce consumption and waste, enable people to save money and do things they might not otherwise do and to help to build a mind-set in our community that sharing things is an excellent option. 

Vale Community Impact seeks new volunteers for various roles including advisors, ‘good neighbours’ and drivers. Please contact them on 01235 765348 or recruitment@vci.org.uk for more details.

Wantage and Grove Children’s Clothing Bank collects used and new clothing for kids up to 14 years old. Collection points include Wantage Parish Church and St John’s Church Grove. Please click here to see the full list, plus opening hours. Or message them at w.g.clothesbank@gmail.com or via their Facebook page to arrange individual drop off/collection.

Wantage Tennis Club is open for new membership. See here for more details.

Wantage Parish Church offers a hot ‘Around Table’ meal every Wednesday to eat in or take-away between 3.30pm and 7pm. Supported by Oxford Food Hub.

Walkers, horse-riders, off road cyclists please be mindful of your impact on ground-nesting birds this spring and summer. Of course dogs love to romp but skylarks and nightjars are endangered species and if an adult is disturbed they will not return to their nest, leaving their chicks to die. Please see more details here about national requirements for dog walkers between 1 March and 31 July.

The Mix on Mill Street runs lots of workshops, repair cafes, refillables, recycling projects. Please follow them on facebook or contact Jo on wantagemix@gmail.com

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

• 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 4 Aug Farringdon Play & Activity Day, Farringdon Town FC, Tucker Lane.

• 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 wantage.library@oxfordshire.gov.uk to register your interest.

Wantage Art Group is a friendly, mixed ability group that meets monthly at Charlton Holy Trinity Church that offers great demonstrations and interesting talks. Their next meeting on Wednesday 19 April. See here for the rest of the year’s schedule and details on how to join the group.

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

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

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

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

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

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

News from your local council

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

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 27 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 July and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: speeding; there 20mph speed limit; highways; reports from the country and the district councillors; repairs and maintenance; financial matters; and tree works.
To see the dates and agendas of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), 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 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the internal audit; and planning matters (two of which concerned the proposed discharge of conditions to which GPC objected as they seemed to threaten the chances of the Leycombe Brook Bridge ever being built).
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 5 July and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; a proposed 20mph speed limit; allotments; highways; repairs and maintenance; candidates for co-option; reports from the country and the district councillors; committees and working groups; financial matters; planning matters; speeding; and environmental 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 Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 29 June and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: the part sale of land at Oak Road/Oxford Square; play equipment; and financial matters.
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 21 June and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; staffing matters; financial matters; reports from the county and the district councillors; planning matters; traffic and highways; the NDP; and repairs and maintenance.
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 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, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 11 May and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), the agendas and past minutes, please click here

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 16 January 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.

• 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 July 2023

This week we cover a food festival, a park run, arts, books, a campaign group and business support – plus there’s our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Scroll down below “This weeks news” for a look at how procrastination at Whitehall is causing problems for local decision-making.

This week’s news

• This weekend sees the exciting Festival Food Event at Wantage Market Place, as part of the Summer Arts Festival. Enjoy delicious food from around the world. That’s from 10am to 4pm this Sunday.

• On Monday 24 July, the Grove & Wantage Family Community Group is holding a free stay and play meet-up for pre-schoolers between 10am and 11am. Come along to the play area by Allen Close for free activities and to meet other local families. Click here for event details and click here to learn more about the GroW Family Community Group.

• Great news for book lovers in the OX12 area: Alex and Emma of the multi-award-winning Hungerford Bookshop have bought the Madhatter Bookshop in Wantage’s Mill Street and hope to re-open after refurbishment later in the summer. We’ll have more news on this next week.

• Our Summer Holiday Guide includes lots to do with your kids this summer including a full programme of summer holiday activites at The Toy Planet and the Vale & Downland Museum.

Grove Park Run is a free community 5k walk/run/jog, every Saturday morning at Grove Fields, Mably Way, OX12 9BN. It is highly recommended for runners of all abilities. Dogs and children are allowed (children under 11 must be with an adult and dogs must be on short, hand held leads). For more information, please visit www.parkrun.org.uk/grovefields.

• The Wantage Summer Arts Festival is now on and will continue throughout the month. There will be a huge range of arts, crafts, musical and cultural events taking place around the town. Some activities may have limited spaces, so make such you book in advance to avoid missing out. Click here to read the full programme of activities.

• If you would like to find out about volunteering opportunities in the Wantage area please contact Vale Community Impact.

Sustainable Wantage‘s July news includes a chance to get your bicycle checked by Dr Bike in the market place on Saturday 29 July and lots 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.

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

The thief of time

In her most recent column in the Herald (which you can read here), Julie Mabberley of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group looks at the subject of procrastination, specifically by the government with respect for reforms to the planning system. Given the amount of development that’s planned in the area, any changes will be of particular interest to residents of OX12.

There is always at least one area of public life which is at some point along the slow road to major reform. The health service and the education system are two which have, depending on your point of view, benefitted or suffered from changes. Adult social care remains in the pending tray, as it has been for years: this is a problem so vast and so costly that I suspect that even the bravest mandarin or minister can hardly bear to look at it. Smaller in scope but no less contentious in nature are the long-promised reforms to the planning system.

Julie Mabberley’s article looks at some of the delays, including to the changes to the National Policy Planning Framework: “the consultation was earlier this year and we were promised quick action and decisions in the spring. Now Mr Gove and his colleagues are saying that the Government received around 26,000 responses and any decisions will be delayed until at least September.” There also appear to be procrastination at a more local level. She cites the example of the public consultation on the Oxford Cambridge Arc in 2021 “the results of which have still not been published.”

As she points out, any delay from SW1 has a knock-on effect on local planning activity. “If there are going to be major changes, then it will affect local plans,” she explains. “Councils don’t want to finalise their plans under one set of rules to find out several months later that a new set of regulations will take effect.” it’s a bit like trying to host a football tournament but not being sure when or if FIFA is going to abolish the offside rule or permit unlimited substitutes. Many local councils that were in the middle of updating their local plans (as many are any time are, so long does the process take) chose to pause their work in the face of this uncertainty. They must be wondering when they’ll be able to re-start.

She also mentioned that the pause has doubtless enabled there construction industry to lobby hard “to make sure that the changes favoured by many voters are quietly dropped in favour of things which increase their profitability.” Indeed, the longer any such period lasts, the more likely it is that new policies are going to amended to favour those with the deepest pockets.

It’s unfair always to cast developers as the eternal bad guys. We all agree that more homes are needed. It’s not the developers’ fault that they tend to build the ones that are most profitable for them, rather than the ones that the area most needs. Anyone who moves into a much-needed new home will probably not cast the company that built it as villains. None the less, that’s the role they’re often asked to fill.

The real culprit is perhaps the government for priming so much in the way of reform and providing so little. It’s almost as if the government feels that the mere act of promising change is enough and that actually doing it is something that can wait, much as writing out a list can seem like a substitute for accomplishing the tasks it describes. The time will also come when the work needs to be paused because of an impending election, perhaps because  the measures might be portrayed as unpopular by the opposition. Well, there’ll be one of those coming up within the next 18 months. 18 months – that’s plenty of time to get these reforms announced and implemented, surely? With the level of procrastination that’s been displayed so far, I wouldn’t bank on it.

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.

Sustainable Wantage runs a Library of Things to help reduce consumption and waste, enable people to save money and do things they might not otherwise do and to help to build a mind-set in our community that sharing things is an excellent option. 

Vale Community Impact seeks new volunteers for various roles including advisors, ‘good neighbours’ and drivers. Please contact them on 01235 765348 or recruitment@vci.org.uk for more details.

Wantage and Grove Children’s Clothing Bank collects used and new clothing for kids up to 14 years old. Collection points include Wantage Parish Church and St John’s Church Grove. Please click here to see the full list, plus opening hours. Or message them at w.g.clothesbank@gmail.com or via their Facebook page to arrange individual drop off/collection.

Wantage Tennis Club is open for new membership. See here for more details.

Wantage Parish Church offers a hot ‘Around Table’ meal every Wednesday to eat in or take-away between 3.30pm and 7pm. Supported by Oxford Food Hub.

Walkers, horse-riders, off road cyclists please be mindful of your impact on ground-nesting birds this spring and summer. Of course dogs love to romp but skylarks and nightjars are endangered species and if an adult is disturbed they will not return to their nest, leaving their chicks to die. Please see more details here about national requirements for dog walkers between 1 March and 31 July.

The Mix on Mill Street runs lots of workshops, repair cafes, refillables, recycling projects. Please follow them on facebook or contact Jo on wantagemix@gmail.com

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

• 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 4 Aug Farringdon Play & Activity Day, Farringdon Town FC, Tucker Lane.

• 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 wantage.library@oxfordshire.gov.uk to register your interest.

Wantage Art Group is a friendly, mixed ability group that meets monthly at Charlton Holy Trinity Church that offers great demonstrations and interesting talks. Their next meeting on Wednesday 19 April. See here for the rest of the year’s schedule and details on how to join the group.

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

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

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

 Wantage Country market every Friday. See details here.

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

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

News from your local council

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

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 27 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the internal audit; and planning matters (two of which concerned the proposed discharge of conditions to which GPC objected as they seemed to threaten the chances of the Leycombe Brook Bridge ever being built).
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 29 June and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: the part sale of land at Oak Road/Oxford Square; play equipment; and financial matters.
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 21 June and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; staffing matters; financial matters; reports from the county and the district councillors; planning matters; traffic and highways; the NDP; and repairs and maintenance.
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 14 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: public participation; matters arising; the NDP; the MUGA; repairs and maintenance; a defibrillator purchase; 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 Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 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 West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 May and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 11 May and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), the agendas and past minutes, please click here

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and meetings for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Letcombe Regis Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 16 January 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.

• 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 July 2023

This week we cover gardens, art, kids, clothes and sustainability – plus there’s our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Scroll down below “This weeks news” for a look the latest news from OX12’s campaign group and some hopefully good news for those who’ve been waiting for some much-needed improvements at Wantage Leisure Centre.

This week’s news

• The Sustainable Wantage Facebook page has posted some lovely photos of the Wild Wantage volunteers who recently helped to renovate the gardens at The Old Stables. If you like the work they do and would like the opportunity to be involved yourself with future projects like this, please get in touch with Tom at wildwantage@gmail.com.

• Next Wednesday 19 July the Wantage Art Group will feature pastel portrait artist Cathy Landell Mills at the Holy Trinity Church, Charlton. The artist from Oxford will be giving a talk and demonstrations.  New members to the Wantage Art Group and visitors are always welcome (£5).

• Our Summer Holiday Guide includes lots to do with your kids this summer including a full programme of summer holiday activites at The Toy Planet and the Vale & Downland Museum.

• The next Sustainable Shrivenham Clothes Swap event will be on Thursday 20 July over at the Hub. This event will be for adult clothes only and buy a ticket. You can bring around 15 items of suitable clothing and swap them for as many items as you like. Any left over items will be donated to a non-profit.

Grove Park Run is a free community 5k walk/run/jog, every Saturday morning at Grove Fields, Mably Way, OX12 9BN. It is highly recommended for runners of all abilities. Dogs and children are allowed (children under 11 must be with an adult and dogs must be on short, hand held leads). For more information, please visit www.parkrun.org.uk/grovefields.

• The Wantage Summer Arts Festival is now on and will continue throughout the month. There will be a huge range of arts, crafts, musical and cultural events taking place around the town. Some activities may have limited spaces, so make such you book in advance to avoid missing out. Click here to read the full programme of activities.

• If you would like to find out about volunteering opportunities in the Wantage area please contact Vale Community Impact.

Sustainable Wantage‘s July news includes a chance to get your bicycle checked by Dr Bike in the market place on Saturday 29 July and lots 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.

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

Pain and gain at the Leisure Centre

There’s no doubt about it, Wantage Leisure Centre is in a sorry state. The showers frequently don’t work, the pool temperature is erratic, the roof leaks and the whole thing has the look and feel of something which has lacked any serious investment for at least a decade: which is, indeed, the case. Local residents have been quick to criticise what some have described as an “appalling” facility.

There are a number of things that might partly explain this. Firstly, until the project was finally cancelled in 2019, there were plans to build a new leisure centre between Wantage and Grove. Secondly, a good deal of money has been allocated to leisure funding but much of this is tied up in a cat’s cradle of Section 106 agreements (see the 22 June 2023 column “Sitting on the money). Thirdly, we’ve had Covid, which dominated everyone’s thoughts for two years, decimated leisure-centre revenue and disrupted our supply chains, certainly until now and perhaps for years to come.

The problems at the Leisure Centre can also be seen as symbolic of the lack of infrastructure investment in OX12 generally. The Wantage and Grove Campaign Group has regularly highlighted this issue, which will become increasing acute given the 7,500 more homes which are expected to have been built in the 2022-31 period. As well as leisure centres, the provision of schools, surgeries, community centres, roads and bus services seems to many inadequate for the reasonable community expectations: and we haven’t even mentioned Wantage Road Station, which continues not to exist despite increasing compelling reasons why it should (this is, I should stress, something that the Vale Council has only limited influence over).

Within ten or fifteen years, the station (or its derelict site) could be close to the centre of a new conurbation which would have filled in all the land between East Challow and East Hanney. Wantage would be on the southern fringe of this – a suburb of itself, if that’s possible – with the current Leisure Centre in turn pretty much on the southernmost edge of that.

Whether or not, under this scenario, an additional leisure centre will be needed is a matter for another day. What’s concerning people now is when the existing one is going to be fixed. On this, there would seem to be some good news.

On 11 July, I spoke again to Andy Crawford, the Vale’s portfolio holder for Finance. He said that the Vale had recently been awarded £2m of funding from the government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, administered by Salix. This will enable the installation of heat pumps, solar panels, insulation – the whole bag of tricks designed to make the building tick more boxes than it does at present. Other funding for the project will come from Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) developer contributions. Oxfordshire County Council will also contribute to the Wantage project as local schools regularly use the centre. In addition, some of the above-mentioned S106 funds – a separate system from CIL – will be used to build a new learner pool and improve the changing rooms.

The should be other benefits as well. In a statement issued earlier this year after the approval of the Vale’s 2023-24 budget, Andy Crawford said that “this work is expected to reduce the council’s overall energy use by 25 per cent, delivering considerable cost savings, making the centres more viable in the long run. It will [also] have a very significant impact on the council’s CO2 emissions.”

In the light of this funding for these wholesale repairs, Andy Crawford told Penny Post it was sensible that short-term, make-do-and mend expenditure be reined back. A bit more pain is thus to be expected by users of the facility for the next nine months or so.

The timing seems a bit tight, though. Officially, the £2m Salix funding needs to be spent by the end of March 2024, less than nine months away. Although the new learner pool won’t be funded from this source, it would seem sensible that planning permission be obtained before work starts in order to achieve a holistic result. The Vale Academy and Oxfordshire CC will also have views on all this, as will local residents. There are also the above-mentioned supply-chain issues for sourcing materials including solar panels, most of which seem to come from China. Finally, the plan is to do all this work without closing the Leisure Centre. All in all, this looks like a tough schedule.

It’s therefore good that, on past form, Salix seems to be flexible about reasonable delays. However, some pace will need to be shown in the next few months. I imagine that the Vale Council will be providing regular updates on the work which we will be happy to publicise. Users of the Leisure Centre will have their own views on how fast the work is progressing. Hopefully, this will be a good deal more effective and permanent than the patch-ups of the last decade. Let’s all make sure that this happens…

News from the WAGs

There are three things to point out that have recently come from the ever-active and ever-vigilant Wantage and Grove Campaign Group (WAGCG):

  • The group’s latest (11 July) newsletter, which draws attention to a number of planning applications, some of them quite significant, and a consultation about a 20mph speed limit in Wantage Town Centre.
  • WAGCG’s Julie Mabberley’s 5 July article in the Herald which looks at one of the nation’s recurring conversation topics – potholes – with particularly reference to the rich crop of them in OX12.
  • Her Herald article from this week, which looks at yet another problem caused by our raging population, the lack of senior housing.

If you would like to join the WAGCG and receive its newsletters directly, please click 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.

Sustainable Wantage runs a Library of Things to help reduce consumption and waste, enable people to save money and do things they might not otherwise do and to help to build a mind-set in our community that sharing things is an excellent option. 

Vale Community Impact seeks new volunteers for various roles including advisors, ‘good neighbours’ and drivers. Please contact them on 01235 765348 or recruitment@vci.org.uk for more details.

Wantage and Grove Children’s Clothing Bank collects used and new clothing for kids up to 14 years old. Collection points include Wantage Parish Church and St John’s Church Grove. Please click here to see the full list, plus opening hours. Or message them at w.g.clothesbank@gmail.com or via their Facebook page to arrange individual drop off/collection.

Wantage Tennis Club is open for new membership. See here for more details.

Wantage Parish Church offers a hot ‘Around Table’ meal every Wednesday to eat in or take-away between 3.30pm and 7pm. Supported by Oxford Food Hub.

Walkers, horse-riders, off road cyclists please be mindful of your impact on ground-nesting birds this spring and summer. Of course dogs love to romp but skylarks and nightjars are endangered species and if an adult is disturbed they will not return to their nest, leaving their chicks to die. Please