Wantage Area Weekly News – 2024 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 2023 archive.

Thursday 9 May 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes a red hen, climate action, an MP writes, business support and tennis. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Wantage area events include Beauty and the Beast and brass band concert. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

• This week’s news

• May half term is not too far away and there are various activities happening all around the Vale. In Wantage the Beacon will be showing a live performance of Little Red Hen, with live music and puppetry, on Friday 31 May. There will also be various classes to join in with and the Wantage Memorial Gardens Splash Pad is also set to reopen. To learn more about these, and what else is happening in neighbouring towns, click here.

• Latest news from South & Vale Business Support includes Green Skills contracts, currently open for bids, the Vale’s Climate Action Fund, the new Secure Innovation Personalised Action Plan tool, the VCSE Energy Efficiency Scheme, free business support from the Oxfordshire Business and Intellectual Property Centre (BIPC).

• Great news as the Vale of White Horse District Council has announced it’s doubled the size of the maximum grant available for its Climate Action Fund to £10,000 per project. For local community groups looking to tackle climate change and help nature recovery, grant applications opened last week and the deadline for applications is midday on Friday 28 June. Click here to learn about how to apply and click here to learn about past projects which have been funded by the scheme.

• Quick reminder that the lovely Down to Earth Cafe across the main road from Wantage Library is offering 200 free meals in May. See the cafe’s facebook page here for details.

• What is your favourite landmark in Wantage? Post it on The Dolphin Gallery’s Instagram page for the chance to win a fabulous Keith Drury print.

Latest news from local MP David Johnston including – as usually is the case – the latest news on his plans to get the railway station at Wantage Road in Grove re-opened.

Sustainable Wantage‘s May 2024 newsletter includes Market Garden Open Day, a survey about what we eat, and how to help people have healthier and more sustainable diets, biodiversty survey and lots more.

• As mentioned previously, the Vale Council is inviting all residents to “join the conversation” regarding their Heart of the Vale Plan draft for 2024-2028. Affordable housing, climate and nature recovery, and sustainable and inclusive communities are the top priorities at the heart of Vale of White Horse District, a recent statement claims. To find out more and take part, please click here. The conversation runs until Tuesday 14 May 2024.

• Quick reminder that the Wantage Lawn Tennis Club welcomes new members of all abilities. To join now go to wantagetennisclub.co.uk and click on the Membership tab. Everyone is welcome to visit the Club for free play on a Thursday evening or Sunday morning – just let them know you are coming. There will also be an Open Weekend on 8 to 9 June where you can meet Committee and Club Members and play for free.

Oxfordshire Wildlife Rescue are looking for volunteers to help their ambulance team with patient pick ups. They are currently seeing a huge surge in demand for the service. Although they have an ambulance for emergency call outs, pick ups usually involve volunteers to use their own vehicles, but costs for fuel are covered. Full training and OWR uniform is provided and this is a centre-based position. Please message them on facebook for more details

Latest business news from South and Vale Business Support includes the new Disability Confident and CIPD manager’s guide and Tourism South East’s Beautiful South Tourism Awards. We’re also highlighting The Business Barometer podcast series, the Innovate UK Women in Innovation competition, and South and Vale’s community event about our future plans.

• New planning rules introduced nationwide require those looking to build a new development must include wildlife enhancements as part of their plans. To see how the Vale of the White Horse Council plans to consider them in future developments, click here.

• Would you like to volunteer your business expertise to help Education Business Partnership prepare our local young people? Please see here for more details.

• Looking for a great way to give back to a local cause? If so, why not join Vale Community Impact‘s 500 Club charity lottery? Each month you could be in with a chance of winning £50 cash. The weekly £5 cost helps VCI provide dedicated support and advice and community transport to local people and families. For information please email help@vci.org.uk

• Latest business news from South & Vale Business Support.

• Click here for the latest news from the Wantage Bookshop.

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon every Friday afternooon. 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 meets at East Challow Village Hall on the third Wednesday of each month.  All welcome, visitors £5. Click here for more info.

• 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.visit facebook page for details. 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 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

Thur 16 to Sat 18 May Beauty and the Beast, The Beacon, Wantage.

Fri 17 May Wantage Concert Brass & Wantage Youth Brass Concert, the Sykes Hall, Wantage.

Sun 19 May Open Day, Wantage Market Garden.

Fri 31 May Little Red Hen, The Beacon, Wantage.

Sun 2 June Wantage Silver Band & Cold Ash Brass Concert, St Nichols Church, Newbury.

• Sun 9 Jun Wantage Carnival 2024, Wantage Market Place.

• Sat 15 Jun Grove & Wantage Extravaganza, Grove Recreation Grounds.

• Sat 20 Jul Lets All Dance Ballet : Goldilocks, 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 second 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 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. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 25 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.) Items covered included: reports from the committees; Earth Day; the condition of shop buildings )see separate section above); the hospital; financial matters; and reports from the Mayor and the local councillors.
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 10 April and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: tree planting; matters arising; reports from the country and district councillors; planning matters; financial matters; Challow Sports; the annual parish meeting (22 May); D-Day; the parish cemeteries; highways; speeding; public art; repairs and maintenance; and risk assessments.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 9 April and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: a councillor co-option; the Clerk’s summary; reports from the county and district councillors; local developments; a proposed patio at the Rugby Club; the Cane Lane barrier; the Vale’s leisure Strategy; repairs and maintenance; financial matters; planning matters; and a discussion about a discussion at the meeting on 16 January.
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 3 April 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 14 March 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 7 March 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 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 Watchfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 19 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 January 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 18 December 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 2 May 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes palm oil, Grove’s station, tennis, sewing and a chorus – plus Wantage’s Community Hospital, a campaign group’s latest newsletter and Grove’s annual meeting. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Wantage area events include supper concert and dawn chorus walk. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

• Wantage’s Community Hospital

Over the last few years in particular the future of this facility has been the subject of considerable interest, attention and lobbying. The first closure (of the minor injuries unit) took place in 2002. The in-patient beds were closed “temporarily” in 2016 following a legionella outbreak with pretty much all other services having ceased by 2020. Considerable energies by many people have since been spent trying to plot a way through the labyrinthine network of the local health authorities to try to get its future clarified, hopefully involving a re-opening.

This document published by Oxfordshire CC provides, as it describes itself, “an outline of the happenings at Wantage Community Hospital as detailed through the public record of minutes and agenda items of the Oxfordshire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which has been involved in scrutinising the closure of beds at Wantage since 2016.” Others may have other assessments of some of the issues. The last event it describes took place in May 2023. More has happened since.

On 9 April, OCC Councillors Jenny Hannaby and Jane Hanna reported to Grove Parish Council that ‘the multi-approvals necessary by the Oxford Health Board and the integrated Health Board Wantage Community Hospital to support the major refurbishment of the Community Hospital were completed in March. Work has been going on in parallel since January to meet the three requirements set out by the Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview Scrutiny Committee.” I’ve asked the two Councillors for a plain-language summary of whet the three requirements are and also a timeline for what might happen next and have been promised a response.

The 2 May newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group adds that the “plans for the upgrade to the Community Hospital will be unveiled next month. These will take away all the wards and replace them with consulting rooms to enable more clinics to be moved from the Oxford Hospitals. We wait to see the details. Hopefully the work will be completed by the beginning of next year.”

And speaking of which…

• Annual meetings, batteries and the reservoir

The above-mentioned Wantage and Grove Campaign Group newsletter also looks at the following issues:

  • The dates of some of the forthcoming annual parish meetings in the area.
  • A link to the petition regarding the meat-reservoir plan.
  • The Church Street and Newbury Street Patients’ newsletter.
  • A talk on chronic kidney disease.
  • The need for batteries at the proposed solar farm near Denchworth.
  • Applications for the next stages of the housing development on Crab Hill, Grove Airfield and Monks Farm.
  • A new puffin and Fitzwaryn School.
  • Work at the Wantage Leisure (though “no mention of any modernisation of the swimming pool, addition of a learner pool or rennovation of the gym”).
  • Open gardens.
  • Wantage Carnival.

• Grove’s meeting

Grove held its annual parish meeting on 26 April (as all parishes must do between 1 March and 1 June) and you can read the full text of the address by the Chair, June Stock, by clicking here.

• Other news

• Wantage Town Council’s Annual Town Meeting is 7.30pm next Thursday 9 May at Sykes Hall, Tugwell Field OX12 8FR. This is a good opportunity for residents and businesses to share their views and questions with the town council. There will also be presentations by Vale Community Impact, Jigsaw Productions and Wantage Riding for the Disabled. See full agenda here. Wantage Chamber of Commerce will be there and encourages local business owners to attend.

• The Wantage Café Scientifique is back this week on the topic of ‘The Conundrum of Palm Oil‘ with Andrew Ainslie, who teaches International Development at the University of Reading’s School of Agriculture, Policy and Development. He is particularly drawn to the study of the multiple, overlapping controversies in what is referred to as ‘the global food system’. Taking place at 7.30pm on Wednesday 8 May at the Wildwood Cinema. Click here for more details.

• Post your favourite Wantage landmark to win a Keith Drury print from Dolphin Gallery, Wantage

• Thanks to renewed warm space funding from Clarion Housing and Vale of White Horse District Council, Down to Earth Cafe is offering 200 free meals in May. See the cafe’s facebook page here for details.

• What is your favourite landmark in Wantage? Post it on The Dolphin Gallery’s Instagram page for the chance to win a fabulous Keith Drury print.

Latest news from local MP David johnston including – as usually is the case – the latest news on his plans to get the railway station at Wantage Road in Grove re-opened.

Sustainable Wantage‘s May 2024 newsletter includes Market Garden Open Day, a survey about what we eat, and how to help people have healthier and more sustainable diets, biodiversty survey and lots more.

• As mentioned previously, the Vale Council is inviting all residents to “join the conversation” regarding their Heart of the Vale Plan draft for 2024-2028. Affordable housing, climate and nature recovery, and sustainable and inclusive communities are the top priorities at the heart of Vale of White Horse District, a recent statement claims. To find out more and take part, please click here. The conversation runs until Tuesday 14 May 2024.

• This weekend, celebrate Star Wars Day with the Wantage Silver Band’s Supper Concert on Saturday 4 May. Also later this month you can also catch the  Wantage Concert Brass teaming up with Wantage Youth for a Brass Concert, on Fri 17 May at Sykes Hall, Wantage.

• For any sewers and crafters, there will be a Fabric & Sewing pop-up sale on Saturday 4 May at the Hub in Shrivenham. There will be an amazing selection of craft materials, fabric (including fat quarters), wadding and stiffening, as well as a variety of sewing accessories, perfect for crafting any bank holiday projects.

• Quick reminder that the Wantage Lawn Tennis Club welcomes new members of all abilities. To join now go to wantagetennisclub.co.uk and click on the Membership tab. Everyone is welcome to visit the Club for free play on a Thursday evening or Sunday morning – just let them know you are coming. There will also be an Open Weekend on 8 to 9 June where you can meet Committee and Club Members and play for free.

• Join Sustainable Wantage on Sunday 5 May for a dawn chorus walk on International Dawn Chorus Day! They will be meeting at Betjeman Park before heading along the Letcombe Brook corridor to Willow Walk, looking and listening for birds as they go. After the walk, there is also the option to have breakfast at 6.30am at the Down To Earth Community Café. To book a place on just the walk, click here. To book the walk with breakfast, click here.

• Our rivers are in trouble and ARK – Action for the River Kennet is asking for your help by joining the The Rivers Trust #BigRiverWatch this Bank Holiday weekend between Friday 3 and Monday 6 May. By reporting what you see in your local river, you’ll be contributing to the citizen science survey and help paint a big picture of the health of our rivers in the UK and Ireland. The more that we know about them, the better we can restore our vital waterways and demand action for rivers. Search for ‘Big River Watch’ in your app store or click here, to download and get started.

Oxfordshire Wildlife Rescue are looking for volunteers to help their ambulance team with patient pick ups. They are currently seeing a huge surge in demand for the service. Although they have an ambulance for emergency call outs, pick ups usually involve volunteers to use their own vehicles, but costs for fuel are covered. Full training and OWR uniform is provided and this is a centre-based position. Please message them on facebook for more details

Latest business news from South and Vale Business Support includes the new Disability Confident and CIPD manager’s guide and Tourism South East’s Beautiful South Tourism Awards. We’re also highlighting The Business Barometer podcast series, the Innovate UK Women in Innovation competition, and South and Vale’s community event about our future plans.

• New planning rules introduced nationwide require those looking to build a new development must include wildlife enhancements as part of their plans. To see how the Vale of the White Horse Council plans to consider them in future developments, click here.

• Would you like to volunteer your business expertise to help Education Business Partnership prepare our local young people? Please see here for more details.

• Looking for a great way to give back to a local cause? If so, why not join Vale Community Impact‘s 500 Club charity lottery? Each month you could be in with a chance of winning £50 cash. The weekly £5 cost helps VCI provide dedicated support and advice and community transport to local people and families. For information please email help@vci.org.uk

• Latest business news from South & Vale Business Support.

• Click here for the latest news from the Wantage Bookshop.

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon every Friday afternooon. 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 meets at East Challow Village Hall on the third Wednesday of each month.  All welcome, visitors £5. Click here for more info.

• 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.visit facebook page for details. 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 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 4 May Supper Concert celebrating Star Wars, Wantage Silver Band Hall.

Sat 4 May Fabric & Sewing Pop-Up Sale, The Hub, Shrivenham.

Sun 5 May Sustainable Wantage: Dawn Chorus Walk, meeting at Betjeman Park, Wantage.

Wed 8 May Wantage Café Scientfique: The Conundrum of Palm Oil, Wildwood Cinema, Wantage.

Fri 17 May Wantage Concert Brass & Wantage Youth Brass Concert, the Sykes Hall, Wantage.

Sun 19 May Open Day, Wantage Market Garden.

• Sun 9 Jun Wantage Carnival 2024, Wantage Market Place.

• Sat 15 Jun Grove & Wantage Extravaganza, Grove Recreation Grounds.

• 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 second 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 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. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 25 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.) Items covered included: reports from the committees; Earth Day; the condition of shop buildings )see separate section above); the hospital; financial matters; and reports from the Mayor and the local councillors.
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 10 April and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: tree planting; matters arising; reports from the country and district councillors; planning matters; financial matters; Challow Sports; the annual parish meeting (22 May); D-Day; the parish cemeteries; highways; speeding; public art; repairs and maintenance; and risk assessments.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 9 April and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: a councillor co-option; the Clerk’s summary; reports from the county and district councillors; local developments; a proposed patio at the Rugby Club; the Cane Lane barrier; the Vale’s leisure Strategy; repairs and maintenance; financial matters; planning matters; and a discussion about a discussion at the meeting on 16 January.
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 3 April and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: parking on the High Street; waste bins; reports from the district and county councillors; plastic-free plans; the Chair’s report; bus budgets; financial matters; community transport; speeding; S106 and CIL funds; the allotments; and the PC’s social-media policy.
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 March 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 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 West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 January 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 19 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 January 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 18 December 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 25 April 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes St George, a silver band, nature activities, research, tennis and business support. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Wantage area events include St George’s Day celebration and nature activities. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

• The Vale’s conversation

The Vale Council is inviting all residents to “join the conversation on plan to put communities at the heart of everything Affordable housing, climate and nature recovery, and sustainable and inclusive communities – three things being set as the top priorities at the heart of Vale of White Horse District,” a recent statement claims.

Vale of White Horse District Council is setting a new council plan for the next four years and is encouraging everyone within the district to join in the conversation ‘At the Heart of the Vale’ . The district council is “opening up a discussion around putting communities at the heart of all its goals to help the council focus on its residents’ needs and improving their communities.”

The council has set out its initial ideas and the aim is now to open up a two-way conversation and find out what residents, businesses, community groups and organisations think. The feedback will contribute to the development of a new draft corporate plan for 2024-2028.

To find out more and take part, please click here. The conversation runs until Tuesday 14 May 2024.

• This week’s news

• You’re invited to come and celebrate St George’s Day with the local community at Wantage Market Place this Sunday 28 April. There will be artisan stalls, live music, great food, crafts, live farm animals and free children’s entertainment to enjoy. Why not come dressed as a knight, dragon or princess? Further information can be found here.

• Next Monday 29 April there will be some family-friendly nature activities, at Wantage Market Garden. This month’s activity will be pond dipping and a bug hut. Click here to learn more.

• Join Sustainable Wantage on Sunday 5 May for a dawn chorus walk on International Dawn Chorus Day! They will be meeting at Betjeman Park before heading along the Letcombe Brook corridor to Willow Walk, looking and listening for birds as they go. After the walk, there is also the option to have breakfast at 6.30am at the Down To Earth Community Café. To book a place on just the walk, click here. To book the walk with breakfast, click here.

• The Wantage Silver Band have lots of events coming up over the next few weeks. This weekend, you can join them for a Jazz afternoon in the Band Hall, a Brass and Pipes Concert featuring Scottish classics on Saturday 27 April and their Supper Concert celebrating Star Wars on Saturday 4 May.

• New fees for council car parks and permits in the district came into force at the start of this month. Click here to learn more and read the Councils’ statement.

Oxfordshire Wildlife Rescue are looking for volunteers to help their ambulance team with patient pick ups. They are currently seeing a huge surge in demand for the service. Although they have an ambulance for emergency call outs, pick ups usually involve volunteers to use their own vehicles, but costs for fuel are covered. Full training and OWR uniform is provided and this is a centre-based position. Please message them on facebook for more details

Latest business news from South and Vale Business Support includes the new Disability Confident and CIPD manager’s guide and Tourism South East’s Beautiful South Tourism Awards. We’re also highlighting The Business Barometer podcast series, the Innovate UK Women in Innovation competition, and South and Vale’s community event about our future plans.

• The Wantage Lawn Tennis Club, situated near Wantage Bowls Club, children’s play facilities, the refurbished Bandstand and car parking, welcomes new members of all abilities. To join now go to wantagetennisclub.co.uk and click on the Membership tab. Everyone is welcome to visit the Club for free play on a Thursday evening or Sunday morning – just let them know you are coming. There will also be an Open Weekend on 8 to 9 June where you can meet Committee and Club Members and play for free.

Appeal to save Oxfordshire Wildlife Rescue which needs to find new premises having received notice to leave from its current landlords. If it doesn’t find a new home they will have to close which will be devastating for local wildlife.

• Local resident Hannah Fairfull is trying to find out information about her grandmother, Ruth Fairfull (née Lay). See her FB page for more.

Artnet.com has more information on the Red River Archaeology Group’s discovery of  a remarkable Roman villa while working on a housing development at Brookside Meadows in Grove last month.

• New planning rules introduced nationwide require those looking to build a new development must include wildlife enhancements as part of their plans. To see how the Vale of the White Horse Council plans to consider them in future developments, click here.

• Would you like to volunteer your business expertise to help Education Business Partnership prepare our local young people? Please see here for more details.

• Looking for a great way to give back to a local cause? If so, why not join Vale Community Impact‘s 500 Club charity lottery? Each month you could be in with a chance of winning £50 cash. The weekly £5 cost helps VCI provide dedicated support and advice and community transport to local people and families. For information please email help@vci.org.uk

• Latest business news from South & Vale Business Support.

• Click here for the latest news from the Wantage Bookshop.

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon every Friday afternooon. 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 meets at East Challow Village Hall on the third Wednesday of each month.  All welcome, visitors £5. Click here for more info.

• 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.visit facebook page for details. 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 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 27 Apr Jazz afternoon, Wantage Silver Band Hall

• Sat 27 Apr Brass and Pipes Concert, Wantage Silver Band Hall

Sun 28 Apr St George’s Day celebrations, Wantage.

Mon 29 Apr Nature Activities, at Wantage Market Garden, Wantage.

• Sat 4 May Supper Concert celebrating Star Wars, Wantage Silver Band Hall

Sun 5 May Sustainable Wantage: Dawn Chorus Walk, meeting at Betjeman Park, Wantage.

• Sun 9 Jun Wantage Carnival 2024, Wantage Market Place.

• Sat 15 Jun Grove & Wantage Extravaganza, Grove Recreation Grounds.

• 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 second 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 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. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 25 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.) Items covered included: reports from the committees; Earth Day; the condition of shop buildings )see separate section above); the hospital; financial matters; and reports from the Mayor and the local councillors.
To see the dates and agendas of future meetings, 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 3 April and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: parking on the High Street; waste bins; reports from the district and county councillors; plastic-free plans; the Chair’s report; bus budgets; financial matters; community transport; speeding; S106 and CIL funds; the allotments; and the PC’s social-media policy.
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 Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 March and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; a report from the ward member; planning matters; flood alleviation proposals; financial matters; warm spaces; D-Day; trees; CCTV; a community orchard; highways; speeding; and repairs and maintenance.
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 7 March 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 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 Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 27 February and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 January 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 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.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 January 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 18 December 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 18 April 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes a magazine, a new bus, a good response, a band and parking charges – plus Wantage’s pedestrianisation and a request from the Town Council about looking after shops. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Wantage area events include clothes swap and food fair. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

• Wantage’s pedestrianisation

As mentioned last week, this issue seems slowly to resurfacing and I’m still trying to establish what if any firm proposals exist, what communications have been sent and what matters still remain unresolved. More on this to follow.

As I said before, this is a classic example of a contentious issue about which total agreement is rarely if ever possible. Similar schemes have encountered opposition in a number of other towns in the area, including Newbury where a new scheme is set to be unveiled this year. The pragmatic aim is to find not the perfect solution but the most good (or the least bad) one. First, of course, it’s necessary for everyone fully to understand in good time what’s being proposed.

• Improvement wanted

The following is taken from the minutes of the meeting of Wantage Town Council on 25 March:

“Item 88: To consider working with the Chamber of Commerce regarding the condition of shop buildings in the town centre.

“It had been noted that landlords and tenants were not looking after their properties. It was suggested that a letter be sent to all landlords and tenants to remind them of their obligations. It was pointed out that the Vale didn’t have any grants available to assist them at the moment.

“There was uncertainty over what a letter from the Town Council would achieve. It was noted that the properties had different tenures and most of them don’t belong to the Chamber of Commerce. While there was agreement with the sentiment of the suggestion there was uncertainty over what could realistically be achieved. There was concern over the erosion of the conservation area and discussion followed on this matter.

“In summary it was agreed that the council would like to see an improvement, but the issue was how to achieve this.”

• Other news

• This month’s Wantage Town Magazine is now out. Click here to have a flick through to find out about exciting upcoming events, local businesses and some interesting articles.

• There is a new Bus Service Number 85 connecting Goosey, Charney Bassett and Denchworth to Grove and Wantage (on Wednesdays only). See here for the timetable details.

• Don’t miss the St George’s Day Celebrations in Wantage Marketplace on Sunday 28 April with fun activities for all the family, including ‘Tame the Dragon’, farm animal display and lots of great artisan stalls.  See details here.

• South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils report a great response to their consultation regarding the Joint Local Plan proposal, with well over a thousand respondents. They credit this with the ‘innovative online engagement’ via their new website Join the Conversation, which presents the information in a user-friendly, accessible way. The councils are currently in the process of putting together a report summarising the comments they received. To learn more on this story, click here.

• The Wantage Silver Band have lots of events coming up over the next few weeks. This weekend, you can join them for a Jazz afternoon in the Band Hall, a Brass and Pipes Concert featuring Scottish classics on Saturday 27 April and their Supper Concert celebrating Star Wars on Saturday 4 May.

• The April Newsletter from Sustainable Wantage includes volunteering opportunities, including a chance to be involved in their Biodiversity Survey, local events, an update from Draughtbusters and an Earth Day Clothes Swap (happening this Saturday 20 April). They are also interested to hear from people in Wantage and Grove with a pond in their garden, as they wish to map them. Check out the newsletter to learn more and take part in their online survey.

• New fees for council car parks and permits in the district came into force at the start of this month. Click here to learn more and read the Councils’ statement.

Oxfordshire Wildlife Rescue are looking for volunteers to help their ambulance team with patient pick ups. They are currently seeing a huge surge in demand for the service. Although they have an ambulance for emergency call outs, pick ups usually involve volunteers to use their own vehicles, but costs for fuel are covered. Full training and OWR uniform is provided and this is a centre-based position. Please message them on facebook for more details

Latest business news from South and Vale Business Support includes the new Disability Confident and CIPD manager’s guide and Tourism South East’s Beautiful South Tourism Awards. We’re also highlighting The Business Barometer podcast series, the Innovate UK Women in Innovation competition, and South and Vale’s community event about our future plans.

• The Wantage Lawn Tennis Club, situated near Wantage Bowls Club, children’s play facilities, the refurbished Bandstand and car parking, welcomes new members of all abilities. To join now go to wantagetennisclub.co.uk and click on the Membership tab. Everyone is welcome to visit the Club for free play on a Thursday evening or Sunday morning – just let them know you are coming. There will also be an Open Weekend on 8 to 9 June where you can meet Committee and Club Members and play for free.

Click here for the latest (2 April 2024) newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnston.

Appeal to save Oxfordshire Wildlife Rescue which needs to find new premises having received notice to leave from its current landlords. If it doesn’t find a new home they will have to close which will be devastating for local wildlife.

• Local resident Hannah Fairfull is trying to find out information about her grandmother, Ruth Fairfull (née Lay). See her FB page for more.

Artnet.com has more information on the Red River Archaeology Group’s discovery of  a remarkable Roman villa while working on a housing development at Brookside Meadows in Grove last month.

• New planning rules introduced nationwide require those looking to build a new development must include wildlife enhancements as part of their plans. To see how the Vale of the White Horse Council plans to consider them in future developments, click here.

• Would you like to volunteer your business expertise to help Education Business Partnership prepare our local young people? Please see here for more details.

• Looking for a great way to give back to a local cause? If so, why not join Vale Community Impact‘s 500 Club charity lottery? Each month you could be in with a chance of winning £50 cash. The weekly £5 cost helps VCI provide dedicated support and advice and community transport to local people and families. For information please email help@vci.org.uk

• Latest business news from South & Vale Business Support.

• Click here for the latest news from the Wantage Bookshop.

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon every Friday afternooon. 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 meets at East Challow Village Hall on the third Wednesday of each month.  All welcome, visitors £5. Click here for more info.

• 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.visit facebook page for details. 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 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 20 Apr Earth Day Clothes Swap, the Beacon, Wantage.

Sun 21 Apr RDA Food Fair, Ardington.

Sun 21 Apr Litter pick, Wantage (meet at The Beacon 8.30am).

Sun 28 Apr St George’s Day celebrations, Wantage.

Mon 29 Apr Nature Activities, Wantage Garden Market, behind the Charlton Centre, Charlton Village Rd.

Sun 5 May Sustainable Wantage: Dawn Chorus Walk, meeting at Betjeman Park, Wantage.

• Sun 9 Jun Wantage Carnival 2024, Wantage Market Place.

• Sat 15 Jun Wantage & Grove Extravaganza, Grove Recreation Grounds.

• 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 second 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 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. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 25 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.) Items covered included: reports from the committees; Earth Day; the condition of shop buildings )see separate section above); the hospital; financial matters; and reports from the Mayor and the local councillors.
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 13 March and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; a report from the ward member; planning matters; flood alleviation proposals; financial matters; warm spaces; D-Day; trees; CCTV; a community orchard; highways; speeding; and repairs and maintenance.
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 7 March 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 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 Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 3 March and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 27 February and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 January 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 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.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 January 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 18 December 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 11 April 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes car parking, a consultation, a newsletter and a grandmother – plus pedestrianisation back on the agenda and a community lunch club. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Wantage area events include a laughing ox and a spring show. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

• Pedestrianisation in Wantage

Last year, we gave fairly detailed coverage to proposals to pedestrianise part of Wantage’s Town Square which brought the Town Council into conflict with many business owners. The main issues were our old friends communication and consultation, or lack of these. The plans were eventually withdrawn in the autumn and the businesses community awaited further news of what was proposed.

I’ve very recently learned that the same problems appear to be resurfacing again with tales of unanswered emails and of applications being proposed with no discussion with those affected. There are (at least) two sides to every story so I’ll hold over any further comment until I’ve been able to find out more. So far, though, my main feeling in one of dejà vu.

At the risk of stating the obvious (though I’ve stated this several times), changes to pedestrianisation and traffic arrangements are rarely going to produce a result with which everyone is happy. Change is of itself often unwelcome, particularly if accompanied with an element of surprise. Even with the best communication, though, the interests of pedestrians, motorists, cyclists, the disabled, shoppers, business owners, residents, delivery drivers and the emergency services can rarely be aligned. A lot of compromises are needed and a lot of goodwill needs to be created so that that everyone gives the trial, or permanent, solution a fair go before complaining. The worst situation is that the scheme kicks off with many of those affected already bristling for a fight.

As mentioned above, more on this when I know more. Please contact brian@pennypost.org.uk if you have any views on the matter.

• Community Lunch Club for retirees

Down to Earth Community Café in partnership with Sustainable Wantage is hosting a monthly Lunch Club for retired individuals who would like to meet others and share cooking skills at Down to Earth Community Café, Stirlings Close, Wantage. The sessions take place on the third Saturday of each month 10am to 1pm with the next one being on Saturday 20 April.

Thanks to funding from Oxfordshire Community Foundation this event is free of charge with spaces for six participants each month. If you would like to enjoy a friendly chop and chat session to cook and share a delicious lunch in a warm and welcoming space,  click here to register your interest and they will get in touch to book you in.

• Why it matters who the next PCC is

Police and Crime Commissioners are elected by the public to ensure the policing needs of communities are met. PCCs set police budgets, priorities and appoint the Chief Constable. The next PCC election is 2 May and the deadline to register to vote is 16 April. Registering to vote takes just five minutes at gov.uk/register-to-vote. To decide who to vote for, see our local Thames Valley candidates’ manifestos here.

Nigel Lynn, Police Area Returning Officer (PARO) and Chief Executive of West Berkshire Council, said: “This election is your opportunity to influence how your police service works. The PCC’s job is to make sure that crime in our area is tackled effectively and according to our local priorities. They’re elected by you, to be your voice and to hold the police force to account.”

• Other news

• The Vale Council has announced that new fees for council car parks and permits in the district came into force at the start of this month. The statement adds that “some of the fees in council car parks on the outskirts of Abingdon and Wantage are being reduced by up to 30 percent while other council car parks in the town centres will see modest increases, along with increases to permit prices.”

• Local sports clubs, leisure users and sports enthusiasts can, until  Wednesday 17 April, have their say on district facilities through the current Playing Pitch and Leisure Facilities consultations. More information can be found here.

Click here for the latest (2 April 2024) newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnston.

Appeal to save Oxfordshire Wildlife Rescue which needs to find new premises having received notice to leave from its current landlords. If it doesn’t find a new home they will have to close which will be devastating for local wildlife.

• Local resident Hannah Fairfull is trying to find out information about her grandmother, Ruth Fairfull (née Lay). She her FB page for more.

• Earlybird tickets (offering some great savings) are now on sale for the Newbury Show on 21 and 22 September and there are also sponsorship opportunities still available. See more here.

Wantage Lawn Tennis Club in Manor Road Park is a five-minute walk from the town centre, where you can also find Wantage Bowls Club, children’s play facilities, the refurbished Bandstand and car parking. The Tennis Club’s 2024-25 season starts on 1 April. To join now go to wantagetennisclub.co.uk and click on the Membership tab. Everyone is welcome to visit the Club for free play on a Thursday evening or Sunday morning to see what is on offer and “try before you buy”. Just let them know you are coming. There will also be an Open Weekend on 8 to 9 June  where you can meet Committee and Club Members and play for free.

• The March Newsletter from Sustainable Wantage includes volunteering opportunities, including a chance to be involved in their Biodiversity Survey, local events, an update from Cycling UK Wantage and more.

Artnet.com has more information on the Red River Archaeology Group’s discovery of  a remarkable Roman villa while working on a housing development at Brookside Meadows in Grove last month.

• New planning rules introduced nationwide require those looking to build a new development must include wildlife enhancements as part of their plans. To see how the Vale of the White Horse Council plans to consider them in future developments, click here.

• Would you like to volunteer your business expertise to help Education Business Partnership prepare our local young people? Please see here for more details.

• Looking for a great way to give back to a local cause? If so, why not join Vale Community Impact‘s 500 Club charity lottery? Each month you could be in with a chance of winning £50 cash. The weekly £5 cost helps VCI provide dedicated support and advice and community transport to local people and families. For information please email help@vci.org.uk

• Latest business news from South & Vale Business Support.

• Click here for the latest news from the Wantage Bookshop.

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon every Friday afternooon. 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 meets at East Challow Village Hall on the third Wednesday of each month.  All welcome, visitors £5. Click here for more info.

• 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.visit facebook page for details. 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 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 12 Apr Matt Richardson’s Laughing Ox, The Beacon.

Sat 13 Apr Grove Annual Spring Show, Grove.

Sat 13 Apr Sustainable jewellery-making workshop, Wantage.

Sun 14 Apr Open Garden, The Old Rectory, Farnborough.

Wed 17 Apr Wantage Art Group, East Challow.

Sun 21 Apr RDA Food Fair, Ardington.

Sun 21 Apr Litter pick, Wantage (meet at The Beacon 8.30am).

Sun 28 Apr St George’s Day celebrations, Wantage.

• Sun 9 Jun Wantage Carnival 2024, Wantage Market Place.

• Sat 15 Jun Wantage & Grove Extravaganza, Grove Recreation Grounds.

• 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 second 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 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. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 4 December and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.)
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 13 March and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; a report from the ward member; planning matters; flood alleviation proposals; financial matters; warm spaces; D-Day; trees; CCTV; a community orchard; highways; speeding; and repairs and maintenance.
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 5 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a report from the ward member; flooding; actions from the previous meeting; the neighbourhood plan; a councillor vacancy; financial matters; planning matters; repairs and maintenance; 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 3 March and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 27 February and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 1 February 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 West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 January 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 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.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 January 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 18 December 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 4 April 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes a predicted change, a new home, an ancestral search, tennis and consultations – plus a look at the Vale’s new parking charges which have just come into force. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Wantage area events include a musical and time travel. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

• Parking charges

The Vale Council has announced that new fees for council car parks and permits in the district came into force at the start of this month. The statement adds that “some of the fees in council car parks on the outskirts of Abingdon and Wantage are being reduced by up to 30 percent while other council car parks in the town centres will see modest increases, along with increases to permit prices.”

As to what happens to the money, the Council confirmed that “All funds from council car parking fees and permits are invested back into providing the service and making improvements to car parks, highways, public conveniences and public open spaces, as well as developing infrastructure to encourage active travel such as cycle paths and bike storage.”

As with pedestrianisation (the debate concerning which many Wantage residents will remember), it’s hard if not impossible to arrive at any solution which doesn’t inconvenience someone. For every motorist or shop-keeper who wants more and cheaper parking rates there are bus companies, environmental groups and on occasions highways departments who want to restrict them.

Mark Coleman, The Vale’s Cabinet Member for Environmental Services and Waste, said that the Council was “always aware of the fine balance between supporting local businesses, encouraging people to use sustainable transport rather than cars, and the cost of living crisis. We believe these increases are as reasonable as possible for everyone.” Whether everyone agrees is another matter.

• Community Lunch Club for retirees

Down to Earth Community Café in partnership with Sustainable Wantage is hosting a monthly Lunch Club for retired individuals who would like to meet others and share cooking skills at Down to Earth Community Café, Stirlings Close, Wantage. The sessions take place on the third Saturday of each month 10am to 1pm with the next one being on Saturday 20 April.

Thanks to funding from Oxfordshire Community Foundation this event is free of charge with spaces for 6 participants each month. If you would like to enjoy a friendly chop and chat session to cook and share a delicious lunch in a warm and welcoming space,  click here to register your interest and they will get in touch to book you in.

• Other news

This recent YouGov prediction, reported by the Oxford Clarion, suggests that Wantage’s MP may be of a difference political complexion after the election, whenever that proves to be.

• None the less, David Johnston is still in post for now. Click here for the latest (2 April 2024) newsletter.

Appeal to save Oxfordshire Wildlife Rescue which needs to find new premises having received notice to leave from its current landlords. If it doesn’t find a new home they will have to close which will be devastating for local wildlife.

The Herald reports that the candidates for the 2 May election for the position of Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner have been announced.

• Local resident Hannah Fairfull is trying to find out information about her grandmother, Ruth Fairfull (née Lay). She her FB page for more.

• Earlybird tickets (offering some great savings) are now on sale for the Newbury Show on 21 and 22 September and there are also sponsorship opportunities still available. See more here.

Wantage Lawn Tennis Club in Manor Road Park is a five-minute walk from the town centre, where you can also find Wantage Bowls Club, children’s play facilities, the refurbished Bandstand and car parking. The Tennis Club’s 2024-25 season starts on 1 April. To join now go to wantagetennisclub.co.uk and click on the Membership tab. Everyone is welcome to visit the Club for free play on a Thursday evening or Sunday morning to see what is on offer and “try before you buy”. Just let them know you are coming. There will also be an Open Weekend on 8 to 9 June  where you can meet Committee and Club Members and play for free.

• Local sports clubs, leisure users and sports enthusiasts can, until  Wednesday 17 April, have their say on district facilities through the current Playing Pitch and Leisure Facilities consultations. More information can be found here.

• Lots of Easter fun this holdiay across South and Vale, including circus-themed fun at The Beacon in Wantage. For more details and how to book click here.

• The March Newsletter from Sustainable Wantage includes volunteering opportunities, including a chance to be involved in their Biodiversity Survey, local events, an update from Cycling UK Wantage and more.

The BBC reports that archaeologists from the Red River Archaeology Group came across the the remains of a remarkable Roman villa while working on a Barratt and David Wilson Homes housing development at Brookside Meadows in Grove.

• New planning rules introduced nationwide require those looking to build a new development must include wildlife enhancements as part of their plans. To see how the Vale of the White Horse Council plans to consider them in future developments, click here.

• Would you like to volunteer your business expertise to help Education Business Partnership prepare our local young people? Please see here for more details.

• Looking for a great way to give back to a local cause? If so, why not join Vale Community Impact‘s 500 Club charity lottery? Each month you could be in with a chance of winning £50 cash. The weekly £5 cost helps VCI provide dedicated support and advice and community transport to local people and families. For information please email help@vci.org.uk

• Latest business news from South & Vale Business Support.

• Click here for the latest news from the Wantage Bookshop.

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon every Friday afternooon. 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 meets at East Challow Village Hall on the third Wednesday of each month.  All welcome, visitors £5. Click here for more info.

• 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.visit facebook page for details. 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 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

Thu 4 to Sat 6 Apr AmEgos Theatre The Huntchback of Notre Dame musical, Wantage Parish Church.

Wed 10 Apr Time Travelling Family Fun Day, Vale and Downland Museum.

Sun 21 Apr Litter pick, Wantage (meet at The Beacon 8.30am).

• Sun 9 Jun Wantage Carnival 2024, Wantage Market Place.

• Sat 15 Jun Wantage & Grove Extravaganza, Grove Recreation Grounds.

• 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 second 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 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. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 4 December and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.)
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 13 March and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; a report from the ward member; planning matters; flood alleviation proposals; financial matters; warm spaces; D-Day; trees; CCTV; a community orchard; highways; speeding; and repairs and maintenance.
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 5 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a report from the ward member; flooding; actions from the previous meeting; the neighbourhood plan; a councillor vacancy; financial matters; planning matters; repairs and maintenance; 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 3 March and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 1 February 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 West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 January 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 Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 16 January 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 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.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 January 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 18 December 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 28 March 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes a villa, a new home, ducks, elections and tennis – plus a look at the latest newsletter from a local campaign group, councillor remuneration and community responsibility. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Wantage area events include charity duck race and local theatre. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

• A cautionary tale and other matters

The latest (27 March) edition of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group’s newsletter has recently dropped into my in box. Here’s a quick summary of what it has:

  • A useful and slightly alarming cautionary tale about the need to exercise what might be called a healthy scepticism about the claims made by utility companies such as Thames Water regarding estimated readings.
  • A new petition regarding the mega-reservoir plans.
  • A reminder about the Playing Pitch and Leisure Facilities strategies, both of which close on 17 April.
  • A reminder also about the Local Government Boundary Commission consultation about proposed new division boundaries for the County Council, which closes on 8 April.
  • A request from the South and Vale Councils for volunteers to help review councillors’ allowances (see also below), which you need to have put your hand up for by 8 April.
  • Extra garden-waste collections over in April for brown-bin-registered users.
  • News of a University of Oxford project looking for stories and photos of WW2.
  • An update on road-resurfacing projects in the country that will be getting under way soon.

Click here to read the newsletter where you’ll find more information and the necessary weblinks.

• South and Vale pledge community responsibility

A statement from South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse Councils asserts that a new initiative will put community at the centre of decision-making when South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils buy goods and services.

“The councils have pledged their commitment to Oxfordshire Inclusive Economy Partnership’s (OIEP) charter,” the statement reads. “It means when the councils agree contracts, they will assess what support the supplier can offer the local community, as well as the value for money of the contract. The council will look wherever possible to buy goods and services from local organisations, including SMEs, social enterprises, and cooperatives.

Councillor Neil Fawcett, Vale of White Horse District Council Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “These pledges show we are committed to creating a more equal and sustainable community that benefits everyone. We hope being part of the charter will create more opportunities and benefit everyone.”

• Fixing the fees

Some might believe that that elected councillors are absurdly well paid and also that their renumeration is quite outside the influence of people from outside the municipal bubble. Neither of these are true.

The average pre-tax UK salary is, according to Forbes, about £34,900 pa. Councillors in the Vale are paid a basic allowance of £5,892 which for an Executive member (cabinet-level responsibility) will rise by £11,784. Only the Council Leader, with an extra payment of £23,569, can truly claim to receiving a payment which corresponds to that of a full-time job.

The debate about councillors’ payments has been raging for some time. Some believe that they should be paid a decent wage to avoid the role mainly being attractive to those who don’t need to work or who no longer do so. Against this, others feel that to encourage people to do it for the money would be to attract people for the wrong reasons. That fact that most councils currently do not have much money tends to encourage this approach.

In an effort to get some views on their own payment levels, South Oxfordshire District Council and Vale of White Horse District Council have announced that they are looking for volunteers to join an Independent Remuneration Panel to help review councillors’ allowances. The councils are together looking to fill voluntary vacancies on a Joint Independent Remuneration Panel which will commence its work in October 2024. The panel will consist of at least three members of the public supported by council officers. It will meet to help produce a report, with the assistance of officers, and make recommendations to the councils about the allowances to pay elected councillors. You need to have got your application in by 8 April.

• Other news

The BBC reports that archaeologists from the Red River Archaeology Group came across the the remains of a “remarkable Roman villa” while working on a Barratt and David Wilson Homes housing development at Brookside Meadows in Grove near Wantage, Oxfordshire.

Appeal to save Oxfordshire Wildlife Rescue which needs to find new premises having received notice to leave from its current landlords. If they don’t find a new home they will have to close which will be devastating for local wildlife.

• On Easter Sunday 31 March, there’s the Charity Duck Race at the Bay Tree pub in Grove. All money raised will be donated to the Grovelands Preschool. Ducks are £1 each and can be purchased from the pub bar. Details can be found here.

The Herald reports that the candidates for the 2 May election for the position of Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner have been announced.

• Earlybird tickets (offering some great savings) are now on sale for the Newbury Show on 21 and 22 September and there are also sponsorship opportunities still available. See more here.

Wantage Lawn Tennis Club in Manor Road Park is a five-minute walk from the town centre, where you can also find Wantage Bowls Club, children’s play facilities, the refurbished Bandstand and car parking. The Tennis Club’s 2024-25 season starts on 1 April. To join now go to wantagetennisclub.co.uk and click on the Membership tab. Everyone is welcome to visit the Club for free play on a Thursday evening or Sunday morning to see what is on offer and “try before you buy”. Just let them know you are coming. There will also be an Open Weekend on 8 to 9 June  where you can meet Committee and Club Members and play for free.

• Local sports clubs, leisure users and sports enthusiasts can, until  Wednesday 17 April, have their say on district facilities through the current Playing Pitch and Leisure Facilities consultations. More information can be found here.

• Lots of Easter fun this holdiay across South and Vale, including circus-themed fun at The Beacon in Wantage. For more details and how to book click here.

• The March Newsletter from Sustainable Wantage includes volunteering opportunities, including a chance to be involved in their Biodiversity Survey, local events, an update from Cycling UK Wantage and more.

• New planning rules introduced nationwide require those looking to build a new development must include wildlife enhancements as part of their plans. To see how the Vale of the White Horse Council plans to consider them in future developments, click here.

• Would you like to volunteer your business expertise to help Education Business Partnership prepare our local young people? Please see here for more details.

• Looking for a great way to give back to a local cause? If so, why not join Vale Community Impact‘s 500 Club charity lottery? Each month you could be in with a chance of winning £50 cash. The weekly £5 cost helps VCI provide dedicated support and advice and community transport to local people and families. For information please email help@vci.org.uk

• Click here for the latest newsletter (6 March 2024) from Wantage MP David Johnston.

• Latest business news from South & Vale Business Support.

• Click here for the latest news from the Wantage Bookshop.

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon every Friday afternooon. 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 meets at East Challow Village Hall on the third Wednesday of each month.  All welcome, visitors £5. Click here for more info.

• 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.visit facebook page for details. 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 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 31 Mar Charity Duck Race, Bay Tree pub, Grove.

 Thurs 4 to Sat 6 Apr AmEgos Theatre ‘The Huntchback of Notre Dame‘ Musical, Wantage Parish Church.

• Sun 9 Jun Wantage Carnival 2024, Wantage Market Place.

• Sat 15 Jun Wantage & Grove Extravaganza, Grove Recreation Grounds.

• 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 second 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 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. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 4 December and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.)
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 5 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a report from the ward member; flooding; actions from the previous meeting; the neighbourhood plan; a councillor vacancy; financial matters; planning matters; repairs and maintenance; 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 East Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 February and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: a dangerous traffic incident; reports from the district and county councillors; planning matters; financial matters; village noticeboards; a tree inspection; flooding; the joint local plan; the Village Hall; various land-registration matters; public art; repairs and maintenance; recreation areas; Challow News; and plans for D-Day.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 February 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 1 February 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 West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 January 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 Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 16 January 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 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.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 January 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 18 December 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 21 March 2024

Gremlin update: we have started the process of migrating our whole website, emails and hosting to a new UK-based company – so, fingers crossed this goes smoothly next week but please bear with us if there any hiccups. Thanks again to those who have already helped cover our extra costs, including Joan from Newbury who says “I’ve learned so much from following your weekly bulletins over the years and I have at last arranged for a small monthly donation. Thank you so much for all you do.” This kind of feedback means the world to us. If you are considering making us a donation, please see here for the options.

Our usual round-up of  local news includes ducks, a circus, tennis, wildlife and an exhibition – plus a look at a possible return for Grove’s iconic airplane and sad news of a confirmed closure in Longcott. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Wantage area events include art group and Lockinge exhibition. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

• Grove’s plane

Between 2007 and Storm Eunice in 2022, a de Havilland Venom plane was mounted on a stand at the entrance to the Grove Business Park. As well as being a useful way-finder for people going to the Business Park it also became a much-loved local landmark. There’s been much debate and discussion about when or if it would be replaced.

We quite often have work-experience students at PP HQ and this week we welcomed Grove resident Imogen Thomas from Didcot Sixth Form. We encourage all such students to write, as well as a day-by-day blog of their experiences, an article about something that interests them and which they’d like to find out more about. She chose this subject.

Several phone calls and emails and a certain amount of web research answered a number of questions which did previously seem to have been widely available and also, more importantly, the good news that discussions are taking place which may result in the return of the Venom to its recent home. We’ll continue to follow this and provide any updates as available. You can read the article by clicking here.

• Farewell to the King and Queen

On 7 March, we reported that, barring some eleventh-hour rescue, the King and Queen in Longcott would be closing on Saturday 23 March. This was due to a perfect storm of cost rises that could not be covered by raising the prices. This is not a unique story in the sector – far from it – but it’s one example that we’ve been focussing on.

Sadly no such saviour has materialised so this will indeed be its last day. If you can pop in, do. After that, it’ll be closed: and probably, if this follows the pattern of other closures, for good.

• Other news

• This weekend the Lockinge Estate ‘Past and Present: Memories & Recollections‘ exhibition is taking place at the Loyd Lindsay Rooms in Ardington. Click here for more information.

• On Easter Sunday 31 March there’s the Charity Duck Race at the Bay Tree pub, in Grove. All money raised will be donated to the Grovelands Preschool. Ducks are £1 each and can be purchased from the pub bar. Details can be found here.

Wantage Lawn Tennis Club in Manor Road Park, a five-minute walk from the town centre where you can also find Wantage Bowls Club, children’s play facilities, the refurbished Bandstand and car parking. The Tennis Club’s 2024-25 Season starts on April 1. To join now go to wantagetennisclub.co.uk and click on the Membership tab. Everyone is welcome to visit the Club for free play on a Thursday evening or Sunday morning to see what is on offer and “try before you buy”. Just let them know you are coming. There will also be an Open Weekend on June 8-9 where you can meet Committee and Club Members and play for free.

• Local sports clubs, leisure users and sports enthusiasts can have their say on district facilities through the current Playing Pitch and Leisure Facilities consultations. More information can be found here.

• Lots of Easter fun this holdiay across South and Vale, including circus-themed fun at The Beacon in Wantage. For more details and how to book click here.

• The March Newsletter from Sustainable Wantage includes volunteering opportunities, including a chance to be involved in their Biodiversity Survey, local events, an update from Cycling UK Wantage and more.

• New planning rules introduced nationwide require those looking to build a new development must include wildlife enhancements as part of their plans. To see how the Vale of the White Horse Council plan to consider them in future developments, click here.

• Would you like to volunteer your business expertise to help Education Business Partnership prepare our local young people? Please see here for more details.

• Looking for a great way to give back to a local cause? If so, why not join Vale Community Impact‘s 500 Club charity lottery? Each month you could be in with a chance of winning £50 cash. The weekly £5 cost helps VCI provide dedicated support and advice and community transport to local people and families. For information please email help@vci.org.uk

• Click here for the latest newsletter (2 February 2024) from Wantage MP David Johnston.

• Latest business news from South & Vale Business Support.

• Click here for the latest news from the Wantage Bookshop.

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon every Friday afternooon. 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 meets at East Challow Village Hall on the third Wednesday of each month.  All welcome, visitors £5. Click here for more info.

• 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.visit facebook page for details. 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 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 23 to Sun 24 Mar Lockinge Estate Past and Present: ‘Memories & Recollections’ Exhibition, Lloyd Lindsey Rooms, Ardington.

• Sun 31 Mar Charity Duck Race, Bay Tree pub, Grove.

 Thurs 4 to Sat 6 Apr AmEgos Theatre ‘The Huntchback of Notre Dame‘ Musical, Wantage Parish Church.

• Sun 9 Jun Wantage Carnival 2024, Wantage Market Place.

• Sat 15 Jun Wantage & Grove Extravaganza, Grove Recreation Grounds.

• 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 second 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 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. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 4 December and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.)
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 5 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a report from the ward member; flooding; actions from the previous meeting; the neighbourhood plan; a councillor vacancy; financial matters; planning matters; repairs and maintenance; 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 East Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 February and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: a dangerous traffic incident; reports from the district and county councillors; planning matters; financial matters; village noticeboards; a tree inspection; flooding; the joint local plan; the Village Hall; various land-registration matters; public art; repairs and maintenance; recreation areas; Challow News; and plans for D-Day.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 February 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 1 February 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 West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 January 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 Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 16 January 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 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.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 January 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 18 December 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 March 2024

Gremlin update: we have started the process of migrating our whole website, emails and hosting to a new UK-based company – so, fingers crossed this goes smoothly next week but please bear with us if there any hiccups. Thanks again to those who have already helped cover our extra costs, including Joan from Newbury who says “I’ve learned so much from following your weekly bulletins over the years and I have at last arranged for a small monthly donation. Thank you so much for all you do.” This kind of feedback means the world to us. If you are considering making us a donation, please see here for the options.

Our usual round-up of  local news includes a composter, a circus, art, sustainability and wildlife – plus a look at the latest newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Wantage area events include art group and Lockinge exhibition. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

• Campaign news

The most recent (14 March – you don’t get any more recent than that) Wantage and Grove Campaign Group newsletter has just landed in my in box and you can read it here. What’s it got?

The first item concerns the Council’s leisure strategy. “After waiting for more than three years for a new leisure strategy, we now have a consultation on two new strategies,” the newsletter explains. “These are important because they will drive the funding for new sports and leisure facilities in our area so please take part. This consultation runs until 17 April. So if you have a quiet time before (or during) the Easter break, have a read.”

There are also some reminders about a Local Government Boundary Commission consultation and ab0ut how you can share stories and photos of WW2 with a University of Oxford history project.

By far the largest part of the newsletter, however, concerns our old friend Thames Water. An interesting theory on the real reason the ailing aquatic giant appears so keen to build the reservoir is proposed. It also refers to some recent press coverage TW has received. I’ll whet your appetite by quoting the preamble to these: “The Guardian has published three articles about Thames Water this week, none of which show the water company in a good light.” Why are we not surprised?

• Other news

• To mark Food Waste Action Week 2024, South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils are giving away free compost and running a competition from 14 to 24 March to win a ‘hot’ composter. To enter, comment here on the council’s facebook page about what actions you are taking to reduce your food waste. Click here to learn more.

• Lots of circus-themed fun at The Beacon in Wantage, this Easter with a laughter-packed stage show, Cartoon Circus Live,  and a range of low-cost activities with a circus theme throughout the holiday for children of all ages including arts and craft and Monkey Mayhem. To see the scedule and book a place, click here.

• South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils have launched their Playing Pitch and Leisure Facilities consultations which look at current and future provision of facilities across the districts. Local sports clubs, leisure users and sports enthusiasts can have their say on sports and leisure facilities by taking the survey, More information can be found here.

• The March Newsletter from Sustainable Wantage includes volunteering opportunities, including a chance to be involved in their Biodiversity Survey, local events, an update from Cycling UK Wantage and more.

• The next meeting of the Wantage Art Group will focus on ‘Using Coloured Pencils’ with a demonstration and guided practical session with Rachel Anders. That’s taking place on Wednesday 20 March at 7:30pm at East Challow Village Hall. New members and visitors are always welcome and the first visit is free. Click here for details.

• Last chance to apply for financial support if you were affected by Storm Henik Floods back in January. The deadline for all applications is 1pm on Monday 18 March and any flooding events also need to have been reported via the Oxfordshire Flooding Report form. To learn more click here.

• New planning rules introduced nationwide require those looking to build a new development must include wildlife enhancements as part of their plans. To see how the Vale of the White Horse Council plan to consider them in future developments, click here.

• Can you help? The Shaw Trust charity shop in Wantage market place is desperate for more volunteers. Whether you prefer to volunteer behind the scenes or in a customer-facing role, there’s plenty for you to get involved with. Please see more details here.

• Would you like to volunteer your business expertise to help Education Business Partnership prepare our local young people? Please see here for more details.

• Looking for a great way to give back to a local cause? If so, why not join Vale Community Impact‘s 500 Club charity lottery? Each month you could be in with a chance of winning £50 cash. The weekly £5 cost helps VCI provide dedicated support and advice and community transport to local people and families. For information please email help@vci.org.uk

• Click here for the latest newsletter (2 February 2024) from Wantage MP David Johnston.

• Latest business news from South & Vale Business Support.

• Click here for the latest news from the Wantage Bookshop.

Community notices

• The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon every Friday afternooon. 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 meets at East Challow Village Hall on the third Wednesday of each month.  All welcome, visitors £5. Click here for more info.

• 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.visit facebook page for details. 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 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

• Mon 11 to Sun 17 Mar The Big Plastic Count Week.

• Wed 20 Mar Wantage Art Group, East Challow.

• Sat 23 to Sun 24 Mar Lockinge Estate Past and Present: ‘Memories & Recollections’ Exhibition, Lloyd Lindsey Rooms, Ardington.

• Sun 31 Mar Charity Duck Race, Bay Tree pub, Grove.

 Thurs 4 to Sat 6 Apr AmEgos Theatre ‘The Huntchback of Notre Dame‘ Musical, Wantage Parish Church.

• Sun 9 Jun Wantage Carnival 2024, Wantage Market Place.

• Sat 15 Jun Wantage & Grove Extravaganza, Grove Recreation Grounds.

• 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 second 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 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. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 4 December and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.)
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 5 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a report from the ward member; flooding; actions from the previous meeting; the neighbourhood plan; a councillor vacancy; financial matters; planning matters; repairs and maintenance; 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 East Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 February and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: a dangerous traffic incident; reports from the district and county councillors; planning matters; financial matters; village noticeboards; a tree inspection; flooding; the joint local plan; the Village Hall; various land-registration matters; public art; repairs and maintenance; recreation areas; Challow News; and plans for D-Day.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 February 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 1 February 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 West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 January 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 Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 16 January 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 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.

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

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 December and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, and 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 March 2024

Gremlin alert: some people have recently had problems loading our web pages. We believe we’re close to solving this but you may find, if you return to this page later, that it’s unavailable. Please accept our apologies and try again in a bit. The solution involves upgrading our website server which we have put off as it costs more money. But the time has come when we have no choice. So, as we’ve said before, any small monthly donation you can make towards this cost would be very much appreciated. See here for ways to donate. And thanks again to those who have already done so.

Our usual round-up of  local news includes a band, a café, art, storms and garden waste – plus a look at a prophecy concerning a local pub which looks as though it’s about to come sadly true. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Wantage area events include craft sale and open mic night. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

• The King and Queen

I wrote last week (see below) about a Tourism South East initiative, in association with the Vale Council, which aimed to gather information about the hospitality sector in the area. I pointed out that while this was doubtless useful, what was needed for many was some practical support now. Pubs, restaurants and hotels have recently been hit with a series of extra costs impacting every area of their operation and these cannot all be passed on to customers. There was, I suggested, a real chance that many venues “would not survive long enough to reap any of the fruits of the work.”

Alas, this has proved to be the case for the King and Queen in Longboat which – unless some saviour appears – will close its doors for the last time on Saturday 23 March. We have friends in the village and have eaten there several times. When Markus and Danielle, who took the place over during lockdown, emerged from the pandemic still trading they must have through the worst of their problems were behind them. How wrong they were.

If no last-minute help is found and the pub does close, it will be adding to a statistic of one pub in the country ceasing trading about every twelve hours. This is a very depressing statistic. Pubs are no longer places where, as was common half a century ago, men used to go to get drunk but now places where people of all ages can meet, eat and enjoy entertainment.

Herein perhaps lies part of the problem, for venues now need to offer far more than they used to. Back in the ‘7os, all a publican needed was three kinds of beer, three kinds of spirits, three kinds of wine, three kinds of crisps, peanuts, pork scratchings and, if they really wanted to push the boat out, ploughman’s and chicken in the basket at weekends. Now the range of drinks that a pub needs is many times larger, with about ten varieties of beer and twenty flavours of vodka being almost obligatory. On top of that, it has to provide an ever-changing menu and an event or themed night at least once a week. All of this requires a large number of staff, materials and ingredients, the costs of which have all risen steeply.

If the worst happens, the King and Queen will doubtless follow another familiar trend and be converted to housing: much needed, no doubt, but the village will almost certainly have lost its pub forever. A sobering thought…

• Other news

• A great week for the Wantage Band, who won first place at the SCABA Spring Contest in Brighton this weekend. Several members also took home awards for best in their category, which can be seen here. Furthermore the band now sit at #21 on the Brass Stats rankings – their highest ever placing since the band was founded. “Podium finishes at both Wychavon Festival of Brass and Welsh Open Brass Band Entertainment Championship have moved them up the table by 17 places.”. A massive well done to the Wantage Band, and if you would like to see some pictures form their recent free Academy Brass Concert, click here.

• The March Newsletter from Sustainable Wantage includes volunteering opportunities, including a chance to be involved in their Biodiversity Survey, local events, an update from Cycling UK Wantage and more.

• This month’s Wantage Café Scientifique will be on the topic of ‘The Hidden World of Microscopy‘, with scientist from Diamond Light Source, Gea van de Kerkhof. The talk will look at molecules as well as ‘tiny animals’ (the microbes too small to see with the naked eye) and the development of microscopy, its greatest breakthroughs and how its being used to push the boundaries of science today. That’s on Wednesday 13 March at the Wildwood Cinema, details here.

• The next meeting of the Wantage Art Group will focus on ‘Using Coloured Pencils’ with a demonstration and guided practical session with Rachel Anders. That’s taking place on Wednesday 20 March at 7:30pm at East Challow Village Hall. New members and visitors are always welcome and the first visit is free. Click here for details.

• If you were affected by Storm Henik Floods back in January there is still time to apply for financial support in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse. If you had to leave your home or close your business due to flooding for at least 48, then you might be eligible. The deadline for all applications is 1pm on Monday 18 March and any flooding events also need to have been reported via the Oxfordshire Flooding Report form. To learn more click here.

• As mentioned previously, South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils have set out plans to change the way their garden waste service is paid for in 2025. They have agreed to introduce a permit scheme from April 2025, in which subscribers will receive a sticker for their bins to identify them as fully paid-up garden waste customers.

• New planning rules introduced nationwide require those looking to build a new development must include wildlife enhancements as part of their plans. To see how the Vale of the White Horse Council plan to consider them in future developments, click here.

• Can you help? The Shaw Trust charity shop in Wantage market place is desperate for more volunteers. Whether you prefer to volunteer behind the scenes or in a customer-facing role, there’s plenty for you to get involved with. Please see more details here.

• Would you like to help inspire the future workforce? Education Business Partnership helps prepare our local young people for the world of work, and to do this EBP relies on the support of local businesses and professionals. If you would like to volunteer your expertise please see here for more details.

• Looking for a great way to give back to a local cause? If so, why not join Vale Community Impact‘s 500 Club charity lottery? Each month you could be in with a chance of winning £50 cash. The weekly £5 cost helps VCI provide dedicated support and advice and community transport to local people and families. For information please email help@vci.org.uk

• Click here for the latest newsletter (2 February 2024) from Wantage MP David Johnston.

• Latest business news from South & Vale Business Support.

• 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.

• 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 9 Mar Nearly New Craft Sale, Vale & Downland Museum.

• Mon 11 to Sun 17 Mar The Big Plastic Count Week.

• Wed 13 Mar Wantage Cafe Scientifique: Microscopy, Wildwood Cinema, Wantage.

• Wed 13 Mar Open Mic Night, The Beacon.

• Wed 20 Mar Wantage Art Group, East Challow.

• Sat 23 to Sun 24 Mar Lockinge Estate Past and Present: ‘Memories & Recollections’ Exhibition, Lloyd Lindsey Rooms, Ardington.

• Sun 31 Mar Charity Duck Race, Bay Tree pub, Grove.

 Thurs 4 to Sat 6 Apr AmEgos Theatre ‘The Huntchback of Notre Dame‘ Musical, Wantage Parish Church.

• Sun 9 Jun Wantage Carnival 2024, Wantage Market Place.

• Sat 15 Jun Wantage & Grove Extravaganza, Grove Recreation Grounds.

• 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. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 4 December and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.)
To see the dates and agendas of future meetings, 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 January 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 Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 16 January 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 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.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 January 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 Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 January 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 4 January 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 3 January and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

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

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 December and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, and 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 29 February 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes garden waste, a band victory, volunteers, donations and bookshop news – plus a look at some support which is being offered to hospitality venues in Oxfordshire and an appeal from the Vale Council about reporting flood damage to properties. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Wantage area events include gardening advice and a plastics count. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

• Hospitality support

Hospitality venues in the Vale may recently have been contacted by Tourism South East inviting them to help “undertake a review of the area’s hotel and visitor accommodation sector.” This review involves not only understanding “the size and shape of current provision” and how and why this may change but also in due course an “active engagement” with all forms of visitor accommodation businesses, particularly those that wanted to “expand or re-position.”

One hospitality venue which contacted me about this pointed out that long-term plans and strategies were fine but there was a real chance that they, and many others, would not survive long enough to reap any of the fruits of the work. Energy and supplier costs, business rates and the minimum wage had all recently increased (and many would continue to) to an extent that couldn’t be covered by putting up their prices. That the sector is in a crisis is well documented.  Direct evidence of this already exists in the number of pub closures, which Business Rescue Expert claimed were running at about 18 a week in the 12 months from June 2022. The trend continues and could be coming to your local next.

Support provided by the government, if any, is unlikely to take the form of large cheques. There are, however, things that could be done through the tax and VAT systems. There’s also the possibility of working with local councils to agree some relief of business rates for an agreed period. At present, councils only keep about 20% of the business rates they collect, the rest being passed on to the Treasury. Allowing districts to keep more of these for an agreed period on the condition that the extra be used to subsidise business rates would seem a fairly simple solution. This does, however, ignore Whitehall’s reluctance to allow councils any more than the bare minimum – if that, many would argue – that they require for their core services.

I contacted both Tourism South East and the Vale Council to establish what this exercise was aiming to do. Was it a top-down government-funded scheme, a local council initiative to gather information or something that would lead to real and immediate help for the sector? The answer, it seems, is that it’s a mixture of all three.

The current TSE-backed research into visitor accommodation involves gathering evidence (previously referred to as a Hotel Needs Assessment) that will feed into the emerging joint local plan being prepared by the Vale and South Oxfordshire Councils. This will assess the effects of the substantial changes within the sector following the successive hammer blows of Brexit, the pandemic and the cost of living crisis and look at what this could mean for accommodation needs in the districts over the course of the local-plan period to 2041. This is part-funded by HM Government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF).

A number of local hospitality businesses have been contacted as part of this exercise. If you would like yours to have some input into the project, contact business.support@southandvale.gov.uk.

A spokesperson for the South and Vale told me that the plan, aside from the creation of the larger body of work for the local plan, is for the Councils to implement a short-term action plan (also part-funded by UKSPF), that would offer “practical assistance to local businesses in 2024/25.” There will also be recommendations for longer-term support for the sector to be considered by the Councils’ cabinets. Updates will be provided in the Council’s business support newsletter: contact business.support@southandvale.gov.uk to subscribe to this.

The spokesperson added that the research will also enable the Councils “to contribute to wider support for the visitor economy, including identifying opportunities for businesses and local communities”, and would consider “the impact of issues such as the health and wellbeing, the cost-of-living crisis, climate emergency and support for our town centres.”

Whether the results of any of this work arrives in time to prevent any further closures seems unlikely. However, local venues can perhaps be comforted by the fact that solutions are being looked into. How soon any measures will be implemented and what effect they will have remains to be seen.

• Flooding in the Vale

A statement received from the Vale Council on 28 February echoes a message which we’ve also recently communicated on behalf of West Berkshire Council.

“Residents whose homes were internally flooded and businesses who were affected by flooding as a result of Storm Henk in January can now formally apply for financial support in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse. They might also be eligible for support if the flooding meant they had to leave their home or close their business for a period of 48 hours or more. The money comes from government funding schemes, which the local district councils are administering.

“There are a range of possible options, ranging from grants to discounts on council tax or business rates.  Affected residents and businesses in the Vale of White horse can find a link to the relevant application forms here. Eligibility criteria apply to all of these support options, so anybody who believes they are entitled to funding should read the details carefully before applying.

“The deadline for all applications is 1pm on Monday 18 March and any flooding events also need to have been reported via the Oxfordshire Flooding Report form. Anybody who wants to receive support must apply using the links above. If they do not do so before the deadline, the councils will not be able to provide them with financial support.

“Anybody having difficulty applying or who requires support to do so, should contact communityconnectors@southandvale.gov.uk or 01235 422600 (option 3) during office hours. Any queries about the business support should go to business.support@southandvale.gov.uk.”

• Other news

• This Saturday the Wantage Academy Brass have their first concert of the year. The concert is free to attend and will feature a preview of their piece for the upcoming Regional Championships plus a number of other pieces from solos from across the band. The concert starts at 10:30am, click here for details.

• On a related note, many congratulations to the Wantage Band for its success at the Welsh Open Brass Band Entertainment Championship. You can read a detailed write-up of the event here, and they also added some lovely photos to their Facebook page.

• South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils have set out plans to change the way their garden waste service is paid for in 2025. The councils’ have agreed the introduction of a permit scheme from April 2025 which will include subscribers receiving a sticker for their bins to identify them as fully paid-up garden waste customers. This kind of scheme is offered successfully by many other local authorities, including in neighbouring West Oxfordshire.

• The new planning rules introduced nationwide, which require those looking to build a new development must include wildlife enhancements as part of their plans, mean that developers must replace any biodiversity lost. To learn more about how the the Vale of the White Horse Council plan to consider them in future developments, click here.

February News from Sustainable Wantage includes volunteering opportunities, an update on what The Mix collects for recycling and upcoming events. Click here to learn more.

• Can you help? The Shaw Trust charity shop in Wantage market place is desperate for more volunteers. Whether you prefer to volunteer behind the scenes or in a customer-facing role, there’s plenty for you to get involved with. Please see more details here.

• Would you like to help inspire the future workforce? Education Business Partnership helps prepare our local young people for the world of work, and to do this EBP relies on the support of local businesses and professionals. If you would like to volunteer your expertise please see here for more details.

• Looking for a great way to give back to a local cause? If so, why not join Vale Community Impact‘s 500 Club charity lottery? Each month you could be in with a chance of winning £50 cash. The weekly £5 cost helps VCI provide dedicated support and advice and community transport to local people and families. For information please email help@vci.org.uk

Click here for the latest newsletter (2 February 2024) from Wantage MP David Johnston.

Latest business news from South & Vale Business Support.

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.

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

Wed 6 Mar Drop-in Wildlife Gardening Advice Sessions, The Mix, Wantage.

Mon 11 to Sun 17 Mar The Big Plastic Count Week.

Sat 15 Jun Wantage & Grove Extravaganza, Grove Recreation Grounds.

Wed 20 Mar Wantage Art Group, East Challow.

• 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. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 4 December and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.)
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 16 January 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 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.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 January 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 Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 January 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 4 January 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 3 January and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

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

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 December and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 November 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 22 February 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes wildlife, pond dipping, an MP writes, volunteers and a lottery – plus a look at some consultations which close over the next few weeks and a bullish statement from the Vale Council about its 2024-25 budget. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Wantage area events include a silver band concert and nature activities. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

• Consultation deadlines

Looking at the 12 February newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group, there are a few local consultations which you might want to respond to, if you haven’t already.

As mentioned previously, the newsletter also covers a number of other issues including the proposed mega reservoir, Grove Station, The Beacon and the Vale of White Horse’s leisure strategy.

• The Vale’s budget

We received a statement from the Vale of White Horse Council on 22 February concerning its budget. I haven’t had time to look into any of the statements made so will reproduce it here verbatim.

“Residents in the Vale of White Horse will continue to receive quality, cost-effective local services after district councillors approved the 2024-2025 budget.

“Despite major challenges, including below inflation funding increases, the cost-of-living crisis and ongoing economic and political uncertainty, thanks to careful financial management, the council has guaranteed vital public services, such as the district’s Community Hub which provides support residents who are struggling financially, and will continue to invest in key areas which benefit people across the district.

“For 2024-25, council tax for services provided by Vale of White Horse District Council has been set at £156.69 for a Band D property for the entire year.  Vale residents will therefore continue to pay one of the lowest rates in the country for services provided by a shire district and significantly less than the equivalent fee paid by those living in Oxford.

“The district council’s services are funded, in part, by only a small portion (7 per cent) of the total council tax paid by Vale households.  This represents excellent value for money for residents, helping to pay for services, such as: household waste and recycling collections, community support, leisure services, parks and play areas, housing services, planning services, environmental health and licensing.

“Councillor Andy Crawford, Cabinet Member for Finance at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “I’m very pleased that Council has approved the new budget.  This ensures we can now build on our positive work in investing in local facilities, supporting local climate projects, improving the energy efficiency of our own buildings and continue to provide support for our communities and the rural economy. Thanks to careful management over recent years, we are now in a position where we can confidently maintain our finances while protect public services and we’re in a much more positive position than many other authorities. We will continue to work towards long term financial stability and remain vigilant against the potential impact of the ongoing economic and political uncertainty.”

“To view the approved 2024-2025 Vale of White Horse District Council budget, visit the 21 February 2024 Council meeting agenda page.”

• Other news

• Last week new planning rules were introduced nationwide, which require those looking to build a new development must include wildlife enhancements as part of their plans. The changes mean that developers must replace any biodiversity lost in a development, plus an additional 10 per cent by creating new habitats. To learn more about the new rules and how the the Vale of the White Horse Council plan to consider them in future developments, click here.

Would you and your family like to get involved in some outdoor activities, and learn more about our local plants and wildlife? Join Sustainable Wantage for monthly outdoor activities such as pond dipping, gardening, bug hunting, nature crafts and more. Their February Session will feature bird feeders and crafts, taking place on Monday 26 February. Sessions are free but places are limited so pre-booking is essential. Click here to learn more.

• The Wantage Silver Band will be holding its Solo Series concert this Sunday. Enjoy a drink from the bar while you enjoy free music from: the Wantage Band’s tuba duet, soloists from the Youth and Beginner Bands, the Percussion Academy in action, a super sax solo and more. Click here for more information.

February News from Sustainable Wantage includes volunteering opportunities, an update on what The Mix collects for recycling and upcoming events. Click here to learn more.

• During February, The Mix will be collecting curtain rings, salad spinners, cardboard tubes and aprons for Fitzwaryn school which they will use to provide students with sensory experiences. Please drop these off any time The Mix is open (Mons 2pm to 6pm, Weds 10am to 3pm, Sats 10am to 1pm). For more news see their facebook page here.

• Can you help? The Shaw Trust charity shop in Wantage market place is desperate for more volunteers. Whether you prefer to volunteer behind the scenes or in a customer-facing role, there’s plenty for you to get involved with. Please see more details here.

• Would you like to help inspire the future workforce? Education Business Partnership helps prepare our local young people for the world of work, and to do this EBP relies on the support of local businesses and professionals. If you would like to volunteer your expertise please see here for more details.

• Looking for a great way to give back to a local cause? If so, why not join Vale Community Impact‘s 500 Club charity lottery? Each month you could be in with a chance of winning £50 cash. The weekly £5 cost helps VCI provide dedicated support and advice and community transport to local people and families. For information please email help@vci.org.uk

Click here for the latest newsletter (2 February 2024) from Wantage MP David Johnston.

Latest business news from South & Vale Business Support.

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.

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 25 Feb Wantage Silver Band Solo Series Concert, Sykes Hall, Wantage Silver Band.

Mon 26 Feb Nature Activities, Wantage Market.

Wed 6 Mar Drop-in Wildlife Gardening Advice Sessions, The Mix, Wantage.

Mon 11 to Sun 17 Mar The Big Plastic Count Week.

Sat 15 Jun Wantage & Grove Extravaganza, Grove Recreation Grounds.

• 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. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 4 December and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.)
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 16 January 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 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.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 January 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 Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 January 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 4 January 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 3 January and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

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

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 December and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 November 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 15 February 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes a silver band, a lunch club, a sensory experience, art and volunteers – plus the Vale Council debates the next steps with The Beacon and OX12’s local campaign group looks at issues including the reservoir, the joint local plan and Grove station. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Wantage area events include AI and an art-group social. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

• The Beacon’s future

The latest (12 February 2024) newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group refers to discussions that the Vale of White Horse Cabinet will be having about The Beacon in Wantage. “This building currently loses about £460,000pa,” the W&GCG newsletter comments, “and the Council will examine future potential options for the operation of what is Wantage Town Hall over the next 18 months.”

The situation at The Beacon is covered in some details (pp27 to 62) of the agenda pack for the above-mentioned meeting. The financial summary on p59 shows that all costs have increased since 2015-16 by more than has the income. The conclusions on p52 are as follows:

  1. After reviewing all of the consultants’ reports and consultation feedback gathered during the reviews, and opinions of the officers’ working group there appears to be several improvements the council can implement to improve The Beacon’s performance, many of which have already begun implementation. The various improvements have been gathered into an action plan for officers to work through.
  2. While the council should consider possible alternatives to in-house delivery, it should first do all it can to ensure the in-house model is operating to its best potential, by endorsing the action plan.
  3. Establishing a clear understanding of the Council’s stepping-in rights in connection to any potential external operating model is essential before the council make any formal commitment.
  4. Officers will work with the Corporate Programmes Team to report and monitor delivery of the action plan. The centre team will also provide regular updates to the officer working group, cabinet members and other key stakeholder groups outlining progress of the implementation and measures of the impact for each action.

• Other campaign matters

Still with the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group newsletter open, open there are a number of other matters in OX12 which remain up for debate and decision.

These include the proposed reservoir, discussion about which rumbles on. One issue the newsletter highlights is the effect that something of this scale and weight (the water alone will weight about 150 million tonnes). The section concludes by saying that “If you believe that a Public Inquiry is necessary to ensure that we understand what the risks are from the plans, then please write to the Secretary of State for DEFRA, the Rt Hon Steve Barclay at the House of Commons. defra.helpline@defra.gov.uk.”

There’s also mention of the joint local plan, comments on this consultative stage of which need to have been received by 26 February.

There’s also some news on Grove Station – not, sadly, an imminent statement about re-opening but a slightly underwhelming announcement from Network Rail that for various reasons the original (and more easily accessible) site can no longer be safeguarded.

Other issues the newsletter covers includes green spaces, the local leisure strategy, the primary care strategy, proposed ward changes and the confirmed date (15 June) for the Grove and Wantage Extravaganza.

• Other news

• The next monthly Lunch Club will be held this weekend on Saturday 17 February. Created by Sustainable Wantage in partnership with Down to Earth Community Café, the club is for retired individuals who would like to meet others and share cooking skills. Sessions take place on the third Saturday of each month from 10am to 1pm. The event is free but you need to register your place here.

• The Wantage Silver Band will be holding their third Solo Series concert on Sunday 25 February. Entry is free and will feature music from: the Wantage Band’s tuba duet, soloists from the Youth and Beginner Bands, the Percussion Academy in action, a super sax solo and more. You can also enjoy a drink from the bar while you enjoy the music. Click here for more information.

• This Friday the Beacon in Wantage will be hosting ‘Dinosaur Adventure LiveTrouble on Volcano Island‘ an immersive, interactive show followed up by a free photo opportunity and chance to meet the dinosaurs. There is still time to book a slot by clicking here.

February News from Sustainable Wantage includes volunteering opportunities, an update on what The Mix collects for recycling and events such as a free mindfulness walks on Saturday 17 February and drop-in gardening advice sessions once a month. Click here to learn more.

• This month’s Wantage Café Scientifique meeting will be focused on ‘How scientific computing – including the use of AI – helps address the burning science questions of the day‘, with Marion Samler. Marion is the Business Development Manager for Scientific Computing at Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. That’s taking place on Wednesday 21 February at the Wildwood Cinema, click here for details.

• During February, The Mix will be collecting curtain rings, salad spinners, cardboard tubes and aprons for Fitzwaryn school which they will use to provide students with sensory experiences. Please drop these off any time The Mix is open (Mons 2-6pm, Weds 10am-3pm, Sats 10am-1pm). For more news see their facebook page here.

• Can you help? The Shaw Trust charity shop in Wantage market place is desperate for more volunteers. Whether you prefer to volunteer behind the scenes or in a customer-facing role, there’s plenty for you to get involved with. Please see more details here.

• Would you like to help inspire the future workforce? Education Business Partnership helps prepare our local young people for the world of work, and to do this EBP relies on the support of local businesses and professionals. If you would like to volunteer your expertise please see here for more details.

Wantage Art Group will be holding a Meeting and Social Evening on Wednesday 21 February, in which Patsy will be stepping down from the Chair. After that there will be refreshments and an opportunity to view members work and then Charlotte Browning will talk about natural dyes for costumes in historical re-enactments. New members and visitors are welcome. See here for details.

• As mentioned last week, South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils are looking for volunteers to join an Independent Remuneration Panel to help review councillors’ expenses and allowances. To learn more and apply click here. The deadline for application is Thursday 22 February.

• Looking for a great way to give back to a local cause? If so, why not join Vale Community Impact‘s 500 Club charity lottery? Each month you could be in with a chance of winning £50 cash. The weekly £5 cost helps VCI provide dedicated support and advice and community transport to local people and families. For information please email help@vci.org.uk

Click here for the latest newsletter (2 February 2024) from Wantage MP David Johnston.

Latest business news from South & Vale Business Support.

Click here for the latest news from the Wantage Bookshop. See also here for five top recommendations for book gifts for Valentine’s Day.

Community notices

The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 4.30pm every Friday. Prevent food from being wasted. Costs just £3.50 per week for 14 items. For more information, please follow the larder on Facebook.

• 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 17 Feb Monthly Lunch Club meet, Down to Earth Community Café, Stirlings Close, Wantage.

Wed 21 Feb Wantage Art Group Social Evening, East Challow Village Hall.

Wed 21 Feb Wantage Café Scientifique: Scientific Computing & AI, Wildwood Cinema, Wantage.

Sun 25 Feb Wantage Silver Band Solo Series Concert, Sykes Hall, Wantage Silver Band.

Wed 6 Mar Drop-in Wildlife Gardening Advice Sessions, The Mix, Wantage.

Mon 11 to Sun 17 Mar The Big Plastic Count Week.

Sat 15 Jun Wantage & Grove Extravaganza, Grove Recreation Grounds.

• 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. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 4 December and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.)
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 10 January and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: IT issues; a report from the Vale councillor; planning matters; financial matters; the precept (£45,538) and the budget; repairs and maintenance; trees; flooding; parking; the joint local plan consultation; speeding; 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 9 January and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the South and Vale’s joint local plan; actions from the previous meeting; the neighbourhood plan; CampSoul; grass cutting; financial matters; planning matters; repairs and maintenance; 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 East Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 4 January 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 3 January and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

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

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 December and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, and 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 West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 November 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 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.

• 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 8 February 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: science, dinosaurs, sensory experiences, an MP’s newsletter and a reminder about the consultation on the Vale’s local plan which closes on 26 February. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Wantage area events include: Wantage Band and and art-group social. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

• Consulting on the plan

A reminder that the Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire are producing a joint local plan which is currently out for consultation until 11.59pm on Monday 26 February 2024. Click here to see how you can have your say.

A joint statement from the councils refers to “requiring sustainable development, protecting and enhancing our countryside, setting higher energy efficiency standards for new buildings and prioritising more sustainable transport options “as being among the benefits that a joint local plan will provide.

It adds that “among many topics the Joint Local Plan covers are some new and innovative approaches including: more of the housing built in the districts to be affordable housing to help those struggling to get on the property ladder; setting ambitious targets, beyond the national standards, to ensure developments positively contribute to the local environment and wildlife and deliver on climate action; and new policies to identify and enhance our most tranquil places, and protect our dark skies by minimising light pollution for both residents and wildlife.”

As with every local plan, the the policies need to be consistent with national regulations (which can change) and also satisfy the Inspector at the end of the process that the planning authority (plural in this case) has considered every policy and site allocation and that the massive document is sound. This is all hard work: but the really hard part is ensuring that all the often worthy ambitions it enshrines are adhered to by developers. Unless planning authorities can be given budgets which will provide for enough enforcement and legal officers to ensure these find their way into the final results, the developers will continue to have the upper hand.

• Other news

• This month’s Wantage Café Scientifique meeting will be focused on ‘How scientific computing – including the use of AI – helps address the burning science questions of the day‘, with Marion Samler. Marion is the Business Development Manager for Scientific Computing at Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. That’s taking place on Wednesday 21 February at the Wildwood Cinema, click here for details.

February News from Sustainable Wantage includes volunteering opportunities, an update on what The Mix on Mill Street collects for recycling and events including a ‘Green Gym’ on Friday 9 February at Manor Road Park and a free Saturday Lunch Club for retirees at the Down to Earth Sustainable Cafe on Saturday 17 February. Click here to learn more.

• Lots to look forward to this half-term, including a whole host of dinosaur-themed events at the Beacon in Wantage. To find out more, click here.

• During February, The Mix will be collecting curtain rings, salad spinners, cardboard tubes and aprons for Fitzwaryn school which they will use to provide students with sensory experiences. Please drop these off any time The Mix is open (Mons 2-6pm, Weds 10am-3pm, Sats 10am-1pm). For more news see their facebook page here.

• Can you help? The Shaw Trust charity shop in Wantage market place is desperate for more volunteers. Whether you prefer to volunteer behind the scenes or in a customer-facing role, there’s plenty for you to get involved with. Please see more details here.

• Fancy an evening of live music? You can catch the Wantage Band in Concert, on Sunday 11 February at 7:30pm to 9pm. Click here to book a ticket.

Wantage Art Group will be holding a Meeting and Social Evening on Wednesday 21 February, in which Patsy will be stepping down from the Chair. After that there will be refreshments and an opportunity to view members work and then Charlotte Browning will talk about natural dyes for costumes in historical re-enactments. New members and visitors are welcome. See here for details.

• As mentioned last week, South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils are looking for volunteers to join an Independent Remuneration Panel to help review councillors’ expenses and allowances. To learn more and apply click here. The deadline for application is Thursday 22 February.

• Looking for a great way to give back to a local cause? If so, why not join Vale Community Impact‘s 500 Club charity lottery? Each month you could be in with a chance of winning £50 cash. The weekly £5 cost helps VCI provide dedicated support and advice and community transport to local people and families. For information please email help@vci.org.uk

Click here for the latest newsletter (2 February 2024) from Wantage MP David Johnston.

Latest business news from South & Vale Business Support.

Click here for the latest news from the Wantage Bookshop. See also here for five top recommendations for book gifts for Valentine’s Day.

Community notices

The Wantage Community Larder is at the Beacon from 2.30pm to 4.30pm every Friday. Prevent food from being wasted. Costs just £3.50 per week for 14 items. For more information, please follow the larder on Facebook.

• 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

Fri 9 Feb Green Gym, Manor Road Park.

Sun 11 Feb Wantage Band in Concert, Wantage Silver Band.

Wed 21 Feb Wantage Art Group Social Evening, East Challow Village Hall.

Wed 21 Feb Wantage Café Scientifique: Scientific Computing & AI, Wildwood Cinema, Wantage.

Mon 11 to Sun 17 Mar The Big Plastic Count Week.

Sat 15 Jun Wantage & Grove Extravaganza, Grove Recreation Grounds.

• 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. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 4 December and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.)
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 10 January and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: IT issues; a report from the Vale councillor; planning matters; financial matters; the precept (£45,538) and the budget; repairs and maintenance; trees; flooding; parking; the joint local plan consultation; speeding; 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 9 January and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the South and Vale’s joint local plan; actions from the previous meeting; the neighbourhood plan; CampSoul; grass cutting; financial matters; planning matters; repairs and maintenance; 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 East Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 4 January and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: speed control measures on the A338; pre-application matters regarding the Sports Club; matters arising; reports from the police, the district councillor and the county councillor; financial matters; planning matters; the relief road; trees; repairs and maintenance; the village fair; reports from the working groups; and Harwell Liaison.
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 18 December and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 December and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, and minutes please click here.

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

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 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 West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 November 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 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.

• 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 1 February 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: music, art, a plan, an impact and remuneration – and a look at the Vale’s bronze-medal recycling performance according to the latest government figures. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Wantage area events include: a silver band and a green gym. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

• The Vale’s recycling

The Vale of White Horse Council is understandably upbeat about having been declared to be the third best authority for domestic waste recycling in the country, with its close friend South Oxfordshire topping the table. The statement adds that both councils had been in the top five for the last five years.

The Gov.uk document referred to the the council’s joint release is quite complex and I wasn’t able to find a list of all councils. However, the best and worse in each region are listed, and there South Oxfordshire is in gold-medal position with a score of 61.6% so I’ll assume that the Vale’s claim of 60.9% is true as well. It’s unlikely that residents of Liverpool or Tower Hamlets will be reading a similar press release as their councils are firmly the relegation zone, each recycling less than 18% of their rubbish.

“The excellent news today,” Mark Coleman, Vale of White Horse Cabinet Member for Environmental Services and Waste said, “is the combination of every member of the community doing their bit and a great deal of good work from the council and its partners. We now need to turn our focus to how we can all reduce and reuse more.” This was echoed by his opposite number at South Oxfordshire, Sue Cooper: “keep up the good work – but wherever possible, reduce and reuse. We know this is a continued challenge and that this commitment needs to be reflected nationally at the highest levels.”

As mentioned last week (see below), this news needs be set against the recent story in the Financial Times that the Vale, though great at recycling, seems to be a bit rubbish at buying gas: indeed, no council in the country pays more. Residents will hope that the soon get a press release saying that this problem is being fixed.

• Other news

February News from Sustainable Wantage includes volunteering opportunities, an update on what The Mix on Mill Street collects for recycling and events including a ‘Green Gym’ on Friday 9 February at Manor Road Park and a free Saturday Lunch Club for retirees at the Down to Earth Sustainable Cafe on Saturday 17 February. Click here to learn more.

• Quick reminder to have your say on South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils Joint Local Plan 2041. The deadline has been extended to Monday 26 February at 11.59pm due to a correction to one of the supporting documents.

• Lots to look forward to this half-term, including a whole host of dinosaur-themed events at the Beacon in Wantage. To find out more, click here.

• During Februry, The Mix will be collecting curtain rings, salad spinners, cardboard tubes and aprons for Fitzwaryn school which they will use to provide students with sensory experiences. Please drop these off any time The Mix is open (Mons 2-6pm, Weds 10am-3pm, Sats 10am-1pm). For more news see their facebook page here.

• Can you help? The Shaw Trust charity shop in Wantage market place is desperate for more volunteers. Whether you prefer to volunteer behind the scenes or in a customer-facing role, there’s plenty for you to get involved with. Please see more details here.

• Fancy an evening of live music? You can catch the Wantage Band in Concert, on Sunday 11 February at 7:30pm to 9pm. Click here to book a ticket.

Wantage Art Group will be holding a Meeting and Social Evening on Wednesday 21 February, in which Patsy will be stepping down from the Chair. After that there will be refreshments and an opportunity to view members work and then Charlotte Browning will talk about natural dyes for costumes in historical re-enactments. New members and visitors are welcome. See here for details.

• As mentioned last week, South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils are looking for volunteers to join an Independent Remuneration Panel to help review councillors’ expenses and allowances. To learn more and apply click here. The deadline for application is Thursday 22 February.

• Looking for a great way to give back to a local cause? If so, why not join Vale Community Impact‘s 500 Club charity lottery? Each month you could be in with a chance of winning £50 cash. The weekly £5 cost helps VCI provide dedicated support and advice and community transport to local people and families. For information please email help@vci.org.uk

Click here for the latest newsletter (2 February 2024) from Wantage MP David Johnston.

Latest business news from South & Vale Business Support.

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.

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

Fri 9 Feb Green Gym, Manor Road Park.

Sun 11 Feb Wantage Band in Concert, Wantage Silver Band.

Wed 21 Feb Wantage Art Group Social Evening, East Challow Village Hall.

Mon 11 to Sun 17 Mar The Big Plastic Count Week.

• 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. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 4 December and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.)
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 9 January and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the South and Vale’s joint local plan; actions from the previous meeting; the neighbourhood plan; CampSoul; grass cutting; financial matters; planning matters; repairs and maintenance; 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 East Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 4 January and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: speed control measures on the A338; pre-application matters regarding the Sports Club; matters arising; reports from the police, the district councillor and the county councillor; financial matters; planning matters; the relief road; trees; repairs and maintenance; the village fair; reports from the working groups; and Harwell Liaison.
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 Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 December and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: thew Chairs report; staffing matters; a councillor co-option; planning matters; financial matters; noticeboards; repairs and maintenance; rubbish bins; parking issues; problems with Airband’s fibre installation; highways; and speeding.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

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

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 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 West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 November 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 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 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 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.

• 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 25 January 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: dinosaurs, coffee, business support, books, bands and curlews – plus a chance to help fix councillors’ allowances and a look, in the company of the Wantage & Grove Campaign group, at a reservoir, a plan and a hospital. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Wantage area events include: a drop-in event about the Vale’s local plan and a green gym. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

• If you are interesting in shaping the future of the community by having your say on the Joint Local Plan 2041, then there is an in-person event in which you can learn more or ask questions on Wednesday 31 January at the Beacon in Wantage. If you want to find out more about what the Plan entails, click here.

• Lots to look forward to this half-term, as South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils are organising fun family activities at venues across the area, including a whole host of dinosaur-themed events at the Beacon in Wantage. To find out more, click here.

• Looking for a great way to give back to a local cause? If so, why not join Vale Community Impact‘s 500 Club charity lottery? Each month you could be in with a chance of winning £50 cash. The weekly £5 cost helps VCI provide dedicated support and advice and community transport to local people and families. For information please email help@vci.org.uk

Wantage Silver Band is looking for a new cornet player. If you know anyone who might fit the bill and be interested, they rehearse on Wednesday and Sunday evenings. To learn more, get in touch at gavin.clemons@gmail.com.

Wild Oxfordshire‘s January bulletin includes wagtails, curlews and lapwings.

Latest business news from South & Vale Business Support.

• Thanks to a recent grant, there is a new disability-friendly, sustainable, local transport provision initiative in Shrivenham, Watchfield and Bourton. However the initiative requires a pool of volunteer drivers, as well as managing committee volunteers who can help with the organisation and admin. For more details, read Stuart Coffey’s facebook post here (Shrivenham Parish Council), and get in touch at Stuart.Coffey@shrivenham.org.

Sustainable Wantage has a whole load of events and activities planned for 2024. They have mindfulness walks and craft workshops. They are also introducing a ‘Green Gym’, where you can keep fit while helping with practical outdoor tasks to improve habitats for local biodiversity. The next ‘Gym’ will be on Friday 9 February at Manor Road Park. Click here to learn more.

• Do you support someone or are you someone that has a learning disability? Community Catalysts Vale of White Horse invite you to a drop-in event on Wednesday 31 January at the Down to Earth Community Cafe. Go along to find out more about what’s happening in the local area, share your ideas and thoughts on possible support options and get support to set up your own activity or group – for free.

Click here for the latest news from the Wantage Bookshop.

• Water, plans and healthcare in OX12

The most recent (24 January 2024) newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group (WAGCG)  looks at a number of local issues, three old favourites in particular.

The first is Wantage Hospital. WAGCG reports that “the temporary closure of the inpatient beds will be made permanent,” but added that “the good news is that they say they are committed to keeping the Wantage Community Hospital open but aim to continue to use it for midwife-led maternity and outpatient services.” It also expresses the hop that some ear-marked CIL funds could be used to upgrade the services there.

The second the the reservoir. The newsletter offers a brief summary of some of the many concerns and objections to this massive project and quoits the CRPE as saying that “the plan for the reservoir has many unresolved issues and should be subject to a public inquiry.” It also suggests that local MP David Johnston has recently added his voice to support this as a next step.

The third is the joint local plan, which remains open for consultation until midnight on Wednesday 21 February. There’s also a drop-in event at The Beacon from 11am to 4pm on Wednesday 31 January. “The brief synopsis,” the newsletter states, “is that by changing the way that they calculate housing need since the last local plans, they have reduced the number of new homes required so that, with the exception of Dalton Barracks and the area between the Grove Airfield development and the Denchworth Road, no other “major” sites will be required in the Vale.” This does not mean, however, that smaller sites won’t come forward.

It also points out that the plan is to increase the percentage of affordable homes on new schemes to 50% (expect a lot of developer push-back on that) but adds that it’s unlikely (I would say “impossible”) that this would apply to schemes that have already been approved. There’s also a trade-off here, as “more affordable homes means less money for infrastructure to go with the new homes – so which do you prefer?” The area currently has a shortage of both these things.

Other matters covered include support for people with learning difficulties, three specific planning issues, local primary care plans and possible boundary changes. It ends with reporting that the FT has recently;y claimed that the Vale paid more than any other council in the country for its gas last year, nearly twelve times as much as did the keenest municipal buyer (Denbighshire) – “something to think about when you get your council tax demand.” There is some good news for Vale residents, though, as it’s in the top five for the best recycling rates in the country. No reason, though, why it can’t have cheaper gas as well…

• Fixing the allowances

South Oxfordshire District Council and Vale of White Horse District Council are looking for volunteers to join an Independent Remuneration Panel to help review councillors’ allowances.

The councils are together looking to fill voluntary vacancies on a Joint Independent Remuneration Panel which will commence its work in October 2024. The panel will consist of at least three members of the public supported by council officers. It will meet to help produce a report, with the assistance of officers, and make recommendations to the councils about the allowances to pay elected councillors. The closing date for applications is 22 February 2024. Click here for more information.

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

Wed 31 Jan Joint Local Plan Consultation Drop-In, The Beacon, Wantage.

Fri 9 Feb Green Gym, Manor Road Park.

• 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. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 4 December and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.)
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 9 January and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the South and Vale’s joint local plan; actions from the previous meeting; the neighbourhood plan; CampSoul; grass cutting; financial matters; planning matters; repairs and maintenance; 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 East Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 4 January and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: speed control measures on the A338; pre-application matters regarding the Sports Club; matters arising; reports from the police, the district councillor and the county councillor; financial matters; planning matters; the relief road; trees; repairs and maintenance; the village fair; reports from the working groups; and Harwell Liaison.
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 Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 December and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: thew Chairs report; staffing matters; a councillor co-option; planning matters; financial matters; noticeboards; repairs and maintenance; rubbish bins; parking issues; problems with Airband’s fibre installation; highways; and speeding.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

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

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 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 West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 November 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 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 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 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.

• 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 18 January 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: community impact, a bulletin, local transport, Sustainable Wantage and a cornet – plus a look at a possible ward changes in the Vale and a funding opportunity. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Wantage area events include: a drop-in event about the Vale’s local plan and a green gym. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

• Looking for a great way to ‘give back’ to a local cause? Why not join Vale Community Impact‘s 500 Club charity lottery. Each month you could be in with a chance of winning £50 cash. The weekly £5 cost helps VCI provide dedicated support and advice and community transport to local people and families. For information please email help@vci.org.uk

Wantage Silver Band is looking for a new cornet player. If you know anyone who might fit the bill and be interested, they rehearse on Wednesday and Sunday evenings. To learn more, get in touch at gavin.clemons@gmail.com.

Wild Oxfordshire‘s January bulletin includes wagtails, curlews and lapwings.

Latest business news from South & Vale Business Support.

• Thanks to a recent grant, there is a new disability-friendly, sustainable, local transport provision initiative in Shrivenham, Watchfield and Bourton. However the initiative requires a pool of volunteer drivers, as well as managing committee volunteers who can help with the organisation and admin. For more details, read Stuart Coffey’s facebook post here (Shrivenham Parish Council), and get in touch at Stuart.Coffey@shrivenham.org. There will be a meeting on Thursday 25 January, at the Shrivenham Memorial Hall for all interested parties.

Sustainable Wantage has a whole load of events and activities planned for 2024. They have mindfulness walks and craft workshops. They are also introducing a ‘Green Gym’, where you can keep fit while helping with practical outdoor tasks to improve habitats for local biodiversity. The next ‘Gym’ will be on Friday 9 February at Manor Road Park. Click here to learn more.

• Do you support someone or are you someone that has a learning disability? Community Catalysts Vale of White Horse invite you to a drop-in event on Wednesday 31 January at the Down to Earth Community Cafe. Go along to find out more about what’s happening in the local area, share your ideas and thoughts on possible support options and get support to set up your own activity or group – for free.

Click here for the latest news from the Wantage Bookshop.

• Possible ward changes

A new pattern of wards is being developed for Vale of White Horse.

The Local Government Boundary Commission has decided that the number of councillors in Vale of White Horse should be 38, the same as now,” a statement from the Vale and South Oxon Councils says. “The Local Government Boundary Commission wants to hear what residents and organisations think about their local area. A ten-week consultation inviting proposals will run until 18 March 2024.”

The Commission is the independent body (ie not influenced by political considerations, only demographic ones) that draws these boundaries. “It is,” the statement continues, “reviewing Vale of White Horse to make sure councillors represent about the same number of electors, and that ward arrangements help the council work effectively. It wants to be sure that its proposals reflect community ties and identities.

For more information and to take part, click here.

• Funding for change

South and Vale Business Support is looking to fund a project in South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse “that will engage organisations in our districts to respond to the climate emergency.

The project will support delivery of the intervention E29: Decarbonisation and improving the natural environment, set out in the UKSPF investment plans for South Oxfordshire District Council and Vale of White Horse District Council. Each council has up to £9,500 to award. Projects could include (but are not limited to):

  • Supporting businesses to take specific action on the circular economy
  • Encouraging organisations to adopt sustainable practices
  • Events to promote sustainability / eco-friendly initiatives to businesses

The applicant must submit a comprehensive project outline, which will include the timeframe of the project, the total cost required to complete the project and any match funding that is available. Organisations will need to outline the number of businesses they will work with over the course of the project and how they will achieve this.”

For more information, 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.

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

Wed 31 Jan Joint Local Plan Consultation Drop-In, The Beacon, Wantage.

Fri 9 Feb Green Gym, Manor Road Park.

• 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. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was on 4 December and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.)
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 Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 4 January and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: speed control measures on the A338; pre-application matters regarding the Sports Club; matters arising; reports from the police, the district councillor and the county councillor; financial matters; planning matters; the relief road; trees; repairs and maintenance; the village fair; reports from the working groups; and Harwell Liaison.
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 Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 December and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: thew Chairs report; staffing matters; a councillor co-option; planning matters; financial matters; noticeboards; repairs and maintenance; rubbish bins; parking issues; problems with Airband’s fibre installation; highways; and speeding.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

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

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 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 West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 November 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 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 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 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.

• 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 11 January 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: draughts, meals, boundaries, a gym and a disability event – plus a drop-in session in Wantage for the South and Vale’s local plan. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Wantage area events include: free community lunch and . See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

Draughtbusters volunteers will be outside the Bear Hotel in Wantage Market Place this Saturday 13 January, giving energy saving advice and draughtbusting tips. Pop along to pick up a Warmer Winter Checklist or ask any questions you have.

• The Local Government Boundary Commission is reviewing Vale of White Horse and its boundaries, to make sure councillors represent about the same number of electors. It wants to be sure that its proposals reflect community ties and wants to hear what residents and local organisations think about their area, with a current consultation running until Monday 18 March. Click here to learn more.

• Sustainable Wantage has a whole load of events and activities planned for 2024. They have mindfulness walks and craft workshops. They are also introducing a ‘Green Gym‘, where you can keep fit while helping with practical outdoor tasks to improve habitats for local biodiversity. The next ‘Gym’ will be on Friday 9 February at Manor Road Park. Click here to learn more.

Down to Earth community cafe at The Old Stables Makespace (across the main road from the library) is continuing its free warm space community meals from 11.30am to 2pm every Tuesday thanks to funding from Clarion Housing and to the Oxford Food Hub for the supply of surplus food. You can also take or leave a winter coat after your meal.

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.

• Do you support someone or are you someone that has a learning disability? Community Catalysts Vale of White Horse invite you to a drop-in event on Wednesday 31 January at the Down to Earth Community Cafe. Go along to find out more about what’s happening in the local area, share your ideas and thoughts on possible support options and get support to set up your own activity or group – for free.

Click here for the latest news from the Wantage Bookshop.

• The South and Vale’s local plan

Work never really stops on updating a district’s local plan. They take years and years to do: then, you have a brief pause before the work starts on the next one. The cliché of painting the Forth Bridge springs to mind.

South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse councils do a lot of things together, including communications. They even share the same offices. So buddied-up are they that they’ve also decided to embark on a joint local plan as a couple. The day may come when they take this to its logical conclusion and formally get married. Perhaps the only obstacle is what the new entity will call itself. That is, however, a matter for another day.

What the two councils want from residents is that they “join the conversation to help shape the future of the districts.” The discussion points include “sustainable development; protecting and enhancing our countryside; setting higher energy efficiency standards for new buildings; and prioritising more sustainable transport options.” A statement (a joint one, naturally) goes on to say that “Innovative draft policies to address local challenges and unlock future opportunities across the two districts have been published for community feedback, as part of the councils’ work to deliver their Joint Local Plan 2041.

The six-week consultation is now live and will remain so until 11.59pm on 21 February 2024. Visit southandvale.gov.uk/JLP to find out more and have your say.

There will also be drop-in sessions at various locations throughout the district (see the foot of this post). One of these will be in Wantage from 11am to 4pm on Wednesday 31 January at the Beacon, OX12 9BX.

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

Wed 31 Jan Joint Local Plan Consultation Drop-In, The Beacon, Wantage.

Fri 9 Feb Green Gym, Manor Road Park.

• 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 4 December and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.)
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 13 December and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: thew Chairs report; staffing matters; a councillor co-option; planning matters; financial matters; noticeboards; repairs and maintenance; rubbish bins; parking issues; problems with Airband’s fibre installation; highways; and speeding.
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 7 December and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; a possible memorial bench; the district councillors’ report; financial matters; planning matters; the Steventon reservoir consultation; the local plan; highways; repairs and maintenance; the play park; litter picking; reports from the working groups; the sports club; and hazardous trees.
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 6 December and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: parking on the High Street; speeding; planning enforcement; a community transport grant; report from the district councillor; Sustainable Shrivenham; the Chair’s report; vexatious phone calls; financial matters; planning matters; parish communications; 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 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 West Hendred Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 November 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 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 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 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.

• 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 4 January 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: a green gym, community meals, science, cards and art – plus a look (in the company of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group) at two important local campaigns. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Wantage area events include:free community lunch and cafe scientifique drone talk. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

• Sustainable Wantage has a whole load of events and activities planned for 2024. They have mindfulness walks and craft workshops. They are also introducing a ‘Green Gym‘, where you can keep fit while helping with practical outdoor tasks to improve habitats for local biodiversity. The next ‘Gym’ will be on Friday 9 February at Manor Road Park. Click here to learn more.

Down to Earth community cafe at The Old Stables Makespace (across the main road from the library) is continuing its free warm space community meals from 11.30am to 2pm every Tuesday thanks to funding from Clarion Housing and to the Oxford Food Hub for the supply of surplus food. You can also take or leave a winter coat after your meal.

• Not sure what to do with all your used Christmas and birthday cards? The Sustainable Shrivenham Hub is accepting them as part of a new project. The Hub is open on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Click here to find out what else you they accept as part of their various community projects here.

• There is a public meeting about Wantage Community Hospital on Thursday 11 January from 7.30pm at the Silver Band Hall on Tugwell Field OX12 8FR (just out of town from the Lord Nelson). This will be the last meeting before recommendations are put to the NHS and County Council so this will be your only opportunity to question those responsible. The inpatient beds closed temporarily in 2016 and they are finally coming up with recommendations for a resolution.

• The Wantage Cafe 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.

• Our local hospitals are under extra pressure during the Junior Doctor strike until Tuesday 9 January. For latest updates and advice please follow Great Western Hospital’s facebook page and Reading’s Royal Berkshire Hospital’s facebook page 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.

• Do you support someone or are you someone that has a learning disability? Community Catalysts Vale of White Horse invite you to a drop-in event on Wednesday 31 January at the Down to Earth Community Cafe. Go along to find out more about what’s happening in the local area, share your ideas and thoughts on possible support options and get support to set up your own activity or group – for free.

• 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.

• Two campaigns in OX12

The latest (2 January) newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group highlights two long-running issues in the area.

The first concerns the Wantage Community Hospital which was “temporarily” closed several years ago against which many groups, including the W&GCG, have vigorously lobbied ever since. The newsletter tells us that there will be a public meeting on 11 January from 7.30pm at the Silver Band Hall on Tugwell Field OX12 8FR. “This will be the last meeting before recommendations are put to the NHS and County Council so if you care about the services available in the Community Hospital please go along. It will be your only opportunity to question those responsible.”

The second concerns the fight against the reservoir continues. The newsletter points out that “the Group against the Reservoir (GARD) has called on the Secretary of State for the Environment to order a Public Inquiry into Thames Water’s plan to go ahead with their “unacceptable, unnecessary and expensive” proposal for a huge reservoir near Abingdon, completely ignoring strong opposition in their consultation process.”

It adds that Thames Water “only has a ‘conceptual design’ of the project, with few detailed investigations of the area’s geology, even after 25 years of promoting the project.” One thing does seem clear, however – it would be vast. It was turned down at a public inquiry in 2010 and, the W&GCG argues, ” should not be allowed to go forward without a full design being open for review.”

GARD, CPRE and most of the Oxfordshire Councils believe that the inclusion of the reservoir in Thames Water’s plan should not be allowed to proceed for further development “until a proper, transparent, public assessment of the proposal’s costs, environmental impact, drought resilience compared to alternatives and safety and flood risk potential has been carried out and published. We agree with them,” the newsletter concludes. “Approving the plans now is like giving Thames Water a blank cheque.”

The newsletter also has information about the consultation into Oxfordshire CC’s budget, which closes on 10 January.

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

Tue 9 Jan Free Community Lunch, Down to Earth Cafe

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

Fri 9 Feb Green Gym, Manor Road Park.

• 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 4 December and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.)
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 13 December and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: thew Chairs report; staffing matters; a councillor co-option; planning matters; financial matters; noticeboards; repairs and maintenance; rubbish bins; parking issues; problems with Airband’s fibre installation; highways; and speeding.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shrivenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 December and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: parking on the High Street; speeding; planning enforcement; a community transport grant; report from the district councillor; Sustainable Shrivenham; the Chair’s report; vexatious phone calls; financial matters; planning matters; parish communications; 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 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 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 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.

 

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