Thursday 14 October 2021

• The BBC reports that there were 498 CV-19 cases in the Vale of White Horse in the week 3 to 10 October, up 129 on the week before. This equates to 361 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 397 (335 the week before). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a much more local level to be obtained.

• Sustainable Wantage‘s October newsletter includes lots of opportunities to get involved with local environmental and communities activities.

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

• Click here for information on the Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage Talking Newspaper (DAWN) for the blind and partially sighted. The organisers are currently appealing for help to keep the service going – click here for details.

• October’s Wantage Cafe Scientifique talk this week was COP26: humanity’s moment of truth? with Mike Landy. This was the last talk on zoom as in-person talks will resume next month at Wildwood Cinema in central Wantage.

• If you are concerned about climate change, especially in the build-up to COP26, find out what Extinction Rebellion Wantage is doing by following them on Facebook here.

• A 91-year-old Scout leader who has dedicated 70 years of her life to the Scouting movement has been awarded for her service by Bear Grylls. More on this story here.

• The newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnston arrived in my inbox last week and you can read it here.

• Last chance to donate unwanted, good condition sports kit to Wild Wicket Sports, Wantage for the BBC’s ‘Make a Difference Kit Out the Nation Campaign’ The campaign aims to distribute kits to school children “who need it at a time when the pandemic has seen levels of exercise among young people plummet”. You can donate any sports kit during any open hours of the shop, which you can find listed on this post from their website blog. This will be open until 16 October.

• Wantage Library is looking for any local artists/sculptors who want to display their art within an exhibition space at the library. Contact details and more information can be found on this post on the Wantage Library Facebook page.

• South Oxfordshire and the Vale Councils are preparing a Joint Statement of Community Involvement (SCI). This will set out “who, how and when the councils will engage with local communities as part of the planning process. It covers both consultations on planning applications and also on the development of local plans which guide where development will be supported in the future.” Click here for more information. You have until 20 October to make your views known.

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

• Click here for how the Vale Council is supporting Afghan refugees. For the response from the community, follow the Oxfordshire Afghan Aid Facebook page.

• Click here for a list of businesses that offer click-and-collect services in Wantage town centre.

• The Letcombe Register has published its October 2021 edition, which contains activities and more for the surrounding area and community. The newsletter can be downloaded here.

•  Julie Mabberley’s regular column on p8 of the Herald looks at a change of name for the Oxfordshire Growth Board (now the Oxfordshire Future Partnership).

• The Vale Council has agreed revised rates that developers will be required to pay towards community facilities and local infrastructure that are needed as a result of development growth in the Vale of White Horse District. It was, the Council said, clear that “the rates were not generating sufficient funds to help deliver (sic) the necessary infrastructure.”

• The same Council has agreed to start the process of joining a national network which gives local government leaders greater influence and resources in tackling the climate emergency.

• From 1 November 2021, Oxfordshire County Council will be enforcing parking rules in South Oxfordshire, the Vale of White Horse and Cherwell districts. To read more on these changes, click here. (See the section below for the significance of this.)

Parking in Wantage

• It’s long been recognised that parking in Wantage is a problematic issue. The town has about 11,500 residents but also serves a rural catchment with poor public transport. Moreover, Wantage (and the neighbouring parish of Grove) is growing fast with a number of new developments in progress or planned. Even if the government pulls back on its ambitions for the Oxford-Cambridge arc, the attractivecharacter and location of Wantage and its surrounding villages will continue to make the town a desirable place to live: if you can get into it, that is.

This issue is going to be brought into sharper focus from 1 November. On that date parking in the town will be ‘decriminalised’. This doesn’t mean that people will be able to park where they like with impunity – indeed, nothing better describes the current situation. What it actually means is that responsibility for parking enforcement is switching from the Thames Valley Police (which doesn’t have the staff to enforce regulations) to the Vale Council (which does). I understand that there will be a soft launch to this, perhaps starting with warning notices rather than fines. The day will, however, soon arrive when the estimated 130 cars which are currently parked on Wantage’s single and double yellow lines each weekday will need to park somewhere else. But where? is the big question.

There are other issues at work as well. Despite the climate emergency there has been no increase in rural bus services – and how easy is it to do your shopping by bus anyway? The Town Council has a policy of pedestrianising the town centre: a laudable goal but one which will push the parking issue into other parts of Wantage. The planned re-opening of Wantage Road station is back on the agenda, thanks in part of the efforts of the local MP. If that happens, this might actually make the parking problem worse as the town will, with a fast railway connection, become an even more desirable location, so perhaps spawning further development

The Wantage Chamber of Commerce held a meeting on 12 October, which we attended, at which the issue was discussed. “There are a number of solutions that have been identified,” the Chamber’s Chairman Richard Shepherd told Penny Post after the meeting, “but none are ideal.” One of these would a park-and-ride facility, possibly to the north of the town, but that this would require “a significant investment.” Underground or multi-storey car parks would be similarly expensive: there’s also the argument that each new space creates more demand and that the town’s streets might risk being clogged with traffic trying to use them.

The views of retailers, shoppers, pedestrians, motorists, cyclists, environmental groups, the three different councils and the emergency services are not aligned on this matter, in Wantage or anywhere else. It’s not an easy fix. None the less, as Richard Shepherd said “something has to be done. Without some action, our town will die”

He said that this mounting problem demands that “a full strategy should now be requested as part of the new local plan – the planners have imposed at least 7,000 new homes and must look at the impact of this on the town centre.” He added that the Chamber had recently raised the issue with district and county councillors and was pleased with the reaction so far. We’ll bring you news of any further developments. In the meantime, you contact the Wantage Chamber of Commerce via its website. If you have a view on this please let the Chamber know so it can continue to help find a solution.

Local events and activities

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

Saturday 6 November 2021 A bonfire, music and fireworks night is being held at the Ardington Sports Field. Gates open at 6pm and fireworks are scheduled for 7.30pm. Click here for more information from their Facebook page.

Wednesday 10 November 2021 Wantage Cafe Scientifique:  the nuts and bolts of renewable energy, with Damian Culshaw at 7.30pm at Wildwood Cinema.

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

Wantage Country market every Friday. See details  here.

• If you’re interested in family and local history research, Wantage Library has a wide range of books about how to start your family tree, the local countryside and villages around Wantage as well as free online resources, many of which you can access from the comfort of your own home. See here for details.

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 was held on 2 August and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.) To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas, please click here.

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

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

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

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

• Still no minutes from Letcombe Regis Parish Council from more recently than March 2021. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The Letcombe Register partly plugs this gap and you can read the October issue here. This contains the usual wide range of information about the village and its many local groups and societies. It also, on p2, has a message from the Parish Council which covers some of its recent activities.

Wantage area council news

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

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

Oxfordshire County Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn Valley; Marlborough area; Newbury area; Thatcham area; Compton and Downlands; Theale area; Swindon area.

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

Thursday 7 October 2021

• The BBC reports that there were 370 CV-19 cases in the Vale of White Horse in the week 27 September to 3 October, down 68 on the week before. This equates to 268 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 335 (335 the week before). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a much more local level to be obtained.

• The newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnston arrived in my inbox last week and you can read it here. It includes: the pension triple lock; his new role in the Department for Education; the armed forces; a visit to the setting of the book Wilding; various constituency activities ranging from tree-planting to wellie wanging, from donkey sanctuaries to a coffee morning and from school visits to local anniversaries; and a peek at his summer reading list.

• The Vale of White Horse Council has re-started its Garden Waste Service after a lengthy pingdemic-forced interruption. More details can be found here.

Sustainable Wantage‘s October newsletter includes lots of opportunities to get involved with local environmental and communities activities.

• Information about the Wantage Country market can be found by clicking here.

• People across South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse are being urged to have their say on the Oxford-Cambridge Arc. This is open until 12 October 2021.

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

• Click here for information on the Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage Talking Newspaper (DAWN) for the blind and partially sighted. The organisers are currently appealing for help to keep the service going – click here for details.

• Click here for a list of businesses that offer click-and-collect services in Wantage town centre.

• If you are concerned about climate change, especially in the build-up to COP26, find out what Extinction Rebellion Wantage are doing by following them on facebook here.

• Wild Wicket Sports, Wantage is participating in the BBC’s ‘Make a Difference Kit Out the Nation Campaign’ where anyone is encouraged to donate “unwanted, good condition sports kit”. The campaign aims to distribute kits to school children “who need it at a time when the pandemic has seen levels of exercise among young people plummet”. You can donate any sports kit during any open hours of the shop, which you can find listed on this post from their website blog.

• South Oxfordshire and the Vale Councils are preparing a Joint Statement of Community Involvement (SCI). This will set out “who, how and when the councils will engage with local communities as part of the planning process. It covers both consultations on planning applications and also on the development of local plans which guide where development will be supported in the future.” Click here for more information. You have until 20 October to make your views known.

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

• Click here for how the Vale Council is supporting Afghan refugees. For the community response follow the Oxfordshire Afghan Aid Facebook page.

• The Letcombe Register has published its October 2021 edition, which contains activities and more for the surrounding area and community. The newsletter can be downloaded here.

• From 1 November 2021, Oxfordshire County Council will be enforcing parking rules in South Oxfordshire, the Vale of White Horse and Cherwell districts. To read more on these changes, click here.

Oxfordshire’s POETS

•  Julie Mabberley’s regular column on p8 of the Herald looks at POETS (Planning Oxfordshire’s Environment and Transport Sustainably), a group of professionals which looks at the issues and in the area indicated by its name.

She considers two things that currently concern them: the proposed extension to permitted development rights (which essentially by-pass the normal planning system); and the county’s housing crisis. She quotes its observation that the planning process is “heavily skewed in favour of private landowners and large house builders” (a situation which the, now paused, planning white paper seemed set to make worse) and adds that the government needs to deal with this, Covid, climate change and inequality “at a scale comparable to the war-time coalition government.”

Local events and activities

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

Saturday 9 October: last chance to view the Wantage Art Group’s collection at the Vale & Download Museum. View its website for more information on this and other events.

Tuesday 12 October: Rhymetime at Grove Library from 10.30am to 11.15am. For more information, please click here.

• Wantage Library is looking for any local artists/sculptors who want to display their art within an exhibition space at the library. Contact details and more information can be found on this post on the Wantage Library Facebook page.

• To stay updated on future events at Wantage Library, click here to visit its Facebook page.

• If you’re interested in family and local history research, Wantage Library has a wide range of books about how to start your family tree, the local countryside and villages around Wantage as well as free online resources, many of which you can access from the comfort of your own home. See here for details.

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 was held on 2 August and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.) To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council took place on 8 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included:  actions from the previous meeting; the neighbourhood development plan; new rugby and football posts; planning applications and decisions; financial matters; parish communications; and a possible skate park. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 7 September and you can read the draft minutes here. The items covered included: the Village Plan Working Group; a jubilee beacon; a cream tea party; a co-option; Grove Airfield and Crab Hill developments; further potential development to the north east of Grove; leisure facilities; uncontrolled dogs; and financial matters. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

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

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

• Still no minutes from Letcombe Regis Parish Council from more recently than March 2021. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The Letcombe Register partly plugs this gap and you can read the October issue here. This contains the usual wide range of information about the village and its many local groups and societies. It also, on p2, has a message from the Parish Council which covers some of its recent activities.

Thursday 30 September 2021

• The BBC reports that there were 436 CV-19 cases in the Vale of White Horse in the week 20 to 26 September, up 45 on the week before. This equates to 316 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 335 (271 the week before). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a much more local level to be obtained.

• The newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnston has just arrived in my inbox and you can read it here. Items he covers includes: the pension triple lock; his new role in the Department for Education; the armed forces; a visit to the setting of the book Wilding; various constituency activities ranging from tree-planting to wellie wanging, from donkey sanctuaries to a coffee morning and from school visits to local anniversaries; and a peek at his summer reading list (including Evelyn Waugh’s wonderful Scoop).

•  Julie Mabberley’s regular column on p8 of the Herald looks at “five themes help us through the next 30 years of building” which have been identified by the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 Consultation. These are: addressing climate change; improving environmental quality; creating strong and healthy communities; planning for sustainable travel; and creating jobs and providing homes. Worthy aspirations every one: but, as she puts it, “it’s a bit like reviewing a very vague version of the local plan.”

The bigger question is how much these aspirations jive with those of central government which ultimately sets the key and the tempo. Until all these points, particularly regarding climate change and sustainable travel, are firmly set for the long haul and local plans brought up to match them, the sense is always of listening to a band in which one member wants to speed up but another wants to pull back. Trying to get national and local policies aligned seems next to impossible. If, as in Oxfordshire, there is a third player to take into account in the shape of the County Council. You need a strong conductor whom everyone trusts. Do we have such a person? I’m not sure.

• The Vale of White Horse Council recently re-started its Garden Waste Service after a lengthy pingdemic-forced interruption. More details can be found here.

• Due to the ongoing fuel crisis and therefore consequential panic buying throughout the country, Wantage Town FC had to postpone its Southern League fixture against AFC Dunstable on 28 September 2021. In this article on the club’s website, they were hoping to be able to host the upcoming Oxfordshire derby on Saturday 2 October 2021 against North Leigh FC.

Wild Wicket Sports, Wantage is participating in the BBC’s ‘Make a Difference Kit Out the Nation Campaign’ where anyone is encouraged to donate “unwanted, good condition sports kit”. The campaign aims to distribute kits to school children “who need it at a time when the pandemic has seen levels of exercise among young people plummet”. You can donate any sports kit during any open hours of the shop, which you can find listed on this post from their website blog.

• Arts Hub Wantage‘s September newsletter is full of events and activities to look forward to in the marketplace, at the recently re-opened Beacon, the Vale & Downland Museum and The Mix.

• From 1 November 2021, Oxfordshire County Council will be enforcing parking rules in South Oxfordshire, the Vale of White Horse and Cherwell districts. To read more on these changes, click here.

• October’s Rhymetime at Grove Library will be held on 12 October 2021 from 10.30am to 11.15am. For more information, please click here.

Wantage Local Artisan Market will be held on Sunday 3 October 2021 between 10am and 5pm. To find out more, please click here.

• A reminder that the Wantage Art Group is displaying its collection at the Vale & Download museum. This will be available to view until 9 October 2021. View their website for more information on this and other events.

King Alfred Patchwork and Quilters Group (East Challow) are meeting on Wednesday 6 October 2021 for their monthly sessions and talks. October’s event will see the visit of Mark Pickles from the Sewing Studio in Bath. The group meetings start at 7pm at East Challow Village Hall. To find out more information, download ‘The Letcombe Register’ September 2021 Issue 193 here and turn to page 5.

• A reminder that people across the Vale of White Horse are being encouraged by the Council to line the streets on Monday 4 October when the AJ Bell Women’s Tour cycling race passes through the district.”

• South Oxfordshire and the Vale Councils are preparing a Joint Statement of Community Involvement (SCI). This will set out “who, how and when the councils will engage with local communities as part of the planning process. It covers both consultations on planning applications and also on the development of local plans which guide where development will be supported in the future.” Click here for more information. You have until 20 October to make your views known.

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

• Click here for how the Vale Council is supporting Afghan refugees. For community response follow the Oxfordshire Afghan Aid Facebook page.

• The Letcombe Register has published its September 2021 edition, which contains activities and more for the surrounding area and community. The newsletter can be found here.

• Information about the Wantage Country market can be found by clicking here.

• People across South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse are being urged to have their say on the Oxford-Cambridge Arc. This is open until 12 October 2021.

• If you’re interested in family- and local-history research, Wantage Library has a wide range of books about how to start your family tree, the local countryside and villages around Wantage as well as free online resources, many of which you can access from the comfort of your own home. See here for details.

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

• Grove Parish Council published an update on their Facebook page in regards to their attempts to find a new dog waste contractor to empty the bins.  In the update on 24 September 2021 they posted “Of the 32 original dog waste bins the contractor has agreed to empty 29 of the bins.” Unfortunately, this means that 3 bins will be removed from the “southern end of the footpath which runs adjacent to the disused Canal, rear of the Mably Way Health Centre, North Eastern corner of the land behind the Mably Health Centre”. The dog waste collections will take place every Monday, and will be emptied on Tuesdays in the case of a Bank Holiday Monday.

• Click here for information the Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage Talking Newspaper (DAWN) for the blind and partially sighted. The organisers are currently appealing for help to keep the service going – click here for details.

• Click here for a list of businesses that offer click-and-collect services in Wantage town centre.

News from the councils

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was held on 28 June and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.) To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 7 September and you can read the draft minutes here. The items covered included: the Village Plan Working Group; a jubilee beacon; a cream tea party; a co-option; Grove Airfield and Crab Hill developments; further potential development to the north east of Grove; leisure facilities; uncontrolled dogs; and financial matters. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council took place on 11 August and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

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

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

• Still no minutes from Letcombe Regis Parish Council from more recently than March 2021. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The Letcombe Register partly plugs this gap and you can read the September issue here. This contains the usual wide range of information about the village and its many local groups and societies. It also, on p2, has a message from the Parish Council which covers some of its recent activities.

Thursday 23 September 2021

• The BBC reports that there were 392 CV-19 cases in the Vale of White Horse in the week 13 to 19 September, up 63 on the week before. This equates to 284 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 271 (267 the week before). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a much more local level to be obtained.

•  Julie Mabberley’s regular column on p8 of the Herald looks at the proposed reservoir between Wantage and Abingdon (see last week’s section below). She quotes the pressure group GARD (Group Against Reservoir Development) as saying that if any cracks appear in the 30m high walls then large-scale evacuations might be needed: she adds that as Thames Water has a pretty poor record when it comes to leaking pipes, its walls may not be much better. She also suggests that this construction would “totally wreck” the county’s plan of being carbon-neutral by 2030. Then there’s the question of money. Thames Water is, she reminds us, not owned by the state or local residents or even by UK firms but by investment companies as far afield as China, Canada and Qatar. These shareholders, rather than the local residents, may well derive the most benefit from the scheme. Reservoirs are necessary things. The question is whether this one needs to be so big, or is required at all. Discussions about this have been going on for many years and are likely to continue for many more.

• The Wantage Health Centre has recently had funding approved by Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group for an extension and refurbishment. Believed to begin as early as January 2022, this project is a welcome (and long-overdue) one and will provide extra consulting and treatment rooms. Consult the centre’s Facebook page for further information; or see this statement from Assura, which manages the centre. This points out that development between now and 2030 will result in an extra 4,100 homes (and so perhaps 10,000 people) in the area – think of a new town about double the size of Hungerford being squeezed in and around two existing ones.

• On 21 September 2021, the Vale of White Horse Council held a meeting to discuss the current temporary suspension of the Garden Waste Service. The council states that collections of garden waste will start again from 27 September. Click here to read the agenda and here for the minutes of their meeting.

• On this subject, the Herald reports that residents have accused both councils of a “lack of communication.”

Arts Hub Wantage‘s September newsletter is full of events and activities to look forward to in the marketplace, at the recently re-opened Beacon, the Vale & Downland Museum and The Mix.

• Kicking off the schedule is a parade to celebrate the centenary of the Royal British Legion and the 80th anniversary of the Thames Valley Wing Air Cadets followed by a free Family Fun Day this Sunday 26 September. There will be full closure of the Market Place to traffic for these events.

• Schoolchildren from Stanford in the Vale Primary School buried their Covid memories in a time capsule. The time capsules were planted at David Wilson Homes’ River Meadow development and are set to be opened in 2071, 50 years from now. To read more on this story, click here.

• From 1 November 2021, Oxfordshire County Council will be enforcing parking rules in South Oxfordshire, the Vale of White Horse and Cherwell districts. To read more on these changes, click here.

• A reminder that the Vale & Download Museum is seeking new objects and stories related to the almshouses to help remember them in the future. You can contribute or get in touch at researchlibrary@valeanddownlandmuseum.org.uk.

• A reminder that the Wantage Art Group is displaying its collection at the Vale & Download museum. This will be available to view until 9 October 2021. View their website for more information on this and other events.

• The Herald reports that a sustainable housing development has scooped an award for ‘Best Residential Development in Oxfordshire’. The 25-home Springfield Meadows development in Kingston Bagpuize is “believed to be the most sustainable private residential development in the UK with net-zero energy.”

• A reminder that people across the Vale of White Horse are being encouraged by the Council to line the streets on Monday 4 October “to show off the area and to get inspired when the AJ Bell Women’s Tour cycling race passes through the district.”

• South Oxfordshire and the Vale Councils are preparing a Joint Statement of Community Involvement (SCI). This will set out “who, how and when the councils will engage with local communities as part of the planning process. It covers both consultations on planning applications and also on the development of local plans which guide where development will be supported in the future.” Click here for more information.

Click here for the Vale Council is supporting Afghan refugees.

• On that theme, many organisations report that the response to the appeal for Refugee Emergency Care Packs for Afghan refugees has been amazing. One way to donate is to contact Annette Edwards on nettyjedwards@gmail.com or 07530 446530 or contact the Oxfordshire Afghan Aid Facebook page.

• Volunteers are wanted by Letcombe Regis Parish Council for help with gardening activities in Millennium Green on Saturday 25 September 2021. The volunteering starts at 10am and is expected to finish at noon.

• The Letcombe Register has published its September 2021 edition, which contains activities and more for the surrounding area and community. The newsletter can be found here.

• Information about the Wantage Country market can be found by clicking here.

• You can click here to read the latest (2 September) newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group.

• People across South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse are being urged to have their say on the Oxford-Cambridge Arc. This is open until 12 October 2021.

• If you’re interested in family- and local-history research, Wantage Library has a wide range of books about how to start your family tree, the local countryside and villages around Wantage as well as free online resources, many of which you can access from the comfort of your own home. See here for details.

• Volunteer drivers are needed in the Wantage and Grove areas (and, due to the pingdemic, just about everywhere else) – click here for details.

• Click here for a list of businesses offer click-and-collect services in Wantage town centre.

News from the councils

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was held on 28 June and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.) To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 7 September and you can read the draft minutes here. items covered included: the Village Plan Working Group; a jubilee beacon; a cream tea party; a co-option; Grove Airfield and Crab Hill developments; further potential development to the north east of Grove; leisure facilities; uncontrolled dogs; and financial matters. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council  took place on 11 August and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

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

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

• Still no minutes from Letcombe Regis Parish Council from more recently than May 2021. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The Letcombe Register, however, partly plugs this gap and you can read the September issue here. This contains the usual wide range of information about the village and its many local groups and societies. It also, on p2, has a message from the Parish Council which covers some of its recent activities and mentioned that the next meeting is on Monday 20 September at 8pm.

• Click here for information the Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage Talking Newspaper (DAWN) for the blind and partially sighted. The organisers are currently appealing for help to keep the service going – click here for details.

Thursday 16 September 2021

• The BBC reports that there were 329 CV-19 cases in the Vale of White Horse in the week 6 to 12 September, down 119 on the week before. This equates to 239 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 267 (332 the week before). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a much more local level to be obtained.

• The Daily Mail has written about a “reservoir revolution” to “keep Britain’s taps running”. For residents of the area north of Wantage, this marks the reappearance of a 25-year-old plan for a reservoir between East Hanney and Drayton which will be the size of 2,500 football pitches and half the size of Lake Windermere. I find both these comparisons impossible to visualise.  The Herald adds that it would “sit behind huge embankments, taller than electricity pylons.” I find that quite hard to visualise as well. If given the go-ahead – and that seems like quite a big if judging by the opposition so far – it will take 10 years to build.

• If this does get built then it would make sense to bring some of the vast amounts of material that will be required in by rail as the Didcot to Swindon line conveniently passes just to the south of the site. Construction workers could come in by rail as well – oh, hang on, there’s no station there. Here’s an idea: how about re-opening the long-closed station at Wantage Road in Grove?

• The same paper reports that the first draw of the Vale of White Horse District Council’s White Horse Community Lottery (a bit of a mouthful, that name) will take place on Saturday September 18. More details here. You’ve got to be in to win, as they say.

• A reminder that the Vale & Download Museum is seeking new objects and stories related to the almshouses to help remember them in the future. You can contribute or get in touch at researchlibrary@valeanddownlandmuseum.org.uk.

• The Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire district councils’ waste team says that it has “successfully worked with 20 local parish and town councils to run children’s activity trails in the school summer holiday” in the litterbugs detectives initiative.

• Communities across the Vale of White Horse are being encouraged by the Council to line the streets on Monday 4 October “to show off the area and to get inspired when the AJ Bell Women’s Tour cycling race passes through the district” on 4 October.

• The Vale Council’s  green-waste collections are still suspended due to the so-called pingdemic and a general shortage of HGV drivers. Read more here.

• South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils are backing the Great Big Green Week national campaign aimed at helping and encouraging residents, communities, and businesses to act to help tackle the climate crisis, and to protect and improve our environment (don’t miss the Down to Earth Climate Cook-In at Wantage Methodiest Church Hall this Saturday 18 September).

The same two Councils are preparing a Joint Statement of Community Involvement (SCI). This will set out “who, how and when the councils will engage with local communities as part of the planning process. It covers both consultations on planning applications and also on the development of local plans which guide where development will be supported in the future.” Click here for more information.

Click here for the Vale Council is supporting Afghan refugees.

• On that theme, many organisations report that the response to the appeal for Refugee Emergency Care Packs for Afghan refugees has been amazing. One way to donate is to contact Annette Edwards on nettyjedwards@gmail.com or 07530 446530 or contact the new Oxfordshire Afghan Aid Facebook page.

• Elmbrook Court residents, families and special guests were treated to a close up look at a formula one car as a mark of the care home’s official opening. More information can be found here.

• Volunteers are being sought by Letcombe Regis Parish Council for help with gardening activities in Millennium Green on Saturday 25 September 2021. The volunteering starts at 10am and is proposed to finish at noon.

The Letcombe Register has released its September 2021 edition, which contains activities and more for the surrounding area and community. The newsletter can be found here.

The Wantage Art Group is displaying its collection at the Vale & Download museum. This will be available to view from 27 September to 9 October 2021. View their website for more information on this and other events.

• Information about the Wantage Country market can be found by clicking here.

• The Vale & Download Museum is seeking new objects and stories related to the almshouses today to help remember them in the future. You can contribute or get in touch at researchlibrary@valeanddownlandmuseum.org.uk.

• The Wantage Health Centre has had funding approved by Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group for an extension and refurbishment. Believed to begin as early as January 2022, this project is a welcome (and long-overdue) one and will provide extra consulting and treatment rooms. Consult their Facebook page for details and further information.

• A reminder that there will be full closure of the Market Place to traffic for the centenary of the Royal British Legion and the 80th anniversary of the Air Cadets on Sunday 26 September 2021. It will be necessary to close off the Market Place car parking areas the evening before the event to ensure that the space is clear for the next day. During the road closure, the Council will be implementing a comprehensive system of road signs.

• You can click here to read the latest (2 September) newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group. See the 2 September section (below) for a summary of the contents. This includes the link to a Zoom meeting on 16 September held by the Newbury Street Patient Group.

• People across South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse are being urged to have their say on the Oxford-Cambridge Arc, a government led project which will have an impact on both districts in the future. This is open until 12 October 2021.

• I can’t tell you what was in Julie Mabberley’s regular column on p8 of the Herald this week as we didn’t get the printed copy of the paper delivered this week and it hasn’t yet appeared on the Herald’s website nor on this section of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group. Sorry about that.

• If you’re interested in family- and local-history research, Wantage Library has a wide range of books about how to start your family tree, the local countryside and villages around Wantage as well as free online resources, many of which you can access from the comfort of your own home. See here for details.

• Volunteer drivers are needed in the Wantage and Grove areas (and, due to the pingdemic, just about everywhere else) – click here for details.

• Click here for a list of businesses offer click-and-collect services in Wantage town centre.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was held on 28 June and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.) To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 3 August and you can read the draft minutes here. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council  took place on 14 July and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

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

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

Still no minutes from Letcombe Regis Parish Council from more recently than March 2021. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The Letcombe Register, however, partly plugs this ever-widening gap and you can read the September issue here. This contains the usual wide range of information about the village and its many local groups and societies. It also, on p2, has a message from the Parish Council which covers some of its recent activities and mentioned that the next meeting is on Monday 20 September at 8pm.

• Click here for information the Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage Talking Newspaper (DAWN) for the blind and partially sighted. The organisers are currently appealing for help to keep the service going – click here for details.

Thursday 9 September 2021

• The BBC reports that there were 447 CV-19 cases in the Vale of White Horse in the week 30 August to 5 September, up 79 on the week before. This equates to 324 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 332 (292 the week before). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a much more local level to be obtained.

• If you saw a headline that read “County is top place for discovering buried treasures” you might think, as I did, that the county (Oxfordshire in this case) ranked number one on some list. This was the claim made on p12 of the Herald this week. Closer reading revealed that there was indeed a list but Oxfordshire was only 10th. I have no interest in treasure hunting but I felt rather let down by this: I briefly thought myself, here in neighbouring West Berkshire, to be on the edge of greatness,only to have it snatched away. The headline certainly had the desired effect of making me read the article. The whole experience taught me two things. The first is that if I want to find buried treasure I should go not to Oxfordshire but to the Isle of Wight. The second is not to trust the Herald’s headline writers.

• The Mayor of Wantage recently visited the Robert Stiles and Wantage Townland Governors almshouses as part of the 75th Anniversary of the Almshouse Association. More information on the association can be found here.

• The Wantage Country market information and future dates can be found by clicking here.

• The Vale & Download Museum is seeking new objects and stories related to the almshouses today to help remember them in the future. You can contribute or get in touch at researchlibrary@valeanddownlandmuseum.org.uk.

• The Beacon has now re-opened – see the  website for more information.

• The Wantage Health Centre has had funding approved by Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group for an extension and refurbishment. Believed to begin as early as January 2022, this project is a welcome (and long-overdue) one and will provide extra consulting and treatment rooms. Consult their Facebook page for details and further information.

• A reminder that there will be full closure of the Market Place to traffic for fairs on Saturday 11 September 2021 and for the celebration of the centenary of the Royal British Legion and the 80th anniversary of the Air Cadets on Sunday 26 September 2021. It will be necessary to close off the Market Place car parking areas the evening before each event to ensure that the space is clear for the events to proceed the next day. During the road closures, the Council will be implementing a comprehensive system of road signs.

• As mentioned before, the Vale of White Horse District Council is calling on the government to commit to reopening the railway station in Grove and to make funding available for the project.

• You can click here to read the latest (2 September) newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group. See last week’s section (below) for a summary of the contents. This includes the link to a Zoom meeting on 16 September held by the Newbury Street Patient Group.

• And, while we’re Zooming, Wantage Cafe Scientifique’s last zoom talk is on Tuesday 14 September about The Natural History Museum coming to Harwell. From October they will be going back to hosting their live monthly talks at The Beacon.

• Wantage Town Council has recently installed four planters into the temporary pedestrianised area at the western end of the market place. The planters provide two purposes: to separate the pedestrianised area from the highway and to make the area aesthetically pleasing. Please email deputyclerk@wantagetowncouncil.gov.uk if you know of an area that would benefit from a new bench. These will be considered.

Wantage Town Centre Manager Andrea Yates looks at some of the events coming up in town during September 2021 in this post.

• The Vale & Download Museum is appealing for artefacts related to Covid. Information on how to donate can be found here.

• The response to the appeal for Refugee Emergency Care Packs for Afghan refugees has been amazing. If you want to donate please contact Annette Edwards on nettyjedwards@gmail.com or 07530 446530 or contact the new Oxfordshire Afghan Aid facebook page.

• People across South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse are being urged to have their say on the Oxford-Cambridge Arc, a government led project which will have an impact on both districts in the future. This is open until 12 October 2021.

• Julie Mabberley’s regular column on p8 of the Herald looks looks at the amount of carbon produced by homes and quotes a report from the National Housing Federation which says that “the average family produces more COs each year just by living in their home than they do by driving.” She goes on to make the good point that homes, in Oxfordshire and elsewhere, are still being built to minimum standards. Houses can in some cases be retro-fitted but she then points to the costs: an estimated £26,300 to do this for an average existing house but less than £5,000 to do it during the construction of a new one. She’s right in saying that government legislation will eventually force a change. Perhaps as powerful will be consumer power. If you’re buying a new home now, you might not want to pay £5,000 extra for sustainable features. However, the day will come when you know that, if it doesn’t have these, you’ll probably have to knock at least £26,300 off your sale price when you decide to move on because the new buyer demands them. At that point we’ll suddenly find that developers will start building to better standards, irrespective of what they’re compelled to do so.

• If you’re interested in family- and local-history research, Wantage Library has a wide range of books about how to start your family tree, the local countryside and villages around Wantage as well as free online resources, many of which you can access from the comfort of your own home. See here for details.

• Volunteer drivers are needed in The Wantage and Grove areas (and, due to the pingdemic, just about everywhere else) – click here for details.

• The Beacon in Wantage will re-open ion 6 September, having been put to good use during the pandemic as a testing site.

• The Vale Council’s  green-waste collections are still suspended due to the so-called pingdemic and a general shortage of HGV drivers. Read more here.

• Click here for a list of businesses offer click-and-collect services in Wantage town centre.

• Residents in the Vale of White Horse can help out local good causes and be in with a chance of winning a weekly £25,000 jackpot if they buy a ticket for the White Horse Community Lottery which are now on sale. See more here.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was held on 28 June and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.) To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 3 August and you can read the draft minutes here. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council  took place on 14 July and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

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

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

Still no minutes from Letcombe Regis Parish Council from more recently than January 2021. The Letcombe Register, however, partly plugs this ever-widening gap and you can read the August issue here. This contains the usual wide range of information about the village and its many local groups and societies. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Click here for information the Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage Talking Newspaper (DAWN) for the blind and partially sighted. The organisers are currently appealing for help to keep the service going – click here for details.

Thursday 2 September 2021

Apologies that, due to an oversight, this section wasn’t updated until Friday 3 September: many thanks to Julie Mabberley for pointing this out. 

• The BBC reports that there were 364 CV-19 cases in the Vale of White Horse in the week 23 to 29 August, down 73 on the week before. This equates to 264 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 292 (316 the week before). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a much more local level to be obtained.

• The Vale of White Horse District Council is calling on the government to commit to reopening the railway station in Grove and to make funding available for the project.

• The latest (2 September) newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group has just dropped into my inbox and you can read it here. Items covered include: further replies from the Wantage Town Clerk to some questions posed by the W&GCG last month; the submission of a planning application for the extension to the health centre (“OK,” the newsletter comments, “I know it was promised in 2012 but if it gets approval it might actually get built.”); the Oxfordshire 2050 consultation; a Zoom event from the Newbury Street Patient Group (see also below); and a new planning application in East Challow.

• Going back to the above-mentioned Zoom meeting, and to lift the copy straight from the newsletter, the Newbury Street Patient Group is hosting a Zoom session on Thursday 16 September at 8pm entitled “Jumping through Hoops to Help You” which should tell us what support is available from people like pharmacists and paramedics so that we don’t always have to speak to our GP. The link to join the Zoom Meeting is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82281278837 and the Meeting ID is: 822 8127 8837.

• Wantage Town Council has recently installed four planters into the temporary pedestrianised area at the western end of the market place. The planters provide two purposes: to separate the pedestrianised area from the highway and to make the area aesthetically pleasing. Please email deputyclerk@wantagetowncouncil.gov.uk if you know of an area that would benefit from a new bench. These will be considered.

Wantage Town Centre Manager Andrea Yates looks at some of the events coming up in town during September 2021, including a market, a fair, a fun day and a special anniversary – click here for details.

• The Vale & Download Museum is appealing for artefacts related to Covid. Information on how to donate can be found here.

Wantage Cafe Scientifique’s last zoom talk is on Tuesday 14 September about The Natural History Museum coming to Harwell. From October they will be going back to hosting their live monthly talks at The Beacon.

• The response to the appeal for Refugee Emergency Care Packs for Afghan refugees has been amazing. If you want to donate please contact Annette Edwards on nettyjedwards@gmail.comor 07530 446530 or contact the new Oxfordshire Afghan Aid facebook page.

• A reminder that our interview with local charity champion Ray Collins has been published and you can read it here.

Congratulations to registered nurse Julie Ann Castro from Watlington and District Nursing Home, Sanctuary Care, has been shortlisted as a finalist for the 23rd National Care Awards, 2021. The awards ceremony is being held on 19 November 2021 in London. To see the finalists and more information, you can refer to their website here.

• Wantage Town Council is giving notice that there will be full closure of the Market Place to traffic for fairs on Saturdays 11 September 2021 and for the celebration of the centenary of the Royal British Legion and the 80th anniversary of the Air Cadets on Sunday 26 September 2021. It will be necessary to close off the Market Place car parking areas the evening before each event to ensure that the space is clear for the events to proceed the next day. During the road closures, the Council will be implementing a comprehensive system of road signs.

• People across South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse are being urged to have their say on the Oxford-Cambridge Arc, a government led project which will have an impact on both districts in the future. This is open until 12 October 2021.

• Julie Mabberley’s regular column on p8 of the Herald looks looks at the Oxfordshire 2050 consultation. She points out some seeming discrepancies in the housing allocations for Oxfordshire until 2050. The government says 78,000 but the Office for National Statistics says no, more like 53,000. That’s quite a gap. Odder still are the three figures OCC seems to have come up with: option one (“standard”), 102,000 homes; option two (“business as usual”, a term I can’t understand in this context), 123,000 homes; option three (“transformational”, a term I do agree is apposite), 153,000 homes.

• Residents across the county are being asked to help shape a new air quality community website which will help to raise awareness and understanding of air pollution across Oxfordshire. This closes on 5 September (so not long now).

• Are you interested in doing family- and local-history research? Wantage Library has a wide range of books about how to start your family tree, the local countryside and villages around Wantage as well as free online resources, many of which you can access from the comfort of your own home. See here for details.

• Volunteer drivers are needed in The Wantage and Grove areas (and, due to the pingdemic, just about everywhere else) – click here for details.

• The Beacon in Wantage will re-open ion 6 September, having been put to good use during the pandemic as a testing site.

• The Vale Council’s  green-waste collections are still suspended due to the so-called pingdemic and a general shortage of HGV drivers. Read more here.

• Click here for a list of businesses offer click-and-collect services in Wantage town centre.

• Residents in the Vale of White Horse can help out local good causes and be in with a chance of winning a weekly £25,000 jackpot if they buy a ticket for the White Horse Community Lottery which are now on sale. See more here.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was held on 28 June and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.) To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 3 August and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: speeding; the village plan; reports from the Grove Airfield Development Forum; events to Mark the platinum jubilee in June 2022; planning decisions from the Vale Council; Old Mill Hall; the war memorial website;  a vacancy for a parish councillor; fees and tariffs for council services; and financial matters. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council  took place on 14 July and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

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

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

Still no minutes from Letcombe Regis Parish Council from more recently than January 2021. The Letcombe Register, however, partly plugs this ever-widening gap and you can read the August issue here. This contains the usual wide range of information about the village and its many local groups and societies. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Click here for information the Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage Talking Newspaper (DAWN) for the blind and partially sighted. The organisers are currently appealing for help to keep the service going – click here for details.

Thursday 26 August 2021

• The BBC reports that there were 435 CV-19 cases in the Vale of White Horse in the week 16 to 22 August, up 75 on the week before. This equates to 315 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 316 (292 the week before). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a much more local level to be obtained.

• The Vale of White Horse District Council is calling on the government to commit to reopening the railway station in Grove and to make funding available for the project. The Leader of the Vale Council Emily Smith said that “people in the Vale have called for a station to support Grove and Wantage for many years” (57 to be exact). This has been a project that local MP David Johnston has mentioned as often as possible in the Commons. The case for it is certainly becoming unanswerable while the fact that there are already four tracks at the likely site surely deals with the timetabling problems (except, for reasons I’ve tried and failed to understand, it doesn’t).

• Sustainable Wantage is very grateful to Wantage Methodist Church which has generously hosted its Community Larder for free, from its launch up until the end of August. As the Methodist Church Hall will be restarting other activities the Community Larder will be operating every Friday from 10 Sept out of the Lockinge Room at the Beacon. Many thanks from them to Vale District Council for providing this room for free until the end of the year.

• Wantage Town Council has recently installed four planters into the temporary pedestrianised area at the western end of the market place. The planters provide two purposes: to separate the pedestrianised area from the highway and to make the area aesthetically pleasing. Please email deputyclerk@wantagetowncouncil.gov.uk if you know of an area that would benefit from a new bench. These will be considered.

• The next Repair Café at The Mix is this Sat 4 Sept and must be pre-booked with Jo on wantagemix@gmail.com.

Wantage Town Centre Manager Andrea Yates looks at some of the events coming up in town during September 2021, including a market, a fair, a fun day and a special anniversary – click here for details.

• See last week’s section (below) for a summary of the 5 August newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group which you also read it in full here.

• The response to the appeal for Refugee Emergency Care Packs for Afghan refugees has been amazing. If you want to donate please contact Annette Edwards on nettyjedwards@gmail.comor 07530 446530 or contact the Oxfordshire Afghan Aid facebook page.

• Milly the cat is now home after surgery on her broken leg. She’s settled back in well, lots of rest and physio needed over the next 8-12 weeks. Her days of shopping in Wantage might be over but owner Siobhan is touched by all the lovely comments, the messages, and the offers of support from the community.

• After several delays (my fault) our interview with local charity champion Ray Collins has been published and you can read it here.

• Wantage Town Council is giving notice that there will be full closure of the Market Place to traffic for fairs on Saturdays 11 September 2021 and for the celebration of the centenary of the Royal British Legion and the 80th anniversary of the Air Cadets on Sunday 26 September 2021. It will be necessary to close off the Market Place car parking areas the evening before each event to ensure that the space is clear for the events to proceed the next day. During the road closures, the Council will be implementing a comprehensive system of road signs.

• People across South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse are being urged to have their say on the Oxford-Cambridge Arc, a government led project which will have an impact on both districts in the future. This is open until 12 October 2021.

• Julie Mabberley’s regular column on p8 of the Herald looks looks at the snappily-named Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy (OxIS), Stage 1 – 2021-2040 consultation which closes on 31 August (click here to go to the consultation). She points out that one of its aims is to support and champion the Local Industrial Strategy which was “signed off behind closed doors by the unelected and unaccountable Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and Government, without going through local authority scrutiny or public consultation.”

• Click here to read the latest (30 July) newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnston.

• Residents across the county are being asked to help shape a new air quality community website which will help to raise awareness and understanding of air pollution across Oxfordshire. This closes on 5 September.

• The Mix community space on Mill Street is closed from 23 to 30 August but, in the meantime, opening times for the The Mix Community Fridge have increased to Mondays 2pm to 6pm, Wednesdays 10am to 3pm and Saturdays 10am to 1pm. Community Fridge food will also be available at Cornerstone Café & Bookshop, Grove on Thursdays 4pm to 5pm and at Wantage Methodist Church Hall on Fridays 2.30pm to 5pm.

• Are you interested in doing family- and local-history research? Wantage Library has a wide range of books about how to start your family tree, the local countryside and villages around Wantage as well as free online resources, many of which you can access from the comfort of your own home. See here for details.

• Volunteer drivers are needed in The Wantage and Grove areas (and, due to the pingdemic, just about everywhere else) – click here for details.

• The Beacon in Wantage will re-open in early September, the Herald reports, having been put to good use during the pandemic as a testing site.

• The Vale Council’s  green-waste collections are still suspended due to the so-called pingdemic and a general shortage of HGV drivers. Read more here.

• Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire district councils are running free Litter Bug Detectives Trails until Monday 30 August for children in 19 sites across southern Oxfordshire with the chance for schools to win litter-picking equipment.

• Click here for a list of businesses offer click-and-collect services in Wantage town centre.

• Residents in the Vale of White Horse can help out local good causes and be in with a chance of winning a weekly £25,000 jackpot if they buy a ticket for the White Horse Community Lottery which are now on sale. See more here.

• If you have been wondering why the level of the Letcombe Brook dropped last week it is because a sluice was temporarily opened at the Old Mill in Wantage. The sluice causes a build-up of silt in the river which isn’t good for fish and wildlife and Mark Bradfield and the Environment Agency are investigating solutions to the problem.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was held on 28 June and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.) Items covered included: the report from the internal auditor; financial matters; year-end and governance mayors; the co-option of a new councillor; and the Mayor’s communications.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 3 August and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: speeding; the village plan; reports from the Grove Airfield Development Forum; events to Mark the platinum jubilee in June 2022; planning decisions from the Vale Council; Old Mill Hall; the war memorial website;  a vacancy for a parish councillor; fees and tariffs for council services; and financial matters.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council  took place on 14 July and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council  took place on 6 May and you can download the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes here.

Still no minutes from Letcombe Regis Parish Council from more recently than January 2021. The Letcombe Register, however, partly plugs this ever-widening gap and you can read the August issue here. This contains the usual wide range of information about the village and its many local groups and societies.

• Click here for information the Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage Talking Newspaper (DAWN) for the blind and partially sighted. The organisers are currently appealing for help to keep the service going – click here for details.

Thursday 19 August 2021

• The BBC reports that there were 361 CV-19 cases in the Vale of White Horse in the week 9 to 15 August, up 80 on the week before. This equates to 262 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 292 (284 the week before). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a much more local level to be obtained.

• See last week’s section (below) for a summary of the 5 August newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group which you also read it in full here.

• Another newsletter from the W&GCG has just landed, “a short note to remind you about several consultations which you might want to take part in and to give you the answers received from the Town Council so far.” (These were posed in the 5 August newsletter.) You can click here to read it.

• Annette Edwards in Wantage is collecting donations of personal cleaning products, cuddly toys and baby blankets for Refugee Emergency Care Packsthat are being put together for Afghan refugees. She will be working with Counsellor Sally Povolotsky in Hendred on Saturday to make up the packs. If you want to donate please contact Annette on nettyjedwards@gmail.comor 07530 446530. 

• Former Wantage councillor Harold Brew passed away peacefully at the Grange Care Home, Stanford-in-the-Vale, on the 10th August 2021 aged 92 years. His funeral servicewill be at South Oxfordshire Crematorium, Garford on Wednesday 25 August at 1pm. Family flowers only please but donations if desired to The Grange Care Home C/O J Godfrey & Son Funeral Services, 20 Gloucester Street, Faringdon, Oxon, SN7 7HY.

• Milly the cat’s surgery (see previous week’s sections below) went well after she was sadly hit by a car this week. She needed plates and pins put in, on top of a bone graph so recovery may be longer. But the vet reckons she’s a tough cookie.

• Wantage Town Council is giving notice that there will be full closure of the Market Place to traffic for fairs on Saturdays 11 September 2021 and for the celebration of the centenary of the Royal British Legion and the 80th anniversary of the Air Cadets on Sunday 26 September 2021. It will be necessary to close off the Market Place car parking areas the evening before each event to ensure that the space is clear for the events to proceed the next day. During the road closures, the Council will be implementing a comprehensive system of road signs.

• People across South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse are being urged to have their say on the Oxford-Cambridge Arc, a government led project which will have an impact on both districts in the future. This is open until 12 October 2021.

• Julie Mabberley’s regular column on p8 of the Herald looks at the above-mentioned Arc consultation in detail, observing that “many of the questions are simplistic and obviously designed to generate a positive response.” She also points out that the document is more coy about the fact that it will result in a million extra homes “and everything that goes with that’ (or should do), like hospitals, schools and leisure facilities. In answer to the question about what other visions for the Arc might exist, she says that “my vision is for the Government to stop focusing on areas like the Arc where house prices are already sky high, transport already congested and other infrastructure overstretched” and that more government resources should be spent n giving some meaning to the “levelling up” of the rest of the country.

Click here to read the latest (30 July) newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnston.

• Once again, I’ve failed to publish the interview we recently did with local charity champion Ray Collins. Last week I said “next week without fail.” I’ll get it if you say you’ll never trust a word I write ever again.

• People claiming Single Person Discount on their council tax in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse will shortly be asked to confirm whether they are still the only adult living in their property and therefore entitled to continue to receive the reduction. Incorrectly claiming this discount can be considered council tax fraud.

• Residents across the county are being asked to help shape a new air quality community website which will help to raise awareness and understanding of air pollution across Oxfordshire. This closes on 5 September.

• The Mix community space on Mill Street will be closed from 23 to 30 August but, in the meantime, opening times for the The Mix Community Fridge have increased to Mondays 2pm to 6pm, Wednesdays 10am to 3pm and Saturdays 10am to 1pm. Community Fridge food will also be available at Cornerstone Café & Bookshop, Grove on Thursdays 4pm to 5pm and at Wantage Methodist Church Hall on Fridays 2.30pm to 5pm.

• Do you need help keeping your little ones busy during AugustDrop-in Super Saxon craft sessions at the Vale & Downland Museum every Thursday during the summer holiday (except 19 August).

• Grove’s Summer Animal Hunt has 23 animals on the loose around the village. How many can you find? Download the form here or pick up a hard copy from 16 Barbury Drive. First prize kindly donated by the Grove Co-op.

• Are you aged 16 or 17 and registered at Newbury Street or Church Street Practice? Would like to have your Covid vaccine? Please go to the drop-in vaccine clinic on Saturday 21 August in the marquee behind Church Street Practice. Just turn up on the day. If you can’t make that date and are a Newbury Street Practice patient please call 01235 639521 and choose option 7 or email nsp.covid@nhs.net.

• Take care on the roads as there is a story on the Wantage & Grove Community Facebook group about a deer that has been sighted regularly in the Foliat Drive area and was hit and killed running across Garston Lane.

• Are you interested in doing family- and local-history research? Wantage Library has a wide range of books about how to start your family tree, the local countryside and villages around Wantage as well as free online resources, many of which you can access from the comfort of your own home. See here for details.

Wantage Library is inviting more people to follow its facebook page which has lots of great posts about books and reading.

Volunteer drivers are needed in The Wantage and Grove areas (and, due to the pindemic, just about everywhere else) – click here for details.

The Beacon in Wantage will re-open in early September, the Herald reports, having been put to good use during the pandemic as a testing site.

• The Vale Council has (in common with many others) announced that green-waste collections have been disrupted recently and will continue to be and for exactly the reason that West Berkshire Council announced – the so-called pingdemic and a general shortage of HGV drivers. Read more here.

• Residents in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse are being urged to check the details on the Canvass Communication Form they will receive from their district council from the end of July. This is something local authorities need to do by law each year in order to ensure the electoral register is up to date.

•Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire district councils are running free Litter Bug Detectives Trails until Monday 30 August for children in 19 sites across southern Oxfordshire with the chance for schools to win litter-picking equipment.

• Click here for a list of businesses offer click-and-collect services in Wantage town centre.

• Residents in the Vale of White Horse can help out local good causes and be in with a chance of winning a weekly £25,000 jackpot if they buy a ticket for the White Horse Community Lottery which are now on sale. See more here.

• If you have been wondering why the level of the Letcombe Brook dropped this week it is because a sluice was temporarily opened at the Old Mill in Wantage. The sluice causes a build-up of silt in the river which isn’t good for fish and wildlife and Mark Bradfield and the Environment Agency are investigating solutions to the problem.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was held on 28 June and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.) Items covered included: the report from the internal auditor; financial matters; year-end and governance mayors; the co-option of a new councillor; and the Mayor’s communications.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 3 August and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: speeding; the village plan; reports from the Grove Airfield Development Forum; events to Mark the platinum jubilee in June 2022; planning decisions from the Vale Council; Old Mill Hall; the war memorial website;  a vacancy for a parish councillor; fees and tariffs for council services; and financial matters.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council  took place on 14 July and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council  took place on 6 May and you can download the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes here.

Still no minutes from Letcombe Regis Parish Council from more recently than January 2021. The Letcombe Register, however, partly plugs this gap and you can read the August issue here. This contains the usual wide range of information about the village and its many local groups and societies.

• Click here for information the Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage Talking Newspaper (DAWN) for the blind and partially sighted. The organisers are currently appealing for help to keep the service going – click here for details.

Thursday 12 August 2021

• The BBC reports that there were 278 CV-19 cases in the Vale of White Horse in the week 2 to 8 August, up 13 on the week before. This equates to 202 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 284 (255 the week before). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a much more local level to be obtained.

• See last week’s section (below) for a summary of the latest newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group which you also read it in full here.

• Julie Mabberley’s regular column on p8 of the Herald looks at the question of how developers can be compelled to honour agreements about construction timetables and provision of infrastructure or other contributions to mitigate the effects of the project. She also puts her finger on a related problem, which certainly occurs a lot in West Berkshire and doubtless everywhere else. On large developments – and she sites Grove Airfield – councils, educational trusts and health authorities quite reasonably require sums or work to be committed to early in the project. For developers, on the other hand, the reverse applies and, as they have a lot of power in the relationship, they often manage to get agreements that their contributions will only be made when a certain percentage of houses have been built or occupied. The result is that things like schools, hospitals, playgrounds and community centres are often the last things that get built (if they get built at all) rather than the first. New arrivals in a new estate can therefore look forward to years of disruption while these works are, often grudgingly, performed; also during that period there will extra pressure on existing services. Julie Mabberly points specifically to the well-documented case of the health provision in Wantage, which is already over-stretched. The text of her article will shortly be added to the archive page on this page of the W&GCG website.

Click here to read the latest (30 July) newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnston.

• Yet again I must apologise for not yet having published our interview with local fundraising legend Ray Collins. Next week without fail – scout’s honour…

• The Herald reports that residents are claiming Oxfordshire CC’s new charges for recycling have led to an increase in fly tipping and that stricter penalties need to be imposed. The photo at the top of the article shows what appears to be contents of someone’s bedroom dumped in a lay-by near Harwell. I’d have thought that a half-decent forensics team could identify where this came from pretty quickly.

• People claiming Single Person Discount on their council tax in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse will shortly be asked to confirm whether they are still the only adult living in their property and therefore entitled to continue to receive the reduction. Incorrectly claiming this discount can be considered council tax fraud.

• Residents across the county are being asked to help shape a new air quality community website which will help to raise awareness and understanding of air pollution across Oxfordshire.

• I mentioned last week that most of Wantage’s on-street parking offences. will soon be decriminalised (ie becoming a municipal rather than a police responsibility) and that the timetable in this statement from Wantage TC reveals that phase one, “the completion of conditioning surveys ” took place in March 2020 and the the final “go live” date is set for September 2021. It’s been suggested to me that any conditioning surveys resulted in little or no action and that the “go live” date is now looking more like November 2021.

• The Mix community space on Mill Street will be closed from 23 to 30 August but, in the meantime, opening times for the The Mix Community Fridge have increased to Mondays 2pm to 6pm, Wednesdays 10am to 3pm and Saturdays 10am to 1pm. Community Fridge food will also be available at Cornerstone Café & Bookshop, Grove on Thursdays 4pm to 5pm and at Wantage Methodist Church Hall on Fridays 2.30pm to 5pm.

• Do you need help keeping your little ones busy during AugustDrop-in Super Saxon craft sessions at the Vale & Downland Museum every Thursday during the summer holiday (except 19 August).

• Grove’s Summer Animal Hunt has 23 animals on the loose around the village. How many can you find? Download the form here or pick up a hard copy from 16 Barbury Drive. First prize kindly donated by the Grove Co-op.

Naomi Maxwell-Wood is campaigning to raise money to fund the special therapy needed for her toddler Felix, who suffered from brain damage at birth. She also wants to get a disabled access play area installed in Wantage that would be beneficial for all children of all abilities. Naomi has been asked to submit a report to the Vale Council and the housing developers to prove the need. If you would like to join a small working party to help see the project through or submit a paragraph or two in writing of how/what accessible play equipment would benefit your child, please see this Facebook page.

• Wantage is home to very friendly black and white cat, Milly, who likes to visit all the shops and say hello to everyone. Sadly you won’t be seeing her for a while as she has a broken tibia and fibula, probably from being hit by a car. She needs surgery but no amputation needed luckily. Milly’s owner Siobhan Gillick is grateful for everyone’s concern and support.

• Are you aged 16 or 17 and registered at Newbury Street or Church Street Practice? Would like to have your Covid vaccine? Please go to the drop-in vaccine clinic on Saturday 21 August in the marquee behind Church Street Practice. Just turn up on the day. If you can’t make that date and are a Newbury Street Practice patient please call 01235 639521 and choose option 7 or email nsp.covid@nhs.net.

• Take care on the roads as there is a story on the Wantage & Grove Community Facebook group about a deer that has been sighted regularly in the Foliat Drive area and was hit and killed running across Garston Lane. It seems surprising for a deer to be hanging around such a built-up area but maybe the combine harvesters are frightening them out of the fields around Wantage.

• Are you interested in doing family- and local-history research? Wantage Library has a wide range of books about how to start your family tree, the local countryside and villages around Wantage as well as free online resources, many of which you can access from the comfort of your own home. See here for details.

Wantage Library is inviting more people to follow its facebook page which has lots of great posts about books and reading.

Volunteer drivers are needed in The Wantage and Grove areas (and, due to the pindemic, just about everywhere else) – click here for details.

The Beacon in Wantage will re-open in early September, the Herald reports, having been put to good use during the pandemic as a testing site.

• The Vale Council has (in common with many others) announced that green-waste collections have been disrupted recently and will continue to be and for exactly the reason that West Berkshire Council announced – the so-called pingdemic and a general shortage of HGV drivers. Read more here.

• Residents in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse are being urged to check the details on the Canvass Communication Form they will receive from their district council from the end of July. This is something local authorities need to do by law each year in order to ensure the electoral register is up to date.

• From Monday 9 August to Monday 30 August Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire district councils are running free Litter Bug Detectives Trails for children in 19 sites across southern Oxfordshire with the chance for schools to win litter-picking equipment.

• Residents in the Vale of White Horse can help out local good causes and be in with a chance of winning a weekly £25,000 jackpot if they buy a ticket for the White Horse Community Lottery which are now on sale. See more here.

• People across South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse are being urged to have their say on the Oxford-Cambridge Arc, a government led project which will have an impact on both districts in the future. This is open until 12 October 2021.

Click here for the latest (14 July) leader’s statement from the Vale of White Horse’s Emily Smith.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was held on 28 June and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.) Items covered included: the report from the internal auditor; financial matters; year-end and governance mayors; the co-option of a new councillor; and the Mayor’s communications.

• Click here for a list of businesses offer click-and-collect services in Wantage town centre.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council  took place on 14 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: parking restrictions outside the school; work on the MUGA; a choice of seven out of nine proposed items for the Trim Trail; an additional defibrillator; governance and financial matters; planning applications; and planning decisions by the Vale Council.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 22 June and you can read the draft minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes here.

• This same council is currently looking for a new Clerkclick here for details.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council  took place on 6 May and you can download the minutes here.

Still no minutes from Letcombe Regis Parish Council from more recently than January 2021. The Letcombe Register, however, partly plugs this gap and you can read the August issue here. This contains the usual wide range of information about the village and its many local groups and societies.

• Click here for information the Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage Talking Newspaper (DAWN) for the blind and partially sighted. The organisers are currently appealing for help to keep the service going – click here for details.

Thursday 5 August 2021

• The BBC reports that there were 264 CV-19 cases in the Vale of White Horse in the week 26 July to 1 August, down 46 on the week before. This equates to 191 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 255 (332 the week before). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a much more local level to be obtained.

The latest newsletter from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group has just arrived which covers a wide range of issues. You can read it in full here.

• The first item it covered was the Wantage Town Council meeting on 2 August which included “a raft of reports showing what has been done since then. These reports can be obtained by writing to the Clerk – who has a new email address (clerk@wantagetowncouncil.gov.uk) – but aren’t available on the website.” I’ve always been mystified by this occasional reluctance by organisations to post all that they might, rather than just all that they must. I’d also imagine that dealing with these enquiries is a pointless and tedious waste of time. Moreover, if they’re important enough to bother to write, surely they’re important enough to share?

This all puts me in mind of one of the many memorable passages from Animal Farm: “There was, as Squealer was never tired of explaining, endless work in the supervision and organisation of the farm. Much of this work was of a kind that the other animals were too ignorant to understand. For example, Squealer told them that the pigs had to expend enormous labours every day upon mysterious things called “files,” “reports,” “minutes,” and “memoranda”. These were large sheets of paper which had to be closely covered with writing, and as soon as they were so covered, they were burnt in the furnace. This was of the highest importance for the welfare of the farm, Squealer said.”

Anyway, the W&GCG submitted about 20 questions covering 11 different areas in writing before the meeting, though these were neither answered nor read out during it. These are all published in the above-mentioned W&GCG newsletter. When the answers are received, they’ll be circulated.

• The W&GCG newsletter then goes on to look at three other matters: planning issues (see also Julie Mabberley’s column in the Herald referred to below); health provision; and the Wantage neighbourhood development plan.

• It also reveals that Wantage TC is looking to co-opt a new councillor. Please email the Clerk on the above-mentioned email address for more information.

• Julie Mabberley’s regular column on p8 of the Herald kicks off with the stark observation that “Persimmon is not meeting its contractual obligations.” This isn’t in itself a surprising statement to read with regard to a developer. She goes on to specify a replacement football pitch, a temporary community building, a children’s play area, the new primary school, several pedestrian crossings, changes to the Airplane Roundabout and the southern access road as the aspects which have so far not appeared, despite deadlines having passed. I’m not sure if any infrastructure mitigation has in fact been completed. All of these cost money to build but generate no sales revenue. I can’t help feeling, though, that if all these works were done first then the developer would be able to charge a bit more for the homes as they’d come without years of dirt, noise and disruption while the rest of the work was grudgingly done. 2,500 homes x an uplift of say £1,000 is £2.5m. You can read the column in full here.

Click here to read the latest (30 July) newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnston. This contains, as well as details of what he’s been up to around the constituency and a link to a rather good Commons speech (slightly ruined by on the obligatory party-political points at the end), which looked at the main problems within or caused by the planning system.

• During the above-mentioned speech, he also managed to get in yet another reference to the need to re-open the Wantage Road station at Grove. If this doesn’t happen during his tenure as MP, no one can fault him for not trying.

• One thing that missed the cut this week was the publication of an interview with the indefatigable charity wizard and fundraising star Ray Collins. This will be ready in time for next week and I’ll point you towards it.

• Most of Wantage’s on-street parking offences. will soon be decriminalised (ie becoming a municipal rather than a police responsibility). The timetable in this statement from Wantage TC reveals that phase one, “the completion of conditioning surveys ” took place in March 2020 and the the final “go live” date is set for September 2021.

• The Mix community space on Mill Street will be closed from 23 to 30 August but, in the meantime, opening times for the The Mix Community Fridge have increased to Mondays 2pm to 6pm, Wednesdays 10am to 3pm and Saturdays 10am to 1pm. Community Fridge food will also be available at Cornerstone Café & Bookshop, Grove on Thursdays 4pm to 5pm and at Wantage Methodist Church Hall on Fridays 2.30pm to 5pm.

• Enjoy free live music in Wantage Town Centre 3 to 4pm this Sun 8 Aug at West End Marketplace courtesy of the brilliant Wantage Silver Band

• After a temporary closure (apparently due to a power cut) account holders will be pleased to hear that the TSB has re-opened.

• Do you need help keeping your little ones busy during AugustDrop-in Super Saxon craft sessions at the Vale & Downland Museum every Thursday during the summer holiday (except 19 August). And Grove’s Summer Animal Hunt has 23 animals on the loose around the village. How many can you find? Download the form here or pick up a hard copy from 16 Barbury Drive. First prize kindly donated by the Grove Co-op.

• 71 year old Wantage resident and Christian Climate Action activist Tim Hewes has made a dramatic act of sewing his lips together in protest against Rupert Murdoch’s news publications’ muting of climate science and truth. Reactions to Hewes’ actions are varied.

• Are you interested in doing family- and local-history research? Wantage Libraryhas a wide range of books about how to start your family tree, the local countryside and villages around Wantage as well as free online resources, many of which you can access from the comfort of your own home. See here for details.

Wantage Library is inviting more people to follow its facebook page which has lots of great posts about books and reading.

Volunteer drivers are needed in The Wantage and Grove areas (and, due to the pindemic, just about everywhere else) – click here for details.

The Beacon in Wantage will re-open in early September, the Herald reports, having been put to good use during the pandemic as a testing site.

• The Vale Council has (in common with many others) announced that green-waste collections have been disrupted recently and will continue to be and for exactly the reason that West Berkshire Council announced – the so-called pingdemic and a general shortage of HGV drivers. Read more here.

• Residents in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse are being urged to check the details on the Canvass Communication Form they will receive from their district council from the end of July. This is something local authorities need to do by law each year in order to ensure the electoral register is up to date.

• From Monday 9 August to Monday 30 August Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire district councils are running free Litter Bug Detectives Trails for children in 19 sites across southern Oxfordshire with the chance for schools to win litter-picking equipment.

• Residents in the Vale of White Horse can help out local good causes and be in with a chance of winning a weekly £25,000 jackpot if they buy a ticket for the White Horse Community Lottery which are now on sale. See more here.

• People across South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse are being urged to have their say on the Oxford-Cambridge Arc, a government led project which will have an impact on both districts in the future. This is open until 12 October 2021.

Click here for the latest (14 July) leader’s statement from the Vale of White Horse’s Emily Smith.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council for which minutes are available was held on 28 June and you can read the minutes here. (Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.) Items covered included: the report from the internal auditor; financial matters; year-end and governance mayors; the co-option of a new councillor; and the Mayor’s communications.

• Click here for a list of businesses offer click-and-collect services in Wantage town centre.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council  took place on 14 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: parking restrictions outside the school; work on the MUGA; a choice of seven out of nine proposed items for the Trim Trail; an additional defibrillator; governance and financial matters; planning applications; and planning decisions by the Vale Council.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 22 June and you can read the draft minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes here.

• This same council is currently looking for a new Clerkclick here for details.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council  took place on 6 May and you can download the minutes here.

• Still no minutes from Letcombe Regis Parish Council more recently than January 2021. The Letcombe Register, however, partly plugs this gap and you can read the August issue here. This contains the usual wide range of information about the village and its many local groups and societies.

• Click here for information the Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage Talking Newspaper (DAWN) for the blind and partially sighted. The organisers are currently appealing for help to keep the service going – click here for details.

Thursday 29 July 2021

• The BBC reports that there were 310 CV-19 cases in the Vale of White Horse in the week 19-25 July, down 237 on the week before. This equates to 228 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 332 (494 the week before). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a much more local level to be obtained.

• As mentioned last week, the Herald reports that work has started on a long-awaited connecting road to alleviate local traffic problems. The link, dubbed the Wantage Eastern Link Road (WELR), “will help improve travel for the expanding community in Kingsgrove and the surrounding areas, and relieve congestion on smaller local roads.” Whether this is exactly the result it has remains to be seen. A spokesperson for one of the developers involved, St Modwen, said that it was “a vital piece of infrastructure” and added that “we are well advanced in delivering the new community at Kingsgrove.”

Click here to read the latest (30 July) newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnston. This contains, as well as details of what he’s been up to around the constituency, a link to a rather good Commons speech (slightly ruined by on the obligatory party-political points at the end, the point of which I couldn’t quite follow) which looked at the main problems within or caused by the planning system, specifically the lack of affordable homes in the right places, the need for a fair distribution of housing, the lack of affordable homes, the need for new infrastructure and environmental standards: “Why,” he asked, quoting concerns for constituents in relation to this last point, “are we building homes that we have to retro-fit given our climate-change goals?” These are all good points. He added that when the final proposals for the planning bill are published later this year that its contents will “allay some of these concerns” and referred to “legitimate concerns about the community’s voice being taken away.” It seems to me that the bill will need to radically different from the white paper if it’s satisfactorily going to address even some of these issues. (I also made some similar points in my Weekly News with Brian column which you can read here.)

• During the above-mentioned speech, he also managed to get in yet another reference to the need to re-open the Wantage Road station at Grove. He appears adept at being able to intrude this into almost any discussion, which is probably one of the ways that something is going to happen. The station was closed in 1964, 57 years ago, since when the population of the area it served has grown considerably and will continue to do so, travel patterns have changed, many of the roads have become hopelessly congested and a climate emergency has been declared.

• Care needs to be taken when driving along the new road over Grove airfield. It’s not finished yet but word is it could have been thought out a little better.

• Another issue in Wantage is the de-criminalisation of most on-street parking offences. The time table in this statement from Wantage TCreveals that phase one, “the completion of conditioning surveys ” took place in March 2020 and the the final “go live” date is set for September 2021.

• The Mix community space on Mill Street will be closed from 23 to 30 August but ,in the meantime, opening times for the The Mix Community Fridge have increased to Mondays 2pm to 6pm, Wednesdays 10am to 3pm and Saturdays 10am to 1pm. Community Fridge food will also be available at Cornerstone Café & Bookshop, Grove on Thursdays 4pm to 5pm and at Wantage Methodist Church Hall on Fridays 2.30pm to 5pm.

• After many long months of waiting, the various Wantage Silver Bands will be back performing free, live music in the town centre this weekend (and throughout the summer: see dates here). On Saturday 31 July the Wantage Oompah Band will play from 2pm to 4pm outside Marmalade and 30 Something as part of Continental Day, while on Sunday 1 Aug the Wantage Beginner and Training Band will play from 3pm to 4pm at Kings Walk near Sainsburys.

• Are you interested in doing family- and local-history research? Wantage Libraryhas a wide range of books about how to start your family tree, the local countryside and villages around Wantage as well as free online resources, many of which you can access from the comfort of your own home. See here for details.

• The Vale & Downland Museum has reopened.

•  A zero-waste and training café is opening in Wantage soon. Down to Earth community café will start as a market stall in July with a range of healthy take-away meals. They will host community cooking and eat surplus food events starting with a ‘Climate Cook-in’ on 31 July. Contact Kate Farrington on downtoearthwantage@gmail.com for more details.

• Julie Mabberley’s regular column on p8 of the Herald turns from local to national matters and wonders if the government has got cold feel over its plans, as expressed by the PM in his preface to the white paper, to “tear down” the current planning system and “start again”. She quotes the Secretary of State Robert Jenrick as saying that this is exactly what he does not want to do. No mixed messages there, then. She considers backbench disquiet, public reaction, recent chastening election results and criticisms made by the Commons select committee which has been looking at the plans. She also refers to the “opaque lobbying practices and the conspicuous role that private property organisations play in Conservative party funding.” The months or years that elapse between a white paper and the eventual bill offers adequate time for those with silver tongues and deep pockets to press their case in Whitehall and Westminster. In the case of these proposals, however, property companies might be inclined to leave well enough alone as the planned changes would create a planning regime t even more in line with their interests than the current one.

Wantage Library is inviting more people to follow its facebook page which has lots of great posts about books and reading.

• The splash pad at Wantage’s Memorial Park has re-opened.

Volunteer drivers are needed in The Wantage and Grove areas (and, due to the pindemic, just about everywhere else) – click here for details.

The Beacon in Wantage will re-open in early September, the Herald reports, having been put to good use during the pandemic as a testing site.

• The Vale Council has (in common with many others) announced that green-waste collections have been disrupted recently and will continue to be and for exactly the reason that West Berkshire Council announced – the so-called pingdemic and a general shortage of HGV drivers. Read more here.

• Residents in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse are being urged to check the details on the Canvass Communication Form they will receive from their district council from the end of July. This is something local authorities need to do by law each year in order to ensure the electoral register is up to date.

• From Monday 9 August to Monday 30 August Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire district councils are running free Litter Bug Detectives Trails for children in 19 sites across southern Oxfordshire with the chance for schools to win litter-picking equipment.

• Residents in the Vale of White Horse can help out local good causes and be in with a chance of winning a weekly £25,000 jackpot if they buy a ticket for the White Horse Community Lottery which go on sale from 29 July. See more here.

• People across South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse are being urged to have their say on the Oxford-Cambridge Arc, a government led project which will have an impact on both districts in the future.

Click here for the latest (14 July) leader’s statement from the Vale of White Horse’s Emily Smith.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council was held on 28 June and you can read the minutes here. )Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.) Items covered included: the report from the internal auditor; financial matters; year-end and governance mayors; the co-option of a new councillor; and the Mayor’s communications.

• Click here for a list of businesses offer click-and-collect services in Wantage town centre.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 22 June and you can read the draft minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council  took place on 9 June and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes here.

• This same council is currently looking for a new Clerkclick here for details.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council  took place on 6 May and you can download the minutes here.

• Still no minutes from Letcome Regis Parish Council more recently than January 2021. The Letcome Register, however, partly plugs this gap and you can read the July issue here.

• Click here for information the Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage Talking Newspaper (DAWN) for the blind and partially sighted. The organisers are currently appealing for help to keep the service going – click here for details.

Thursday 22 July 2021

• The BBC reports that there were 543 CV-19 cases in the Vale of White Horse in the week 12-18 July June, up 248 on the week before. This equates to 399 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 495 (304 the week before). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a much more local level to be obtained.

• The Herald reports that work has started on a long-awaited connecting road to alleviate local traffic problems. The link, dubbed the Wantage Eastern Link Road (WELR), “will help improve travel for the expanding community in Kingsgrove and the surrounding areas, and relieve congestion on smaller local roads.” Whether this is exactly the result it has remains to be seen. A spokesperson for one of the developers involved, St Modwen, said that it was “a vital piece of infrastructure” and added that “we are well advanced in delivering the new community at Kingsgrove.” Makes him sound like a midwife.

• In her regular column on p8 of the Herald, Julie Mabberley looks at the roads issue, kicking off her remarks with “roads around Wantage are over capacity and improvements are very slow in coming.” She points out that the extra housing is likely to mean more commutes to Didcot and Oxford but that “no improvements to the roads from Wantage are happening.” At least the WELR (see above) has started, so hopefully removing the threat of the government grant being withdrawn, but other problems remain. More than ever, I suspect, re-opening the station would be of great benefit to Wantage and Grove (or, as is becoming an increasingly accurate description, Wantage-and-Grove).

• See last week’s-but-one column (below) for the latest from the the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group concerning the Lidl appeal, Wantage Town Council and the pedestrianisation.

• On the subject of the pedestrianisation, Wantage TC issued this update last month.

• On the subject of Lidl, the decision by the Planning Inspector to turn down the appeal the proposed store in Grove has sparked a big debate on Facebook about the limited number of supermarkets in Grove and Wantage for the increasing number of residents. The propsed site might not have been appropriate but some people are asking why a supermarket isn’t being included in the development of Grove airfield.

• On this subject, care needs to be taken when driving along the new road over Grove airfield. It’s not finished yet but word is it could have been thought out a little better. Transport planners often plan mainly for cars and don’t make allowances for busses and larger(or smaller) vehicles on the road.

• Another issue in Wantage is the de-criminalisation of most on-street parking offences. The time table in this statement from Wantage TC reveals that phase one, “the completion of conditioning surveys ” took place in March 2020 and the the final “go live” date is set for September 2021.

• Click here for the latest report from Wantage Town Centre Manager Andrea Yates who takes a look at some of the things to tempt you into Wantage in July – in addition, of course, to the wide range of independent cafés, pubs, restaurants and shops that will shortly be returning to something approaching normal life.

• You can click here to read the latest newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnston.

• The Wantage Silver Band is one of the largest in the country and is receiving great acclaim nationwide. It needs to raise £450,000 to extend their rehearsal HQ. Please support their extension appeal.

• I mentioned last week that the 2021 Tug of War Association National Outdoor Tug of War Championships took place as part of the Grove and Wantage Extravaganza on 10 July. Click here for more from the ToWA’s FB page. The event is also covered on p5 of this week’s Herald.

• The Toy Planet is organising a Wantage Mini-fig Lego Hunt, with half the entry fees being donated to Team Mikayla. More details here.

• The Vale & Downland Museum has reopened.

• A reminder that the Wantage Summer Arts Festival offers a wide range of events during July. The programme can be found online here or you can pick up printed programmes from Dolphin Art Gallery, Sainsbury’s, Grove Co-op and Rowes.

•  A zero-waste and training café is opening in Wantage soon. Down to Earth community café will start as a market stall in July with a range of healthy take-away meals. They will host community cooking and eat surplus food events starting with a ‘Climate Cook-in’ on 31 July. Contact Kate Farrington on downtoearthwantage@gmail.com for more details.

• A reminder about a bumper newsletter last month from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group, which you can read here. Many of the issues it covers are still very much alive (and likely to be for some time yet).

Wantage Library is inviting more people to follow its facebook page which has lots of great posts about books and reading.

• The splash pad at Wantage’s Memorial Park has recently re-opened in time for the summer holidays.

Volunteer drivers are needed in The Wantage and Grove areas (and, due to the pindemic, just about everywhere else) – click here for details.

The Beacon in Wantage will re-open in early September, the Herald reports, having been put to good use during the pandemic as a testing site.

• A new Wantage Community Larder run by Sustainable Wantage has recently been launched at the Methodist Church Hall on Newbury Street – click here for details.

• The Vale Council has (in common with many others) announced that green-waste collections have been disrupted recently and will continue to be and for exactly the reason that West Berkshire Council announced – the so-called pingdemic and a general shortage of HGV drivers. Read more here.

• People across South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse are being urged to have their say on the Oxford-Cambridge Arc, a government led project which will have an impact on both districts in the future.

Click here for the latest (14 July) leader’s statement from the Vale of White Horse’s supremo Emily Smith.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council was held on 29 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.

• Financial support is available for residents in need in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse who have been hit the hardest by the pandemic.

• A new Oxfordshire-wide programme, Move Together, has been launched to support hundreds of Oxfordshire residents most affected by Covid-19 to move more and protect their health and wellbeing. On Tuesday 6 July there will be a webinar held for Oxfordshire organisations and partners.

• South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils have joined organisations across Oxfordshire by taking part in the #SwitchUpYourLunch campaign. Run by Good Food Oxford and Oxfordshire Greentech, this will ask people, companies, schools, universities and community groups to pledge to eat a vegetarian or vegan lunch for one day in June each year to help make a difference to the environmental impact of food in Oxfordshire.

• Click here for a list of businesses offer click-and-collect services in Wantage town centre.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 22 June and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: S1§06 payments from the Grove Airfield development; issues concerning the kebab and pizza vans (the Clerk said the matter has now “stabilised” following GPC’s FB post; the Grove Airfield Development Forum; governance and financial matters; speeding; grants to Vale Community Impact, GroW Families, Grove RFC and Sweatbox Youth Centre; the draft village plan; use the the Recreation Ground; the Grove War Memorial; and planning decisions.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council  took place on 9 June and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes here.

• This same council is currently looking for a new Clerkclick here for details.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council  took place on 6 May and you can download the minutes here.

• Still no minutes from Letcome Regis Parish Council more recently than January 2021. The Letcome Register, however, partly plugs this gap and you can read the July issue here.

• Click here for information the Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage Talking Newspaper (DAWN) for the blind and partially sighted. The organisers are currently appealing for help to keep the service going – click here for details.

Thursday 15 July 2021

• The BBC reports that there were 295 CV-19 cases in the Vale of White Horse in the week 5-11 July June, up 52 on the week before. This equates to 217 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 304 (212 the week before). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a much more local level to be obtained.

• See last week’s column (below) for the latest from the the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group about the Lidl appeal, Wantage Town Council and the pedestrianisation.

• On the subject of the pedestrianisation, Wantage TC issued this update last month. “The temporary closure of the western end of the Market Place is scheduled to continue until mid January 2022,” the article starts. “The Town Council is working to make the closure permanent,” something which Oxfordshire CC seems to think is feasible. The statement goes on to summarise some of the issues that have cropped up and how these have been, are being or will be resolved. “The wider temporary scheme that was consulted upon last October will not proceed,” the statement concludes. “There remains the ambition to increase the amount of pedestrian space in the town centre. This is something that is likely to be pursued in the future, but would not proceed without wide public consultation. The October survey indicated that there was significant support for more pedestrian space in the town centre.”

• Another issue that is reaching its conclusion in Wantage is the de-criminalisation of most on-street parking offences. This doesn’t mean that you can park where you like when you like with impunity but the responsibility for enforcing this is moving from the Police to the local council. It will as no surprise to anyone that this doesn’t happen overnight. The time table in this statement from Wantage TC reveals that phase one, “the completion of conditioning surveys ” took place in March 2020 and the the final “go live” date is set for September 2021.

• Click here for the latest report from Wantage Town Centre Manager Andrea Yates who takes a look at some of the things to tempt you into Wantage in July – in addition, of course, to the wide range of independent cafés, pubs, restaurants and shops that will shortly be returning to something approaching normal life.

• The Mayor of Wantage, Chair of Grove PC, Town and Parish Councillors and citizens expressed their friendship with the Mayor, Deputies, Councillors and Citizens of Mably on 6th July 2021, a date which marked the 30th anniversary of their twinning.

• You can click here to read the latest newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnston.

• The Wantage Silver Band is one of the largest in the country and is receiving great acclaim nationwide. It needs to raise £450,000 to extend their rehearsal HQ. Please support their extension appeal.

• Calling past pupils and families of Millbrook School, Grove. The current year 6 wanted to leave a legacy when they depart the school later this month and organised a fun run to buy a new bike shed for the future pupils. In order to support this, old Millbrookers are being asked to raise funds to help pay for half the bike shed. All families which make a donation will have their surnames added to the Alumni Bike Shed contributors’ list.

• I mentioned last week that the 2021 Tug of War Association National Outdoor Tug of War Championships took place as part of the Grove and Wantage Extravaganza on 10 July. Click here for more from the ToWA’s FB page.

• The Toy Planet is organising a Wantage Mini-fig Lego Hunt, with half the entry fees being donated to Team Mikayla. More details here.

• The Vale & Downland Museum has reopened.

• The Wantage Summer Arts Festival offers a wide range of events during July. The programme can be found online here or you can pick up printed programmes from Dolphin Art Gallery, Sainsbury’s, Grove Co-op and Rowes.

•  A zero-waste and training café is opening in Wantage soon. Down to Earth community café will start as a market stall in July with a range of healthy take-away meals. They will host community cooking and eat surplus food events starting with a ‘Climate Cook-in’ on 31 July. Contact Kate Farrington on downtoearthwantage@gmail.com for more details.

•  ‘One Action a Month’ is a Sustainable Wantage initiative for anyone who wishes to take steps to help nature, climate and community but aren’t sure where to start. Sign up here to their monthly email with a suggestion that will make a difference. You don’t have to live in Wantage to subscribe.

• A reminder about a bumper newsletter last month from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group, which you can read here. Many of the issues it covers are still very much alive (and likely to be for some time yet).

• The Truck Festival, which was to have taken place in Harwell from 22 to 24 July, has been cancelled – see the full statement here.

Wantage Library is inviting more people to follow its facebook page which has lots of great posts about books and reading.

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

The Beacon in Wantage will re-open in early September, the Herald reports, having been put to good use during the pandemic as a testing site.

• A new Wantage Community Larder run by Sustainable Wantage has recently been launched at the Methodist Church Hall on Newbury Street – click here for details.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council was held on 29 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.

• Financial support is available for residents in need in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse who have been hit the hardest by the pandemic.

• A new Oxfordshire-wide programme, Move Together, has been launched to support hundreds of Oxfordshire residents most affected by Covid-19 to move more and protect their health and wellbeing. On Tuesday 6 July there will be a webinar held for Oxfordshire organisations and partners.

• South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils have joined organisations across Oxfordshire by taking part in the #SwitchUpYourLunch campaign. Run by Good Food Oxford and Oxfordshire Greentech, this will ask people, companies, schools, universities and community groups to pledge to eat a vegetarian or vegan lunch for one day in June each year to help make a difference to the environmental impact of food in Oxfordshire.

• In her regular column on p8 of the Herald, Julie Mabberley looks at the issue of General Practice Data for Planning and Research (GPDPR, an acronym which is irritatingly similar to GDPR, with which it shares some features). She also uses the term “pseudo-anonymised” to describe the way that information which could identify a patient is replaced by codes before being handed to NHS Digital for use in planning and research. The issues here are potentially massive: not just for the whole issue of confidentiality, and the old argument about how much individual privacy is compatible with accurate forecasting and the general needs of the state, but also because anything that involves large IT projects is also inherently problematic.

• Click here for a list of businesses offer click-and-collect services in Wantage town centre.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 22 June and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: S1§06 payments from the Grove Airfield development; issues concerning the kebab and pizza vans (the Clerk said the matter has now “stabilised” following GPC’s FB post; the Grove Airfield Development Forum; governance and financial matters; speeding; grants to Vale Community Impact, GroW Families, Grove RFC and Sweatbox Youth Centre; the draft village plan; use the the Recreation Ground; the Grove War Memorial; and planning decisions.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council  took place on 9 June and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes here.

• This same council is currently looking for a new Clerkclick here for details.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council  took place on 6 May and you can download the minutes here.

• I’m sure Letcome Regis Parish Council still holds meetings though I can’t see any minutes since January 2021. The Letcome Register, however, partly plugs this gap and you can read the July issue here. Items covered includes: confirmation from the PC that the floodlighting proposal on the recreation ground will be discussed at the next meeting on 19 July; an update on the Millennium Green; forthcoming parish events; news from local community groups and societies; the 2021 open gardens (on 4 July); and the agenda for the AGM of the Recreation and Village Hall Management Committee.

• Click here for information the Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage Talking Newspaper (DAWN) for the blind and partially sighted. The organisers are currently appealing for help to keep the service going – click here for details.

Thursday 8 July 2021

• The BBC reports that there were 241 CV-19 cases in the Vale of White Horse in the week 28 June to 4 July June, up 141 on the week before. This equates to 177 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 212 (122 the week before). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a much more local level to be obtained.

• The latest newsletter from The Wantage and Grove Campaign Group reports on the Lidl appeal. “The Inspector (Stephen Wilkinson) has now issued his decision. He didn’t support the argument that the Lidl proposal for a supermarket near the Mably Way Roundabout would impact the landscape setting of either Grove or Wantage and suggested that the physical and visual separation between settlements has already been significantly compromised by recent development. However, he decided that the effect of the proposal on Grovelands was significant and in conflict with both the Local Plan and the National Planning Policy Framework and dismissed the appeal. So there will be no supermarket on that site.”

• The newsletter also refers, as does this week’s Herald, on the plans for the pedestrianisation in Wantage. The temporary closure of the western side of the Market Place is scheduled to end early next year, but the Town Council has, following “significant support” from residents, “confirmed it is working to make the closure permanent with highway consultants now employed to refocus on the permanent scheme and liaise with the Oxfordshire County Council on developing proposals for it.” Wantage TC admitted that “some concerns have been expressed regarding access for emergency vehicles” and that the TC is in touch with Oxfordshire CC about this. The article goes on to say that the local authority has suggested that ‘low traffic neighbourhoods’ in other parts of Oxfordshire – like the one in Cowley, which has proved greatly controversial – will serve as an example of what is deemed ‘acceptable’ for Wantage.

• Finally the W&GCG newsletter refers to the way Wantage Town Council meetings are now conducted. It notes that at the most recent meeting there was a proposal to co-opt a councillor (and, of course, other matters). However, there was “no opportunity for the public to observe the meeting so until the minutes are published we have no idea what was discussed.” In the current period of uncertainty between the effective prohibition of online decision-making council meetings (from 7 May) and the full return to normality (whenever that is), some councils have chosen to delegate decision-making powers to the Clerk. This is the route Wantage TC has taken, with these decisions needing to be ratified by an Emergency Consultation Panel. The article concludes that “no information about the actions of the council is available to the public at the current time.”

• The Mayor of Wantage, Chair of Grove PC, Town and Parish Councillors and citizens expressed their friendship with the Mayor, Deputies, Councillors and Citizens of Mably on 6th July 2021, which marked the 30th anniversary of their twinning. In case you didn’t know, I can exclusively reveal that Mably is in the Loire département of France and has a population of about 7,700, compared to Wantage’s 11,300-odd.

• You can click here to read the latest newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnston.

• There will be a funfair in Grove until 11 July on the green opposite The Bay Tree pub.

• The Wantage Silver Band is one of the largest in the country and is receiving great acclaim nationwide. The Band’s policy is that anyone of any age can be provided with an instrument and taught how to play for a modest subscription. WSB currently has several bands from Junior to Championship level and needs to raise £450,000 to extend their rehearsal HQ. Please support their extension appeal.

• Callng past pupils and families of Millbrook School, Grove. If you have fond memories of your time at this amazing school, if the thought of the old swimming pool, the fourth-year mounds, the gym ropes in the hall, singing assemblies, the orchestra or trips to Avon Tyrrel brings a smile to your face then we need your help and support. The current year 6 wanted to leave a legacy when they depart the school later this month and organised a fun run to buy a new bike shed for the future pupils. In order to support this, old Millbrookers are being asked to raise funds to help pay for half the bike shed. We are targeting 50 past pupils or families to make a £10 donation via the Gofund here  All families which make a donation will have their surnames added to the Alumni Bike Shed contributors’ list.

• Forget the Euros, the Olympics, the G7 summit – the big news, as reported in the Oxfordshire Guardian, is that the 2021 Tug of War Association National Outdoor Tug of War Championships will be coming to Oxfordshire on Saturday 10 July 2021. The paper observes that “the organising committee of the annual Grove and Wantage Extravaganza have pulled off a major coup by winning a bid to the Tug of War Association, having previously staged the event here in 2018.” More details here.

• The Toy Planet is organising a Wantage Mini-fig Lego Hunt, with half the entry fees being donated to Team Mikayla. More details here.

• The Vale & Downland Museum has reopened from 9.30am to 3.45pm Monday to Saturday. The café will be open from 9.30am to 3.30pm Monday to Saturday and Toddler Tales will be every Wednesday at 10am.

• The Wantage Summer Arts Festival offers a wide range of events for July. The programme can be found online here or you can pick up printed programmes from Dolphin Art Gallery, Sainsbury’s, Grove Co-op and Rowes.

•  A zero-waste and training café is opening in Wantage soon. Down to Earth community café will start as a market stall in July with a range of healthy take-away meals. They will host community cooking and eat surplus food events starting with a ‘Climate Cook-in’ on 31 July. Contact Kate Farrington on downtoearthwantage@gmail.com for more details.

•  ‘One Action a Month’ is a Sustainable Wantage initiative for anyone who wishes to take steps to help nature, climate and community but aren’t sure where to start. Sign up here to their monthly email with a suggestion that will make a difference. You don’t have to live in Wantage to subscribe.

• A reminder about a bumper newsletter last month from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group, which you can read here. Many of the issues it covers are still very much alive (and likely to be for some time yet).

• The Truck Festival, which was to have taken place in Harwell from 22 to 24 July, has been cancelled – see the full statement here.

Wantage Library is inviting more people to follow its facebook page which has lots of great posts about books and reading.

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

The Beacon in Wantage will re-open in early September, the Herald reports, having been put to good use during the pandemic as a testing site.

• A new Wantage Community Larder run by Sustainable Wantage has recently been launched at the Methodist Church Hall on Newbury Street – click here for details.

• Wild Wantage gives advice on what to do if you find a fledgling.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council was held on 29 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.

Wantage Town Ladies FC is recruiting for players – click here for more.

• The White Horse Community Lottery officially launched Monday 14 June at a special virtual event attended by local VCS groups, community organisations and invited guests. More information here.

• Financial support is available for residents in need in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse who have been hit the hardest by the pandemic.

• A new Oxfordshire-wide programme, Move Together, has been launched to support hundreds of Oxfordshire residents most affected by Covid-19 to move more and protect their health and wellbeing. On Tuesday 6 July there will be a webinar held for Oxfordshire organisations and partners.

• South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils have joined organisations across Oxfordshire by taking part in the #SwitchUpYourLunch campaign. Run by Good Food Oxford and Oxfordshire Greentech, this will ask people, companies, schools, universities and community groups to pledge to eat a vegetarian or vegan lunch for one day in June each year to help make a difference to the environmental impact of food in Oxfordshire.

• In her regular column on p8 of the Herald, Julie Mabberley covers the most recent meeting of the Oxfordshire Heath Overview and Scrutiny Committee and draws attention to some of the matters in its in-tray.

• Click here for details of lateral flow tests that are available at The Beacon in Wantage.

• Click here for a list of businesses offer click-and-collect services in Wantage town centre.

• The most recent meeting (also the annual meeting) of Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 4 May and you can read the draft minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council  took place on 5 May and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes here.

• This same council is currently looking for a new Clerkclick here for details.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council  took place on 6 May and you can download the minutes here.

• I’m sure Letcome Regis Parish Council still holds meetings though I can’t see any minutes since January 2021. The Letcome Register, however, partly plugs this gap and you can read the July issue here. Items covered includes: confirmation from the PC that the floodlighting proposal on the recreation ground will be discussed at the next meeting on 19 July; an update on the Millennium Green; forthcoming parish events; news from local community groups and societies; the 2021 open gardens (on 4 July); and the agenda for the AGM of the Recreation and Village Hall Management Committee on Tuesday 20 July.

• Click here for information the Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage Talking Newspaper (DAWN) for the blind and partially sighted. The organisers are currently appealing for help to keep the service going – click here for details.

Thursday 1 July 2021

• The BBC reports that there were 100 CV-19 cases in the Vale of White Horse in the week 21-28 June, up 37 on the week before. This equates to 74 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 122 (67 the week before). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a much more local level to be obtained.

• The Herald reports that a decision on the reopening of Wantage Road station is expected “in the coming weeks”. The local MP David Johnston warned, however, that there was “tough competition” out there and the government only tended to approve about 15% of such applications made in any one funding round. Mr Johnston has been a consistent campaigner for the re-opening of the station since his election in December 2019 (or his “appointment” as the paper disconcertingly puts it. I know this is a pretty safe Tory seat but not that safe). He promised that he would “keep going” if the project failed this time. The original station closed in 1964 even though the line remained open. I’ve never quite understood what the purpose of ripping out station buildings was (unless they were unsafe) if the land wasn’t going to be sold. I suppose in the early 1960s it must have seemed the certainty that rail travel was doomed and that cars were king.

• See also Oxfordshire Rail Corridor Study, featuring a re-opened Grove Station in Stage 3.

• The same MP told the Herald last week that “he has had more complaints about Royal Mail than about any other company or organisation in his time as an MP” and that he’s still trying to resolve the problems that seem to persist in the Wantage area.

• And still with Mr Johnston, you can click here to read his latest newsletter received on 1 July in which both of these matters (and more) are covered.

• The Repair Café at The Mix returns in person this Sat 3 July 10am to noon. To control numbers for everyone’s safety, booking is required: please email Jo on wantagemix@gmail.com.

• Also on the comeback trail is the Vale & Downland Museum which reopens this Mon 5 July and will thereafter be open from 9.30am to 3.45pm Monday to Saturday. The café will be open from 9.30am to 3.30pm Monday to Saturday and Toddler Tales will be every Wednesday at 10am.

Wantage Summer Arts Festival offers a wide range of events for July. The programme can be found online here or you can pick up printed programmes from Dolphin Art Gallery, Sainsbury’s, Grove Co-op and Rowes.

•  A zero-waste and training café is opening in Wantage soon. Down to Earth community café will start as a market stall in July with a range of healthy take-away meals. They will host community cooking and eat surplus food events starting with a ‘Climate Cook-in’ on 31 July. Contact Kate Farrington on downtoearthwantage@gmail.com for more details.

•  ‘One Action a Month’ is a Sustainable Wantage initiative for anyone who wishes to take steps to help nature, climate and community but aren’t sure where to start. Sign up here to their monthly email with a suggestion that will make a difference. You don’t have to live in Wantage to subscribe.

• Illegally fly tipping near the Ridgeway and then setting the items, including a foam mattress, on fire doubtless ticks quite a number of boxes for a successful prosecution. Oxford Magistrates Court agreed and the perpetrator was fined over £1,400 last month.

• A reminder about a bumper newsletter last month from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group, which you can read here. Many of the issues it covers are still very much alive (and likely to be for some time yet).

• The Truck Festival, which was to have taken place in Harwell from 22 to 24 July, has been cancelled – see the full statement here.

Wantage Library is inviting more people to follow its facebook page which has lots of great posts about books and reading.

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

The Beacon in Wantage will re-open in early September, the Herald reports, having been put to good use during the pandemic as a testing site.

• A new Wantage Community Larder run by Sustainable Wantage has recently been launched at the Methodist Church Hall on Newbury Street – click here for details.

• Wild Wantage gives advice on what to do if you find a fledgling.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council was held on 29 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.

Wantage Town Ladies FC is recruiting for players – click here for more.

• The White Horse Community Lottery officially launched Monday 14 June at a special virtual event attended by local VCS groups, community organisations and invited guests. More information here.

• Financial support is available for residents in need in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse who have been hit the hardest by the pandemic.

• A new Oxfordshire-wide programme, Move Together, has been launched to support hundreds of Oxfordshire residents most affected by Covid-19 to move more and protect their health and wellbeing. On Tuesday 6 July there will be a webinar held for Oxfordshire organisations and partners.

• South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils have joined organisations across Oxfordshire by taking part in the #SwitchUpYourLunch campaign. Run by Good Food Oxford and Oxfordshire Greentech, this will ask people, companies, schools, universities and community groups to pledge to eat a vegetarian or vegan lunch for one day in June each year to help make a difference to the environmental impact of food in Oxfordshire.

• In her regular column on p8 of the Herald, Julie Mabberley covers the most recent meeting of the Oxfordshire Heath Overview and Scrutiny Committee and draws attention to some of the matters in its in-tray.

• Click here for details of lateral flow tests that are available at The Beacon in Wantage.

• Click here for a list of businesses offer click-and-collect services in Wantage town centre.

• The most recent meeting (also the annual meeting) of Grove Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 4 May and you can read the draft minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council  took place on 5 May and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes here.

• This same council is currently looking for a new Clerkclick here for details.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council  took place on 6 May and you can download the minutes here.

• I’m sure Letcome Regis Parish Council still holds meetings though I can’t see any minutes since January 2021. The Letcome Register, however, partly plugs this gap and you can read the July issue here. Items covered includes: confirmation from the PC that the floodlighting proposal on the recreation ground will be discussed at the next meeting on 19 July; an update on the Millennium Green; forthcoming parish events; news from local community groups and societies; the 2021 open gardens (on 4 July); and the agenda for the AGM of the Recreation and Village Hall Management Committee on Tuesday 20 July.

• Click here for information the Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage Talking Newspaper (DAWN) for the blind and partially sighted. The organisers are currently appealing for help to keep the service going – click here for details.

Thursday 24 June 2021

• The BBC reports that there were 63 CV-19 cases in the Vale of White Horse in the week 14-20 June, up 18 on the week before. This equates to 46 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 67 (44 the week before). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a much more local level to be obtained.

• Wantage MP David Johnston has reminded residents on his FB page that he continues to campaign for the re-opening of the Wantage Road train station in Grove. Having spoken to some railway professionals this seems more complicated a problem than the obvious facts would suggest (ie that there is already a railway line and that the population of Wantage and Grove is increasing every year and that driving to and parking at Didcot or Swindon is a nightmare and that there’s a climate emergency). Keep contacting him and keep hoping and something should happen one of these days.

• The same MP has told the Herald that “he has had more complaints about Royal Mail than about any other company or organisation in his time as an MP” and that he’s still trying to resolve the problems that seem to persist in the Wantage area.

• The same paper reports p2 that nearly 3,000 Covid fines have been handed out in the Thames Valley Police area (which includes the Vale and West Berkshire), mostly for illegal gatherings. Just to make sure the point is rammed home, the same story, less one paragraph) is repeated on p3. If this was an error, as it surely is, then I sympathise. My background is in print publishing. Amongst my many mistakes I once managed to supervise the production of a 600-page yearbook giving information on every country in the world only to discover that we’d somehow managed to miss Russia out…

• See last week’s column below for a retail scam that was perpetrated on The Toy Planet in Wantage. On a similar theme of dishonesty, there have been recent fraudulent attempts at doorstepping residents by people pretending to be from local charities. Five community groups – The Ray Collins Charitable Trust, The Wantage & Grove Food Bank, Sustainable Wantage, Vale Community Impact (formerly Wantage Independent Advice Centre) and A Helping Hand Grove & Wantage – have got together to design and distribute an information leaflet giving advice on doorstep scams, what to do and what not to do and contact numbers for those feeling concerned. See here for more.

• A reminder about a bumper newsletter last week from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group, which you can read here. Items covered included: the Grove Road Care Home; the Monks Farm development; the Grove Northern Link Road; the Grove Wicks Farm application; the Grove Airfield development; the Park Farm application in East Challow; the proposed development at Ashfields Lane in East Challow; the Crab Hill development; the footpath between East Challow and Stockham Park through the Childrey Park development; a new phone number for the Newbury Street Practice; the Health Centre; the Community Hospital; Wantage’s NDP; and the town-centre pedestrianisation.

• The Truck Festival, which was to have taken place in Harwell from 22 to 24 July, has been cancelled – see the full statement here.

Wantage Library is inviting more people to follow its facebook page which has lots of great posts about books and reading.

• The Ray Collins Charitable Trust wants to say a huge thank you to everyone from Newbury Street and Church Street practices who took part in the Ridgeway run/jog/walk to raise funds for the Trust. A great effort from all involved – and there’s still time to donate.

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

The Beacon in Wantage will re-open in early September, the Herald reports, having been put to good use during the pandemic as a testing site.

• A new Wantage Community Larder run by Sustainable Wantage has recently been launched at the Methodist Church Hall on Newbury Street – click here for details.

• Wild Wantage gives advice on what to do if you find a fledgling.

• The White Horse Community Lottery was officially launched on 14 June at a special virtual event attended by local VCS groups, community organisations and invited guests.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council was held on 29 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.

Wantage Town Ladies FC is recruiting for players – click here for more.

• “Businesses in Oxfordshire can be confident they are receiving the highest standards of support from all the local councils and the police,” a statement on the Vale Council’s website reads, “after the county’s regulatory teams won a hotly contested and prestigious award.”

• Financial support is available for residents in need in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse who have been hit the hardest by the pandemic.

• And these two councils are still calling for HGV drivers to join their bin crews to avoid disruptions to waste collections.

• A new Oxfordshire-wide programme, Move Together, has been launched to support hundreds of Oxfordshire residents most affected by Covid-19 to move more and protect their health and wellbeing. On Tuesday 6 July there will be a webinar held for Oxfordshire organisations and partners interested in “referring into the scheme.” (I think that means “get involved with” in plain English).

• The same two councils have issued a statement about their revised management structure which contains many of the same sort of phrases. I don’t know why the two of them don’t tie the knot as they’ve been living together for years.

• South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils – see what I mean? – will be joining organisations across Oxfordshire by taking part in the #SwitchUpYourLunch campaign. Run by Good Food Oxford and Oxfordshire Greentech, this will ask people, companies, schools, universities and community groups to pledge to eat a vegetarian or vegan lunch for one day in June each year to help make a difference to the environmental impact of food in Oxfordshire.

• In her regular column on p8 of the Herald, Julie Mabberley asks what the purpose of the Oxfordshire Growth Board is given that, on its own admission, it doesn’t really make decisions about anything.

• Click here for details of lateral flow tests that are available at The Beacon in Wantage.

• Click here for a list of businesses offer click-and-collect services in Wantage town centre.

• The most recent meeting (also the annual meeting) of Grove Parish Council took place on 4 May and you can read the draft minutes here.

• One of the items in the above meeting was a discussion about the pizza and kebab takeaway services which operate in the Recreation Ground car park. On 9 June the Grove Parish Clerk posted on PC’s Facebook page that “with all of the incorrect information being posted on Facebook, the Parish Council has asked me to clarify the factual situation.” You can read the statement here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council  took place on 5 May and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council  took place on 6 May and you can download the minutes here.

• Click here for information the Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage Talking Newspaper (DAWN) for the blind and partially sighted. The organisers are currently appealing for help to keep the service going – click here for details.

Thursday 17 June 2021

• The BBC reports that there were 46 CV-19 cases in the Vale of White Horse in the week 7-13 June, down 23 on the week before. This equates to 34 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 44 (30 the week before). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a much more local level to be obtained.

• We mentioned last week (see below) about the payment-card scam suffered by The Toy Planet in Wantage (you can also listen here from 10′ 45″ which includes advice as to how other retailers can protect themselves). Steve from The Toy Planet would like to thank everyone in the community who has rallied round to support them. The Toy Planet’s emergency 20%-off sale (to help recoup their losses) lasts until 5.30pm Saturday 19 June. The police are still in the process of investigating the crime.

• On a similar theme of dishonesty, there have been recent fraudulent attempts at doorstepping residents by people pretending to be from local charities. Five community groups – The Ray Collins Charitable Trust, The Wantage & Grove Food Bank, Sustainable Wantage, Vale Community Impact (formerly Wantage Independent Advice Centre) and A Helping Hand Grove & Wantage – have got together to design and distribute an information leaflet giving advice on doorstep scams, what to do and what not to do and contact numbers for those feeling concerned. See here for more.

• A bumper newsletter this week from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group, which you can read here. Items covered included: the Grove Road Care Home; the Monks Farm development; the Grove Northern Link Road; the Grove Wicks Farm application; the Grove Airfield development; the Park Farm application in East Challow; the proposed development at Ashfields Lane in East Challow; the Crab Hill development; the footpath between East Challow and Stockham Park through the Childrey Park development; a new phone number for the Newbury Street Practice; the Health Centre; the Community Hospital; Wantage’s NDP; and the town-centre pedestrianisation.

• There has been praise on social media for the “really attractive flower boxes to mark the West End road closures” installed by Wantage Town Council.

The Beacon in Wantage will re-open in early September, the Herald reports, having been put to good use during the pandemic as a testing site.

• A new Wantage Community Larder run by Sustainable Wantage was launched on 4 June at the Methodist Church Hall on Newbury Street – click here for details.

• Wild Wantage is asking local residents to install swift nesting boxes on their houses and gives advice on what to do if you spot a fledgling.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council was held on 29 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.

Wantage Town Ladies FC is recruiting for players – click here for more.

• “Businesses in Oxfordshire can be confident they are receiving the highest standards of support from all the local councils and the police,” a statement on the Vale Council’s website reads, “after the county’s regulatory teams won a hotly contested and prestigious award.”

• We mentioned last week that that Herald reported that the Vale Council is one of only 41 local councils (along with West Berkshire) which has not reported a funding shortfall as a result of the pandemic and expects to see a surplus of about £2.7m for 2020-21. The Local Government Association claimed in March 2021 that “the latest figures from the Covid monitoring survey put the financial impact of Covid-19 on local authorities at an estimated £9.7 billion for 2020/21, with a further £2.8 billion of lost income from council tax and business rates.”

• Financial support is available for residents in need in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse who have been hit the hardest by the pandemic.

• And these two councils are calling for HGV drivers to join their bin crews to avoid disruptions to waste collections.

• A new Oxfordshire-wide programme, Move Together, has been launched to support hundreds of Oxfordshire residents most affected by Covid-19 to move more and protect their health and wellbeing.

• South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils will be joining organisations across Oxfordshire by taking part in the #SwitchUpYourLunch campaign. Run by Good Food Oxford and Oxfordshire Greentech, this will ask people, companies, schools, universities and community groups to pledge to eat a vegetarian or vegan lunch for one day in June each year to help make a difference to the environmental impact of food in Oxfordshire.

• In her regular column on p8 of the Herald, Julie Mabberley looks at the proposed reforms to the planning system and points out that these do not represent “the sleek new way hailed by ministers.” The system is, she points out, inherently and inevitably complex. She also points out that the real problem is not, as has sometimes been suggested, the process-driven, box-ticking planning officers but an unintended consequence of the fact that the building part has effectively been out-sourced to the private sector – over a million.

• Click here for details of lateral flow tests that are available at The Beacon in Wantage.

• Click here for a list of businesses offer click-and-collect services in Wantage town centre.

• The most recent meeting (also the annual meeting) of Grove Parish Council took place on 4 May and you can read the draft minutes here.

• One of the items in the above meeting was a discussion about the pizza and kebab takeaway services which operate in the Recreation Ground car park. On 9 June the Grove Parish Clerk posted on PC’s Facebook page that “with all of the incorrect information being posted on Facebook, the Parish Council has asked me to clarify the factual situation.” You can read the statement here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hanney Parish Council  took place on 5 May and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council  took place on 10 March and you can download the minutes here. There was to be an extraordinary meeting on 23 April but it was inquorate.

• Click here for information the Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage Talking Newspaper (DAWN) for the blind and partially sighted. The organisers are currently appealing for help to keep the service going – click here for details.

Thursday 10 June 2021

• The BBC reports that there were 69 CV-19 cases in the Vale of White Horse in the week 31 May to 6 June, up 26 on the week before. This equates to 51 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 30 (17 the week before). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a much more local level to be obtained.

• A double scam (with different results) to report in Wantage – but it could happen anywhere. Toy Planet reports that on Tuesday two men (click here to see a photo of them caught on the shop’s CCTV) bought £2,900 worth of high-end lego products from its shop on Mill Street using a cloned bank card. Designed to work like a international card, they generate a print out receipt to be signed instead of requiring a pin number. The signature matched the one on the card as the card was a clone, signed by the criminal. The true owner of the card reported that the transaction had appeared on their statement. The shop’s CCTV camera captured the criminals making the transaction but the police haven’t had time to look at it yet. On Wednesday, two different men with London accents and driving a Range Rover attempted a similar purchase of high end collectables. This time owner Steve Taylor was in store and asked lots of questions. During the transaction the customer pressed a lot of buttons on the chip and pin machine in an attempt to get it to print out a receipt to be signed. In the end the card was declined. The vehicle registration number has been reported to the police but they haven’t had time to investigate it yet. “The whole week’s profit for the shop was wiped out in one hit,” Steve Taylor told Penny Post on 10 June, “and there’s no protection from card company or insurance.”

• Congratulations to The Ray Collins Charitable Trust which has been awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the so-called “MBE of the voluntary groups.” See here for more about the Trust’s achievements and the dedication of its volunteers.

• A new Wantage Community Larder run by Sustainable Wantage is launched on 4 June at the Methodist Church Hall on Newbury Street – click here for details.

• The Great British Spring Clean takes place between 28 May and 13 June and many events will be organised by local councils. Click on the relevant council link below to see how you can get involved with what’s happening in your town or village.

• Wild Wantage is asking local residents to install swift nesting boxes on their houses and gives advice on what to do if you spot a fledgling

• The Changing Lives charity shop on Church Street in Wantage has supported many local causes since 2012. King Alfred’s student Eda Onay caught up with the owners to find out about this venture – read more here.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council was held on 29 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.

Wantage Town Ladies FC is recruiting for players – click here for more.

• The Herald reports that staff at the Newbury Street Practice in Wantage have issued “a stark warning to patients amid a wave of abuse aimed at them on a daily basis.”

• This week’s herald reports on p5 that the Vale Council is one of only 41 local councils (along with West Berkshire) which has not reported a funding shortfall as a result of the pandemic and expects to see a surplus of about £2.7m for 2020-21.

• South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse have offered their thanks and gratitude to the thousands of volunteers across both districts in volunteers’ week.

• The same two councils have launched a competition for primary school children to design a superhero to tackle air pollution. The councils will be giving a new Micro scooter as a top prize to one winner in each district.

• Financial support is available for residents in need in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse who have been hit the hardest by the pandemic.

• And these two councils are calling for HGV drivers to join their bin crews to avoid disruptions to waste collections.

• A new Oxfordshire-wide programme, Move Together, has been launched to support hundreds of Oxfordshire residents most affected by Covid-19 to move more and protect their health and wellbeing.

• South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils will be joining organisations across Oxfordshire by taking part in the #SwitchUpYourLunch campaign. Run by Good Food Oxford and Oxfordshire Greentech, this will ask people, companies, schools, universities and community groups to pledge to eat a vegetarian or vegan lunch for one day in June each year to help make a difference to the environmental impact of food in Oxfordshire.

• In her regular column on p8 of the Herald, Julie Mabberley looks at how residents can ensure that healthcare needs will be taken into account. “My problem,” she says, “is that I don’t believe any promises that we get from our NHS authorities” and goes on to cite some specific examples.

• When a politician writing a column kicks off with “no politics this week” I’m always keen to see if they could resist the temptation. Wantage MP David Johnston’s column in this week’s Herald made just such a claim and, to be fair to the man, he toughed it out right to last full stop. He was writing “in preside of people who make a big difference” and mentioned two organisations we know well and whose work we’ve supported – Anna Richard’s Maymessy and the Ray Collins Charitable Trust. Congratulations to them, and all the other organisations which do similar good work. Congratulations also to a politician for keeping a promise.

• Click here for details of lateral flow tests that are available at The Beacon in Wantage.

• Click here for a list of businesses offer click-and-collect services in Wantage town centre.

• The most recent meeting (also the annual meeting) of Grove Parish Council took place on 4 May and you can read the draft minutes here.

• One of the items in the above meeting was a discussion about the pizza and kebab takeaway services which have been operating from the Recreation Ground car park since the summer of 2020. On 9 June the Grove Parish Clerk posted on PC’s Facebook page that “with all of the incorrect information being posted on Facebook, the Parish Council has asked me to clarify the factual situation.” You can read the full statement by clicking here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hannay Parish Council  took place on 5 May and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council  took place on 10 March and you can download the minutes here. There was to be an extraordinary meeting on 23 April but it was inquorate.

• Click here for information the Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage Talking Newspaper (DAWN) for the blind and partially sighted. The organisers are currently appealing for help to keep the service going – click here for details.

Thursday 3 June 2021

• The BBC reports that there were 39 CV-19 cases in the Vale of White Horse in the week 23-29 May, up 32 on the week before. This equates to 29 cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 17 (13 the week before). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a much more local level to be obtained.

• Congratulations to The Ray Collins Charitable Trust which has been awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the so-called “MBE of the voluntary groups.” During the last fifteen months the Trust has raised £135,000, spending over £40,000 on shopping for families, supplying 1,000 meals on wheels and 500 slices of cake for elderly people shielding, £12,000 on emergency electrical appliances and furniture for families hit financially or because of domestic abuse. See here for more about the Trust’s achievements and the dedication of its volunteers.

• A new Wantage Community Larder run by Sustainable Wantage is launching on Friday 4 June at the Methodist Church Hall on Newbury Street – click here for details.

• The Great British Spring Clean takes place between 28 May and 13 June and many events will be organised by local councils. Click on the relevant council link below to see how you can get involved with what’s happening in your town or village.

• Wantage Silver Band is delighted to announce the launch of its new Percussion Academy offering a free initial six-week course starting Wednesday 9 June sponsored by Wantage Pilates Studio and Glovers Plumbing and Tiling.

• Wild Wantage is asking local residents to install swift nesting boxes on their houses and gives advice on what to do if you spot a fledgling

• The Changing Lives charity shop on Church Street in Wantage has supported many local causes since 2012. King Alfred’s student Eda Onay caught up with the owners to find out about this venture – read more here.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council was held on 29 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.

• The Herald reports that staff at the Newbury Street Practice in Wantage have issued “a stark warning to patients amid a wave of abuse aimed at them on a daily basis.”

• We mentioned last week (see below) about problems with the postal service in the Wantage and Grove area not being helped by a Royal Mail employee (who has since died) hoarding mail bags at home. The Herald reports this week on p10 that some people have assumed this was the work of a quite different former Post Office employee who was jailed for 12 months in 2008 for stealing cash from greetings cards.

• South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse have offered their thanks and gratitude to the thousands of volunteers across both districts in volunteers’ week.

• The same two councils have launched a competition for primary school children to design a superhero to tackle air pollution. The councils will be giving a new Micro scooter as a top prize to one winner in each district.

• Financial support is available for residents in need in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse who have been hit the hardest by the pandemic.

• And still with these two councils, hunting as a pack yet again: they are calling for HGV drivers to join their bin crews to avoid disruptions to waste collections.

• In her regular column on p8 of the Herald, Julie Mabberley looks at the political arithmetic in Oxfordshire following the elections last month and suggests that, coupled with results elsewhere, there is considerable opposition to both the Oxfordshire housing growth deal and the Oxford-Cambridge Arc.

• Click here for details of lateral flow tests that are available at The Beacon in Wantage.

• Click here for a list of businesses offer click-and-collect services in Wantage town centre.

• Councillor Emily Smith, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, delivered her Leader’s Statement to Council at the meeting on 18 May 2021 and you can read it here.

• The most recent meeting (also the annual meeting) of Grove Parish Council took place on 4 May and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: the re-election of the chairman and Vice Chairman; the Grove Airfield development Forum; the Public Art Working Group; the kebab and pizza vans; the Scout Hut and the Rugby Club; committee memberships; financial matters; discussions with Grove Business Park; and the tennis courts.

• The most recent meeting of East Hannay Parish Council  took place on 5 May and you can read the minutes here. Matters covered included: election of the Chair and Vice Chair; various financial and year-end matters; the MUGA; the Playscape; the trim trail and the outdoor gym; planning matters; arrangements for future meetings until social-distancing measures are relaxed; and the replacement of committees by working groups.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council  took place on 10 March and you can download the minutes here. There was to be an extraordinary meeting on 23 April but it was inquorate.

• Click here for information the Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage Talking Newspaper (DAWN) for the blind and partially sighted. The organisers are currently appealing for help to keep the service going – click here for details.

Thursday 27 May 2021

• The BBC reports that there were 9 CV-19 cases in the Vale of White Horse in the week 17-23 May, down two on the week before. This equates to eight cases per 100,000. The average area in England had 13 (13 the week before). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a much more local level to be obtained.

• A new Wantage Community Larder run by Sustainable Wantage is launching on Friday 4 June at the Methodist Church Hall on Newbury Street – click here for details.

• The Great British Spring Clean takes place between 28 May and 13 June and many events will be organised by local councils. Click on the relevant council link below to see how you can get involved with what’s happening in your town or village.

• Wantage Silver Band is delighted to announce the launch of their new Percussion Academy offering a free initial six-week course starting Wednesday 9 June sponsored by Wantage Pilates Studio and Glovers Plumbing and Tiling.

• Wild Wantage is asking local residents to install swift nesting boxes on their houses and gives advice on what to do if you spot a fledgling

• The Changing Lives charity shop on Church Street in Wantage has supported many local causes since 2012. King Alfred’s student Eda Onay caught up with the owners to find out about this venture – read more here.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council was held on 29 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.

• The Herald reports that staff at the Newbury Street Practice in Wantage have issued “a stark warning to patients amid a wave of abuse aimed at them on a daily basis.”

• We mentioned last week (see below) about problems with the postal service in the Wantage and Grove area not being helped by a Royal Mail employee (who has since died) hoarding mail bags at home. The Herald reports this week on p10 that some people have assumed this was the work of a quite different former Post Office employee who was jailed for 12 months in 2008 for stealing cash from greetings cards.

• The same councils have offered their thanks and gratitude to the thousands of volunteers across both districts ahead of volunteers’ week.

• Financial support is available for residents in need in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse who have been hit the hardest by the pandemic.

• South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils have welcomed a call from Oxford Friends of the Earth for all Oxfordshire councils to do everything they can to tackle the climate emergency, while highlighting the positive work that is already taking place.

• The same two councils have launched a competition for primary school children to design a superhero to tackle air pollution. The councils will be giving a new Micro scooter as a top prize to one winner in each district.

• And still with these two councils, hunting as a pack yet again: they are calling for HGV drivers to join their bin crews to avoid disruptions to waste collections.

• Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire District Councils have agreed a partnership to help local businesses reduce their carbon footprint.

• Wantage Independent Advice Centre has been re-named Vale Community Impact with a new website and facebook page name offering free independent advice on debt, benefits, employment, housing and relationships.

• In her regular column on p8 of the Herald, Julie Mabberley looks at the recent appeal hearing into the Lidl application for the site north of the Mably Road roundabout. She noted that the discussions turned on the importance or otherwise or the green gap and the need for low-cost shopping (despite the threat to nearby businesses) but seemed to take no account of the impact of traffic in the area. The inspector will make his decision later in the summer.

• Click here for details of lateral flow tests that are available at The Beacon in Wantage.

• Click here for a list of businesses offer click-and-collect services in Wantage town centre.

• Councillor Emily Smith, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, delivered her Leader’s Statement to Council at the meeting on 18 May 2021 and you can read it here.

• The most recent meeting (also the annual meeting) of Grove Parish Council took place on 4 May and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: the re-election of the chairman and Vice Chairman; the Grove Airfield development Forum; the Public Art Working Group; the kebab and pizza vans; the Scout Hut and the Rugby Club; committee memberships; financial matters; discussions with Grove Business Park; and the tennis courts.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council  took place on 10 March and you can download the minutes here. There was to be an extraordinary meeting on 23 April but it was inquorate.

• The most recent meeting of East Hannay Parish Council  took place on 21 April and you can read the minutes here.

• Click here for information the Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage Talking Newspaper (DAWN) for the blind and partially sighted. The organisers are currently appealing for help to keep the service going – click here for details.

Thursday 20 May 2021

• The BBC reports that there were 11 CV-19 cases in the Vale of White Horse in the week 10-16 May, down three on the week before. This equates to eight cases per 100,000. The average area in England has 13 (17 last week). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a much more local level to be obtained.

• Wantage Silver Band is delighted to announce the launch of their new Percussion Academy offering a free initial 6 week course starting Wednesday 9 June sponsored by Wantage Pilates Studio and Glovers Plumbing and Tiling.

• Wild Wantage is asking local residents to install swift nesting boxes on their houses and gives advice on what to do if you spot a fledgling

• The Changing Lives charity shop on Church Street in Wantage has supported many local causes since 2012. King Alfred’s student Eda Onay caught up with the owners to find out about this venture – read more here.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council was held on 29 March and you can read the minutes here.

• There seems to be something wrong with the postal service in the Wantage and Grove area to the extent that the local MP, David Johnston, raised the matter in parliament last month. This story in the Herald suggests that the problem, or part of it, may be because a Royal Mail employee has been hoarding mail bags at home. The result was that some letters recently arrived at local addresses which had been posted in 2008. Most people have enough stuff of their own without adding that from strangers. If this dates back 13 years then it’s unlikely to be the only sack sitting in the postie’s garage. It’s a strange obsession and reminds by of Keith Waterhouse’s excellent novel Billy Liar in which the narrator is haunted by the problem of disposing of several hundred large promotional calendars which are piled up in his room after he stole the money his boss had given him to spend on the stamps. The newspaper report says that “it’s still unclear” if Royal Mail plans to take the thief to court. It seems extraordinary that they might consider not doing so. Isn’t mail theft a particularly serious deal?

• Residents of the Vale will be aware that they have three layers of councils above them (parish, district and county) as opposed to the two which prevail in unitary authorities like West Berkshire. Following the elections earlier this mont, Oxfordshire CC changed hand from the Conservatives to a Lib Dem/Labour/Green coalition. The new leader is expected to be Liz Lefman.

• Another victor at the local elections was former Vale Councillor Matthew Barber who is the new Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner. In an interview on p10 of this week’s Herald, he said that he welcomed the new powers promised in the divisive Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing (PCCS) bill to crack down on travellers camping on private land but has also said that he would “always defend the right to protest,” something with PCCS threatens to undermine. He adds that “some people are very excited” about the fact that a public nuisance prosecution under the bill could result in a ten-year sentence. I’m not sure that this was quite the reaction the government was aiming for. He adds that “under common law that is already punishable by a life sentence.” Viewed in this light, the PCCS bill is therefore quite an enlightened piece of legislation.

• South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils have welcomed a call from Oxford Friends of the Earth for all Oxfordshire councils to do everything they can to tackle the climate emergency, while highlighting the positive work that is already taking place.

• The same two councils have launched a competition for primary school children to design a superhero to tackle air pollution. The councils will be giving a new Micro scooter as a top prize to one winner in each district.

• Wantage Independent Advice Centre has been re-named Vale Community Impact with a new website and facebook page name offering free independent advice on debt, benefits, employment, housing and relationships.

• In her regular column on p8 of the Herald, Julie Mabberley looks again at the issue of parking enforcement in the area. She concludes with the hope that one day there might be a park-and-ride facility at Grove station, the re-opening of which now seems slightly more likely than it has done for a long time.

• Click here for details of lateral flow tests that are available at The Beacon in Wantage.

• Click here for a list of businesses offer click-and-collect services in Wantage town centre.

• Councillor Emily Smith, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, delivered her Leader’s Statement to Council at the meeting on 18 May 2021 and you can read it here.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 20 April and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: Elmbrook Court Care Home; the Public Art Working Group; the Lidl planning application; updates from the Grove Airfield and the Crab Hill Development Forums; the response to the government’s insistence that council meetings revert to face-to-face from 7 May; planning applications; take-away van issues; and financial matters.

• Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire District Councils have agreed a partnership to help local businesses reduce their carbon footprint.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council  took place on 10 March and you can download the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of East Hannay Parish Council  took place on 21 April and you can read the minutes here.

• Click here for information the Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage Talking Newspaper (DAWN) for the blind and partially sighted. The organisers are currently appealing for help to keep the service going – click here for details.

• You can click here to see the April 2021 issue of the Letcombe Register which includes news from the villages’s groups and societies.

Thursday 13 May 2021

• The BBC reports that there were 21 CV-19 cases in the Vale of White Horse in the week 3-9 May, down eight on the week before. This equates to 15 cases per 100,000. The average area in England has 17 (16 last week). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a much more local level to be obtained.

• The Changing Lives charity shop on Church Street in Wantage has supported many local causes since 2012. King Alfred’s student Eda Onay caught up with the owners to find out about this venture – read more here.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council was held on 29 March and you can read the minutes here.

• A reminder that the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group held its AGM on 28 April and you can click here to read the Campaign Manager’s report for the year ending February 2021. The Group also keeps a close eye on progress or problems with the various applications or developments – click here to see the archive.

• Wantage Independent Advice Centre has been re-named Vale Community Impact with a new website and facebook page name offering free independent advice on debt, benefits, employment, housing and relationships.

• In her regular column on p8 of the Herald, Julie Mabberley looks at parking enforcement in the area, the responsibility for which will be taken over from the Police by the county and district councils. When this finally happens,  she points out that illegal parkers (who have previously run little risk) will have something of a shock. This, she argues, is surely likely to increase the calls for residents’ parking permits to be introduced so that people can park in front of their own homes.

• There was a request on the Wantage and grove Community FB page on 12 May asking “has anyone got any moving boxes?” Crikey, I thought: is this some kind of paranormal thing in the area that I ought to know about? Would there be replies saying, “yes – all my boxes are moving around as well.” In fact – of course – she was only moving house. How disappointing.

• Advice from the same source, this time from local wildlife expert Mark Bradfield who was alerted to a young tawny owl near Letcombe Brook which seemed to have not done very well at his first flying lesson. The thing to do in these cases, he advises, is to “put them up in a nearby tree out of the rain and away from potential predators.” He asks people not to “immediately take birds away from the scene and try and “rescue” them – just put them in a hedge or tree somewhere safe and leave them for the parent to care for. They are usually somewhere nearby.”

• Click here for details of lateral flow tests that are available at The Beacon in Wantage.

• Click here for a list of businesses offer click-and-collect services in Wantage town centre.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 20 April and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: Elmbrook Court Care Home; the Public Art Working Group; the Lidl planning application; updates from the Grove Airfield and the Crab Hill Development Forums; the response to the government’s insistence that council meetings revert to face-to-face from 7 May; planning applications; take-away van issues; and financial matters.

• Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire District Councils have agreed a partnership to help local businesses reduce their carbon footprint.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council  took place on 10 March and you can download the minutes here.

• Click here for information the Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage Talking Newspaper (DAWN) for the blind and partially sighted. The organisers are currently appealing for help to keep the service going – click here for details.

• You can click here to see the April 2021 issue of the Letcombe Register which includes news from the villages’s groups and societies.

Thursday 6 May 2021

• Official news from councils in this area is currently thin as we are in a period of pre-election purdah (see here for more) until after the polling stations close on 6 May when there restrictions on what can be announced.

• The BBC reports that there were 28 CV-19 cases in the Vale of White Horse in the week 26 April to 2 May, up four on the week before. This equates to 21 cases per 100,000. The average area in England has 16 (18 last week). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a much more local level to be obtained.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council was held on 29 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the re-affirmation of the Armed Forces Covenant; reports from committees; confirmation of the expenditure of £4,172 on planters and benches; the waiving of market tolls until 30 June 2021; the annual council meeting (which will take place on 3 May); the “meanwhile space” project to help revitalise empty retail spaces; confirmation of a donation of £5,000 to Grove Rugby Club; and quotes from highway engineers for the pedestrianisation scheme in the Market Square.

• A reminder that the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group held its AGM on 28 April and you can click here to read the Campaign Manager’s report for the year ending February 2021. The Group also keeps a close eye on progress or problems with the various applications or developments – click here to see the archive.

• Wantage Independent Advice Centre has been re-named Vale Community Impact with a new website and facebook page name offering free independent advice on debt, benefits, employment, housing and relationships.

• The April newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnson arrived last week and you can click here to read it. As well as a round up of what he’s been doing in the constituency, there are also two clips of him asking questions in parliament: about the recent patchy performance of Royal Mail and the re-opening of Grove station (more news expected in the summer on this one).

• In her regular column on p8 of the Herald, Julie Mabberley looks at active travel and the need to join up the area’s cycleways.

• The Herald reports that two street cleaning companies have been ordered to pay hefty fines after stealing H2O from Thames Water hydrants in Oxfordshire. (This reminds me of a story I heard years ago. BT was trying to work out why it suddenly started higher than usual electricity bills for a particular area and narrowed it down to the phone boxes (of which there were then quite a lot). They eventually established that one local furniture-maker, who worked from a shed at the bottom of his garden and run a cable to the phone box on the street at the other side of the edge and plugged a cable into the light socket, from which he was running all his power tools.)

• The Herald reports on the progress of plans to provide an “affordable solution” to help the town’s two GP practices cope with the ever-growing number of patients.

• Click here for details of lateral flow tests that are available at The Beacon in Wantage.

• Click here for a list of businesses offer click-and-collect services in Wantage town centre.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 20 April and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: Elmbrook Court Care Home; the Public Art Working Group; the Lidl planning application; updates from the Grove Airfield and the Crab Hill Development Forums; the response to the government’s insistence that council meetings revert to face-to-face from 7 May; planning applications; take-away van issues; and financial matters.

• Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire District Councils have agreed a partnership to help local businesses reduce their carbon footprint.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council  took place on 10 March and you can download the minutes here.

• Click here for information the Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage Talking Newspaper (DAWN) for the blind and partially sighted. The organisers are currently appealing for help to keep the service going – click here for details.

• You can click here to see the April 2021 issue of the Letcombe Register which includes news from the villages’s groups and societies.

Thursday 29 April 2021

• Official news from councils in this area is currently thin as we are in a period of pre-election purdah (see here for more) until after the polling stations close on 6 May when there restrictions on what can be announced.

• The BBC reports that there were 24 CV-19 cases in the Vale of White Horse in the week 19-25 April, down six on the week before. This equates to 18 cases per 100,000. The average area in England has 18 (18 last week). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a much more local level to be obtained.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council was held on 29 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the re-affirmation of the Armed Forces Covenant; reports from committees; confirmation of the expenditure of £4,172 on planters and benches; the waiving of market tolls until 30 June 2021; the annual council meeting (which will take place on 3 May); the “meanwhile space” project to help revitalise empty retail spaces; confirmation of a donation of £5,000 to Grove Rugby Club; and quotes from highway engineers for the pedestrianisation scheme in the Market Square.

• With around 7,000 houses in the pipeline for Wantage, Grove and the surrounding village and probably more to come, the role of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group seems to be ever more important. Its aims are not to oppose all or any development in the area but to ensure that this is “proportionate and sustainable” and that the infrastructure should “improve the quality of life for residents.” The organisation held its AGM on 28 April and you can click here to read the Campaign Manager’s report for the year ending February 2021. The Group also keeps a close eye on progress or problems with the various applications or developments – click here to see the archive.

• Wantage Independent Advice Centre has been re-named Vale Community Impact with a new website and facebook page name offering free independent advice on debt, benefits, employment, housing and relationships.  VCI volunteers run the Transport Service (taking residents to medical appointments, day centres and the like) and the Good Neighbour Service (matching residents and volunteers to buddy up and chat or to undertake small household tasks). If you think you may like to volunteer, please email recruitment@vci.org.uk.

• The April newsletter from Wantage MP David Johnson has just dropped into my inbox and you can click here to read it. As well as a round up of what he’s been doing in the constituency, there are also two clips of him asking questions in parliament: about the recent patchy performance of Royal Mail and the re-opening of Grove station (more news expected in the summer on this one).

• The first 2021 Local Artisan Market in Wantage Market Place is this Sun 2 May 10am to 3pm.

• This week’s Herald reports on p7 that residents have vowed to “fight on” to get beds re-opened at Wantage Community Hospital which has been largely  “temporarily” closed in 2016 as a result of a legionella outbreak.

• In her regular column on p8 of the Herald, Julie Mabberley looks at the issue on the Community Hospital in more detail.

• On the same page, the paper reports on a fire at Haynes of Challow which was described as “unfortunate and inexplicable.”

• The newspaper’s website reports on another fire that seems to be more explicable, a house in Wantage being badly damaged by a blaze seemingly started by a candle.

• The letters page definitely seems to have vanished from the Herald. As I suggested last week, perhaps it’s a pre-election purdah thing.

Click here for information about the various local elections taking place in the area on 6 May.

• The Herald reports on the progress of plans to provide an “affordable solution” to help the town’s two GP practices cope with the ever-growing number of patients.

• Click here for details of lateral flow tests that are available at The Beacon in Wantage.

• Click here for a list of businesses offer click-and-collect services in Wantage town centre.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can read the draft minutes here.

• Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire District Councils have agreed a partnership to help local businesses reduce their carbon footprint.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 20 January and you can download the minutes here.

• Click here for information the Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage Talking Newspaper (DAWN) for the blind and partially sighted. The organisers are currently appealing for help to keep the service going – click here for details.

• You can click here to see the April 2021 issue of the Letcombe Register which includes news from the villages’s groups and societies.

Thursday 22 April 2021

• Official news from councils in this area is currently thin as we are in a period of pre-election purdah (see here for more) until after the polling stations close on 6 May when there restrictions on what can be announced.

• The BBC reports that there were 29 CV-19 cases in the Vale of White Horse in the week 12-18 April, down one on the week before. This equates to 21 cases per 100,000. The average area in England has 18 (20 last week). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a much more local level to be obtained.

• The main story in this week’s Herald concerns the latest salvos in the long-running battle to see the full re-opening of the Wantage Community Hospital which currently hosts only midwifery and physiotherapy services, all other departments have been “temporarily” closed in 2016 as a result of a legionella outbreak. A group of local doctors and councillors has claimed that local health bosses are “not listening” to their concerns.

• In her regular column on p8 of the Herald, Julie Mabberley looks at the complicated issues, touched on above, about the provision of community health services in the Wantage and Grove area.

• Either people have stopped writing letters to this newspaper or the Editor has decided to stop publishing them. The section has completely disappeared: the Newbury Weekly News, on the other hand, expends sometimes as much as six pages on this free opinion section, The Herald does things in a different way, with four regular columns from local interest groups and an alternating soapbox for the two local MPs (which seems to have vanished this week as well, perhaps due to pre-election purdah) as well as an editorial column in which the scribbler-in-chief says what she thinks about an issue or two. This one-tenth of a page is the exception across both papers. For whatever reason, local publications seem reluctant to express any opinions on anything (not a reticence I share). Outsourcing these to others, as both these papers do in their different ways, is fine but I can’t help feeling they should be a bit braver. I appreciate that their first obligation has to be accurate reporting of the things they do cover, something notably lacking from the social-media coverage of life from which many people derive their views of the world. None the less, I’d welcome a bit more of a combative spirit in these publications.

Of the two, I think I prefer the NWN’s letterbox approach, good though the Herald’s regular columnists are. There’s a sense of open house about it, ranging from political polemic to poems about refuse collectors. There’s also normally at least one which makes me laugh (at or with the letter) and at least one that annoys me. This seems to be a valuable service to provide. You may say that social media provides the same thing. No, it doesn’t’t. If you write a letter to a newspaper it’s going to get printed perhaps 25,000 times and you probably spend a bit of time reflecting on what you’re going to say and checking your facts. (Not all NWN letters seem to have gone through this filter as carefully as they might have done but in that case there’s the possibility of an even more measured riposte the following week.) I can’t help feeling that if all social-media posts were delayed by even an hour to give people a chance to reflect on, or research, what they were saying, the results would be more constructive. Letters pages in local papers help provide this.

• The speaker at this month’s Sustainable Wantage Green Drinks on Wednesday 28 April will be Ian Pritchett from Greencore Construction developers of low-impact homes in Oxfordshire. See the Sustainable Wantage newsletter for zoom joining instructions. Congratulations also to Sustainable Wantage for its recognition from the High Sherriff of Oxfordshire for its contribution to the community.

Click here for information about the various local elections taking place in the area on 6 May.

• The Herald reports on the progress of plans to provide an “affordable solution” to help the town’s two GP practices cope with the ever-growing number of patients.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council was held on 8 February and you can read the minutes here. (Many of its matters are delegated to committees.)

It’s been officially announced that South Oxfordshire (SODC) and the Vale of White Horse have agreed to develop a joint Local Plan for the area to reduce costs and help the councils meet their ambitious targets for making the two districts carbon neutral.

• The same two councils have agreed to offer a financial support package to GLL, the leisure contractor that manages leisure facilities across both districts, subject to formal agreements being entered into.

• Click here for details of lateral flow tests that are available at The Beacon in Wantage.

• The Wantage & Grove Campaign Group keeps its eye on planning and related matters in the area – click here to see the archive.

• The Wantage & Grove Campaign Group will be hosting its AGM (by Zoom) on Wednesday 28 April – click here for details. Note that has been postponed from 14 April following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh.

• Click here for a list of businesses offer click-and-collect services in Wantage town centre.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can read the draft minutes here.

• It was agreed at the above-mentioned meeting that Grove’s Annual Parish Meeting will take place on Friday 23 April 2021 commencing at 7.30pm and will be held remotely on Zoom.

• Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire District Councils have agreed a partnership to help local businesses reduce their carbon footprint.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 20 January and you can download the minutes here.

• Click here for information the Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage Talking Newspaper (DAWN) for the blind and partially sighted. The organisers are currently appealing for help to keep the service going – click here for details.

• You can click here to see the April 2021 issue of the Letcombe Register which includes news from the villages’s groups and societies.

Thursday 15 April 2021

• The BBC reports that there were 29 CV-19 cases in the Vale of White Horse in the week 5-11 April, down one on the week before. This equates to 21 cases per 100,000. The average area in England has 20 (24 last week). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a much more local level to be obtained.

• The Herald reports on the progress of plans to provide an “affordable solution” to help the town’s two GP practices cope with the ever-growing number of patients.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council was held on 8 February and you can read the minutes here. (Many of its matters are delegated to committees.)

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: the burden of ivy on trees; local speed limits; the S106 funds (or seeming lack of) from the Mason’s Yard development; Ordnance Survey copyright issues; financial matters; foot- and cycle-paths; playground repairs; parking problems; and the Annual Parish Meeting (8pm on 11 May).

It’s been officially announced that South Oxfordshire (SODC) and the Vale of White Horse have agreed to develop a joint Local Plan for the area to reduce costs and help the councils meet their ambitious targets for making the two districts carbon neutral.

• The same two councils have agreed to offer a financial support package to GLL, the leisure contractor that manages leisure facilities across both districts, subject to formal agreements being entered into.

• In her regular column on p8 of the Herald, Julie Mabberley looks at a familiars problem, that of developers trying to squeeze more on more houses onto a site once approval has been granted. She cites the example of Park Farm at East Challow: exactly the same thing happened in the similar-sized Lancaster Park development in Hungerford.

• Local sports clubs in the Grove and Wantage area are helping Vale of White Horse District Council understand how money that’s coming in from new housing developments could be used to help provide appropriate new or improved leisure facilities for local residents.

• Click here for details of lateral flow tests that are available at The Beacon in Wantage.

• The Wantage & Grove Campaign Group keeps its eye on planning and related matters in the area – click here to see the archive.

• The Wantage & Grove Campaign Group will be hosting its AGM (by Zoom) on Wednesday 28 April – click here for details. Note that has been postponed from 14 April following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh.

• Click here for a list of businesses offer click-and-collect services in Wantage town centre.

• South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils and their leisure contractor GLL, which runs the Better Leisure centres across the districts, have agreed on a phased approach to re-opening local leisure facilities.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can read the draft minutes here.

• It was agreed at the above-mentioned meeting that Grove’s Annual Parish Meeting will take place on Friday 23 April 2021 commencing at 7.30pm and will be held remotely on Zoom.

• Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire District Councils have agreed a partnership to help local businesses reduce their carbon footprint.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council took place on 20 January and you can download the minutes here.

• Click here for information the Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage Talking Newspaper (DAWN) for the blind and partially sighted. The organisers are currently appealing for help to keep the service going – click here for details.

• You can click here to see the April 2021 issue of the Letcombe Register which includes news from the villages’s groups and societies.

• Click here for information on the location of defibrillators in and around Wantage.

Thursday 8 April 2021

• The BBC reports that there were 30 CV-19 cases in the Vale of White Horse in the week 9 March to 4 April, down 13 on the week before. This equates to 22 cases per 100,000. The average area in England has 24 (39 last week). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a much more local level to be obtained.

• The Herald this week reports on the progress of plans to provide an “affordable solution” to help the town’s two GP practices cope with the ever-growing number of patients.

• A reminder of the proposals recently announced by the campaign group Railfuture to create an Oxford Metro service throughout the county (including a re-opened station service Grove and Wantage). More details can be seen on Railfuture’s website here. There is some doubt as to the extent to which this is supported by Oxfordshire CC or Oxford City Council.

It’s been officially announced that South Oxfordshire (SODC) and the Vale of White Horse have agreed to develop a joint Local Plan for the area to reduce costs and help the councils meet their ambitious targets for making the two districts carbon neutral. One of the things they will need to consider is the news that the government is set to reverse the special status that Oxfordshire enjoys and insist that it demonstrate a five-year housing supply rather than, as at present, enough for three years. If a planning authority cannot allocate enough land this leaves the district open to development that might not accord with its wishes as it would then be obliged to grant permission save in exceptional circumstances (a refusal on which grounds could be challenged).

• The same two councils have agreed to offer a financial support package to GLL, the leisure contractor that manages leisure facilities across both districts, subject to formal agreements being entered into.

• In her regular column on p8 of the Herald, Julie Mabberley looks at a matter which I (and others) have also covered, the question of remote meetings and the fact that after 7 May these will no longer possible where voting will take place. She ends with the comment that as, with the exception of Grove PC, all the councils that cover Wantage and Grove are political with parties making decisions in advance of them, “so we probably won’t notice much difference if meetings don’t take place again.” Political parties would be named from putting up candidates in local elections if I had my way – but don’t get me started on that

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council was held on 8 February and you can read the minutes here. (Many of its matters are delegated to committees.)

• Local sports clubs in the Grove and Wantage area are helping Vale of White Horse District Council understand how money that’s coming in from new housing developments could be used to help provide appropriate new or improved leisure facilities for local residents.

• Click here for details of lateral flow tests that are available at The Beacon in Wantage.

• The Wantage & Grove Campaign Group keeps its eye on planning and related matters in the area – click here to see the archive. The most recent one (1 April) covers the forthcoming AGM on 14 April  see below); Wantage’s neighbourhood development plan; Wantage’s pedestrianisation; leisure funding; and various planning issues.

• The Wantage & Grove Campaign Group, the organisation will be hosting its AGM (by Zoom) on Wednesday 14 April – click here for details.

• Click here for a list of businesses offer click-and-collect services in Wantage town centre.

• South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils and their leisure contractor GLL, which runs the Better Leisure centres across the districts, have agreed on a phased approach to re-opening local leisure facilities.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can read the draft minutes here.

• It was agreed at the above-mentioned meeting that Grove’s Annual Parish Meeting will take place on Friday 23 April 2021 commencing at 7.30pm and will be held remotely on Zoom.

• Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire District Councils have agreed a partnership to help local businesses reduce their carbon footprint.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council took place on 12 January 2021 and you can download the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council took place on 20 January and you can download the minutes here.

• Click here for information the Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage Talking Newspaper (DAWN) for the blind and partially sighted. The organisers are currently appealing for help to keep the service going – click here for details.

• You can click here to see the April 2021 issue of the Letcombe Register which includes news from the villages’s groups and societies.

• Click here for information on the location of defibrillators in and around Wantage.

Thursday 1 April 2021

• The BBC reports that there were 43 CV-19 cases in the Vale of White Horse in the week 22-28 March, down 14 on the week before. This equates to 32 cases per 100,000. The average area in England has 39 (49 last week). See also this map from Gov.uk which enables figures at a much more local level to be obtained.

• The Herald reports this week on p2 of the ambitious (yet probably necessary) plans by the campaign group Railfuture to create an Oxford Metro service throughout the county (including a re-opened station service Grove and Wantage). More details can be seen on Railfuture’s website here. However, the article casts doubt on the extent to which this is supported by Oxfordshire CC or Oxford City Council.

It’s been officially announced that South Oxfordshire (SODC) and the Vale of White Horse have agreed to develop a joint Local Plan for the area to reduce costs and help the councils meet their ambitious targets for making the two districts carbon neutral. SODC had a bit of a run-in with the Secretary of State last year over its plan so perhaps this is seen as one way of dealing with the results. If two planning authorities have a shared local plan, it seems only then a short step towards their merging. They already share a number of things, including the main offices.

• The same two councils have agreed to offer a financial support package to GLL, the leisure contractor that manages leisure facilities across both districts, subject to formal agreements being entered into.

• And once again involving both councils – they appear increasingly inseparable – their combined building control service has been awarded the quality mark ISO 9001 for its provision of public sector building control and public protection services.

• Ah ha – now we come to something where they’re different. In her regular column on p8 of the Herald, Julie Mabberley’s looks at what appear to be differing Covid death rates across the two districts.

• In this week’s Herald, local historian Trevor Hancock tracks down a long-lost stained-glass window from Childrey to East Yorkshire.

• The same paper covers on p3 the tale of a lucky pensioner in Grove who scooped a £300,000 scratch card win on his 74th birthday.

• The most recent meeting of Wantage Town Council was held on 8 February and you can read the minutes here. (Many of its matters are delegated to committees.)

• Local sports clubs in the Grove and Wantage area are helping Vale of White Horse District Council understand how money that’s coming in from new housing developments could be used to help provide appropriate new or improved leisure facilitiesfor local residents.

• Click here for details of lateral flow tests that are available at The Beacon in Wantage.

• The Wantage & Grove Campaign Group keeps its eye on planning and related matters in the area – click here to see the archive. The most recent one (1 April) covers the forthcoming AGM on 14 April); Wantage’s neighbourhood development plan; Wantage’s pedestrianisation; leisure funding; and various planning issues.

• And still with the Wantage & Grove Campaign Group, the organisation will be hosting its AGM (by Zoom) on Wednesday 14 April – click here for details.

• Click here for a list of businesses offer click-and-collect services in Wantage town centre.

• As mentioned last week, South Oxfordshire and the Vale both seem to have done very well in recycling their residents’ rubbish.

• The most recent meeting of Grove Parish Council took place on 26 January and you can read the draft minutes here.

• Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire District Councils have agreed a partnership to help local businesses reduce their carbon footprint.

• The most recent meeting of Ardington & Lockinge Parish Council took place on 12 January 2021 and you can download the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of East Challow Parish Council took place on 20 January and you can download the minutes here.

• Click here for information the Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage Talking Newspaper (DAWN) for the blind and partially sighted. The organisers are currently appealing for help to keep the service going – click here for details.

• You can click here to see the April 2021 issue of the Letcombe Register which includes news from the villages’s groups and societies.

• Click here for information on the location of defibrillators in and around Wantage.

Sign up to the free weekly

Penny Post

e-newsletter 

for local, positive news, events, jobs, recipes, recommendations & more.

Covering: Hungerford, Marlborough, Wantage,   Lambourn, Newbury, Thatcham & Theale