Category Archives: Local Services

Vale Liberal Democrats support the OneOxfordshire proposal

The Liberal Democrat group of Vale of White Horse unanimously supports the proposal for a new countywide single unitary authority.

You can read more about the proposal here: http://www.oneoxfordshire.org/

We said this about that in a press release:

Today the Vale of White Horse DC Liberal Democrat Group have put forward the following motion for Full Council on the 15th of February that “This Council supports the proposal for a new countywide unitary authority”.  This motion has been accepted for debate. It has been proposed because Vale Liberal Democrats now feel that a county wide unitary is in the very best interests of the people of Oxfordshire.

VWHDC Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Cllr Debby Hallett said:

“This proposal could lead to annual savings of some £20 million per annum within three years, which equates to £60,000 per day. These savings can be used to maintain and enhance the front line services people rely on, such as children’s centres, bus services, and social care for children and adults. The proposed structure, using area boards, preserves the democratic representation of local people and issues; local people will still be at the heart of decision making on local issues.”

On behalf of Vale Liberal Democrat Group

Cllr Debby Hallett, Leader

Sunday Trading Laws – Consultation through 10 Sep 2015

Government are considering changes to the Sunday trading laws, to allow larger shops to stay open longer on Sunday.

For details on the changes being considered, and how to submit your views, see the Vale’s website: http://www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/news/2015/2015-08/sunday-trading-hours-could-change-%E2%80%93-how-will-affect-you

This consultation is open now, and closes 10 Sept 2015.

Waste recycling strategy – Consultation through 5 Oct 15

Oxfordshire County Council needs to save money; we hear that loud and clear.

One strategy they are exploring is to reduce the number of Household Waste Recycling Centres  (HWRCs) from seven to three or four.

See what the Vale has to say about it here: http://www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/news/2015/2015-08/residents-urged-air-concerns-over-recycling-centre-proposals

To learn more about what’s proposed, and make your views known, go to the County Council website, here: https://consultations.oxfordshire.gov.uk/consult.ti/HWRCstrategy/consultationHome

If we get a gym in West Way…

I’m becoming more concerned about how Doric’s plan for a pay-as-you-go gym will affect the Brookes sports services. In particular, I worry about the long term financial viability of the popular swimming pool used by hundreds of local people.

The Brookes Sports Centre is largely supported by community memberships. Only a small percentage of money comes from students and the university. These local memberships subsidise the cost of the pool, just barely.

I fear a loss of memberships at Brookes would mean the pool would be no longer affordable.

That would be an irreplaceable loss to our school children and other people who swim there.

Vale Budget – my proposal

Your Vale Lib Dem councillors proposed an extra £100K to the Vale budget for 2012-13 for revitalisation of main shopping areas, especially Botley. As the seconder to the proposal, I spoke spoke to council about the need for extra funding in North Hinksey/Botley:

…The Westway Centre is to also have major new development, and to make way for it, the buildings housing Seacourt Hall and our beloved library will be demolished. This proposal would provide money that would go some way to putting in place real plans to ensure the community gets replacement library and community hall.

This year, the rate of deterioration of Westway precinct has increased:

–  two units are long-term vacancies, one has serious internal damage that makes it hard to rent;

–    police ejected squatters from the flats above the Co-op;

–    outdoor light fixtures have broken and fallen onto the pavements in the precinct.

Shoppers report they no longer feel safe there. In Botley!

North Hinksey is doing its share to meet the Vale’s housing needs. In order to revitalise the main shopping area for thousands of residents, I’d like to see some extra money targeted to bring this shopping area up to the standards the Vale council holds for other shopping areas.

Support came from all councillors from Cumnor, Dean Court, Appleton, Kennington, Radley, North Hinksey & Wytham, except for Cllr Eric Batts of North Hinksey & Wytham, who voted against.

Westway Development – Pre-consulation meeting

Matt Prosser, Strategic Director for Vale of White Horse District Council, spoke to about  150 local residents and traders in a public ‘pre-consultation update’ about Westway Centre redevelopment on 29 Feb 2012.

Several current property owners, including the Vale, have formed a consortium to sell their land to a developer. The site for sale comprises the vacant Grant Thornton building, the building housing NatWest, cleaners, library and Elms Court flats, Seacourt Hall, Botley Baptist church, the car park and part of the Coop. The sale will generate a capital receipt, part of which is intended to fund the refurbishment of the main precinct.

Most of the meeting was a question and answer session. Here are some highlights:

Tony Wood, local resident and business owner, asked if it was certain to be retail space. Matt said  yes, it’s likely to be a combination of retail, residential and car parking, but there are no definite plans yet.  It’s also part of the plan to provide a community hall and a library.

Mike Sage, chairman of the successful Save Botley Library campaign, asked for assurance that the Vale was working as hard as possible to ensure the library will stay in the centre of Botley. Matt told us that the library is a county responsibility, that the county has stated their intention for the library to stay, and that the Vale are in close communication with county officers on this issue.

County Cllr Janet Godden asked what could be done to minimise vacancies and keep the community ticking over during this period of change. Matt said they will keep rents attractive and allow short term leases.

Some people were puzzled about why this meeting at this time, and commented that it seemed premature as there are no plans to comment on. Matt said, ‘We came at the invitation of North Hinksey parish council to hear what your concerns are.’

The timescale is estimated to be 2 to 4 years. The next step is for the developers to submit a proposal, after which there will be a public consultation. Then will come a formal planning application and another consultation. Matt Prosser said he hopes there will be a planning application by the end of this year.

Online consultation is open now through the 5th of April for the initial gathering of comments. See the consultation and background information at: http://www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/about-us/tell-us-what-you-think/current-consultations/westway-area-development

Proposed extra money for Westway Centre defeated

At the February Vale council meeting, the following amendment to the Tory budget was proposed by Councillor Tony de Vere and seconded by Councillor Debby Hallett:

“This Council wishes to increase its funding to support the vitality of our towns and main shopping areas, including an increased expenditure on Botley.  The revenue expenditure should be increased by a one-off figure of £100,000 for the year 2012/13.”

Cllr De Vere said:

The amendment seeks to increase the financial support to the vitality of our towns and main shopping areas by making an additional £100,000 available – in particularly supporting the retail sector. I am not going to be too specific about what and where, although would highlight previous examples where this Council has supplemented projects undertaken by other authorities in improving the retail and community environment in our shopping areas. I know that my colleague Cllr Hallett will draw your attention to the Botley Westway shopping area and we acknowledge the development plans currently in discussion. There is a £30,000 budget proposal for strategic property advice, but I think this Council must also acknowledge the important community facilities element that goes alongside this development and we must make plans now for the relocation of the parish council’s and community activities at the Seacourt Hall. So I would propose that some of this increased expenditure is used for this cause.

No doubt there are other projects in our three main market towns that would welcome support from this Council and I am convinced that with the advent of New Homes Bonus money, which seeks to reward Councils for their progress in housing growth, we should take the opportunity to plough a small fraction of this money back into our communal shopping areas.

Cllr Hallett said:

North Hinskey and neighbouring Cumnor are about to begin a period of rapid growth, with development expected soon on hundreds of new homes now that Thames Water is addressing the sewerage capacity problems. The Westway Centre is to also have major new development, and to make way for it, the buildings housing Seacourt Hall and our beloved library will be demolished. This amendment would provide money that would go some way to putting in place real plans to ensure the community gets replacement library and community hall.

Council has previously made clear its commitment to the revitalisation of our town centres and retail areas. Westway Centre didn’t benefit from the new free parking scheme, because parking was already free there.

This year, the rate of deterioration of West Way precinct has increased:

  • two units are long-term vacancies, one has serious internal damage that makes it hard to rent;
  • a storm brought down large parts of trees which were found to be diseased and so were removed;
  • police ejected squatters from the flats above the Co-op;
  • outdoor light fixtures have broken and fallen onto the pavements in the precinct.

Shoppers report they no longer feel safe there. In Botley!

North Hinksey is doing its share to meet the Vale’s housing needs. In order to revitalise the main shopping area for thousands of residents, I’d like to see some extra money targeted to bring this shopping area up to the standards the Vale council holds for other shopping areas.

The vote:

All district councillors from Cumnor, Dean Court, Appleton, Kennington, Radley, North Hinksey and Wytham voted for this proposal, except for Cllr Eric Batts of North Hinksey & Wytham, who voted against.

Reprieve for petrol station?

Word from the Vale’s planning officers is that the Seacourt Retail Park redevelopment is proceeding along the lines of an earlier application, approved in 2008, rather than the newer 2010 application that was met with so many objections to the closure of the last petrol station in the area.

The project will see three stores (those once occupied by Allied Carpets and Habitat, plus Homebase) re-vamped and sub-divided into seven stores. It has minor car park changes, but keeps the same overall footprint and traffic flow. The really good news is that they have no plans to close the petrol station.

The approved plans can be seen on the Vale’s planning portal http://bit.ly/wOOSoh).

August 2011 Bank Holiday Waste Collection

Waste collections in the Vale will run a day later than normal next week following the bank holiday on Monday 29 August.

The Vale service will collect recycling and food bins plus brown bins.

Collections on Saturday 3 September will start from 6am, an hour earlier than usual, so if this is your collection day, make sure your bins are out the night before.

Collections will return to normal on Monday 5 September.

Full details of collections can be found at www.morerecycling.co.uk or by calling 03000 610610.

You can sign up to get a free text message to remind you when to put your bins out when the day changes due to bank holiday or bad weather. To register, send a message with the word ‘waste’ and your collection day (eg, ‘Waste Thursday’) to 07797 870371.

Government grants available – Safer Communities

New government funding is available to help communities build safer neighbourhoods

The Home Office is inviting organisations from the voluntary sector to apply for a share of £10 million to enable communities tackle crime and anti-social behaviour.

The ‘Community Action Against Crime: Innovation Fund’ aims to bring together active citizens and encourage new ways of working with communities to build safer neighbourhoods. £5 million is available this year and a further £5 million has been set aside for 2012/12.

For further information about the new Home Office funding, please visit http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/crime/partnerships/innovation-fund/.

This funding will support voluntary organisations in getting on with the job of building strong and safe communities in their own innovative way, working alongside Community Safety Partnerships and other agencies.

The South and Vale Community Safety Partnership (of which the district council is a lead member) supports local voluntary organisations to help reduce crime and the fear of crime in the Vale of White Horse. For example, the partnership gave funding for a project in Abingdon to help young people stay out of trouble and build self-esteem, whilst developing a sense of worth and making a positive impact on the community.

You can find out more about South and Vale Community Safety Partnership on our website.

Contact
Katharine Doherty
01491 823615
katharine.doherty@southandvale.gov.uk.