Throughout the pandemic lockdowns people relied a great deal on access to our parks and open public spaces. Survey responses constantly highlight how much they are valued by our residents, while research supports how closely access to good quality public spaces links to high levels of good mental and physical wellbeing and the quality of life in general.
Witney Town Council is custodian of a large variety of freely available open spaces, from formal parks (three of which are protected Fields in Trust), play and recreation areas, sports pitches, even a Tiny Forest, to small areas of amenity land, cemeteries and allotments. Each of them a green oasis.
Following consultation with partners and stakeholders, it has recently drafted an Open Spaces Strategy which was adopted formally at the Full Council Meeting on 28th June.
The Open Spaces Strategy is an essential tool, and a carefully considered plan for the management, improvement and development of open spaces to a high standard and quality which meets local needs.
Taking a snapshot of where the town is now, what works well, examining shortfalls in provision, and where improvements are necessary and what the town will need in the future are just some of the areas that have been investigated. The resulting Action plan addresses five key themes.
Leader of the Council, Cllr Luci Ashbourne commented;
“Our Open Spaces Strategy is a valuable, aspirational and ambitious document that is the product of Witney Town Council listening to, reflecting on, and understanding the views of the people of Witney.
The strategy will underpin The Council’s ability to meet the needs, and enhance the lives of our beautiful community for many years to come.”
The land management plan referred to in Appendix A is difficult to read in printed format because the original is so large. so best viewed on the website
It was with great sadness that I heard the news of the tragic death of a young girl from our town yesterday afternoon. As a parent, I know that this is your worst nightmare and I understand the pain that the family and their friends are going through and my heart goes out to them. The whole of Witney will join in offering them their condolences and support. I must also thank the emergency services for their prompt action in very difficult circumstances. They must have returned to their duties with a heavy heart. I will also be thinking today of the schools and how they will comfort our young people as they come to terms with their loss.
The aim is to involve Witney’s young people in local government, giving them a voice within the town and the opportunity to help shape their community with other young people in mind.
What are the benefits of being involved?
Improve self esteem and confidence
Great opportunities for personal development
Expand your skills and knowledge bank
It’s a great addition to your CV
Add Value to Your Community
Promote a positive image of the town and young people and improve relationships between older and younger people in the community
Be part of the democratic process and get involved in the decisions that affect young people in the town
Learn about your community and develop an understanding of political processes, citizenship and representation
How Does it Work?
Witney’s Youth Council consists of 14 members (residents of Witney) drawn from schools and youth organisations to give a good cross section of the town a chance to be involved. The members range between 12 and 18 years old.
You will have your own annual budget of £500 a year to support events and projects you have resolved to work on.
Youth Council meets 6 times a year at meetings that are timetabled to fall 2 weeks before each Full Council meetings. In this way your minutes and resolutions can be approved in a timely manner so that you can get started on the things that matter to you with little delay.
A long awaited replacement for a shelter removed due to constant vandalism is to be installed in Burwell Drive. The site is being prepared and it is hoped the new vandal-proof shelter will be in place by mid to late August.
A City Haven shelter with Sedum living roof
City Haven shelters have a living roof planted with sedums. This provides a wide range of benefits to the urban environment. It
absorbs rainwater, reduces stormflow, captures dust and pollutants from the air – and regulates temperatures.
Adding plants in urban spaces has plenty of other benefits, including: reducing noise pollution, reducing stress, increasing biodiversity, beautifying the city, absorbing carbon, and improving air quality. It’s also a safe haven for bees and other insects.
The decision to include a living roof for the new shelter is in keeping with Witney Town Council’s commitment to finding more sustainable solutions, and meeting its climate emergency objectives.
Despite giving her time to several local charitable enterprises during lockdown, our Mayor, Councillor Joy Aitman is looking forward to picking up the pace still more with the easing of lockdown restrictions! We asked her about experiences of a very odd term of office.
“Starting my year as Mayor during a pandemic was certainly unique. I received my chain virtually and the usual rounds of visits and attending functions were much curtailed. I spent a fair amount of time explaining to the media why we were cancelling some of our favourite town events. I was particularly sad to not host The Mayor’s Carol Service.
There was however lots going on behind the scenes where your Town Councillors and the amazing Town Officers worked relentlessly to maintain not only business as usual but so much more. I am so proud of all their service to the town.
So many of our residents rose to the occasion too. I have had the happy task of signing our Witney Heroes certificates. I frequently shed a tear when I read of the selfless acts of kindness and community, and I have been delighted to see people’s reactions to receiving them. During lockdowns I was privileged to work alongside the volunteers at Witney Fridge – packing food deliveries, The Land Army – delivering prescriptions and Witney Baby Bank – delivering nappies, wipes and formula
There has been sadness in our losses and in our new ways of living, working & schooling. Families and friends have been separated during the hardest times. However the separation seems to have brought us closer together and an appreciation of the simpler things in life. The chaos and hurt caused by the pandemic will be felt for many years to come, and we will focus the council on repairing and rebuilding over the next years.
Just as some families were harder hit than others, some will need more support to recover. As residents we must continue to help each other on this journey. We must learn to be patient as people integrate back in to the new normal and realise that it may take some longer than others, everyone will do it at their own pace.
I am so delighted to be elected as Mayor for another year, alongside my lovely Deputy, Cllr. Liz Duncan. Hopefully we will be back out and about meeting you all. Do contact us if you would like our presence at your event.
I am also excited to be able to hold fundraising events in our newly refurbished Corn Exchange. I can’t wait to invite residents to join me for a cup of tea in our 1863 Cafe Bar. One of my first dates was with Ted Allum a resident on Smith’s Estate, who celebrated his 100th birthday during our first lockdown. We were finally able to meet to celebrate his 101st birthday. Ted is a true gentleman and it was a delight to spend time with him and Councillor Andrew Coles.
I had an interesting visit to a local Witney company, Moshon Data, who manufacture soft targets for the car industry to enable them to test Auto Emergency Breaking. As part of Global Road Safety Week they demonstrated how technology will help to reduce low collision accidents. I was a passenger in a car that was driven at the soft target that represented a 7 year old child. It was fantastic to see how fatalities can be prevented.”
Whenever possible Joy has been out and about supporting local groups and events and will be happy to be able to commit to more of this.
In May Witney Pride held a series of very successful online events and a Pride Walk, which Joy was delighted to support.
And in July, the Mayor supported the lunch of the very first pop up cafe for the Good Grief Trust. The trust aims to plug the gaps in local bereavement support & bring the bereaved together.
If you are not yet familiar with this new system it is worth following the link below to the main menu page and exploring all the links. You can find our minutes agendas and reports here too, along with details of all our councillors and committees.
With the pause in the lifting of COVID restrictions, the opening of the Splash Park is also on hold until July 19th at the earliest provided that the Government Roadmap out of Lockdown is on track at that point. We will carefully monitor that and review plans accordingly.
The Leys splash park operates with unchlorinated water and is housed within the adventure play area in close proximity to the play equipment which means that it doesn’t allow for safe social distancing following the current government guidelines for Covid-19.
We know that this is disappointing and Witney Town Council is looking forward to being able to reopen this facility as soon as restrictions allow. The splash park has been commissioned and all testing carried out so it is ready to go as soon as we have the green light.
Witney Town Council’s Design a Christmas Light competition is back this year. It’s a great opportunity for children to have a piece of their artwork displayed among the Christmas lights.
Here are Jude and Daisy with their recent winning designs.
The competition is open to any child currently at Primary School in Witney and is sponsored by Scott Fraser. The winning design will be turned into a light and installed on the Town Hall ready for the Switch On.
Entries can be submitted via email or post and we have provided a template for you to use or you can just draw a square on an A4 sheet of paper to use. Please return your entries to:
firstname.lastname@example.org or Witney Town Council, Town Hall, Witney OX28 6AG
Deadline extended to 4.30pm on the 23rd July.
Don’t forget to pop your name, age, school and contact details on the picture when you return it.
You are invited to a Zoom webinar.
When: Jun 8, 2021 06:00 PM London
Topic: Climate, Biodiversity & Planning
Please click the link below to join the webinar:
Or One tap mobile :
United Kingdom: +443300885830,,94671613275#,,,,*478285# or +441314601196,,94671613275#,,,,*478285#
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
United Kingdom: +44 330 088 5830 or +44 131 460 1196 or +44 203 481 5237 or +44 203 481 5240 or +44 203 901 7895 or +44 208 080 6591 or +44 208 080 6592
Webinar ID: 946 7161 3275
International numbers available: https://zoom.us/u/aK9uCtOoa
Covid-19 affected us all and brought many changes to our daily lives.
In Witney we have been celebrating our COVID Heroes by nominating local people, organisations and businesses whose incredible and selfless acts of kindness may otherwise have gone unnoticed.
You can continue to nominate these amazingly generous folks on the Witney Covid Heroes page of our website.
On 5th July Witney Town Council will also be taking part in the first #NHSDay NHS, Social Care & Frontline Workers’ Day, a national day of thanks, and remembrance of those who lost their lives because of COVID-19.
Witney Town Council will be flying a special flag and will light up the Corn Exchange in blue to honour them.