The Buttercross clock face will once more be illuminated. The clock will light up between 5am to 8am and 4pm to 11pm over the autumn and winter months. Adjustments will be made to sync with British Summer Time when the clocks go forward again in spring.
We are hoping to be able to reinstate our very popular tea dance. Formerly, this ran for around two hours every Wednesday afternoon.
COVID 19 forced the event to be suspended and once we were able to open up the Corn Exchange again, our resident DJ had retired.
We have had enquiries from dozens of disappointed dancers and would be waltzers, and would love to be able to bring the dance back for them, so if you can commit to a couple of hours every Wednesday afternoon please let us know. We have all the sound equipment.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more or to arrange a chat with Tom.
West Oxfordshire District Council is reviewing its provision of litterbins across the district to make it easier for residents and visitors to dispose of their rubbish responsibly, helping to keep communities litter free.
At the same time, the Council is investing in new litter bins so that older bins, which are reaching the end of their useful life, can be swapped out for bins that are easier to empty and more visually pleasing to help keep towns and villages looking their best.
Currently, the Council manages and empties over 1,200 litter and dog waste bins. A programme has now begun to check the condition of all existing bins and that they are located where they will provide most benefit. Litter bins will also be sited at new locations if a need is identified as part of the project.
In the future, this may mean:
Where an existing litterbin is next to a dog waste bin, the dog waste bin may be removed as bagged dog waste is now accepted in with the general litter.
Where two bins are in close proximity to each other and where usage of the bins is low, one of the bins may be moved to another location where there is clear evidence of litter and where no bin is currently provided.
Residents will start to see a phasing out of separate litter and dog waste bins. These will be replaced by a brand new single bin, which reminds users to put both litter and dog waste into the bin. Over a hundred of these new style bins are already in use in the district and proving popular.
Eight Witney schools entered the Witney Town Council 2021 Schools Challenge. Each school received a wheelbarrow and compost, supported by our contractor ‘Continental Landscapes’ and Witney Town Council provided vouchers for each school to choose seeds or plants to fill the barrows with a planted display.
Nationally, at their shows this year, the Royal Horticultural Society adopted the theme ‘Power of Flowers’. The theme reflects the positive impact of plants on our health and wellbeing and we invited school children to adopt this theme for their planting scheme. There was no obligation to follow a colour scheme, or theme – original, children led designs were encouraged.
We were hugely impressed by the beautiful entries and all of the barrows were looking wonderful, right on time for judging day. Our Schools Challenge judges were Mayor of Witney – Joy Aitman, Senior Vice President of Witney Rotary Club – Coleen Hunter, and Thames and Chiltern region Royal Horticultural Society ‘In Bloom’ judges, Nigel Bishop and Paul Almond.
The judges had some very difficult decisions to make, with all of the barrows demonstrating lots of imagination, creativity and plant care. After much deliberation the overall winner was chosen as The Kings School entry, awarded with a £100 prize sponsored by Rotary Club of Witney.
Runners up were:
Mayors Special Award – Queen Emma’s Primary School
RHS Judges Choice – The Batt C of E Primary School
And the following schools are awarded certificates as category winners:
Power of Positivity – Tower Hill School
Most Inspiring – St Mary’s Infant School
Most Fragrant – Witney Community Primary School
Happiest Barrow – Madley Brook School
Most Ornamental – West Witney Primary School
Edible Oasis – The King’s School
Today we are launching our annual Christmas Card competition. There’s just around a month to get your entries in on the closing date of Monday 8th November. Imagine having your own design being used by the Mayor! You will have your own copies to send out too.
Every year we ask Witney’s children to get creative and design an official Christmas Card for the Mayor and this year is no different.
The Council is calling on all the children of primary school age living in Witney to help out. Your mission is to create a fabulous Christmas themed design.
The competition is open to all primary aged children creating designs at home, in school, with their Brownie pack or any other Witney organisation.
Below you can see some of the previous entries.
Don’t forget to pop your name, age, school and contact details on the picture when you return it.
The overall winning design will be made into the official card used by the Mayor and Town Council.
The Thames and Chiltern In Bloom judges have made their awards.
Witney Town Council is delighted that Tower Hill Cemetery which entered for the first time has got a very respectable Silver Gilt which is just one step below a Gold award.
At the same time the Leys retained its Gold status from when last judged 2 years ago. This is a great testament to all the work that continued throughout the Pandemic, to keep our parks and green spaces accessible and safe for users.
Our thanks go to staff on the teams responsible for looking after these areas and to our contractors. It’s a great result for the town which along with our town wide planting and community gardens, has provided Witney with another colourful summer.
Feedback from the judges for Tower Hill Cemetery included the following comments:
This is a well maintained cemetery in a lovely peaceful and tranquil setting. Large mature beech trees add to the aesthetic value of this site.
The two chapels are in good condition although one is used for storage, while the other is functional.
AREAS OF ACHIEVEMENT
The control of traffic movements within the cemetery, with the use of moveable bollards, restricting access to certain areas at different time of the day.
A good level of DDA compliance, given the undulating nature of the site. This is very helpful to visitors.
The regular inspection of headstones, as a duty of care, involving the relatives of the bereaved, where possible, to use a Topple Tester to test the stability of their relatives’ headstone and to take the necessary action if required.
The high standard of Topiary was excellent and noted as an attractive feature.
AREAS FOR DEVELOPMENT
There is an ageing tree population within the cemetery. As a duty of care these fantastic trees are inspected on a regular basis by a private company. As the trees are removed on safety grounds, they are replaced which is to be commended. Unfortunately some have failed.
There were areas set aside for wild flowers, but these have not been successful this year.
The Judges noted that the rose bed adjacent to the chapel was in need of weeding.
It would be nice to try and encourage the small group of people who used to maintain the small flower beds adjacent to the chapel to return. They will need encouragement and reassurance if they are to come back to working in this environment.
Feedback from the judges for The Leys included the following comments:
It was an absolute pleasure to visit The Leys again and see the park full of activity. The judges were impressed by the range of facilities on offer and the standards achieved by the Town Council staff, their contractors Continental Landscapes Ltd. Well done to all involved.
AREAS OF ACHIEVEMENT The community involvement throughout the park is a credit to all involved, evidence was plain to see including the major events such as the Witney Feast, and visiting fairs, to the formal and informal sports, the churches together tree planting scheme, the school wheelbarrow planting competition and the fairtrade planted troughs planted by volunteers.
The park was well presented with a high standard of horticultural and grounds maintenance which was appropriate for a Town Park well used by the public.
The Arboricultural management is comprehensive with regular proactive inspections/surveys, any identified work recommendations were undertaken with applications made to the Districts Conservation Officer. Judges were impressed with the focus on successional planting and the new avenue of oaks should ensure tree cover is maintained for future generations to enjoy.
The park was free from litter and there was a programme of repairs and maintenance of street furniture. The introduction of dual units for litter and recycling was a real improvement and it was noted that this was being well received and used by the public with little or no contamination experienced in the recycling sections of the bins.
AREAS FOR DEVELOPMENT
Some areas of paving within the park will need attention to prevent trip hazards, the surface around the new War Memorial, tarmac path in the park outside the golf facility, and main path where the avenue of trees between the fairground site and the sports pitch area is heaving due to tree roots.
The levels of the slabs on the entrance to play area needs raising where water puddles following inclement weather.
The public toilets are an essential public facility for such a busy park and were nice and clean, unfortunately, on the day of judging the interior lights were not working.
Seventeen new trees to replace felled, diseased, dead or failing trees have been delivered ready for planting in November.
Careful planning was made for the suitability of the site for each of the trees. Those for the Leys, for example were selected for the impact of their autumn colour. In Queen Emma’s Dyke the new trees replacing the large willows that were felled are much more suitably sized for the area.
Tower Hill will see four new varieties planted that will be in keeping with the arboretum feel of the cemetery.
As part of Witney Town Council’s commitment to the environment and desire to plant more trees, three larger, semi-mature, 5 year old trees, grown on and donated to the Town Council are also waiting to go in at new sites across the town.
In another innovative first for the town, Witney Town Council has installed a sedum roofed shelter as the long awaited replacement for a damaged shelter that had been removed, in Burwell Drive. The new living roof, vandal-proof shelter is the first of its kind in the whole of Oxfordshire.
The bus stop in Burwell is well used and busy and the shelter had been sorely missed, so the replacement is very welcome.
The upper panels of the shelter are ‘vandal-proof’ and perforated to allow good all round visibility.
The shelter has 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 local environment, absorbing carbon, and improving air quality. It’s also a safe haven for bees and other insects.
Plus of course, it’s a rather lovely surprise when spotted from the top deck as a bus pulls up alongside.
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.
Cllr Ruth Smith, Witney Town Councillor for the Central ward and Chair of Climate, Biodiversity & Planning, said,
“We are delighted to be able to provide this innovative bus shelter. Residents have rightly asked for a replacement. The Town Council fully supports bus travel – it’s greener than individual cars and is essential for all who don’t drive.
The green roof adds a little waypoint on insect corridors and biodiversity beyond grass, because it’s sedum plants.
We trust that this shelter will be treated respectfully. Let’s all talk about its usefulness so that even those tempted to vandalise it hear and think again.”
Star Flyer, Space, Superstar, Extreme, Jumping Frogs, Dominator, Stargate. These are all rides that you are likely to encounter at Witney Feast this year!
It is with great delight that Witney Town Council welcomes the Feast back to its historic home on The Leys after COVID-19 stole the show last year.
Meetings and conversations have been taking place over the past few months to ensure that everything is in place to make the fair a fun and successful family event for everyone. A huge amount of work from both the fair organisers and the Town Council goes into making an event of this kind possible, and especially in a year where things still feel very tentative, post-pandemic regulations.
It’s set to be a spectacular return. Along with traditional rides such as the Waltzer and Dodgems there is the Wild Mouse roller coaster and a family friendly smaller version – the Dragon Coaster.
Many of the rides that come to Witney are exclusive and not seen in Oxford at the St Giles fair.
So, if you fancy a ride aboard the Star Flyer 200 feet up in the air, or a wander through the biggest fun house in Europe at four storeys high, right here in the heart of Witney is the place to be.
The Witney Feast will take place on Monday 13th and Tuesday 14th September with the traditional Golden Gallopers service on the evening of Sunday 12th.
If you are longing to find out more, tune in to Windrush Radio at 11am on Sunday 12th and hear Emily Wilson, her daughter-in law and two granddaughters talking you through everything you need to know about the Feast.
We are in touch with Nicole’s family and aware of the petition. The family have been invited to meet with key Councillors and Officers, and we are keen to listen and offer support to them as they try to come to terms with this tragic accident.
We completely understand the desire to do something tangible to prevent any further loss of life, and indeed this is our priority too. Given the number of similar flooded pits, rivers and other accessible areas of open water, and the hidden dangers that all of them pose, it feels that the most meaningful course of action is for us to work with the rescue services and schools to roll out an education programme. Hopefully, this will ensure that as many people as possible are aware of the dangers, even to experienced and confident swimmers, and choose safe swimming and water play options instead.
The Town Council is actively reviewing its risk assessment and health & safety in response to the tragic accident to see where additional safety measures can further mitigate risks to the Lake and Country Park users. We have already increased warning signage at every point where people may access the lake and will be adding different types of signage, including pictorial signage, so that the warnings are much clearer to everyone. We have also instructed an independent health and safety audit to be carried out, in order that we can feel confident our response is as robust as it can be.
As part of our longer-term approach, we will also be looking at the viability of introducing a lido to Witney to provide a safe outdoor swimming space for our town, including talking to other levels of local government to assess how this may best be facilitated, if considered feasible.
The hearts of the community, including every single person who works at or represents the Council are with the family at what must be an unthinkably distressing and painful time, and we do hope to work together so we can all feel confident that any further loss of life in open water is prevented.
Tuesday 3rd August saw the handover of a new and inspiring flagship allotment site at Windrush Place in Witney as the keys were handed over to Barry Jessel, the Chair of Witney Allotment Society, by the Mayor of Witney, Cllr Joy Aitman.
The site is the result of a project that centres upon green initiatives, designed to support Witney Town Council’s commitment to act on climate change. The site also places a firm emphasis on both accessibility and community.
The 55 regular plots are a mix of standard sizes with a small number of half and smaller plots aimed at supporting novice gardeners. Each plot has its own tool shed and a water butt for harvesting rainwater. There is an eco, composting toilet on site, compost bins and a shared secure container. A community hub building, which will act as a social meeting point is to be installed in the next few months.
There are two accessible plots for gardeners with less mobility just inside the entrance to the site. These have their own parking spaces, accessible tool sheds and accessible composting toilet.
The project is the result of the hard work of the team at Witney Town Council, along with that of contractors who had to deal with unseasonable weather over the spring, and then a heatwave in July.
The allotments are now ready to be handed over so that cultivation of the plots can begin. Two of the new plot-holders were first on site, for the handover and keen to get a first look at their plots.
These are Witney’s first new allotments for around 30 years and the waiting list reflects this. Witney Allotment Society holds the waiting list and has been overwhelmed by applications for all the sites.
Cllr Melanie Jones, Chair of the Halls, Cemeteries and Allotments committee, is looking forward to seeing the fruits of everyone’s labours;
“I am very pleased that the new allotments are now ready for people start getting productive. Witney Town Council wish our new gardeners huge success and bountiful crops”
Witney Town Council is delighted to be opening its Youth Funding Grant to applications again.
This is an exciting opportunity for community and voluntary sector organisations, including existing organisations and those in the process of setting up.
Applications are open for one month until 1st September 2021. Successful submissions will be projects that have a measurable impact on key issues affecting our young people and that promote positive futures.
The Council will look favourably on those who create opportunities to be accessible to all young people, therefore applications demonstrating how they will extend their reach to young people who have not previously engaged with these opportunities are encouraged.
Applicants will need to meet criteria as set out in the application process and will also be required to report back on the success of the project for which funds have been granted. They will be notified of final decisions in mid-October.