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.
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.