Each year part of the budget setting process undertaken by Witney Town Council entails reviewing expenditure from previous years and calculating an expected cost for the year ahead.
Predicting the cost of vandalism and associated anti-social behaviour is very difficult since it fluctuates so much, year on year.
The figures for the municipal year 2018/19, so far, record 21 incidents of damage or theft costing in total, just over £4,000. Twelve of these occurred in play and sports areas, four in bus shelters, three in our cemeteries and a further one each at the Lake and Country Park and Lakeside allotments.
Newland bus shelter has been targeted 3 times with panels being burned, resulting in the need to replace both the Perspex and the community art work displayed. More recently, the inside of the shelter has been subjected to graffiti. This has added £480 to the cost of the original refurbishment of the shelter and installation of the art work.
The implementation of risk management measures by Witney Town Council helps to reduce the impact and cost associated with vandalism to some extent, but repairing and replacing damaged equipment still takes money away from other areas where it could be usefully spent.
It is easy to dismiss vandalism as a minor offence, but actually it has a big impact on communities and distorts the perception of a cared for and safe environment for both residents and visitors to the town.
A spokesperson for Witney Town Council said,
“Witney has a great community spirit. However, there is a small but determined minority who choose to ruin things for others. The council cannot afford to continue endlessly replacing and repairing at the expense of the council taxpayer. We would far rather spend money on enhancing our town’s existing facilities and investing in future projects to meet the needs of our growing town. “
Although the Town Council operates a policy of regular inspection and is quick to repair, remove or prevent access to damaged equipment, the repeated destruction is disheartening when hardworking community groups within the town are fundraising to provide new play areas where they live.
The chair of the Community Services Committee commented,
“At each Community Services Committee meeting we receive a number of reports and sadly the vandalism report is one that isn’t getting any shorter. That being said our works team are quick to respond and will always prioritise making areas safe to use. “
In the latest incident the dry stone wall separating Tower Hill Cemetery and Fieldmere Play area has an extensive hole where the wall has been kicked down over the Easter Weekend. This will cost around £1000 to repair. A good deal of this cost will be offset as the town council’s own works team are skilled in dry stone walling.
The Town Council reports all incidences of vandalism to the Police. If anyone has witnessed any acts of vandalism or has information about those responsible they are asked to contact Witney Town Council on 01993 704379 or Crimestoppers, anonymously on 0800-555111. If you witness vandalism actually taking place please call 101 to report it.
The Town Clerk has sent the following letter on behalf of the Mayor of Witney to Madame Lilyane Lissignol, the Mayor of Le Touquet, expressing sympathy for the devastation of Notre Dame Cathedral
We heard the news of the fire in Notre Dame Cathedral with dismay. Though it is hard to imagine the depth of your sense of loss at the devastation of such an ancient and cherished part of your country’s heritage, the shock and sadness is shared by your friends in your twin town of Witney.
We hope the firefighter who was injured makes a speedy recovery and we are thankful that no lives were lost in the battle to save this historic landmark.
We extend our best wishes to you and your countrymen and hope that you are able to preserve and restore as much as possible of this magnificent building and its contents.
Witney Town Council is currently recruiting for the following position:
MAINTENANCE FOREMAN [ASSISTING THE OPERATIONS & ESTATES OFFICER]
Reporting to: Operations & Estates Officer
Responsible for: Staff – Maintenance team Resources – Budget control within sphere of work
Hours: 37 hours per week
[Flexible as some early mornings/evenings and week-end work will be required, as well as being on a rota for emergency call outs]
Grade/Salary: SCP 22-26 £26,317 to £29,636
Location: The Leys Depot
Job Summary:To head up the Council’s Maintenance Team and co-ordinate planned and responsive facilities management, maintenance and repairs across a wide range of premises and services. There is also a requirement to manage services contracted out and other contracts.To be responsible for the duties associated with the burial of the dead and cremated remains within the Council’s Cemeteries.Working with the Operations and Estates Officer and the Public Halls Officer ensuring services, buildings and premises are compliant with relevant legislation and Council policy. In particular providing technical support on the on-going maintenance, security and safety of Council premises/facilities.The post holder will also be required to assist the Operations and Estates Officer in the delivery of projects, both minor and major. The post holder will work closely with technical teams and contractors.
Full details on our Vacancies Page
Have you had your say in this year’s survey yet?
Our yearly survey aims to find out what you think about the Town Council Services and to gather feedback from you about which planned projects you see as a priority. Once we have your feedback detailed plans can be put in place.
To take our survey you can visit Survey Monkey here
In a break with tradition the Mayor for 2018-19, Cllr Brenda Churchill has decided to help as many local groups and charities as possible in her year as Mayor by fundraising towards a ‘Mayor’s Charity Fund’.
It is the Mayor’s sincere hope that local Witney groups/charities will be able to apply for small grants from this fund to carry out smaller scale projects, which it can often be difficult to obtain funding for and which have a direct benefit to Witney residents.
Applications are now being welcomed for a grant by way of an application administered by Witney Town Council.
A completed application form with any accompanying information (please see the awarding policy above) should be returned to the; Mayor’s Grant-aid Applications 2018-19, Witney Town Council, Town Hall, Witney, OX28 6AG by 3rd May 2019. Successful applications will be notified by 15th May 2019.
Thanks to Forces Support, Bereavement and Veterans charity, visitors to Tower Hill cemetery are now able to take a seat in the old section of the cemetery while visiting the Commonwealth War Graves. The cemetery contains around a dozen war graves and the beautiful steel, handmade bench is sited in a section which contains 4 marked graves and one unmarked. The generous offer of the bench by Forces Support who have recently moved their HQ into West Oxfordshire, was made during last year’s WWI centenary year which saw the war graves covered in blankets of scarlet poppies.
It’s very fitting that the bench which features a poppy and the words ‘Lest We Forget’ overlooks the single unmarked war grave in the section, which is that of American, John Christiansen. Christiansen, a member of the RAF, died thousands of miles from his homeland in an accident at Witney Aerodrome aged just 28 years old in September1918.
The Witney Gazette report of his funeral states that, ‘In the pretty little cemetery at Witney he lies and his family can be assured that his last resting place will be carefully tended by the inhabitants for whom he gave his life.’
One hundred years on the grave is the focus for the new bench, along with a Centenary Oak tree sapling given by Oxfordshire County Council, in partnership with The Woodland Trust. Snowdrops surround the bench and make it the perfect stopping off point for those wishing to pay their respects.
Mayor of Witney Cllr Brenda Churchill, thanked Forces Support for their generous gift saying;
‘It’s the perfect bench to have there among the War Graves, a very thoughtful donation at an appropriate time by Forces Support and I am sure that it will be appreciated by everyone that visits. The location of the bench at that particular spot means that the town of Witney continues to fulfil this most honourable of obligations to Corporal Christiansen and his family’.