Council Calls for River Clean Up

Following the discovery of sewage fungus in Queen Emma’s Dyke, Colwell Brook and the River Windrush, Witney Town Council has written to Thames Water expressing its deep concern about sewage being released and pumped into our local rivers and watercourses. The letter also comments on fears concerning the damage to the health of the bodies of water and associated health risks to residents of the town and their pets who may come into contact with the pollution. It ends by requesting that Thames Water, with the Environment Agency, takes urgent steps to curtail this and provides a clear and credible response to prevent this situation occurring again, by the end of this year.

A second letter is being penned to the Environment Agency to urge them to review and monitor the situation and requesting assurances that everything possible is being done to remedy the situation.

The letters were proposed in a motion to Council on Monday evening, by Councillor Andrew Prosser and seconded by Councillor Ruth Smith.

Vice Chair of the Planning and Development Committee, Cllr Prosser says;

Recent events have demonstrated that the current infrastructure and enforcement processes for the treatment of sewage here are not fit for purpose, and I am seriously concerned about the potential impacts on residents, their pets, and aquatic life in the river itself.  Thames Water and the Environment Agency need to take urgent remedial steps, and to detail what actions they planning to take to prevent sewage pollution of our rivers and water courses in the future”

As riparian owners of the Queen Emma’s Dyke Stream and part of the River Windrush that flows through the Lake and Country Park area, the Town Council has chosen to install signage to highlight the danger of the pollution to dogs entering the water in this area and in Colwell Brook which feeds in. The signs alert dog walkers of the existence of treated sewage in the water and advises that dogs should not enter the water. Dogs that have been in the river or stream should be discouraged from entering the lake in order to minimise the risk of the spread of pollution.


The lake itself is self-contained and as such less likely to be polluted, although heavy rainfall recently caused some flooding on the Eastern side of the lake from the river, which then caused a small breach in the bank and flowed out over the Western edge and into the dyke. This is unlikely to have caused any significant pollution to the lake.

Vice Chair of Climate and Biodiversity and Chair of Planning and Development, Cllr Ruth Smith adds;

“We are working with the Windrush Against Sewage Pollution group to keep abreast of the current strain on the sewage system and likely impact of new developments. As a Town Council, we are speaking up for the concerns of residents and we intend to do all we can to insist that our sewage infrastructure meets 21st century health expectations and restores our beautiful river and streams”. 

Witney Town Council is regularly inspecting the Lake & Country park and monitoring the situation. They ask members of the public to remain vigilant and report any incidents or concerns to the Environment Agency using their Incident Hotline on 0800 80 70 60 (Freephone 24hr service).


Badly Missed Shelters Are Replaced

Two new bus shelters have been installed in Witney.  Both are replacements for existing shelters, one at the Abbey Road end of Burwell Drive, which was damaged when a car collided with it and the other in Corn Street, which was removed while construction of a small development of houses was underway.

Both were paid for with developer funding from Abbeymill Homes, who built the new houses in Corn Street. The shelters form part of a package negotiated by Witney Town Council’s Planning & Development committee which also includes other new street furniture to be installed nearby.

Cllr. Ruth Smith, Chair of the Planning and Development committee, explained;

“The Planning & Development committee is delighted to see the new bus shelters in place now that the development has been completed. Passengers had been without a shelter and using a temporary bus stop while work was underway.

Ensuring that improvements and desirable outcomes for the town are secured during the planning process is an important part of what the planning committee does. By working closely with developers such as Abbeymill Homes we were able to ask the developer to be sensitive to existing essential infrastructure and to avoid inconveniencing residents as much as possible.

For our own part, we are very aware of the importance of seats and bike racks at bus stops, as well as information screens, and we are working hard as a council to achieve this wherever we can.”

Witney Town Council is a supporter of active travel and helps to fund some of the local bus routes and services provided by West Oxfordshire Community Transport.

The Burwell Drive shelter
The new shelter in Burwell Drive
Picture of The new shelter in Corn Street
Corn Street’s new shelter




Witney Town Council has received the following automated flood alert from the Environment Agency this morning.

River Windrush from Bourton to Newbridge

Flooding is possible – be prepared

Map showing flood alert area

Property flooding is not currently expected. River levels are rising on the River Windrush as a result of heavy rainfall. Therefore, flooding of low-lying land and roads is expected from later this afternoon 13/12/19. No further rainfall is forecast today. However, we expect river levels to remain high for at least the next few days. We are closely monitoring the situation. Our incident response staff are operating weirs to reduce flood risk and in the area clearing weed/trash screens. Please remain safe and aware of your local surroundings and refer to the ‘River and Sea levels in England’ webpage for current river levels. This message will be updated this evening, 13/12/19, or as the situation changes.

This information was last updated at


WWI Centenary Poppy Souvenirs On Sale

The Centenary Commemoration book and bookmarks were launched this morning alongside the unveiling of the poppy blankets so cleverly created by the West Witney WI. Between them, the books and blankets perfectly capture the tremendous community spirit and effort that went into this event last year. You can buy a pictorial souvenir book for £7.50 and a bookmark with original knitted poppy for £2 from the Town Hall from today, while stocks last.  Profits will be shared between Forces Charities and Royal British Legion.

A photograph of the blankets with guests including the Mayor and Leader of the Council
From left to right District Cllr Jane Doughty: Cllr Rosa Bolger, Leader of the Town Council: Sandra Fenton of West Witney WI: Cllr Duncan Enright, Mayor of Witney: Cllr Thomas Ashby of Witney Town Council


Centenary Remembrance Commemoration Souvenirs on sale Fri 1 Nov

Last year Witney Town Council was overwhelmed by the community response to the Centenary Remembrance commemorations, not least because of the 30,000 hand-made poppies we received. The final recommendation of the former WWI Working Party was to use these poppies in some way to raise funds for charity and create picture book/bookmark souvenirs of the events that were held.

These projects have been completed along with the creation of two specially decorated Witney blankets which have been beautifully created by West Witney Women’s Institute. You can see one of these in the foyer of the Corn Exchange. The books will be sold for £7.50 and the bookmarks will £2.00. Both will be available from the Town Hall with proceeds after costs going to the charities. They will be available from Friday 1st November.


Corn Exchange Panto Jack and the Beanstalk


We are very excited to be bringing this to the Corn Exchange. A matinee performance of Jack and The Beanstalk on Sunday 28th December at 1.30 pm. An excellent first panto for little ones it lasts under an hour. Tickets are £8 no matter how big or small you are and they are on sale now from the Corn Exchange.


Nominations Open For Citizens of The Year

The search is on to find Witney’s Outstanding Citizen of the Year. This prestigious annual award goes to someone who has given their time and energy to benefit their local community usually (but not always) on a voluntary basis.

Judges will be looking in particular for selfless service to a voluntary body or the community or someone whose service is acknowledged as making a real difference to the everyday lives of others. There is no age barrier, but nominees must live within Witney.


Friends, relatives, neighbours and colleagues have the chance to nominate a special person for the prestigious title.
The number of awards available is strictly limited and therefore, however valuable their service, not everyone can receive recognition. It is important to realise that an award will not automatically follow a submission.


Witney Town Council is looking for people who have given exemplary service, which may be paid or unpaid, who make a real difference to Witney.


Residents who go that extra mile to help others will be recognised in the annual awards, presented by the Mayor at the Civic Reception in March next year.


Anyone thinking about nominating a deserving individual as Witney’s Citizen of the Year or for any of the other awards has until 31st December 2019 to submit their details.


If you know someone who has demonstrated extraordinary commitment, energy and effort in order to achieve something of great benefit to you or your community contact the Town Hall for a nomination form or download a form.           


Official Site of Witney Town Council