District Council Elections will take place this May for the Witney Ward, Central, East, North, South and West.
There were 75 attendees at this year’s Annual Town Meeting, just beating the 73 that came along in 2003 to discuss the burning issue of the future of Marriotts Close (the old Witney FC ground) and certainly outstripping the 2 that showed up in 1984 to discuss the provision of Arts in the town and cycle racks across Langel Common.
It’s gratifying that so many people took the opportunity to come along talk to their elected representatives and to ask questions.
Representatives from the Police Inspector Matt Fishwick and Sergeant Kerry O’Leary opened the proceedings. Inspector Fishwick gave an overview of policing and crime figures in Witney. There has been restructuring due to budget cuts, but neighbourhood policing has not been affected.
Reports from each of the Standing Committees detailing updates of the council’s project and work were delivered by the Committee Chairmen. The Town Council’s 2016 Corporate Plan survey was highlighted and residents encouraged to respond to this. It’s available online through links on the Town Council Website and Facebook Pages and hard copies can be obtained from the Town Hall on request. Closing date is 30th April, so there is still plenty of time to have your say.
The Town Council’s new app, available on Google Play and the App Store was launched and some of the features presented as a slideshow.
Questions from members of the public covered improvements for other parks in the town and the possibility of CCTV being installed at The Leys. There were also questions about the progress of the Corn Exchange.
The question of communication and how the Town Council communicates with its residents is still an issue for many. The Town Council has been working hard on improving communications including the intended delivery of a newsletter to every household.
The subject of hedge clearance at Thorney Leys was also discussed. Some residents were anxious to know how soon replanting would be taking place.
Problems with footpaths, road surfacing and HGV traffic were discussed along with the Corporate Plan and the possibility of this feeding in to a Neighbourhood Plan.
Parking issues featured largely in discussions. Along with the problems of pavement parking some residents were experiencing parking difficulties. Residents in Corn Street and Church Green have an on street parking time limit of 2 hours, meaning that cars have to be moved. The main request from residents was for a resident’s permit system for parking outside their homes.
Other matters raised by the general public included, the lack of lighting outside the Methodist Church (particularly in the shopping area that joins the Witan Way car park to High Street).
Threatened cuts to local Bus services proved to be an issue of serious concern for many residents.
Displays at the back of the room offered the opportunity to suggest changes to the format of the Annual Town meeting, asking residents what they would like to see more, or less of. There were hard copies of the survey, newsletter and all the publications the Town Council issues.
All of these publications are also available on our website. The full minutes from the Annual Town meeting will be available there shortly for those who would like to see them or from the Town Hall on request.
Sharon Groth, Town Clerk said;
“The Annual Town Meeting is just once a year, but your councillors are happy to hear from you at any time. Please continue to feedback to us or raise questions at other times.”
Witney Town Council is undertaking the next stage of an on-going programme of memorial safety checks in our cemeteries to ensure they are safe places for you to visit. The program is a legal requirement to be carried out every five years following a number of accidents, including some that have been fatal, that have occurred across the country in recent years.
Tower Hill, being our oldest cemetery, is most likely to be at risk of having headstones that may fail safety checks so we are starting there, but Windrush Cemetery will also be included in the program.
Each memorial headstone will be tested to make sure it’s not at risk of falling over and injuring someone.
Notices are in place at Tower Hill cemetery while the testing is taking place. A specially trained stone mason will start by doing a visual inspection of the memorial, followed by a hand test. This will involve pressure being applied to the memorial to check for movement. In most cases, there will be no movement and a record will be kept that the memorial has passed the test. If the memorial moves it will fail the test.
We have previously carried out a demonstration of how the checks are performed but if you have any questions please ask.
It is the responsibility of the grave owner, or their next of kin, to make sure that the memorial headstone is kept in a safe condition, so for those that fail the owner will be asked to get it repaired at their own cost.
Where we have contact details a letter will be sent to the registered owner of failed memorials asking them to contact us within one month to determine what action they would like taken.
The options are:
Please do not try to move or make repairs to the memorial yourself.
Memorials will be checked every five years. Memorials that have had repairs made will join the 5-year inspection cycle.
We understand that this is a very sensitive issue and we will make every effort to contact memorial owners before laying any memorial flat, but there is a time limit of one month for this so that we can keep the program moving forward, make the area safe and complete the inspections in a timely manner. If you own a memorial headstone, please check that we have the correct contact details for you by calling 01993 777820.
The Commonwealth flag was raised at 10am today at the Town Hall, by Deputy Mayor, Cllr Chris Holliday and Cpl Emily Harrison of 2120 Squadron, with Cllr Howard Chirgwin and Town Clerk, Sharon Groth.
The statement of affirmation was read and there is a display in the Town Hall until 1pm on Wednesday 16th march. Please drop in and view it if you are passing
Our brand new Town Council App was launched at the Annual Town meeting last night. It’s a great way to stay in touch and access news and information about the town council and your town while on the move.
There’s a Points of Interest Map to locate Civic Buildings, Public Halls and visiting sports teams will easily pinpoint the different pitches in the town. Find all our recreation grounds easily.
There’s a hot off the press local news feed from the Witney Gazette to let you know what is happening right now in the area.
Check out the Rewards tab, where we will be working with some of our user groups, tenants and other local attractions to bring you an occasional promotional item. Until the end of March you can get another game of Miniature Golf for free when you pay for your game at The Leys. Terms and conditions apply.
You can even mark the spot where you park (all our car parking is free) so if you are a new visitor you can use your phone to find your car once you’ve finished enjoying what’s on offer in the town.
If you turn on location and notification settings we can keep you in touch with what’s going on. We promise not to pester you and you can adjust your settings to suit your needs but it is a great way to add events to your diary and be reminded when things are going on.
ROAD TRAFFIC REGULATION ACT, 1984
Notice is hereby given pursuant to Section 14(2) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act, 1984, that the Oxfordshire County Council
TEMPORARILY PROHIBITS THE USE OF THE HIGHWAY
BY ALL MOTOR VEHICLES
LOCATION: Witney – Outside 2A The Crofts
REASON: to facilitate a crane operation
DURATION: 18 March 2016 – One Day – 8.00am to 5.00pm
(Traffic Regulation Notices cover a maximum of 5 consecutive days.)
ACCESS: Limited access will be maintained for emergency service vehicles and for frontages within the closed section of road, subject to the progress of the works
Responses to our survey are coming in and making interesting reading! So far we have had comments about benches at the Splash Park, the lack of excitement and sparkle with the Christmas lights and that new playgrounds are needed. It’s also great to know that the Spitfire Flower Bed last year seems to have been well received!
Do you agree or disagree? Have YOUR say about the services we provide now and in the coming years at
Residents, businesses and visitors are being urged to have their say on the future of parking in West Oxfordshire.
The District Council have drawn up an in-depth survey designed to gain feedback as we reviews users’ needs in a bid to enhance its provision of free parking.
The survey lists every car park they manage and asks for key information from users in areas such as how often you use it, for how long and the purpose of your visit.
The aim is to match future parking provision to the increasing needs of residents and businesses. They want to hear from as wide a cross-section of the community as possible, including families and those with disabilities
The survey needs to be completed by 29th February and can be found here West Oxfordshire District Council Parking Survey
A previous example of a community commemorative
bed from 2013
Local organisations are being asked to submit ideas for a planting scheme for the raised bed in Langdale Gate.
The planting scheme traditionally marks the anniversary of a group or organisation from the town. Previously it has featured anniversaries of the Church, the Scouts and last year marked the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain with an RAF roundel design.
If your group is celebrating an anniversary or you are marking a milestone moment then please get in touch and let us know. Your idea will be considered for the planting this year.
Chair of the Amenities Committee, Cllr Brenda Churchill commented;
“As Chair of Amenities I would like to encourage all community groups and individuals to come forward and design a flower bed to commemorate their milestone anniversaries. I am really looking forward to seeing the designs both on paper and in the flower bed.”
The Town Council needs to hear from you before Easter so that the design can be created and plants ordered.
Please call 01993 704379 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Notification from Thames Valley Police
A local Independent Advisory Group (IAG) is being set up in the Witney area and we want you to be involved.
The aim of the group is to listen to local communities and for them to act as a critical friend to the police.
The IAG seeks to maximise trust and confidence across all communities of our Local Policing Area through communication as well as asking for and acknowledging different views on local and Force wide policing issues. We are keen that the IAG truly represents all the groups and backgrounds which make up the Witney area.
We are keen to seek the opinions of people with a wide range of skills and experiences and an understanding of cultural issues. We are particularly encouraging people to join us from black, Asian and other minority ethnic communities who are currently underrepresented.
If you want to be involved or want more information please contact Gill Rawlins
Did you know the Town Hall Chamber is now available for hire? The Chamber can seat 16 people boardroom style and is perfect for smaller meetings, training, interviews and conferences.
Dating from the eighteenth century, it is a fascinating mix of ancient and modern with good WIFI access within the old stone walls.
There is a small kitchen nearby suitable for making tea/coffee and there are toilets on the ground floor (regrettably, due to the age of the building there is no disabled access).
A projector and screen is available at a small additional charge, along with a flipchart and markers.
The Chamber can be hired between 9.30am – 4.30pm Monday-Friday for a charge of £15 per hour.
Please contact our Bookings Office on 01993 777821 to book or for further details.
The average taxpayer in Witney will be asked to pay a precept rise of less than 8 pence a week to the town council next year. The decision to increase the precept payment was made reluctantly by members of Witney Town Council at its meeting of the Full Council on Wednesday 20th January 2016.
The precept has been capped at an increase of just 3.26% which will enable the Town Council to maintain its council’s general fund and fulfil its statutory obligations. This is a rise of £4.10 per Band ‘D’ property for the year.
The Town Council offers a range of services to the residents, which include: Allotments, Cemeteries, Civic and Community Events, Grants to Voluntary Organisations, Sports Pitches, Public Halls, Recreation Grounds, Planning Matters (consultee on planning applications for the planning authority), The Town Hall and Street Scene.
Many of these do not generate any income and need constant re-investment to enable them to remain an asset for the community.
With ever increasing budgetary pressures on County and District Councils over the coming few years town and parish councils will be asked to take on additional responsibility for some of the non-statutory services they currently operate. The Town Council is charged with getting more for less, while maintaining and improving, the services provided to the town. The handing over of some additional areas of responsibility is inevitable and beyond the Town Council’s control.
The forecast cost of running these services for 2015-16, including any income generation from hiring of public halls, burials and public events, is £1,246,518.
Witney Town Council works closely with West Oxfordshire District Council and Oxfordshire County Council to ensure that all the services provided improve the quality of life for people of Witney.
The unfortunate increase is due to the continuous reduction in the Council Tax Support Grant and other factors such as the significant costs of the upkeep of the ageing, closed churchyard at St Mary’s Church Green which contains listed memorials. The budget has been set to safeguard against the almost inevitable loss of the support grant from Central Government in 2017.
Cllr David Harvey, Chair of the Budget Working Party said;
“Members and Officers have worked together to keep any increase to the bare minimum and the result is less than the cost of a glass of wine in a pub spread over the year. It is absolutely right for the Town Council to be taking a prudent view of its finances and this is in the interests of all the residents of Witney.”
Roadside Re-generation Work
Work has begun to clear an unsightly strip of land that separates properties on Thorney Leys from Curbridge Road. A team from Witney Town Council’s grounds maintenance contractors, Gavin Jones Group, has removed fly-tipped rubbish along with dead and decaying undergrowth and litter. This will allow future replanting to take hold and will rejuvenate the site.
Household doors, Christmas trees, a pram, pots & pans, concrete blocks, garden pots, garden waste and discarded filled dog waste bags are among the items removed. This will need to be sent to landfill and recycling sites at a cost to the Town Council and its taxpayers.
In conversation with the works team, most residents who had initially been concerned by the clearing of old vegetation have demonstrated their understanding of the need for the work and the planned improvement to the area, labelled an ‘eyesore’ by Witney residents. Some have even offered to donate cash or purchase plants to assist with the regeneration.
Chair of the Amenities Committee, Cllr Brenda Churchill, commented;
“As part of the Keep Britain Tidy Campaign, Clean For the Queen, there will be lots of projects of this kind undertaken by many different organisations in order to spruce up Witney in time to celebrate Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday.”
The new planting will eventually lead to the restoration of the hedgerow that originally existed on the site.
Take a look back at 2015 in our Facebook Album