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Tower Hill Cemetery Wildflower Bank Restoration Project

Witney Town Council is working with the Rotary Club of Witney to rejuvenate the wild bank behind the chapel in Tower Hill Cemetery.

Steep banks that slope, as this one does, pose particular challenges. Routine maintenance such as mowing cannot be carried out with conventional mowers and watering is a problem due to run off. The trees that line the path above the bank shade the area and drop leaves onto the bank.

Carefully selected planting, suitable for the light and soil conditions will improve the appearance of this particular area and once established, create a more attractive and easily managed space. Wildflowers grow best in low quality soil, so it’s likely that the top layer of four inches or so will be removed to reach poorer soil and remove some of the grass roots to prevent new flowers from having to compete.

Thanks to around £600, donated by Rotary Club of Witney, the Town Council has been able to purchase wildflowers in different planting media to trial on three test areas.

One area will have seeds, another some seed matting and the final area will be planted with seed plugs. The intention is to complete the work for early spring planting and flowering in summer 2023. Wildflower plantings usually take a number of years to establish properly, but the hope is that ultimately the bank will be beautifully transformed by this restoration plan.

John Summers of the Rotary Club said,

“The Rotary Club of Witney is pleased to be able to provide funds so that this project to take place, in partnership with Witney Town Council, because of the Club’s focus on the enhancement of the community and the local environment. This project is centrally located in town where the site is in need of some improvement. The steep grassy bank is difficult to maintain and appropriate wildflower meadow planting is intended to provide year-round interest and summer colour.”

Work has already begun with five members of the Rotary Club assisting on site, transplanting existing spring bulbs and perennials from the trial area, so that they will not be lost when the ground is prepared for planting the wildflowers.

The welcome offer of help from The Witney Rotary club comes from a new area of involvement for them – Environment and Community- which focuses on “supporting families and working with local government to improve where we live.”

This is the first stage of the project. The Club says it looks forward to assisting in the next stages, and is pleased to be associated with this community and environment project. The Club President, Ron Spurs, explained, “This project is exactly the type of community action that our Club thrives on”.

Cllr Ruth Smith, Chair of the Climate, Biodiversity and Planning Committee, added,

“Wild flowers cheer everyone up and this project will build more insect food and habitats into the well-loved cemetery,  which has had several successful nature enhancements in recent years. Our officers and in-house maintenance team have more expertise and flexibility than ever to respond to residents’ requests for nature-friendly management of our green spaces.”

This exciting joint project fulfils the Town Council’s desire for community engagement and partnership working and also addresses aims stated in its recently adopted Open Spaces strategy to improve biodiversity and habitat management.

The Rotary club has invited the Witney Photo Group to document the project as it unfolds.

Gardeners with spades on grass

Volunteers from Rotary transplanting Primroses from the test areas



Witney Town Council Partners with Witney Music Festival

On Thursday 16th March Witney Town Council and the Witney Music Festival Festival signed a partnership agreement that will see the Town Council providing core sponsorship and free use of The Leys to facilitate the Musical Festival each year.

Cllr Vicky Gwatkin explains the importance of partnership working to deliver community action events and projects,
“Our new partnerships are about recognising what we value as a town council whilst appreciating that others may be much better placed to deliver it. We are privileged to have many organisations which form part of the fabric of life in Witney and offer wide ranging community benefits. These are run by people who are passionate about what they do and have a wealth of talent and expertise.
The partnerships are a formal way for the Town Council to acknowledge the role these organisations play and let them know we are keen to work with them to help them develop and achieve their objectives. It is a rejection of the ‘them and us’ and we hope it brings everyone round the table with the same positive mindset to work collectively in the best interests of Witney.
We plan to roll this scheme out further over the coming years.”
The Festival showcases headline artists but also supports local musicians and their Mission Statement and Vision focus on ‘Building community through music’. They seek to provide opportunities and to inspire young musicians and performers.
Representatives from Witney Town Council and the Witney Music Festival sign the partnership agreement
Representatives from Witney Town Council and the Witney Music Festival sign the partnership agreement
Eric Marshall is Chairman of the Witney Music Festival. He echoed the significance of the partnership,
“The Witney Music Festival team are hugely grateful to Witney Town Council for this new partnership which will help secure the festival for the future. The festival is so much more than the two days, it involves the community on so many levels: artists, suppliers, local businesses and all the people of Witney who attend.
In the establishment of this agreement the Town Council have shown their commitment to the town they represent and the WMF are proud to now be working alongside the Witney Town Council to deliver this celebration of all that’s good in Witney for years to come.”
Chair of the Stronger Communities Committee, Cllr Owen Collins added;
“I’m absolutely delighted that Witney Town Council has entered into this new partnership with Witney Music Festival, which should safeguard the future of the festival for years to come, as well as allowing it to grow even further.
The WMF has been one of the jewels in Witney’s crown for years, and the town owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to the volunteers that make it possible. They help keep music, arts and culture front and centre of our community, a vision which the Town Council share wholeheartedly. This new formal agreement will mean that the people of Witney, its plectrummed plethora of musicians, and its fantastic local businesses, will all continue to enjoy the many benefits of this brilliant event.”

Witney Parkrun Agreement Extended

Witney Town Council is pleased to be able to support the extension of an agreement to permit Witney parkrun to continue using West Witney sports ground for a further four years.
Runners on a track
Witney Parkrun ticks a lot of boxes for our residents. It’s free, friendly, inclusive and provides a fun challenge that is suitable for runners of all ages and abilities. For many it is a chance to socialise and for others it has a positive impact on their physical health and mental wellbeing.

Cllr Vicky Gwatkin, Chair of the Council’s Parks and Recreation Committee said,

“The success of Parkrun in Witney is a credit to the volunteers who organise and manage it week in week out. Beyond the obvious physical benefits, it has proved its value to our community during the Covid lockdowns and continues to support mental wellbeing, social interaction and provide volunteer opportunities for everyone.
We are immensely proud that Witney parkrun is our parkrun, and so pleased we have been able to offer an extended license in the hope it will continue for many years to come.”


Smoke Free Play Poster Competition Template

Can your child help Witney Town Council to create smoke free play areas by designing a sign for your local park?
We are challenging our young people to produce attention grabbing images and thought-provoking language to promote a healthy, active, and positive smoke-free message.
Children copy what they see, so making parks and playgrounds smoke-free will take smoking and vaping out of sight of children and make it seem less of a normal activity, in the hope that fewer children will go on to smoke or vape themselves.
It is hoped that the project, in partnership with Smoke Free Oxfordshire, will produce a set of colourful and eye-catching posters, which will be installed across our parks and play areas.
How to enter
• Your design should be bright and colourful to attract attention. You could include words such as “smoke free zone”, “please smoke or vape outside our park”, “Proud to be a smoke free park” – or any other words you think will get the message out!
• The competition is open to any child currently at Primary School in Witney and we also welcome entries from children enrolled in Witney community groups, such as Brownies, Beavers and others, as well as entries from primary age children resident in Witney.
• Entries can be submitted by email, post or delivered to the Town Council office. You can use our Smoke Free Play Areas Competition entry form, or you can simply draw a square on a sheet of A4 paper.
Please submit your entries to: or Witney Town Council, Town Hall, Market Square, Witney OX28 6AG. Don’t forget to include your name, age, school, and your contact details with the artwork. The closing date is Friday 14 April at 12pm.
Here are some examples done by Oxford school children for smoke free school gates to get you inspired!
Child's drawing of smoke free play with children and planet earth Child's drawing of smoke free play with people and rainbow
More information for the Grown-Ups
Witney Town Council is introducing a new smoke free policy in its play areas. This will improve the health of those using the play areas.
Reasons why the Town Council has chosen smoke free play areas include: –
• Teachers, parents, guardians and other adults have an important role in influencing the attitudes and smoking behaviour of children and young people.
• Three out of four children are aware of cigarettes before they reach the age of five. Evidence tells us that children are less likely to start smoking if they do not see it.
• Two thirds of smokers (two out of every three smokers) say they began smoking before the age of 18. Those who start smoking before the age of 16 are twice as likely to continue to smoke compared to those who begin later in life, and they are more likely to become heavier smokers.
• Becoming smoke free protects children from the harms linked to smoking: – Across Oxfordshire 886 children take up smoking a year. This increases their chances of many preventable illnesses such as cancer, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, strokes and cardiovascular disease.


All our budget information can be found in the latest edition of the Witney Town Council Newsletter which is being delivered to all the homes in Witney. There is also news about the Annual Town meeting and the annual survey to find out what you think about the Town Council Services and to gather feedback from you. If you want to be even more involved there is information about becoming a town councillor.

New Hedgerow planned for Snipe Meadow

John has begun work on preparing a ditch ahead of planting planned for Saturday 25th March.
One thousand whips with stakes and protection will create a 200m stretch of new hedgerow. Snipe Meadow is part of Witney Lake and Country Park.
Creating a ditch in Snipe Meadow
Our Ranger will need around 20 volunteers across the day between 9am and 4pm. If you can give even an hour of your time that would be really helpful. He already has a number of willing volunteers so don’t miss your chance to take part in this exciting nature project.
You will need to wear strong footwear and clothes that you do not mind getting dirty.
Training, Health and safety information and spades will be provided. You can bring your own lucky spade if you prefer!
If you are keen to come along just drop an email to Carl and let him know what time you can come and how long for.
Got Questions? Give Carl a call on 07774 665340

Annual Town Meeting




Watercolour image of the Corn Exchange

JOIN THE CONVERSATION -The meeting is an important part of local democracy and is open to all registered electors in the town.

The Annual Town Meeting is facilitated by the Town Council on behalf of the electorate.

It’s not a Council meeting, but an opportunity for residents to raise and discuss matters affecting the town.

Reports are presented by the Mayor and Town Council committee chairs to let you know what the Council has been working on for the last year, and about the Council’s future plans.

The evening also includes a display by charities and organisations that have received financial grants from Witney Town Council.

Tea and coffee will be available before the meeting.

Residents are encouraged to take part in the public question session. If you have any questions you would like to raise it would be helpful, but not essential, if they could be submitted in advance of the meeting.

Questions asked in advance can be researched in order that a more informed discussion can take place and a comprehensive answer may be provided at the meeting. Submit your questions by letter or email to the Town Clerk:

For those who might be a bit shy about speaking at the formal meeting or who would like a more in depth chat, there follows an opportunity for residents to speak with the Town Councillors in small groups.



Corn Exchange Refit is Officially Unveiled

Lunchtime today saw the official unveiling of the final phase of the Corn Exchange’s theatre refit. The theatre lighting and audio systems along with the new tiered seating have been installed over the past twelve months.
The ribbon cutting honours were carried out by the Mayor, Councillor Liz Duncan, and the Chair of the Corn Exchange Working Party, Councillor Owen Collins.
It was part of a small ceremony attended by fellow councillors and people involved with the project.
The project has taken a number of years to complete, but in the meantime the Corn Exchange has been welcoming performers and audiences throughout the refit, with occasional closures where necessary to permit the completion of some of the work.
In short speeches the Mayor and Chair thanked all involved for their help and acknowledged the grant of £30,000 towards the project generously given by West Oxfordshire District Council, who were officially represented by Councillor Julian Cooper.
They declared their delight at the fulfilment of the project and their appreciation of all the hard work that had brought about the transformation of the building into a hub for arts and performance.
It was a fitting way to mark the 160th anniversary of the building with a demonstration of its fit for the future, modernised audio, and visual systems.
The Corn Exchange is already busy with a packed season of wide appeal events lined up over the forthcoming months. Full details of these can be found at, or on their Facebook Page.
On Saturday 25th February there is a Public Open Day in the Corn Exchange with some great offerings throughout the day, including the opportunity to see the Corn Exchange set up as a wedding venue, drama and music performances and an open mic session at 4pm.
The café and bar will be open all day and all are welcome.

Volunteers Needed to Help With Hedgerow Planting

Our Ranger is looking for volunteers to help with hedgerow planting in Snipe Meadow on Saturday 25th March.
Volunteers planting a new hedgerow
Volunteers planting a new hedgerow
There are 1000 whips with stakes and protection that will create a 200m stretch of hedgerow.
He will need around twenty volunteers across the day between 9am and 4pm. If you can give even an hour of your time that would be really helpful.
You will need to wear strong footwear and clothes that you do not mind getting dirty.
Training, Health and safety information and spades will be provided. You can bring your own lucky spade if you prefer!
If you are keen to come along just drop an email to Carl and let him know what time you can come and how long for.
Got Questions? Give Carl a call on 07774 665340

Coronation Bunting


We are looking for volunteers to make bunting for Witney’s Coronation celebrations.

We are asking you to make 3m lengths of red, white and blue bunting from fabric that you might otherwise throw away.

Almost half of us in the UK put unwanted clothing in the dustbin, where it currently goes to landfill and it would be lovely to see old clothing, fabric scraps and charity shop bargains upcycled and recycled into beautiful bunting to decorate the town!

We have a template of a flag that is 15.5cm wide and 21 cm deep and some instructions that you can download from our website.

Our recommendation is to use a cotton or cotton mix type fabric rather than anything stretchy which isn’t easy to sew. Oh, and your bunting must be red, white and blue, of course. 😊

Sadly, knitted and crocheted bunting won’t work as it will be very heavy if it gets wet.

We will need your finished bunting back by Friday, 7th April so we have enough time to put up the bunting by the beginning of May.

Please bring it to our Reception on Market Square.

We still remember the fun we had a few years ago creating the poppy mile with our incredibly enthusiastic community army of crafters and hope that you will all enjoy our Bunting Challenge.

Instructions and templates below.

Bunting challenge Instructions.pdf


Interlocking the flags as much as possible maximises the number of flags you can get from your material. Doubling the material over will obviously make cutting out quicker.


Witney Town Council Precept 2023

Witney Town Council Precept 2023

 Witney Town Council has voted to freeze its Council Tax precept for the 2023-24 municipal year, ensuring Witney residents won’t pay any more tax to the town council in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis. The decision to freeze the precept payment was agreed at its Full Council meeting on Wednesday 4th January 2023.

Council tax image of wooden house  on blue background

The Town Council offers a range of community and recreational services to residents, many of which do not generate any income, and which include Allotments, Cemeteries, Civic and Community Events, Grants to Voluntary Organisations, Sports Pitches, Public Halls, eleven Recreation Grounds, Planning Matters (consultee on planning applications for the planning authority), The Town Hall and Street Scene.  In the current inflationary environment, it has also seen its own costs increase significantly.


At the budget-setting meeting this week, it was explained that the Town Council finances are in a strong and healthy position and the current administration has made enormous progress towards achieving its objectives, with additional funds earmarked for future projects.


Leader of the Council, Cllr Vicky Gwatkin stated “With the challenging economic climate hitting everybody hard and Town Council finances able to absorb some cost increases, it makes total sense to freeze the precept at its current rate.  It is a small gesture but the welfare of our community is our highest priority and it will at least go some way to easing the burden for the people of Witney.”


Citizen of the Year Nominations are now open

Last year's winners
Previous Winners

Who are Witney’s unsung heroes? Who does amazing things for the people of the town?

You can nominate them for a Citizen of the Year award.
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 or any of the other awards which include; a Certificate of Outstanding Merit, Outstanding Commitment to Public Service and Outstanding Contribution. 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.
ANYONE thinking about nominating a deserving individual as Witney’s Citizen of the Year or for any of the other awards has until 31st January 2023 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 nominate them on this link
or contact the Town Hall for a nomination form.
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Flood Alert Witney Area

Map of flood alert area
Flood alert area: River Windrush from Bourton to Newbridge including Burford, Asthall, Minster Lovell, Crawley, Witney, Ducklington, Rack End and Standlake.
A Flood Alert has been issued by the Environment Agency.
Flooding is possible in this area. Monitor local water levels and weather conditions. Avoid using low lying footpaths or entering areas prone to flooding. Start acting on your flood plan if you have one. The Environment Agency Flood Warning System has issued this message based on rising river or tidal levels.
Be prepared.
* Visit the GOV.UK website to see the current flood warnings, view river and sea levels or sign up for flood warnings by phone, email or text.
Call Floodline for advice
Telephone: 0345 988 1188
Textphone: 0345 602 6340
Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Find out more about call charges

Rearranged Full Council Meeting due Mon 12 December will now be held Wed 4 January 2023

Agenda will be published the week before the meeting.

The date of the meeting of Full Council that was scheduled for Monday, 12th December, 2022, 7.00 pm has now been rearranged.

It will now be held on Wednesday, 4th January, 2023, 7.00 pm in the Gallery Room, The Corn Exchange, Witney.

Please contact the Committee Clerk if you have any questions.

To see the publicly available information, follow the link: Meeting details on public web site


Witney Mayor’s Carol Service 2022

There’s a warm welcome at the Mayor of Witney, Cllr Liz Duncan’s Christmas Carol service on Friday 9th December at 7pm at St Mary’s Church on Church Green. The service contains familiar and well loved carols and readings. There are also performances from West Oxfordshire Academy of Performing Arts, Witney Town Band and Wood Green School Chamber Choir.

It’s a great way to start feeling festive. In the words of someone quite famous “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!”

Some Leys Pitches to Be Back In Play Before January

Some Leys Pitches to Be Back In Play Before January

pitch work underway

 Witney Town Council is delighted to announce good news about the pitches at the Leys. Protective fencing which had been in place around the renovation work being undertaken on The Leys pitches was removed on Tuesday 29th November. The grounds team have commenced mowing the field.  They aren’t making a traditional autumn cut but completing a full cut and collect to help keep the thatch level under control and ensure the new sward has the best chance to further enhance its root strength. The Autumn weather has been much milder than usual, so the new grass has germinated better than expected.

The Council is able to open up a portion of the field for football earlier than expected. It is proposed to mark out two 7 x 7 and a 5 x 5 pitch that could be bookable as early as this weekend. The rest of the area will require some additional work but is still on target to be in play in January.

In addition to this, as a result of the Council bringing its grounds maintenance contract in house it has been able to invest in a Shockwave linear decompaction machine that will enable the team to perform more frequent decompaction work on all its football pitches. This will allow for decompaction work to be carried out more frequently  during the out of season maintenance periods, which will greatly improve the condition of all of the Town Council’s sports pitches.