It’s now 2018 and time for a final review of the news from 2017, but as a slight twist I wanted to look back at 2016 at the same time.
In 2016 we had a number of roads around Wantage resurfaced and in 2017 we had some pavements resurfaced so things continue to improve, but the man-hole covers in Ormond Road still need to be lifted to create a safe surface for cyclists.
The wobbly wall on Wallingford Street and the road layout outside the Stockham Park Farm development were completed in 2016 and no further road amendments were done in 2017 – will 2018 bring the final entrance to Stockham Park Farm or roundabouts on the A417 at East Challow or the Lockinge turning?
The Grove Extravaganza was repeated for a second year in 2017 and Wantage celebrated Armed Forces Day but we still missed the fun of King Alfred’s Day and the Anglo-Saxon battle. It does seem a shame not to make more of the one unique fact about Wantage and celebrate the birth of King Alfred in some way. Perhaps the Dickensian Evening should be renamed King Alfred’s Evening since there is little Dickensian about it anymore.
We managed to keep maternity services operational at the Wantage Community Hospital even though the in-patient facilities have been closed TEMPORARILY since 2016, and physiotherapy services left the town as the Oxford NHS Trust didn’t give them the opportunity to stay until it was too late.
I emphasise the temporary nature of the Hospital closure; no firm decisions are to be made until after the NHS consultation promised for 2016 which has still not taken place.
In April 2016 the Herald announced that "Key details" for a new leisure centre in Wantage were being finalised. Consultation on the key details took place in 2017 but the new plans don’t seem to be big enough for the future population of the area. Once again Wantage and Grove are the poor relations in the Vale.
The Vale Local Plan Part 1 was adopted in 2016 and consultation on Part 2 took place in 2017; it might be approved in 2018 with even more houses planned.
In 2017, as there was a five year land supply in place, the District Council didn’t approve any new major developments in the area except the Care Home on Grove Road near the allotments.
Outline permission for 2,500 homes on Grove Airfield was finally agreed after years of waiting and houses on Grove Airfield and Crab Hill may be built in 2018.