WaGCG : Wantage and Grove Campaign Group
Wantage and Grove Campaign Group (WaGCG)

Column 2nd January 2020

What happened to the grand plans for the last decade?

We are now in a new decade, so let’s see what has happened since 2010.

In 2010 we had a Liberal Democrat led Council, but the Conservatives gained a majority in 2011 and stayed in power for most of the decade, losing to the Liberal Democrats again in 2019.

Matthew Barber was Leader of the District Council from 2011 to May 2018.

The Wantage Mayor in 2010 was Major Jim Sibbald and he gave the Freedom of the Town to the Royal Scots Guards. He is Mayor again now and has given the Freedom of the Town to the HMS Queen Elizabeth. Do I see a pattern?

In between there have been five Wantage Mayors: Charlotte Dickson, Fiona Roper, St John Dickson, Steve Trinder and Chris McCarthy.

Frank Parnell was Chairman of Grove Parish Council from 2002 to his retirement in 2014, when June Stock took over. She has been Chairman ever since.

From a planning point of view, in 2010 we still had the Vale Local Plan (approved July 2006) in which 7,150 dwellings were planned to be built in the Vale by 2016. By 2016 only 3,380 new homes were completed.

In the Plan, Grove was identified as a main location for new housing development, to take about 2,100 dwellings by 2016.

It took until October 2019 to get the new Local Plan approved which requires 22,760 dwellings to be built in the Vale by 2031 (approximately 7,000 around Wantage and Grove).

In 2011, Wantage Police Station closed and Council plans to turn the site into additional (much needed) parking came to nothing. It is now retirement apartments.

In 2012, NHS England stated that the planning application for required extension to the Health Centre in Mably Way to cope with the increasing population would be submitted shortly. We are still waiting.

In 2013, the Vale of White Horse Council considered a possible new leisure centre for Wantage and Grove and in 2018 plans for a small new Leisure Centre were put forward. These plans are on hold.

In 2014, Wantage decided to prepare its own Neighbourhood Plan. Nothing has been seen since 2016.

Also in 2014 Wantage won the Great British High Street Award for most improved town centre. Hurrah!

In 2016, Wantage Community Hospital was temporarily closed to in-patients and now, nearly four years later, it remains closed to in-patients without any formal process having taken place.

Not a good decade for Wantage and Grove.

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