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Column 27th May 2020

New ways of doing things, but Council must look at leisure

Wantage Town Council held their first Zoom Council meeting last week.

They had not held a meeting since 21 March but had agreed the agenda items for the meeting which would have been held on 23 March and have reviewed planning applications by email.

At this first Zoom meeting on 18 May they agreed not to hold an annual council meeting, for the time being, and therefore the current Town Mayor and other appointments will remain in place until such time as the Council may determine otherwise.

About a month ago we suggested to the Council that as there is a significant amount of developer contributions (Section 106 monies) available for leisure activities in the Wantage and Grove area, this would seem like a good time for Councillors to consider how the Town would like this money to be spent.

We suggested that the S106 Sub-committee could consider this even in lockdown and asked the Chair of this Sub-committee to provide a response to this question.

After all – Council discussions could continue via email and telephone even before they held their first Zoom Council meeting last week.

We have not received any response.

As some of the restrictions get lifted and people are encouraged to go to work and get out more (at the correct social distance), it becomes more important to ensure that there is somewhere to go.

We haven’t heard anything from the government about any extensions to the periods during which S106 money must be spent so it is very important that decisions are made about leisure facilities for OX12 are made quickly before any time period expires and the money has to be returned to developers.

We understand that the Town Council is pushing ahead with the old Neighbourhood Plan (written in 2016) with the aim of getting it approved within the next two years and have not added any additional policies to it to reflect anything which has happened since.

Given the speed with which they operate this is probably wise.

Yet there is money available now and strong support for implementing things which would help the climate emergency and improve the health and wellbeing of the residents of Wantage.

Improvements in leisure facilities, space for safe cycling (as discussed in last week’s column) and better green corridors for walking (at safe social distancing) and wild life would be a very good start.


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