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Column 1st November 2017

Is it just me, or is this town going to Hell in a handcart?

In Fairford church, Gloucestershire, the great West window (installed before 1517 AD) shows the Day of Judgment in stained glass, with the innocent going to heaven and the guilty going to hell. Among the latter is an old woman in a wheelbarrow, being pushed to her doom by a blue devil. So the idea of "going to hell in a handcart" is a good 500 years old.

Is this is what is happening to Wantage?

The front page of the Herald last week talked about the residents of Wantage looking at the possibility of having to buy back the Community Hospital (which they raised the money to build in the first place) from a Health Trust which hasn’t maintained it and doesn’t want it anyway.

An opinion on the letters page talked about the District Council asking the Government for a bid for nearly £8m funding for the Eastern Relief Road to take traffic away from Charlton School (which you can avoid by sticking to Charlton Road) and directing all traffic on to the road past Fitzwaryn School (which is more difficult to avoid).

It also mentions that the Council has no funding plan for the Western Link Road.

I commented recently about our planned new leisure centre still being only half the size of the one in Abingdon built for a similar population and another Letter to the Herald reminded us that the District Council has always spent twice as much on facilities for Abingdon than they do for our corner of the Vale.

The view from our MP (also in the Herald) comments on the lack of funding for our Health Centre and the need for problems with funding to be addressed urgently but doesn’t say how this will happen.

We were known as Black Wantage because of the social, economic and physical disintegration of the Town in the early 1800’s.

Is this beginning to happen again?

Are we “going to hell in a handcart”?

In June 1828 the government passed the Wantage Improvement Act and the improvement of Wantage started.

Should we be pressing for our MP and local members of the House of Lords to press for another Improvement Act, so that we can get funding to improve the roads, health care, leisure facilities and other infrastructure required to bring our town back from the brink?

Is this the kind of thing our Town Council and District Councillors should be focusing on or do we need to find someone like Dr Squires who led the campaign to build the community hospital in the first place?


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