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Column 3rd February 2021

The Council is more interested in funding highways than health services

The Vale of White Horse District Council is currently consulting on how it raises money for infrastructure and community facilities needed to support planned housing growth across the District.

The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Charging Schedule sets the rates developers are required to pay towards the provision of transport schemes, schools, community facilities, health and social care facilities, parks, green spaces, leisure facilities and more.

As part of the consultation the Council has published a paper which identified the funding gap for infrastructure in the Vale between what has been (or will be) collected from a variety of sources and what is required.

It suggests that sources have been identified for all education and transport requirements but that an additional £1.3 million is required for leisure, £0.3 million for other (e.g. public art, flood defences etc.) and a whopping £283 million more is necessary for highways.

The paper states that a total of £487 million is required for highways infrastructure and that £204 million had been identified as well as £30 million of CIL money.

This leaves about £250 million to be found.

I know our roads are bad and the Council doesn’t seem very good at fixing them (the large hole on Ickleton Road near the Brook has reappeared) but nearly £500 million?

I wonder how much of this is for the work which has been promised for straightening Featherbed Lane and sorting out the junction with the A417.

We know that it will cost over £20 million to build the Wantage Eastern Relief Road but that is a very small part of £500 million.

It would be good if the Western Relief Road from the Airplane Roundabout to Challow and the Grove Northern By-Pass were also included, but we doubt it.

No mention is made of any need for funding of health facilities at all.

Yet health services are a key part of our infrastructure. Our health centre needs expanding, the community hospital in-patient facility remains closed and the day centre on Stirling Close remains boarded up and in need of maintenance.

I’m sure that just a few of this nearly £500 million identified for the roads could make a significant difference to health services in this area – perhaps reopening our inpatient facility and allowing a minor injuries unit to open locally with an x-ray facility which could also be used by the local surgeries.

But it seems that the Council is more interested in funding highways than health services.


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