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Column 17th February 2021

Will we finally see new leisure facilities in Wantage and Grove?

The first District Council meeting of 2021 took place last week and, as already reported in the Herald, they are increasing council tax to cope with the cost of Covid and to address the deficit in funding.

Also at the meeting there was discussion about leisure facilities in Wantage and Grove.

County Councillor Jane Hanna gave a statement linking work done on identifying ways to improve the wellbeing of the local community with the developer contributions for leisure funding in this area.

Alderman Joyce Hutchinson also spoke at the meeting and pointed out that Wantage and Grove were promised a new leisure centre in approximately 2010 during the last Lib/Dem Council.

She stated that over £6 million has been set aside for leisure in Wantage and Grove and asked the Council to confirm that this money will be spent on facilities within walking distance of Wantage and Grove so that the local community, rising rapidly in number, will be able to obtain full use of all facilities.

In reply the Council stated that it was committed to producing an Active Community Strategy and hoped that this would be completed by the end of March and that it would establish the community recreation and leisure needs for the Vale.

District Councillor Helen Pighills went on to say that an independent review of leisure needs across Wantage, Grove and Faringdon was underway.

She also stated that the Council was committed to ensuring that developer contributions are spent to benefit the communities in which they are generated and to reduce the number of car journeys required to take exercise.

District Councillors Jenny Hannaby and Ron Batstone proposed a motion asking officers to initiate early engagement with residents and stakeholders in the Grove and Wantage area to inform the best use of the S106 leisure funds. This was agreed.

During the discussion Councillor Nathan Boyd pointed out that many parishioners in the Western Vale feel that developer contributions are often siphoned off to support other towns in the Vale.

We agree with this and have regularly pointed out that Abingdon seems to get much more funding than the rest of the Vale.

There is over £4.5 million already being held for leisure facilities in Wantage and Grove and much more to come.

Councillors have been talking about this for a long time now so we hope that action is taken soon to improve the facilities in our local area.


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