This is a Thank you and Goodbye column as, after nearly 400 weeks, I have been asked to vacate my space in the Herald.
First a thank you to all the councillors (County, District and Town or parish), utility providers (a special mention to Thames Water), health services and developers who have provided so much material for me to cover in this column.
Secondly a thank you to you for reading and telling me when you agree or disagree with what I’ve written over the years.
When I wrote my first column, we still had inpatient beds in the Wantage Community Hospital, Grove Airfield still didn’t have outline planning permission and although Crab Hill had received approval, no homes had been completed.
We have shared the frustration at shortages of school places (since then the primary schools on both Crab Hill and, more recently, Grove Airfield have opened and are slowly adding more year classes).
We have expressed concern about the roads (lack of capacity and state of repair), and campaigned for a better and safer crossing on the Denchworth Road outside Fitzwaryn School – I’m told that this will be completed before the end of the financial year.
We have discussed parking problems both in Wantage town centre and on new developments, reductions in free parking and the introduction of County Council parking enforcement.
We’ve covered the topic of developer contributions to infrastructure many times and are still frustrated about the lack of improvements to leisure facilities here in OX12 compared with Abingdon and Faringdon, even though money is available.
We covered the development of the District Council Local Plan to 2031 and were anticipating covering the development of the new Joint Local Plan being prepared by both the Vale and South Oxfordshire district Council.
We have campaigned against the plans for a 150 million cubic metre reservoir which the water companies want to build in OX12 which, given Thames Water’s leakage record and the Government’s lack of ability to manage major infrastructure projects, could have serious consequences for the more than 42,000 people who will live here by the time it’s built.
We’ve discussed Wantage Hospital inpatient beds (now temporarily closed for 377 weeks) and GP services.
We have written about anaerobic digesters, buses, health and wellbeing, and a host of other topics.
There is no other print medium which is delivered to your home for me to write in so I’m afraid that this is goodbye and thank you.