Summer maddness seems to be coming with the hot weather this week, so I'm in the office with the blinds closed trying to stay cool both physically and mentally!
Some members of the public asked questions about Leisure funding at the last District Council meeting and I'm not sure that any of the questions were fully answered.
Alderman Joyce Hutchinson asked a question about S106 monies (contributions from developers earmarked for particular items). She had examined the original S106 agreements for sports funding and found that two postscripts have been added by the District Council. the first reserving funds for the Wessex Leisure Centre and the second making reference to an e-mail written by R. Cross dated 16/12/16. She had submitted a freedom of information request to find out what the email said but had received a response stating that the email "is no longer retained on file". She asked if (as the Wessex Leisure Centre had been cancelled and the email lost) these references would be removed and the S106 contributions be spent according to the original legal agreements? If not how will any changes in the spending of the S106 contributions be decided?
The response was that Section 106 funds earmarked for the Wessex Leisure Centre scheme remain formally allocated whilst projects to deliver the most appropriate and beneficial use of those funds are considered. Work is ongoing towards achieving this, in consultation with local representatives. No mention was made of the email written by R.Cross. So we still have no idea what the money will be spent on.
I asked a question about the Leisure Strategy which was supposed to determine what projects would replace the Wessex Leisure Centre.
At the Council meeting in February 2021, in answer to another question from Alderman Hutchinson, Councillor Helen Pighills (Cabinet member for healthy communities) stated that she hoped that the Leisure Strategy would be completed in March 2021. As it’s now July 2022, I asked when it would be available and if there would be any public consultation before it was finalised.
The response did not mention public consultation so I assume that we won’t get to comment (even though they would ignore any comments anyway). It also didn't specifically mention the Leisure Strategy. Councillor Pighills did say that her Active Communities Strategy paper was going to Cabinet on 22 July and that "Officers are also working with Sport England to secure relevant external support and expertise to develop a district wide leisure facilities strategy. It is anticipated that the formal commercial appointment for this work will be made by the end of the year through the Sport England Active Environments Framework".
So there will be no Leisure Strategy (even though they were apparently working on one 18 months ago) and there is no mention of leisure centres or swimming pools in the Active Community Strategies paper at all but it only refers to outdoor facilities such as green spaces, water and things like playground equipment, outdoor gyms, social activities/ games equipment or skate parks. In fact the Active Communities Strategy seems to be a list of statements without any firm outcomes and no where near as comprehensive a paper as that provided by Cherwell Council which has targets and measures to aim for.
The Leisure Facilities Strategy project won't even start until the end of this year so we may be waiting a long time for any news.
There are very few consultations taking place at the moment but these are the ones which are open:
Community Governance Review - until midday on Friday 29 July
There are a number of Community Governance Reviews across Vale of White Horse proposes changes to voting areas or parish boundaries. You can find out more information on the Community Governance Review webpage.
Central Abingdon Regeneration Framework (CARF) Consultation Friday - until Friday 15 July
Vale of White Horse District Council is working with Carter Jonas to help identify parts of Abingdon that have seen better days and consider how they could have brighter futures. You can find out more information about the project and how to comment on the consultation on the CARF webpage.
They are not considering doing a similar exercise for Wantage.
The planning application for a Lidl store is getting more publicity at the moment. The attached paper is from the people submitting the application (GSC Estates) and refers to "Erik Johnson’s very helpful update" which I haven't been able to find. Some people have started a petition https://www.change.org/p/grant-permission-for-lidl-at-wantage asking councillors to agree to Lidl being given planning permission. Many others believe that this is the wrong site for a food store as it will affect the traffic flow to the roundabout and interrupt the cycle path between Grove and Wantage.
St. Modwen is preparing to submit an outline planning application for the final three phases of Kingsgrove (Crab Hill), known as Grove East, Grove West and South West. 520 homes have already been approved for these neighbourhoods and the team is looking to add around 40 additional homes to the application area, bringing the total number to 560 in these phases and 1,540 across the whole development. They will have 400 homes occupied by the end of July so will have a further 1,140 homes to complete.
Otherwise this is mainly no news.
Applications have been submitted but not decided for:
Outline applications for new developments submitted but not decided include:
Finally roadworks - don't forget that you can check for any road works which may delay your journey at https://one.network/
Thanks for reading.
Wantage and Grove Campaign Group