Annual Parish Meeting 2014

More than 50 people attended the annual Long Wittenham Parish meeting at the village hall on June 5 and heard presentations from several organisations.

Parish council chairman Tom Bowtell outlined the main issues in which the council was involved. They included efforts to improve the bus service, completion of improvements to Northfield Lane and proposals to improve the appearance of Saxons Heath. Other issues included a proposed four-mile circular walk to Clifton Hampden, a village hub to include a new hall and school and a campaign for additional traffic calming measures to deter speeding traffic in Didcot Road.

The north-east Didcot expansion plan that will encroach into part of Wittenham parish and fears over higher volumes of traffic is a major concern. District councillor Celia Collett said the developers had still not submitted a planning application to South Oxfordshire District Council because of concerns about entrances to the site, open spaces in the area and flooding.

Mrs Collett said under the county’s new Strategic Housing Market Assessment more than 100,000 homes will need to be built up to 2031. It’s estimated that in south Oxfordshire up to 800 new dwellings a year will have to be built – 15,000 to 16,000 in total by 2031.

Cllr Janet Clarke reported on plans to improve the appearance of the Green at Saxons Heath and improve the surface of the path that links the area with Fieldside, a route used by children to and from the school bus stop.

Sue Tucker from the Wittenham-Thaon Twinning Association – created 15 years ago with the community in Normandy – said a visit this year to Wittenham had to be postponed because of the D-Day commemoration events in France. Mrs Tucker said plans were underway for a visit next year.

Dr Jane Manley the chief executive of the Earth Trust reported on the group’s activities in the Wittenham area including the development of a new wetland area along a two-mile stretch of the Thames with financial help from the Environment Agency. Improvements are to be carried out to the route from Northfield Lane to the river and to paths in Paradise Wood.

Dr Gabriel Hemery from the Sylva Foundation – a charity based at Little Wittenham that promotes woodlands – outlined plans for College Farm which the Foundation is developing. It’s hoped to attract small businesses working in wood to the site of a redeveloped former potato store building. A new pipe is to be laid which will help improve drainage along Little Wittenham road and there are plans to create a community orchard on land off Fieldside.

Two Long Wittenham Primary School children Martha-Mae Preece, aged 11 and Reggie Ducham (9) read reports on school activities during the year. Head teacher Carol Dunne said the school had received a very good Ofsted report. She said: “We are a small school with a small team but we have a big heart and have big aspirations.”

Bill Symonds and Derek Meadham from Long Wittenham Athletic football club reported on the club’s success in winning the North Berks Cup for the second season running. The club has won the cup a record 16 times since the competition began in 1907.

Janet Haylett from Wittenham Vision and History Group said the village was getting cleaner. The amount of litter gathered in “litter picks” had reduced from previous years and the trend was very encouraging. Work on improving The Pound – a small piece of land in the High Street – was continuing with clearance work and planting.

The plan is to create a wood chip path around the site with logs for a seating area. WV is working in conjunction with the History Group to create a sign that will be placed on the site. Mrs Haylett said the group was 30 years old. It would be marking the event with an exhibition on September 13 called “Witta’s Place, Witta’s People” to celebrate the village’s Saxon roots.

The Rev Anne Ilsley reported on St Mary’s Church activities during the year and Cllr Peter Rose talked about the new Good Neighbour Group that fosters closer ties between villagers and in particular those who have dementia and their carers.

The council’s vice-chairman Simon Thompson said plans to create a new village hub comprising a new school and village hall on land at Challis Farm had stalled and an alternative site further along Didcot Road was being considered. Mr Thompson said the council would be getting help from the district council in the creation of a village plan that would give the community better control of housing developments and identify sites for new homes in the village.

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