Parish Council Annual Meeting

More than two dozen people attended the annual assembly of Long Wittenham Parish Council on Wednesday May 10 in the village hall at which seven village groups gave reports on their activities during the year and their plans for the future.

The assembly began with the head teacher of the primary school Carol Dunne outlining the school s achievements. She said plans were in hand to replace the temporary classroom with a new building that would include toilets.

Mrs Dunne said it was important that improvements went ahead to benefit pupils even though there were plans for a new school and village hall which might take some years to achieve. Two pupils, Phoebe Gitsham, who’s 11  and Georgie Newman, eight, gave a report on the school’s activities.

Pre-school chairman Zoe Pepper reported that they had 22 children and were in good shape. An Open Day was planned in the village hall on June 30 between 10am and 1pm. On a disappointing note Mrs Pepper said vandals had uprooted daffodils in the forest green wildlife area next to Acklings playing field.

A scarecrow made by the children had been ruined and wooden logs used for seating and a table strewn all over the area. Mrs Pepper said it was planned to fence off the area but the cost was likely to be expensive and the group may well have to call for help from volunteers to help reduce the cost.

Parish councillor Simon Thompson, who represents the council on the village hall committee, outlined proposals for a new hall-cum-school. He said consultant architects, :/00, had  been engaged and five  sites were examined   Bodkin s Field, Ward s Field at the back of the Pendon museum, a site along the north end of Fieldside, Challis Farm off Didcot Road and land further along Didcot Road.

The consultants recommended that the last site and Bodkin’s Field should be ruled out because they were considered to be too far removed from the hub of the village. Mr Thompson urged villagers to visit an exhibition of the proposals in the village hall on Saturday May 19 between 10am and 1pm. He said it was important to hear the public’s views on the plans.

Cath Nicholson from Wittenham Vision gave a progress report on the group s activities. A village action plan had been drawn up and approved by the parish council. She said the community-led group worked in tandem with the council towards improving village life.

Mrs Nicholson said WV s  Green Gang  had planted hundreds of bulbs on grass verges and was instrumental in gaining funds to improve a section of the cycle track and path towards Didcot. WV was still keen to renew interest in establishing a path between Wittenham and Clifton Hampden.

She said the idea of establishing a village shop had stalled because of the lack of anyone willing to step forward and finding a suitable site although a shop might be possible when and if a new village hall was built. A local shop and food producers directory has been drawn up and would be available in June. It provides information about local producers and suppliers.

Mrs Nicholson said WV had looked into the feasibility of generating electricity from the weir but tests show there was not a sufficient head of water to drive a generator. She said the group had also been instrumental in the bulk oil buying scheme. Buying in bulk, she said, could save villagers money.

Community Police Support officer Nikki Leese said Long Wittenham was a low crime area but she warned against complacency, urging people to secure their cars, homes and garden sheds. The swings at Bodkin s Field had been stolen, probably by a gang operating in the county who had removed lead from roofs and even telephone cables. She said arrests had been made.

Ms Leese said Wittenham Clumps car park and the area near the church in Little Wittenham were popular areas for thieves but recent police patrols had reduced the number of thefts.

Twinning Association chairman Richard Kewish said the link with the French village of Thaon in Normandy was now in its 11th year and still going strong. Last year a party from Wittenham visited Thaon and between May 25 and 28 a party of 30 French visitors are expected here including the mayor Richard Maury.He will start the annual Wittenham 5K fun run and walk on May 27 and present the winners with medals.

Next year Long Wittenham Athletics Club will be celebrating 110 years. President Bill Symonds said the football club had had a successful season with the first team finishing seventh in the North Berks League while the reserves rounded up the season in mid table. The under 15s finished second in their league.

Mr Symonds appealed to the public to support the club because it was losing two officers who were moving away and he would be taking on the work. He said:  It s the old story of too few trying to do too much. The future of our Sunday team is very much in doubt for next season. We have a long and proud history but if we are to survive then we need help.

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