We all enjoy a good bonfire, but sometimes more care needs to be taken about how we celebrate Guy Fawkes night. As a habitant of a thatched roof cottage, Bonfire night can be quite a stressful event - for the obvious reasons.
The choice of the site for this year's bonfire was again concerning for us due to its proximity to our property and this year I'm afraid that our concerns were not unjustified. The morning after the bonfire we found three spent rockets in our garden, and very disconcertingly, one lodged in our thatch.
We were very fortunate that the roof was slightly damp after the rain from the previous day, because I have absolutely no doubt that if it had been dry we could have been in very serious trouble.
I hate to be a stick in the mud on this, but please can we give more thought to the location of next year's bonfire - health and safety is important to us all and no-one wants to see a disaster as a result of careless planning.
A reponse to an application to 'rename Wantage Didcot' is set to be published in the next three months.
The Boundary Commission for England, which was asked to consider changing the name of the Wantage parliamentary constituency either to 'Didcot' or 'Didcot and Wantage', has said it will will publish its considered proposals on this issue this autumn.
The proposals, which may or may not include a change of name for the Oxfordshire constituency, are part of a review of parliamentary constituencies across the country.
Didcot Town Council and town promotion group Didcot First both submitted applications to the boundary commission to change the constituency name as part of a public consultation on the issue last year.
Wantage MP Ed Vaizey backed the suggestion of adding Didcot to the name, but many in Wantage opposed it.
The commission said: "We are currently in the process of reviewing more than 25,000 representations from members of the public, politicians, political parties and other organisations received during the two public consultation periods conducted during autumn 2016 and spring 2017.
"It is our current intention to publish our revised proposals during autumn 2017 and complete a further (and final) eight-week public consultation period."
Following that final public consultation the commission will submit a report to government by September 2018, which will then be debated by both houses of parliament.
Eight years ago, me - a Yorkshire lass, and my other half - an Essex boy bought our first home in this lovely village. A lot has happened in that time, we got married in St Blaise, and have been lucky to be blessed with our two daughters, Felicity 4, and Phoebe 3 months, and of course our cocker spaniel Dexter!
We would like to say a special thank you to Joanne Myers for being not only a great neighbour, but a fabulous friend! We have many happy memories of Milton to take with us to Hertfordshire.
It is time to say farewell, and wish the village all the best for the future!
Louise and Simon Martin
61 Willow Lane
A new investigation has revealed the nation's highest earning speed cameras, with Milton being named in the top 10.
Based on figures for 2015, UK Motorbike Insurance Specialists Carole Nash estimates that the 10 most profitable cameras in the country racked up £3.2 million in speeding fines over the 12 month period.
The the A34 southbound at Milton featured in 10th place.
Rebecca Donohue, head of marketing at Carole Nash, said: "With some speed cameras issuing tickets that amount to well into the hundreds of thousands it's understandable that, at times, motorists feel like they are being taxed again. It's really important to remember that such cameras are put in place to reduce accidents and save the lives of motorists and bikers, something which is far more important than any amount of money. We wanted to find out which roads are prone to speeding motorists to help raise awareness of the dangers in those areas and encourage bikers and drivers alike to take extra care on these roads."
VOM web editor's thoughts: As there is no static camera southbound on the A34 at Milton, it may be a reasonable to assume these figures relate to the period when average speed cameras were employed during the reconstruction of Milton Interchange.
Perhaps the introduction of permanent and visible fixtures along Oxford/Newbury section of the A34 would go someway to reducing the number of accidents and delays?
1. A1, Great Ponton North Bound, Lincolnshire - £606,400
2. M180, West of River Trent, Scunthorpe - £583,500
3. M25, London Orbital junction 17-18, Rickmansworth - £538,500
4. M25, London Orbital between junction 5 and Clacket Lane Services - £373,300
5. A12, Stratford St Mary Southbound - £305,400
6. M25 London Orbital junction 18-17, Rickmansworth - £255,400
7. A22, Eastbourne Road, Halland - £167,100
8. A3, Esher Bypass, Hook - £149,700
9. A14, Bythorn, Cambridgeshire - £121,200
10. A34, Milton, Southbound - £63,600
Source: Carole Nash
The expansion of the Milton interchange has sparked fears among villagers that their identity will be swallowed up by the neighbouring town.
On Wednesday night outline planning permission was unanimously approved for a scheme at Milton Interchange, which combines drive-through fast food joints, restaurants, a shop, a hotel and warehouses.
But Milton Parish Councillor Mark Smith has berated Vale of White Horse District Council for allowing the plans to be approved. Speaking after the planning meeting he said: “Our fears of becoming part of Didcot are being realised - there is barely any green space left.“We’ve got or will have four hotels in our parish and we are a village, we do not need anymore. Rather than seeing a nice patch of green land, developers need to put more thought into what is going there or it should be left alone.”
Last October a £11.6m transformation of the Interchange was completed in a bid to ease the large volumes of traffic passing through it.But Mr Smith fears that these additional facilities would only exacerbate the queues of lorries and cars, which line up from all directions. He added: “The only people benefitting from these plans are the drivers coming off the A34 for a pit stop in our parish. Our parishioners, nor the residents of Didcot or Harwell benefit from this development at all. The fast food outlets in particular are going to be attracting people who do not live near by to clogg up the roads and cause even more traffic than there already is.”
During the planning committee meeting a speaker for the developers said the food, hotel and retail sites could create an estimated 180 new jobs and insisted years of traffic modelling - taking into account future plans for large housing sites near the development - showed the road could cope with extra traffic.
A new access road to the site is currently being built after gaining planning permission some years ago.
Already the interchange boasts a McDonalds and Costa Coffee drive thru, a Harvester restaurant and a Premier Inn hotel.A ‘Star Wars’ hotel is also earmarked on the 1.5 acres of land at Milton Gate and it is expected that the 140-room four-star hotel with spa and conference facilities will open this autumn.
A development of 458 homes was also approved for Milton Heights
Georgina Campbell Oxford Mail
The busy A34 Milton interchange is set to accommodate a new business and food park after councillors approved plans.
A scheme was allowed at Milton Interchange combining drive-through fast food joints, restaurants, a shop, a hotel and warehouses. Vale of White Horse District Council's planning committee made the unanimous decision on Wednesday night (12 April).
It came two years after the outline plans were submitted by Mays Properties - which is overseeing the restaurant and hotel section - and Wallingford-based Minscombe Properties, which will lead the business park. The former is based in Abingdon and owns Fairacres Retail Park in the town.
Councillors noted the site was in an 'enterprise zone' where development is encouraged. But Milton Parish Council raised vociferous objections at the meeting at The Beacon tonight.
Representing the parish council, Mark Smith told the committee: "We are very concerned about the extra traffic. This virtually joins us to Didcot - can't we just have some green space left please? "We could do with a swimming pool or a park; something useful for all those [new] houses. Instead we just get fast food restaurants."
A speaker for the developers said the food, hotel and retail sites could create an estimated 180 new jobs and insisted years of traffic modelling - taking into account future plans for large housing sites near the development - showed the road could cope with extra traffic. He said the parish council's objections had come as a 'complete surprise'.
A new access road to the site is currently being built after gaining planning permission some years ago.
Planning officer Peter Brampton advised councillors the site, currently comprise of fields, was "a bit of a wasteland that could do with some development." He said the council did have some concerns that the current layout would be 'fairly unattractive' but that those details can be debated when a full application is submitted at a later date.
In the same meeting, a development of more than 450 homes in neighbouring Milton Heights was unanimously approved. The committee gave the go-ahead for the development, which had been identified as a strategic housing site in the Local Plan 2031 Part 1. The development will be close to St Blaise Primary School and Milton United Football Club.
The proposal also includes an onsite football pitch and land for expanding the school. Councillor Debby Hallett was at the meeting in Wantage and said councillors were impressed with the pedestrian bridge over the A34.
Sophie Grubb Oxford Mail
Abingdon DAMASCUS Youth Project says goodbye to …
It is with sadness but great pride that we say farewell to Gary Hibbins who has been an integral part of the Abingdon DAMASCUS Youth Project for the past fourteen years.
Gary has a deep sense of community and has been able to assimilate and implement the ethos and belief of the trustees that young people need to be empowered by positive engagement that promotes a shared sense of belonging, commonality of purpose and real ability to effect change, so that they build resilience to make a difference in their personal lives and in the communities in which they live. Gary has extremely strong interpersonal skills and very quickly can form a relationship with even the most disengaged or reticent young person which he has used to great effect over the years in supporting many young people to improve their life chances. The DAMASCUS model that emerged from the hours and hours of discussions, implementing, reviewing, refreshing would not have achieved the results it did in those early years had it not been for Gary’s superb ability to grasp the bigger picture. It established a tradition and expectation which is embraced by all DAMASCUS staff to this day.
Gary will be starting as the part-time manager and trainee counsellor at The Abingdon Bridge from 1st April. Gary has found his niche career as an integrative psychotherapist and this is the perfect move for him.
On behalf of all the trustees and communities you have served – Thank you Gary and we wish you all the best and know that you are just down the road and our engagement will continue albeit in another context.
And Gary says
“I remember starting my journey with the Abingdon DAMASCUS Youth Project on the DAMASCUS bus when I was just 18 years old and what a journey it has been. I have grown and developed so much, not just as a youth worker but also as a person. This is truly an amazing project that enables young people to positively contribute to their community. The trustees have supported me all the way, the sudden death of my mother, the birth of my first child, this list goes on. I can say hand on heart DAMASCUS has changed my life, just as it has changed the lives of so many young people. For the past three years I have been training as an integrative psychotherapist In London. I am now nearing the end of my training. This would not have been possible without the trustees’ support and not just with time off for studies and a bursary but moral encouragement and a belief that I could finish the course.
Having grown up in one of the DAMASCUS villages I know too well what the issues are for local young people. I have seen the project grow from three nights a week on the bus to an award-winning project the model of which is being applied by other local youth charities to their work. It’s been an honour to be part of this growth and witness young people develop a sense of community and positively benefit from it. I’m excited about my future with The Abingdon Bridge – I am a DAMASCUS graduate and that will stand me in very good stead not only as I develop my role as the Manager of The Abingdon Bridge but also as I help facilitate a partnership between the two projects which can only be for the benefit of all our communities and young people.
To all you young people – thank you. It’s been a pleasure being a part of your growth and development. I wish you all the best. Know Roxy and Holly are there and I am only down the road so pop in and say Hi any time”
Rita Atkinson on behalf of the Trustees and Staff and young people of the Abingdon DAMASCUS* Youth Project
*DAMASCUS is an acronym for the five villages Drayton, Appleford, Milton, Sutton Courtenay and Steventon.