Matthew Barber Leader VOWH Council

Vale Newsletter - September

New leisure centre plans unveiled

Residents are being given the first glimpse of proposals for the Vale's new £18.8m leisure centre.

The first 3D images for the Wantage and Grove centre have been published ahead of a public consultation opening tomorrow (7th September)

However, the graphics showing cubic blocks and glass frontages, are concepts only and it wants resident to tell it how the new centre should look.

The new leisure centre is great news for everyone in Wantage, Grove and the surrounding area and I encourage people to have their say on our proposals to help ensure we get it right for the local area.

Find out more on the council's website and take part in the consultation from Thursday 7th September at


Vale residents' survey - the results

Thank you to everyone who took part in last months survey about priorities for the Vale District Council. The feedback has been extremely positive and I am grateful for all of the individual comments and suggests which will help us to develop future policy.

The top three priorities for those who responded were
  • delivering infrastructure to support new development; 
  • grass cutting, weed killing and street cleanliness;
  • supporting local shops and businesses
A majority of those who took part rated their satisfaction with Vale council services at 7 or more out of 10. The survey has also highlighted areas where more needs to be done to improve services for residents.


Work set to begin on £1.3million Abbey Meadow pool refurbishment

Work will begin shortly to refurbish the much-loved outdoor pool in Abingdon’s Abbey Meadow.

The £1.3million project will see the small pool combined with the larger pool to create a beach-style walk in area, allowing easy access to the water for young children or those with disabilities, and a deep-water area for more experienced swimmers. 

The work is expected to take around 28 weeks to complete with the pool due to open, weather permitting, in time for the 2018 summer season.  It will be carried out by Vincent Stokes who specialise in building and refurbishing swimming pools and other leisure facilities and have worked with a number of high profile national leisure providers. 

This investment, along with the other improvements to the wider Abbey Meadow area, will help make this a must-visit venue.


New 4* hotel planned for Milton Gate

Welcoming the investment at Milton Gate, Matthew Barber, Leader of White Horse District Council said, "I am delighted by Marriott’s investment at Milton Gate and are pleased that Local Development Orders are helping businesses invest in Science Vale area.  The hotel will be ideally situated for visitors coming to the science organisations based at Harwell, Milton Park and Culham and will allow easy access into Didcot and Oxford.”

Construction has commenced on a new 4-star Marriott Courtyard hotel at Milton Gate, the gateway to Milton Park in South Oxfordshire. The hotel will be the first 4-star luxury hotel with conference facilities to be developed in the region for over 20 years and will help address the current shortage of overnight accommodation. Completion is anticipated to complete in Autumn 2018.


Electoral registration update

People across the Vale of White Horse have been sent a yellow letter explaining that residents are required to confirm who currently lives in their property.  Vale of White Horse District Council need this information to make sure everyone who is eligible to vote is able to do so in future elections. 

As soon as residents get their yellow letter they should visit to confirm or update their details.

Important – each household will need to confirm, even if all the details are correct.

By confirming immediately, residents avoid receiving a reminder yellow letter over the next coming months and will help save money for the councils.  If a household doesn’t respond to the second letter, the councils will contact them by telephone or may have to visit properties this autumn to obtain the correct information.


Science Vale UK surpasses Thames Valley

Science Vale UK and Oxford are outperforming other locations in the Thames Valley for new businesses moving into the area according to an independent report.

According to the report by Lambert Smith Hampton, take-up remained solid at 258,000 square foot for both Science Vale and Oxford, of which 42,000 was at Milton Park and 14,000 was occupied at Harwell.  Both of these sites are set to continue to attract more businesses by speculatively building new office and laboratory space.  Immunocore Ltd, a world-leading T-cell receptor company, recently announced further expansion at Milton Park with an extra 53,000 square foot.

Matthew Barber, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council said: “Science Vale UK has the highest concentration of science research facilities and development activity in Western Europe and this report clearly demonstrates that organisations are excited to move here.

“Within the Science Vale UK region, are two enterprise zones.  The zones offer discounted business rates and can help a qualifying organisation to save up to £55,000 a year in business rates for five years.  This, along with fast-track planning approval, have been the important foundations of success for the whole region.”


£175,000 available to improve local facilities – apply now!

Communities across the Vale of White Horse that are looking to improve local facilities can benefit from a share of £175,000 that is available from the district council.

The money can help fund a variety of facilities and improvements like building new skate parks or play areas, upgrading sports pavilions, improving a community hall or purchasing life-saving defibrillators.

The current round of applications closes at 4pm on 15 October and awards will be confirmed within 12 weeks.

For more information, visit or contact the team at or on 01235 422405.  


Hundreds raised as family fun is the icing on the cake at Chairman’s charity event

A cupcake sale and family fun afternoon organised by Vale of White Horse District Council’s Chairman has raised £190 for two charities.

Chairman Cllr Reg Waite hosted the event at the Northern Neighbourhood Community Centre, on Didcot’s Great Western Park. All proceeds from money raised will go to the Chairman’s two chosen charities for 2017/18 – the Children’s Air Ambulance and Alzheimer’s Society.


Vale Newsletter

Vale residents' survey - have your say

I have launched a new residents' survey on my website to ask people in the Vale about the local priorities that you think the District Council should be focussing on. It only takes a few minutes to complete and your responses will be really helpful in shaping future policy. Please click the button below to go straight to the survey, you can also add your own specific comments about whatever subject you think we should be doing more on. Thank you in advance for taking part and helping to improve local services.

Click to take part in my Vale residents' survey now...


First new waste and recycling trucks hit the road

The first of a new £6.5 million pound fleet of waste and recycling trucks will set out this week - ahead of schedule - marking the start of improved collections in southern Oxfordshire. Residents will begin to see some of the new trucks out collecting their recycling from today.


These are the first of an entire new fleet of vehicles to provide improved waste and recycling collections for all 115,000 households across South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse, replacing old trucks that have become unreliable.


Residents can stay informed about waste and recycling collections via the councils’ websites and are reminded of the change to collection days following the Bank Holiday on Monday 28 August. See


Planning permission 2,500 New homes at Grove airfield

After 20 years of talk building work on the long-awaited Grove Airfield development could get underway soon as planning permission has finally been issued. Plans for up to 2,500 homes on the old airfield at Grove have been officially granted outline planning permission after Persimmon Homes and Taylor Wimpey signed a legal agreement with Vale of White Horse District Council and Oxfordshire County Council that sets out the infrastructure the developers will provide to support the new housing.


Cllr Matthew Barber, leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “We are very pleased to have got to this stage – a lot of work and effort has gone into this from all parties. The expansion of Grove in the 60s and 70s gave thousands of families the opportunity to find a home of their own, in a good neighbourhood in the Vale. The airfield development will provide that opportunity to their children and grandchildren.”


Funding for community groups

Vale of White Horse District Council will be offering two grant schemes with £175,000 available to support the local community. The Capital Grants scheme and New Homes Bonus community grant scheme opens on 20 August and will run until 15 October for people to apply.


The Council was highly successful with both schemes last year, with the Capital grants scheme awarding £94,544 to organisations and the New Homes Bonus scheme awarding £98,066.

For more information on both schemes, please visit


Plastic bags for food waste

Residents in the Vale of White Horse can now use plastic bags to line their food waste bins and caddies. Food waste is collected every week and taken to Agrivert’s anaerobic digestion plant near Wallingford to be recycled into gas for electricity and fertiliser for local farmland.


The processing plant is now able to accept thin plastic bags, such as carrier bags, bread bags, paper wrappings, or normal pedal bin liners. Residents can also continue to use compostable bags or newspapers to line their caddies and bins, or put food straight in without any liner. Any bags used as liners will be removed at the processing plant and sent to an Energy Recovery Facility to be turned into energy.


During 2016/17, 10,024 tonnes of food waste was collected and sent for recycling in South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse. For further information about food waste recycling and other household waste and recycling collections, see the council's website: or call 03000 610610.


Lodge Hill junction on A34 gets go ahead

An announcement of government funding of more than £9 million towards major improvements to the A34 in Abingdon has been welcomed by Vale of White Horse District Council.


Council Leader Matthew Barber said the funding, announced today by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid following a bid by Oxfordshire County Council, is a huge step forward in securing a much-awaited scheme to create two new south-facing slip roads at the Lodge Hill Interchange. Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, says it will work with the Highways England, which manages the A34, to deliver the scheme as soon as possible.The district council will be seeking to secure further funding through legal agreements with developers of housing schemes.

See Oxfordshire County Council’s website for more information about the Lodge Hill Interchange.


New pay and display machines for district council car parks

Motorists using district council car parks in the Vale of White Horse will soon benefit from the use of new pay and display machines.


Following a successful trial, the new machines will be installed throughout August, starting in South Oxfordshire. They will allow you to pay by credit and debit card and also accept coins, including the new £1. Old £1 coins will continue to be accepted until they cease circulation on 15 October. Motorists will also still be able to pay by mobile phone via the Connect Cashless system.


New independent shops scheme to boost Abingdon town centre

Vale of White Horse District Council is launching the Independent Shops Project which will see key partners working with the council to develop initiatives to support independent businesses in the town centre.


The Independent Shops Project will be managed by Iain Nicholson, a town centre specialist who has worked on a number of successful initiatives, including town team projects in Wantage, Banbury, Swindon and Wallingford. Iain’s work in 2014 to help fill shop units in Wantage was instrumental in the town winning a Great British High Street Award.


In addition to the Independent Shops Project, Vale of White Horse District Council continues to support businesses in the town by contributing funds and resources to the Abingdon BID. In year one (2016/17) the Vale contributed approximately £34,000 towards the scheme, in addition to ongoing support and advice from the council’s Economic Development team.


Free advice, events and signposting are also on offer from Vale4Business which works with developers and retailers who are looking to move to the Abingdon area.


St Helen’s Mill flood wall completed for Abingdon

The Environment Agency and Vale of White Horse District Council have built a flood wall at St Helen’s Mill in Abingdon. It will reduce flood risk to homes at St Helen’s Mill and help to keep the access road to the car park open. We will routinely check the wall over the next year, to ensure it is working as it should be.


The flood wall has been designed with input from the local community to blend in with the local surroundings. Watch a short film of the St Helen’s Mill wall being built here: To find out more about this work visit:…



Vale Newsletter

Roadwork Alerts - Update

In last months newsletter I mentioned a great new email alert service that allowed you to get personalised updates on roadworks in your area. 

Unfortunately the link didn't seem to work for everyone so here it is again, hopefully with more luck this time...


Recycling centres get reprieve

Following a strong campaign by residents, particularly in the west of the Vale, Oxfordshire County Council have confirmed that all of the existing recycling centres will remain open. 

There had previously been plans to close the Stanford-in-the Vale tip, these proposals were opposed by the Vale after concerns were raised by local residents. The new contract with W&S Recycling will ensure that all of the sites, including Stanford and Drayton will remain open with no reduction in opening hours.


£99m for new National Satellite Testing Facility on the Harwell Campus

Due to open in early 2020, the new National Satelite Testing Facility (NSTF) will be a world-class facility for the assembly, integration and testing of space instruments and satellites, positioning the UK to capitalise on the estimated 3,500 -10,000 satellites that are due to be launched by 2025. It will also facilitate the build of bigger and more technologically advanced satellites and remove the need for UK companies to use test facilities located abroad.

The NSPF will allow companies and academia to test and develop space propulsion engines, alongside a new facility for Reaction Engines where the revolutionary SABRE air-breathing rocket engine will also be tested and built.


Harwell Link Road update

Work by Oxfordshire County Council on the link road continues with drainage items one of the current priorities. 
Traffic news

  • Traffic lights remain on the A417 whilst the final items are completed
  • On the B4493, traffic lights will be removed next week

South roundabout:
Traffic is now running on the south side of the A417 roundabout. The final layer of tarmac is due to be laid in September. Kerbstones and footpaths are complete with the block paving nearing completion and street lights coming soon.
 North roundabout
Gabion wall construction is underway on north side of the B4493 roundabout and on the other side drainage installation and service duct installation in progress. Kerbs are also being laid.



New sports facility for Wantage approved

At the Vale of White Horse Planning Committee earlier this week a new pitch and park area was given planning permission. The scheme by Wantage Town Football Club was supported by Wantage Town Council and will provide a great new facility for the town. 



New waste and recycling trucks on their way

£6.5 million pounds has been invested in a brand new fleet of waste and recycling trucks, providing new and improved collections to households across southern Oxfordshire.

The current trucks are now over seven years old and have always been due to be replaced in 2017. As they are reaching the end of their life, they have started to become unreliable with some unfortunately breaking down en-route. In recent weeks, this has started to cause some disruption to household collection services and we would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused to residents.

The councils and Biffa are working hard to resolve the problem, including drafting in extra vehicles and calling on the crews to work extra hours. In the event of non-collection of waste or recycling, residents are advised to leave their bins out and the crew will be back to collect them the next day.  

Missed bin collections can be reported online.


Faringdon Neighbourhood Plan clears challenge

The High Court has dismissed a legal challenge to the process carried out by Vale of White Horse District Council in making the Faringdon Neighbourhood Plan.

The Faringdon Neighbourhood Plan will remain part of Vale of White Horse District Council’s development plan, and the council will continue to use it to make decisions on planning applications in the town alongside the district-wide Local Plan.

Cllr Roger Cox, cabinet member for Planning at the Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “We are pleased that the decision of the High Court allows the Faringdon Neighbourhood Plan to continue in effect in its entirety, and as the people of the town voted for in its referendum last November. We are studying the court’s full decision in detail and will reflect on its findings.”


Public spaces protection order for Abingdon

Police in Abingdon have been granted new powers to fine people who cause vehicle related noise nuisance.

The new order, which also includes existing powers to help police tackle alcohol related anti-social behaviour, was given overwhelming backing by the public with more the than 89 per cent of people who took part in the consultation approving the measure. 

This follows concerns over incidents in the town’s car parks, where deliberate vehicle noise was causing a disturbance for people living nearby, Vale of White Horse District Council consulted local people on a proposed Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) to allow police to fine people who are causing the problem up to £100 if they refuse to stop.


Vale Newsletter

Thames Valley Police Open Day

The 2017 Open Day will be held on Saturday 5 August at the Thames Valley Police Training Centre at Sulhamstead House, in Sulhamstead, near Reading (postcode RG7 4DX).


The Force Open Day helps to promote greater understanding of the work of the various departments and specialist roles within the Force.

Click here to download the event poster below for more details...

The Rifles To Parade Through Faringdon

In 2016 the Rifles was granted The Freedom of the Vale of White Horse, which allows it to enter and parade through the towns and villages within the Vale. It will exercise the honour in Faringdon to mark the granting of this privilege to the regiment.


The Regiment will march into the Market Square at around midday on Sunday 25th June. The Rifles officer commanding the parade will officially ask permission to exercise the Freedom before the parade marches up Church St before returning for the Vice Lord Lieutenant to take the salute. About 140 members of the Regiment are expected to take part in the parade.


Thames Water Renew Plans For Giant Reservoir In The Vale

Once again Thames Water have renewed their proposal for a massive reservoir in the Vale, between Steventon and East Hanney. The Vale District Council continues to oppose the scheme as Thames Water have failed to provide adequate justification given other alternatives to improve supplies. 

Thames Water are running a 'drop-in' meeting about their plans at Steventon Village Hall on Monday 10th July from 2.00pm to 8.00pm.


Roadwork Alerts Straight To Your inbox

Information on the latest roadworks in your area of interest can be now be accessed at

You can also set up email alerts by clicking on the envelope icon on the top left hand side of the webpage.  It will only take a few minutes to complete your contact information and personalise the roads and areas that you'd like to receive alerts from. This will reduce the amount of emails you receive on this subject.


Ribbon Cut On Abingdon’s New Play Park

The new play park in Abingdon’s Abbey Meadow has been opened officially at a special ribbon cutting ceremony.

Local school children, including those who had helped with the project, joined the celebrations on Thursday 15 June as Cllr Reg Waite, Chairman of Vale of White Horse District Council, declared the new play park open. The new Abbey Meadow play park has been designed by play equipment specialists eibe who based their design on Abingdon’s history and the park’s location.


Didcot Garden Town Consultation Begins

Vale of White Horse District Council and South Oxfordshire District Council have published the Didcot Garden Town proposed delivery plan, the consultation will run until 31 July 2017.

The plan proposes significant new public open spaces, leisure facilities, schools, health centres and an upgrade to the station with improved access to the railway museum. Infrastructure, such as roads, cycle paths and utilities are planned alongside a mix of affordable and private rented homes.
Click here to find out more and view the consultation online.


Vale Local Plan Update

A big thank you to everyone who commented on the recent consultation on our draft Local Plan 2031 Part 2 Preferred Options. We received over 3,000 comments from over 500 individuals or organisations. 
Click here to download the latest bulletin on the the next steps for the Local Plan 2031 Part 2.  
It also includes an update our Five Year Housing Land Supply position and Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), as well as providing information on the Council’s Authority Monitoring Report (AMR) which was published recently.


Councils Recover Over £1.6million Unpaid Council Tax

Over £1.6million in council tax arrears was recovered last year thanks to enforcement action taken by South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils.


The councils also recovered and saved a further £167,000 after 62 people were caught claiming discounts on their council tax they weren’t entitled to.  This resulted in nine being prosecuted in court and 47 fined.


Cllr Matthew Barber, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “Help is always available for anyone who is genuinely struggling to pay, however if someone deliberately refuses to pay we won’t hesitate to take tough enforcement action - this could result in a court appearance, a prison sentence or even someone losing their home.”



Vale Newsletter

Oxford City Council "needs to pull its weight"
I have once again been pushing Oxford City Council to do more to deliver new housing. The Vale's consultation on our Local Plan Part 2 has just concluded and part of the task we have to deal with is addressing Oxford's unmet need. The Vale is addressing that challenge openly but there remain some difficult decisions for Oxford City Council to make. Residents in the Vale, and indeed elsewhere, have been shouldering the burden of development for some time and as I have said in the Oxford Mail recently it is only right that the City Council should pull its weight too. You can read the Oxford Mail article online by clicking here.


Cracking down on fly-tipping
Prosecutions for fly-tipping continue as the Vale seeks to crack down on environmental crime. In the most recent successes to go through the courts, thousands of pounds worth of fines have been handed out. These include a man who dumped a bath tub, toilet and sink in Longcot and another man who advertised his illegal waste services on Facebook.

If you see a fly-tip on public land in the Vale of White Horse please report it by calling 03000 610 610 or email


New business openings
On May 11 I was pleased to officially open the new UPS facility at Milton Park near Abingdon. The new centre is bigger and has capacity for even further growth, a testament to our strong local economy. It comes ahead of the planned opening of UPS's new London Hub which also shows the companies continued confidence in the national economy. 



Putting Victims First
Through the office of the Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner we have launched a new service called Victims First to support victims of crime.

A new website has information and advice to help people to recognise hidden crimes such as modern slavery, domestic abuse, including coercive control, and hate crime.


The General Election is only a month away
The general election is now only four weeks away. To register to vote or to request a postal  a vote visit or call the Vale's elections office on 01235 422528.



Free digital workshops for businesses

Businesses in the Vale of White Horse can find out how digital marketing, Google ranking and Google Ads can help raise their profile and income, thanks to a series of free workshops taking place this year.

The free digital workshops are being organised by Vale of White Horse District Council’s Vale4Business and local online marketing experts Zanzi Digital to help people understand how they can use web based activities to boost their business. The remaining workshops for this year are:

  • Wednesday 17 May - How to make digital marketing work harder for your business
  • Wednesday 20 September - Make your Google Ad campaign stand out from the crowd in 20 minutes a week

All workshops take place between 8.30am and 10am at the Milton Park Innovation Centre, 99 Park Drive, Milton Park, Milton, OX14 4RY.

Register for a workshop now by visiting (a fauty link has been provided).

Cllr Matthew Barber, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council said: “These workshops will provide vital advice for businesses looking to improve their online presence.  Vale4Business is staging these events to help ensure that small businesses throughout the district have access to free advice which could help increase their trade and, in turn, boost the local economy.”


Call for landlords to join White Horse Lettings

Landlords with properties to let in Oxfordshire are being encouraged to sign up to White Horse Lettings. 

Run by South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils, White Horse Lettings offers long-term rental accommodation to people on the housing waiting list.  Around 250 landlords are already registered but more are required to provide much needed homes for families on lower incomes. 

White Horse Lettings is looking for good quality flats, houses and rooms, and tenants are ready to move in.  All tenants are carefully vetted beforehand to make sure they are suitable. 

White Horse Lettings staff are part of the councils’ housing advice team with many years’ experience in managing rental homes and providing accommodation. They support landlords throughout the tenancy and all services including paperwork, inventories and tenancy advice are free of charge. 

If you have a suitable property please contact White Horse Lettings on 01235 422422, or visit


Garden Town update

Thousands of residents, businesses and the wider community have contributed to proposals for Didcot Garden Town. The Didcot Garden Town proposals are now being updated, following this extensive engagement programme, and will no longer include proposals for a new technical college and associated flats in Ladygrove.  The councils are now working to amend the plans - ensuring people’s views are taken into account. The final Didcot Garden Town Delivery plan will be published for consultation in May.  In January South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils revealed their innovative draft Masterplan for Didcot Garden Town.  These initial plans included a better connected town centre, significant new public open space, a new leisure centre, the potential to upgrade the station, a mix of affordable and private rented homes, and new infrastructure.  This followed input from residents who had been asked what they wanted to see from a Garden Town.  Cllr Matthew Barber, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “Didcot Garden Town will benefit thousands of residents in southern Oxfordshire.  We’ll see many new facilities, a vast increase in the amount of public open space, and it will also help to ensure we get the infrastructure needed to support the new homes in the area.”


Local Plan Part 2 consultation - three weeks left

You still have the chance to have your say on Part Two of the District Council's Local Plan.

The council adopted part one of its local plan in December last year – this explained where the main housing sites in the district could be built and identified the infrastructure that the district will need to support them.

Part two of the plan includes the detailed policies the council will use when making day to day decisions on planning applications. It will also explain how it proposes to accommodate 2,200 homes for Oxford that they have agreed to plan for within the Vale.

Residents can read the draft version of the Local Plan 2031 Part Two and find out how to make comments at Paper copies are available at libraries and council offices. The consultation is open for comments until 5pm on 4 May.


Police & Crime Plan launched

A new Police & Crime Plan for the Thames Valley has been launched by the Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC). The document, which covers the period 2017 – 2021, sets out the priorities for policing and other crime reduction organisations across the Thames Valley, including the response to regional and national threats.

This new Plan consists of five broad strategic priorities which are:

Vulnerability – Managing demand on services through working together with a particular focus on mental health, elder abuse, hidden abuse, and the criminal justice experience for victims of domestic and sexual abuse
Prevention and Early Intervention – Improving safeguarding in both the physical space and virtual space including tackling cyber crime, road safety, peer on peer abuse, hate crime and female genital mutilation (FGM)
Reducing Re-offending – Targeting and managing harm and risk with a focus on substance misuse, violence involving weapons and offender management including perpetrators of domestic abuse
Serious Organised Crime and Terrorism – Improving the local response including increased public awareness, promoting a ‘dare to share’ culture, and preventing violent extremism and the exploitation of vulnerable people.
Police Ethics and Reform – Increasing the pace of change with a focus on improved support for victims, accelerated uptake of new technology, and improving the perceptions of police among young people
You can view the full Police and Crime Plan here


New Thames Valley Police website

Thames Valley Police have relaunched their website:

This is the culmination of a collaboration project between Thames Valley Police and Hampshire Constabulary, working with the Police ICT Company and the Digital Policing Programme. The design and operation will be a national solution which is expected to be available to all police forces in the coming years.

It’s a new look, but the address is the same: - do go and have a look.


Better Oxfordshire plans submitted to Government

Proposals for a single council for Oxfordshire have been submitted to the Secretary of State.This is a significant moment for the communities of Oxfordshire, who under a new single council will receive better, simpler joined up services, saving taxpayers millions of pounds each year and ensuring good quality services for generations to come.

It is expected that the government will make a final decision on our proposal later this year, but work is already underway to ensure all six councils work together effectively on delivering a new council for Oxfordshire in 2019.

Read the Better Oxfordshire proposal at








A New Council For A Better Oxfordshire

new council for better oxfordshireProposals for better local government for Oxfordshire have been formally supported by a unanimous vote at the Vale of White Horse District Council – offering real power and influence to every local community in the county.


The joint proposal: ‘A new council for a Better Oxfordshire’, makes the case for abolishing the existing two-tier structure of six councils - replacing them with one single council for Oxfordshire.


The detailed plans by Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire District Councils and Oxfordshire County Council, are the result of joint working on a revised proposal, following engagement with thousands of residents and community groups across the county – who support a new council, providing it is more local and offers better joined up services.


Seventy per cent of Oxfordshire residents agree with the draft proposal to abolish all six councils and replace them with one unitary council for the whole of Oxfordshire. This result is based on an independent representative household survey commissioned by Oxfordshire County Council.


Oxfordshire at its heart – the Better Oxfordshire proposal sets out how parish and town councils will play a bigger role under a new single council. Once established, the council will set up between 15 and 20 local area boards covering market towns and surrounding areas across Oxfordshire – giving communities a strong voice and ensuring local matters are heard. They will have significant budgets and the ability to make important local decisions such as prioritising investment in local transport and tackling anti-social behaviour.


There will be fewer councillors, with each unitary councillor representing their community as a local area board member and as a councillor for the new council, giving them a much greater say in their services than under the current two-tier system. Cllr Matthew Barber, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council said: “The Better Oxfordshire proposal will ensure Oxfordshire continues to be a great place to live, work and bring up a family. Importantly it will join up important services such as housing, social care and homelessness, enabling the new council to prioritise people’s needs and plan effectively. We are working jointly with South Oxfordshire District Council and Oxfordshire County Council to ensure local communities play a big role with the new council. A single council for Oxfordshire will be simpler, more local and will deliver better services at a lower cost. We have ensured that these revised proposals provide for more local area boards, so that communities across Oxfordshire can have their say on important local issues, from setting car parking charges and tackling anti-social behaviour.”


The survey results show that overall 70% of people surveyed agreed with abolishing the six councils and setting up a unitary council, and 20% disagreed. The majority agreed with abolishing the six councils and setting up a unitary council in all district and city council areas, including those districts which are actively campaigning who disagreed:

· 78% in West Oxfordshire
· 75% in South Oxfordshire
· 69% in Oxford
· 67% in Vale of White Horse
· 63% in Cherwell.

You can read the full proposal: A new council for a Better Oxfordshire at:


Residents invited to comment on Vale of White Horse Local Plan Part Two

Residents living in the Vale of White Horse district will have a chance to influence how decisions are made on local planning applications, as the district council consults on part two of its local plan. The council adopted part one of its local plan in December last year – this explained where the main housing sites in the district could be built and identified the infrastructure that the district will need to support them.


Part two of the plan includes the detailed policies the council will use when making day to day decisions on planning applications. It will also explain how it proposes to accommodate 2,200 homes for Oxford that they have agreed to plan for within the Vale.


Residents can read the draft version of the Local Plan 2031 Part Two and find out how to make comments at Paper copies are available at libraries and council offices. The consultation is open for comments until 5pm on 4 May.


The Vale is holding a range of public events for residents to find out more about the plan and ask the council’s planning policy officers any questions they have. If you would like to take part in a public meeting please email or call our Customer Service Team on 01235 422600 (there is no need to book exhibitions).

Drop-in Exhibition
Saturday 11 March 10am-2pm
Jubilee Room, Pump House, Faringdon

Drop-in Exhibition
Tuesday 14 March 1-6pm
Main hall, Wootton and Dry Sandford Community Centre

Public Meeting
Tuesday 14 March 7-8.30pm Arrival time – 6.30pm
Main hall, Wootton and Dry Sandford Community Centre

Drop-in Exhibition
Wednesday 15 March 11am-2pm
Cricket Pavillion Harwell Campus

Drop-in Exhibition and Public Meeting
Monday 20 March Exhibition 5.30-7.30pm Public Meeting 6-7.30pm Arrival time 5.30pm
Public Health England Building, Harwell Campus

Drop-in Exhibition
Saturday 18 March 10am-2pm
St Helen’s Church Centre, Abingdon

Drop-in Exhibition
Tuesday 21 March 1-6.30pm
Large Hall, Southmoor Village Hall, Kingston Bagpuize

Drop-in Exhibition
Saturday 25 March 10am-2pm
The Barn, Vale and Downland Museum, Wantage

Drop-in Exhibition
(joint event with South Oxfordshire District Council) Wednesday 5 April 1-7pm
Cornerstone, Didcot

A better unitary proposal for Oxfordshire

As you might have seen, Oxfordshire County Council has launched a proposal entitled “One Oxfordshire” calling for a single unitary council to be created for the whole of Oxfordshire.
My priority is to ensure that any new council gets the best of both economies of scale, but just as importantly that the importance of local communities are recognised. Local decision making will be key in making a single county unitary a success.
On this basis, the Vale of White Horse District Council is working with South Oxfordshire District Council and Oxfordshire County Council on a joint proposal for a single unitary authority, which will transform the way we deliver our services to people of Oxfordshire for the better.
Having raised this issue last year it is clear that a single unitary council will provide the best prospects for maintaining high quality services and secure badly needed investment in infrastructure, including housing, roads and health care. The Vale of White Horse District Council will play an important role in developing the final joint proposals for a unitary council and will ensure they have a strong local influence for our communities and offer value for money.
Oxfordshire County Council are asking residents across Oxfordshire for their views on these proposals – you can find out more here.
The final proposal will be submitted to government in the spring subject to approval by our Full Council. We will keep residents updated on progress and decisions made.

My 10k Monster Race

I’m running a 10k obstacle race to raise funds for for SpecialEffect because of the fantastic work they do to improve lives.

In 2016 I ran the 5k Monster Race for Special Effect. Now I am challenging myself to two laps! 10 kilometres (that’s just over 6 miles in old money) through mud, icy water and over obstacles that seem to get higher the more exhausted you are.

Thank you again to those who supported me last time and I hope you will sponsor me for the 2017 Monster Race by clicking

Didcot Garden Town masterplan unveiled

Over the past few months, town and parish councillors, schools, businesses, landowners, partners and residents from Didcot and the surrounding villages have all given their thoughts on what a new Garden Town could include.

Over 4,000 comments have been made, through face to face meetings and via the dedicated Didcot Garden Town website – which has helped to shape the proposals set out in the draft masterplan.

The main features include a better connected town centre, with safe cycle routes to multiple locations, including the Harwell Campus, Mowbray Fields nature reserve, Didcot Parkway, allotments and Culham, and a new Leisure Centre in the North East of the town. There is also potential to upgrade the station and the access to the railway museum.

Ensuring green spaces between the edge of the town and the surrounding villages is also an important part of our proposals.

The draft plans have been published on the Didcot Garden Town website where everyone who lives, works and visits Didcot and the surrounding villages to comment on these proposals.

The final draft Didcot Garden Town Delivery Plan will be published for public consultation in the spring of 2017, followed by a six week consultation.

Extending East-West Rail to Grove and beyond

Ed Vaizey MP has successfully brought together MP’s, Local Authories and LEP’s (Local Enterprise Partnerships) from Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and Swindon to take forward exciting proposals to open a new rail line west of Oxford, running through to Bristol.

The new rail line could be an extension of the already planned East-West line linking Oxford to Cambridge and could include a new “parkway” station at Grove as well others in Corsham and Royal Wooton Bassett.

The new group plans to meet regularly to develop concrete proposals which could be taken forward by government.

The new link between Cambridge and Oxford will provide a vital economic corridor between two of the most vibrant parts of Britain. Our proposals involve extending that link through Wantage/Grove, Swindon and Wiltshire, to provide vital connectivity between Bristol, Swindon and Oxford, linking up communities and stimulating economic growth. In particular this could significantly relieve pressure on the A420 between Oxford and Swindon.

Operation Hornet: One of the largest frauds ever investigated

Thames Valley Police, together with the Crown Prosecution Service, has just completed the investigation and prosecution of one of the largest fraud cases it has ever undertaken.

The sum of money lost by HBoS as a result of the actions of a corrupt senior employee and others was at the very least £250M. He and his fellow conspirators embarked on a spending spree involving yachts in the Mediterranean, villas in Barbados and Majorca, prostitutes, overseas bank accounts, and a general high life. This has been at the expense of the shareholders of the bank, and many medium and small companies which have been bankrupted and ruined. Little will be recovered.

This case highlights the lack of coherence in tackling major fraud in this country. The case is estimated to have cost Thames Valley more than £7m and with finite resources this puts additional pressure on police officer time that could be used to tackle other issues.

I add my congratulations to the Thames Valley Police officers and staff who have pursued this case to a successful conclusion over the last 6 years. It has been an uphill struggle at times, and their persistence has been rewarded.

Honouring Sargeant Edward Mott VC 100 years on

Towards the end of last month I had the privilege to join over 100 others at St Peter's Church in Drayton for a very special service. We were gathered to commemorate the remarkable achievements of one particular 'son of Drayton'. Edward Mott was born in the village in 1893 and after joining the army in 1910 he served in the First World War. Whilst still a corporal he earned the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) at Gallipoli. He was shot whilst carrying his injured commanding officer and leading his company against enemy fire. He was later sent back to Gallipoli and was shot again, this time in the face!

For most people that would have been more than enough, but Edward was then sent to the Somme. It was whilst serving on the Western Front that he earned the Victoria Cross.

The citation on his award read:

"Although severely wounded in the eye, Sergeant Mott made a rush for the gun and after a fierce struggle, seized the gunner and took him prisoner, capturing the gun. It was due to the dash and initiative of this NCO that the left flank attack succeeded.”

He survived the war and returned to live locally in the Vale. During the Second World War he served as a guard at RAF Milton Hill. Edward Mott's story is truly inspiring and the few paragraphs here do not do it justice. As the Bishop of Dorchester, who presided at the service, reminded the congregation - Seargant Mott's accomplishments and the modesty with which he bore his bravery are testimony to the difference individuals can make. We should all strive to show the kind of bravery displayed by Edward, whatever our background or role in life.

Have your say on the Community Infrastructure Levy

Residents in the Vale of White Horse have until Thursday 26 January to have their say on changes to the way funding is secured for new and improved infrastructure in the district.

The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) will allow Vale of White Horse District Council to raise funds from new housing and business developments for infrastructure projects which support the growth of the district. This could include new schools, transport improvements, flood defences, and community, leisure, and health and social care facilities.

For further information and to have your say please


Southern Oxfordshire New Business Competition 2017

Are you a new business that has achieved great success in the last two years? If so the Southern Oxfordshire New Business Competition is for you! The winner will receive a 12 month package of support including a free serviced office or workshop, expert marketing and social media advice, IT consultancy and support, skilled accountancy services, a full programme of business mentoring and publicity.

Applications are now open and close 28 February 2017. Competition details and application form are available at


Vale welcomes second Syrian refugee family

Vale of White Horse District Council has welcomed its second Syrian refugee family to the district, with four more families due to arrive later this year.

The council is committed to taking in six Syrian refugee families altogether and are calling for more private landlords to get in touch. They are offering a good package of support as an incentive.

The package of support includes; two months deposit; two month’s rent-in-advance; a tenancy securement fee; direct payment of rent to the landlord and ongoing tenancy support.

Private landlords who might be able to offer suitable three-bedroom properties to help refugee families are asked to contact Vale of White Horse District Council on 01235 422442.


Grants for community events

Community groups in the Vale of White Horse looking to stage local festivals can claim up to £1,000 grant funding - but they need to apply by Wednesday 1 March.
Vale of White Horse District Council which offers grants to non-profit community organisations, still has funds available to support local festivals taking place over the next 12 months. The funding can cover up to 75 per cent of the total cost of staging festivals open to the local community.
Events the council has helped to fund recently include the Abingdon Cycle Festival, ATOM (Oxfordshire Science Festival), ffennel Festival, and Wantage Summer Festival.
If you need help to fund a local festival in the Vale of White Horse visit


Sign up for 2017 Business Breakfast

Vale of White Horse District Council invites you to our 2017 Business Breakfast, held at De Vere Oxford Thames Hotel in Sandford-on-Thames, just outside Oxford, on Tuesday 21st February 2017 from 7:30am - 10:00am.

Registration opens at 7.30am and a complimentary light breakfast will be available before the first presentations at 8:00am.

Find out more and register for this free event at


New powers for to reduce noise nuisance in Abingdon

Police in Abingdon could get new powers to fine people who cause vehicle related noise nuisance.

This follows concern over incidents in the town’s car parks where the revving of engines, loud bass stereos and screeching tyres have created a disturbance for people living nearby, and caused some residents to feel intimidated.

To help tackle the problem, Vale of White Horse District Council is proposing a new Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO). This would allow police to fine people who cause vehicle related noise nuisance. It also includes existing powers to help police tackle alcohol related anti-social behaviour.

People in Abingdon can have their say on the proposed Public Spaces Protection Order by visiting Comments close at midnight on Monday 6 February 2017.