Village News

At last! B4016 potholes to be fixed in August

June 14, 2018

The B4016 is to be closed on August 20th for approximately four days in order to carry out ‘structural patching’ to the many deep potholes that have been plaguing local drivers since the winter. The affected stretch will be between the Sheencroft turning to the Astons and East Hagbourne war memorial (see map).

Note that the suggested diversion is shown as going through Harwell village, as the map does not show the new link road between Great Western Park and the A417.

 

Fundraising Dave sets new world record

March 23, 2018

On April 29th, fitness trainer Dave Whitlock set a new world record by completing 4696 consecutive chest-to-floor burpees in a 12-hour fund-raising marathon at Blewbury Village Hall.

Beating the previous record of 4546 by a massive 150, Dave saw his wish of raising money for two village causes – the Village Hall itself and the Blewbury Pre-school Playgroup – come dramatically true. “Both facilities are vital to the village of Blewbury,” said Dave before the big day. “They are the heart and soul for events and for families. The pre-school has seen generations of Blewburians pass through its doors and I want it to be able to do the same for many more.”

Despite the gruelling physical punishment, Dave still managed a smile for cheering supporters as he held up his new world-beating score (see picture, taken from the live Facebook feed). He also smashed what he always said was his real goal, which to raise £2,000 for his chosen causes. At the time of writing, the total collected on his JustGiving page stands at £3,175, and it’s still open for business!

Blewbury School News

May 29, 2018

As Parent Governor for Class 6 at Blewbury School, I have the pleasure to observe their lessons from time to time.

I am always impressed by the levels of concentration, attention and genuine interest the children display in learning both new and traditional subjects. It is an amazing journey for me to look back at my school days in East Hagbourne and see how many similarities there are in today’s lessons and also the stark contrast in how times have changed. The most obvious difference is in technology. I dreamt of the day when we would have devices similar to the ones portrayed in Star Trek and The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, and now the dream is a reality. As a result, there are no more trips to the local library on a nightly basis to find the solutions to homework questions (some may say this is a bad thing!), as so many of the answers can be found in a portable device which can be carried around with us. The speed in which we can obtain information is incredible in comparison to just a handful of years ago. It is also wonderful to see how “tech savvy” our children are at such a young age. It puts many of us to shame, but at the same time shows the key skills they learn so adeptly which future industries will require.

Technology also has its challenges, and one which is faced by Blewbury School is that of “keeping up”. On my most recent visit I was a little saddened to see that the children were having difficulties with their IT equipment, and further to a conversation with their teacher, Mrs. Galbraith, I learned that some of them are using, by IT standards, fairly antiquated equipment. For those of you who are into their tech, you will know that there is nothing more frustrating than having out of date kit. It becomes slow, clunky and unable to perform the tasks demanded by more modern equipment. Upon further investigation, the root cause is lack of funds, over the last couple of years and the school needs to find £13,000 per year to fill the hole in the IT budget.

I was reminded of a recent news article from the BBC which said that four in ten parents are asked to contribute regularly to school funds, and whilst no parents are obliged to contribute, desperate times require desperate measures. So here is a plea, on behalf of all of the Blewbury School Governors and Teachers to all Blewbury residents. The village is only as good as its school. The Blewbury School Governors would like to ask you to set up a regular donation to the school to help with the budget shortfall and give our children the tools for the education they need. Through Just Giving you can set up a standing order or make a one-off donation. If 220 villagers were to pledge £5 per month we would hit our target. That’s about the price of a glass of wine in the local pub! It would make a huge difference to the school, so please do consider helping in any way you can. In order to make a donation please go to https://www.justgiving.com/blewburyprimaryschool or if you prefer there is a donate button you can click on the school website at http://www.blewbury.oxon.sch.uk  or you can ring the School Office on 850411. You will be helping our children to find the answers to Life, The Universe and Everything!

Michael Evans Class 6 Parent Governor

 

Sustainable Blewbury

Green drinks: Monday, 4th June, 7.30 pm at The Blueberry

Everyone is welcome to come and discuss sustainability and environmental (green) issues (hence ‘green drinks’), local and further afield, with others of similar passion. No set agenda and very informal. Just turn up.

Blewbury Garden Market

Our ninth season is now running. We buy and sell fresh, local garden fruit and veg, flowers, bedding plants and seedlings, home-made bread, cakes and preserves, and (hopefully) local honey and eggs. Producers please bring items to sell from 9.15 am. For more info and sales forms see www.sustainable-blewbury.org.uk/food.htm.

25th Anniversary Celebration! Sunday, 30th September 2018 – please add to your diary

The exact format of the day has not yet been decided, but we want to delve into our past, so we would like to hear from you if you were involved in the Environment Group from 1993 until it evolved into Sustainable Blewbury in 2009. Do you have memories of Environment Group projects? And do you have any photographs you are willing to share with us? If so please contact Jo Lakeland at: info@sustainable-blewbury.org.uk or 850490.

New officers for Sustainable Blewbury

At our AGM on 23rd April we elected a new chairman, Glen Meadows. After a long period without a secretary, Jane Kinniburgh has taken on this role. John Ogden continues as treasurer. Jo Lakeland and Eric Eisenhandler have stood down after three years as co-chairs but they remain as very active members of the Core Group, along with James Morgan and David Lomas. For details of who is co-ordinating our various projects, see the web page at:
www.sustainable-blewbury.org.uk/project.htm.

BLEWBURY FREECYCLE

FREE ITEMS TO A GOOD HOME

E-MAIL TEL NO.
Trampoline: approx. 12ft diameter.  The protective net around the sides needs replacing

Mike Morrell

mikemorrell4@gmail.com

07921 677003

·   Mothercare folding high chair, with large and small trays, padded plastic seat cover and harness.

·   Ultimate Isofix Concord baby car seat (0-18kg) (complete)

·   New (boxed) Sunflex white fabric black-out roller blind 120cm wide, 169 cm drop. Can be cut to size

·   Unused (open box but unfitted and complete) white fabric roller blind. 60cm wide 160cm drop. Can be cut to size

Jill and Michael Allen jill.c.allen@btinternet.com 07773 159752 or 01235 851870

·   Maxisteam 200w wallpaper stripper

·   Black & Decker 12v Dustbuster (hand held vacuum)

·   Zanussi 6kg Tumble Dryer (60cm x 60cm x 85cm high)

·   Hotpoint Future FZA50 Larder style freezer (60 x 60 x 134cm high)

·   Proline 92L capacity Fridge (50 x 50 x 83cm high)

David Wood

dwewood70@gmail.com

07813 211248 or 01235 850420
Brother DCP-J140W printer

Mary Hughes

maryelainehughes@hotmail.co.uk

07796 023842
2 black metal 2 seater benches (94cm wide) Susan Tilbrook
djtsjt@btinternet.com
01235 850066
To freecycle your item please send a short description, email & phone number to Lydia Inglis (lydandmuz@gmail.com)

To find out more about Sustainable Blewbury, go to www.sustainable-blewbury.org.uk.
Getting involved is fun and can make a very positive contribution to village life and the local environment.
If you’d like to get involved in what we do, or to receive our free Newsletter, email
us at
info@sustainable-blewbury.org.uk or phone John Ogden at 01235 850372.

 

Two things you may not know about food waste

June 1, 2018

Last month a parish councillor visited Agrivert’s ‘anaerobic digestion’ facility in Wallingford, which processes 20,000 tonnes of food waste from our area each year.

Caddy bags are delivered by lorry, then fed into a machine which mechanically removes the waste from its packaging. It is then macerated and digested anaerobically in large sealed tanks. This process creates enough energy to power 4,800 homes (via biogas, converted in gas engines into electricity). It also creates enough nutrient-rich fertiliser to cover 2,500 acres of local farmland. The whole process captures 4.5 million m3 of methane every year, which is equivalent to removing 71,000 cars from the road.

There were two clear messages from the visit: firstly, there is no benefit to using compostable bags in your food waste bin (the process isn’t warm enough to compost the bags, and the plant is designed to remove all packaging, so you might as well use whatever bag you have to hand, including any plastic ones lurking in your cupboard). Secondly, there is still a huge amount of food waste going into black bins in our area. The waste from our black bins is incinerated (an energy-hungry process), whereas this plant converts our waste and effectively recycles it for a new purpose, so please do your bit and chuck your food waste in a caddy!

BLEWBURY WI NEWS

May 29, 2018

Hello to everyone. June is approaching fast. Midsummer already. Hopefully we will have some real Summer weather? Lovely long, warm, sunny days and balmy evenings, sitting on the patio, watching the sun go down. Well, we can dream?

Following is a list of our Blewbury WI events being held during June 2018 and we would love to welcome some new Members to join us.

  • Friday, 1st Craft evening at Liz’s. 7pm. Please ring beforehand.
  • Tuesday, 5th Lyn’s Walk.  We will be re-doing a previous walk – outside Blewbury. Meet at the Village Hall at 9am. Transport sorted on the day. Hopefully the weather will not beat us this time and the paths should not be water logged. We will definitely be having lunch, so pennies will be needed.
  • Wednesday, 6th Scrabble at Cilla’s.  7.30pm.  Please ring beforehand.
  • Wednesday, 13th Coffee at Style Acre.  10.30am.
  • Friday, 15th Talking Science lecture at R.A.L. Harwell.  1.30pm.  “Seeing cancer before it is cancer: illuminating the way with ALICE by seeing the invisible.”  Dr. Michele Siggel-King.
  • Wednesday, 27th WI monthly meeting – in the Main Hall.  7.30pm.  Speaker- Gilly Pusey.  “Handspinning & Natural Dyeing”

For more details of any of our events, or if you wish to join us, please ring Karen on 850219 or visit our web page, http://blewburywi.wordpress.com where you will find more information.       Love from Cilla.

 

BELL RINGING NEWS FROM BLEWBURY TOWER

Each month The Old North Berks Branch (our branch) of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers organises practice events at various towers within the branch aimed at giving ringers the opportunity to develop their ringing.

The fourth Wednesday of every month is an afternoon practice for ringers who need help with learning a method or want to improve their striking. April’s Wednesday practice was extended to a mini outing visiting Burghclere, Kintbury and a very enjoyable lunch stop before the last tower, Hungerford. In May the practice was at Blewbury.

The wedding season is very much upon us, and it is always a pleasure to ring for such a happy occasion. At a recent wedding a guest asked if the bells were a recording, needless to say the ringers that day were delighted that the bells had sounded so good!

On the subject of weddings, by the time you receive the June bulletin the Royal Wedding will have taken place, Blewbury is marking the occasion by ringing a quarter peal.

There are several other occasions in the coming month where the bells will be ringing more than the usual Friday evenings and Sunday mornings, we hope you enjoy hearing them.

POST OFFICE NEWS

We will be closed on Saturday 26th May & Monday 28th May, as it’s the Bank Holiday, & I really need to catch up in the garden! I am also away from work in late June. Maggie will be open on Saturday 23rd & Monday 25th as usual, but Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday & Friday will be open mornings only, as she has Granny duties in the afternoons! Also closed on that Saturday too, 30th June!

We have Owl stamps available now, and Royal Wedding presentation packs. Royal Academy stamps out on 5th June, & Dads Army on 26th June, and we may get the TUC commemorative ones too, for June 1st! We are still waiting for the new 10p’s!

Tickets for the Summer Dance are now available, and the box for donations for the Didcot Food bank is still here too. We have the schedules for the VPA Summer show, brochures for Oxfordshire Artweeks, and sometimes we have local eggs, rhubarb, tomato plants etc, and other plants too, as available!

Don’t forget that banking facilities are available for almost all banks now, including cash withdrawals & cash or cheque deposits. Royal Mail collect at 4.30pm or 9.30am (official time) on Wednesdays & Saturdays, although the posties do try to leave it to later on if they can. Rushing in at closing time and expecting the postie to be waiting just for you, is not going to happen, as a few people think happens! Parcelforce collect at 3pm ish, just as the school comes out, which makes it a bit squished sometimes in the car park!

Dry cleaning is collected & returned on Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays, very handy if you are not going into town! They do a good job, and are very reasonably priced too! Love from Karen & Maggie

BRIDGE CLUB

New membership forms are now available which help the club comply with its obligations under the new Data Protection Regulations, and many members have already signed these. If you have not been to the club in the past couple of weeks and been given the opportunity to sign one there are copies available on club nights – please do ask the Director for one.

If playing as a visitor there are separate, simpler forms available – one for those who are already EBU members and another for those who are not. In the event that you decline to sign the new form, but continue to play at the club anyway, your agreement to the contents of the form will be inferred.

Richard Brodie and Michael Allen did reasonably well at the final of the Waller Bowl, finishing 15th out of a total of 56 pairs. There are still 2 Friday evening Novices’ Sessions planned on Fridays 1st and 8th June before a break for the summer.   Michael Allen  851870

The pothole problem: OCC’s response

May 10, 2018

At the request of a Blewbury resident, local MP Ed Vaizey recently asked Oxfordshire County Council to comment on the current state of local roads. Here is the official response from their Infrastructure Delivery manager, dated May 8th:

Dear Mr Vaizey,

Thank you for your email dated the 27th March regarding the condition of roads in and around Oxfordshire and I apologise in the delay in responding to your queries.

I appreciate that road conditions in Oxfordshire, and indeed across the whole country are far from ideal and share your concerns but assure you that the council is doing all it can to both ensure that the budgets that are made available to the council are used as effectively as possible and in seeking to attract additional funding from government and other sources to address the current shortfall in budgets.

Oxfordshire is not alone in maintaining a highway network in decline, with recent surveys showing that over 17% of all local authority roads are considered to be in poor condition. Whilst, the position in Oxfordshire is slightly better than the national average with only 13% of roads considered to be in poor condition, this still represents 362 miles of road that are in need of significant repair which we recognise is not good enough. It is currently estimated that to resurface all the roads that are in poor condition in the County would cost approximately £132 million. The council however, only receives around £13m per year from Government to maintain all of its highway assets including roads, footways, bridges, street lights, traffic signals etc.

With many significant demands on council budgets, and in particular those relating to adult and child social care, it is difficult for local authorities to significantly subsidise the money provided by central government for highway maintenance. With almost all highway authorities reporting a significant backlog of maintenance, it is clear that there is not enough money in the system to maintain local road networks in a good condition using traditional methods, indeed with the money made available to the county, the council is only able to fund approximately 15-20 miles of resurfacing each year. It is imperative therefore that highway authorities use this challenge to drive efficiency and innovation, whilst also seeking to increase the funding available.

The council therefore has to take a prudent view in the way it maintains its highway and to this end, the County Council has a Highway Asset Management Plan that seeks to balance the costly repair of roads that are already in the poorest condition with cheaper resurfacing schemes on roads to prevent them also falling into disrepair to prevent potholes occurring in the first place and the need for more costly repairs on those roads at a later date. This however, still leaves many roads where pot holes are occurring to which the council needs to react to ensure that the roads are kept safe.

The County Council has therefore also invested in a “Dragon Patcher” a couple of years ago and have recently introduced a second one. This machine is the first of its type in the country and is enabling the council to fill potholes at a cost of approximately £20 per pothole compared to the almost £90 using previous methods. This machine therefore plays an important role in allowing the council to afford the cost of repairing potholes that it may not otherwise have been able to afford to repair in the past and ensures that the Council is able to undertake the right repairs for each pothole.

The ability to fill more potholes than before ensures that the road is sealed as far as practicable. Water ingress into the carriageway substructure is a major factor in the deterioration of roads, as when the water freezes it expands and breaks up the fabric of the highway. The use of the Dragon Patcher therefore will significantly help in preventing more rapid deterioration of the highway network and ensure that the funding that the council has available can be targeted at addressing the backlog of maintenance that the council faces.

The Council works closely with other authorities and the Department of Transport both in sharing good practice to make all highway authorities more efficient and effective, and in informing the need for additional funding. I am pleased to say that the Government has recognised the pressure placed on authorities from potholes and has recently allocated an additional £2.7 million pound to Oxfordshire to help address the current problem with potholes that have arisen as a result of the poor winter. This will help extend the amount of proactive work that the council can undertake over the next few months. The Council has an excellent history of success in bidding for additional money from Central Government for highway improvements and maintenance over the last decade and we will continue to make such bids as and when opportunities become available.

Whilst this additional money is welcomed, it is still not enough to get on top of the problem within Oxfordshire and so we will continue to be seeking opportunities for additional investment and innovative solutions to undertake maintenance more efficiently to ensure that the needs of the County and its road users are met.

With regards to council investment in other schemes, such as green areas, whilst I cannot comment on the approaches taken by South Oxfordshire District and Didcot Town Councils, the investment that Oxfordshire County Council has undertaken in improvement schemes such as Harwell Link Road and Backhill Tunnel at Milton Park were undertaken following successful bids to Government for these schemes to help offset the impact of growth in the County, and for which the money secured was ringfenced for this purpose. The Council were therefore unable to reallocate this funding to other urgent activity such as road repair.

I regret that I am not able to provide you with assurance that the condition of roads will significantly improve in the near future however, I hope that the above has reassured you that the Council, and other authorities, are actively taking steps to try and address this issue.