Village News

 BLEWBURY AND UPTON VILLAGE PRODUCE ASSOCIATION

August 24, 2018

Your Local Village Gardening Club

What a heat-wave we’ve had!! At least it’s cooled down and we’re now getting a few showers. Our August visit to the RHS Gardens at Wisley was a great success with twenty nine intrepid travellers taking advantage of our coach trip and enjoying a cool and rain-free day until the journey home – many of us happy that we wouldn’t have to water the garden/allotment when we got home.

Our next event is our Annual General Meeting – sounds boring? No it isn’t! We have a very short business section where the Committee is elected and annual reports and then it’s wine and nibbles with a talk by Richard Roslyn giving us an update on what’s happening in the gardens at Blewbury Manor. This takes place on WEDNESDAY 7TH NOVEMBER AT 7PM FOR 7.30PM IN THE VALE ROOM AT BLEWBURY VILLAGE HALL.

Our final event for 2018 will be our ANNUAL SOCIAL AT UPTON VILLAGE HALL ON SATURDAY 8TH DECEMBER AT 6.30PM. This event has become very popular over the past few years. It has a topic with the food relating to a particular country, together with lots of fun and games.

Do put these two dates in your diary and more information will be available in the next newsletter.

I expect many of you will be thinking about preparing your gardens/allotments for the winter in the next few months. Don’t forget we have tools you can use in return for a donation to the VPA. Contact Karen at Blewbury Post Office or Maggie in Upton on 850126 to find out what’s available.

DID YOU KNOW? Britain remains the world’s chief cultivator of the gooseberry. In the mid 18th century Lancashire weavers, recently arrived in the towns from their cottages in the countryside, took to growing gooseberries in pots in the absence of any land or gardens to cultivate. Gooseberry competitions, to see who could grow the largest berries, became a popular pastime and a great number of gooseberry clubs were formed across the north in the years that followed.   HAPPY GARDENING   Eileen

 

Bridge Club

August 23, 2018

Friday evening Novices sessions will re-start in September. So, if you would like a friendly, relaxed informal session without time pressure and some helpful advice if required, do please let Tina Hollick know, at tina@hassle.org.uk, and she will put you on the mailing list.

Wallingford Bridge Club are holding a Blue-pointed Swiss Pairs event on Sunday 16th September. See Blewbury Bridge Club or Wallingford Bridge Club’s websites for further details.

The Oxford Festival of Bridge takes place from 18th-21st September. Please see Blewbury Bridge Club’s website for further details, or the Oxfordshire Bridge Association’s website.    Michael Allen   851870

Blewbury Pre-School Playgroup News

June 29, 2018

Blewbury Pre-school Playgroup would like to say a huge congratulations and heart-felt thank you to David Whitlock for raising much needed funds for us whilst setting his new world record doing 12 hours of burpees.

On 19 June he presented Blewbury Pre-school with a cheque for £1,699.25 . We are overwhelmed by his generosity, and frankly amazed by his stamina to do that many burpees!

Fundraising remains vital to our continued existence. As you may have seen in the national news recently, there remains a significant gap between what it costs to have a child at a pre-school and what the Government gives pre-schools per child. We would therefore like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who supports our fundraising. We are so very grateful for the ongoing support from the local community, as we really could not continue without this help. Thank you!

Blewbury Pre-school still has some spaces available for children joining in September. If your child is between two and a half and four years of age, please pop in and pick up an application form from the Pre-school, or email us at blewburypreschool@yahoo.com.

Harber @ Harwell: Where art meets science!

Blewbury’s Chelsea Flower Show award-winning sculptor David Harber was joined by Ed Vaizey, MP for Wantage and Didcot, and other dignitaries at Harwell Campus at the formal unveiling of his Mantle sculpture, located outside the Campus HQ building, the former RAF Headquarters at Harwell, Oxfordshire.

The intricate sculpture fuses together science and art, with names connected to Harwell’s rich scientific heritage and multiple world firsts etched onto bronze petals in commemoration of the important work undertaken over the last 70 years. Names include:

  • British physicist Sir John Cockroft, first Director of the Atomic Energy Research Authority at Harwell in 1945 and joint winner (with Ernest Walton) of the 1951 Nobel Prize for Physics for splitting the atomic nucleus
  • The Dekatron Computer, the oldest original working digital computer in the world built at Harwell Campus
  • Joan Maie Freeman, the first woman to be awarded the British Institute of Physics’ Rutherford Medal for work on beta-radioactivity of complex nuclei

Director and Partner of the Harwell Campus Partnership, Angus Horner said: “David is a wonderful artist and friend of the Campus. He shares our passion for using art to engage people in the sciences. This beautiful sculpture is the start of a long-term initiative that will bring art onto the Campus as a powerful way to communicate the past, present and future of Harwell’s story.”

Energy Recovery Facility at Ardley

July 18, 2018

As Parish Councillors we are sometimes offered the opportunity to join a tour of the Ardley Energy Recovery Facility operated by Viridor.

Two of your current councillors have taken advantage of this offer and found the tour and learning about the plant  interesting and worthwhile.  In Oxfordshire all the domestic waste that would have in the past gone into landfill now is taken to the Ardley facility where it is turned into electricity.  There is much controversy and concern about the construction and operation of such plants so it is helpful to go and see for oneself.  Any individual or organisation can take advantage of the free tours offered by Viridor so if interested please find more information using this link  https://viridor.co.uk/our-operations/energy/energy-recovery-facilities/ardley-erf/

New management of Clubhouse and Melland Room

June 28, 2018

The Blewbury Village CIC (BVCIC) has been exploring with the Parish Council a more viable way of managing The Club House and Melland Room.

We have had a proposal from two people living in the village to run the building enabling use by the community as well as developing a greater utilisation of the building and facilities to maintain the high standard of facility available.

The BVCIC will remain responsible for the overarching management of the Clubhouse but as of 1st June 2018 the day to day operational management will be carried out by David Flynn and Mike Evans who will be the main contact for  all use of the building be it regular sports clubs or one off bookings.

Dave and Mike will be offering bar and catering facilities if you require this and hope to organise events throughout the year including screen of the World Cup matches and other events.

Any queries please do contact Dave and Mike on blewburyvillagecic@gmail.com or 07969 526084.  Directors, BVCIC

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!

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!

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.

Blewbury’s 500 Words Winner

March 3, 2018

In the last Bulletin I was delighted to report that some Class 6 pupils would be writing stories for the BBC 500 words competition, and the Editor kindly agreed to publish the winning entry from the School – thank you Chris.

This proved much harder than expected with all 31 class members submitting a story to be judged, attaining a standard that was simply incredible! We had joint runners-up in Gabriel Reeves and Beatrice Elsmore-Wickens (Beatrice read her story to the class in a manner which would put most BBC presenters to shame), but the winner, with a beautifully crafted piece entitled “Open your eyes”, was Imansa Kokkuhannadige. You can read Imansa’s story below.

Congratulations to all. The entries will be submitted to BBC Radio 2 for them to judge, so good luck Class 6 and thank you.

Michael Evans, Parent Governor

Open Your Eyes by Imansa Kokkuhannadige

It’s all Melinda Russell’s fault! I wouldn’t be like this. I’ve heard what people say, that I look half dead! I can’t see anyone but I recognise their voice. Mum and dad have barely left, my little brother, James, came with gran and granddad and so have my best friends Ruby, Gemma and Ariana. Anyone who has visited has either sobbed while holding my lifeless hand or telling me what’s going on and how much they love me. I’ve been unconscious for 3 months (or so I’ve heard). But it feels a lot longer. You don’t know how it is! It’s almost time.

Now like I said it’s Melinda’s fault. My friends and I were going up and down the slide. But when I was just about to go down, I heard the footsteps of the bully (Melinda). She told me to move but I stayed put. She said if I didn’t move she’d push me. No movement from me.

Unfortunately, she stayed true to her word. Down I fell. I became half dead when I hit my head on the rocks. (They hadn’t been moved by the infants.)

One of my visitors was Melinda, she cried and sobbed and told me how sorry she was, she also told me that from then on she would be nice.

Remember when I said it was almost time, well the doctors think I would probably never wake up again so, so their taking the life support off. They’ve given me an hour.

It’s been 30 minutes. Mum said.

Everyone here is waiting and hoping that I will open my eyes and they’ll have tears of joy rather than sadness. But I’ve tried, I really have, to wake up. I’ll stay forever still. Everybody is sobbing and crying, telling me how much they love me, saying how much they will miss me and how great I am. I bet the bed will be sopping wet (and me to!). Oh, it’s terrible, if I were able to I would be crying too.

Someone’s on me. It’s my sweet little brother James! “Cami, please open your eyes, I want you to hug me, I want you to tell Mum and Dad not to cry, that it’s going to be all right”. Oh James I wish I could, but I can’t.

“James, sweetie, get off your sister”. Mum mumbled as she stroked my hair.

Oh no. It has been an hour! The doctors have come, to take off the life support!

“Camilla! No!”

Everyone is sobbing and crying even more! I think it’s time. Here is my last thought, even if no-one sees or hears it.

I’m Camilla Godwin, no, wait, yes!

“Camilla’s eyes are open!”

“Camilla is alive”

My eyes are open and alive!