Parish Council

Community Orchard Opening, Village Picnic and Barbecue

Sunday 11th June, Tickers Folly Field, from 12 noon

Sustainable Blewbury, with support from Blewbury Primary School PTA and the Pre-school, are celebrating the opening of Blewbury’s Community Orchard with a party – a village picnic and barbecue. There will be music from Blewbury Learner Brass Band and a range of activities for all ages.

Everyone is welcome to enjoy the PTA barbecue or bring their own picnic. We will have a real ale bar (the ‘Wagon Inn’, backed by the Blewbury Wagon) serving local beers, apple juice and soft drinks. There will also be a stall selling cake using orchard and garden fruits such as apples, plums and berries.

Some of the activities planned include:

  • Pre-school annual sponsored kite flying and picnic
  • Tug of war
  • Welly wanging
  • Story teller
  • Pond dipping
  • Information about the orchard, local environment and other Sustainable Blewbury activities

So come along, party in the orchard and make it a great village event!

Community Orchard – News from the Coggers

After months of planning and consulting, we are almost ready to start planting!

The first 20 or so trees have been ordered, stakes, labels, tree guards and posts have all been specified and planting will take place in December. It will take a few years for the trees to become established and to bear fruit, but you should then be able to pick a Warwickshire Drooper for your breakfast (it’s a plum) or a Reverend Wilks for your supper (it’s a cooking apple).

A number of people have kindly volunteered to help with the planting. If you would like to add your name to the list then please contact John Ogden (jogden@blewbury.net). For those who can help it would be very useful if they could bring along a spade and perhaps a large board or groundsheet – and a wheelbarrow could be useful to help with mulching around the trees. The weekend of the 3rd December is one possible start date but we will be in email contact with all volunteer COGGERS before then.  John Ogden

 

Blewbury Footpaths

One of the joys of living in Blewbury is the ability to navigate the village and its environs through the network of footpaths, bridleways and byways, commonly known as public rights of way.

Gone are the days when the paths were kept clear by flocks of sheep and labourers who worked for local landowners. In these times the maintenance of footpaths has to be planned and paid for.

The Parish Council regularly receives complaints/comments about the state of the footpaths and we act where we can. However we would like to clarify some rights and responsibilities.

The duty to maintain public rights of way rests with the Highway Authority, in our case Oxfordshire County Council through their Countryside Access Team. The Oxfordshire Parish Guide to Countryside Access reads as follows: ‘the County Council has a duty to maintain the surface of rights of way. It must be recognised that they are essentially countryside paths, usually with an earth surface, and so, depending on the type of soil, some mud should be expected, particularly during winter months. The County Council will seek to maintain rights of way in a condition suitable for their use by the public, i.e. a footpath in a condition for use by walkers. In this it is assumed that the user will wear appropriate clothing and footwear (for example walking boots, or wellingtons in the winter’.

Parish Councils have a right to maintain public rights of way and Blewbury, in common with many other villages, has undertaken the maintenance of footpaths within the built area of the village. This work is carried out by our lengthman, with the assistance of volunteers and Council members on some occasions, and paid for through the parish precept element of the council tax. The amount of time and money we have available for this work is finite.

Responsibility for vegetation along the side of footpaths and roads in the village lies with the residents whose boundary lies along the public right of way. Many of our residents keep these boundaries well trimmed back – others are not so conscientious.

At the moment OCC has limited resources as does the PC. Grass cutting by the local authority has been reduced to a minimum and the PC is reviewing how to continue the previous level of maintenance as parishioners have complained about unkempt undergrowth.

It would be most beneficial if all residents would pay attention to the land, paths, pavements and verges outside their homes. Clearing leaves, cutting grass or just clearing litter from a small area would help enormously. Two Village Clear Up days a year are scheduled and organised between Sustainable Blewbury and the Parish Council – more volunteers to clear leaves and occasionally help spread gravel on these days would be very helpful. We are well aware that many parishioners already do their bit to maintain and improve the village and that pressures on people’s time have never been greater. But most of us love what Blewbury is – a charming, vibrant village. It will not stay that way if we don’t collectively make an effort to maintain the features that make our village unique.

Update on the Vale Local Plan

The independent  inspector’s report of the Vale’s Local Plan is quite encouraging for Blewbury as it might put a stop to major development in the AONB.

The interim report of his findings has been published and in particular the examiner refers to two sites around Harwell and Didcot (which includes Blewbury) and says

The Plan envisages that housing allocation sites 12 and 13, which are located within the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), would be developed for around 550 and 850 dwellings respectively. This would be major development, which the Framework indicates should be refused except in exceptional circumstances and where it can be demonstrated it is in the public interest…….. I conclude that modification of the plan to delete sites 12 and 13 is thus necessary. This would be a reduction of 1400 planned houses but more importantly set a precedent for future incursions into the AONB.

In appendix 1 he states that the Five Year Housing Land Supply Outcome assuming deletion of housing allocation sites 12 and 13 from the plan still exceeds requirement.

His interim results can still be challenged but they are encouraging. They cannot , unfortunately, be applied retrospectively.

The full pdf document can be found here.

 

PUBLIC RIGHT OF WAY BETWEEN WOODWAY (WHITE SHOOT FARM) AND BOHAMS ROAD

The PC was extremely pleased that Beeswax Farming has created a Permissive Pathway across its land between the top of Cow Lane and Rubble Pit Lane.

They responded positively to our request and we are grateful to them. However a Permissive Path is made at the discretion of the landowner and in order to ensure that we retain a public right of way the PC intends to submit an application to make the track from the top of Woodway to Bohams Road a Bridleway/footpath. This will take a considerable amount of time but we are starting to collect evidence in support of this application now.

We would like all users – dog walkers, walkers, cyclists, horse riders etc – to fill in the evidence form which could be obtained from the Post Office or downloaded here. Guidance on how to complete the form can be downloaded here.

To see which area will be covered by this application, you can consult this map.  Please identify the stretch of the path for which you can provide evidence and mark it on the map.

Please return the signed hard copy of the form and the map to Jane Gibson – 5 Westbrook Green or the Clerk, 83 Dibleys. Remember that you can provide evidence not only of your own use but that of others using Question 12 on the evidence form.

The more evidence we can provide the better and we must be able to cover a period of 20 years or more. Both current and historic evidence will be most useful.

Image above and maps:
© Crown Copyright and Ordnance Survey Rights
Parish Council PSMA OS Licence No.100041147

BLEWBURY NEIGHBOURHOOD DEVELOPMENT PLAN

The 6-week village consultation on the draft Neighbourhood Plan began on 1st February and runs to 14th March.

We are holding informal events to answer your questions, explain the complex rules that the Plan has to follow, and above all listen to your opinions and suggestions. Drop in at any time:

  • Wednesday 24th February, 2–4 pm, Style Acre
  • Sunday 6th March, 2–4 pm, Vale Room (Village Hall)

The full Plan and Frequently Asked Questions are available on our website, blewburyneighbourhoodplan.org. Printed copies of the Plan, together with some Frequently Asked Questions, are available at the Post Office*, school*, pre-school*, surgery, the Melland Room at the Rec., Style Acre, the Benefice Centre, both pubs, 39 Dibleys* and Ladycroft Park Office. You can borrow copies kept at the starred places* for 24 hours.

All comments and suggestions regarding the Plan are very welcome! Comments can be made at the public events, via our website, or by filling in a form at the Post Office.

Remember, this is your Plan and it will only be adopted if a majority agree to it in the village referendum after the Vale has examined it, so please take the time to read it and to have your say.