Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of the Blewbury Village Society and the Blewbury Annual Parish Meeting

Held on Wednesday 3rd April 2019, 7.30pm in the Vale Room of Blewbury Village Hall.

In attendance:- Chris Lakeland (BPC Chair), Liz Cooper (Clerk), Rob Marsden (BVS Chair), Vaughan Humphries, Sue Barnes, Chris Cook, Anita Rendel, Bruce Gibson, Cllr Jane Gibson, Sue Colebrook, Cllr Reg Waite, Liz Sweet, Roger Colebrook, David Long, Cllr Charlotte Cameron, David Long, Jason St John Nicolle, Maranda St John Nicolle, Alex Elderfield, Cllr Mike Fox-Davies, Cllr Michael Penington, Tony Salter, Caroline Pettigrew, Ciara Hardman-Cole
  1. Welcome and Apologies for non-attendance

Chris Lakeland welcomed everyone to the 2nd year of the combined BVS and BPC annual meeting.

Apologies were received from:- Cllr Janet Shelley, BPC Cllrs L Inglis, M Jacobs, M Blythe, M Shayler, D Lomas, PCSO Kirby

  1. Minutes of the last BVS AGM

Acceptance of the minutes was proposed and seconded.

  1. BVS Chairman’s Report

Rob Marsden gave the Chair’s report (see Annex 1).

  1. BVS Treasurer’s Report

Tony Salter gave the Treasurer’s report (see Annex 1).

  1. Election of BVS officers

All officers present were proposed, seconded and re-elected accordingly.

  1. Minutes of the last Annual Parish Meeting

Approved as per 2 above.

  1. Parish Council Chairman’s Report & Planning report

Chris Lakeland delivered the BPC Chairman’s report and the Planning report (see Annex 2 & 3).  

  1. Report from the Police Liaison Team

Not received.

  1. Report from the County Councillor

Mike Fox-Davies gave the County Council report (see Annex 4). Cllr Fox-Davies then took questions from the floor.

  1. Report from the District Councillor

Reg Waite gave the District Council report (see Annex 5). Cllr Waite then took questions from the floor.

  1. Report from St Michael’s

Fr Jason gave a short speech on behalf of St Michael’s Church. He reminded everyone that the church is open all day and is used for many functions in serving the whole community.

  1. Report from the United Charities

Chris Lakeland gave the report from United Charities (see Annex 6).

  1. Report from the Tony Loy Trust

Sheila Loy gave the report from the Tony Loy Trust (see Annex 7).

  1. Report from the Village Hall Management

Bruce Gibson gave the report from the Village Hall Management Committee (see Annex 8).

  1. Report from the Blewbury Quiz Society

Bruce Gibson gave the report from the Quiz Society (see Annex 9).

  1. Report from the Sustainable Blewbury

Chris Lakeland gave the report for sustainable Blewbury (see Annex 10).

  1. Report from the Blewbury Community Interest Company (CIC)

 Chris Lakeland gave the report for the CIC (see Annex 11).

  1. Report from the Parish Transport representative

Maranda St John Nicolle spoke about the parish transport. Representations were made to Cllr Mike Fox-Davies of the County Council by the PC following the last cut in transport by Thames Travel. This included the fact that people use the bus to get to work and school, as well as to shop and go to appointments. The current transport arrangements would remain until at least April 2021.

Maranda also stated that there is a shared taxi service from the Blueberry at 7am each weekday morning, depending on demand. Subsidies and donations help to meet the cost. Sustainable transport solution discussions are ongoing. Maranda expressed her thanks to those who are using the services as this is important for long term sustainability.

  1. Report from the Blewbury School Pre School Playgroup

Ciara Hardiman-Cole gave the report for the pre-school playgroup.

  1. Report from the Malthus Trust

Chris Lakeland gave the report for the Malthus Trust (see Annex 12).

  1. Report from Blewbury Players

Steve White gave the report for the Blewbury Players (see annex 13).                         

  1. Report from the Village Hall Refurbishment

Steve White gave the report on the village hall refurbishment (see annex 14).               

  1. Open Forum

Nothing further was raised for discussion.

  1. Any Other Business

The Chair thanked everyone for coming to the meeting and for their contributions.

The meeting closed at 9.30pm.

Clerk’s note:- All reports from this meeting will be attached to the minutes and available for viewing on the village web site. 



BVS Chairmans report for the year ending April 2019 Rob Marsden 

In this the 53rd year of the BVS we are in good shape.

Thanks to committee and for hosting meetings. A lot goes on and support from village and especially from our helpers is always appreciated.

Committee membership is 10 but we’re always on the lookout for recruits, but that appears to be a need across all village organisations.

Joiners – Adam Stockley. Leavers – Heather Richards, the post of Deputy Chair was filled by Caroline Pettigrew

Outside of the committee, special thanks to:

Karen Brooks for supporting the AED. Reminder – key with PO. BVS continue to be responsible for maintenance.

Jane Gibson for being the instigator and the driving force of the Clubs and Societies day

Matt Phillips for being the PM of bonfire night

Continued support for raising funds for Kids at Play, the Cob Wall Fund, the Church, the Badminton club, the History Society, the Tony Loy Trust and the Village Hall.


Egg Rolling 1st April – event went well.

Summer Dance on the 23rd June. Ashbrook House hosted the event with a live band on the terrace overlooking the lawn. Big thanks to Jane and Simon Barrett for hosting.

Comedy Night was on 13th October. – Best comics in recent past, including one who was very

‘Radio 4’ and very funny.

Bonfire Night on the 3rd November it is a huge night for us. We were again very fortunate with the weather. Well done to everyone involved. Big thanks to Matt Phillips for being the

  1. Thanks to Matt Napper – bales and truck, Anthony Allen and Phil Thacker – tractor, loader, Anthony Stiff, bonfire building and lighting, Pete Baker fireworks, servers, bakers, wood collectors, and marshals on the night. After 5 years of project managing Bonfire night

Matt Phillips has stepped down, and we are very glad that Adam will take over from Matt this year, assisted by Roger, who has PM’ed this event in the past, thanks both.

Santas Sleigh, after a long search and various alternative plans being put forward the Parish Council came to our aid and provided a new place to store the sleigh. So under the cover of ‘gloom’ the sleigh made probably its first, none Christmas Eve, outing round the lanes of Blewbury. Thanks to Pete and Tania Noakes who have stored it these many years. Ian Bacon, Gay Edwards, and Andrew Hewson and the many reindeer.

Boxing Day Walk, great turn out, with warm fine weather, people were enjoying themselves and as a result the walk took longer than normal. Thanks to Paul Finnan & team and Sally and Andy Lewis & team for being two of the drinking stops.

New Years Day Walk.

Clubs and Societies Day, 19th January 2019. The morning was a great success, a lively atmosphere for the duration, and certainly, from the BVS perspective, some healthy growth in our helper list!

Future events

Summer Dance, we return to Hall Barn, Saturday 15th June.

May be a Blewbury Beer Festival!! In the Autumn

Comedy Night – Proposed to be Saturday 19th October

Bonfire Night – Saturday 2nd November

Usual Christmas festivities, Santa’s Sleigh, Boxing Day Walk

Plans are being made for the return of the New Year’s Eve dance!

BVS Committee as of the AGM on 3rd April 2019

Adam Stockley, Alex Elderfield, Caroline Pettigrew (Deputy Chair), Ian Cluett, Rachel Cerfontyne, Rachel Chancellor, Rob Marsden (Chair), Roger Colebrook, Sue Gunawardena (Secretary), Tony Salter, (Treasurer)


Report of the Parish Council Chairman to the Annual Parish Meeting 2019 at the Vale Room on 3rd April 2019 

Another year has passed and we are coming to the end of a four-year Parish Council term with elections looming. As usual it has been interesting, challenging, rewarding and frustrating in equal measure and here are my rambling notes.

Changes, and lack of, over the last year.

  • To misquote Oscar Wilde, ‘to lose one clerk, Mr. Chairman, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness.’ So we now have Liz Cooper as our third clerk in two years.
  • The proposed Unitary Council mentioned in my last annual report still has not materialised but is on the agenda.
  • VWHDC and South Oxon increasingly merge services but it is unlikely that this will financially benefit the village.
  • Controls on Council tax increases placed on both County and District reduces their ability to finance anything but essential works. The consequence of this is that the PC is obliged, where possible to fill in the cracks and this is a financial pressure on our resources and ultimately your pockets.
  • Talking of cracks, potholes have been filled and others emerge and only the most benevolent would consider that the situation is or is likely to be improving.

We are still allowed to increase our precept but that affects every resident and we are conscious we must have tight financial control to avoid large increases. We have again in this coming financial year restricted the increase so that it will be as near as possible to imperceptible to most householders and the minimum required to maintain services.

A percentage breakdown of how our precept is spent is below. As can be seen, loan repayments still have a massive impact and this will continue to be the case.

Continuing maintenance commitments

We may as well forget about financial help for the footpaths, trees and verges around the village as the District and County budgets are stretched to breaking point.

Fortunately we do have an excellent Lengthman but even he cannot carry out everything that he would like to due to his time, and our financial, constraints. The Cleve, we all know is a cherished asset and we would hope that some maintenance and remedial work could be carried out in the near future.

Even so, I would consider the village to be in good shape and the condition of the pathways is commensurate with living in a rural village. If the village tells us that lack of maintenance is having a major impact, we will have no alternative but to make higher charges but thankfully we have had few complaints so far.

Unexpected charges on the Parish Council

Something we are all intimately involved with is poo, without an h of the Winnie variety. When it ceases to move it becomes a problem and a problem costing the Parish Council more than £2000 to remedy at the clubhouse. Essential but unexpected and an example of why we need a contingency in our accounts.

The future of Development

The Vale Local Plan part 2 is in its final stages of acceptance and overall there will be no recommendations for major development for Blewbury.

However, other examples of proposed development have exercised the minds of both councillors and villagers. I am thinking of the Oxford Cambridge Expressway and the Oxfordshire 2050 plan. Both of these are at the consultation, or lack of consultation, phase.

You would be forgiven for thinking that these will not impact on Blewbury but the scale of development proposed will change the nature of the area we live in, in many cases for private greed rather than public good. Everyone deserves a house to live in and a job to go to but over-development based on false assumptions cannot be the right way forward. A group of councillors have formulated responses, not to block development but to seek an alternative way forward. The Didcot Garden Town Plan is continuing apace as can be seen by the rapid infill of all space between Didcot and Harwell. There is little or no impact on the Parish but as a result there is no money for transport links, cycle paths etc.

Future Transport Options

In part due to a limited amount of Section 106 money the 94 bus service, albeit in a reduced form, is safe until 2021. The Downland Villages Transport Group which includes Blewbury continues to provide the weekly service to Wallingford. Complacency remains the major threat – use it or lose it.

I had my doubts about the refurbishment of the Berkshire Wagon but I now see why it was done. Remember Noah’s Ark? If all else fails, a couple of shire horses and we will never have to worry about getting in supplies of quinoa and goji berries that are the staple of Blewbury life.

The Parish Council has consistently over the years reminded the District and County that the increased numbers of cyclists in the village risk their lives on a regular basis cycling along the A417 and ‘Pot Hole Alley’ aka the B4016. We have had a visit from the responsible officer at Oxfordshire County Council and spoken to landowners but progress is slow; there is good will and the promise of limited funds, maybe. We will continue.

Voluntary Groups

The BVS continues to contribute large amounts of effort and money to support village activities and facilities for which we are extremely grateful.

Voluntary groups have helped through the year with projects to enhance the environment and I am thinking in particular of the laying of Hand Hedges, Thermal imaging, permaculture, the School gardening project and all the other efforts of Sustainable Blewbury.

Village Hall

Yes it is still standing but if we don’t get the refurbishment going soon it will have raised tatty to an art form. The Hall Refurbishment team under Steve White has had another frustrating year. Steve will tell us what the somewhat brighter outlook is.

Tickers Folly Field

 Own up !! – have you used it yet ?

Suggestions for further uses of TFF, drive in cinema etc, gratefully received but possibly ignored.

General Data Protection Regulations 2018

This set of regulations came into force on 25th May 2018 and increased the public’s privacy in relation to data held by the council. The relevant pages on the website have been updated. Emergency Plan

In the past year we have applied for and received a grant from SSEN to provide us with equipment which will help us to respond to some categories of local emergencies and fulfil the commitments made in our own updated emergency plan.

New equipment from the Scottish and Southern Electricity Network grant.

Not the tractor or the very expensive model

Also a caption competition


Safety around the village

All of us should be, and most of us are, aware that the village is by choice a dark village. We carry torches. The Parish Council cannot be responsible for personal safety if this simple practice is ignored. This also applies to visitors who should where possible be made aware.

Council pressed the relevant authorities to take seriously speeding along the A417/B4016, including a small investment in speed surveys, but sadly shortage of funds would point to a Community led scheme such as Community Speedwatch being the way forward and any volunteer to lead this would be encouraged.

The Parish Council and the village would I am sure support such a venture.

And finally

Once again I am grateful to all my fellow councillors, both Parish Clerks who have served this year and the lengthman for the contribution that they have made towards the effective running of the village.

Thank you, Chris Lakeland, 8 March 2019




Annual Planning Report, April 2019

There have been 38 applications for planning permission or listed building consent since the last Annual Planning Report in May 2018 (a big drop on the year before, when 65 applications were processed). One of these was refused, one withdrawn, five are awaiting determination by the local authorities and the rest were granted. The refused application was for a garage beyond the accepted building line on Bessels Way; an appeal for the same application was refused, as was an appeal against the refusal of a new house in the grounds of Fir Trees on London Road. BPC assesses planning applications primarily by email. They are then discussed at monthly council meetings. Sometimes an application needs to be dealt with before the council meeting, but if it is contentious we can ask for an extension to the time limit. BPC, however, is only a consultee: we do not make the decisions. BPC scrutinises applications on the basis of the policies in the village’s Neighbourhood Development Plan, along with planning policies adopted by the Vale. If an application conforms to both the NDP and the Vale’s local plan policies, ‘material considerations’ are the only other means we can use to object to an application. Planning law does not define material considerations – they are derived from case law, but they can include:

  • Overlooking and loss of privacy
  • Overshadowing and loss of light
  • Local circumstances (local knowledge from the PC is key here)
  • History of a site e.g. if contaminated
  • Local knowledge of drainage or other possible problems with services
  • Noise, disturbance, smells
  • Traffic and highway issues
  • Scale of development
  • Over-dominance
  • Public view across the land
  • Loss of important open spaces
  • Landscaping
  • Design, appearance, layout and materials
  • Retention of important physical features
  • Conservation of buildings etc.
  • Impact on surroundings e.g. whether it affects the character or an area
  • Emerging planning policy, depending on what stage it’s at.
  • They cannot include:
  • Morals or motives of the developer
  • Effect on the value of a property
  • Private property rights such as boundary or access disputes
  • Possible future development not included in the application
  • Comparison with other previously approved schemes on the site
  • Matters covered by laws such as alcohol or gaming licences, or Building Regs.

There has been one occasion in the past year when the Vale disregarded our NDP based objection, which was for an application for a 5-bed house and a meeting hall to replace the already-granted application for two 3-bed houses at Huntsgrave Farm. We felt that two smaller houses were what the village required and wanted, as evidenced in the housing needs survey undertaken during the process to write the NDP. The Vale did not agree, and the house and meeting hall are now under construction. Those interested in planning applications should first of all consult the local papers or the Vale’s website*. BPC encourages parishioners to write directly to the Vale’s planning office, either in support of or against an application; the more voices that are heard, the better.



We are as certain as we can be that Blewbury’s NDP has helped to protect the village from speculative development applications during the past year. However the presumption in favour of ‘sustainable development’ remains enshrined in the National Planning Policy Framework – this effectively means that the job of planners at the Vale is to enable planning applications which meet the correct criteria, rather than to stand in the way of development per se. As a result of this, building continues apace throughout the Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire, with large developments around the fringes of Didcot and elsewhere. Development in and around Didcot is loosely tied to the nascent Didcot Garden Town scheme, about which much has been said but very little actually done. As far as BPC has seen (and we have attended every invite to consult on the plans), this is a grand scheme to generate money from central government, but we are sceptical that Didcot will look any greener or more garden-like by the end of the process. BPC will continue to monitor progress and discuss any news about the plans at our monthly meetings. The Vale submitted its Local Plan 2031, Part 2 (Detailed Policies and Additional Sites) last year, setting out its vision for the district until 2031, identifying where housing, retail, and employment land should be located, as well as the infrastructure required to support this growth (including new roads, schools, health services and sewerage). The inspector has now invited comments on the modifications he

believes are needed to make it sound, including removing the provision for 1,000 new houses on land north of Harwell Campus, and reducing the capacity for development at Dalton Barracks near Abingdon. Local Plan 2031, Part 1, which deals with sites and policies to address the Vale’s own housing need, was adopted in December 2016 and is now in use to guide development in the district. Last year Oxfordshire’s local authorities signed the ‘Oxfordshire Housing and Growth

Deal’ with central government, accepting a promise of £215m in exchange for building 100,000 houses by the mid 2030s. This would grow the housing stock of Oxfordshire by 40% in the next 15 years, which is roughly three times the rate needed to meet the county’s actual housing requirement. As part of this deal, local authorities agreed to produce a strategic plan for the whole county, guiding development in the area up to the year 2050. The first stage – introducing the plan – went out to consultation at the start of the year. BPC sent in our comments (appended to this report). The other main planning issue we have been dealing with over the past year is the proposed expressway between Oxford and Cambridge. In September 2018 the preferred corridor routes were revealed by Highways England as B1 (west of Oxford, following the A34) and B3 (south of Oxford through the green belt and roughly following the River Thame). Blewbury is not included in this corridor, which ultimately means the village is not being assessed as part of the route options for the new road link. However, we are in the ‘common corridor’, which is where the new road will connect with existing infrastructure. Public consultation on the full plan is planned for autumn 2019, when Highways will release a shortlist of 5-6 routes. We should note that even if the road does not pass close to Blewbury, it will be certain to have a huge impact on everyone living in Oxfordshire, not least because of the vast scale of housing envisaged to accompany the road. BPC will continue to monitor progress and update the village via the Bulletin and BPC’s page on Blewbury’s website


Conversations between BPC and the Expressway Action Group led to various discussions at council meetings about the role of economic quangos in influencing policies on housing and economic development in Oxfordshire. As a result we wrote to all the Oxfordshire local authorities requesting clarification on the role of the Oxfordshire Growth Board (OGB) and the Oxfordshire Local Economic Partnership (OxLEP) in influencing government policy on economic growth and housing need.

We received a single, unspecific reply from Councillor Ian Hudspeth, and have now submitted Freedom of Information requests to both the Vale and Oxfordshire County Council to try and work out what (or who) is driving the agenda for sustained and (in our view) unrealistic growth within the county. We will keep the village updated of any progress here.

Appendix: BPC’s response to the Oxfordshire Plan 2050: Vision & Objectives

Consultation – March 2019

It is good to have a strategic plan for Oxfordshire and involve residents in decisions. However this plan is not for residents/voters/taxpayers – it seems to be for developers and for business.

  • Oxfordshire’s local councils have accepted £215 million from the government in exchange for a promise to build 100,000 houses by the mid 2030s. This would grow the housing stock of Oxfordshire by 40% in just the next fifteen years, which is roughly three times the rate needed to meet Oxfordshire’s actual housing requirement.
  • The strategic vision promises vast numbers of new jobs, in a county with full employment.
  • The plan promises affordable housing, but with no clear mechanism to deliver it.
  • The plan takes very little account of the fundamental changes in work already happening now, and predicted to accelerate in future. People want to work flexibly, and technology is increasingly allowing them to do that. Traditional commutes, places and modes of work will become increasingly redundant, and the Oxfordshire Plan should take account of that.
  • We are promised a better quality of life, but how is that possible while the countryside disappears under vast quantities of housing and accompanying infrastructure?
  • Despite much talk about engagement and consultation, plans up to the mid-2030s are fixed, and the OxCam Expressway corridor – not subject to any kind of consultation whatsoever so far – will apparently provide the basis for more housing.
  • We are told that growth in Oxfordshire is vital for the UK economy as a whole, but there is no assessment of how directing investment here will impact on areas elsewhere that may have far greater need for support and regeneration (the industrial strategy, intended to drive jobs growth in Oxfordshire, is being decided separately and without public consultation).

What Blewbury Parish Council believes the plan should recognise

  • Oxfordshire’s rural character is the fundamental starting point from which decisions about the future development of the county should be made.
  • Oxfordshire’s countryside, towns and villages are at the heart of its environmental, economic and social well-being.
  • Local people, not unelected quangos such as the National Infrastructure

Commission, should be in the driving seat.

  • The amount of development, and its timescale, should be based on natural growth and migration, not arbitrarily inflated figures.
  • Job creation should reflect Oxfordshire’s existing skill base and requirements, while addressing areas of need to reduce unsustainable commuting. Contribution to the UK economy can be made by acknowledging and supporting Oxfordshire’s role as a seed-bed for innovation across the country, not as the primary place for expansion.
  • The priority for development should be genuinely affordable (ie low-cost) housing made available, in perpetuity, to address local need. The open market has proved spectacularly incapable of delivering this, so we need to explore alternatives including social housing.
  • Urban brownfield land should be developed first, with high density of development as standard. Green Belt and AONB land should only be considered as a last resort under exceptional circumstances
  • The countryside is not just a ‘nice to have’ – it is a social good in its own right, providing food, water, clean air and more, and vital to our physical and mental wellbeing.

Our view is not anti-growth, far from it. This view reflects what is happening in the real world. This plan shouldn’t be about how much development we can cram in over the next 30 years. It should be about what Oxfordshire actually needs and how that can best be accommodated over time, within its social and environmental limits.


Update from your County Councillor – Mike Fox-Davies

As we start into Spring, I have looked back over the past 15 months.

It has been a busy time, heralded with last year’s inclement winter (Beast from the East) which bought not just traffic disruption, but increased damage and potholes in the road network, which affected us all.

Since then, as well as the budgeted sum, an additional funds were provided by Central Government to help to address some of these issues. That has meant over 42,000 defects being repaired between January 2018 and now.

Full Council

At Full Council, I presented three motions over the 15 months, all carried with cross party unanimous support.

  1. (In last year’s report) HGV routing agreements – When sites under the control of OCC (Quarries and Waste) have routing agreements to ensure specific times or routes are followed, not all HGV drivers have followed these agreements with minimal recourse by OCC without an expensive court process. My motion was to link a financial effect with those agreements, so that if they were flouted in the future, there would be a commercial imperative to ensure the developer or operator did not repeat the practise.
  2. Steventon Reservoir – This reservoir (which will be the size of Heathrow and can be shown not to be needed) is being presented by Thames water as the main option in its draft plan, but the Council agreed to demand a second consultation with Thames Water. This was then further strengthened when I presented an amendment to the cabinet paper to demand a public enquiry, again accepted. This has been further strengthened by a debate in Parliament, requested by Ed Vaizey who also demanded a public enquiry. The outcome of these requests is still to be announced, but I hope the public enquiry goes ahead, so there can be adequate consideration of all aspects of what will be the largest and most intrusive construction project in the area, spread over ten years.
  3. HGV developer road damage – On many development sites, most of the access routes back to the trunk roads are not built to take multi HGV movements each day, and although there are some mechanisms to claw back the cost of repairing these minor roads, they are not being applied or are not strong enough. My motion put more requirement on the developers to be responsible for the damage they cause, by demanding they undertake condition surveys before development starts and then return the damaged routes back the prior condition at their cost. This became a two-page spread across the front of the Oxford Mail in December.

Support for Parishes

During the past 15 months, although not part of specific Councillor responsibilities, I have attended the majority of my eight Parish’s regular meetings; both reporting back from the County Council, but also hearing about local issues where I can bring additional pressure to bear on behalf of the residents.

One of the over-riding issues is traffic volume and speed, which prompted a further meeting with Officers and all Parish representatives. At this meeting, officers outlined how speed is assessed prior to any further action and assuming speed is shown to be a proven issue, the possible controls that can be considered. Unfortunately, these controls need to be paid for via funds from construction projects (if available) or through the local community/Parish, which some parishes are now considering.

Councillor community fund

During years 2018/19 and 2019/20. A Councillor priority fund of £15,000 per year has been made available for each Councillor to spend in their own Division on specific community projects.

I felt the only fair way to allocate my fund was to divide equally between my 8 Parishes, to be fully spent by the end of the forthcoming year (i.e. by April 2020), with the Parishes deciding on their own priorities.

There have been several projects already completed, including new equipment to one Village Hall, new playground equipment to two others, while other projects are still in development.

Committees and role

As well as assisting at Parish Level and attending the Full Council of the County Council, I sit on three committees; the Performance Scrutiny Committee, which holds County Council departments to account on their performance; Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which looks at all areas of health within the County, both NHS and that provided by the County Council; and the Planning and Regulations committee which only looks at minerals and waste. (The collection of residential waste is the responsibility of the Districts, the County only being responsible for the recycling, landfill or incineration). Additionally, I sit on two sub-committees, the transport Cabinet Advisory Group and chair our Locality group of 6 Councillors as well as being the group deputy chairman (backbenchers).

This attendance enables me to work on behalf of the residents to ensure the County is providing the best service possible within strict budgetary constraints.  There will be some residents who think that the County could do more, but the overwhelming majority I speak to, understand that the financial constraints include the needs of vulnerable adults and children (approx. 2% of the total residents) where the spend is some 53% of the total County Council budget. All the other services provided by OCC must come from the remaining 47%.

I have enjoyed supporting all my Parishes over the past months and if there are issues that you would like to be raised, please contact your Parish in the first instance, who will add their weight to your input, or you can contact me directly.

Cllr Mike Fox-Davies, Oxfordshire County Councillor, Hendreds and Harwell Division, mike.fox-davies@oxfordshire.gov.uk  073939 79510


Blewbury Parish Council

Annual Report for Parish Councillors on Wednesday, 3d April 2019

from Cllr Janet Shelley & Cllr Reg Waite 



Blewbury Parish became part of the larger ward, Blewbury & Harwell Ward in May 2015 and we have certainly seen a number of changes and challenges during that time.

The number of dwellings within the Ward, and indeed within the Vale of White Horse District, has increased significantly, particularly in the Harwell Parish section of Great Western Park.

The last four years have been particularly challenging in many ways, but Janet and Reg are pleased to report that none of the Vale’s front-line services to residents have been reduced as has happened in many local authorities throughout the country.

The past year: 

Janet has continued to be a hard-working member of the demanding Planning Committee and was appointed Deputy Chairman of that Committee.

I completed my year as Chairman of the Council in May last year and attended numerous formal and informal functions, which to me, provided considerable learning.  The number of people I met from all walks of life in the Vale was tremendous and the number of residents suffering from one illness or another was staggering and highlighted the huge number of carers in the area. We are extremely fortunate to have substantial numbers of volunteers in the district, who give up so much of their time to play important roles in parish councils, clubs, societies and organisations of such a wide range of activities.  I raised just more than ten thousand pounds for my two chosen charities– the Alzheimer’s Society and the Children’s Air Ambulance.

Since then my District Council duties have been no less busy and on behalf of the Vale, I am also involved as Chairman of Milton Park Liaison Group and local council member of Harwell Campus Site Stakeholder Group.

Despite ongoing cuts in Government grants, the Vale has demonstrated good management throughout the year without any reduction in the standard of services to the residents and naturally have been under continual scrutiny.

With the introduction of a new fleet of vehicles the collection of our waste has been very good, and our success in being one of the best Councils in the country for recyclable waste is down to our residents, and particularly those in Blewbury. For which we are grateful.

Fly-tipping remains a national problem.  The Vale has suffered too but the employment of a first-class team has resulted in several large fines.  The Government’s introduction of on-the-spot fines should assist in the number of incidents.

The waste littered everywhere, and particularly along  our main thoroughfares, the A34. A417 and A420, has caused major concerns – the whole matter is closely monitored.

Dog poo is another headache, and residents are requested to report any culprits to us so action can be taken.

Planning applications have been demanding throughout the year, but following the adoption of our Local Plan 2031 Part 2 this will ensure speculative development applications will not succeed.

So many villages, parishes and towns have been affected by the need for additional housing and a planning application for 4,265 dwellings in Valley Park was granted.  These properties fall mainly in Harwell Parish and it is expected the first tranche will be under construction later this year.

The Vale’s annual survey of 1,000 council tax payers is important.  Feedback illustrates the majority of the Vale’s residents are happy with the Council’s services.  Around three quarters of them said the Council offered good quality services, and seven out 10 agreed they provided good value for money – the best result since the surveys began in 2012. 

The year ahead: 

This will be another challenging year without any doubt, calling for caution and prudent approach with its finances.

With further central financial cuts expected, the Vale will continue to explore means of reducing costs and expenditure.

Further discussion will arise with the Didcot Garden Town status concept with firm decisions made how it will affect the town community and the surrounding villages.

Oxford to Cambridge Expressway –the unknown remains but public consultation is planned later this year.

District Council elections will be held throughout the Vale on Thursday, 2nd May 2019.  Reg will be standing for this ward again and will be joined by Mike Johnston, whilst Janet will be standing for The Hendreds Ward as she lives in East Hendred.

Finally, we wish to especially thank Blewbury Parish Councillors and Parish Clerk, Liz, for all their committed and unstinting work on behalf of all the residents of the village. 

– o – o – o –

JS & RWW 3 April 2019



The United Charities (2018)

The two main functions of The United Charities of the Ancient Parish of Blewbury, Upton and Aston Upthorpe are firstly to help people of all ages, who live in these parishes and who may need financial help and/or may have fallen on hard times and secondly to be responsible for the maintenance of the two Almshouses in Blewbury. The charity has the care and upkeep of the Almshouses in the churchyard which is one source of the charity’s income plus some wise investments from the sale of land gifted to us over the years. You will have noticed that we have undertaken significant work on Almshouse number 2 as a consequence of severe flooding in October 2016. We are very pleased the work was completed and that we have a new resident at Almshouse number 2.

Whilst the charity’s origins date from the 1600’s, it aims to remain current with the needs of those within the villages who may require assistance and also to make everyone aware of the valuable work it does close to home in the community we all share. Anyone needing help, or who knows of someone in need, should get in touch with the Trustees. We also take self-referrals. We are able to give financial gifts to more people than currently request help. It may be that sometimes people are reluctant to ask for help. However, all applications are treated in confidence and are also discretionary.

As well as small monetary gifts at Christmas the Charity is able to help in other circumstances such as assisting with transport costs for frequent hospital visits, breaks for carers, items to help cope with disabilities and many other instances where people are having difficulties paying for essential items such as school uniforms as well as unexpected events. We also provide emotional support and can in many cases give advice on dealing with a range of issues such as finding tradesmen or carers. All applications are at the trustees’ discretion and looked at entirely on a case by case basis. Amounts will vary depending on levels of need.


If anyone wishes to make any type of gift or bequest to the charity to enable us to continue way into the future, that would be most welcome.

The existing trustees are:

Blewbury: Sheila Loy (Chair), Mark Palethorpe (Vice Chair), Ann Dendy, Jackie Maguire , Jill Willison.

Aston Upthorpe: Louise Brimacombe.  Upton: Liz Hardy.

Clerk: Sarah Donne: sarahdonne@btinternet.com

The United Charities of The Ancient Parish of Blewbury

Accounts to                     31st Dec 2016 2016   2015   2014  
£ £   £ £   £ £  
Rent 11,128.00 8,132.07 1
Dividends 5,554.63 5,294.41
Insurance Claim 7,177.27 4
Sundry 7.50 7.50
  23,867.40 13,433.98
COIF Deposit Account Interest 47.69 50.28
COIF Income Units * 30,814.27 5 1,262.07
COIF Accumulation Units * 623.12 172.49
  31,485.08 1,484.84
COIF Income Units -13,000.00
Energy -1,245.80 -1,703.52
Maintenance & Repairs -2,158.60 -2,249.44
Grants and Gifts -3,215.50 -4,003.14
Sundry -6,907.99 6 -643.03 2
Management Expenses -500.00 3
  -13,527.89 -22,099.13
SURPLUS 41,824.59 -7,180.31
COIF Income Units * 163,797.13 132,982.86 131,720.79
COIF Accumulation Units * 4,337.86 3,714.74 3,542.25
COIF Deposit Account 11,250.83 11,203.14 11,152.86
Nat West 16,778.60 6,387.42 14,915.46
Cash 200.90 252.57 389.68
TOTAL 196,365.32 154,540.73 161,721.04
1 Bacon Almshouses Market Value Market Value Market Value
2 Bacon Almshouses Market Value Market Value Market Value



1           Includes a reduced rate agreed for 7 months

2           Includes Annual Insurance Premium (£631.55)

3           Includes payment for 2014, payment for 2016 to be made in 2017

4           Claim made as a result of severe flood damage in September 2016

5           Includes further units (£13,000.00) purchased at the end of 2015 in addition to an increase in unit price

6           Includes Annual Insurance Premium (£675.13), Storage (£91.84) and Alternative Accommodation for tenant (£5161.00)

following severe flood damage in September 2016

*          Estimate based on mid market value (net asset value) per unit

Prepared by S Donne, 30th April 2019



Report to the Annual Parish Meeting 2019

The Tony Loy Trust

The Tony Loy Trust supports children and young people in the sports and the arts in the village of Blewbury and the surrounding area.  In 2018 the trust gave grants of £7275 to local youngsters.  £4000 of this was given to the Parish Council to construct an all-weather goalmouth at Tickers Folly Field.  This was funded in part by a campaign which contributed £1892, the remainder coming from Trust reserves.  Of the £3275 of other grants, £2400 was for grants for a range of sporting activities, including motorcycle racing, athletics and ice skating, and £875 for grants supporting arts activities, including an Edinburgh Festival show and an acting foundation course.

Over its six years of operation, the trust has awarded grants of over £33,000 to young people in Blewbury and the surrounding area. This has been split about 60:40 between the sports and the arts and has covered a very wide range of projects and activities.

We are very proud to be supporting the development of young people, in Tony’s name, and grateful for the contributions and encouragement of all our supporters.

Over the course of the year, the Trust spent £3386 more than it received in donations and ended the year with cash of £11859.  In addition to the donations for the goalmouth, we were grateful for a donation of over £1400 from the proceeds of the Blewbury Players’ music quiz.

The Trust is in good position to continue supporting young people in the sports and the arts but needs continuously to find ways to generate income.  We are therefore very grateful that one third of the profits from George Long’s Christmas Rat Pack Show at the end of November has been pledged to the trust.

Steve White, Trustee



Blewbury Village Hall Management Committee

Chairman’s Report 25th February 2019


The operations of the Village Hall Management Committee (VHMC) continue to be driven largely by the progress of the Village Hall refurbishment project. A summary of the current status of the refurbishment project is given below.

The VHMC has held 3 management meetings since the last AGM. With slow progress on the refurbishment project and limited maintenance, the number of meetings has been slightly less than in previous years.  The VHMC has authorised some essential maintenance work over the past year, but this has been kept to a minimum, until a new timetable for refurbishment could be established. This means that the overall condition of the Hall infrastructure and fittings have continued to deteriorate. The most recent problem has been the failure of the hot water supply to the kitchen. Now that a timescale for resumption of the refurbishment project has been established certain items of maintenance can be carried out as long as they are consistent with the refurbishment plans. The kitchen water heater comes into this category and will be repaired as soon as possible.

Bookings in the last year have picked up on the year before, when there was a false start to the refurbishment project. A number of new regular bookings have been secured, which have yet to make a full year contribution to revenue. The VHMC has also been told that there are other potential regular bookings with decisions dependent on improvement of the facilities, so the committee is confident that demand for the Village Hall facilities is rising – making the planned refurbishment all the more urgent.

A member of the VHMC is currently in the process of evaluating an on-line booking and invoicing system, which is compatible with the Village website. The intention is to introduce such a system when the refurbishment is complete, if not before if this is possible.

Over the course of the year the Chairman of the VHMC submitted the annual return to the Charity Commission. The VHMC has also improved data management and information security process and procedures to comply with GDPR and notified the ICO accordingly. Compliance with GDPR has meant that the CCTV system has been switched off. There were also issues associated with Hall refurbishment and the siting of the cameras. Both of these issues have now been resolved and we will be re-commissioning the system very soon.

Earlier in the year damage was done to the fence surrounding the Hall car park by careless drivers. This will have to be repaired on the PC/Hall insurance, which will mean higher premiums next year. The VHMC is concerned that careless driving in the Hall car park, particularly at school drop off and pick up time, will result in further damage, or even personal injury. Users of the car park are requested to pay appropriate care and attention to avoid personal injury or damage to property when using the car park. When the CCTV system is re-commissioned the camera coverage will be extended to cover the whole car park.

The Hall operational finances are in good shape. The Accounts for the last financial year have been independently audited and are attached. They will be forwarded to the Charity Commission when the annual return is made.

The Village Hall Refurbishment Project

The refurbishment committee has stepped back from the original plans for a design driven refurbishment incorporating an extension and the re-siting of the Post Office on cost grounds.

The refurbishment team now plans to refurbish the Hall within its current footprint and has submitted a planning application. The plan envisages replacing the floors, ceilings, doors and single glazed windows; rewiring and installing new lighting, heating and ventilation; insulating the main hall loft and replacing and insulating the flat roofs; installing a new kitchen and toilets and modernising the decor internally and externally.  There are some enhancements we would like to include, if we can afford them, the main one being to relocate the Vale Room toilets to the Vale Room store and replace the toilets with a new store accessible from the main hall. An overall budget of £400,000 has been set, but if this figure cannot be raised the refurbishment will have to be scaled back accordingly. Work continues on the detailed plan and timescale.

The intention is to start the refurbishment in November and to complete the work in a single phase. This is much more cost effective than a two phased approach and will minimise disruption to Hall users.

The Management Committee

The Village Hall Management Committee comprises the Chairman, the Financial Officer, a representative of the Parish Council, representatives of Village Hall user organisations and independent members.  Most committee members are Trustees of the Blewbury Village Hall charity, but two members of the management committee are not trustees of the charity.

There has been no change to the composition of the VHMC over the past 12 months. Members of the VHMC remain:

Chairman & Trustee – Bruce Gibson

Vice Chairman & Trustee – John Ogden

Financial Officer – Meirion James

Trustee Members – Chris Lakeland, Marion Mills, Jean White, Liz Sweet, Tony Salter

Committee Member – Marion Whiting


Thanks the committee for their hard work and support this year and the other members of the support team – Karen, Maggie and Jayne.

Bruce Gibson, Chairman, Blewbury Village Hall Management Committee.




The Quiz Society fields a Blewbury quiz team in the South Oxfordshire Quiz League and Cup competitions.

We still have one match to play, so our final league position is uncertain. In fact there are many similarities with the situation in the Premier League, with only two teams with a realistic chance of winning the league and a scramble for the minor places. We are in the latter group and will probably finish third or fourth out of 13.  As was the case last year, we went out in the first round of the cup competition.

This season we have continued with our “squad” approach allowing a dozen squad members to participate in matches and all getting a reasonable number of games. This approach probably disadvantages us against teams that regularly field the same players, but it has worked pretty well this year and as more team members get used to the format and tactics we look forward to a league win in the not too distant future.

Financially the Society continues to be self-funding through match fees and is non-profit making. As with previous years its only costs have been venue hire and refreshments for home matches.

The Quiz Society is run by Bruce Gibson (chairman and fixtures organiser) and James Wanstall (captain and treasurer).

Bruce Gibson, April 2019



Sustainable Blewbury Review of year April 2018-19.

It is with great pleasure that I can report on the activities of Sustainable Blewbury for the year April 2018-19.

The highlight of the year came in September 2018 with the celebration of our 25th Anniversary! The school hall was filled with the projects and activities that had been undertaken in the last quarter of a century. A most excellent cake with detailed decorations was served to the many guest that attended.

Other activities undertaken were;


  • Restoring England’s threatened chalk streams. Paul St. Pierre, March 2018
  • Tropical forests, people and climate change. Catherine Long, March 2018
  • The future of transport and transportation. Scott Witchalls, September 2018
  • Adventures at the top and bottom of the world. Mark Blythe, October 2018
  • Climate for electric cars? Anthony Simpson, February 2019
  • Sustainable jet fuel from rubbish – how does that work? Neville Hargreaves, April 2019 

Hedge Laying

This year the hedge laying group, have laud the blackthorn hedge running along the Coffin Way path to Upton.  Around 10 villagers have been involved of whom 4 are new to the group and have been taught the necessary skills.  Hedge laying restores and rejuvenates a hedge, creating a much improved environment for birds and mammals as well as strengthening field boundaries.

The Mike Edmunds Community Orchard

The orchard is now in its third year and generally coming along very well.  It has required little maintenance in the past year although we did need to organise various watering sessions during the drought. But generally the orchard is thriving and we are contacted quite frequently by other communities wanting to follow our lead.

Thermal imaging

We imaged and reported on 13 houses. Unfortunately, due to the long and very warm weather in February we could not fit in half a dozen more who had signed up – we will do them next year.

Blewbury Garden Market

Our ninth year of Saturday mornings at Blewbury Service Station was successful, with good sales of home-grown home-made produce, flowers, bread, cakes, honey, preserves etc.

Apple juicing

It was a strange summer, some trees having huge crops and others nothing. We made a good amount of juice at our public sessions and hired our equipment out as well, so total production was several hundred bottles.

Permaculture orchard garden

Also affected by the hot, dry summer after a good start. We produced and sold Jerusalem artichokes, rhubarb, globe artichokes, a very wide variety of soft fruit, some of it unusual (some sold fresh but mostly made into jam), medlars, and quinces.

Blewbury School Gardening Club

Ran in the two summer terms, with 12 pupils signing up for each of the terms, but the club reached far more pupils than that. Vegetables were used in school meals. Class 5 used veg to make and sell fresh soup. Surplus vegetables were sold at the Blewbury Garden Market to help cover expenses of the club.


Village leaf clearance, December 2018 – in conjunction with Blewbury Primary School.


Our monthly newsletter goes to more than 220 supporters.





During the year, and with the involvement and agreement of the Parish Council, the CIC has granted a licence to 2 individuals in the village to manage and run the clubhouse and Melland Room. At the moment, the arrangement is on a revocable basis meaning that either party can bring it to an end.

Early indications are that activity and use has increased.

The CIC is receiving a monthly sum from the licensee enabling it to cover its on-going operating costs.

CIC’s are subject to an ‘asset lock’ meaning that they cannot dispose of their interest in the property except to another ‘asset lock’ body such as another CIC or charity. For that reason the CIC must continue in its role and is no, effectively, an inter-face between the PC as freeholder and the licensee as operator.

Simon Barrett, Chairman CIC, 01 04 2019



THE MALTHUS TRUST                                        


The Malthus Trust is the working name of 2 small charities, namely the William Malthus Charity for the Needy and the Educational Foundation of William Malthus. Its role it is to provide financial assistance both for the “Elderly/Needy” of the village and also those under the age of 25 who need help with costs relating to their education, apprenticeships or work placement.

It can be seen from the accompanying financial statement that the current combined income of both charities is a little in excess of £15,300 and is mainly generated from Investments, together with the Rental Income of £1,000 from the Trust’s only property asset, The Old School, which accommodates the Pre-School Playgroup. During the year the Trust’s main expense was roof repairs to The Old School totalling £7714. This has therefore limited the funds available for Grants to Individuals, Village Organisations and the Needy.

The Trustees meet in March and September each year and deal with requests for financial assistance from young persons resident in Blewbury and to provide Christmas gifts to the elderly of the village. They also respond to requests from Blewbury School and Blewbury Pre-School to assist with specific projects.

2018 2017
£ £ £ £
Monetary assets at 1 January 2018 19763 19993
Receipts for year ended 31 December 2018
Charities Investment Fund 11573
Charities Income Shares 2724
Charity Deposit Account 48
Rent of Pre-School Building 1000 15345 14593
Payments for the year ended 31 December 2018
Grants to Individuals 5660
Grants to Organisations 5450
Christmas gifts to the Elderly 1280
Insurance of Old School 32
Repairs to Pre-School Building 7714 20136 14823
Excess of Payents over Receipts -4791 -230
Monetary assets at 31 December 2018 £14,972 £19,763
Summary of Monetary assets 2018 2017
Lloyds Bank plc 4304 9144
CCLA Charities Deposit Account 10668 10619
£14,972 £19,763
The value of the Trust’s Investments,  excluding the Pre-School Building, decreased in value



Report to Annual Parish Meeting 2019

Blewbury Players

The Players have had another busy year.  In July our production of Lark Rise was directed by Catie Flye.  About a village in Oxfordshire at the start of the Twentieth Century, it was a very suitable choice for Blewbury and had been previously performed by the Players in 1983.

With colourful characters and live music, it was a crowd pleaser and we were pretty much sold out for the whole run.  Unfortunately, the Friday evening performance was mostly lost to rain but was immediately followed by a packed Saturday matinee in fierce sunshine.

At the end of last year, we turned our thoughts to a spring revue and held two Fork Handles evenings to drum up support and try out ideas.   These made a big contribution to the BBC (Blewbury Broadcasting Corporation) 4 revue taking place on Friday and Saturday this week (a few remaining tickets for Friday are available from the post office).  All the profits from this will be donated to the village hall refurbishment.

Pete and Jeff’s music quiz took place in November raising money for the Tony Loy Trust and we had a Friends’ Evening in March when we showed three short films, two of which featured significant contributions from young people with strong Blewbury connections and the third featuring Eric Sykes and Tommy Cooper, who have no Blewbury connection at all.

We now have 100 Friends who for £15 per year enjoy priority booking for our productions and a free entertainment each year.  We use the money from Friends’ subscriptions to invest in equipment and this year have bought a new walkie-talkie system, new speakers and new curtains.  If you are interested in becoming a Friend please contact Roger Colebrook, our Friends’ Secretary.

Our production this summer is the Crucible, which we last performed in 1979.  It will be directed by Sebastian Palka, who recently directed Great Expectations for us.  This is very different from the sort of plays we have performed in recent years but it is one of the most powerful plays of the Twentieth Century and should stir the emotions.

Thanks to everybody for their continuing support.

Steve White (Trustee)



Report to the Annual Parish Meeting 2019

Refurbishment of Blewbury Village Hall 

We have an outline plan to refurbish the hall within its current footprint and have submitted a planning application.  We are now working on the detail. The aim is still to create a village hall fit for another generation of which we can all be proud.  The plan envisages replacing the floors, ceilings, doors and single glazed windows; rewiring and installing new lighting, heating and ventilation; insulating the main hall loft and replacing and insulating the flat roofs; installing a new kitchen and toilets and modernising the decor internally and externally.  There are some enhancements we would like to include, if we can afford them, the main one being to relocate the Vale Room toilets to the Vale Room store and replace the toilets with a new store accessible from the main hall.   We have set a budget of £400,000 and are in discussion with our advisors about whether this will be enough.

We could start work as early as July but we will not have all the money we need and would have to proceed in phases.  It will be simpler, less risky and cheaper to wait until later in the year to give us a chance to raise all the money we need and do the job in one phase.

Thanks to the efforts and donations made so far and with the support of the Parish Council, we already have £240,000 in the bank.  We will re-apply for £80,000 previously pledged to the earlier scheme.  The remaining money has to be found from further funding bids, more village fundraising and personal donations.   Since getting ourselves back on track, we have received some further donations and 3 events have pledged all or some of their profits to the project – the BBC4 revue, the Ben Rogers concert being arranged by Gay Edwards and George Long’s Christmas Rat Pack concert at the end of November.  Other activities are being discussed.  We have identified 18 organisations to whom we will be making bids for funding.

The main risks are that the cost is substantially more than we hope or our fundraising falls short.  We are now planning a no-frills refurbishment so there is little we can cut out.  We would like to re-arrange the Vale Room as described above and we would save money by not doing that.  However, this so improves the amount of storage for the Main Hall and would move the toilets to a much more sensible location, that dropping it would be a big disappointment.

There will be a village meeting on Sunday 28 April, when we will have a detailed design and cost estimate.   This will be an opportunity to discuss the plans, including the enhancements, as well as the options and priorities if we can’t raise all the money we need.   In the meantime, thanks to everybody for their patience and support.  If you would like to make a donation towards the refurbishment of this core village asset, you can find the forms on the website or you can speak to me.

Steve White

Village Hall Refurbishment Team