Monthly Archives: May 2020

Blewbury School Announces Phased Re-Opening

May 25, 2020

Blewbury School, like other schools around the country, has been busy facing the challenges of Covid-19 during the period since late March.

Although formally closed since the start of the lockdown period the school has remained busy providing learning and practical support for all pupils, including a small minority who have continued to come into school as they were children of key workers or met other government criteria.

A temporary Emergency Advisory Committee (EAC) of governors has been put in place to ensure that the school’s Covid-19 contingency plans are being satisfactorily executed, and that all the children have been receiving adequate learning support. It has been a priority for the EAC and the staff to ensure that all of the children are safe and happy and that all of the statutory provisions for the most vulnerable pupils are in place. The EAC has been impressed by the agility and commitment of the staff, and the amazing support from parents and carers all of which has ensured that the children continue to thrive. The EAC has expressed its thanks to everyone involved for this response.

As the Bulletin goes to press the situation is that the school is intending to start a phased return of pupils to the school from Wednesday 3rd June. This will involve the first stage in a process of phased reopening, following government guidance and Public Health England recommendations. The first children to return will be from reception and years 1 & 6. They will be kept exclusively in their own special group of no more than 15 children, and each group will have one teacher and one teaching assistant allocated to it to ensure appropriate social distancing, and other safety measures, throughout the school day. There will continue to be separate arrangements for key worker children from other year groups, building upon the experience of the last few weeks.

Further information, as well as any updates on the phased reopening arrangements, as well as the minutes of recent governor meetings, are available on the school website (www.blewbury.oxon.sch.uk) . Any questions about what is happening in the school may also be addressed to Miss Becky Costello (head.3248@blewbury.oxon.sch.uk) and/or Kevin Moyes

And the winner is…

May 21, 2020

In early May, readers were invited to choose their three favourite lockdown-themed cartoons from a collection of 25, all drawn by Elphin Lloyd-Jones, that were posted on the Blewbury website.

For a chance to win a bottle of bubbly, they were also asked to suggest a topic, or a situation, that could be illustrated in a new cartoon. The results are now in!

The highest scorer among the existing cartoons was No 9 (‘Over reacting’), shown below.

Just one point behind, in equal second place, were 11 (‘Coping Mechanism’) and 12 (‘A Grave Situation’), followed by seven runners-up: 2, 3, 4, 10, 14, 20 and 21. All 25 of the original drawings can still be viewed here.

The winning suggestion for a new cartoon, featuring the differing reactions of dogs and cats to seeing more of their owners, came from Lydia Wanstall, and is shown as the main illustration above.

Elphin would like to congratulate Lydia and thank everyone who took part – especially Kevin Aubrey, who sent in his entry from New Jersey, USA, despite the fact that his location put him out of the running for the grand prize! (Kevin’s explanation was that he was ‘bored’.)

Coronavirus Update from Vale of White Horse District Council

May 23, 2020

Hello from Hayleigh & Sarah

Hello! On what is now the third bank holiday weekend in recent months, we hope that you are keeping well and able to enjoy the weekend whilst staying safe. Although the lockdown restrictions have eased slightly since our last update, this means that is more important than ever to take care when you are out and about, being mindful of keeping a safe distance from others and still staying home as much as possible. There is more specific guidance on what you can and cannot do on the government’s Coronavirus FAQ webpage. As everyone adjusts to the “new normal”, note that there is still support available for those who need it. We are currently helping our fantastic local community volunteer groups to investigate more longer-term funding for their activities, so that they can continue to provide help as required. The council’s own Community Support Team continues to run their support line for anyone in need, including over the bank holiday: call 01235 422 600 or email communitysupport@southandvale.gov.uk.

Remember, for the most up-to-date coronavirus information relating to district council support and any changes to services, please take a look at the dedicated Vale webpage for updates: www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/covid19

Waste Collections

A reminder that all of the Vale’s waste collection services are once again up and running, and that Oxfordshire’s recycling centres have also now re-opened to the public. Changes to your bin collection days as a result of the bank holiday are on the table below and the following website: whitehorsedc.gov.uk/bankholiday

Business Support

New discretionary grants scheme

The new discretionary grants scheme recently announced by the government will only provide an extra five per cent of funding on top of the money received in the first round of COVID-19 business grants in April. This means that unfortunately it will not provide anywhere near enough cash to support the vast majority of businesses in southern Oxfordshire affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have received the details of the government’s new discretionary business grants scheme and are currently pulling together a list of businesses that fit the detailed criteria. In line with government guidelines, we are aiming to release funds at the beginning of June and are working at pace to develop an online application based on the prescribed eligibility criteria.  This may take a short while to set up, but will ensure the process is quicker and easier and speeds up decision making so we can make payments to successful applicants without delay. Our business support team will provide ongoing support and guidance to any businesses that aren’t successful in applying for this scheme – this will include signposting them to the government’s COVID-19 loan scheme, which can be processed and paid out very quickly.

If you have any questions, please email the Business Support team: business.support@southandvale.gov.uk

Free webinar for businesses in South and Vale

We have partnered with Graham Ballantyne, Director of the UK Business Mentoring Group, to deliver a free webinar on Thursday to help local businesses with their recovery plans. The webinar will include lots of tips and pointers, along with useful templates, and complementary mentoring sessions. You can find out more information on the South and Vale Business Support website. We’ve also heard that the next Pop-Up business school for Oxfordshire is taking place online in June. There’s more information here.

The South & Vale Business Support team stays up-to-date on the latest government advice and support, and can advise on rates relief and business support grants. Visit their website for the latest info and to sign up for their e-newsletter: svbs.co.uk, and follow them on Twitter @TeamSVBS.

Council Tax

There is no specific update on council tax this time. Where possible, you should continue to pay your bills as normal.  Residents who are currently not being paid, and are struggling to pay their council tax bill, are encouraged to apply for Council Tax Reduction – their account will then be put on hold for 30 days while their application is processed: whitehorsedc.gov.uk/ctrs

Council Matters

Remote committee meetings to take place online
South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils are to begin holding council committee meetings online via video conferencing from the end of May. The first virtual meeting of the Vale of White Horse District Council will be the Vale Planning Committee on Tuesday 26 May at 10.30am.

Councillors will use Microsoft Teams to take part in the meetings and members of the public will be able to watch online via a link which will be published alongside the meeting agenda on the councils’ websites five working days prior to the meeting.  The councils will also publish the link to each meeting via their Facebook and Twitter pages. For details on how members of the public can submit statements or questions to be considered by a committee or council meeting please visit whitehorsedc.gov.uk/meetings.

Once councillors and officers have got used to the new process and are confident that meetings can be carried out effectively and within the guidelines, the councils will look to introduce online public participation by live video. Following the COVID-19 outbreak and the introduction of social distancing rules in March, the two councils cancelled all their official meetings and acted quickly to focus their efforts on supporting local communities and vulnerable individuals. While the focus remains predominantly on supporting vulnerable residents affected by COVID-19, it is still important to ensure the transparency of local democracy and so the councils have now put in place measures to ensure that meetings can take place again.

Local News

County Council cycle projects

The County Council has launched a newsletter on its Science Vale Cycle Network Project (SVCN), which you can sign up to receive monthly updates about. The first of these projects is to construct a cycle route between Wantage and Harwell Campus, and this is due to start next week on 26 May.  This project will be featured in the newsletter, which will also provide updates on other routes as projects progress. To sign up to the newsletter head to the county council’s transport bulletins page and chose Science Vale Cycle Network from the list – you can sign up for updates on other transport projects too.

Take care, stay safe, stay home!

We will endeavour to keep you updated on the council’s response to the Coronavirus COVID-19 through future newsletters and our dedicated councillor Facebook Page: Cllrs Hayleigh Gascoigne & Sarah Medley. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with any issues or concerns – our email addresses are hayleigh.gascoigne@whitehorsedc.gov.uk and sarah.medley@whitehorsedc.gov.uk.

Coronavirus in Blewbury

May 15, 2020

Here are the main Coronavirus-related news items notified so far; there are more inside the April and May issues of the Blewbury Bulletin. Information affecting the wider area can be found on the Local Government news page on this website.

THIS WEEK’S ANNOUNCEMENTS

• Recycling centres open on 18 May for essential use

Oxfordshire County Council will re-open Household Waste Recycling Centres on 18 May, for essential use. Essential use means waste that cannot be stored at home, or would cause hard to health if stored.

There will be new site rules to ensure social distancing and the safety of residents and site staff. This includes reducing opening hours to 8am – 4pm to allow for cleaning, limiting the number and size of vehicles coming in and contactless payments only.

Queues are likely, so if it can wait, please do. If it’s waste that can be disposed of legally and responsibly in another way, such as weekly kerbside collections or district council collection services, please do that.

Full information about the changes to recycling centre rules can be found on their website – www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/wastereopenquestions

OLDER STORIES

• Information on Church activities

While all church buildings, including St Michael’s, are closed, the church community continue to be very active despite the current limitations on our gatherings and movements. Services and groups are continuing online and by telephone, and the clergy are available if people have questions, would like to talk, or would like to ask for prayer for themselves or someone they care about.

For full details, click here to view/download a PDF file containing the latest information from the Churn Benefice.

• Blewbury Post Office is now closed for refurbishment.

We will be reopening on Thursday 25th June at 9 am.

• Bulky waste collection service reopens

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils have reopened their paid-for bulky waste collection service for large household items and are also issuing a warning about fly-tipping while other outlets for domestic waste remain closed.

The bulky waste collection service was temporarily stopped to allow the councils’ waste contractor, Biffa, to prioritise the important kerbside household collections while members of their waste collection crews were off sick or self-isolating. Biffa has now built up sufficient resilience in its workforce and can now provide the paid-for service again. The situation is being regularly monitored and residents should be aware that if staffing levels fall the service may need to be suspended again.

With household waste recycling centres still closed, along with charity shops and their donation banks, there are fewer places to dispose of unwanted items that do not fit into kerbside collections.

The councils have issued a warning to anybody tempted to fly-tip – this includes leaving rubbish next to litter bins – that they will investigate and prosecute anyone found to be responsible.

• Please stay away from Trim Trail on Tickers Folly Field

Unfortunately there are some visitors still using the Trim Trail equipment at Tickers Folly field. None of the equipment should be used for the foreseeable future. Please be aware that the virus can remain on surfaces and be contagious for many hours.

Please protect yourself and others by not coming into contact with any shared surfaces. This includes, but is not limited to, all community play and fitness equipment.

Should you have any contact, thoroughly wash your hands directly you get home.

Chris Lakeland, Chairman Blewbury Parish Council
Email: BlewburyPCChair@gmail.com

• From the Parish Council:

In the current circumstances, when the vast majority of children in the village are being home schooled and taking exercise breaks in their gardens, the Parish Council asks residents to be considerate and not light bonfires.

• From Sustainable Blewbury:

Our article in the April Bulletin has been superseded by recent Government announcements, so please note that our permaculture orchard garden on Woodway Road is now closed until further notice.

• From the Croquet Club:

Until further notice, Blewbury’s croquet courts should be seen as off-limits for any form of play.

The information we provided to April’s online Bulletin – advising that the courts were still open as long as players took sensible precautions – is now out of date, and has been overtaken by last night’s Government announcements.  We are today closing the courts with immediate effect.

We will review the position as further advice is received, but safety and health concerns must come first.

David Long, BCC Secretary (07484 360169)

BLEWBURY GOOD NEIGHBOURS

If you live in Blewbury and are self-isolating due to COVID-19 we can help with:  Urgent supplies  Picking up shopping  A friendly phone call  Other essential errands • Help (by phone if necessary) with setting up Skype, WhatsApp, Facetime etc – just ask! Please text/call one of the following three phone numbers and a volunteer will arrange to help you: 851777 (Blewbury Post Office), 07825 154842, 07801 932393. If you would like to register as a volunteer, please also call these numbers or visit the Blewbury Good Neighbours page on Facebook. (Please note that the Post Office number will not be in operation during the period when the Post Office is closed for refurbishment, i.e. from Friday 10th April to 2.30pm on Tuesday 28th April.)

PARISH COUNCIL

The April Parish Council meeting (April 8th) and the Annual Parish Meeting (April 22nd) will proceed as required by law, but in a highly restricted form. More details on page 18.

ST MICHAEL’S CHURCH

All weekday and Sunday services are cancelled until further notice, including Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter Day. The church will be OPEN every day as usual for private prayer and reflection. More details on pages 10 & 11.

BLEWBURY FLYING SQUAD

Following Government advice on social distancing and non-emergency hospital visits, and taking into account the fact that many of our drivers are themselves members of at-risk groups, the Flying Squad service is regretfully suspended until further notice.

BLEWBURY BRASS BAND SPRING CONCERT

This concert, due to take place on Saturday May 2nd, has been cancelled.

VILLAGE HALL AGM

In view of the current restriction on public gatherings the AGM will be held as soon as possible after the reopening of the Hall following refurbishment, subject to government guidelines prevailing at the time.

DUCK RACE & EGG ROLLING

The Easter Duck Race has been postponed until Sunday September 27th. The annual egg-rolling competition, also scheduled for Easter Sunday, has regretfully been cancelled. More details on page 3.

ARTWEEKS

All physical exhibitions that are part of Oxfordshire Artweeks are cancelled or postponed. More details on page 7.

BELL RINGING

Ringing at St Michael’s has now suspended with immediate effect. Hopefully when ringing is allowed to recommence we will send a powerful message of joy, hope and relief once the crisis has passed.

BULLETIN STOP PRESS SERVICE

If you would like to receive urgent village news and information by email, you can sign up to the Bulletin Stop Press service on the home page of this website. Powered by MailChimp®, all emails are blind copied so no addresses are shared.

Please note that the Bulletin’s coronavirus coverage does not, and will not, include advice on the virus itself, or on how individuals should respond to it. For the latest, most reliable information on these health-related issues, we recommend tuning in regularly to national and local broadcast news, or visiting the following websites (web addresses shortened for convenience):

Public Health Englandhttps://bit.ly/2WmUEUv

Department of Health and Social Carehttps://bit.ly/2WthCci

Coronavirus (COVID-19): UK Government responsehttps://bit.ly/3aWAV1U

Please note that information on these sites is frequently updated, so should be checked regularly for the latest advice.

The Great Lock-Down Cartoon Competition!

May 6, 2020

Choose your three favourites and suggest a topic for a new cartoon, and you could win a bottle of fizz!

For the past few weeks, Blewbury’s resident cartoonist Elphin Lloyd-Jones has been trying to stay sane by producing a drawing a day. From the 25 examples shown below, he’d like you to choose the three that you think best reflect the strangeness of the times we’re living through. Plus, he’s looking for suggestions for a new cartoon: a situation, or a theme, or a jokey treatment of an incident that you may have experienced or heard about. He’s even willing to reward the best suggestion with a bottle of champagne! (N.B. For logistical and lock-down reasons, the champagne prize is only available to people physically resident in Blewbury.)

To enter the competition, simply email the Bulletin editor with the numbers of your three favourite cartoons, and your suggestion for a new one, by midnight on Sunday May 17th. The winner’s name, together with Elphin’s rendition of the winning suggestion, will be published in the June Bulletin.

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And now… over to you!

Bridge Club

May 29, 2020

Having ceased physical play over two months ago, members have been finding other ways to satisfy their need for some mental challenges. Some are playing with a regular partner on the internet on sites such as Bridge Base Online, where the EBU runs regular daily sessions of 12 boards at 12 noon, 2.00, 3.30, 7.30 and 9pm. There are also occasional Oxfordshire County events on this website, too.

In order to maintain some form of cohesive club activity, Blewbury Bridge Club has set up regular sessions of 20 boards, playing against the computer, on a site called Funbridge at 7.30pm on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. It was felt this would appeal to the widest cross-section of the membership. However, support has been a bit patchy and so it would be good if more members could take up the option of some bridge stimulation in these sessions. Contact the Chairman for further information on how to join the site and find the dedicated Blewbury sessions, where you can test your skills against the other Blewbury members who take part. A Novices session of 15 boards has also been set up at 7.30pm on Friday evenings on the same site. This is proving quite popular.

It would seem unlikely that the club will re-convene physically again before the autumn – let us hope that the recent news concerning a vaccine possibly being available in September proves correct. Otherwise, we are probably looking at a long delay before we can meet again. Michael Allen  851870