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Local Government

Vale Of White Horse District Council update

October 21, 2021

Hello! We’ve had a busy month since our last update, with two Full Council meetings in addition to our usual committees and parish councils, but it has been brilliant to also get out and about in the community a lot more.

We can highly recommend DISH, the fantastic new food and drink venue on our doorsteps at the Harwell Campus. With a range of local street food vendors, a bar and regular live music, it’s a great place for breakfast, lunch, dinner or drinks and it’s a short cycle or bus ride away from the nearby villages.

Back in September, we had a lovely time at the Blewbury Village Hall Refurbishment official opening. Well done and thank you to all involved in this incredible long-term project to refurbish this wonderful community asset. It was an excellent opening event for the while community to enjoy, with a fantastic market – including the now legendary Blewbury Bread Co – and the Blewbury Brass Band doing an excellent job as usual, providing the perfect musical backdrop to a lovely celebration in the sunshine.

Harwell Village Hall also has lovely new bespoke signs outside, designed and made by local artist Julie Grose and funded through the arts contribution from housing developers. Councillor Margaret Crick, Chair of the Vale of White Horse District Council, attended the official unveiling of the signs, alongside Abigail Brown, arts officer at the council, who assisted with the research for the pieces. Well done to the village hall committee and everyone involved in this project.

We are very pleased that the Chilton Neighbourhood Plan has now been adopted by the Vale at the latest Full Council meeting. This is great news for Chilton, well done to all those involved in developing the Neighbourhood Plan, a huge amount of work and effort went into this. Neighbourhood Plans are a really important way that local communities can influence planning applications in their area, as all new planning applications should adhere to the Neighbourhood Plan. Local planning policy developed by local people is always a good thing.

Last weekend we met with our fellow councillor colleagues and friends Cllr Victoria Haval and Cllr David Rouane at the Cornerstone Arts Centre in Didcot. We had a good chat about our shared aims for the Didcot area, and enjoyed the delicious coffee, cake and bagels at the Cornerstone’s Nourish Café – well worth a visit. Congratulations to David Rouane on being elected as the new leader of South Oxfordshire District Council.

We will use these monthly updates to keep you updated on our activities, general council news and any COVID-19 developments,. We also post regularly on our councillor Facebook Page: Cllrs Hayleigh Gascoigne & Sarah Medley – please do not hesitate to get in touch with any issues or concerns, either via Facebook message or email: and

COVID-19 Community Support

A reminder to all residents that the councils’ Community Support Hub continues to operate for anyone who needs any assistance, either as a result of COVID-19 or just for anyone who needs signposting towards the appropriate support channel. There are multiple ways to get in touch with the Community Support Hub:

Residents can also contact:

  • Citizens Advice – 0808 278 7907
  • Vale Community Impact – 01235 765348

Remember that the latest figures are updated on the county council’s interactive dashboard on a daily basis. The national change in rules on self-isolation for fully vaccinated people took effect on 16 August. We encourage residents to get tested regularly and, if they feel unwell, book a PCR test, as Covid-19 is still very much around.

Garden Waste Suspension

Service update 21st Sept, 21

Dear Garden Waste Customer

Firstly, please accept our sincere apologies for the disruption to your garden waste service this summer.

We are pleased to share the news that we have agreed a temporary arrangement with Biffa that will enable us to begin collecting garden waste again from 27 September.

The well documented national shortage of HGV drivers is still an issue for Biffa, as well as for other council waste collections and many supermarkets, but the temporary arrangement they can provide requires fewer drivers, which means the service can resume sooner.

The temporary arrangement is that fortnightly collections will change to take place every four weeks, but you will be able to leave twice as much garden waste out as normal.

We appreciate this is still not the service you expect from us so we will be extending your subscription this year by three months to make up for the collections that you have missed while the service has been suspended. We will delay the collection of your next Direct Debit payment by three months – if we have recently informed you that your payment is due to be taken imminently but the payment has not yet come out of your account, the payment will be cancelled, and you will be notified of the revised collection date in due course once your subscription has been amended. If somebody else pays for your garden waste collections, please let them know of this change. If you choose not to continue with the garden waste service when your subscription expires, we’ll continue to empty your brown bin for three months after your subscription was originally due to end.

While we will be reviewing the situation closely on an ongoing basis, we have set an agreed review date with Biffa at the end of October to see if the normal service can resume and we will let you know the outcome of that review.

Your collection day remains the same as before

If your bins are usually emptied on a Monday, for example, your brown bin will still be emptied on a Monday under a new temporary garden waste timetable with your bins emptied once every four weeks, instead of every two weeks. 

You can see the temporary timetable on this webpage, which shows when your four-weekly collection will take place.

Remember, when you put your garden waste bin out while this temporary timetable is in place, you can leave an extra bin’s worth of garden waste out next to your brown bin. The extra garden waste can be put out in cardboard boxes, old compost bags or bin bags (not the very large trade waste bags please).

We will still collect your food waste weekly, and your recycling and rubbish every two weeks as normal.

We want to thank you for your patience and understanding and apologise once again that the service has fallen short of the standards you have come to expect. We hope you feel that the temporary arrangement is a good way of getting the garden waste service up and running sooner rather than later, while Biffa continues to look for ways to address its driver shortage.

Local News:

Cornerstone and the Beacon now open

Cornerstone in Didcot and the Beacon in Wantage have fully reopened their doors. Hot off the heels from our successful Didcot Garden Party summer programme, Cornerstone is now open Tuesdays to Sundays and has tickets available for a wide variety of performances coming to the arts centre in the next few months – see the website for more information. The Beacon, which was used as a vital symptom-free testing centre until June, has been converted back to a vibrant community venue with its coffee shop now open on Mondays to Saturdays – more details are expected to be published on classes, performances and live music at the Beacon soon.

Council News

White Horse Community Lottery

The first draw took place for the White Horse Community Lottery on Saturday 18 September with many supporters winning a variety of prizes including £25 to 3 extra tickets. One good cause had multiple winners! In addition to this, players of the first five tickets drawn have won £100 to donate to a good cause of their choice.

Since the launch, many good causes have joined the White Horse Community lottery and can now benefit from vital unrestricted funds and players can support the causes they care about the most. It’s predicted that over the next year, the lottery will raise just over £28,500 for good causes in the district.Please spread the word to good causes in the area and encourage local voluntary groups and charities to register.

Great success as children across southern Oxfordshire become Litter Bug Detectives

Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire district councils’ waste team successfully worked with 20 local parish and town councils to run children’s activity trails in the school summer holiday.

New policy to boost the planting and protection of trees on public land

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils have launched a new policy which outlines how they will protect, plant and manage trees on the land they own, and how they’ll support communities to apply to plant trees on council owned land.

Joint leaders’ statement to mark World Homelessness Day – 10 October

The Oxfordshire Growth Board is now the Future Oxfordshire Partnership

The Oxfordshire Growth Board has officially renamed as the Future Oxfordshire Partnership. The partnership’s new web address is and their social media accounts have also been renamed.

Councils discover Air Quality Superheroes in southern Oxfordshire

The district councils launched the competition for primary school children across southern Oxfordshire earlier this year, challenging the children to create an air quality superhero.

Celebrating 10 years of enterprise success

It has been a decade since the first enterprise zone was created in Oxfordshire, and during that time the zones have helped scores of businesses to grow, created thousands of jobs and invested millions of pounds across southern Oxfordshire.

Amazon wishlist for specific donations to help Afghan guests

People in Oxfordshire are being asked to make donations of very specific items to help Afghan people currently being looked after in the county after their recent arrival in the UK following events in their home country.

Litter picking equipment presented to St Nicolas school in Abingdon

St Nicolas CE Primary School in Abingdon was presented with 30 children’s hi-vis jackets and other litter picking equipment by Vale of White Horse District Council as part of a council competition.

A joint statement by the leaders of South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils, Cllrs Sue Cooper and Emily Smith to mark World Homelessness Day on 10 October.

Council Meetings

The latest Full Council meeting of the Vale of White Horse district council was held on 6th October. The meeting agenda can be found here and the video recording of the meeting can be found here. More detail below on the motions passed at this meeting:

More funding for new community facilities as updated rates for developers agreed

Councillors have agreed revised rates that developers will be required to pay towards community facilities and local infrastructure that are needed as a result of development growth in the Vale of White Horse District.

Vale to reaffirm its climate commitment by joining influential leaders’ network

The motion, seconded by Cllr Hayleigh Gascoigne, Vale of White Horse District Council has agreed to start the process to join a national network which gives local government leaders greater influence and resources in tackling the climate emergency – UK:100.

Leader’s Statement – 6 October 2021

Cllr Emily Smith, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, delivered her Leader’s Statement to Council at the meeting on 6 October 2021.

Council calls on the government to reverse Universal Credit uplift cut

Cllr Emily Smith, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, is to write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to express grave concern about how families in the Vale will be impacted by the government’s decision to cut the £20 Universal Credit uplift.


Statement of Community Involvement

We are currently working with South Oxfordshire district council to produce a joint Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) to cover both districts.  The SCI sets out how we will consult on planning applications and planning policy, including the joint Local Plan – Until midnight on 20 October 2021. Click here to take part in the consultation.