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Sparsholt Parish Plan Newsletter No 4: Fuel-Purchasing Cooperative - Updated

on Wed, 30/11/2011 - 4:00pm

*** Update 30/11/11 ***

The November oil price for members of the Fuel-Purchasing Cooperative scheme was 55.5p per litre. The average price quoted was 62.0p per litre and the highest price quoted was 71.0p per litre.


The Times newspaper reported that 4.3 million households that use either oil or LPG pay about a third more than those on mains gas. Because oil and LPG do not fall under the remit of Ofgem, there is little protection for consumers. This has led to many rural communities forming purchasing cooperatives to buy their oil as cheaply as possible.

Parish Plan Background

Analysis of parish plan questionnaires showed that an exceptionally high number (58 out of 123) of households expressed an interest in joining a cooperative. Some are already members of schemes run by other local villages. The table below shows the level of interest in the Parish.

Parish Area

Households Expressing an Interest

Blacklands & Churchway




Outlying Properties


Sparsholt Central


Watery Lane


West Street


Westcot Lane


Westcot North


Westcot South


Grand Total



The advantage of a purchasing cooperative is that most distributors quote a lower price on volume orders because it reduces delivery costs. What's more, that price is available to all members of the cooperative irrespective of the volume ordered.

Research into purchasing cooperatives established that oil schemes are the most popular. This is probably due to the more onerous conditions placed on consumers that wish to switch LPG distributor.

Oil-Purchasing Cooperative

The working group set up to identify the most suitable purchasing cooperative for Parish residents examined the following options:

  • A local (parish-based) cooperative
  • A cooperative run by a nearby community.
  • The countywide ORCC[1] run cooperative.

They recommend the ORCC cooperative. It was set up in 2009 and now has 470 members, including residents in Childrey and Sparsholt. The process involves a local coordinator who passes member’s orders to the ORCC each month. The ORCC selects the distributor that quotes the best price. The distributor contacts each member directly to arrange delivery and collect payment. There is an annual membership fee of £20. For the time being, Jane B, Childrey’s coordinator has agreed to take on new members from the Parish although the need for a separate coordinator ultimately depends on the additional workload of looking after a larger group.

The working group discounted the option to set up a parish-based cooperative because of the work involved in starting from scratch and that it would largely result in a duplication of effort. They also discounted the option to join another cooperative because of the ones identified they either restricted membership to the immediate local area or were too far away to make it a realistic proposition.

Oil-Purchasing Cooperative Savings

Below are case studies prepared by individual members of the working group. They illustrate the savings that could have made had they ordered their oil with the ORCC over the past 12 months.

Case Study-1



4,300 litres

Actual Price Paid


ORCC Negotiated Price


Annual Saving


Membership Fee



Case Study-2



1,455 litres

Actual Price Paid


ORCC Negotiated Price


Annual Saving


Membership Fee



Case Study-3



1,736 litres

Actual Price Paid


ORCC Negotiated Price


Annual Saving


Membership Fee



Note. Oil prices vary from day to day. The case studies include purchases made on different days to the orders placed by the ORCC. As a result, the indicative savings could be more or less than those stated above.

LPG-Purchasing Cooperative

The main obstacle to forming an LPG purchasing cooperative is that consumers are required to sign a 2‑year contract. Consequently, it is not possible to “shop around” for a competitive price from a different distributor during the contract period.

Tank ownership is another complication. Whilst it is possible to switch distributors, this can be tricky when the distributor applies current regulations retrospectively.

Join Up Now!

Residents that wish to join the ORCC oil scheme should complete the accompanying form (see link below) and send it together with your membership fee to the ORCC. Alternatively, go to and follow the links to the bulk oil-purchasing scheme to find out how to place your order. Jane B ( is the local coordinator who lives in Childrey

LPG consumers should contact Andrew O on:-

or at Andrew will arrange a meeting to assess the viability of forming an LPG purchasing cooperative.

Further Action

1.      Publicise the ORCC scheme to encourage interested residents to enrol.

2.      Advise the ORCC administrator that Sparsholt residents are to enrol and Childrey’s coordinator is to manage orders at least for the time being.

3.      Identify a volunteer to take on the role of Parish Coordinator should the additional workload become too much for Childrey’s coordinator.


Submitted by Andrew O, Parish Plan Steering Group, 8/11/11

[1] Oxford Rural Community Council

The Blowing Stone wins Good Pub Guide award

on Wed, 30/11/2011 - 12:00am

Every year 'The Good Pub Guide' highlights the best dining pubs around the country - and awards one pub in each county the accolade of "County Dining Pub of the Year".

And this year, The Blowing Stone in Kingston Lisle has won the Good Pub Guide's "Oxfordshire’s Dining Pub of the Year 2012" award.

The Good Pub Guide says:-

Easy-going chatty country pub with up-to-date blend of simple comfort, good food and drink

The Tuckers delighted us and our readers at their previous pub, the White Horse over at Woolstone, and have brought the same winning mix of easy country informality with good food and drink to this friendly village pub.

Its heart is the central bar, where broad tiles by the log fire suit the muddy riding boots of the cheerful wiry young people in from nearby training stables. They have the Racing Post alongside other daily papers, and most of the photographs on the pale sage walls are of racehorses, often spectacularly coming to grief over jumps. Several separate areas radiate off, most of them carpeted, quite small and snug, though a back dining conservatory is more spacious. Apart from a couple of high-backed winged settles, most of the furniture is an unfussy mix of country dining tables each with its own set of matching chairs, either padded or generously cushioned.

Decent wines by the glass and Greene King Morland Original, Hook Norton Hooky Bitter, Ringwood Fortyniner and perhaps a White Horse ale named after the pub; service is quick and friendly and there may be unobtrusive piped music.

The pretty front terrace has a couple of picnic-sets under cocktail parasols with more on the back lawn by a rockery; the Ridgeway and Uffington White Horse are both nearby. Many years ago your editor, in his teens, was proud of being able to 'sound' the blowing stone itself, a hole-filled boulder outside a cottage down just beyond the crossroads, which can be induced to produce a spine-tingling far-carrying horn blast. Alas, on his re-visit this year, he seemed to have lost the knack - or perhaps he'd just lunched too well here.

Read more:-

Some text kindly provided by The Good Pub Guide (copyright).

Childrey Bonfire Night - Thank you!

on Tue, 29/11/2011 - 10:44am

A big 'thank you' to all who attended and helped at the Childrey Bonfire Night on the 5th November.

Thank you to the organisers, the fireworks crew, bucket shakers, the chefs on the BBQ and in the kitchen and the fire duty crew.

The biggest thank you goes to all who attended; thank you for your continued support!

The evening was a great success and enjoyed by everyone.

Free Wi-Fi to launch in the centre of Wantage

on Tue, 22/11/2011 - 12:00am

People visiting the centre of Wantage will soon be able to take advantage of free public Wi-Fi. 

From Saturday 10 December, free Wi-Fi coverage will be available in the Market Place for people to browse the internet while visiting the markets, doing their shopping, travelling to work or sitting in the local cafes. 

The free service will allow people to get online quickly to find out information about local services, attractions and locations; meaning that they may explore more of the town, spend more time in the town centre, or are simply able to respond to urgent work inquiries while having lunch in the town centre. 

As well as being free for everyone, the service will not require people to enter any login details, a common complaint with other free services. 

The cost of providing the service will be partially met through the sale of advertising space on the Wi-Fi service’s landing page.  This is being offered to local businesses and will provide them with a great opportunity to reach more people in the local area and promote their services to a wider audience. 

The scheme is being provided by the Vale of White Horse District Council and service provider CTS Group (Communications Technology Support), and will act as a pilot project for the Vale which, if successful, could be extended to other market town centres. 

Cllr Elaine Ware, cabinet member for economic development at the Vale, said: “Free public Wi-Fi offers people more freedom to find out information, work, or just surf the net while they are having a coffee.  We hope that people will make the most of the new service and use it to find out more about the local area, and that local businesses will take up the opportunity to promote themselves on it.” 

Steve Lambourne, Managing Director of CTS Group Ltd said “We are pleased to be associated with this project, providing the technical expertise, installation and support services. We are a local business and recognise the need for these services to be readily available.  Residents, businesses and visitors to Wantage will all benefit from the introduction of free Wi-Fi. 

All businesses interested in taking advantage of the media sales opportunity should contact Karen Ogden on 0844 99 11 200 or email

Courtesy Vale of White Horse DC, released on November 22, 2011

Wantage Leisure Centre Refurbishment

on Mon, 21/11/2011 - 12:00am

Soll Leisure is this week completing a refurbishment of the reception area at Wantage Leisure Centre on Portway. 

The refurbishment has included a new floor, full decoration, new coffee machine, new seating area and the installation of more efficient lighting. 

The project has been funded and organised by Soll Leisure who manage several sites within the county working in Partnership with the Vale of White Horse District Council. 

Kevin Williams, General Manager at Wantage Leisure Centre said “The new Reception will change the feel around the whole centre. As well as modernising the centre the reception will hopefully encourage users to try our new fresh coffee machine after taking part in one of our evening aerobics classes or having a swim.”

Debbie, a gym member at Wantage Leisure Centre added “The new reception has changed the feel of the whole centre! Much better thanks Soll Leisure” 

Cllr Elaine Ware, cabinet member for leisure at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “People will certainly notice the difference the refurbishment has made to the reception area.  As a result of the work, the centre now looks more welcoming for users, and will hopefully encourage more residents to come along and try the centre out for themselves.”

For more info on activities available at Wantage Leisure Centre please visit their page in the Directory > Fitness & Leisure > Wantage Leisure Centre section of our site, visit the Soll Leisure website directly or call Wantage Leisure Centre reception on 01235 766201.

Courtesy Vale of White Horse DC, released on November 21, 2011.

UK Road Casualties 2000-2010 - World Day of Remembrance

on Fri, 18/11/2011 - 11:00am

32,955 killed and almost 3m injured between 2000 and 2010 on Britain's roads.

Use this site to view information about virtually every reported fatality and injury that occurred on roads in Great Britain in the period 2000 to 2010 as a result of a collision involving a motor vehicle. Enter a place name into the search box and then use the mouse and buttons to pan and zoom. Use the 'full screen' button in the top-right corner of the map to make the map larger or smaller. Use the 'key' button in the top-left corner to open or close the key.

Each dot represents a life. The map shows those killed, seriously injured and slightly injured as well as mode of transport. For fatalities, additional information is available giving the person's (or age band since 2009), gender and the year in which the crash took place. Zoom in to see more details.

This web service was released prior to the 2011 World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims and Road Safety Week.

Search for 'Sparsholt' in the 'Search by place...' box.

Two hours free parking from December 9th, in Wantage, Faringdon & Abingdon

on Mon, 14/11/2011 - 12:00am

Residents and visitors to the Vale are set to receive an early Christmas present after it was confirmed, subject to scrutiny, that they will be able to park for free for two hours every day from this December. 

On Friday 11 November the Vale of White Horse District Council’s cabinet voted in favour of implementing a new car parking order, which includes the provision of a two hour period of free parking that drivers can take advantage of anytime between 8am and 6pm in district council car parks. 

The new scheme was proposed as a way to help boost the trade in Abingdon, Faringdon and Wantage town centres, allowing people time to do everyday shopping and also explore more of what the local shops, cafes and other businesses have to offer, while not having to worry about paying to park. 

It is hoped that the introduction of two hours free parking will provide a boost to businesses which are having to cope with the tough economic conditions, and in some cases the added effect of nearby building work. 

Under the new arrangements the charging period will change to between 8am and 6pm.  During this time people wishing to park will need to display a valid ticket, including during the free two hour period.  

Once people have parked for the free two hours in a particular town they will have to pay the standard fee if they wish to park again during the charging period.   Parking will remain free of charge between 6pm and 8am. 

The new parking order also includes changes to the cost of standard short term parking fees and longer term parking permits. 

Following approval by cabinet, the new car parking order is now subject to scrutiny.  Once the scrutiny period has passed full details of the scheme will be published.  It is anticipated that the scheme will launch on Friday 9 December. 

Cllr Elaine Ware, cabinet member for economy, leisure and property, said: “We made a promise to the people of the Vale that we would introduce two hours free parking.  I am delighted that we have been able to fulfil this promise and hope that people take real advantage of being able to park for free. 

“Residents and visitors to our towns will have more opportunity to get out and explore the many local attractions, shops, cafés and other businesses and play a real part in helping to boost the local economy and keep our towns thriving, especially through these tough economic times.”

Courtesy Vale of White Horse DC, released on November 14, 2011

Sparsholt Parish Plan Housing Policy Update - 7th November 2011

on Tue, 08/11/2011 - 5:10pm

Following analysis of the results of the housing questions in the Parish Plan Questionnaire, a statement has been prepared which is intended to express the parish's view of future housing. This statement will be incorporated into the eventual Parish Plan:-


Parish residents were asked whether they supported the building of new houses, either in open spaces or as infill (Infill refers to the infilling of a small gap – ie big enough for one or at most two houses set in plots of a broadly similar width to next door - within an otherwise built-up frontage or group of houses) between other properties.

From the results, it was very clear that the majority of residents would not want:

  • Any new houses outside of existing built up areas (71% against).
  • Developments of more than 5 properties (only 5% support).
  • Flats and apartments (only 6% support).
  • New buildings for business premises (only 10% support).

More than half of the residents (53%) do not support the building of any new dwellings in the parish. 35% of residents are prepared to consider new houses built between existing properties (infill) at appropriate places. This being subject to other criteria being met such as planning, drainage, access and the preservation or enhancement of the existing character or appearance of the area.

Residents were asked questions about types and size of housing, size of development and the conversion of existing farm buildings. The results showed that:

  • 29% wished to see developments of single dwellings and 22% would consider a development of up to 5 properties (although existing guidelines limit developments to 2 dwellings).
  • 37% preferred that new dwellings be privately owned although there was some lesser support for shared ownership (20%) and social rented (14%).
  • A large majority of those prepared in principle to accept development favoured properties, both bungalows and houses, of up to 4 bedrooms; there was less support for properties of 5 bedrooms or more.
  • There was significant support (74%) for the conversion of farm buildings into homes
  • There was support (42%) for the conversion of existing farm buildings for business use.


The housing survey findings correlate with the overwhelmingly positive view of Sparsholt Parish as a small rural community set in a quiet and peaceful environment on the north side of the Berkshire Downs with the historic springline village of Sparsholt, protected by a conservation area, at its heart.

They also appear to demonstrate recognition that Sparsholt is a small parish (population circa 300; households 138) without a shop, a school or a playing field and with restricted public transport services. The Parish Plan housing policy set out below uses the evidence gathered in the survey, acknowledges the majority view that no further housing development should be accommodated in the parish but also recognises that there may be opportunities that arise to accommodate some limited additional housing within the built-up limits of the parish without causing material harm to the established character of the rural parish.



An earlier draft was considered at an open meeting in the Star on 2nd November and many comments and suggestions were considered.  The revised statement on housing is available as a PDF download below. 

The statement is consistent with the results of the questionnaire and much care has been taken to ensure that the conclusion and proposed policy are based only on the survey results. 

If there are any final comments on the attached statement, please send them to

There will be a final open meeting to explain the statement on Monday 14th November in the Star at 7.30pm.

Submitted by Jorge M, Parish Plan Steering Group, 8/11/11

New Non-Emergency Police Telephone Number - 101

on Tue, 01/11/2011 - 4:07pm

Thames Valley Police is due to go live with 101, the new national single non-emergency number on 14th November 2011, which will replace the 0845 8 505 505 number. Both numbers will run side by side until the end of March, but if demand for the 0845 8 505 505 number drops it may be discontinued earlier.

Calls to 101 (from both landlines and mobile networks) cost 15 pence per call, no matter what time of day the call is made, or the duration of the call.

Everyone calling the police for non-emergency matters will now know exactly how much a call will cost them, and can be assured of equal access whether they are on a pay-as-you-go mobile or a home landline

The routing will be based on the same system as 999 calls. If a caller is using a landline the routing will be based on the caller’s postcode and the call will be directed to the same area’s force. If a caller is using a mobile, the call will route using the mast that the phone is transmitting from.

Sgt Chris Ball, PC Timothy Pavey and PCSO’s Kerry Davis and Maralyn Pack of Faringdon West, Thames Valley Police

Improving broadband and mobile coverage in Oxfordshire

on Mon, 24/10/2011 - 8:50pm

Oxfordshire has been allocated £3.86M to aid the deployment of superfast broadband in our rural areas.

Whilst any amount of funding is welcome, it falls way short of what is needed if we are going to meet the aspiration that 90% of premises in the county have access to at least 24Mbps, with the final 10% having at least 2Mbps.

We know that many communities want to get on and develop their own local projects for faster broadband and to help this along the County Council has made available some funding into which communities can bid. Projects can be either capital or revenue based.

The Oxfordshire Community Broadband Grant Initiative will be launched in November and guidance notes along with an application form will be available to download from:-

We want to encourage residents to complete our online residents demand survey as this information is vital if we are to prove that people in Oxfordshire want faster broadband. To date nearly 700 people have completed the survey but we would like many more.

  • Are you an individual or a small business that have experienced real benefits from being online and by using digital media?
  • Have you saved money by shopping and paying bills online?
  • Has your business reached new markets due to online marketing?
  • Has your productivity increased because of the internet?

If so we would really like to hear from you. We want to build up a series of case studies to show how people and businesses get real benefits from being online. If you would like to tell us about how the internet and digital media have benefited you or your business, please visit:-

Part of our strategy is to get more people online and realising the benefits for themselves. We know that some find affording a home computer difficult which is why we are promoting getonlineathome, an initiative that provides affordable home computers at £165 for everyone, and £95 for people on certain benefits. To find out more, visit:-