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News & News Archive

Latest news from The Mix in Wantage - including laptops and community fridge

on Thu, 04/03/2021 - 7:08pm


The team at The Mix have refurbished and rehomed no fewer than 241 laptops, 15 tablets and 5 desktops since 4th Jan and they're now collecting again. If you have an old or unused laptop their IT volunteers could refurbish for someone to use, please drop it off at The Mix. They'll have a collection box on their doorstep Tues - Fri 9am - 12 noon. Click <here> to view their notes on data security.

If you know of someone in the Wantage and Grove area who needs a laptop to access school lessons or join activities such as training or support groups online please get in touch by phone or email 07767 787787 / [email protected]. Just to manage expectations, their refurbished laptops are all a bit elderly but will get you online. They are running an operating system called Lubuntu (looks a bit different from Windows). They also have web browsers, Libre Office (like Word but a different version) and Microsoft Teams installed.

Community Fridge

10 tonnes of surplus food shared via 530 deliveries and 2,169 bags collected so far this year. This includes 335 bags collected from Cornerstone in Grove.

You can pick up free goody bags at The Mix, 15 Mill Street on Mondays 4-6pm, Wednesdays 10:30 - noon and Fridays 10:30 - noon or from Cornerstone Café in Grove on Thursdays 2-3pm. For more details about how the bag system works, see last month's newsletter:-

A big thank you to Cornerstone for hosting the Community Fridge bag collection. Also to all The Mix volunteers and donors who generously offer their time, skills and resources to make these projects work.

More on the great things going on & being done at Mix here:-

Sustainable Wantage would like to learn more about our gardens and outdoor spaces

on Thu, 04/03/2021 - 6:57pm

As part of their Wild Wantage project, Sustainable Wantage would like to know more about your gardens, balconies and allotments.

Their goal is to support people in improving the value of their outdoor space for wildlife, to boost biodiversity and to help make Wantage a healthier and more beautiful place to live.

Gardens make up a massive area of green space and can act as a refuge for many species. In Wantage the amphibian population is almost exclusively supported by ponds in people’s gardens!  Hedgehogs populations have badly declined but they have survived better in towns and villages than in the open countryside.  Very simple changes to your green space can be a real help for our wildlife and a boost to our health and wellbeing.

The survey asks which wildlife features you already have, which you are interested in setting up and what barriers you face in doing so. If you live in Wantage/Grove or a surrounding village, please fill it in and share it with your friends.

It's likely to take 5-10 minutes.

More details on Sustainable Wantage and their Wild Wantage project here:-

Councils looking into the possibility of a joint South and Vale Local Plan

on Wed, 03/03/2021 - 6:36pm

The two district councils in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse are looking into the possibility of developing a joint Local Plan for the area to significantly reduce costs and help the councils meet their ambitious targets for making the two districts carbon neutral.

Local Plans are used to help determine planning applications and set out how and where new housing developments should take place, along with identifying the infrastructure needed to support them. They also set out policies on what kind of housing is appropriate and acceptable; what the local requirements for affordable housing are; and can even set requirements on the energy-efficiency levels of new developments.

These are all key themes and aspirations that are addressed in both councils’ recently adopted new Corporate Plans, which set out their visions for their districts. Both councils have also committed to do everything they can to address the climate emergency. According to reports being seen by the councils’ Scrutiny Committees next week, the significant consensus on these issues makes this a rare opportunity to create a joint Local Plan.

Once they have been discussed at Scrutiny, the reports will then be considered by both the South and Vale Cabinets. Any proposals or recommendations on creating a joint Local Plan would then need to be agreed at full Council meetings.

The reports set out the advantages of a joint plan. The Planning issues in the two districts are quite similar, like the need for carbon reduction, issues of affordable housing and the need for infrastructure, and so a joint plan would be able to address these issues in a co-ordinated way. There would also be significant cost-savings by producing one plan for both districts.

However, a joint plan would also provide new challenges that would need to be overcome, including the councils having separate democratic processes. It would also be important to find a way of retaining a local outlook for a plan working across a bigger area.

Cllr Anne-Marie Simpson, Cabinet Member for Planning at South Oxfordshire, said: “We all know how important Local Plans are to our communities, and I’m looking forward to a good democratic debate about the idea of creating a joint one with our colleagues in the Vale.”

Cllr Debby Hallett, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Planning Policy said: “Councils in other areas have successfully adopted joint Local Plans and so while we have the opportunity, it’s important we give this idea serious consideration.”

Other council areas that have successfully adopted joint Local Plans include one at North Devon and Torridge, and another at Plymouth and South-West Devon.

The reports will be discussed by the two councils’ Scrutiny Committees on 8 and 9 March in South and Vale respectively, and will then be debated at the Vale’s Cabinet on 17 March and South Oxfordshire’s on 18 March. Any recommendations from the Cabinets would then be debated and voted on at the full Council meetings on 24 and 25 March at Vale and South respectively.

From an article on the Vale's website; see the original <here>.

In a priority group but not yet had your vaccination?

on Wed, 03/03/2021 - 6:34pm

People in the priority groups for the COVID-19 vaccine who have yet to respond to their invitation for a first dose are to be the focus of a new scheme set up by Oxfordshire councils, the NHS and GPs.

The service is launching this week to help support those people if they want to have the jab. There are a range of reasons why people may have not arranged a vaccination – from difficulties in booking an appointment or arranging transport, to hesitancy or misunderstandings about the vaccine.

Outreach workers from the community hub teams of the city and district councils across the county will be visiting residents who have not had a COVID-19 vaccine and offering them support to get an appointment if they want one. The outreach workers are from experienced teams which have been visiting residents who are shielding or self-isolating throughout the pandemic. They will be dressed in clearly identifiable clothing, carry an ID, and follow all social distancing guidelines. Residents will be visited by teams from their local council.

Ansaf Azhar, Oxfordshire County Council’s Director for Public Health, said: “It has been hugely encouraging to see such large numbers of people being vaccinated locally and nationally – hundreds of thousands of people are being vaccinated each day. However, we must make sure that everybody is given every opportunity to have this hugely important protective jab. That is what this new scheme is about. It will add real value to the vaccination programme in Oxfordshire.”

Dr Kiren Collison, GP and Clinical Chair at Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “GP practices are working closely with the outreach workers to make sure that people who are eligible for a vaccine, but haven’t had one, are given the help they need. They might be unable to book an appointment or need more information and these teams can help with this.”

Councillor Emily Smith, Leader of the Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “Take up of the COVID vaccination has been very high, but there are some people who need help or further information before taking up their invitation to get their jab. We’re happy to be providing some of our district council staff as friendly faces to help people in the priority cohorts to make their appointments and do their bit to protect their families, neighbours and communities.”

People are also still being urged not to contact their GP practice directly with enquiries about the COVID-19 vaccine. GP practices are getting a high number of calls from patients asking about the COVID-19 vaccine. This means that people who need to contact their GP because they are unwell are not able to get through.

Everyone will be vaccinated in due course; the purpose of priority order is to make sure those most at risk of dying from COVID-19 or becoming very unwell from the virus are protected first.

You will be contacted by your GP when it is your turn to be vaccinated; alternatively if you are eligible you can book an appointment via the national booking system (click).

Councillor Lawrie Stratford, Oxfordshire County Council’s Director for Adult Social Care and Public Health, said: “We want this outreach programme to be a valuable means of ensuring that everyone who wants the vaccine is supported to get it and that nobody gets left behind in the rollout of Oxfordshire’s vaccination programme as it moves through the different priority groups.”

From an article on the Vale's website; see the original <here>.

Childrey & Sparsholt Newsletter - March 2021

on Tue, 02/03/2021 - 3:27pm

Download a PDF copy of the current Childrey & Sparsholt Newsletter by using the link below.

Covid19: If your Childrey & Sparsholt newsletter isn’t delivered for any reason, there will be extra copies available in Childrey Stores.

Contact for Childrey & Sparsholt printed newsletter articles:

Cllr Dr.Paul Barrow - Report for Parishes - March, 2021

on Tue, 02/03/2021 - 12:54pm

A message from Paul Barrow, District Councillor for Ridgeway Ward, Vale of White Horse

Report for parishes March 2021

Vaccination update

Council officers will be helping a county-wide project, working with local GPs, to increase take up of the vaccine, calling at the addresses of people in the first four priority groups who have not responded to repeated invitations from their GP to book their COVID jab appointment.

They have already been visiting residents who are shielding or self-isolating throughout the pandemic and so are highly experienced. They will be dressed in clearly identifiable clothing, carry an ID, and follow all social distancing guidelines.

Details of the Four-Step Roadmap

On Monday we were all introduced to the four-step roadmap for the ‘cautious easing’ of lockdown restrictions. The government has created some handy graphics to make it easier to digest the different steps – the first of these for step 1 is below and I will pass on the others in due course. You can read the full details of the roadmap and the four steps on the government website (

Services at the district councils

The earliest the Vale offices could reopen according to the road map would be from 21 June, but any reopening of the building is likely to be phased gradually.

COVID-19 rates across Oxfordshire

These change every week. I compile these and present them graphically on a weekly basis on my Facebook page (Cllr Dr Paul Barrow). Cases continue to fall gradually but it has been more or less static for the last 2 weeks.

Covid-19 cases in the 60+ age group in particular are coming down. The latest weekly Covid-19 rate for South Oxfordshire is 61.2 cases per 100,000 population, and 59.6 in the Vale.

The message that we need to keep sticking to the rules to protect ourselves and our neighbours and the vulnerable will remain in place for many months to come, along with remembering ‘hands, face, space’.

Vaccinations in Oxfordshire latest

Vaccinations for the groups 5 (people aged 65 and over) and 6 (people aged 16 to 64 years with certain underlying health conditions) is underway. Rough sleepers and staff working with them are also included in this cohort. For our districts cohort 6 is a much larger group of residents than the previous one (group 5).

Getting vaccinated remains crucial to the country’s strategy against the virus so please encourage everyone who has been contacted to arrange their vaccination to do so without delay. The higher the percentage of people vaccinated the more likely it is that Covid-19 will almost disappear. With measles this % is about 95% (it is amazingly infectious) and with polio it is about 80% so it is likely to be of the order of 90%.

By the end of this month 30% of the UK population has been vaccinated. This should amount to 200,000 people in Oxfordshire (I have no idea of the exact figure ☹)

Symptom-free testing - latest

The symptom-free testing centre at The Beacon in Wantage is running well. As of Tuesday last week, testing at the centre has expanded to include all public-facing workers in the public sector, and volunteers.

An increase in uptake at the centre is expected, but we still need to encourage people who leave home to work or volunteer to get a test as soon as they can. Tests are booked via the county council’s online booking system ( 19/controlling-local-coronavirus-outbreaks/rapid-symptom-free-testing).

Community hub support

The hub will be contacting those who have recently been added to the shielding list to let them know about the support available to them. A total of 2,539 new shielded residents have been added to our lists in the past week in the Vale.

The government is adding more people to the shielding list as a result of new risk models showing that a combination of health and personal factors, including age, ethnicity and BMI could mean someone is at a higher risk from Covid-19.

Queries were mostly from residents self-isolating due to Tack and Trace or a positive Covid diagnosis as well as further finance related enquiries.

Financial assistance for residents in the Vale

The advice centres expect to have allocated all their remaining funds over the next couple of weeks, and the Vale will keep us updated on this.

Over the Easter holidays, Oxfordshire County Council will continue to support children with food vouchers or equivalent support via schools.

Business grants update

The government has confirmed details of the next payment period for the Local restrictions support grant (closed) addendum, which provides ongoing funding for rate-paying businesses that have been forced to close due to the national lockdown.

The second payment cycle covers 16 February to 31 March 2021:

    • businesses with a property of rateable value £15,000 or less, may be eligible for £2,096
    • businesses with a property of rateable value over £15,000 but less than £51,000, may be eligible for £3,143
    • those with a property of rateable value £51,000 or above, may be eligible for £4,714.

The Vale will now begin the process of preparing the new grants in advance of payment, subject to receiving final clarification, including grant funding, from the government. The Vale expects to be able to email eligible businesses confirming the payment process and their grant allocation week commencing 8 March if not before.

Businesses in receipt of this grant do not need to take any action, they will continue to receive the money automatically without having to apply again.

For more details about the grants available to businesses visit

Paul Barrow

District Councillor for Ridgeway Ward

Childrey Stores is for sale

on Tue, 02/03/2021 - 10:34am

Almost 4 years to the day we bought a tired, old shop in need of a revamp and new energy.

We are so proud of the business we have created and have loved running it. It has been an amazing and rewarding journey.

However nothing ever stands still and we are looking forward to new adventures. So we have decided to pass the baton on and put the shop up for sale.

We thank all the Childrey residents for your generosity and incredible support and all our customers for helping us along the way.

We remain open as usual of course and look forward to continuing to welcome you.

Please contact [email protected] for sales information.

Many thanks,

Gill, Jane and Floss

Shop here:-


  • Childrey Stores, High Street, Childrey, Oxfordshire, OX12 9UE
  • [email protected]
  • 01235 751 459

David Johnston MP - Newsletter, March 2021

on Mon, 01/03/2021 - 4:07pm

I hope you, your friends and your family continue to be safe and well.

If you haven’t done so yet, please consider completing my Grove Station survey by 12pm on 1st March – it takes just a couple of minutes and is designed to show the Government there is local support for my campaign to reopen it.

I am very pleased the Government has published the Roadmap for the removal of all restrictions by 21st June as long as we keep making progress with infection rates and the vaccine roll-out.

As ever, if I can help you with anything then do contact me via [email protected]

Best wishes, 


In the House of Commons

Parliament was sitting for 3 of the 4 weeks this month and I gave speeches on Harwell’s contribution to the space industry (did you know the space cluster there has the largest number of space organisations within walking distance of one another anywhere in the world?) and on supporting our armed forces. This week I was set to give a speech about the return of schools but the debate timed out at the 25th speaker and I was number 31!

In questions, I raised the lack of financial support from some universities for their students, why Uber and similar companies should obey the Supreme Court ruling and requested that the Civil Service start publishing the data on the social backgrounds of the people they hire after media reports they had stopped. For anyone interested, the House of Commons library produces a word cloud of the 100 words each MP has used most in their speeches – above is mine.

In Parliament

On the Education Committee, we held a session on funding for schools, an accountability hearing with the Minister for Schools and the Minister for Children and Families, and a pre-appointment hearing with the Government’s choice to chair the Office for Students.

I became a CEN Champion for nature-based solutions to climate change, a new campaigning role to try and secure improvements ranging from stopping the sale of peat for use in horticulture to better protecting our marine habitats.

I chaired a Westminster Legal Policy Forum on the next steps for tackling domestic abuse as well as a meeting with parliamentary colleagues interested in supporting the AEAT Pension Campaign for full restoration of their pensions, an issue which affects a significant proportion of constituents.

In the constituency

I have continued to volunteer at vaccination centres where I can, including at Mably Way and at Didcot Civic Hall. I also dropped by the new testing centre that has been opened at the Beacon in Wantage.

I visited Charlton and Millbrook primary schools, both of which have been doing a great job to keep teaching the children of key workers and have exciting plans for the future.

I also dropped by the Grocer Chef in Ardington – it was great to meet Keith, Maria and Sarah and I can recommend the soup.

Like everyone else however, most of my time is spent on Zoom. I have continued to hold surgery appointments this way, have been interviewed by students at Didcot Girls School for a campaign they are running regarding making the internet safer and have also attended meetings of Steventon and Blewbury Parish Councils.

I am sorry to report there has so far been no Jackie Weaver-style excitement but if you are involved in a Parish Council and would like me to attend a meeting to raise issues with me, do get in touch.

In the media

My fortnightly columns for the Herald can also be read <here>.

Perform at the Wantage Music Festival in June - applications by 23rd April

on Mon, 01/03/2021 - 3:51pm

Come and perform!

Wantage Music Festival are pressing ahead with plans for their event on 19th and 26th June this year. The Festival offers a platform for musicians and singers of all ages to perform in front of an expert adjudicator and to receive constructive verbal and written feedback. There are also special prizes for certain classes including opera.

This year’s adjudicators are James Kirby, GRSM, ARAM Piano and instrumental classes and Belinda Mikhail, B Mus(Hons), PGDipRCM, ARCM, Vocal and instrumental classes. Included in the Festival are competitive and non-competitive classes for vocalists and instrumentalists of all ages. Instrumental classes include piano, strings, brass and woodwind. Closing date for entries is Friday 23 April.  Further details and entry forms can be found on our website As other local music festivals have been cancelled this year, we are expecting a high demand for places. Please book early to avoid disappointment.

All entry fees would be refunded in cases of cancellation due to any further Covid restrictions. The location will be at Wantage Methodist Church (a Covid compliant venue), Newbury Street, Wantage, OX12 8DA.

Letter from Revd Leonora Hill, 'Signpost' & services - March 2021

on Mon, 01/03/2021 - 12:00pm

Download a copy of this month's 'Signpost' below.

Revd Leonora Hill
Email: [email protected]

Dear Friends,

March sees us in the season of Lent, when we remember the sacrifice of Jesus
Christ who withdrew into the wilderness for 40 days to fast and pray. The
pandemic restrictions of this last year have felt like something of a wilderness
experience for us all – a prolonged period filled with isolation, deprivation and,
sadly for many, deep sadness at the loss of a loved one. This time of darkness
has allowed us to spend time reflecting on our lives and what is important,
perhaps even asking deep questions of faith, to better understand how our life
story fits with God’s story of hope and love.

As we slowly creep out of winter, every day we see signs of spring emerging in
our villages and across the countryside, from daffodils on verges, lambs in fields
and birdsong emanating from trees and hedgerows. In the profoundly hope-filled
words of Martin Luther, ‘God has written the promise of resurrection, not in books
alone, but in every leaf of springtime.’ As we journey through a second ‘COVID
Lent’ may we be reminded of God’s faithfulness and sustaining presence with us
in these challenging days and if you feel adrift, or have questions that you would
like to explore, please do get in touch.

Gill Thompson – Anna Chaplain: Ridgeway Benefice