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Masks - Risk of Spread (Covid19)

on Wed, 16/09/2020 - 10:49am

Local 'Better' leisure facilities at the next phase of reopening

on Mon, 14/09/2020 - 6:59pm

After recent assessments of the leisure facilities across southern Oxfordshire, South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils have agreed with GLL, who run the “Better” centres, that the second phase of reopening can start and from the 14 September more leisure activities will be able to resume.

On 25 July when leisure centres could reopen most of the centres across the two districts were able to do so under the government’s covid-19 guidance. However, with restrictions on social distancing and keeping the health and safety of staff and customers paramount not all the facilities at the centres were able to open from the start.

The first phase of reopening has gone well with many residents’ returning to the leisure centres in South Oxfordshire and the Vale, keen to get back to the gym, fitness classes and the pool. The Wave in Didcot was the first pool in the country to be able to reopen with a mixture of lane and family fun swims.  

As part of phase two some of the leisure facilities that will be available are:

  •     Wantage Leisure Centre (click) and Faringdon Leisure Centre (click) main swimming pools to reopen
  •     Swimming lessons restarting – with a reduced programme from before the lockdown  
  •     School use of leisure venues  
  •     Group exercise sessions in smaller studios not just taking place in the main sports halls

As with phase one the centres have been individually assessed and facilities will only be able to open based on that centres ability to operate safely. Residents and customers are advised to visit the Better websites before attending to find out what is going to be available to them. It is still a requirement to book via the app before attending and anyone using the pool must arrive “swim ready”.

Cllr Helen Pighills Cabinet member for Healthy Communities at Vale of White Horse District Council said: “Keeping healthy is important at any time, but we know through Public Health England that to fight Covid-19 successfully we all need to be thinking about what we can do to stay active and keep fit. As a council this is something that we really want to focus on over the coming years and keeping our leisure centres open and making other forms of activity available to our residents is a big part of that”

Arts-Hub Wantage - Local arts groups to join or make use of

on Mon, 14/09/2020 - 3:12pm

From an email received 11/9/20:-

Arts-Hub Wantage

Organisations that you could join or make use of plus contact information:

Art groups / Art Appreciation/Supplies / Photography (5)

The Arts Society Wantage

Dolphin Gallery, 23-24, Market Place, Wantage, OX12 8AE. 01235 763030. Contemporary Art Gallery, Picture Framing, Artist Supplies.

The Grove Monday Art Group  01235 410921 e: [email protected]

Wantage Art Group 01235 767829

Wantage Camera Club 


Choirs (13)

Caritas Children's Choir Sheenagh Dernie

Crescendo A Cappella  07881 504623 e: [email protected]

Crown Singers e: [email protected]

Judy Middlebrook Choir  'Simply Singing' e: [email protected]

Quintessence 01235 767900 e: [email protected]

Rock Choir Wantage

Springline Pop-up Choir Hendred e: [email protected]

St. James Singers 01235 751656 e: [email protected]

Voices of the Vale Community Choir e: [email protected]

Wantage Choral Society 01235 798349 e: [email protected]

Wantage in Harmony Community Gospel Choir Contact: e: [email protected]

Wantage Male Voice Choir 01235 768249 e: [email protected]

Wantage Parish Chuch Choir [email protected]


Concert Promoters (5)

The Beacon Portway, Portway, Wantage OX12 9BX 01235 763456

Challow Park Chamber Concerts

Open Mic night every Tuesday. The Shoulder of Mutton, Wantage

Opera Unmasked 01235 767975 [email protected]

Wantage Presents


Dance Groups/Dance Tuition/Ballet (5)

American Dance School


Forbes Theatre Arts 07802 531459 e: [email protected]

Karen Brind School of Dance 01235 769109 e: graham.bri[email protected]

Opera Unmasked Ballet Screenings at the Beacon, Wantage. 01235 767975


Directories (4)

Arts-Hub Wantage 01235 767975 e: [email protected]

Wantage Dot Com (community website)

Wantage Town Council (website)

Love Wantage (website)


Disco Services (1)

Starlite Roadshow 07783385699 e: [email protected]


Festivals (5)

Dickensian Evening e: [email protected]

Wantage Carnival Ray Collins e: [email protected] 

Wantage Literary Festival 07429 631443 e: [email protected] 

Wantage Music Festival 01235  767975 (Competitions Director) e: [email protected]

Wantage Summer Arts Festival 01235 767975

The Vale Islanders at The Fox in Denchworth

Folk Groups / Folk Dancing (10)

Cornucopia Appalachian Dancing 07765 402247 e: [email protected]

Icknield Way Morris Men

Jigworks Barn Dance Band 01235 765620 e: [email protected]

Kalika Tribal ATS Bellydance Troupe 07516 724976 e: [email protected]

Mad Hatters Folk Group 07715 626804 e: [email protected]

Melobo Ceilidh / Barn Dance Band 01235 770188 e: [email protected]

Pandemonium musical entertainment 01235 763638 e: [email protected]

Rose Hips Belly Dancers e: [email protected]

Vale Islanders e: [email protected]

Whoosya American Folk Roots band  07793 116 489 [email protected]


Music Tuition (11)

Chris Dalton Guitar tutor. 01235 412362 [email protected]

Dave Singleton Keyboard, Guitar 07914 098 073

Elizabeth Fell Piano/Beginners Guitar/ Ukulele 07443 615848 e: [email protected]

Karen Kidd  Clarinet/ flute and piano tuition. 07722  048609 e: [email protected]

Jane Greenhalgh,  Piano, Theory, Singing 01235 760157 e: [email protected]

Jenny Smith Flute, piano tuition. 07946343964. e: [email protected]

Fizzi Music School 07787 537982 [email protected]

Mitchell Music Lessons Piano, Singing and Music Theory. visits.  01235767975 e: [email protected]

Piano Room - Piano, Music Theory Lessons. 0774 700577 e: [email protected]

Sarah Hobbs Vocalease Singing & Piano Lessons 07738505436 

Wantage Music Workshops


Orchestra, Silver Band, Music Groups (6)

Dave Morewood Jazz 01235 765648 e: [email protected]

Downwind Early Music Consort 01635 281546

Hendred Ukulele Group

Rascals of Rhythm Jazz 01235 765648 e: [email protected]

Wantage Orchestra e: [email protected]

Wantage Silver Band 01235 767541 e: [email protected]


Poetry Appreciation / Writing  (2)

Jim Mitchell Poetry Appreciation 01235 767975 e: [email protected]

Wantage Poetry Club 01235 751656 e: [email protected]


Theatre Services, Lighting (1)

JT Productions 01235 884545 e: [email protected]


Theatrical / Operatic / Stage Groups (6)

AmEgos Theatre e: [email protected]

Jigsaw Stage Productions 01235 200266   

Kennet Opera 01235 767975 e: [email protected]

Oxford Drama Network e: [email protected]  Private:  


 Stage School Wantage Forbes Theatre Arts 07802 531459 e: [email protected] 

Wantage Stage Musical e: [email protected]


Venues (13)

The Beacon Portway, Portway, Wantage OX12 9BX 01235 763456

Grove Village Hall  01235 762891 e: [email protected]

Comrades Club Wantage  01235 769688 e: [email protected]

Challow Park Recital Hall

Letcombe Village Hall 01235 797255 e: [email protected]  

Lloyd Lindsay Rooms, Ardington 01235 832/07407 037 776 e: [email protected]

Old Mill Hall Grove 01235 766599 e: [email protected]

Snells Hall, Hendred 01235 833561 e: [email protected]

Trinity Church, Charlton [email protected]

Wantage Methodist Church 07710 214601 e: [email protected]

Wantage Silver Band Hall 01235 767541

West Challow Village Hall

Wantage Parish Church e: [email protected]


Writing Groups (1)

Wantage Writers Group e: [email protected]

David Johnston MP - Newsletter, September 2020

on Thu, 10/09/2020 - 8:00pm

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

As parliament doesn’t sit during August, this newsletter is largely about some of the visits I made across the constituency last month.  

My week off in the Lake District at the end of August didn’t go as well as planned – I crocked my knee on the first day and am now on crutches! I at least got to do more reading than when parliament is sitting – more on that below. 

As ever, I can be contacted via [email protected] 

Best wishes, 


In the constituency

I was pleased to visit a number of innovative local businesses such as Rosemor and Aquobex, whose automatic escalator cleaning machine and flooding solution products respectively attract custom from around the world. Other businesses I visited ranged from Bob’s Butchers to the Oxford Yurt (an impressive glamping business) and Didcot Glass & Glazing. Several of our 85 pubs were on my itineraries, including the Hart of Harwell.  

I was pleased to make my first visit to Westmill Wind and Solar Farm and even more so to hear the following week that they received a Government grant of £55,000 through the Getting Britain Building Fund for a new visitor’s centre that will enable 6 times the number of visitors they currently receive.

I attended a poignant service to mark VJ Day at the Church of St Peter and St Paul – well done to everyone involved in putting it together. Three days earlier I attended a Wantage Wednesday, although my visit wasn’t that well-timed – it was the night of a storm that caused a temporary power-cut! 

Three Questions

On my Facebook page I have started doing ‘three questions with…’ (click) to help promote local organisations. Here you can see three questions with Farmer Gow’s, Fitness Space, Children Heard and Seen and Emma’s Vintage Style.

My reading list!

You may have seen that MPs are often asked by journalists what books they’ll be reading over the summer. I think it is supposed to provide a deep insight into the psyches of our politicians; I’m not sure if it really does that, but I was certainly pleased to get back to reading, which seemed to disappear (along with exercise) as soon as I entered politics!

First up was Anarchy, a book by William Dalrymple about how the East India Company took control of India in the 18th Century, a very enjoyable book. Next was Hidden Hand, on how the Chinese Communist Party attempts to influence the actions of countries around the world, followed by The Gatekeeper, by Kate Fall, about her time as David Cameron’s Deputy Chief of Staff.

From there I went to John Humphrys’ book, A Day Like Today, about his career as a journalist and time on the Today Programme – very well-written if with slightly less gossip than you might hope for! – and then The Nickel Boys, the only novel this summer, based on a scandal at a reform school in Florida that emerged recently. Finally, there was Dictatorland by Paul Kenyon, which details the leadership of dictators in various African countries from Zimbabwe to Eritrea. For what it’s worth, Dictatorland and Anarchy were my two favourites. 

In the media

I took part in various interviews with Talk Radio and LBC News about the Government’s plans for schools to return and am pleased that the return seems to have been largely successful so far.  

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

Rule of 6 - the updated Coronavirus social distancing rules - September 2020

on Thu, 10/09/2020 - 12:13pm

The maximum number of people allowed to meet as a group socially is being reduced from 30 to 6 (14/9/20).

This applies both indoors and outdoors, and to all ages and includes gatherings in private homes, gardens, venues like pubs and restaurants, and in outdoor spaces like parks.

Some gatherings of more than six people will be allowed, for example:

  • If your household or support bubble is larger than six
  • Where gatherings are for work or education purposes
  • Weddings and funerals
  • Team sports organised in a way limiting the spread of coronavirus

If you live in a household of more than six you can gather in public or private. However, you will not be able to join with anyone from outside of your household.

Groups larger than six can be broken up by police and members of the group can be fined if they fail to follow the rules. This will be £100 for a first offence, doubling on each further offence up to £3,200.

Updated Vale & Downland Museum & Cafe opening times - September 2020

on Thu, 10/09/2020 - 12:03pm

Parish Council Minutes - Wednesday, 8th July 2020

on Thu, 10/09/2020 - 11:18am


Minutes of the Meeting of Sparsholt Parish Council held on

Wednesday 8th July 2020 via Zoom starting at 7.00pm


Present: Councillors Barnes, Comyn, Jacobs and Jones, DC Barrow, the Clerk and 2 parishioners.





Apologies:  The RFO.



Co-option of new Parish Councillors:  Jon Coe has decided not to stand but Rupert Caulfield had also expressed an interest.  Mr Caulfield to be asked if he is still interested in joining the Parish Council.



Declaration of Acceptance of Office, Declarations of Interest & Reminder of the Code of Conduct:  None.



Minutes of the Sparsholt Annual Parish Meeting held on Wednesday 13th May 2020:  The minutes were proposed as a true record by Cllr Jacobs, seconded by Cllr Barnes and agreed unanimously.

Minutes of the Annual Meeting of Sparsholt Parish Council held on Wednesday 13th May 2020:  The minutes were proposed as a true record by Cllr Barnes, seconded by Cllr Jacobs and agreed unanimously.



Matters Arising: 

  1. Land registry number for the cemetery:  Ongoing.
  2. Triangle Woods:  Remove from the Agenda.
  3. Petrol/cordless mower:  Cllr Jones advised Cllr Barnes to purchase a Still battery operated strimmer which also comes with a spare battery.  This strimmer is lightweight and easy to use as well as being well built.  It costs approx. £440, Cllr Comyn proposed the purchase, seconded by Cllr Jacobs and agreed unanimously.  Cllr Barnes will purchase the strimmer and claim the expense back from the Parish Council.
  4. Cemetery Rail quotes:  Cllr Comyn measured the path and agreed that putting up a rail will cause problems getting the mini digger in to dig the graves.  Cllr Comyn suggested that there was no requirement for a rail and that it should be removed from the agenda, the other Parish Councillors agreed unanimously.  
  5. Cemetery Risk Assessment:  This was agreed at the last meeting and should have been removed from the agenda.
  6. Expenditure suggestions:  Cllr Jones reported that the verge cutting had been completed and the Parish Councillors agreed that it was a good job.  Cllr Jones suggested moving the OCC cut to September and he will inform BGG.  
  7. The ditch alongside the B4507 after the Sparsholt turn by Golden Acre:  Cllr Jones will investigate.
  8. Collapsed railings on the B4507 by Golden Acre:  Cllr Comyn will chase Lee Turner from OCC as this has previously been reported.  Cllr Comyn will also chase the footbridges on the north boundary of Sparsholt common and the bridleway bridge by Westcot Lane.


Cllr Comyn






Cllr Barnes










Cllr Jones


Cllr Jones

Cllr Comyn


Cllr Comyn




  1. Approval of the finance Report up to the 30th June 2020:  Cllr Comyn proposed acceptance, seconded by Cllr Jacobs and agreed unanimously. 
  2. Approval of any payments to be made: Cllr Comyn proposed payments for the Clerk’s salary for June, July and August  at £78.68 for each payment, RFO’s salary for June, July and August at £47.11 for each payment, expenses to Cllr Barnes for the Zoom subscription for May £14.39, Arrow Accounting for the 2019/20 Internal Audit £191.00, HMRC PAYE £94.20, seconded by Cllr Jacobs and agreed unanimously.
  3. Assets review:  Cllr Comyn read through the Asset Register prepared by the RFO and proposed acceptance, seconded by Cllr Barnes and agreed unanimously. Cllr Jones mentioned that the strimmer will need to be added after purchase.
  4. Approval of the Annual Return for the year to 31st March 2020:  The Clerk stated that the Internal Audit had been completed and no issues were raised.  The Parish Council need to resolve that it does not require an External Audit as Income and Expenditure are both under £25,000.  Cllr Comyn proposed that an External Audit was not required, seconded by Cllr Jacobs and agreed unanimously.

Acceptance of the AGAR was proposed and completed at the meeting by Cllr Comyn, seconded by Cllr Barnes and agreed unanimously.  The RFO will submit the AGAR and post the Public Inspection of records on the notice boards and website.

  1. Review the actual receipts and payments for 2019/20 compared to the budgeted figures and explain the differences:  Cllr Comyn read through and proposed acceptance, seconded by Cllr Jones and agreed unanimously.
  2. Any other finance matters:  Cllr Jones is now a bank signatory.





P20/V0955/HH 3 Eastmanton Cottages, Eastmanton Lane, Sparsholt, OX12 9PJ:  No decision.

P20/V0722 Summer Lease, Watery Lane, OX12 9PP:  Single storey timber framed garden room extension to rear.  Granted.

P20/V0526/FUL Westcot Farm, Westcot, OX12 9QA:  Application for planning permission for conversion of existing farm buildings to form seven family homes with associated parking, amenity areas, landscaping, and associated works.  No decision.  Cllr Comyn stated that the Transport Office had questioned why there was not a transport assessment included.  Cllr Comyn stated that this was a contentious application and a number of objections had been added to the planning portal.  DC Barrow has agreed to call the site into Planning Committee and will keep an eye on the application.












DC Barrow


Any other Cemetery matters:  Cllr Comyn reported that there has been two burials and has cheques to pass on to the RFO.  Cllr Barnes asked if he could learn the Cemetery procedures and Cllr Comyn thought this was a good idea, a meeting to be arranged.  Cllr Jones offered to obtain quotes for cutting the Cemetery hedge down to 7ft and taking back the sides to uncover the headstones and tablets.




Cllr Jones


Second draft of Sparsholt & Westcot Emergency plan:  Cllr Barnes agreed to speak to Angie Brown and Nick Price and to complete the rest of the plan.  Cllr Comyn suggested removing the Parish Council from the plan as concerned about insurance issues.  Cllr Barnes to adapt the plan to be a Community Plan only, removing the reference to the Parish Council.  Cllr Jacobs agreed to speak to Holy Cross church to get a contact name and details.  DC Barrow to ask the District Council what other Parish Councils have done with their Emergency Plans.    

Cllr Barnes



Cllr Barnes

Cllr Jacobs

DC Barrow


Correspondence sheet:  No comments.



Matters for future discussion:  DC Barrow asked if the Parish Councillors would like a written report prior to the meeting, it was agreed that this would be a good idea.  DC Barrow reported on the OX12 Health Provision Review and Wantage Hospital.  The report was not rejected but 14 recommendations had been suggested, no response as yet.  The plan is to reopen Wantage Hospital by January 2021.  Cllr Comyn thanked DC Barrow for his involvement in this group and for reporting back to the Parish Council.



Set dates, times and place of ordinary meetings of the full Council for the year ahead: Wednesday 16th September 2020 starting at 7.00pm at the Griffin Memorial Hall/via Zoom.

The Parish Council may need to change this date as necessary.


Meeting closed at 8.02pm.

Minutes prepared by Mrs D Lewis-Pryde, Parish Clerk


SPC 8th July 2020

Exhibition of photos of Wantage circa 1900 from the Vale & Downland Museum

on Wed, 09/09/2020 - 12:36pm

Earlier this year (2020), the Vale & Downland Museum were due to host an exhibition of Wantage photographs by the Victorian photographer Tom Reveley.

Unfortunately the physical exhibition could not go ahead, so instead they have created an online version.

The images have been scanned from the original glass plate negatives donated to the museum by the Friends who purchased them at auction after the closure of Wantage Novel Library.

See the images here:-

Ed Vaizey - A Lord

on Mon, 07/09/2020 - 9:04pm

Ed Vaizey, former conservative MP for Wantage and Didcot, has been made a life peer in the House of Lords by Boris Johnson.

His title is Lord Vaizey of Didcot.