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News from White Horse Hill from NT Ranger, Andy Foley – September 2017

on Fri, 22/09/2017 - 2:55pm

Greetings from White Horse Hill Uffington National Trust. I hope you all had a lovely summer and as we enter Autumn and the cold winds start to blow, I felt it was time to let you know what has been happening on the Hill.

If you can remember, Spring 2017 was a cold and dry affair and these factors, together with frequent monitoring of the Horse and continuous foot pressure, led to the decision that public access to it and its’s immediate surround had to be restricted. The biggest danger was people approaching the Horse from Dragon Hill Road and walking/climbing directly up to the tail and then amongst the figure either side. We could see that the grass was never really getting a breather and we feared if allowed to continue, the soil would be eroded to the bare chalk and the appearance of the Horse damaged/diminished possibly forever with it being extremely difficult to regrow grass on chalk considering other factors such as strong winds and steep terrain.

Further serious erosion was occurring to the neck of the Horse where people might step over the chalk but always land on the same footstep on the very inner edge. Likewise with the forehead and between the ears where the banks were just crumbling from foot pressure and dry conditions.

To avert this, we had signage made and erected in the car park to draw attention to the problem, clear messages on our website and social media pages and then also undertook a complete cordoning off of the figure from top to bottom, again with bold signage advising why and where the diversion was to be found, this being the public footpath known as Shepherd’s Steps that runs off at an angle below the Horse and then up to the Ridgeway. Use of this path has been encouraged and I’m glad to say it is showing signs of heavy use that would have otherwise been levied onto the figure and it’s surround.

Whilst I appreciate the strong sense of belonging with local people and a couple of legends that require ‘ being on ‘ the Horse itself, I also hope it can now be understood why such drastic measures had to be taken. As a result, I’m pleased to say the figure is recovering, if slowly, but has also allowed the appearance of a golden mane about the Horse’s back and tail where tall, browned off grasses stand that would have been trampled. Together with our annual Scouring/Chalking events the Horse now looks great and hopefully continues its recovery.

Events on the Hill this year have included the filming of an advert for the mobile operator EE who had a pitch in the Manger to film a caravan scene which took up about 2 seconds of a twenty second advert. It boggles the mind how this industry operates when they took three working days to get the ‘ shoot ‘ they wanted and with all the vehicles and people involved but it is always the same with filming productions. I’m glad I chose the profession I am in! Our Easter Egg Hunt proved a great success with both days completely sold out and we even had a bit of fun with our April’s Fool spoof about the discovery of a chalk duck figure on the Hill. I hope you saw this as did a further 3 million people worldwide proving that the Trust does have a lighter side.

Unfortunately, May brought a knock back where I was involved in an accident on a bicycle that led to the breaking of a collarbone and nearly 3 months recovery. As such, a few events like Kite flying and a guided walk had to be cancelled but I was still able to supervise a Scouring and later chalking of the Horse if only to get out of the house! I’m obviously now back at work and feel about 80% fit, time will help. My thanks to those who covered my basic duties in my absence.

Only last weekend I chaperoned a large group of visitors who were fans of the 80’s rock band X T C, originally from Swindon. The band used an image of the Horse for one of their album covers. I understood about 100 fans gathered for their convention over two nights in Swindon but only half made it to the Hill on Sunday morning due to a little over partying perhaps! Still, they were a great bunch with participants having travelled from Holland, Israel, Croatia and even Japan.

The team structure at Coleshill Estate Office, to which White Horse Hill and the other sites under my management belong, has had a recent restructuring and it now feels like we’ve got the right people in the right places to really get things moving along. One project ready to run will be the reversion of the arable field between Dragon Hill and the B400 to grassland. We hope this will improve the appearance of the Hill but more importantly, will nurture a further fragment of chalk grassland which is what White Horse Hill is and protect a habitat that is under threat in the UK.

On a personal note, I was fortunate enough recently to be upgraded to Area Ranger after nearly eight years here and I’m very pleased. Although we will be looking for an assistant to carry out some of my duties, it does not mean I will be flying a desk and will very much be out and about on the Hill.

Please also keep an eye out for ITV’s 100 Best Kept Village awards which was filmed in and around the village this year and also for ITV’s 100 best walks where you can vote for our part of the world.

I look forward to seeing you up on our very special Hill.

Kind regards

Andy Foley
White Horse Hill and Ashdown Park
Buscot and Coleshill Estate
Oxon. SN6 7PT
01793 762209


Federation of Small Business free event in Bicester - Tuesday, 3rd October, 6-9pm

on Fri, 22/09/2017 - 2:06pm

The Federation of Small Business (FSB) Oxfordshire branch is holding a free event for business owners on 3rd October from 6-9pm at the Bicester Hotel Golf and Spa.

The event is open to business leaders and entrepreneurs throughout Oxfordshire to learn about the support available to help them manage and grow their organisation in the county.  Nigel Tipple and Heather Martin from Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) will be providing key note presentations.

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Council’s economic development officers will be attending to promote the exciting programme of initiatives on offer including financial grants for start-ups and growing businesses, mentoring opportunities and free workshops.

Delegates attending will have the opportunity to network, ask questions and meet the representatives of the councils, FSB and OxLEP.

Matthew Barber, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, said, “We are delighted to be working in partnership with FSB, OxLEP and other councils to help small and medium businesses in our area.  Our business and innovation action plan sets out how we will be empowering local businesses to succeed and includes support to attract skilled staff and help to find suitable premises.”

The Support for Business in Oxfordshire event is free to attend, taking place on 3 October from 6-9pm at the Bicester Hotel Golf and Spa.  You can book your place via the Vale for Business website:-

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

Oxfordshire Artweeks - deadline to take part

on Fri, 22/09/2017 - 11:11am

Each year artists from across the parishes of Oxfordshire miss the deadline to take part in Oxfordshire Artweeks.

The organisers are trying to do what they can to minimise this disappointment.

The CLOSING DATE for entries is the 31st December 2017.


Parish Council Minutes - Tuesday, 22nd August 2017

on Thu, 21/09/2017 - 2:13pm


Minutes of the Planning Meeting of Sparsholt Parish Council held on

Tuesday 22nd August 2017 at Griffin Memorial Hall starting at 7.30pm

Present: Councillors Barnes, Brown, Downie, and Williams, the Clerk and 7 parishioners.





Apologies:  Cllr Comyn. Cllr Brown chaired the meeting in the absence of the Chairman.



Declaration of Acceptance of Office, Declarations of Interest & Reminder of the Code of Conduct:  Cllr Brown stated that Item 3a) Days House is a neighbour of his sister in law.



New Planning Applications:

  1. P17/V2092/FUL Days House, Church Way, Westcot, OX12 9QB:  Demolition of bungalow/pool house (not Days House) to divide site and construct new house to replace bungalow in different position similar to that approved 04/03/2016 but with two minor additions.  Cllr Brown invited parishioners to give their views on the application.  A parishioner was concerned that the architects stated that they have addressed the previous concerns of the Parish Council which is untrue, and wondered why the comments had not been acknowledged.  It had been previously stated that no further properties should be built due to the lack of mains drainage which could cause flooding.  The neighbours are concerned as the new property will overlook their properties, Cllr Brown suggested that the neighbours should ask the Planning Committee members to visit their properties so they can see this and discuss it.  Cllr Brown has questioned who the drainage officer is as the report states that no problems were found, awaiting a response.  Parishioners think that drainage regulations will be broken by this application.  The new property will be only 6ft from the boundary and this will cause a loss of light to neighbouring properties.  The new property will be higher than the hedge and trees will have to be removed to enable it to be built.  Cllr Brown suggested that all parishioners that are unhappy with this application should respond to the VOWHDC planning department stating their objections.  This revised plan does not show the location of a septic tank.  If the conifers are removed then this could increase a flooding risk.  The water runs off west to east and there are no ditches.  Cllr Brown has asked DC & CC Constance for the drainage details and specifications, awaiting a response.  Cllr Brown suggested that parishioners should request copies of relevant documents.  It states in the design and access statement that the positioning of the new property is to maintain the view, but it will take away the view from the neighbouring properties.  Objections can be made on the drains, loss of light and privacy and the lack of amenities.  Not all the neighbouring properties have contained septic tanks, some have catchment and then a soakaway system.  Cllr Brown then asked the Parish Councillors for their thoughts on this application.  Cllr Downie though that there were similarities for objection with other applications that had previously been refused by the VOWHDC, Humber Barn and Blackberry Cottage.  Cllr Barnes thought by the amount of parishioners present, all with objections, that this shows the strength of feeling against the application. Cllr Brown read the response options and proposed that a response of “objects to this application fort the following reasons” be submitted, seconded by Cllr Williams and agreed unanimously.  The reasons will be compiled by the Clerk from the objections raised above and circulated for approval before being submitted.  The Clerk to submit the response.
  2. P17/V2090/AG Broadleaze Farm, Westcot Lane, Sparsholt, OX12 9PZ:  Erection of polytunnel for lambing. The applicant has increased his flock of sheep by 300 and this polytunnel is necessary for safe lambing.  Cllr Barnes has viewed the site and stated that it is set back away from both the road and neighbours at the back of the applicants land.  Agricultural notification differs from planning permission but the VOWHDC may still request for planning permission to be submitted if required.  Cllr Barnes added that the polytunnel will not affect anyone in the position it is to be erected.  Cllr Barnes agreed and proposed a response of “no strong views”, seconded by Cllr Barnes and agreed unanimously.  The Clerk to submit the response.









































Next Parish Council Meeting Date: Sparsholt Parish Council Meetings Wednesday 20th September, 18th October, 15th November, 13th December 2017 and 17th January, 21st February, 21st March, 18th April and the AGM 16th May 2018 all starting at 7.30pm at the Griffin Memorial Hall.

The Parish Council may need to change these dates as necessary.



Meeting closed at 8.15pm.

Minutes taken and prepared by The Clerk



SPCM 22nd August 2017

Parish Council Minutes - Wednesday, 19th July 2017

on Thu, 21/09/2017 - 2:13pm



Minutes of Meeting of Sparsholt Parish Council held on


Wednesday 19th July 2017 at Griffin Memorial Hall starting at 7.30pm


Present: The Chairman Councillor Tim Comyn, Councillors Barnes and Brown, the RFO and Clerk.






Apologies:  Cllrs Downie and Williams.



Declaration of Acceptance of Office, Declarations of Interest & Reminder of the Code of Conduct:  Cllr Brown declared a non-prejudicial interest in the Days House planning application on account of his sister in law, Sandy Humphries living next door.  The Chairman declared an interest on account of his friendship with the applicants for this permission.



  Minutes of the Meeting held on Wednesday 21st June:  Cllr Comyn

  proposed signing these as a true record, seconded by Cllr Brown and

  unanimously agreed.

  Minutes of the Finance meeting held on Wednesday 28th June: 

  Cllr Comyn proposed signing these as a true record, seconded by Cllr

  Barnes.  Cllr Brown was not present at the meeting.



Matters Arising: 

  1. B4507 50 mph speed restriction update:  Ongoing.
  2. Cemetery rules:  Ongoing.
  3. Westcot Farmhouse ‘Village Green’:  Ongoing.


Cllr Comyn

Cllr Comyn

Cllrs Comyn and Brown



  1. Approval of the Finance Report to the end of April:  Cllr Comyn read this out and proposed acceptance, seconded by Cllr Barnes and agreed unanimously.
  2. Approval of the Finance Report to the end of May:  Cllr Comyn proposed acceptance, seconded by Cllr Brown and agreed unanimously.
  3. Approval of the Finance Report to the end of June: Cllrs Comyn, proposed acceptance, seconded by Cllr Barnes and agreed unanimously.     
  4. Cllr Comyn proposed initialling the bank statements, seconded by Cllr Brown and agreed unanimously.
  5. Change of address for Bank Statements:  Cllr Comyn proposed signing the form to change the address to the current RFO, seconded and signed by Cllr Brown, agreed by Cllr Barnes.



  1. Cheques to be authorised and signed:  Cllr Comyn proposed renewing the subscription to OALC at a cost of £133.07, seconded by Cllr Brown and agreed unanimously.  Cheques were also signed for the Clerk for May £64.91 and June £64.91 and the RFO May £20.91 and June £20.51 and the PAYE amounts of £53.98 and £33.83.
  2. Cllr Comyn gave the RFO two cheques to be banked; £100 for a memorial for George Davis and £284.00 for Mr Rowlands burial.
  3. The Asset register was reviewed and agreement was proposed by Cllr Comyn, seconded by Cllr Brown and unanimously agreed.  This included the Notice Boards which Cllr Comyn will ask Ian Lambourn to re-position against the hedge on the village green.
  4. Cllr Brown stated that the cemetery hedge will need cutting at the end of August/beginning of September and the weeds in the hedge, including elders will need removing and the stumps painting so they do not grow back.  It was agreed Cllr Brown would  obtain a quote from Matt Coe who completed the hedge cutting last year and providing it was of a similar amount to last year for the hedge cutting with a small amount for weed removal the work should go ahead at the end of August/ or early September.









Cllr Comyn





Cllr Brown



  1. P15/V2600/PAR Westcot Farm, Westcot, OX12 OX12 9QA:  Conversion of agricultural buildings to form three no. C3 dwellinghouses.  Fully Discharged.  Cllr Comyn still to pursue the FOI.
  2. P17/V1219/MPO Land at Baulking Lane, Stanford in the Vale, SN7 8NS:  Modification of obligation s. 16 – Release of land.  Granted, remove from the agenda.
  3. P17/V1193/HH 4 St Johns, Watery Lane, OX12 9PW:  Proposed porch and bay window.  Granted, remove from the agenda.
  4. P17/V1299/FUL Days House, Westcot, OX12 9QB:  Demolition of bungalow/pool house (not Days House). Dividing site and erection of new house.  No decision, will be heard at the Planning Committee, Cllr Brown will speak on behalf of the Parish Council along with DC & CC Constance to reinforce the Parish Councils objection.
  5. P17/V1446/HH Rectory House, Broadbank Lane, Sparsholt, OX12 9PT:  Demolition of Atcost asbestos cement barn.  Erection of 3 x 18m lap pool and associated single storey pool house.  Granted, remove from the agenda. 



Cllr Comyn









Highways:  Cllr Brown stated that the Eastmanton Corner hedge needs cutting and is an safety issue also Mrs Frost’s trees (where Anthony Lee rents) are overhanging into the road.  The Clerk offered to report both issues.





Cemetery and Cemetery Rail:  Cllr Comyn has received a complaint about the compost and litter bins being full in the cemetery.  Cllr Brown offered to look at them on the way home and report back.  The Clerk suggested that the Parish Council may be able to obtain a brown bin from OCC for disposing of dead flowers and hedge and grass trimmings.  The Clerk to investigate. 

Cllr Brown still to obtain quotes for the cemetery rail.


Cllr Brown




Correspondence Sheet:  No comments.



Any other business: 

  1. The Oxfordshire Together initiative for grass cutting:  The Clerk will email the proposal and a quote around for consideration at the next meeting.
  2. Cllr Barnes stated that the litter bin, which is also used for bagged dog poo, has not been emptied and is overflowing.  The Clerk suggested logging it on “fix my street”.
  3. Cllr Brown reported that Guy Mendonca re-painted the bus shelter and suggested that the Chairman might like to write a thank you letter, the Clerk to prepare.  The Clerk suggested also putting the thank you in the newsletter.





Cllr Barnes



Cllr Comyn



Dates of Next Meetings: Wednesdays 20th September, 25th October, 15th November, 6th December 2017 and 17th January, 21st February, 21st march, 18th April and the AGM 16th May 2018 all starting at 7.30pm at the Griffin Memorial Hall.

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



Meeting closed at 8.15pm.

Minutes prepared by Mrs D Lewis-Pryde, Parish Clerk


SPC 19th July 2017

Fatal collision on the B4507

on Tue, 12/09/2017 - 3:17pm

Thames Valley Police is appealing for witnesses after a man died in road traffic collision on the B4507 near Ashbury on Saturday, September 9th.

At around 8.25pm emergency services were called to a report that a Ford Fiesta driving along the B4507 near Ashbury had collided with a Range Rover travelling in the opposite direction.

As a result of the collision, a male passenger in the Fiesta sustained fatal injuries and died. The female driver of the Fiesta and two female passengers of the Range Rover were taken to hospital where they were treated for their injuries.

Next of kin for the victim, a man in his twenties from Swindon, have been informed.

Investigating officer Roads Policing Police Constable Julia Stroud said: “We would like to hear from anyone who was in the area at that time and had seen the vehicles prior to the collision or the collision itself and have not yet spoken to us.

“Anyone with information which will help us determine the circumstances which sadly led to this man’s death is asked to call 101 quoting ref 1365 9/9.”

If you have any information relating to this case, please call 101 quoting reference '1365 9/9'.

From a post on the TVP website; see the original <here>.

Changes to DIY waste charges from 1st October 2017

on Fri, 08/09/2017 - 6:09pm

Oxfordshire County Council’s DIY 1,2,3 for free scheme is changing and this affects what DIY waste is chargeable and what you can take for free.

The current scheme which has been running at their Household Waste Recycling Centres for 15 years allowed residents to deposit up to three DIY waste items for free before being charged a small fee of £1 for each additional item.

From the 1 st October 2017 this changes to a small fixed fee per item of £1.50 for most non-household or DIY items.

Residents can still deposit household waste for free at their local Household Waste Recycling Centre.

More information about the changes can be found online at:-

Have your say on plans for a new leisure centre for Wantage and Grove

on Fri, 08/09/2017 - 1:38pm

Residents in the Vale of White Horse can have their say on plans for a new leisure centre for the Wantage and Grove area. 

With up to 5,000 new homes expected to be built in the local area at sites such as Grove Airfield and Crab Hill by 2031, Vale of White Horse District Council is looking to locate a new centre at Mably Way, next to the A417, to ensure it can meet the increased demand for leisure facilities. 

The council is aiming to open the new centre in 2020. 

To find out more about the project and to have your say (by Wednesday 4 October) visit:- 

Anyone without access to the internet, or who needs assistance to complete the online survey, should contact the council’s Leisure Project Team on 01235 422240. 

The budget to deliver the new centre will be £18.8million.  Vale of White Horse District Council will fund the entire project upfront, however as the new housing developments are built locally the council will receive significant contributions towards this cost from developers. 

Cllr Charlotte Dickson, Cabinet Member for Leisure at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “The new leisure centre is great news for everyone in Wantage, Grove and the surrounding area and I encourage people to have their say on our proposals to help ensure we get it right for the local area.  

“Our aim is to open the new centre in 2020, this will help to ensure we have facilities in place well ahead of many people moving into the new homes and can meet demand as and when it increases. 

“The new centre will provide many more opportunities for people to have access to first class leisure facilities and help to ensure we can meet the increased need as more people move to the area.  This project really highlights our commitment to investing in leisure facilities across the district to help ensure our residents can live healthy and active lives.”

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

Ed Vaizey MP - Parish News, September 2017

on Fri, 08/09/2017 - 1:29pm

I am delighted that Housing Minister Alok Sharma has announced a £6.2 million government cash award for South Oxfordshire District Council. This will accelerate delivery of Didcot’s much needed Northern Perimeter Road, a vital piece of local infrastructure and key to the success of Didcot Garden Town. The infrastructure investment promises to boost economic growth across the Science Vale and enterprise zone, increasing employment by 20,000 over the next 20 years.
I am pleased that the ‘Better Broadband for Oxfordshire’ programme is on course to achieve above 95 per cent coverage across Oxfordshire. This places the county in the top quartile of counties in the UK. Since its launch, this £38 million collaboration between Oxfordshire County Council, Government, BT and local councils has provided 72,309 homes and businesses with access to broadband with a speed of over 24Mbps. Some 488 new fibre broadband cabinets have been installed and a total of 460km of fibre laid.
In June there was an additional £4 million boost to the programme. This will provide an additional 3,000 of the most remote households and businesses with access to super-fast broadband. In addition to the £4 million, a separate fund of up to £600,000 from programme efficiency savings has been set aside for co-funding projects where communities are willing to share the costs of the installation work. Under the scheme, the council will contribute up to £1,700 per premise.
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) helps people across the UK to explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about. In Wantage alone, more than £6.7 million of National Lottery money has been invested in over 65 local heritage projects since 1994. HLF is now encouraging people in Oxfordshire to apply for grants between £3,000 and £10,000 to undertake projects exploring the impact and legacy of the First World War beyond 1918. I strongly encourage local people to make use of the money available from HLF to explore its legacy further. More info can be found at:
As you may have read in local newspapers, £100,000 has been made available through the Oxfordshire LEADER programme. Farmers, foresters, businesses and community groups, in rural parts of the county, can apply for projects up to £100,000 that support their local community. In exceptional circumstances, they may qualify for even more financial support. Applications are open until March 2019. For more information on the programme please email Sophie Milton ([email protected]) or phone 01235 422245.
In the constituency recently, I have met with GARD a local pressure group campaigning against the proposed reservoir at Steventon.  I have also met with SUDEP, a local charity of which I am President, which campaigns to prevent sudden deaths in epilepsy.  I have also met local GPs at their surgeries, including Wantage, Shrivenham and Faringdon, to discuss their concerns.

Ed Vaizey MP

Please feel free to contact me if you have any pressing issues that you would like help with.  Either myself or one of my team will get back to you as soon as possible and do what we can to assist. You can contact me on any matter at the House of Commons, SW1A 0AA, [email protected] or 020 7219 6350. Email is the quickest and most reliable way to get in touch, as I keep a very close eye on my emails and can reply very quickly.   Details of my activities in Parliament can be read on my website, I also send out occasional general interest emails about developments in the Wantage and Didcot Constituency. If you would like to be added to the distribution list, please complete the online form at


Do you know when to ring 999 and when to ring 101?

on Tue, 05/09/2017 - 4:24pm

Thames Valley Police, along with emergency services around the country, has been facing an unprecedented number of 999 and 101 calls.

TVP are increasingly finding that people are unsure when to call 999 and when to call 101.

To help everyone better understand how to use these services, Thames Valley Police have devised a short survey:-