Thursday, 13 April 2017

New School in Grove

I am delighted to hear that the Vale Academy Trust in Wantage has been successful in its bid to the Department for Education to open a new 'all through' Church of England academy for the children of Grove.  The Trust is currently comprised of several local primary schools in Wantage and Grove and this will provide a seamless transition for pupils from primary to secondary education in the area. I wrote a letter to the Department supporting this bid, believing that this is a great opportunity for the village of Grove to have its own stand-alone school in the area from 2-16.

Home to School transport has long been a problem since we lost our free school transport for schoolchildren in Grove to attend secondary school in Wantage many years ago.  I am also hoping that this will give the community of Grove extra facilities, which families can benefit from. Its is now very important that we all work together in what will be very exciting times ahead.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Road Resurfacing in Grove and Wantage

As you will see from the photos above, the string of potholes on the Denchworth Road by the Bay Tree public house in Grove have finally been resurfaced.  As many residents know, these potholes have been recurring on a regular basis, but this time, I am hoping this solution will last longer.  This busy road is a major artery in and out of Grove and is heavily used by lorries, buses and cars on a daily basis.

Highway maintenance works in Wantage area to be resurfaced in the coming months include:
  • Challow Road (this may happen during April otherwise it will be done 12th June overnight)
  • Camel Crossroads on 13th June (2 nights)
  • St. Mary's Way/Denchworth Rd. (mini roundabout) on 15th June (1 night)
These are all long-standing works which many residents have been waiting for and so I am pleased that action is being taken to repair them at long last.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Consultation on New Bus Routes for Grove and Wantage

Stagecoach Bus Company are currently consulting on a new bus route for the X30/31 services around Grove and Wantage.  Originally, planned to take place with just one week's notice, I have managed to get the consultation period extended until the end of the month.

The proposal is that 'some' of the X30 and 31 services from Wantage Market Place to Oxford will go via the west rather than to the east of the village.  This would see buses leaving Wantage, going down Mill Street then going along the Denchworth Road past Stockham Park. In Grove, the buses would go past the recreational ground and skate park, then go through the centre of the village up Breretron Drive, before rejoining Station Road and the normal route.

Currently, the services leave the Wantage Market Place and come to Grove via the A338 Grove Road and Main Street.  However, the company wishes to find out if residents desire 'some services' to take this alternative route.

Residents can have their say by taking one of the feedback forms off the buses or emailing comments to by the end of this month on 31st March. 

The proposed route as published in the Oxford Mail (15 March) is shown below:

Monday, 6 February 2017

The Big Health and Care Consultation

Local residents may already be aware that there is another important consultation taking place in Grove tomorrow afternoon at Grove Village Hall from 3pm - 5pm.

I believe this event was orginally planned to take place in  Wantage, but now seems to have changed the venue without updating flyers and publicity information.  This also means that it will now clash with the consultation taking place at Grove Library on the unitary proposals for Oxfordshire which is from 2pm - 4.30pm.

It is a shame that such important events have clashed with timings, but I am hoping to go to both, so do look forward to seeing as many residents as possible giving their views.

Friday, 3 February 2017

One Oxfordshire Update

Today the One Oxfordshire roadshow hit Wantage Library so I went along to meet and discuss the options with local residents.  You can see the display on offer in the photos above.  Please see the link on my previous blog post if you wish to see the documents on the County Council website with the consultation.

It was good to talk to those who came along with their views and I hope that those who did not come today will have another opportunity to come to Grove Library next week on Tuesday 7th February from 2pm - 4.30pm.  Looking forward to seeing a good turnout once again.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

One Oxfordshire Council

I thought it would be helpful to update local residents on the latest proposals for one unitary council for Oxfordshire.  I was present at a briefing yesterday evening at County Hall where we were all told that plans were now in hand to consult with the public on this model.  This has now gone live today.

What is most important to all this, is that residents have their say on what they would like to see.  Please make sure you make your views known and see the documents on the County Council website link here

I shall keep you informed about how things progress over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

2017 Approaches

Christmas seems to have come and gone and it does not seem long ago when I joined everyone at our annual Grove Parish Council Carol Service around the Christmas tree by Millbrook Square accompanied by the Wantage Silver Band.
This year, it was a fine evening and it was good to share coffee and mince pies in the Methodist Church hall with residents in the village. 

Yesterday, I took a walk to Letcombe Brook by The Green to take in a breathe of fresh air and I was struck by the evening glow on the brook as I stood on the bridge.  No snow this year, as it has been mild so far, but frost and fog in the early mornings is now to be expected.

I should therefore like to wish everyone a very healthy and prosperous New Year in 2017.  I have now fixed up my councillor surgeries in Grove Library up until the May elections.  The next one will be held on Saturday 14th January between 10.30 am and 11.30 am. No appointment necessary.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Christmas Approaches!

On Monday evening,  I was in County Hall to see the Christmas lights switched on.  You can see the beautiful tree which was donated by the Blenheim Estate in the photograph at the top of this blog post.  Children from the choir at Longfields Primary School sang carols around the tree to entertain us during the evening.  

Afterwards, there was an opening of the artwork display presented to County Hall to decorate the corridor from secondary schools around Oxfordshire.  I was pleased to have helped to deliver and collect the canvas from King Alfred's Academy in Wantage, which is shown above.  Schools were asked to paint a scene depicting their surrounding area, and I think the painting above captures a scene of our historic Ridgeway and Downland views very well.

I am sure that everyone will be busy in the run up to Christmas, but hopefully I shall see many residents at our annual carol service in Grove at the Christmas tree near Millbrook Square.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Remembrance Sunday

Today was, of course, Remembrance Sunday when we remember the fallen in the World Wars and other conflicts.  In the morning, I attended the service in Grove Parish Church, which was full with the local community. It is always inspiring to see the young children attending in the Rainbows, Brownies, Girl Guides, Beavers, Cubs and Scouts.

In the afternoon, I attended the Civic Parade and Remembrance service in Didcot and laid a wreath on behalf of Oxfordshire County Council. This was a moving open-air service around the War Memorial and the parade was led by the Oxford Caledonian Pipe Band.  The event was very well attended by many members of the Didcot community on a sunny afternoon.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

A417 Challow Road Bridge - Weekend Road Closures Coming Up

The photograph above shows me at the re-opening of the A417 Challow Road bridge on 5th December 2014 after 4 months of closure.

I was therefore very surprised to hear last month that there were plans to close the road again for 2 weeks whilst carriage maintenance works were carried out.  After taking up the matter with Network Rail and the County Council, I was then told that these works would be postponed until another solution was found.  

Fortunately, the works have now been given the go-ahead for two weekends in November to allow carriageway maintenance to be undertaken.  The weekend closures are as follows:

22:00 hours on Friday 18th November - 06:00 hours Monday 21st November

22:00 hours on Friday 25th November - 06:00 hours Monday 28th November 

Millaway Lane will also be closed during this time to prevent this being used as an alternative diversion route for traffic.

As I am sure residents are aware, all these road closures are a necessary part of the Great Western Electrification project, which has affected many rail bridges in this area.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Maggie's Fundraising Update

Just to let everyone know that the final total raised by the Chairman and myself for the Maggie's Centre Culture Crawl is close to £800. This was announced in the full council meeting held on Tuesday this week.

I should like to take this opportunity of thanking all those friends, family and supporters who helped us to raise so much by giving so generously to this worthy cause.  I believe a grand total of over £20,000 was eventually reached.

I was pleased to attend the 2nd birthday party celebration at Maggie's Centre on Wednesday 12th October, which was a great opportunity to meet with others who have been affected by cancer and their friends and families.

You can find more details on the Culture Crawl that we undertook to raise funds along with others taking part, in the posts and photographs posted in my previous blog posts.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Demolition Work On Old Wantage Road Bridge - Weekend Closures

This is to inform residents of some important works coming up on the A338 Wantage Road bridge which will involve traffic lights and a temporary road closure over a forthcoming weekend.  This is to allow for the demolition to take place of the old bridge which will allow for the electification of the Great Western railway to continue.

To allow Network Rail to undertake pre-demolition work of the old Wantage Road bridge temporary traffic lights will be set up on 25th October until 4th November 2016.

A weekend closure of the new bridge will then take place whilst demolition work is undertaken.  This will be from 22.00 on 11th November until 6.00 on 14th November 2016.

I have to admit that I have spent a lot of time chasing up these forthcoming works, having been told when I opened the new bridge (see blog post here), that demoliton of the old bridge would be taking place before the end of the year.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

New School for Grove

Last night, I attended a meeting at Millbrook Primary School to hear more about plans to deliver a new school for Grove. The evening consisted of workshops where parents and residents had an opportunity to express their views.  It was a very constructive evening with many positive and helpful suggestions about how the new school would become.

This has long been a campaign I have been involved with in the village for over 25 years, when the school bus was removed by Oxfordshire County Council taking children from Grove to Wantage.  I formed a 'Save the School Bus' campaign group and after presenting a petition to the Education Committee, schoolchildren and parents were given a year's grace, before the bus was stopped altogether. Since then, our children have had to make their own way to all 3 secondary school sites in Wantage.  Even now, as a local county councillor, I spend a lot of time dealing with casework on this issue. Time for some change I think!

When the Grove Airfield development appeared on the horizon, and the plans showed provision for a new secondary school in Grove, hopes rose that at long last this may happen. Indeed, much debate started again on this issue and one can see from my blog which started in 2007, I was headlining this topic!  

Well, here we are nearly 10 years later, and as the Airfield site still hasn't delivered to date, I was pleased to hear that the Vale Academy Trust has now become proactive on this matter. As new housing development has already taken place around the area and school places are becoming filled year by year as families move in, it now looks a good time to revisit the original plans.

The new school would aim to provide seamless education from 2 - 16, and would also provide community facilities we have been lacking for several years.  It will also mean that our schoolchildren will no longer have to travel at least 2 miles to reach secondary school with our ever-increasing busy roads and lack of proper cycle tracks or footpaths on the route.  A sixth form for the school has not been ruled out.

I look forward to keeping residents informed how this bid progresses, as I understand the case for the new school is being presented to the Department for Education by the deadline tomorrow. The new school, which could be called 'Grove Academy' expects to open in 2019, if all goes to plan.  Meanwhile, watch this space!

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Maggie's Oxford Culture Crawl

As planned, I took part in the Culture Crawl organised by Maggie's Oxford. This started at Egrove Park in Kennington taking in various cultural stops across Oxford before finally arriving at Maggie's Centre next to the Churchill Hospital. I completed half of the route before I handed over to Cllr. Michael Waine who then walked the remainder. It was a very enjoyable evening whilst also raising funds for Maggie's who do a fantastic job supporting people with cancer and their families. Thanks to everyone who supported me and anyone who still wishes to make a small donation to Maggie's can do so using the link in my previous post.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Culture Crawl for Maggie's Centre Oxford

This Friday evening, 23rd September 2016,  I shall be taking part in an 8-mile Culture Crawl to raise money for Maggie’s Centre in Oxford at the Churchill Hospital site.  This is something which I am doing as Vice-Chairman of Oxfordshire County Council alongside the Chairman, Cllr. Michael Waine.
We would be incredibly grateful if you would be kind enough to sponsor us please by going to the following link:

Both Michael and I received excellent care from both the Churchill Hospital and Maggie's Centre during our recovery from illness and we both wished to put something back for the help and support we received.
Thank you in advance for your support for this very deserving cause. If you are not familiar with Maggie’s Centre and would like to know more, please visit their website:

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Lay-by at Grove Recreation Ground Refresh

As you will notice from the photograph taken above, this is the lay-by at the side of the Recreation Ground in Grove. This area is well-used by those parking for the grounds and sports facilities on the adjoining fields. It was most recently in demand for the Grove & Wantage Extravaganza event (reported on my blog post).

I had delayed getting this works done in the past, due to the Grove Airfield development coming on stream, but as delays continue on this site, and the fact that there was money in the Highways budget that needed using up before the end of the financial year, now was the time to get something done.

I know this isn't a perfect job as you can already see some water from recent rainfall in some of the pitted areas, but at least something is better than nothing, and will make life a little easier for those parking to use the recreational facilities nearby.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Ickleton Road Carriageway Maintenance

I have just been given notice that Oxfordshire County Council is due to undertake carriageway maintenance work on the B4507 Ickleton Road between the Ham Road junction and the next westerly junction with the road to Letcombe Regis (see map above). 

The works are programmed to start on Tuesday 6 September 2016 and are expected to last for three weeks, subject to any bad weather conditions or unforeseen circumstances during construction. The works will include widening and resurfacing of the existing carriageway, drainage improvements and the replacement of road markings. 

In order to keep traffic disruption to a minimum, the works will be carried out under a road closure. A signed diversion route will be put in place.

This work is long overdue and will be of benefit to residents in and around the Wantage area.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Cow Lane Bridge Reopening

I have only just had the chance to wander down Cow Lane in Grove to see the new bridge over the railway line referred to as the 'Hanneys crossing'.  This has been the latest scheme in the area which has benefitted from the GWR Electrification Project.  You will see from the photos above, that the benefits are obvious on this well-used recreational route.  The track in the past has been muddy and wet and some times impassable, but thanks to some funding I used from my Highways budget to gravel the area, and more recently, Network Rail agreeing to my request to make it good after their works in progress, all is now greatly improved.

This well-known traditional by-way is well-used by horse-riders, cyclists, pedestrians and dog walkers on a regular basis and is a 'green corridor' in the village of Grove.  I have already commented on the new housing developments planned for Monks Farm and the immediate vicinity. Plans for urbanising this route and constructing crossings over it will be detrimental to the village of Grove.  Indeed, on my walk today, I met cyclists and families enjoying a walk on a Sunday afternoon in the countryside.  This should always remain a quiet and open space to be enjoyed by all of us for the future.

This, of course, is the second bridge in Grove to have to be rebuilt and I blogged here about the official opening of the A338 Wantage Road bridge back in July.  Next to be upgraded I believe will be the Denchworth Road bridge, currently no information on this to date.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Grove and Wantage Extravaganza

This afternoon the Grove and Wantage Extravaganza was held at the Recreation Ground in Grove. The weather was changeable, but that did not seem to dampen the spirit of the crowds of people attending. There were lots of side shows, displays and events for everyone to enjoy.  As you can see from the photos above, there a number of interesting cars dotted around the show. Congratulations to Roger Williams and all on the Extravaganza Committee who helped to organise this memorable event.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Roadworks Update

Catching up after returning from my summer holidays, I thought I would update residents on roadworks which are either ongoing or forthcoming over the coming weeks which could affect us.

A34 Chilton Improvement

Local road closures for five nights started on 15th August this week.  These closures will be in place from 8.30pm until 6am and are needed so that the team can carry out remodelling and resurfacing work on the roundabout.

There will also be nightly lane closures on the A34 southbound for around eight weeks to tie the new off-slip into the main road.  From 30th August for around six weeks, the northbound lane 1 will be closed nightly from 8pm - 6am.

I am sure many of you have noticed that much has been achieved over the last few months as the site takes shape which will benefit commuters for years to come.

Frideswide Square Improvements

Work to carry out some minor repairs and alterations on Frideswide Square in Oxford will begin on Monday 22nd August.

The County Council's contractor, Skanska, will begin two weeks' worth of work to slightly alter the kerb line outside the Royal Oxford Hotel along with repairing and strengthening a small area which has been damaged by vehicles running over the paving.

Work is being undertaken to take advantage of the quietest time of year on the roads, and hopes to be complete in time for St. Giles Fair in Oxford.

You can sign up for regular updates and newsletters regarding traffic management around the County by going to the Oxfordshire County Council website link Travel Choices.

My next surgery date in September will be on
Saturday 3rd September 10.30am - 11.30 am in Grove Library.  No appointment necessary.

Apologies for missing the August deadline for the newsletter this month, but I was on holiday at the time.  I shall update you with my usual report in the September issue.