A notice on the door of Abbey House says that District Council staff (from the Vale and South Oxfordshire) have moved to new offices at Milton Park today.
Since the previous offices in Crowmarsh Gifford were destroyed by fire six months ago, some staff have been at Abbey House, some at Sandford-on-Thames, and some working from home.
So from now on staff will be under one roof.
The new home could be temporary. No decision has been made on whether Crowmarsh Gifford will be rebuilt. But if the two district councils are to merge, in the long run, then Milton Park does look more central that Crowmarsh Gifford.
June 29, 2015
A book, celebrating 150 years of The Albert Park was launched today by The Albert Park Residents’ Association.
The Albert Monument was unveiled on 22nd June 1865, 150 years ago, in ‘the good old town of Abingdon’ – as described by the Oxford Times of the day.
The park on which it stands is owned by the ancient charity Christ’s Hospital of Abingdon, who established and still maintain the park.
Rev’d Paul Smith, the vicar of St Michael’s and All Angels Church, next to the park, welcomed people into the church for the launch of the book, and for a celebration of those 150 years.
Meanwhile, a short distance away there was a road closure, from 9am-10pm, for another celebration – the annual Exbourne Road Street Party.
There were lots of activities, and entertainments, visitors, and food. During the time I was there, after 4pm, the residents were being entertained by Ashnah Tribal Bellydancers,
and Mr Hemmings Traditional Morris Dancers
I left before the Naffle draw at 6pm. “The only rule for the free draw is you have to take the prize home.”
June 28, 2015
Today (27th June) a flag was flying for the seventh Armed Forces Day above the County Hall.
Down on the Market Place in Abingdon the Nasio Trust had their annual Market Place event.
Young people are raising money so they can go out and help in the rural area of west Kenya where Nasio has built centres to help HIV orphans, and is now building a medical centre.
June 27, 2015
A new Town Council have been voted in during May 2015. As happened four years ago the plans for the Guildhall have changed after the election.
In 2011 the outgoing council had proposed some quick wins to make the modern part of the Guildhall – the Abbey Hall – more usable:
- Install a bar at the back of the Abbey Hall
- Improve disability access and toilets
- soften the look of the hall with designer drapes round the sides
- modernise the kitchen
- improve the problematic sound system.
After those quick wins they wanted to take time to consider how to invest the bulk of the £1.2m that had come with the Guildhall.
The incoming 2011 council hired new consultants. The first thing they did was spend money on refurbishing the old part of the building – the part where you might reasonably expect to get grants.
They then developed a new scheme for the Guildhall. It’s main points were:
- Add a one screen cinema, as a new box construction, at the back
- Install retractable seating for the Abbey Hall, so that it too could serve as a cinema or theatre, or as a dining or dance floor
- A stylish new front to the building
- Better access throughout.
The project was modular so that one part could be developed ahead of the others. However the full scheme failed to win lottery funding, and so the town council looked for investment from cinema operators to try to make the cinema part happen. The tenders came in just before the 2015 election.
Yesterday’s press release by the incoming 2015 council has gone for a less ambitious plan.
The three cinema companies that tendered to run the cinema, have not come up with enough money, and the new council does not want to take out a large loan. The tenders would also lead to loss of community space. I gather they thought the scheme was only viable with two screens. And so all three tenders were rejected.
Regarding the cinema, the Town Council will now ask the Leader of the Vale of White Horse to try to attract cinema operators to Abingdon. Hopefully they will ask for this to be into the town centre, and not out of town.
The new 2015 cut down plan, to be designed and built when the Guildhall closes at the end of August, is:
- Abbey Hall improvements, including installing cinema projector equipment and screen, retractable seating and soundproofing
- Creation of entry to the modern part of the Guildhall at street level
- Access improvements across the whole building
- Improve toilets
- Replace boiler / heating system and relocate boiler room
The Abbey Hall could then be used as a pop-up cinema, but might also attract the likes of the Abingdon Operatic Society, and Abingdon Drama Club.
The council have also added into the project for a phase 2:
- Kitchen Improvments
- Install Wi-Fi and hearing loop in historic rooms
- New carpeting
- Removal of access ramp to the rear so long as satisfactory disabled access and fire stategy agreed
June 26, 2015