Abingdon Clubs and Societies Day – Part 1

March 29, 2014

In the Guildhall today there was the biannual Abingdon Clubs and Societies Day.
Abingdon Clubs and Societies Day
The Town Crier, Penny Clover, announced there were 57 clubs and societies taking part. One person who happened along said, “This is amazing. I didn’t know it was on.

Somebody else said “We have so many clubs and societies because we don’t have a cinema.

At their 14th March meeting, HLF rejected The Guildhall phase two redevelopment which included the 100 seat cinema .
Abingdon Clubs and Societies Day
The ABCD Film Society have just finished their current annual programme. They meet every Thursday at the Resource Wellbeing Centre, Audlett Drive. Members vote and post comments about the films they watch, and this year ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT was a favorite.
Abingdon Clubs and Societies Day
The Abingdon Army Cadets were there recruiting young people looking for action, excitement and adventure,
Abingdon Clubs and Societies Day
as were the Path Finders Canoe Club . Pathfinders Youth Canoe Club exists to provide kayaking and canoeing opportunities for young people from 11 to 18 years.
Abingdon Clubs and Societies Day
Abingdon Xtra were there interviewing stall holders including the Abingdon Wine Circle who meet at Preston Road Community Centre. The wine circle gives members the chance to try wines which may be too expensive, or they are not sure about, in a very social setting.
Abingdon Clubs and Societies Day
Abingdon Bowling Club, who celebrated their centenary last year, have open days, for new people to try bowling, on Friday May 16th from 5:00pm, and Saturday May 17th from 10:00am.

Part 2 tomorrow.

Filed under: club and society

37 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. steve King  |  March 30, 2014 at 7:35 am

    So the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) have rejected the Town Councils application for funding the proposed Guildhall Theatre/Cinema project. Personally i’m not sorry at their decision, Abingdon deserves a proper stand alone multi screen complex and for sure if that had gone ahead it would have stopped any future chance of us having a multiplex somewhere. The big question facing the TC now is “what shall we do with the monstrosity that looses us £150k a year?” Probably not a lot ? it can supply the needs of Abingdon’s community (as it did on Saturday) perfectly well as it is and so instead of spending Millions (and I think they’ve spent £60k already on consultants) give it a lick of paint, some new loo’s and heating system and the money you were going to spend in it you can put toward the umpteen good causes i’m sure there are in town !

  • 2. patlon  |  March 30, 2014 at 8:23 am

    I guess by ‘looses’ you mean ‘loses’? As I said at the parish meeting, would you refer to the money spent on the recreation grounds as a ‘loss’ or, for that matter, all the money spent by the town council. How about some constructive points for a change?

  • 3. Julian Annells  |  March 30, 2014 at 8:43 am

    What can anyone say that is ‘constructive’ about £60k being wasted on a half-baked scheme that was never going to fulfil the needs of the general population of Abingdon? All this ever was was a scheme to reduce the massive losses of the Guildhall pup that the Vale didn’t want! So what are the plans now; have the £60k consultants and surveyers got a plan B or do we the tax-payers have to fund another £60k for them to tell us their next instalment?! Abingdon NEEDS/DESERVES a multiplex! Smaller places like Didcot/Cowley already have one, Botley/Banbury are getting one; Oxford is getting ANOTHER one! …..what’s wrong with US having one???!

  • 4. steve King  |  March 30, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Pat, we/you can start by having some joined up thinking for a change? on the one hand the TC are trying to spend £2 million of council tax payers money converting the guildhall to a theatre, on the other hand you have councilors from the vale trying to spend £750k on a theatre on Nags Head island?
    the leader of the Vale announces shed loads of new housing to be built in north Abingdon, the next day the leader of OCC announces there’s insufficient need for a full diamond at Lodge Hill because there’s not enough housing in the area?
    Yesterday we had the Local excellence market, all very good except whoever organised it forgot the next day was mother’s day and that market took hundreds, if not thousands out of our towns traders tills, traders who were hoping for a bumper day selling gifts/flowers etc.
    The above post is quite correct you know Pat, iain said very openly that his remit was to reduce the loss of the building, the fact the cinema might not fulfill the needs of the town was irrelevant ! There is only one solution for Abingdon, in fact the entire Vale and that’s to have a Unitary council and remove one layer of you altogether.

  • 5. Scoty  |  March 30, 2014 at 11:38 am

    Steve/Julian – I hope that there is a Plan B – the latest cost estimate for this project was over £4.4M (see http://www.heraldseries.co.uk/news/hsabingdonnews/10898498.Refurbishment_of_Guildhall_will_cost_another___900_000/?ref=rss ) – ATC got £1.2M as a dowry from the Vale, and as you say has spent lots of money on consultants. One option I guess is that ATC just continue with their scheme and borrow the “missing” £3.5M and wack up the Council Tax so that we all pay for many many years ! Perhaps another is to demolish the Abbey Hall – which must be the ugliest building in the town – and build something that is actually usable and has decent acoustics, heating, and lighting – that at least might be affordable.

    PS I think that Steve is wrong about the Nags Head Island theatre – I think that there was a private group behind that scheme and that the Vale will not be paying for it – indeed the press article at http://www.heraldseries.co.uk/news/11104006.Theatre_idea_is_more_than_a_midsummer_night___s_dream/?ref=var_0 says “The team hopes to get £600,000 in grants from groups like the National Lottery and £150,000 from residents.”

  • 6. Iain  |  March 30, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    I’m afraid I can confirm the disappointing news that we have not been successful in our bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

    We have just received feedback from them, and whilst they were complimentary about our bid, they were oversubscribed and they felt that other bids had greater heritage content and therefore were better fits with their overall priorities.

    The Guildhall Committee of the Town Council has naturally been looking at what it should do, were the bid not successful and is currently working up options to present to Council. These are primarily focused on looking at some amendments to the architectural designs to reduce the cost of the scheme (without compromising the overall business case) and at alternative sources of capital funding.

    I will post responses on some of the comments raised by Steve and Julian later (when I’ve had my dinner) but I’d like to specifically say that the council remain committed to the redevelopment of the Guildhall and still see the inclusion of a dedicated cinema screen, together with a multipurpose second screen (which will also serve as a flat floor venue for weddings etc and a venue for live events) as key priorities.

  • 7. Julian Annells  |  March 30, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    Iain, could you also state for the record how much extra we are going to be looking at on our council tax bills should this folly go ahead please? Even if this project had achieved the full vision that you and your cohorts had dreamed up, it STILL wouldn’t have been adequate for the size of the town. By all means have your niche arty cinema, but not to be subsidised by the majority, who either won’t want to go or won’t be able to get in due to the fact that only the first 220 people maximum will be able to fit in! (And that is assuming it’s not Aunty Mabel’s 99th birthday party and the main hall is unavailable!)
    This has become a sick joke now, and I know it is hard to lose face and say ‘we were wrong’, but it will be better for everyone concerned and the town itself if this is done soonest.

  • 8. Iain  |  March 30, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    Point1: multiplex:

    There is no chance of a multiplex operator coming to abingdon in the foreseeable future. We have approached various landlords to see if they had any plans in that direction – they do not. We have checked with our specialist cinema advisor who has close relations with the various operators. His advice to us is that given we have two multiplexes about 20 mins away (didcot & kazan stadium) a major operator would not set up a multiplex in abingdon.

    Steve King may wish to confirm, but I believe he received the same response when he decided to approach a multiplex operator himself.

  • 9. Iain  |  March 30, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    Point 2: consultants

    Steve is correct that we have spent approximately £60k so far in progressing this project. The use of the term consultants is emotive so let me be clear what this money has been spent on.

    The largest two elements are on our architects and a quantity surveyor. These people draft the design for the building initially to a level that we can choose between different possible designs then working up plans to support communication with the public then get ready for the submission of a planning application. The QS assesses the detailed resources that would be necessary to deliver the scheme and how much it would cost us.

    In addition we have undertaken various studies to support the design, these include items such as light impact studies, acoustic studies, heritage impact statements, fire risk assessments, all of which are necessary, and will be required, moreorless however we proceed.

    We have finally spent some money (less than £10k) on professional advise to understand the business feasibility of setting up a cinema/arts venue and to determine a high level commercial viability assessment.

    All of this work is necessary and a scheme could not be pursued if we did not do this type of work. This is not the sort of work the town council has in house capability to undertake.

  • 10. Iain  |  March 30, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    Point 3: subsidy

    It is correct that the current subsidy that council tax payers make towards the operation of the guildhall is £150k pa.

    The project is aiming to reduce this, however it is incorrect to say this is the only aim. The great thing about this scheme is that it is aiming at three different objectives which are mutually reinforcing:

    In no particular order:
    1. Increase the use of the guildhall, it is currently a little used facility with major operation limitations. At present, after quite a lot of effort to increase usage, the buildings utilization stands at around 15% which means it is not really acting as a community facility, but as an empty building. This scheme will add 100,000 visitors to the guildhall each year, and thereby draw ‘footfall’ into the town centre as a whole
    2. Since the 1980s there has been no cinema in abingdon. Like Julian and Steve I would love to see a cinema here and a town of 33,000 (plus another 10,000 in the villages), however, after 30 years, I have formed the opinion that one wont magically appear. This is a concrete plan to plug a major gap in Abingdon’s entertainment provision.
    3. The subsidy to the Guildhall is high and I would love to see it spent on other things or returned to tax payers. The great thing about this scheme is that we expect the net operating costs of the new facility to be significantly lower than the current building, and as such the subsidy will be reduced.

    What we have here is a win-win-win project, that is only possible because of the unusual situation we have in sitting on an underused, subsidized public facility and having some capital investment funds available.

  • 11. Iain  |  March 30, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    Point 4: monstrosity

    I’m afraid I can only agree that the 1960s building is not a thing of great beauty. i would point out it was built before I was born so I don’t take any personal responsibility for this :) . Equally it did win an award at the time so taste does change.

    We have looked at whether it would be viable to bulldoze the whole thing and start again. Fundamentally the costs of doing this are beyond the funding levels we can reasonably expect to generate (even if we get some scrap value for the portland stone as has been suggested). To set in context the cornerstone at didcot which was a similar sort of new build cost £7.4m and, to build a decent facility, would require an investment of this order.

    In addition, some of this plot is undisturbed ground archaeologically, so you would also need to factor in a delay of 12-24 months whilst any archaeological studies are undertaken (at council tax payers expense)

  • 12. Iain  |  March 30, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    Point 5: costings

    The cost of the scheme submitted was accurately reported as £4.4m. This included £600k of specific items we included to increase the heritage content of the bid to HLf and (unless specific grants were subsequently obtained) would not expect to proceed with. Thus the core cost of the current scheme is £3.8m.

    The architects are currently working on ways of reducing this cost, and we hope to bring a revised scheme, still retaining the core functionality (including the dedicated cinema screen) to council for consideration shortly.

    We will continue to look for other sources of external funding, and remain optimistic as there are several other promising avenues to be explored.

    There are no current plans to increase council tax in order to finance the scheme, although this could become an option for future exploration, should all other options be exhausted and the council be assured there was public support for such a measure.

  • 13. Iain  |  March 30, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    Point 6: ‘niche arty cinema’

    This is a total fallacy. This is never what has been proposed and only exists in the minds of certain individuals. I have refuted this in person to you Julian.

    The national trend in cinemas is that multiplexes continue to be successful (although with declining margin), but the rising market is for smaller, more locally oriented cinemas. This can be seen for example by one of the big european multiplex groups having just bought cityscreen to gain a foothold in exactly this market.

    These independent cinemas show a mixed programme. By and large, they do not focus on any one audience, but show a range of films to appeal to the wisest demographic possible. There are a wide variety of configurations that these cinemas operate and our proposed model of a dedicated screen for about 100 and a secondary screen for peak times and special viewing is well within the parameters for this sort of operator.

    The key point here is that it is not in the interests of this sort of operator to run a niche programme as this will limit their audiences. The only sorts of film they are likely not to show are ones where they dont think there will be a decent audience for – the whole point is to get a wide variety of different people through the door regularly, which fits exactly with the vision for the sort of audience the council wishes to attract into the guildhall.

  • 14. Janet  |  March 30, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    I think everyone is forgetting that A proposal was submitted for a multiplex in Abingdon but it was turned down. I think an entertainment centre like the Cornerstone in Didcot would be most welcome.

  • 15. Iain  |  March 30, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    Sorry to monopolise this thread somewhat – I’ll stop now.

    This is a complicated project and there is a lot of work involved, some of which is commercially sensitive so we cant always share all the detail, but I wanted to be as open as possible about the scheme and address the key points raised by the small group of critics of the scheme.

  • 16. Iain  |  March 30, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    Janet – you are correct – it was turned down by John Prescott on environmental grounds. Since then, multiplexes have been built in Didcot and Oxford which mean Abingdon is no longer commercially attractive to a multiplex operator

  • 17. daniel  |  March 30, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    Iain – thanks for all those posts, it bought some clarity. I know you likely won’t know…but, regarding the seemingly reasonable point about NO multiplex – because of proximit to Didcot, Kassam etc… The Vales development at Botley includes a cinema…does Botley not fit within those proximity rules too? Cinemas at Kassam, Oxford Centre as well as Didcot are all close by? What does the specialist advisor say about Botley…?

    Plus…just because “Vue” says NO….what do their competitors think of Abingdon.

    Anyway…the residents await the next instalment!

    Golly……we could make a movie out of all this!

  • 18. Iain  |  March 30, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    Hi Daniel

    I didnt ask about oxford – i only sought to clarify whether anyone was likely to set up here. Answer was a pretty clear no.

    I’d assume economics are different in a city (botley is really a suburb of oxford if we’re honest) and about 5 times the size of Abingdon.

    Cheers

    I

  • 19. daniel  |  March 31, 2014 at 12:14 am

    Hi Iain – thanks for the reply. I fully understand you would only ask your chap about Abingdon, of course…makes sense. However, as an outsider looking in – on this particular point, it doesn’t quite make sense?

    If a specialist says we’re too close to other multiplexs to warrant our own, it doesn’t stack up that with (for example) Botley and the same proximity issues applying, other specialists (one assumes) think it’s a good idea to have a cinema there.

    Is an advisors remit to give reasons why a multiplex SHOULD be built…or to give reasons why one SHOULDN”T?

    I just thought it was an intriguing discrepancy…

  • 20. Julian Annells  |  March 31, 2014 at 5:57 am

    Iain, thanks for the responses, but I am still not convinced. Like Daniel I still cannot see why Botley is considered a suitable location, with a population of 5,000 people located and 3,5 miles from Oxford centre, which incidentally is getting another cinema, and Abingdon, with a population of over 33,000 people is not? As above it seems that the consultants remit was to find reasons why we shouldn’t have a multiplex as opposed to why we should? U am all for getting as much use out of the guildhall as possible but NOT at the future expense of a multiplex or large cinema complex. 220 seats is NOT big enough, and going to cost far too much for the end result. Have ALL cinema companies been approached by the Council? Why can’t Aberdeen Asset Management be approached again, now that the large supermarket chain has pulled out of the Charter deal? A cinema on the poundland site would be perfect for the town and assist the shops in the precinct with added footfall?

  • 21. steve King  |  March 31, 2014 at 7:34 am

    Wow, there’s a lot been written here, as far as a cinema is concerned I think we’re talking to the wrong fish in the wrong pond in as much as Iains brief was not to provide a cinema for our community, but how stop the guildhall hemorrhaging money? It is of course unacceptable that with a population of around 35k, 5k on the barracks and another 10k living in the villages Abingdon does not have an entertainment complex, just as it is unacceptable for the residents of south Abingdon to have to sit in traffic for as much as 45 mins to get into town (no wonder traders have lost customers from Drayton & Steventon) it is unacceptable that the second river bridge ( a pre condition to Abits) was never built because they couldn’t find the £30 mill to build it,yet SODC just announced reserving £35 mil to build a bridge in Didcot? it is unacceptable that traders have their A boards confiscated for obstructing the footpath and yet the entire length of pavement in Bath St is continually blocked by parked cars, it is unacceptable that taxis should take over the lay-by outside Barclays bank in the daytime (and park all over the pavement outside ASK) it is unacceptable that Iain and Co can spend £60k on consultants for a scheme that less than1 % of the towns folk supported, It is unacceptable that our shopping centre is failing to cater for the needs of our community. it was unacceptable for a boat to be “beached” for four years on Rye Meadow until it got washed away in recent floods, it is unacceptable that the Thames through town is in dire need of dredging and clearing. It is unacceptable that most independent traders are unaware of a fund available to them for shop front maintenance. It is unacceptable that the Choose Abingdon Partnership is an un=elected body that meets behind closed doors and has achieved so little for the town, despite being given (and wasted) over £200k
    I could go on and on, but i’m very aware that this is not what Alistair’s site is all about, sorry,
    What we need is a VISIONARY DICTATOR !

  • 22. Chris L  |  March 31, 2014 at 9:55 am

    Steve want to apply? :)

  • 23. Hester  |  March 31, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    Every time i see an exchange like this it reminds me why i decided never to stand for the council. Why is it that people who put in goodness knows how many hours of their (and their families’) time – unpaid – trying to do positive things for this town have to put up wth the sort of derision and abuse represented by some of these posts? Of course many people would like to see a multiplex, a string of chain stores, various bridges across the Thames etc – but those who put themselves forward for the Council have to live with the realities – they are not magicians and can’t make cinema operators or chain stores come to Abingdon if they don’t see a profit in it, nor can they conjure up millions for major engineering projects – and if they could they would probably get flak from one group or another who didnt like what they were doing.

    So I am full of admiration for those who are actually trying to make something happen rather than just complaining because the proposal is not 100% perfect (in their view). There are countless examples of towns around the UK which have small, quirky, individual venues, making the best use of the resources they have, rather than waiting for sterile, clone verions of what is everywhere else. No one project is ever going to please all 35,000 of our inhabitants – does that mean we do nothing?

    And finally, before I put my soapbox away for tonight, I totally agree with whoever said earlier that it is not about “losing” money: the Town council uses our rates to provide services – these include cemeteries, gardens, play areas, a museum and the Guildhall as a community facility for meetings and entertainments. None of these make money – the question is about how much we are willing to pay for the service.

  • 24. steve King  |  April 1, 2014 at 8:15 am

    Hester, you are of course spot on, so just as much as council is prepared to spend £2 million on the Guildhall theatre project, why not spend similar on a REAL cinema and in doing so provide yet another service? Just as you cannot see a benefit to the larger community a cinema would bring, I cannot see the same over a theatre. and while I completely accept that councils are not magicians when it comes to pulling money out of hats, the mind boggles when SODC seem to be able to pull money from a hat (£35 mil for a bridge, £30 mil for the seconds stage of their shopping centre) but not so from VWHDC? And who has the right to decide whether Abingdon is to remain a small and quirky town lacking in basic amenities? the 300 that supported the guildhall cinema scheme, the handful who are trying to get the Isis project off the ground or the electorate who, after a decade of frustration over Lib/Dem control voted for a complete change of direction?
    I dare you to walk down Saxton Rd, (which, according to government statistics sits among the 10% of most deprived areas in England) and tell them you’re going to spend £2 mil on a theatre and another 3/4 of a mil on an open air theatre too and see what response you get?
    I suggest there are far more important issues in Abingdon that deserves our local politicians attention? the traffic, the precinct, the charter,the pavements etc.
    Address the bigger issues first and then chase your folly’s, you might just get more support then?

  • 25. Hester  |  April 1, 2014 at 9:30 am

    Hi Steve – given the number of factual inaccuracies in your last post I can only assume that your message was an April Fool – the sad thing is that people tend to remember the inaccuracies because they sound more melodramatic than the truth.

    The true facts about the Guildhall have been reiterated so often on this blog that I imagine most readers now know them and I won’t insult their intelligence by rehearsing them again.

    The ISIS project however is in very early stages and less well known so let me point out CLEARLY: this is NOT a Council project, NOT Council funded and NOT involving officer time. It is being developed by a group of individuals who have formed a not-for-profit “Community Interest Company” and will be raising their own funds from people and organisations who want to support it.

    PS I am intrigued by the idea that a purpose-built 100 seat cinema, with box office, bar etc is in some way not “REAL” – no need to reply here but next time I bump into you in town you can tell me!

  • 26. newcomer  |  April 1, 2014 at 11:51 am

    You’ll be relieved to know that I’m keeping this short. I think Steve is spot-on re. a lot of issues and that his core point is that councillors should ’stick to the knitting’/get the basics right, before they attempt half-baked schemes.

  • 27. Grumpy  |  April 1, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    Re post no 4 above – is that the same Steve King who used to campaign vigorously for Saturday Markets and berate the councils for not organising them? Surely not!

    And perhaps he has missed the fact that these are Local Excellence Markets – the clue is in the name – they are another outlet for local traders so what is the problem?

    And then there is another Steve King in post 21 complaining that Choose Abingdon (who organise these markets which he says are so popular) dont do anything for the town.

    What is going on? is this identity fraud? We should be told….

  • 28. steve King  |  April 1, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    Hi Hester (and thanks newcomer) I’m anxious to know what factual inaccuracies you’re referring too? is it the £60k spent on consultants or the £10k following? both of which are figures quoted by lain, and he should know because he spent it ! or was it the £30 mil on our second river crossing? check out the pre cursor to Abits, may be SODC’s reserve of £30 mill for a bridge? check out their statement in the herald a few weeks ago!
    The Isis project you say “is not a council project! well hang on a mo, it belongs to the council or rather the people of Abingdon and shouldn’t you have consulted them/us before embarking on the project? And have you got agreement from the Environment Agency yet to cross the river? or English Heritage for knocking a hole in our bridge? Or Cranbourne Homes who own the land one side of the bridge will end up on? Or Len, owner of the Boat Yard (you hadn’t when I spoke to him a week ago)
    Seems you have a very short memory Hester, it was only 5 years ago we all crammed into St Helen church hall to hear a passionate appeal from Richard Weber and your self on how you wanted to create a Sydney Opera house on the island until myself and a few more people who didn’t have their heads in the clouds suggested the scheme would never work. Thankfully you took that advice on board and the project was scraped, or so we thought, Now we learn that RW as leader of the Lib/Dems didn’t listen to good advice, but pursued his folly of a theatre on Nags Island, meantime, while he pursuing his folly his party lost its unanimous position on the town council and its majority stake on the District council, isn’t that telling you something?
    You need to understand that Abingdon does not begin at Waitrose and end on Abingdon Bridge, there are 35 thousand people here that could do with and benefit from all the time and energy that some, some councilors could spend on more important issues instead of chasing their folly’s.
    ps, nothing wrong with a cinema and a bar etc, but have one where you can at least park up for matinees and will seat more than can fit in the Unicorn theatre.

  • 29. Julian Annells  |  April 1, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    I thought as soon as I saw the ISIS project, that it is a good idea but in totally the wrong location. By all means use the river more, which again I have said for a long time, we don’t make enough of the fact that we are on a beautiful stretch of the river. This “theatre/music/busking venue is great but I cannot see the residents of the £1.2m homes putting up with buskers and other hoi-polloy who might decide to spend an evening making music of a summers evening! And what happens when the local heavy-metal group turns up to play and the retro mod group are already setting up…who decides who is going to play nicely?! (In Hester’s words). Why not have it further along, by the pitch & putt, where it won’t be overlooked?
    Whether the TC are doing a good job on other things or not, pales into insignificance against the backdrop of spending millions of our money on something for just a few to enjoy. This will NOT be a REAL cinema, it is a small venue, which, now it is not getting the £1.9m funding is going to be done on the cheap even more so than it originally was! (On the cheap but expensively done!) If it absolutely MUST be a cinema, then at least forget about it being multi-purpose and make it fixed seating in the large hall and a dedicated cinema…not some part-time thing that can only be used if no-one else wants the hall at that time!

  • 30. hester  |  April 1, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    Steve – I am just going to pick up on the factual inaccuracies here. The queries about the ISIS project should be addressed to that team – either via their website or Facebook – or contact them direct. I will e-mail you direct re the personal comments about ideas floated a few years ago – you and I have both been working for some years to make things better in this town, some times we have agreed, some times we haven’t and my recollection of that meeting is slightly different from yours, but i don’t think the rest of the readers need to know about that!

    The inaccuracies I referred to were not about numbers, but about facts such as:
    - the Town Council owns the Guildhall and has to apend a considerable amount of money on it whatever happens. It doesnt have another site which it could make available to a cinema operator, even if one wanted to come to Abingdon soit cannot ” spend similar on a REAL cinema and in doing so provide yet another service” – and it would still be left with the Guildhall!
    - you refer to the Guildhall project as a theatre (implication being that that would only attract toffee-nosed people – how patronising is that!), but as Iain has spelt out quite clearly (post 12), the dedicated cinema option is still very much under considerattion so you are presenting a misleading picture.
    - you imply that someone has decided that ” Abingdon is to remain a small and quirky town lacking in basic amenities” – that is just twisting my words – as you very well know no such decision has been made – but some people are trying to make the best of what we have rather than whistling in the wind for what is – at least for the time being – unattainable.
    - as I said, no Council is planning to spend £3/4m on the ISIS project nd the Guildhall is intended to offer something for everyone – not just a select few.

    Finally – I am bemused that you repeatedly bring in references to the considerable number of people in Abingdon who are struggling to make ends meet – using them as some sort of weapon in your argments. Many of those who you criticise in this blog and elsewhere spend a lot of time and energy giving practical help and support to those people – they don’t brag about it, but it goes on day in, day out – just helping, not points scoring.

  • 31. steve King  |  April 2, 2014 at 7:26 am

    Dear Grumpy, tis the same one, and you’re quite right I did campaign (successfully)to have farmers markets and on Saturday’s and get them moved from the Station Yard to the Market Place.
    I’m just looking at the what’s on calendar of events given out free in the town crier mag (or round & about) and of the next three months events there only appears to be one organised by the Choose Abingdon Partnership? and that’s their AGM?
    Local excellence markets are very good, providing they are just that, but when you have a guy from Hampshire selling water cress, a woman from Wiltshire selling home made jewelry and a company from up in the Midlands somewhere selling sun flower oil, it somewhat belittles the spirit of the event, and three bakeries !
    I suppose I ought to congratulate Chaps for the new Town Centre maps, even though it took them three years to do so !
    Can’t we do a swap with Wantage and have Iain Nicholson, he’s much more innovative.

  • 32. Pseudocream  |  April 2, 2014 at 8:45 am

    Steve

    Your inconsistency is amazing ! On your last point about Iain Nicholson perhaps he would have been appointed if you had not so maliciously undermined him . In fact your constant underlying malice in many of your posts and emails is one of your few consistencies . I do not think your motivation is to improve Abingdon. I think you just enjoy upsetting people who do difficult jobs or actually have the courage to get themselves elected .

    Your comments in post 21- ”What we need is a ” VISIONARY DICTATOR” . Could you name any ”VISIONARY DICTATORS” that were not responsible for death , torture and misery of thousands of people ? Off the top of my head I cannot think of any . Still at least we all know why you don’t want to get yourself elected . You don’t believe in democracy but ”VISIONARY DICTATORSHIP ” !

  • 33. richmond  |  April 2, 2014 at 8:48 am

    Is there any chance that That Steve King, Hester and Iain can get together in Abingdon and thrash out their disagreements rather than clogging up this website with repeated comments and personal gripes.

    I suggest a drink, you would after all be supporting local business and perhaps you could all lighten up a bit!

  • 34. Hester  |  April 2, 2014 at 8:57 am

    Good morning Steve – picking up on your reply to Grumpy, can I remind you that Choose Abingdon only has one employee so is not in a position to actually organise many events. The P in ChAP stands for partnership and Chap’s role is largely to help other organisations to put on successful events – especially with promotion, but also in many other ways.

    ChAP did start up the Local Excellence Markets and have also run three “Good Living”Events to promote local businesses, but also provides a lot of support to the annual Cycling Festival (coming up next week) and are key to the Christmas Extravaganza organisation. The recent successful Science Festival started as a ChAP idea and many other event organisers are very grateful for the gazebos provided by ChAP. I could go on…

    Finally, I am pleased that you mentioned the What’s On Leaflet – who do you think produces that? – and the Events Calendar on the Abingdon website, and the e-mail newsletter that goes out to loyalty card holders to promote local businesses and events, and the Community Shop to give community groups and support organisations a free facility for displays, workshops etc

    PS I am sure Iain Nicholson will be pleased to hear that you have revised your opinion of him!

  • 35. Hester  |  April 2, 2014 at 9:27 am

    Richmond – you are absolutely right. I have often said the same about others so should follow my own advice. Will shut up now – at least on this thread!

  • 36. davidofLuton  |  April 2, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    On a more serious note, why was the town crier in mufti?

    I was reminded of the Tom Jones hit, “you can leave your hat on”

  • 37. Ali.  |  April 3, 2014 at 8:38 am

    Gosh I feel quite depressed reading Steve Kings rant about Abingdon, why live here if you think it is truly so awful. How about listing some of the positive things about Abingdon?! I truly enjoy living here & think there are far worse places to live. I for one am happy that Abingdon is ’small & quirky’.
    I congratulate the person/group who take the time to organise events in The Market Place, these events are an asset to the town & it brings people in to town & surprisingly they do go on to spend their money in the local shops! I think we are actually fortunate to have many local independent traders, nice pubs & restaurants, parks, beautiful old buildings & the river. It’s been made to sound like the worst place to live.

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