Filed under: politics

Brexit in Abingdon

Brexit reaches Abingdon
The UK voted to leave the EU on 23rd June 2016. Abingdon voted to remain but had to go with the majority view. The alluring ”Take Back Control” slogan of the leave campaign won the day.

The two year process to leave the EU was triggered on 29th March 2017. There followed lengthy negotiations between various UK Brexit secretaries (who resigned one after another) and Michel Barnier (for the EU). An agreement was brokered between the UK government and the EU involving the UK paying a £39 billion divorce settlement – not a subject mentioned in the leave or remain campaigns.

On 9th January 2019, the House of Commons, including the Abingdon and Oxford West M.P., Layla Moran, voted against the agreement for a variety of reasons. Layla Moran wanted a People’s Vote. Brexiteers and the DUP MPs said they did not like the Northern Ireland backstop. Since then parliament and the government and the EU have been going round in circles, not re-negotiating the backstop.
Brexit reaches Abingdon
People campaigning for a People’s Vote were on the Market Place yesterday in Abingdon. The People’s Vote sayWhen it becomes clear there is no Parliamentary majority for any Brexit option, the only way forward will be a People’s Vote.’

On the other hand Leave means Leave campaigners say, ‘The Government must chuck their Chequers proposal – which if delivered would amount to Brexit in name only – and instead seize the opportunities of a World Trade Deal.’

Both sides are still working hard to influence pubic opinion and politicians as the clock runs down towards March 29th 2019.

28 Comments February 10, 2019

Hear the People’s Voices

Hear the Peoples Voices
This evening in Abingdon there was a concert that combined folk singing and the history of the struggle of ordinary people for justice, equality and freedom. The concert was performed by the Sea Green Singers, based in Oxford and with seven people from Abingdon.
Hear the Peoples Voices
The first song came from the Peasant’s Revolt in 1381 – an early protest movement where the leaders were executed. There followed songs from the Diggers, and the Levellers through to Peterloo.

Songs gave us a people’s history lesson and took us at the end of the first half to the Chartist movement whose aim was to gain political rights for the ordinary people. The video above is the singing of the Chartist Anthem.
Hear the Peoples Voices
In the second half we heard protest songs from the start of the industrial revolution and Tolpuddle Martyrs, right up to the Greenham Common protests and the miners strikes.

Then at the end we were reminded that the struggle still goes on for many ordinary people. Money raised from the concert goes towards Host Abingdon.

Leave a Comment November 18, 2018

A hot day at Abingdon-on-Thames Town Council

town council
Another hot day and councillors at the town council meeting this evening did not have to wear the usual heavy robes.
town council
The entrance to the Roysse Room for the town council meeting was by a back door as the Roysse Court is being redeveloped.

Members of the public, councillors, and staff were asked to stand as the Mayor of Abingdon-on-Thames followed the mace into the room. Then Reverend Charles Miller led prayers. The Mayor, Councillor Margaret Crick, then presented cheques to groups who had been awarded grants including Abbey Brass, Abingdon Music Centre, Abingdon Rotary, and Smash badminton.

Three members of the public addressed the council before the meeting. Among them Pat Bryden wanted to set up a memorial for Alan Bryden, a former Town and County Councillor, who did a lot for the town. She proposed some improvements to some of the tourist maps in the town centre, and the addition of seats to some bus stops on the Oxford Road. She will provide the resources if the town council agree.

There followed a lot of questions about the town bus service, being paid for by the town council for £30K. It will run from Monday to Friday, 4 times a day and will go through South Abingdon between 9:06 and 14:56. It uses the route of the 41 bus that was previously subsidised by the County Council. It will run for one year from September 2018 – August 2019.

The meeting then went through all the committee papers since the last Town Council, and an audit of the Town Council accounts.

Lastly there was a discussion of three proposals put forward by town councillors. There is sometimes a misunderstanding that the town council runs the town. But for some matters they need to lobby the Vale of the White Horse District Council (VWHDC)  on important matters about the town. All three proposals were addressed to VWHDC and were unanimously agreed by the Councillors.
town council
1. The Upper Reaches Hotel has been boarded up for three years. What is VWHDC doing about that, and do they have any legal powers to influence the hotel owner? A letter will be written from Town Council to District Council to try and make the current situation public.

2. The toilets at the Charter are disgusting. Money had been put into the VWHDC budget to improve them, and the car park. So how is that going, and what are the plans for the charter generally? A letter will be written from Town Council to District Council to try and make the current situation public.
town council
3. Parking enforcement is not top of the list of police force priorities but they currently control on street parking in Abingdon. In 2014 the VWHDC considered introducing civic parking enforcement, but rejected the idea. Could they consider it again in 2018 for the sake of the parking situation outside schools and the town centre? A letter will be written from Town Council to District Council

7 Comments June 27, 2018

Mayor Making

Mayor Making
The Abingdon Traditional Morris Dancers were dancing outside St Helen’s Church before the Abingdon Town Council Mayor Making. They were led by the Mayor of Ock Street, Harry Knight.
Mayor Making
In St Helen’s Church, Councillor Jan Morter handed on the chain of office of the Mayor of Abingdon to Councillor Margaret Crick.
Mayor Making
Margaret is an ex teacher who not only taught in England but also in the Bahamas. She became a member of the Town Council in 2007, and in the last year has chaired the planning committee, and been Deputy Mayor. She is a keen gardener and craftswoman, who behind the scenes donates handmade jewellery to help raise money for town events.
Mayor Making
The new Deputy Mayor is David Pope, seen here signing the oath of office. David is also district governor for the Rotary International.
Mayor Making
Margaret has chosen two charities that are close to her heart as the Mayor’s Charities. First is Abingdon Carousel who will soon take over running the South Abingdon Children’s Centre. Margaret said that a good start to life is so important for children. She also chose Be Free – Young Carers of Oxfordshire. Margaret was so impressed with how they bring together young people who have taken on the very adult role of caring for relatives.

The outgoing Mayor, Councillor Jan Morter, gave Mayor’s awards to:
* Emma Beacham, the founder of the Abingdon More in Common group.
* Anne Smart, one of the volunteers for Abingdon Cuts Plastic / Abingdon Carbon Cutters.
* Shirley Thompson as a volunteer for 20 years with the Abingdon Children Contact Centre, at Abingdon Baptist church, which allows separated parents to meet with children in a safe neutral place.

3 Comments May 9, 2018

Abingdon Town Council – 25th April 2018

There was a Town Council Meeting this evening in Abingdon-on-Thames. It could be the last one that Councillor Jan Morter will chair as Mayor. Her successor Councillor Margaret Crick will become Mayor at a ceremony on May 9th.

The meeting began with prayers mentioning St Mark (as it is the Feast of St Mark today), then some statements from town people.
Plastic
Levy payers to the BID (Business Improvement District) came again with their worries about the BID. Their spokesman, was stuck in traffic after a major holdup on the A34 and so others spoke instead. Some businesses are refusing to pay the BID levy this time and have been told there are court proceedings against them from the BID company.

An audit has appeared on the BID website, carried out by VWHDC. The audit is procedural rather than financial, and shows that after resignations by members of the board nobody is clear who is on the BID board anymore. The audit says some meetings were not quorate as a result, and meetings have also not been properly minuted. It also appears that accounts have not been properly signed off by meetings.

102 member companies have petitioned for the BID to be closed down. So despite the sterling efforts of an interim team to turn it round the BID is likely to be closed.

The Abingdon Carbon Cutters gave a statement about cutting down on plastic, and ended the presentation with the suggestion that the Town Council could help by reducing waste in two events it is responsible for: Abingdon Market and The Michaelmas Fair.
Plastic
Later in the meeting the council chose to support a motion proposed by Councillor Sam Bowring to sign up to the national refill scheme and provide a place for refilling of water bottles, and not provide single use plastics in the Guildhall. This was unanimously agreed.

There was then a presentation by Thames Water about their future plan for providing enough water for the growing population of London and the South East. They are currently consulting on the plan which includes Abingdon Reservoir mk 3 or 4. This time they appear to have made more of an effort to screen the high 20 meter mounds that will enclose the reservoir. If allowed, the reservoir could provide water from the 2040s.

County Councillor Emily Smith presented a comprehensive report on what is happening at the County Council but drew attention to three things. Each County Councillor now has £15K for their division and groups can apply at www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/councillorpriorityfund. People can now become super users on www.fixmystreet.com to actually monitor and book in repairs in their area. The third was a consultation about Dunmore Road is happening.

Then we got into the main body of the council meeting and looked at the minutes from the last Town Council. The meeting discussed the BID again and how it could be wound up, and the wisdom of doing this. Mike Badcock, the leader of the council, said he had been assured that letters demanding payment of the levy will not be pursued through the court.

The Ock Bridge has re-opened.

A new town bus service financed by the Town Council is on its way from December.

There was a question from Monica Lovatt asking why 5 of the last 10 grant applications had been declined. Was it because the committee was running out of money for the year, or did the grants not meet the criteria. It was the latter.

On the museum committee we hear that, sadly, Matt, the museum manager, has left. So he will be a great loss to the council.

Building work continues in the Guildhall and is scheduled for completion from 1st September.

Then back to the BID and we heard the VWHDC is reviewing legislation into winding up a BID.
Plastic
It was agreed filming of council meetings could happen.

St Nicolas Clock, for which the Town Council is responsible, is working again. The Town Council will also take on responsibility for St Nicolas’ closed churchyard.

The council then came to the decision whether to agree to the cinema operating in the Guildhall, and the town council leader proposed an amendment which seemed to move the decision back to the finance and general purposes committee, subject to certain things being agreed between the parties beforehand. Everybody agreed with the amendment. The discussion was very difficult to follow and so I may have missed the final outcome.

The feedback from the Community Led Plan discussions was given and it appears to have generated various other volunteers taking on actions to keep Abingdon litter free etc. So well done to them.

There followed a proposal to have a Mobiloo at Fun in the Parks at a cost of £490. This will allow some people to attend who could not otherwise, and shows that the council will go the extra mile to make its events accessible to all.

Then came the discussion on plastics and how they are ruining the planet. All were agreed that it was a big problem and we could do our little bit.

6 Comments April 25, 2018

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