Filed under: politics

Empty state of Old Abbey House brought to mind by blue plastic sheets

Empty state of Old Abbey House
The empty state of Old Abbey House has been brought to mind by the blue plastic sheets that have appeared on the porch roof. It has been empty since Abingdon-on-Thames Town Council and the Citizens Advice moved out of the building in May 2014, and was boarded up in October 2018 to stop vandalism.

During this time the property department at the Vale of White Horse District Council has been outsourced and brought back in house again, and that probably resulted in a lack of continuity in the people dealing with Old Abbey House. Reading the minutes of the VWHDC Joint Scrutiny Committee on 7th March 2019 I read ‘The property management and facilities management services were brought back in house as it became clear that it was not possible for the contracts to deliver the anticipated level of savings. Since bringing the services back in house, they had been co-located in one property team.’ 

So things should get better from now once the ‘one property team’ gets established.

It was suggested in the Abingdon annual parish meeting that providers of social housing will be contacted to see if they can use Old Abbey House. This is in line with previous announcements by the district council. The district council has said inbetween whiles ‘Working with Oxfordshire County Council and other partners, the district council is conducting a ‘one public estate’ review to look at how we can use Old Abbey House alongside other key public buildings and sites in the town.’

In their current newsletter the Friends of Abingdon say ‘The Friends are aware of several people who have contacted the District Council in the last 2-3 years with serious proposals to take on Old Abbey House for various purposes, all involving some degree of public use. It is disappointing that officers and councillors have declined to engage with them.’ 

It would be good if such options could be reconsidered by the incoming council after the election, and the new ‘one property team’.

8 Comments March 28, 2019

Abingdon – Local Election Countdown – still time

Local Election Countdown
The district council has sent out a press release: Time to choose who represents you on local issues – make sure you’re registered to vote in time for the local elections on May 2nd. It includes an election countdown:

3 April –  deadline for candidate nominations ( take forms to district council office in Milton Park – pictured above)
4 April – details of candidates published

8 April – voters should receive a polling card (if registered to vote before 8th March)
12 April – deadline to register to vote in this election
15 April – deadline for applications to vote by post (5pm) – to download an application form visit
19 April – voters should receive a polling card (if registered to vote from 8th March to 12 April)
24 April – deadline for applications to vote by proxy (5pm)
26 April – people expecting a postal vote should call 01235 422528 to request a replacement if it has not arrived.

2 May – voting day (7am to 10pm)
3 May – election results

Residents not already registered at their current address can do so now at or by calling 01235 422528 for a registration form. Anybody who is not sure if they are registered to vote can check by emailing with their name and address or by calling 01235 422528.

Abingdon residents are asked to vote for district councillors who will represent their local area and help make decisions on issues such as recycling collections, planning, housing, parking, leisure, and half the town’s play areas.

Abingdon residents are also asked to vote for town councillors who will represent their communities on issues that affect them, by commenting on planning applications and other proposals, and maintaining the Guildhall and County Hall Museum and Market Place,  allotments, cemeteries, and half the town’s play areas.

19 Comments March 27, 2019

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

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