Town Council – 28th January

January 29, 2015

Town Council
The Abingdon-on-Thames town council meeting in the Guildhall began with a presentation by the Abingdon Carbon Cutters about Abingdon as a town in transition to a more sustainable future.

We heard that the Mayor’s quiz made a £2000 profit for charity thanks mainly to Paul Mayhew-Archer, the question master. The Mayor’s Civic Dinner is on Friday 13th February. It includes a meal of local produce, fair trade wine, and Scottish Dancing.

The museum are aiming to put on a John Piper exhibition and would like anybody with an original John Piper picture, or print – of a local scene – to get in touch.
Town Council
The Roysse Court Gardens are to be worked on by council staff this early spring and the council want to remove the fountain so the area can be repaved. Anybody who wants a fountain and is willing to collect should get in touch. Postage would be hefty.

Groups interested in taking part in Fun in the Parks can apply in February.

Next year’s budget was agreed. All the main items had been talked over already in committees and in Conservative or Lib-Dem group meetings and so they were agreed with little discussion. What caused a lot of discussion was whether the Mayor should get an additional £500 allowance. The proposal was eventually voted down.
Town Council
The Guildhall is being closed on 31st August for re-development, lasting no less than 12 months and likely to be 18 months. The exact re-development details are still under discussion but will involve improved accessibility overall, and a major change to the large Abbey Hall with cinema screen and raked seating.

As the older buildings had already been renovated, I was suprised to hear that they too will close for  ’various heritage improvements’. All user groups including the Town Council committee meetings will be looking for rooms during the closure period. The intention is to make it a much better venue and attract lot more groups and events.

Filed under: politics

41 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. ppjs  |  January 29, 2015 at 5:33 am

    Two or three years ago, there was an excellent John Piper exhibition at Dorchester Abbey. They probably have details of where the exhibits came from.

  • 2. lynn Carter  |  January 29, 2015 at 8:28 am

    Such a shame to hear that the council is getting rid of the fountain, its a monument that should be kept. when the fountain is packed with flowers it looks wonderful, Re-sight it in the gardens in the Abbey! and make it a center piece of the gardens for the summer

  • 3. Col  |  January 29, 2015 at 9:39 am

    Friday the 13th,

  • 4. daniel  |  January 29, 2015 at 10:13 am

    Apologies…am hijacking this article to say that Lodge Hill has just got funding.

    It is great to say that all the commom sense arguments about Abingdon needing infrastructure – desperately, have been heeded and listened to.

    Unfortunately, we can not say this, as this has not been listened to at all.

    All the reasons for Lodge Hill have been ignored. We are only getting it because of the 1000 houses at North Abingdon that we are getting.

    So…2 steps forwards,3 steps back!

    http://www.heraldseries.co.uk/news/11755988.Cash_for_A34_and_Oxpens_part_of___118m_bonanza_for_county/?ref=ar

  • 5. Captainkaos2  |  January 29, 2015 at 10:47 am

    Unfortunately this will do very little to reduce congestion at the South of town, ie Drayton rd, Culham rd and Ock St, there’s a good case that a second river crossing is more important than lodge hill works and one was promised as s pre condition to Abits

  • 6. daniel  |  January 29, 2015 at 11:08 am

    ..with an election coming up, which ‘team’ allowed AbITS to happen, without that second river crossing happening then…does anyone know? I assume it was either the blue team, or the yellow team that failed? Or was it both?

  • 7. Col  |  January 29, 2015 at 11:13 am

    It explains the OCC ‘announcing’ the new Park and Ride to be proposed for Lodge Hill. Closing all the Oxford City managed Park and Rides.
    (Never told them allegedly).

  • 8. Dunmore Resident  |  January 29, 2015 at 11:13 am

    Whilst I welcome the announcement, assuming it really happens and isnt just a pre-election pledge, that will be cancelled post May…

    I find it strange that the Vale ‘plan’ is still under consultation, and hasn’t been approved yet, yet the herald is claiming that..

    ‘opening it to southbound traffic, to clear the way for 600 new homes in North Abingdon’

    That development hasn’t been approved yet, not even close..

    Personally I’ll believe it when I see it, and think what is more likely, is that it will only happen when the developers who want to build these 600 ( actually ~ 1000 now ) houses, agree to fund the majority cost.

    Right now, I’d put it down as an election ‘promise’, rather than a done deal.

  • 9. daniel  |  January 29, 2015 at 11:22 am

    …I think, if a developer has decided to build houses…then we are going to get the houses.

    Whether we get any corresponding “improvements” in infrastructure; we might. But we might not. One thing that we can be sure of…if we do, it will be too little, too late….

  • 10. Col  |  January 29, 2015 at 11:31 am

    Got an email from LibDem Layla Moran,

    “Today the Liberal Democrats in Government have announced a £9.9m boost to the Oxfordshire Regional Growth fund. This includes extra money to go towards improving the A34 and especially for improvements to Lodge Hill. ( on Lodge Hill, we do not know yet if it is enough for a full diamond interchange, but we will keep you updated with developments)”.

  • 11. ppjs  |  January 29, 2015 at 11:46 am

    I just tried to discover (and failed – probably my incompetence) to discover what the recent roadworks for the A34 – Oxford southern bypass cost. That was only(!) an upgrade of existing roads. A full diamond interchange at Lodge Hill would require building new roads from scratch and would be (I imagine) far more expensive. £9.9 might do it – or might not.
    It is just one of several on the “wants” list. What is not on many people’s want list is extra taxation to provide the wherewithal.

  • 12. Dunmore Resident  |  January 29, 2015 at 11:47 am

    Daniel
    …I think, if a developer has decided to build houses…then we are going to get the houses.

    I’m not sure a developer really does want to build them tho ?

    I mean, seriously, who is going to want to live 50 yards from the A34 !!

    At the moment isnt the plan just a way of the Vale allocating enough ’space’ to meet its targets, not to actually start building on those sites.

    There is a long, ( and painful ), way to go before any houses are actually built there.

  • 13. Hester  |  January 29, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    The good news is that the money has been added to the Oxfordshire Growth Fund which is not the province of any one Council, but a Local Enterprise Partnership so hopefully applying joined-up thinking. It appears to be in recognition of the already existing problems with the A34 which can seriously impact the local economy, regardless of any new housing developments.
    The bad news is that Lodge Hill is only one of 4 or more projects mentioned in the Press Release. So, although welcome it is clearly only a “contribution” to the total costs. We must hope that our elected representatives will fight a) to ensure that Lodge Hill gets a fair share of this money and b) that the rest of the package is put together ASAP to enable the work to happen
    PS I see there is no mention of this on Oxford County Councils list of transport projects for the next 6 years!

  • 14. Steve  |  January 29, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    Election spin is speeding up. Any relief to the Abingdon traffic would be welcome and whomever claims it will gain votes. Will it be forgotten after May…. probably, but I hope not.

  • 15. Davidofluton  |  January 29, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    Is the guildhall cinema back on the table then?

  • 16. Captainkaos2  |  January 29, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    Theomey for the McDonald’s round about jet lane was supposed to have been ring fenced as part of Abits but that never happened and the money is somewhere ?

  • 17. daniel  |  January 29, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    Ppjs – according to the big yellow signs around and about that Hinksey work, the signs where they appear to be patting themselves on the back for a job well done… Those say “£7m spent improving your roads”. Not sure if that’s the info you want…or even if its accurate though!

    Meanwhile ” Lodge Hill” has been an issue that needed addressing since I have been in Abingdon.

    The whole time the yellow teams bloke was in…nothing got done about it….and the whole time the blue teams lady had been in….nothing has been done about it.

    The same goes for the opportunities to alleviate the Drayton Rd traffic. Opportunities have come and now irreversibly gone…with the traffic only worse in all their collective tenures. And why…as Hester points out above (and I heard at a meeting a few years ago), the Abingdon traffic is not on any wish list, not on any list of hot spots, not on any list of Amy kind for road problems that need sorting. No doubt not helped because no one who represents Abingdon is on the Cabinets that make the decisions.

    I will bet you 50p that we’ll be having this same discussion in 5 years time.

    Of course, having said that…once those crossings are built on Marcham Rd…I’ll happily eat my words, with sauce on!

  • 18. Captainkaos2  |  January 29, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    The money for the McDonald’s round about jet lane was supposed to have been ring fenced as part of Abits but that never happened and the money is somewhere ?

  • 19. ppjs  |  January 30, 2015 at 6:07 am

    Thanks, Daniel. £7m is what I thought I had seen. Given what Hester and others have posted, £9.9m isn’t anywhere near enough to cover Lodge Hill – which is only part of what the proposed money is intended for.

    It would be interesting to have a proper costing for a full interchange at Lodge Hill; my guess is that it would come in at about £15m, once you’ve dealt with buying land and all the grading work required to prepare the site for actual road-laying. And how long would it take?

    It is needed, but it’s not going to be an enjoyable period while construction is under way – if it ever happens!!

  • 20. johnithel  |  January 30, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    Lodge Hill is NOT the best place for a south A34 access !! Such a junction would serve far more people if it was made at the Wootton Road junction. This would save drivers 2 or 3 kilometers depending on the starting point. Look at a map!!

  • 21. Neil Fawcett  |  January 30, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    The estimate I’ve heard for the Lodge Hill junction is £13.5m.

    Any funding package would need to come from a number of sources, of which the Growth fund, which, as Hester says, is managed by the Local Enterprise Partnership, would be a large part.

  • 22. daniel  |  January 31, 2015 at 12:50 am

    …I’m not really bothered where the money comes from; or how mych it costs. Almost everybody in Abingdon agrees that there is dire need for major infrastructure improvement for one of Oxfordshire’s biggest communities outside of the city.

    Either the electorate is right, and we need this, or we aren’t. Either the politicians will bring it to fruition, or they won’t. They haven’t so far. We will continue to judge them on that basis.

  • 23. ppjs  |  January 31, 2015 at 7:12 am

    Thanks for that ball-park figure, Neil. My guesstimate was only 10% out, and that sort of overspend can easily happen if contractors hit a snag.

    I agree with Daniel that the work needs doing, but I am also interested in where the money comes from. The cake is only so big, and we can only take so many slices from it. Money spent on roads (and we do need significant expenditure) is money not spent on health, or policing, or whatever; and there are urgent needs in those areas too.

  • 24. daniel  |  January 31, 2015 at 9:03 am

    Perhaps I was a little flippant, and the grumpy side of too many port and lemons.

    My point is that; the reason this infrastructure has not happened to date…is NOT because of money, or lack of it…or even to do with cake. It is due to lack of decision to actually do it.

    Remember, Abingdon and its infrastructure may be important and urgent to US, but Abingdons roads di not exist on any list of ‘hot spots’ that the CC may have. Even on a “money no object” wish list, Abingdon does not factor.

    This isn’t a lack of money issue. It is something else. What? I am not sure….but I fear it can only cone down to the influence our elected are able to bore down on the decision makers…or something else?

    Perhaps we need to be offering the right kind of “cake” to the decision makers!?

  • 25. Julian  |  January 31, 2015 at 11:26 am

    Just as a matter of interest, what would a second river crossing cost? Bridges were built many years ago, without the aid of modern machinery and techniques, so why is it such a massive “pie-in-the-sky” unthinkable obstacle now? I have a radical thought…why don’t we start off the fundraising for this “unobtainable” dream, and shame the powers that be into doing something as well?! If we just wait for the Councillors/highways/government to do something, then guess what…..it ain’t going to happen!

  • 26. Iain  |  January 31, 2015 at 11:41 am

    Last estimate i heard for second river crossing was approx £20m. This was several years ago and i think they said about double the cost of the lodge hill interchange so probably nearer £30m now, plus i believe there are also challenges about siting and land ownership.

    I agree with earlier posters that this plus sorting out the capacity of the a34 is what would be required to make a significant impact on the south abingdon traffic, in the short to medium term at least, although when we all pack more people into the same area and use our cars more often then the situation will come back later. Fundamentally there are only so many cars that a town layed out for medieval traffic patterns can accomodate.

  • 27. Julian  |  January 31, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    So why allow proposals for MORE houses and cars?! No more…We are full! There are plenty of areas around the vale with nothing at all at the moment…but no wait, if developers have to build a new eco town with all of the associated infrastructure that they’ll HAVE to put in, then that means less profits for everyone involved! Far more profitable to tack on 1000 homes on the edge of a town and use the already overstretched infrastructure, then walk away with their megabucks, never to have to give it another thought, and move on to the next town or village to ruin!

  • 28. Geoff Bailey  |  January 31, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    The closure of the Abbey Hall (long forecasted) for badly needed redevelopment raises issues with other groups that currently use the hall I.e.ADFAS and The National Trust etc.To me there seem very few acceptable alternatives in the area especially for daytime use. We shall have to wait and see…..maybe no Mayors Quizzes for bit?
    As to the various proposed development s re traffic congestion and housing it is beginning to look like a chicken and egg situation.

  • 29. Iain  |  January 31, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    Again not a simple issue.

    We have an expanding population (mainly due to longer life expectancy rather than imigration before the ukippers start), and as a society we need to provide places for people to live. Understandably many people want to live near their families opand/or their work so settled areas become more densely populated.

    The local authorities have little room for manouvre (although interestingly they’d have a little more if we went unitary for oxfordshire) as the government requires that local authorities set a plan for housing in line with expected population expansion. For the vale this means about 20000 new homes (some people take issue with the figure but i think still generally agree that its something around 19000 so the overall issue remains). Abingdon has got about 5% of the total and we represent about a third of the vales population. To be honest whatever solution they offered up would be unpopular except with people who cant find somewhere to live.

    Personally i think there needs to be a more strategic approach nationally on housing density, looking at how do you move more work, starting with the public sector (including decision making jobs not just the call centres), to areas where there is already surplus housing or room for brownfield expansion. The bbc’s move to salford is a good example but is unfortunately an exception rather than the rule at present.

  • 30. Hester  |  January 31, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    Thanks Geoff for bringing the discussion back to the Guildhall. Tthose who will be looking for alternative venues while it is closed might consider using the Abbey Buildings: the Unicorn Theatre seats 90: it is heated so usable all year round and has a proper projector, screen, microphones etc. The Long Gallery is usable for events needing a flat floor. More information at http://www.friendsofabingdon.org.uk/abbey-buildings/venue-hire/
    There is also information about othe venues on the town website at http://abingdon.gov.uk/system/files/sites/default/files/towncouncil/Abingdon%20Venues%202013%20updated_0.doc

  • 31. Hester  |  January 31, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    PS should have said that the Long Gallery is only usable May-September.

  • 32. daniel  |  February 1, 2015 at 2:02 am

    …unfortunately, despite an appetite to discuss and thrash out the infrastructure issues and the concatenation of failures to bring them to fruition…there is no where to discuss them, other than on this blog, and others….

    To answer a point or two above…it would indeed be a shame to increase our hard earned taxes, or sack nurses and police officers in order to pay for things like infrastructure. Why are you looking to increase taxes or sack people – that makes it sound like a tough choice is the only choice…

    Since 2010 this government has spent £100 million on taxis and luxury travel – 1st class rail and air fares. If they can spend that much money, getting from place to place…just think what they could do if they really wanted to cut costs – or spend better!

    Sack nurses if you want…I’d rather get the money from somewhere else!

    Suggesting we need to cut nurses if we want infrastructure is as poor an argument as telling us its a “chicken and egg situation”. No it isn’t. We have had our expansion…since the 80s, 90s(?) Now we want our infrastructure.

    Its only a carrot and stick scenario if our leaders think we’re donkeys. And its only chicken and eggs….if they think we’re all foul!!!

  • 33. daniel  |  February 1, 2015 at 2:02 am

    …unfortunately, despite an appetite to discuss and thrash out the infrastructure issues and the concatenation of failures to bring them to fruition…there is no where to discuss them, other than on this blog, and others….

    To answer a point or two above…it would indeed be a shame to increase our hard earned taxes, or sack nurses and police officers in order to pay for things like infrastructure. Why are you looking to increase taxes or sack people – that makes it sound like a tough choice is the only choice…

    Since 2010 this government has spent £100 million on taxis and luxury travel – 1st class rail and air fares. If they can spend that much money, getting from place to place…just think what they could do if they really wanted to cut costs – or spend better!

    Sack nurses if you want…I’d rather get the money from somewhere else!

    Suggesting we need to cut nurses if we want infrastructure is as poor an argument as telling us its a “chicken and egg situation”. No it isn’t. We have had our expansion…since the 80s, 90s(?) Now we want our infrastructure.

    Its only a carrot and stick scenario if our leaders think we’re donkeys. And its only chicken and eggs….if they think we’re all foul!!!

  • 34. Julian  |  February 1, 2015 at 10:22 am

    Iain. You make some interesting points…but… We are already overpopulated for the available infrastructure iin this town?! And as for, “as a society we need to provide places for people to live. “….how many exactly of the proposed housing on the two North Abingdon and one Drayton road developments will actually be affordable to first time buyers?! Very few from what I have heard about the 4 bedroom/3 storey homes planned for Drayton rd…so that blows that argument straight out of the water? There has also been arguments that the population growth is vastly over exaggerated and that it will actually peak and start to fall in the not so distant future. Again I have no problem with additional homes being built, BUT the infrastructure MUST be sorted before one brick is allowed to be layed!

  • 35. daniel  |  February 2, 2015 at 12:03 am

    This article, and the issues and concerns raised in the comments, are sadly about to drop off the first page.

    When they do…doesn’t mean they will be forgotten…

  • 36. Hester  |  February 2, 2015 at 9:49 am

    Daniel – it would be good to think that the forthcoming elections will provide an opportunity to raise these issues: Councillors and MPs are the only people who can actually make the changes happen, so they are the ones we need to convince.
    Hopefully some of those who feel strongly will stand themselves, otherwise we need to really speak to those who come knocking on our doors, email or write to existing councillors standing for re-election and go along to any hustings that are organised.
    Also get our friends engaged in the issues – one of the most interesting things that has happened in Scotland recently is the disappearance of the traditional apathy about politics.

  • 37. daniel  |  February 2, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    I disagree. The councillors do not make policy, or decisions. They are just “the face” as those choices made elsewhere are acted out.

    For example, Every councillor who might knock on my door, I know already doesn’t want the Drayton Rd development. But it has made no difference. So what are they going to tell me?

    Some will likely agree that we need infrastructure before development…but they can’t do anything about that.

    I think, as it slowly becomes apparent how powerless we and they are, and I think apathy grows, not lessens.

    Either accept our fate, and the changes we will get, or don’t. Either way, they won’t be changed by who we might vote for.

  • 38. Neil Fawcett  |  February 2, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    daniel – I understand your feelings – and it is certainly the case that local councillors at every level are operating within constraints laid down elsewhere.

    However local councillors still do have control over some decisions.

    Two years ago the idea of a full interchange at Lodge Hill was dismissed in the County Transport Plan. It is now back in the draft of the next version Transport Plan, has been discussed as a priority by the Local Enterprise Partnership and the Vale has now said it is willing to put some funding in up front.

    This is down to concerted effort on the part of some local councillors (including Alison Rooke and me on the County Council) and a number of local business people using their influence, and down, frankly, to Oxford West & Abingdon being a marginal parliamentary seat.

    You are right to point out that it hasn’t happened yet, large schemes like this never happen quickly, but it is clearly now firmly on the agenda again.

    As for a second river crossing, yes that is an even more expensive scheme, and will take longer, and there will be a lot of arguments about how and where it is done.

    My personal view at this stage is that the best chance of it happening is if it is seen to support other projects such as Science Vale and the development of the rail network. there is a good potential tie in with the proposed expansion of Culham Station inot an ‘Abingdon Parkway’ station, as part of the East-West Rail route growth.

    In my view the job of local councillors is to spot opportunities for external funding and pursue them relentlessly.

    Sometimes we will make progress and sometimes we will fail. The alternative is to elect local councillors who don’t even try.

  • 39. Julian  |  February 2, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    Culham Station / ‘Abingdon Parkway’ will be a nightmare with the present traffic situation. (Not forgetting that it will get worse with the extra 1200 houses!). I travel toThame and back daily and the section between Abingdon and Culham and vice versa can take longer that the whole of the rest of the journey! Far better to think about a new rail station behind Audlett Drive area?

  • 40. daniel  |  February 2, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    Neil, thank you for your response; it gives some reassurance, and I am grateful for that.

  • 41. Neil Fawcett  |  February 2, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    Julian – other things being equal I’d agree with you, but the proposal to expand Culham is tied in with it being one of the sites set for major employment growth, and that is what could justify the funding.

    There is a real risk that the planned expansion of Culham is going to make traffic a whole lot worse anyway.

    Expanding Radley Station would be another option. In fact ‘behind Audlett Drive’ would be pretty close to Radley Station.

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