Abingdon Town Council Meeting – 23 Nov 2011

November 24, 2011

This was supposed to be a normal council meeting but The Mayor had proposed that Abingdon be renamed as Abingdon-On-Thames and that issue took up most of the meeting.

But other matters first….
Fair Trade Day
During the prayer at the start there was a few moments of silent prayer for Mr Peter Tyrer who died last Friday in a car accident in Kenya – where he led The African Children’s Fund.  He was also treasurer of the Abingdon-On-Thames Chamber of Commerce and Chairman of Governors at Longworth Primary.  He was one of those people who helps many others and will be impossible to replace. It was front page of the Abingdon Herald this morning and quite a shock to all who knew him.
Town Council Meeting
After prayers the town council moved onto other business …

We were told that the County Council will paint Yellow lines at the top of East St Helen Street to stop any cars or taxis using the old Taxi Ranks.

An old MG could well be hoisted through one of the County Hall Museum windows as part of the permanent display.

Not much scaffolding left now as you can see in the picture of the County Hall above. The Christmas tree has arrived – donated by the Abingdon Market Traders. They have made sure it is very far from the spindly specimen that arrived a year ago which had to be replaced

Going through the planning applications I noted that the Town Council were very much in favour of the proposed changes to the precinct (aka Abbey Shopping Centre) but were against most of the changes to the Ox Pub to Tesco conversion which  subsequently got approved at the district council.

But then I saw elsewhere that the Town Council jubilee committee will be asking Tesco for buns for next years bun throwing.

Also the committee set up to oversea the jubilee celebrations now feel they have gained  a good skill-set at planning events and organising road closures and would also like to co-ordinate the town’s response to the Olympic torch being carried through town.
Town Council Meeting
But the real important issue was whether Abingdon should be renamed as Abingdon-on-Thames. The Mayor said that this name change did not need to cost anything as businesses can just change the name next time they need to order stationary. All the Conservatives councillors voted in favour of this motion. They think Abingdon-On-Thames is a stronger brand name than just Abingdon on its own and will help local business to compete.
Town Council Meeting
The Lib-Dems were split. Half were in favour of the rename but abstained because they thought it needed more thought and consultation before taking such a big step. Another town is going through a similar rename and have done far more investigation and consultation before taking this initial step: namely the soon to be Staines-on-Thames.

The other half of the Lib-Dems voted against. One said it was pretentious. Another said it devalued the unique status of Abingdon by adding unnecessary words.
Town Council Meeting
It has been Abingdon-On-Thames before as can be seen in this sign hidden behind greenery on Broad Street …
Town Council Meeting
and this sign on Ock Street. One councillor harked back to those pre 1974 days when Abingdon was a Borough saying “I look on this area of Oxfordshire as occupied Berkshire.”

I guess this rename will be a fairly popular attempt to boost Abingdon’s status and trade, but I am not sure yet how deep the rename must go and how it will play out. The district council must approve it first.  I have registered a new domain name for this blog just in case, and I see that somebody has already snapped up the domain abingdononthames.com a day ago. It is now parked on one of those domain resale sites – probably in the hope of making money from it.

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23 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. rudi  |  November 24, 2011 at 8:59 am

    always thought we were called abingdon on thames anyway – can’t imagine why people objected – sometimes i think some politicians object to what the opposing side suggest regardless of what the merit is simply to disagree – bunch of children really.

  • 2. Old Ghost  |  November 24, 2011 at 9:44 am

    I’m not sure how much ‘research’ a simple name change needs either. Staines has a real problem, made worse by the ‘on’ appendage really. Lucky they don’t live on the river ‘Carpet’ or ‘Bedsheet’. It’s just an unfortunate name, a bit like Slough, or Piddlehinton.

    I grew up with Abingdon-on-Thames so don’t really see the need for a fuss – it locates the town on the Thames and in the South country…. But again, I didn’t realise that anybody didn’t consider Abingdon as occupied Berkshire, occupied county capital at that. But maybe I’m behind the times?

  • 3. Colin  |  November 24, 2011 at 9:53 am

    My family moved to Abingdon in 1976, (Council exchange, the GLC and Oxford City, purchased and finished a council estate).

    When Dad applied to move ‘here’, it was, I believe, only just in Berkshire, and a borough of Abingdon-on-Thames. They spoke with Airey Neave (correct spelling?), at the Houses of Parliament, the application was on the GLC books for many years, with multiple choices in counties. (Dorset/Hampshire/Kent as well as Oxfordshire and Berkshire if I remember correctly).

    When we moved here Late- November 1976. Thriving Market town, MG had rumours of closing,so the station was used, thriving businesses.

  • 4. Isabel  |  November 24, 2011 at 10:45 am

    Rudi, my sentements exactly. I moved to Abingdon-on-Thames in 1967 and I always assumed that was the title of our lovely town. I’ve seen it on postcards, christmas cards and street signs (not forgetting the TV News this morning).
    Long may it remain Abingdon-on-Thames.

  • 5. John  |  November 24, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    Whyis the council “very much in favour” of the Abbey Centre development? Nobody I’ve met is!!??. I can’t imagine anything more destructive of this Town.

  • 6. Cassandra  |  November 24, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    Likewise John. Perhaps this reflects how much consultation with the ‘townspeople’ actually took place. Does this mean that, if they support the Abbey Centre development, we shall be lumbered with whichever of the Supermarket giants who choose to fund it?

  • 7. Iain  |  November 24, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Just to pick up on point raised by John and Cassandra. I haven’t checked back on the minutes that backstreet is refering to in the blog, but from memory I think these refer to the plans for phase 1 of the proposed development which is currently seeking planning approval. This concerns the revamping of the existing precinct and does not include the proposed new supermarket.

    The redevelopment of the charter area would be tge second phase of the project, and it is this proposal that would be reliant on the inclusion of a supermarket. My understanding is that this proposal is at an earlier stage in the process and is not expected to come up for planning consent until the later part of next year.

  • 8. Millihelen  |  November 24, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    The consultation on the Abbey Shopping Centre was conducted by the Vale of White Horse district council.
    the Town Council is a consultee on this process and not a decision maker.
    It is my understanding that the Town Council Planning Committee did not raise any objections to the plans.
    Separate plans will be for the Charter redevelopment.

    Iain – please correct me if I have got any of this wrong!

  • 9. Cassandra  |  November 24, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    Thank you for the information. However, I am interested to know which body/organisation will be financing the Abbey Shopping Centre development? Are you saying that the Shopping Centre development is not dependent on the subsequent Charter development? I must have misunderstood one of the people I spoke to in the ‘community shop’ during the consultation day?.

  • 10. Iain  |  November 24, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Helen – pretty much my understanding. The consultation run by vale iwas on the planning principles to be applied in assessing both tge bury street and charter schemes.

    The planning application is only for the bury street part of the scheme. Atc are a consultee and I believe we’re broadly supportive. The planning authority is the vale who make any decision. I’m not sure of current state of play on this decision.

    The charter is a separate plan and will be subject to a separate application next year.

    Cassandra – both schemes will be financed by scottish widows who are the leaseholder of the precinct and some of the charter.. The schemes are separate and stand or their own merits from a planning perspective. Of course once they receive consent it is up to scottish widows as to when and whether they proceed with each development. It’s further complicated by the vale being the freeholder, who can use their ability to grant extensions to the lease in order to encourage Scottish widows to make the investment.

    My understanding is that the bury street development will require sw to invest about £3m with the charter development being much bigger at about £50m. It’s not public money being invested.

    I hope this helps.

  • 11. abingdon born & bred  |  November 24, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    There are so many points raised here regarding the name of the town & also the propesed development to the shopping centre. But I believe the first part of this story has been overshadowed by these. A man was in Africe working with the local community to give the children a better life, he was then taken from the world in devestating circumstances. Peter will be missed by many both in this country & also in Africa.
    When you think about this devesating event, does it really matter what name we have on our signs?

  • 12. carryonupthethames  |  November 25, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Such a shame an attempt to re-brand a town and take advantage of it’s unique selling point (The Thames) gets such negative coverage from a blog set up to showcase the benefits of our fine town. One wonders if there are any better suggestions??

  • 13. Kat P  |  November 25, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    I’m happy for the Town Council and local businesses to promote Abingdon as ‘Abingdon-on-Thames’. it makes sense to use our biggets natural asset to promote the town.

    However i wouldn’t spend time, money and effort making any formal change to the Town’s name. There is little actual befeit to doing so.

  • 14. davidofabingdon  |  November 25, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    As i posted on the Herald website:

    I have no objection to the renaming per se, although I think there may be better things for the town council to be spending its energies on.

    However, I do wonder whether the name chosen is the best.

    “Abingdon-on-Thames” has an unfortunate pairing of an “on-on” sound. Better might have been to proppose “Abingdon-upon-Thames”. It just sounds better. But I have not heard of much consultation going on about this before the vote was taken.

  • 15. davidofabingdon  |  November 25, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    If the concern is to return the town to its original name then of course we ought to go back to being called Aebbeduna, like we were in the good old days before traffic congestion or Tescos.

  • 16. Iain  |  November 25, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    Anyone hear ‘listen against’ last night on radio 4.

    Abingdon makes a guest appearance including the napalming of the fairacres retail park.

    Very funny but not sure it will bring the tourists flocking in – worth a listen though.

  • 17. davidofabingdon  |  November 26, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    yeah, I heard it. I suspect being described as “the worst place in Britain” and “the heart of darkness” may be a teensy weensy image problem even when the town council has “branded” us.

  • 18. Iain  |  November 26, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Still – we came out ahead of ducklington who were carpet bombed!

  • 19. davidofabingdon  |  November 26, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Is Napalming better than carpet bombing?

    Ducklington is so small it would not need a carpet bomb. A rug bomb would be sufficient.

  • 20. Iain  |  November 26, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    That’s true – i’mstill puzzling on how they managed to destroy staples so thoroughly!

  • 21. John  |  November 26, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    anyway go to thiei-player(Thursday) at 16.15mins to make up your own mind! (i liked “Heart of darkness!!)

  • 22. John  |  November 26, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    anyway go to the i-player (Thursday) at 16.15mins to make up your own mind! (i liked “Heart of darkness!!)

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