Engagement in the village
Sometime last year Carrie Hart invited her fellow parish councillor Jim Donahue over for dinner. She also invited her neighbour Clare Langan as she had a feeling the two would get on. They did and shortly afterwards Jim invited Clare to go with him to a photographic exhibition in London, their first date.
Last weekend Jim and Clare announced their engagement. Jim says “we are planning our wedding locally for this summer when my family will be coming over from various parts of the USA. Clare has just sold her house, Metten Cottage in the High Street, and I am selling mine in Hillside. We hope to find a third house in the village as we plan to stay here amongst our friends in this wonderful community.”
Clare studied at the Royal Academy of Music, winning the prestigious flute prize, and has a busy concert schedule that includes performances for cruise ship passengers. Jim, who arrived in this country from the USA nearly twenty years ago, is a project manager with Vodaphone and is currently working on a mobile payments service for African countries.
Date/Time : Wednesday, 28th December 2016 14:41
Power tools stolen from garden sheds
Manor Road and Hardwick Road have been hit by thefts from garden sheds in the run-up to Christmas.
At about 2.30 am on Wednesday 14th December a leaf blower of the backpack type was stolen from Jack Dabrowski’s greenhouse in Manor Road.
The Police reported today that between midnight and 9 am on Saturday 17th December three secure sheds in Hardwick Road were entered. A strimmer and a hedge cutter were taken. Police are appealing for witnesses and asking anyone with information to call 101.
Date/Time : Monday, 19th December 2016 15:52
Donations sought for war memorial plan
Goring Heath parish chairman Peter Dragonetti has reported good progress towards the plan to reconstruct to its original height the war memorial belonging to the two Whitchurch communities. The project was initiated by Martin Wise of Whitchurch Hill in 2014. A subsequent survey conducted in Whitchurch Hill/Goring Heath showed strong support for restoring the memorial.
A comparison of the tall original cross, damaged in a 1990 storm, with its shorter replacement, can be seen here.
An approach in 2014 by Goring Heath parish council to Whitchurch parish council to share the cost of restoration failed to generate support. But the Whitchurch parish council elected in 2015 conducted a survey of its constituents a year ago which attracted 52 responses. Of these, 33 favoured the most extensive option of a full height cross, a plaque, cleaning and landscaping, then estimated at £19,000, while 12 favoured a full height cross without any landscaping, 3 wanted to keep the present low cross, and 4 favoured only cleaning the memorial.
Undeterred by the initial lack of enthusiasm from Whitchurch, Goring Heath parish council hired an architect to prepare drawings and approached the War Memorial Trust. The Trust agreed to fund 75% of the cost of cleaning and restoration, amounting to £3,450, but would not contribute to the landscaped surround and would not allow an interpretive board to accompany the memorial. Peter Dragonetti said last week that the estimated cost of the project was now £9,000 for full height restoration, professional cleaning and improvements to the immediate surround. The expected grant, supplemented by donations already made (enhanced by Gift Aid), amounts to a fund of around £7,000.
Further donations from individuals or companies are now sought towards the remaining £2,000. If you would like to donate, please email indicating how much you would like to give.
The intention is to complete the project without further cost to either of the parish councils, in time for the centenary of the Armistice in November 2018.
Date/Time : Monday, 12th December 2016 11:20
Parish Council agrees to back 143 Bus (Updated)
A deputation from Whitchurch Hill swelled the numbers at the Whitchurch parish council meeting on Monday, wanting us to support the scheme for the 143 bus service to be financed jointly by the two parishes.
David Pearson from Whitchurch Hill said that support for their petition had been received from 150 households, representing well over 200 people from the two communities who had at some time used the bus, in favour of financial support through increased council tax.
Councillor David Bowen explained that there were currently legal limits that would not allow a full year’s support by Whitchurch parish council. However chairman Keith Brooks suggested that an election of councillors could be held next May so that the council would be better qualified to provide the support. At least two-thirds of a council must be elected rather than co-opted if the needed powers are to be available and currently only half the councillors are elected.
Geoff Weir questioned the appropriateness of a 50:50 split of finance between the two parishes when the extra cost of the service based on mileage from Pangbourne would suggest a 25:75 split.
A suggestion for a volunteer-run minibus service was met with reservations on the considerable workload and the likely lack of volunteers.
After discussion the parish council voted unanimously to spend money to try to ensure the 143 bus service continues, up to the applicable legal limit of financial support.
Whitchurch Hill's share of the financial support will be discussed at a meeting of Goring Heath parish council tomorrow.
UPDATE, 10th December: Goring Heath parish council is reported to have resolved to fund its share (assumed as 50%) of the 143 service for the whole of next year.
Date/Time : Wednesday, 07th December 2016 12:36
Support grows for walkway through trees
In October Jean Bull made a suggestion for a raised walkway through the trees to enable pedestrians to avoid the narrow footpath alongside the bend on the Pangbourne approach to the bridge. (News item, 19th October) This idea, subsequently developed by others and submitted last month as a more detailed proposal, was discussed at the parish council meeting on Monday.
Whitchurch Bridge director Geoff Weir said he thought this was likely to be the best solution, the report by consultants Peter Brett Associates having described as hardly feasible the more ambitious plans for widening the embankment. After discussion the parish council voted to support the walkway scheme, referred to as Option D. However it was acknowledged that the walkway route was on land owned by the Boathouse Surgery, whose consent would be needed for the scheme to proceed.
The Option D proposal and suggested route of the walkway can be seen here.
Geoff Weir said that the views of Pangbourne Parish Council on the report and on the walkway proposal are expected, together with comments from any others, before the February deadline. Then the consultants will be asked to develop selected options further and identify any planning difficulties. He suggested the walkway could be built in timber as an alternative to steel.
Our news item of 15th October described the findings of the consultants’ report, which can be read in full on the Bridge Company’s website.
Date/Time : Wednesday, 07th December 2016 10:43
Skating rink draws record numbers to Christmas Market
Last Sunday skating came to Whitchurch for the first time, on panels of synthetic ice forming a slippery rink. The photo shows Christy Riordan and her daughter enjoying the experience.
Caroline Collins, event organiser from the Primary School Parents Association, reports on a most successful fund-raising event held at the school:
“It was a beautiful winter's day for this year's Whitchurch Christmas Market, with the addition of the outdoor ice rink proving a huge draw. The children were full of festive cheer as they skated on the ice, and the hot food and drink stalls around the ice rink proved very popular, helping to warm everyone up. The food was provided by The Bowler serving meatballs and Lina Tandoori’s curry, and hot drinks were served by Camper Café run by Beth Baxter of Whitchurch and a Parent Association run bar serving mulled wine.
Inside, Santa was kept busy in his grotto by all the excited children. There was something for everyone in the main hall with a wonderful selection of local craft and gift stalls including “Love Scarlet” artisan silver designed by a school mum, Made by M.E selling locally produced hand-made crocheted items and Hen House Brewery selling beer brewed and bottled in the village. There was also a musical trio composed of David Mattimoe, Anne and Derek Jones of Whitchurch playing festive tunes while people shopped. A classroom was transformed into a busy café serving home-made mince pies and cakes. In the raffle there were fantastic prizes won, including dinner at the Crooked Billet, a day at Newbury Races and a Sunday lunch at The Elephant Hotel.
We had record attendance this year and the event was a huge success, raising £3,800 for Whitchurch Primary School. A massive thank you to everyone who came along to support us and of course to all our very generous sponsors: The Co-op Pangbourne, The Elephant Hotel, The Ferryboat, The Sun, Warmingham and Whitchurch Bridge Company.”
Date/Time : Tuesday, 06th December 2016 18:40
Support grows for keeping the 143 bus
David Pearson, organiser of the Save Our Bus Action Group, is monitoring the returns from the campaign’s petition, both online and paper, and reports strong support despite some possible snags recently discussed on social media. He says it is vital that residents who are in favour of saving the 143 bus should not be deterred from signing the petition, so that both parish councils are given a clear mandate. To encourage Whitchurch on Thames residents a new poster is being placed around the village and can be seen enlarged here.
Whitchurch residents are encouraged to sign the petition, which can be found on the SOBAG website.
The matter is expected to be discussed at two parish council meetings in the week after next: Whitchurch-on-Thames on Monday 5th December at 8 pm in the Old Stables - all welcome - and Whitchurch Hill/Goring Heath on Thursday 8th.
Date/Time : Sunday, 27th November 2016 11:20
Bus subsidy scheme hits legal snags
Support from residents for saving the 143 Bus is reported to be substantial in both Whitchurch and Whitchurch Hill. However, it now appears that there is a legal restriction on how much a parish council can pay to subsidise a commercial bus operator, and this would only allow about half the required sum to be paid. Furthermore, as Whitchurch parish council currently has only three elected members, the other three being co-opted, an alternative route to a subsidy is unavailable.
Both communities need to raise their share of the funds if the bus service is to continue. The matter is expected to be discussed further at the Whitchurch parish council meeting on 5th December.
(The item above has been abbreviated, 25th November.)
Date/Time : Wednesday, 23rd November 2016 10:03
Record-breaking entry in Art & Craft Exhibition
Sally Woolhouse reports:
This popular annual event, now in its 38th year, was staged by The Whitchurch Society in Whitchurch Village Hall over the weekend of 19th and 20th November. It was, yet again, a very successful and sociable occasion which provided the opportunity for everyone to see and share the results of creative talent in our community. There was a wonderful variety of artwork, craftwork and photographs from young and old, showing a very high standard. This year’s theme for the Joyce Voysey Prize was ‘Trees’ and we had a record-breaking 47 entries for this award this year – obviously an inspiring subject! Colourful displays of work by children at the Pre-School, the Primary School and the Oratory Prep School were very eye-catching and showed great promise. Visitors enjoyed refreshments all weekend and meeting up with friends and neighbours before the prize-giving ceremony at 4.30 pm on Sunday.
Congratulations to all the prize winners.
We were very pleased to welcome Gill Williamson and Alison Livesey from the ArtCafe, who were displaying and selling lovely art and craft items.
Very many thanks to all exhibitors and also to everyone who helped with the setting up, dismantling and running of the show, including serving the refreshments and making delicious cakes. Finally, my special thanks to Sarah Dixon and Peter Smith who helped me in the planning stages and to the Whitchurch Society members who supported us.
Sally Woolhouse (email@example.com)
Date/Time : Monday, 21st November 2016 16:58
Save Our Bus campaign extends down the hill
The Save Our Bus Action Group (SOBAG), based in Whitchurch Hill, is promoting the case for saving the 143 bus service and has organised a petition. The group is asking residents of Whitchurch-on-Thames to click on a button on the SOBAG website to support or oppose the petition, which is open to both communities.
For the bus service to be saved both parish councils will need to agree to pay their share of the subsidy. The annual subsidy of around £16,500 would be split equally between them.
David Pearson, SOBAG campaign organiser, said yesterday that about 40 responses had been received so far on their website and 39 of them had indicated a happiness to fund a continuation of the bus service. A further 40 people had given their support in writing.
We have been asked to clarify, in case anyone is confused, that though Whitchurch Hill is the name of the village up the hill, it is situated within the area represented by Goring Heath Parish Council. The SOBAG petition is addressed jointly to the parish councils of Whitchurch-on-Thames and Goring Heath.
Date/Time : Wednesday, 16th November 2016 15:59
Tickets available for Ferryboat Christmas Concert
The popular Ferryboat Concert of Christmas Music in St Mary’s Church will be on Sunday 4th December, starting at 6.30 pm.
Graham Dednum, landlord of The Ferryboat, says: “This year’s concert will again feature the children from the primary school and this year they will be joined by children from the pre-school, along with several guest soloists and of course The Ferryboat Brass Band.”
“The bell ringers will announce the event with a special peal from 5.45 pm, inviting all to walk along the illuminated driveway to the church. The church doors will open at 6 pm and the band will play a Prelude of Christmas Music as the audience take their seats, prior to the start of the concert at 6.30 pm.”
Graham, who will compère the event, says he wants everyone to join in the carol singing. He hopes the concert will again raise a substantial amount of money for the benefit of the church and the schools.
Tickets are available from The Ferryboat at £10 each (or £5 for under-10s).
The photo shows members of the 28-strong Ferryboat Brass Band raising the roof of St Mary’s at last year’s concert.
Date/Time : Tuesday, 15th November 2016 10:14
Parish Council seeks views on paying for bus
The five-times-a-day, Monday-to-Friday 143 bus service run by West Berkshire Council currently extends across the river to include Whitchurch and Whitchurch Hill. This is thanks to a decision taken by the two parishes to pay for it until the end of next March, after Oxfordshire decided to stop paying their share of the cost earlier this year. A decision now has to be made about what happens after next March.
Whitchurch Parish Council wants to know whether there is sufficient support in the village for a 40p per week increase in council tax on all households which would enable the service to continue, at a cost of around £8,250 per year. (Whitchurch Hill would have to pay a similar sum.) The council is asking for the views of residents by means of this questionnaire survey.
In the survey the council explains: “Since July 2016 Oxfordshire County Council have stopped all Bus subsidies. In Whitchurch and Whitchurch Hill the Parish Council have continued to pay the subsidy to maintain the 143 Bus through the village. The service was reduced to Monday to Fridays to minimise the cost. The 143 Bus provides a vital transport link for people in both Whitchurch on Thames and Whitchurch Hill. Of those passengers using the 143 Bus in the Oxfordshire section beyond Whitchurch Bridge, 64% are either using a Disabled or OAP Bus Pass and it is these people who would be most at risk by losing the 143 Bus. We are now in a position of looking at continuing to fund the Bus in 2017, this is likely to cost around £8250 for the year. This may require an increase in Council Tax of around 40p per week per household to cover the full subsidy. We would like your views on whether the Parish Council should be supporting this subsidy and any other comments you have regarding the bus subsidy.”
Some additional information on how many people are using the service is available from the bus company’s recent two week survey. A total of 88 passengers from the two communities boarded the bus service in the sample fortnight from 12th to 23rd September. Most of these can be assumed to have returned home using a later bus. Usage was split evenly between passengers in Whitchurch (45) and in Whitchurch Hill (43). After a small adjustment for untypical conditions the company says that on a ‘normal’ day the total number of people from the two communities who are using the service seems to be about 11.
Parish chairman Keith Brooks said today: “We would like as many as possible in our community to give their opinion on this issue. Please return the questionnaire with your comments. Those not using the internet should send their comments to our parish clerk Felipa House at 23 Swanston Field, Whitchurch-on-Thames, RG8 7HP.”
The matter is likely to be decided at the next Whitchurch Parish Council meeting on Monday 5th December (not Tuesday 6th as announced earlier), which is open to the public.
Meanwhile a ‘Save Our Bus’ flyer is understood to be in preparation in Whitchurch Hill for notice-boards and distribution to households in the two communities.
Background information can be found in our earlier news items of 4th March and 19th May. The alternative of hiring a Comet minibus from OCC, only available in the middle of the day, was the subject of a news item on 4th September.
Date/Time : Saturday, 12th November 2016 12:42
Come ice skating at the Christmas Market
Don’t miss the Whitchurch Christmas Market at the Primary School on Sunday 4th December, 11 am to 3 pm. For the first time it will include an outdoor ice skating rink.
Caroline Collins, event organiser from the Primary School Parents Association, says:
“As well as the skating, we will have Santa returning in his grotto (tickets £3 including gift and opportunity to write, decorate and post your own letter to Santa), some wonderful local craft and gift stalls and many children's activities.
There will be hot food and drink stalls outside around the ice rink including mulled wine, Camper Café selling teas and coffees, Home-made organic food provided by Farm to Table Produce, The Bowler meatballs and vegballs and curry from Lina Tandoori. We will have an indoor café seating area and be selling home-made mince pies and cakes.
We will also be holding a raffle with some amazing prizes including dinner for two at the Crooked Billet, two premier enclosure badges for Newbury Races, a Sunday roast for four at The Elephant Hotel and lots, lots more.
It's a great community event that is suitable for all ages, with something for everyone to enjoy. All proceeds are in aid of Whitchurch Primary School. We would like to thank our sponsors: The Co-op Pangbourne, The Elephant Hotel, The Ferryboat, The Sun, Warmingham and Whitchurch Bridge Company for their kind support.
To book your slot for ice skating (adults and children), email firstname.lastname@example.org - tickets from £6.
Put the date in your diary and come along for lots of fun-filled festivities!”
More information, especially on the skating, in the event flyer.
Date/Time : Thursday, 10th November 2016 16:29
Bridge to be decorated in the Spring
Having successfully set up the regular Saturday morning Art Café in the Old Stables, artist Gill Williamson (picture) now has her sights set on a new art project. The parapet of the toll bridge, next to the pavement which forms part of the Thames Path, will be adorned with decorative artworks for a fortnight from 29th April.
Gill has launched a weekly “knit and stitch” club on Thursdays (1 to 3 pm or 7 to 9 pm, Old Stables) and wants to encourage all those who have the skill to get knitting, colourfully, and create artworks for the event.
There is more about the project in this Henley Standard article.
Gill can be contacted here.
Date/Time : Saturday, 05th November 2016 14:58
Friends group is open for membership
A newly formed charity The Friends of St Mary’s & St John’s is being supported by an increasing number of people in the Whitchurch community, many of whom are not regular church-goers.
Keith Williams, chairman of the charity, explains that the aim is to bring together the communities of Whitchurch-on-Thames and Whitchurch Hill in support of the preservation of their two churches. People from all faiths and none are welcomed and the charity is run independently from day-to-day church life. All money raised will contribute towards the maintenance, preservation and improvement of the two church buildings and their churchyards. This is for the benefit of current and future generations of Whitchurch and Whitchurch Hill.
At the recent Harvest Supper (picture above, more in Photo Gallery) nearly sixty people from the community enjoyed a three course meal, many joining the group, and the first of a series of monthly Saturday Art Cafés in the Old Stables has also been held. Both events were successful in raising funds for The Friends and further events are planned.
Members of The Friends must agree to make a regular donation to the charity (minimum £10 a year). The address for the Membership Secretary is c/o Eastfield Lodge, Eastfield Lane, Whitchurch-on-Thames, RG8 7EJ.
Date/Time : Monday, 24th October 2016 13:26
The Real Mr Toad is launched at Hardwick
Every seat was taken at a book launch yesterday (21st October) at Hardwick House. A new biography, written by Oxford historian Michael Redley, examines the colourful career of Miriam Rose’s great-great-grandfather Sir Charles Day Rose (1847 – 1913). The author makes a fascinating case for his being the real “Mr Toad” in Kenneth Graham’s The Wind in the Willows.
Research by the author, with help from Miriam, has revealed new aspects of the life of the wealthy sportsman and banker who, after losing two sons in the Boer war, became a liberal politician. As an MP he supported direct taxation of the rich, land reform and a reduction in the power of the House of Lords.
Horse breeding was one of his interests and he socialised with the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, owning several famous racehorses. He is the only person to have built three real tennis courts: two at Hardwick, one of which remains in active use, and one in Newmarket. His colourful and energetic life eventually became darker and there is some mystery surrounding the booking shortly before his death of a passage to California with his mistress.
The 80-page illustrated book ‘The Real Mr Toad: Merchant Venturer and Radical in the Age of Gold’ can be purchased for £7.00 at Garlands food shop in Pangbourne, or by post for £7.50 including postage from the Hardwick Estate office (phone 0118 984 1096 or email).
Postscript: The Henley Standard has published an article on the launch.
Date/Time : Saturday, 22nd October 2016 16:01
Raised walkway through trees suggested
Jean Bull of Swanston Field has responded to the Bridge Company’s request for comments on improving the Pangbourne approach road. Having read the consultants’ report and thought about their four options, she has proposed a new one: a separate raised walkway through the trees, like the one at Kew Gardens or at Westonbirt Arboretum, to take pedestrians away from the traffic. She suggests the walkway should run parallel to the curve of the road, on the Boathouse Surgery side.
She points to several benefits:
“1. The road could be widened to take up the existing pedestrian footpath which would be diverted through the trees.
2. The cost would be reduced because the construction of the pedestrian walkway would be cheaper than the other proposals.
3. The approach to the bridge would be enhanced, making a feature of the raised walkway.
4. Some of the larger trees would be saved.”
Geoff Weir, director of the Bridge Company, said he was very grateful to Jean for her comments, which will be properly considered in due course, and he would welcome any further suggestions from the community.
To read the consultants' report, follow the link in our previous news item.
Date/Time : Wednesday, 19th October 2016 17:24
Pangbourne approach road options studied
Peter Brett Associates, engineering consultants to the Whitchurch Bridge Company, have completed a 68-page report into the options for widening the Pangbourne approach to the bridge. Both road width and footpath width are recognised as below standard.
The consultants reviewed the possibility of widening the road on the Boathouse Surgery side or, alternatively, on the Dolphin Centre side. Both options would involve landowner negotiations, removal of mature trees and floodplain complications. Given these planning constraints and the lack of opportunities to mitigate impacts, they indicate that the outlook for planning permission is not favourable.
They also studied a less extensive option, providing a modest degree of road widening and including the new idea of having passing places for pedestrians added to the footpath. Fewer trees would need to be removed. A chicane for traffic calming might be included. This third option is regarded by the consultants as more likely to be feasible.
The full report can be read on the Bridge Company’s website here.
The Bridge Company has asked for comments on the options between now and the end of February 2017. They will then decide which option to aim for. Comments should be sent in writing to Company Secretary Geoff Weir at the address shown on the website.
Date/Time : Saturday, 15th October 2016 16:49
Volunteers invited to join working party
The recently formed group MOWS ('Make Our Whitchurch Special', see recent news item) is providing a working party on Saturday 22nd October, between 10.30 and 12.30, to start clearing the area by the church gate. Volunteers are invited to come along to help for any amount of time and will be warmly welcomed. Organiser Leslie Maynerd says: “Please bring a garden fork and gloves and it would help if you can let me know you are coming on 984 5513 or by email.”
Date/Time : Saturday, 15th October 2016 13:06
Charity formed to keep Pangbourne loos open
The Station Road public toilets, situated in the car park near Pangbourne village hall, closed a year ago. But a campaign to re-open them has been gathering support. The enthusiasm for the project can be seen from this recent picture.
Antoinette Solera and Lyn Higgs, representing Action for Pangbourne Toilets (APT Community Trust), came to the Parish Council meeting on 4th October to ask for support from the Whitchurch side of the river. There is already a core team of six members, they said, but more volunteers and more funds are needed. The initial target for fundraising is £10,000. The Parish Council agreed to consider the request for funding.
A meeting will be held in Pangbourne on 16th October to explain how new volunteers can help with fundraising, publicity, maintenance work or becoming a trustee.
There is more information in this article from Newbury Today.
Date/Time : Sunday, 09th October 2016 13:39
New brick-and-flint wall at Manor Road junction
The owner of No 4 Whitchurch House applied in August for planning permission to build a brick-and-flint boundary wall, 37 metres in length and 1.8 m high, on the south side of Manor Road. The application details can be seen here. To achieve this, owner Anthony Butcher had also applied to buy a narrow strip of the verge from the Parish Council, in order to align the wall clear of the mature trees that have damaged his existing low wall.
During discussion at the Parish Council meeting on 3rd October, Peter Hawley commented that the splayed and walled entrance to Manor Road was originally the beginning of the drive into the Coombe Park estate, hence its generous proportions, and he thought it inappropriate to narrow this space. Lizzie Steward recalled that children had enjoyed playing on the verge here for many years and she considered it should be kept at its current width.
The owner said that as an alternative the new wall could be built on the line of the existing wall, which currently has a fence on it, if it proved acceptable to bridge over the trees or realign around them locally.
The Parish Council resolved not to sell any part of the verge.
SODC will decide on the planning application later this month.
Date/Time : Friday, 07th October 2016 17:59
Exhibition of Stephen Trinder’s art
This weekend the Village Hall will hold a colourful exhibition of paintings and sculpture by Stephen Trinder, who died in June last year. The show has been put together by fellow artist Lorna Webber and Stephen's widow Sally, with the help of Gill Williamson. Many items will be on sale.
Opening hours are 10.30 am to 4.30 pm on Friday 7th, Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th. Admission is free and all are welcome. There is also an Open Evening with refreshments on Friday from 7 to 9 pm.
The Whitchurch Web carried an obituary article about Stephen last year.
Date/Time : Thursday, 06th October 2016 10:30
Volunteers needed for village beautification
During this year bulb planting and weeding of the High Street and nearby areas have been done by parish councillor Jon Steward and the village has benefited from his efforts. Now a group called MOWS (Make Our Whitchurch Special) has been set up to bring together more volunteers to take the work forward.
The group leader is Leslie Maynerd, who lives in the High Street. She comments:
“Our plan is to make Whitchurch a more attractive and tidy village to live in. The aims of the group are primarily to eradicate all weedy areas down the High St and around the entrance to the church to make it look tidier.
A suggestion has been made to possibly plant bulbs /wild flowers in spring, summer and autumn to give some colour to certain areas. Once planted, they would hopefully naturalise to cut down on future plantings and also be easy to maintain.
Anyone who would like to be involved in the group should contact me, Leslie Maynerd, by email email@example.com .
We plan to post our ideas and also choice of plants on the village website prior to any purchasing/planting to make sure they are what people want, ie suitable for the area and also tasteful and in keeping with village properties.”
Date/Time : Wednesday, 14th September 2016 16:16
Autumn Show results
The Whitchurch and Goring Heath Autumn Show was held on Saturday in the Goring Heath Parish Hall. A huge number of entries for fruit, vegetables, flowers, baking, art, crafts, flower arrangements and photographs were judged and trophies awarded. The entries came from both above and below the hill. See organiser Helen Willis’s report and the full list of winners here. Some of the exhibits can be seen in the Photo Gallery.
It was a busy day for many people who managed to enjoy both the Autumn Show up the hill and the Whitchurch Fete down the hill.
Date/Time : Sunday, 04th September 2016 18:05
Oxfordshire offers Comet minibuses for hire
After ending many bus services across Oxfordshire, the county has introduced a new public transport service called Comet. The idea is to make more efficient use of the 16-seater vehicles that take children to school and adults to day care centres. The service is available between 10.15 am and 2.30 pm on weekdays and is bookable by phone at least 24 hours in advance. Individuals or groups can book it for any type of trip. There is a suggestion that parish councils could get together and arrange a regular service.
The phone number for registering (which costs £3), booking and paying is 01865 323 201. Full details from OCC can be found here.
If anyone makes use of this new service please send a comment to the Whitchurch Web message board.
Date/Time : Sunday, 04th September 2016 13:43
Don’t miss the Village Fete this Saturday (3rd September)
It starts at 2 pm on the Village Green, at the end of the newly resurfaced Eastfield Lane. Here is the schedule of events.
The Beenham Wind Orchestra will be playing from 2 pm. The children’s entertainer Bertie Slippers and the Dog Show will both start around 2.30 pm. The Tug of War is scheduled for 4.30 pm. All proceeds are in aid of the Whitchurch Pre-school Group. The fete is sponsored by the Whitchurch Bridge Company and Warmingham.
Date/Time : Thursday, 01st September 2016 18:11
Greyhound to re-open tomorrow evening
Ray Cameron, the new landlord of The Greyhound, announced today that the pub will re-open at 6 pm tomorrow (Friday 19th). Drinks and snacks will be on sale for cash, he said, and before long there will be a quality food menu which will start when the new chef, currently at The Rowbarge, Woolhampton, arrives in a few weeks time.
Drinks are likely to be served by David Cameron, who is taking on a new role behind the bar. He is Ray’s nephew. Ray’s business partner David Langford, currently landlord at the King’s Head, Thatcham, will also be actively involved at the Greyhound.
The pub is owned by Punch Taverns (which also owns The Ferryboat) and has been closed since March this year.
Date/Time : Thursday, 18th August 2016 11:49
Eastfield Lane to be closed to traffic on Tuesday 30th August
Oxfordshire Highways has announced that the whole length of Eastfield Lane will be closed to traffic and needs to be clear of parked cars on Tuesday 30th August for one day ‘to facilitate carriageway maintenance works’.
Bob Burgess of OCC clarified today that this it is not just for filling potholes but that several fairly large areas in the lane are to be resurfaced. These are 1000 square metres in total. Pedestrian access will be maintained at all times during the day.
A letter is being delivered to all residents of the lane.
Date/Time : Tuesday, 09th August 2016 13:09
Pangbourne branch of Lloyds Bank to close
Local customers of Lloyds Bank received a letter today telling them that the Pangbourne branch will be closed from 9th November this year. This follows the closure in April last year of the Pangbourne branch of HSBC. Customers have been told that they can still use the Tilehurst branch of Lloyds Bank, or they can do their banking at the Pangbourne Post Office. The nearest remaining ATM is at the Cooperative.
Lloyds Bank is understood to be closing a further 200 of its branches, having closed 200 two years ago, as online banking becomes more common.
The Pangbourne branches of NatWest and Barclays closed in 2011 and 2013 respectively.
Date/Time : Thursday, 04th August 2016 16:02
Butterworths leaving the village after 38 years
Harry and Sarah Butterworth, who have lived at The Little House in the High Street since 1978, are preparing to move next week to Devon, where they will be near their daughter.
Harry said today: “We have mixed feelings about leaving after such a long time here but at 76 I have to recognise that it is time to downsize. Last year our daughter Kate moved from the Hartslock Bridleway in Whitchurch to a farmhouse near Barnstaple and we have now found somewhere to live in the same area. Moving into The Little House will be the Parkes family, which includes two teenage daughters. They have already been able to meet some village residents when they joined the recent Gardens Walk. We are sure they will be a great asset to the village and we are delighted that the house will have a family in it. We will be saying farewell to Whitchurch this time next week.”
Harry and Sarah have been active members of the Whitchurch community for many years. Harry served on the parish council for over fifteen years and was chairman for six. He was one of the group of four, including Matilda Oppenheimer, the late Stephen Trinder and Lindsay Austin, who succeeded in acquiring the cricket field for the village. Sarah was the editor of the Whitchurch Bulletin for twelve years.
Date/Time : Thursday, 21st July 2016 19:50
Eastfield House extension expected to go ahead
The owner of the Eastfield House care home has submitted yet another application for outline planning permission to SODC, dated July 15th. This is a follow-up to the permission already granted under appeal in August 2013 for partial demolition of the present buildings and the construction of large new extensions. The consultation period started yesterday, 19th July, and comments are invited by 19th August. The application can be inspected on the SODC website here.
The latest application states that the number of rooms will increase from 27 to 43, the number of employees from 27 to 40 and the number of car parking spaces from 9 to 13. The old Victorian building is expected to be largely preserved in its outward appearance, following a failure to obtain permission for demolition of the whole building and then a failure to obtain permission to demolish the whole building except the façade. The present extensions will be demolished, the interior of the old building will be modernised and large modern extensions will be built.
The planning history of the care home site over the last six years is complex. Last week, the Henley Standard published an article on it.
Date/Time : Wednesday, 20th July 2016 17:10
Thief takes whole car this time
Whitchurch resident Martin Hardcastle reported to police this morning that his 1987 gold-coloured Mark 2 VW Golf GL registration E694 LAD was missing from the spot below his house in Hillside, Hardwick Road, where he had left it yesterday.
This is the second time in two months that the classic car enthusiast has suffered a theft. On the morning of 19th May he discovered that his 1990 VW Golf GTI was missing all its wheels. Despite recovering a jack left at the scene the police have been unable to trace the thief.
Martin said today: “I’ll be buying a new car now with all the security that comes with it but life will be a bit more boring as it’s my hobby.”
Update, 20th July: The stolen car has been found. Martin says that the Police called him today and told him it had been involved in an accident with two other parked cars and was then abandoned in Sonning Common. An eye witness saw a man fleeing the seen. Police dogs were deployed but could not pick up the scent. Forensic experts are now examining the car.
Date/Time : Tuesday, 19th July 2016 15:26
Many ideas for the village - it’s not too late to send yours
The Open Day in the village hall earlier in the year marked the start of the process of preparing a new village plan for Whitchurch. Rachel Hatcher, parish councillor and plan coordinator, reports here on progress and asks for even more residents to become involved:
Back in May we held an open day in our village hall to get your views on how you would like to improve our village, and the things you really like that you don't want to change. It was very well supported with over 50 people coming to share their views and ideas. Thank you so much to all the people that took the time out to speak with us and share your ideas and views. Please see this slide show to view the feedback we received that day.
We also had a good number of volunteers to form the working groups. We will be shortly holding our first session with these teams to start the process of identifying priority issues and pulling together a proposal of suggested solutions for the village to view and comment on.
You can help! Do you have a view to share but could not attend the open day, or did you attend and now have more to say? OR would you like to join the volunteers to help develop our village plan? Then send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or pop a letter in to me, Rachel Hatcher, at 3 Old Barn Cottages. I am looking forward to hearing from you.
Date/Time : Sunday, 10th July 2016 20:54
Village allotments get some smart new gates
New gates were installed last week at the entrance to the allotments in Muddy Lane. The gates were provided by the Parish Council at a cost of just under £1200. Photos here show the change.
Mike Marshall, treasurer of the Whitchurch & District Allotment Society said: “I think I can speak for all the members of the Society when I say we are absolutely delighted with the new gates made especially for us by Purdy Gates of Woodcote. The old gates were in poor condition, rusty and bent from years of heavy use. The smart new gates complement the beautiful village location of our allotments. Whitchurch & District Allotment Society would like to thank the Parish Council for all their effort involved in selecting an appropriate design and for the commissioning and installation of the new gates.”
James Polansky, parish councillor responsible for liaison with the Society, thanked his fellow councillors Jim Donahue and Keith Brooks for their efforts and commented: “The Parish Council is very supportive of the Whitchurch & District Allotments Society and hopefully this will highlight our wonderful allotments and help encourage parishioners to get involved. There are many ways that tending an allotment can bring benefit to people's lives, so the provision and maintenance of allotments is an important part of our commitment to improve the quality of life for all Whitchurch residents. Growing your own food gives you a sense of accomplishment and it's also a fun way to relax and get away from the stresses and strains of a busy lifestyle. It is a rewarding community experience; making friends, sharing interests and passing on knowledge and expertise. Allotments are wonderful spaces of natural discovery so on your next walk please stop by Muddy Lane and take a look at ours. There are currently two spare plots available and priority is given to Whitchurch and Goring Heath residents. If you are interested please contact Rosamund Heath, chairman of the Whitchurch & District Allotment Society."
Date/Time : Sunday, 10th July 2016 12:04
Seat at village green damaged again
One of the public seats at the village green has been damaged for a second time (picture). The back of the seat was reinforced when earlier damage was repaired two years ago – see pictures from that time.
Parish council chairman Keith Brooks said he wondered what kind of people would do this. He asked village residents to be on the lookout for incidents of damage to public property and report any information.
Update, 7th July: The damage was repaired yesterday by volunteer Pete Woolhouse, with help from his wife Sally.
Date/Time : Wednesday, 06th July 2016 19:20
Steady flow of voters making their historic mark
The polling station in the village hall opened for the referendum at 7 am this morning and by 11 am around 200 voters had already given their opinion on whether the UK should remain in the European Union or leave.
The polling station remains open until 10 pm this evening. Provided you are there by 10 pm you are guaranteed the opportunity to vote. If you forget to take along your polling card you can still vote.
Update 24th June - the result:
South Oxfordshire voted 55.0% for Remain, with a turnout of 80.7%.
The UK as a whole voted 48.1% for Remain, with a turnout of 71.8%.
Date/Time : Thursday, 23rd June 2016 12:46
Village residents enjoy rare visit to lock, island and weir
Ian Bruce, organiser of the Whitchurch Society’s annual Gardens Walk, says that he had become concerned that not enough residents were volunteering to open their gardens this year. But then he had an offer from lockkeeper Tim Lyons (pictured) to arrange with the owners of The Mill for access to be allowed through their private garden for one afternoon so that village residents could reach the lock and island. Then, better still, both the Lee and Noble families, who have gardens on different parts of the island, kindly agreed to open them for the afternoon. And finally Tim persuaded his employer, the Environment Agency, to allow visitors on this occasion to explore the full length of the walkway across the weir.
Thanks to these generous offers, many Whitchurch residents today had their first ever opportunity to visit the lock, stroll round the island, see some unusual views of familiar places and feel the water rushing through the weir gates beneath their feet. Whitchurch lock is thought to be unique on the Thames in not normally having public access from the land on either bank.
Rounding off an exceptional day, all those taking part enjoyed tea and cakes afterwards in the lovely garden of Neil and Matilda King.
Asked whether access to the lock might be possible again next year Ian said that it would depend on the new owners of The Mill, which has recently been offered for sale.
There are photos in the gallery.
Date/Time : Sunday, 19th June 2016 20:29
Developer will not be allowed to build two houses
What is left of the house known as “The Haven” in Eastfield Lane has been an eyesore complained about by residents since late March, when its purchaser took possession and promptly removed the roof. No planning permission had been applied for and South Oxfordshire District Council started an investigation into a breach of planning control. Shortly afterwards the owner, Bellmore Homes Ltd of Tilehurst, applied for permission to build two houses in place of one.
Tim Small, Enforcement Officer for Planning Development at SODC, said today that the owner had been informed that permission will not be granted for two houses on the plot and that no further demolition may be carried out until there is planning permission.
Mr Small said that if any further demolition is observed at the site it should be reported it to him on 07717 226162 or by email.
For links on this topic see earlier news items: 1st and 16th April.
Date/Time : Tuesday, 14th June 2016 18:29
Queen’s birthday tea brings the village together
Saturday afternoon tea on the village green to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday was a special occasion for the community and was attended by enthusiastic residents of all ages. There are photos by Nick Brazil in the gallery.
Jim Donahue said afterwards: “It couldn't have been a more perfect afternoon to celebrate the Queen's birthday yesterday. Special thanks to Lissie Steward and Felipa House for all their work to make this happen, along with support from many others. The setting was very special in an amphitheatre-like setting with the most wonderful band, decorations, balloon blower, and clearly a joyous occasion for all those who were able to participate. It bodes well for more such events in the village.”
Jim also took photos. To see them, click here.
Date/Time : Sunday, 12th June 2016 20:39
No more mobile library visits after September
For many years Oxfordshire’s mobile library has visited Manor Road on alternate Fridays. Now cuts in government funding have caused the county to withdraw the service. Our Parish Clerk Felipa House received the following message this week:
I am writing to confirm that, regretfully, the mobile library service in Oxfordshire will cease to operate in September.
This difficult decision was taken in February following extensive public consultation on proposals to make huge financial savings across all county council services. As a result of reductions in the money the council receives from central Government and rising demand for essential services such as social care for vulnerable adults and children, we are currently in the process of having to save £361 million between 2010 and 2018.
We know how greatly the mobile library is valued by its users, and are encouraging people to continue borrowing books from the service until the last round of visits begins on Monday 5th September. The final day of the service will be Friday 16th September.
Service users will be offered alternative library provision through our network of 43 library buildings; our online library services; and our Home Library Service. Oxfordshire Library Service already has a successful Home Library Service that works through paid staff, partners and volunteers to deliver books and resources to those residents who are unable to get to a library themselves, and this is being expanded to accommodate any additional demand.
Schools have already been notified and our general service users will be informed formally of the changes and alternative provision by letter on June 6th.
I would like to thank you for the support you have given to the mobile library service and I do hope that we will be able to work with our service users to find suitable ways for them to continue accessing library services in the future.
Jillian Southwell, Library Service Manager, Oxfordshire Libraries
Date/Time : Friday, 10th June 2016 11:59
Inspector dismisses Eastfield House appeal
Ross Healthcare’s appeal against refusal of planning permission for their proposal to demolish all of Eastfield House except the front façade has been dismissed by the Inspector.
Inspector R J Jackson visited the site on 12th April and in his report dated 26th May he states that he agrees with English Heritage that the building plays an important role in the Whitchurch Conservation Area (WCA). He comments that: “…replacement of the building with the exception of the front façade would lead to substantial harm to the WCA as a designated heritage asset as, however good the replacement, there would be a near total loss of historic fabric and a loss of the patina of age. This would be harmful to the character and appearance of the WCA and reduce its significance.” He concludes that planning permission should be refused.
The appeal did not require the Inspector to re-consider objections received from residents on other matters such as flooding, traffic or overlooking.
A second appeal, relating to the demolition of two free-standing buildings within the plot, was allowed by the Inspector. The original Conservation Area Consent of 2010 “will have expired”, he states, “and thus to facilitate the extant planning permission for the extension of the existing building a further planning permission is now required”.
The Inpector's report can be found here. (Ref P15/S1641/FUL and ref APP/Q3115/W/15/3140879)
Date/Time : Friday, 03rd June 2016 18:02
Even faster broadband may come to Whitchurch
Earlier this week a representative from Gigaclear, a provider of very fast fibre-optic broadband to rural communities, visited the village to consider whether this would be a suitable place for their services.
He met Bridge Company director Geoff Weir and discussed the possibility of running a cable across the toll bridge. Geoff told him there was a spare duct in the bridge structure which could be used for a link from Pangbourne.
The Gigaclear representative explained that the company connects by fibre-optic cable directly to individual houses or businesses, which enables them to offer speeds of up to 1 Gbps or 1000 Mbps.
BT Openreach has already installed a fibre-optic link between the Pangbourne exchange and the cabinet opposite The Greyhound. From there the present connections to houses are by copper cable, limiting the transmission speed.
Those wishing to know more can register their interest on the Gigaclear website, which says that the Abingdon-based company has installed its broadband in 25 rural English villages and has 50 more in progress.
Date/Time : Friday, 03rd June 2016 15:00
All welcome for the Queen’s birthday, Saturday 11th June
There will be a special ‘bring your own’ party on the Village Green to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday. Parish council chairman Keith Brooks invites all Whitchurch residents to come and enjoy the event:
Come and celebrate our Monarch's birthday on the Village Green on Saturday 11th June from 3 to 5 pm. Bring food and cakes and something to sit on and maybe a gazebo as we can't predict what the weather will be like. Tea and coffee will be provided but if you want something different such as squash or something a bit stronger then bring that too! There will be a big band for the grown-ups and balloon animals for the children. Let's all get together and enjoy our beautiful Village Green which is such a wonderful back drop for this special occasion.
See more details on the poster.
Date/Time : Wednesday, 01st June 2016 15:08
Bridge Company to improve pedestrian crossing
The Bridge Company has agreed to replace the present speed bump near the toll booth by a flat platform at the same level as the kerbs. This will help pedestrians, including those pushing buggies, to cross the road. Details of the platform can be seen here.
Bridge Company director Geoff Weir said that he expects the improved crossing to be in place by September. The more difficult project of widening the Pangbourne approach embankment is still under study, he said.
James Polansky, chairman of the parish council’s Traffic and Pavements Advisory Group (TAPAG), welcomed the decision and said he looked forward to seeing plans for improving the safety of pedestrians on the Pangbourne embankment.
The Company announced this week that it will not be raising the present concessionary toll from 40p to 45p on 12th August this year. That date is the time limit of their August 2015 undertaking to hold the toll at 40p, an undertaking that they have extended until further notice.
The Company announced earlier this month that it had agreed to support the local community’s efforts to keep the 143 bus service running for the remainder of the financial year, by exempting the bus from tolls.
Some stunning photos of the river and bridge have been posted on Facebook by drone photographer Scott Green. One is shown above; others can be seen here.
Date/Time : Sunday, 29th May 2016 12:45
Car loses its wheels overnight
Whitchurch resident Martin Hardcastle walked down this morning from his house in Hillside to where his 1990 VW Golf GT car was parked on Hardwick Road to find that all four alloy wheels had been removed during the night. The car had been left sitting on its disc brakes. The thief had broken into the car and found the locking nut adaptor which had enabled him to remove the wheels, 15" BBS RS Alloys.
Thames Valley Police are appealing for witnesses to the crime, who are asked to phone 101 if they can offer any information. They took away for fingerprinting a VW Polo jack that had been left at the scene.
Martin said that he had informed the police that a VW Polo owner, registration P666 ???, had been seen acting suspiciously a month ago near his car. Martin has been looking for a nearby garage to rent for the last six months, so far without success. If anyone can offer one he would like to hear from them.
Date/Time : Thursday, 19th May 2016 16:28
The 143 bus is saved until April (Updated, 31 May)
Faced with the imminent disappearance of Whitchurch’s only bus service, the Parish Council held an emergency meeting last Monday (16th May) to consider subsidising the continuation of the 143 service until next April, the end of the financial year, at a cost of £5,500. Goring Heath Parish Council has agreed to contribute £5,500 as an equal share of the funding. Oxfordshire County Council has refused to continue to provide any subsidy. Whitchurch Parish Council resolved unanimously to fund its half share of the subsidy.
The Parish Council expressed its thanks to the Whitchurch Bridge Company, which has agreed to waive all tolls for the 143 bus while the community is subsidising the service, thereby saving the two parish councils several thousand pounds.
More information on the 143 bus and its route can be found by scrolling down to our news item of 4th March.
Update, 28th May: Thames Travel has now confirmed that the Monday to Friday 143 service will continue, with the current timetable, until the end of March 2017. The Saturday 143 service will no longer cross the river to reach Whitchurch and Whitchurch Hill after 16th July 2016. The company’s full statement can be read here.
Update, 31st May: The bus timetable (five services a day) can now be seen on a Links page of this website, here. Use it or lose it?
Date/Time : Thursday, 19th May 2016 15:54
'The Cut' footpath will soon be resurfaced
The asphalted footpath connecting Eastfield Lane with Swanston Field, usually known as The Cut, is finally to be resurfaced almost a quarter of a century after the need was recognised. Parish councillors have decided to fund the work and have accepted a tender from Hazell & Jefferies for £4780 + VAT. Parish Clerk Felipa House said yesterday: “The Cut will be closed for resurfacing for 3 days during the week commencing 30th May. Please allow extra time for your journey. Apologies for any inconvenience.”
Maintenance of this footpath is the responsibility of Oxfordshire County Council, which has failed to allocate funds for the work. Parish chairman Keith Brooks said this week that in the face of increasingly severe cuts to the county’s maintenance budget, parish councillors had decided that there was no alternative but to proceed, without waiting any longer for the county authority.
The historical background is related in this request sent to the Parish Council two years ago by Alison Michael, recalling the situation in the early 1990s when she was Whitchurch Parish Clerk:
"The busy footpath between Swanston Field and Eastfield Lane was on the schedule for resurfacing in 1992 or 1993. Unfortunately budget cutbacks at the time meant that the work was then delayed, and I was told that the Parish Council would have to pay for (or at least contribute towards) the cost of the work. The Parish Council could not afford to pay for the resurfacing to be done - and twenty years later the work has still not yet been done. I have been told several times over the years by young mothers that there is not a single child in the village that has not fallen and suffered cuts, scrapes and bruises on the rough surface. Can the Parish Council ask Highways once again if this very overdue and very necessary resurfacing work could now be done?"
Date/Time : Thursday, 19th May 2016 15:13
Church concert raises the roof
Last Saturday evening 25 children from Whitchurch Primary School sang enthusiastically with 40 members of the Reading Phoenix Choir in a concert held in St Mary’s church. The church was full and the event raised a vital £1500 towards church repairs.
The roof of St Mary’s church has been suffering from leaks and is in need of urgent repairs, estimated to cost £150,000. Church warden Peter Ferguson said that a grant of £80,000 had been applied for but the balance would need to come from gifts and fund-raising events. Funds have already been raised by the Art Café held weekly in the Old Stables and by the Ferryboat’s Christmas concert.
The latest edition of the Henley Standard has an article on the plans that the Whitchurch Parochial Church Council has for the Grade II* listed church, describing how camera drones have revealed some of the deterioration in the roofing.
In addition to the urgent roof repairs, the Whitchurch PCC needs to raise a further £250,000 for work on the chancel roof, on the oak shingles above the bell tower, on the church clock and the church bells. There is also a plan to raise £150,000 to provide a kitchen and some toilets so that church space can be used for events organised by members of the broader community. However, a financial grant towards this objective depends on agreement within the Whitchurch PCC that the church can be used regularly for community events. So far that agreement has not been forthcoming, said Peter. Whether some of the wooden pews should be removed and replaced by flexible seating has yet to be decided.
Peter said that the absence of toilets at the church had surprised many of those who attended Saturday evening’s concert and this emphasised the need for investment to provide the facilities needed for a church offering space to the broader community.
Date/Time : Wednesday, 18th May 2016 19:47
Art Café celebrates six months of success
Since last November a Community Art Café has been held every Saturday morning in the Old Stables. Gill Williamson (pictured) had the inspiration to start the event and has now masterminded 24 Cafés, providing a regular opportunity for village residents and visitors to drop in for a tea or coffee, a slice of homemade cake, a chat and a look at the work of local artists.
Gill, who lives in Eastfield Lane, says that she has been delighted by the strong support shown by the community. In addition to the people who drop in for a visit there are talented ‘ladies who bake’, dedicated helpers from the church and many charity volunteeers. She makes sure that each week two new artists are introduced into the rolling exhibition. Paintings, drawings, prints, ceramics and textiles are all included.
Despite the modest prices charged for the refreshments, an impressive total of £3,750 has already been raised for the charities and other organisations that have chosen to become involved. These include Parkinson’s UK, Motor Neurone Disease Association, British Heart Foundation, Whitchurch Pre-School, Alder Bridge Steiner-Waldorf School, Building for the Future (the Wokingham charity for disabled children), St Mary’s & St John’s Churches, the Whitchurch & Goring Heath History Society and the Whitchurch & Goring Heath Twinning Association.
For more information, visit the Art Café website.
Date/Time : Saturday, 07th May 2016 15:21
Rush hour gridlock in the High Street
An operation to dig up the road, thought to be for Thames Water, caused worse High Street conditions for commuters this evening than usual. Automatic traffic lights had been set up to control flow through the narrows above the Hardwick Road junction. Cars coming down the hill on a green light were joining a solid queue downhill from the gallery and preventing northbound cars from going anywhere. To drive from the Greyhound up to the Hardwick Road junction was taking a quarter of an hour.
Date/Time : Wednesday, 04th May 2016 19:53
What would you like to see on the new village sign?
The Parish Council thinks it's time our special village had a special sign to welcome visitors at its three entrances. Not long ago the sign for the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was removed and then a car accident damaged the remaining village sign.
To come up with some inspiration for the new sign, our imaginative primary school pupils were asked to design one. Six commended entries can be seen on the front cover of the latest Whitchurch Bulletin. One of them is shown above.
Using the six designs for inspiration and as a template, the Parish Council has settled on a rectangular shape with a semi-circle on top and the words "Welcome to Whitchurch on Thames".
They would now like feedback from residents on the rest of the sign content and design by means of a simple vote. Residents can either return the form in the Bulletin or answer the two questions in this simple online survey.
The Parish Council also proposes to reinstate the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty sign beneath the new Whitchurch village sign. This might follow the new style of a sign at Medmenham, which can be seen here.
Date/Time : Monday, 02nd May 2016 17:17
Police and Crime Commissioner election
The village hall will be open all day on Thursday 5th May for voting in the election of the Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley police area.
There are four candidates (clockwise from top left): Laetisia Carter (Labour), John Howson (Liberal Democrat), Lea Trainer (UKIP) and Anthony Stansfeld (Conservative).
The election statements of the candidates can be seen here.
Anthony Stansfeld has served as Commissioner since his election in 2012.
The polling station will be open from 7 am to 10 pm.
Result of election:
Anthony Stansfeld has been re-elected. More information here.
Date/Time : Saturday, 30th April 2016 16:44
Waves from Greyhound buffet Ferryboat
Landlord Graham Dednum said today that he was disappointed by misleading comments about the Ferryboat that appeared recently in the Henley Standard and also in the minutes of the parish council’s April meeting. These were in connection with the application by parish councillor David Bowen to have the Greyhound listed as an asset of community value. The council’s minutes record an assertion that “The Ferryboat is more of a destination gastro-pub, often visited by people from outside the village, whereas The Greyhound is generally used more by locals and as a community hub with its regular events.”
“That reveals a surprising ignorance by the parish council about the Ferryboat’s business”, says Graham. “Whilst it is true that we have many customers coming from outside the village, we enjoy and appreciate a strong level of support from within the village. In my five years at the pub we have become involved in every aspect of village life. We consistently support local events, both financially and by donating prizes for fund-raising events. This year we donated the sportswear for the under-12s village football team. Each year we organise and sponsor a Christmas concert in the local parish church, as well as a community carol singing event. To date this has raised many thousands of pounds which has been shared between the church, the local village school and several charities. This year’s concert is on December 4th. We provide a regular meeting place for various local book clubs and other groups in and around the village. Our function room is frequently used by local PTAs and for local committee meetings and AGMs.”
“I do believe there is the potential for two successful pubs in the village and I understand that Punch Taverns are seeking a new landlord for the Greyhound. We turned down their invitation for us to take on the running of it in the short term but I wish them luck in finding someone.”
Another parish councillor, Carrie Hart, said yesterday that she was concerned by the statement in the Henley Standard’s report that “the parish council argues that the Ferryboat is more like an upmarket restaurant than an everyday social hub” as she did not believe that was the council’s agreed position. She pointed out that Graham Dednum has spent the past few years building up the Ferryboat and is not only very committed to the community but also warm and welcoming to drinkers as well as diners. Above all else, she maintained, he has successfully built the pub into a social hub.
Graham said yesterday that the Ferryboat is moving forward with its next phase of refurbishment, which will include redecorating the main dining and courtyard areas. The interior décor will feature work by local artists. New menus and various themed food evenings are coming soon. Later in the year the kitchen will be refurbished.
UPDATE, Tuesday 26th April: The Parish Council today sent Graham the following letter:
The Parish Council was very sorry about the wording in the Henley Standard article and that you took this as an indication of a lack of support for the Ferryboat from the Council. As I'm sure you are aware, the article was about the concerns many villagers have about the loss of one of only two pubs we have in the village, and the action that we are taking to have it classified as an Asset of Community Value (ACV). Unfortunately this is one of the only actions available to us to try to prevent it from being sold as a private residence, thus denying our residents one of the "social hubs' in the communuity, but of course not the only one. We made a similar ACV application in 2014 when the Greyhound was closed, and fortunately another landlord was found to keep the pub open.
The Whitchurch on Thames Parish Council
Date/Time : Monday, 25th April 2016 11:50
Otter seen in Thames at Whitchurch
This photo taken early yesterday morning appears to show the presence of an otter in the Whitchurch-Mapledurham reach of the Thames. Dave Bowen, who spotted the animal swimming in the middle of the river half a mile downstream of the toll bridge, said that its size and behaviour left him in no doubt that it was an otter. He said he was familiar with the much smaller American mink which has sometimes been mistaken for an otter, as they visit his riverside garden from time to time, and it was not a mink. He would like to think that if there is one otter in this stretch of the river there may well be another.
Sally Woolhouse of WoTHabs said this is very good news as it appears to be further evidence that the much loved animal is returning to the river. Gill Goodwin, also of WoTHabs, said that more evidence may become available before long as she understands that BBOWT, the local wildlife trust, wishes to install mink detection rafts in the Whitchurch area. These carry a small clay-floored tunnel which enables footprints of otter or mink to be identified. If mink, which prey on water voles, are present efforts are likely to be made to trap them.
Date/Time : Tuesday, 19th April 2016 20:31
Developer applies to build two houses on The Haven site
A planning application has been received by South Oxfordshire District Council to demolish The Haven, Eastfield Lane, and build two four-bedroom two-storey houses on the site. Details of the proposed buildings are available on the SODC planning website here. Consultation closes on 13th May. Comments may be made online or by post.
The layout plan shows a crowded plot compared to what is typical for the lane.
The ground floors of the proposed houses are raised 0.5 metres above the estimated extreme flood level, which has the lane flooded to a depth of about 0.3 metres.
As reported earlier, an investigation has been opened by SODC into the removal of the roof of The Haven prior to any application for its replacement being considered, an alleged breach of planning control.
Date/Time : Saturday, 16th April 2016 15:14
Pangbourne library to stay open for six months
West Berkshire Council has announced that all its libraries will remain open for around six months so that Needs Assessments can be made. The notice says the Council is “considering options for a revised model for the service” and will be “continuing conversations with local interested parties, including town and parish councils.”
A recently formed group, the Friends of Pangbourne Library, submitted a letter of intent last month to take over the running of the library if it is set to close. They have said they intend to take part in the ‘conversations’ with West Berkshire Council and have encouraged people to keep using the library.
Date/Time : Saturday, 16th April 2016 12:23
Neighbourhood Plan starts with Open Day on 14th May
The Parish Council confirmed at a meeting earlier this month that it is proceeding with a Neighbourhood Plan for Whitchurch. This will replace the Village Plan published in 2009 (picture) and, provided it is agreed by residents, it will carry more authority in planning matters than its predecessor.
Parish Council chairman Keith Brooks said that he believed the process of making a Neighbourhood Plan would provide the opportunity to get together as many views as possible and result in a new agreed vision for the future of the village. He said he hoped that everyone will visit the village hall at some time between 11 am and 3 pm on Saturday 14th May, the Open Day. He invited those interested in joining one of several working groups, which will be helping to formulate the plan, to send a message to email@example.com to indicate their interest.
See the attached article for more information.
Date/Time : Thursday, 14th April 2016 16:21
Parish Council applies to save Greyhound as a pub
The Parish Council resolved at a meeting on Tuesday to nominate The Greyhound for registration as an asset of community value so that if the current owners wish to sell it for residential use there would be a delay of six months on any sale in order to allow the community to raise money and put together a plan to save the pub. Councillor Dave Bowen said that the Greyhound had been the hub of the village for so many years that he felt that the village must do all it can to save it as a pub.
The right of a community to bid for an asset was created in the 2011 Localism Act. If a registered asset of community value goes up for sale, communities have 6 weeks to express an interest. If the application is approved they then have a 6 months protected period to develop plans and raise finance. After that the owner can still sell the asset to any buyer but the community will have had the opportunity to organise their offer.
Date/Time : Thursday, 07th April 2016 19:56
Confusion about parking at the junction (UPDATED)
Following a complaint that parked cars at the Hardwick Road junction were causing long traffic delays, a police officer visited several weeks ago to speak to residents and warn them about where they should and should not park. The police say that on their next visit the situation had not improved and so they placed several tickets on cars.
Helen Willis lives at Primrose Cottage, just down the hill from the picture gallery, and she has no off-street parking. She said today that she and her neighbours are now uncertain about the rules. They all used to park their cars carefully with two wheels on the footpath, to enable the traffic to pass as easily as possible while still providing space for a buggy to be pushed past. Now they are parking fully in the road to avoid being given a ticket. Furthermore, she said, some of the owners scared away from parking in the wide area near the junction are now parking in the High Street, adding to the line of parked cars running down the hill and making the one-way traffic flow even more challenging for drivers. She would like to see residents' parking areas clearly marked on the road.
It seems that for many years the police, in discussion with the parish council, have turned a blind eye on two infractions at the Hardwick Road junction: parking with two wheels on a footpath, and parking within 10 metres of a junction. The first of these allows a better width for traffic using the High Street. The second allows better use to be made of the wide area at the junction. But from time to time the police have felt the need to place a ticket, usually on a vehicle parked very close to the High Street opposite the gallery.
Parish council chairman Keith Brooks said today that he had spoken with Inspector Mark Harling of Thames Valley Police. “There is an ongoing dialogue with the police in order that we can all try to improve the parking situation”, he said. “I will be talking to PC Barbara Taylor to discuss the parking problems around the junction in order to find a policy which will suit everyone.”
Those affected have been invited to attend the parish council meeting in the village hall at 8 pm on Tuesday and comment on the issue.
Update, 6th April: Several parking-affected residents attended the meeting yesterday evening and there was a lively discussion. It was agreed that a group already being formed to represent the 8 or 9 house owners involved would be joined by a member of the parish council, in order to help obtain an understanding with police as to where they can park. This understanding is needed urgently, insisted Terri Lorrimore. The parish council confirmed that in the longer term it would be looking more broadly at the issue through the production of a neighbourhood plan, which will include a group looking at traffic and parking in the whole village. The council is planning an information day about the plan next month, on a date to be announced, and wants to encourage people to get involved.
Date/Time : Friday, 01st April 2016 18:56
Roof demolition in Eastfield Lane has neighbours concerned
“The Haven”, a two-storey detached house in Eastfield Lane, had parts of its roof removed this week. Work was no longer in progress today, but large areas of roof tiling had already been taken off the house, allowing rain to enter (picture). This has led neighbours to believe the house is in the first stage of demolition. Parish council chairman Keith Brooks made an urgent enquiry to South Oxfordshire District Council this morning as he could find no sign of a planning application. Nor could a planning officer in SODC’s enforcement team, who replied this afternoon to say that the building control department had been notified and the case is being investigated.
The house's details are on the Dudley Singleton & Daughter website, where it is marked as Sold, with a guide price of £785,000.
The Haven, built in the 1930s, was the family home of Whitchurch’s parish clerk John Holmes for many years. During World War Two it accommodated a team working on munitions for the war effort.
Update, 7th April: SODC have opened an investigation into an alleged breach of planning control, the demolition of a dwelling without planning permission. Case Officer Tim Small visited the site yesterday. Further details here.
Update, 14th April: SODC have received a planning application for the demolition of The Haven and the construction of two four-bedroom houses on the site. More information here. Any comments must be made to SODC by 13th May.
Date/Time : Friday, 01st April 2016 17:04
Plan for a new village hall – comments invited
The parish council has been discussing the possibility of demolishing the current Manor Road village hall, selling the land with planning permission for affordable housing, and building a new village hall, combined with a replacement pavilion, on the village green.
A 10-page report entitled Village Pavilion Project has been prepared by parish councillor Carrie Hart. This explains the thinking behind the project and gives a preliminary cost estimate of £400,000 for the new building. The sale of the current village hall site is expected to raise an estimated £550,000 which would be more than enough for the project even before any grants.
Parish council chairman Keith Brooks said today that the council are keen to go ahead with this project which would greatly improve the community facilities in Whitchurch. The council would like to know what residents think about it. All interested residents are invited to read the report and make comments. These should be sent to councillor Carrie Hart or to the Parish Clerk. Full contact details are on the parish council page. Or comments can be posted on the message board.
The parish council intends to develop the project further in coming months but Keith said that it will not proceed to the stage of submitting a planning application without a village referendum.
The photo shows the combined village hall and sports pavilion that has recently been built in Moulsford.
Date/Time : Friday, 25th March 2016 21:03
The Greyhound closes again
Publican Nick Baker confirmed today that The Greyhound pub is closed until further notice. This week's Quiz Night and Karaoke have been cancelled.
Update, 15th March: Nick commented on Facebook today:"Due to financial circumstances I have had to close The Greyhound. I am sorry to let you down, but the pub is not sustainable. Thank you to all my customers and everyone I have met, it has been a pleasure and your support has been appreciated. Many thanks, Nick."
Date/Time : Thursday, 10th March 2016 13:46
Oxfordshire says it can’t save the 143 bus
Whitchurch’s only remaining bus service, which runs five times a day to Reading, is threatened with closure as a result of cuts in government funding. Though organised by West Berkshire Council through its contractor Thames Travel, the 143 service has been receiving a subsidy of around £32,000 a year from Oxfordshire County Council under a cost sharing agreement for the part of the route that is in Oxfordshire.
The current 143 route is Whitchurch Hill – Whitchurch-on-Thames – Pangbourne – Purley – Reading, returning Purley – Pangbourne – Upper Basildon – Whitchurch-on-Thames – Whitchurch Hill. This remnant of the previous services is oddly inconvenient in that Whitchurch Hill users return from Reading via Upper Basildon, while Upper Basildon users travel to Reading via Whitchurch Hill.
A consultation was held by OCC last summer (see our News Archive, 22nd June 2015) but it failed to persuade OCC, which at a budget meeting on 16th February took the decision to stop all bus subsidies from 20th July 2016.
Whitchurch parish councillor Dave Bowen, on behalf of the parish council, had been pressing OCC to continue the subsidy by asking county councillor Kevin Bulmer to lend his weight to supporting his constituents. Mr Bulmer declined, saying that it is not a statutory responsibility of OCC to subsidise buses. This point has been disputed by Mr Bowen, citing an earlier discussion with MP John Howell and the wording of the Transport Act 1985. Mr Bulmer, who is chairman of Goring parish council in addition to being a county councillor and a district councillor, says that OCC has to find savings of £70 million and he is prepared to listen to Whitchurch parish council if it has some proactive ideas for a transport service.
The latest Pangbourne Magazine reports that a Mrs Lindsay Macdonald organised a petition of residents in Pangbourne, Purley and Whitchurch against the closure and delivered it to WBC on 11th February. A similar petition was made by Basildon residents. It is not clear whether petitions were received from residents of Whitchurch or Whitchurch Hill/Goring Heath, nor whether any formal request was made by either of the parish councils to OCC before their budget meeting on 16th February.
The Henley Standard carried an article in early February about the potential difficulties for those in Whitchurch Hill relying on the bus service, saying that Thames Travel had not yet decided whether to make up the shortfall in funding in order to continue the present service, or terminate the 143 at Pangbourne, or withdraw the whole 143 route.
Parish council chairman Keith Brooks said yesterday: “We discussed this with West Berks councillor for Pangbourne Pamela Bale and with our MP John Howell early in February. In principle we support the idea of a subsidised bus service being available for Whitchurch residents but I believe that the 143 service is not used by many people. I hope that Thames Travel will come up with at least the offer of a reduced frequency service for us. But if that does not happen we are likely to have to consider the possibility of providing an occasional minibus or taxi service for those who have no alternative. We might want to discuss this with Goring Heath parish council who would have a similar interest.”
The 143 is subsidised primarily by West Berkshire Council, which wishes, according to its current budget proposal , to reduce the 143 service “from every two hours to 1 or 2 days per week and no peak time service. Connection may be required to Reading.” That is the subject of a consultation which ends next Monday 7th March. However the proposed new route for the 143, while it includes Upper Basildon, no longer includes Whitchurch or Whitchurch Hill. That is hardly surprising as Berkshire councillors cannot be expected to vote to subsidise Oxfordshire users.
All of which seems to leave only the faint possibility that Thames Travel might continue to provide a limited service to Whitchurch and Whitchurch Hill without receiving a subsidy from either county for doing so. Perhaps the two villages should jointly discuss this with Thames Travel.
Date/Time : Friday, 04th March 2016 14:23
Last chance to comment on closure of Pangbourne Library
West Berkshire Council is proposing to close eight of its nine branch libraries, including Pangbourne, in order to save money. Only Newbury would remain. Many Whitchurch residents use Pangbourne library regularly and are likely to miss it.
The three week public consultation period ends next Monday 7th March. Comments can be made here.
West Berkshire Council says “We would like to hear from you as to how you feel this proposal will impact on you….. All feedback will be considered.” A decision is expected on 24th March.
This consultation follows one held two years ago on the reduction in library hours from 27 to 16 hours per week (see News Archive, 8th December 2013).
Date/Time : Thursday, 03rd March 2016 09:35
Study begins on improving Pangbourne approach to bridge
The Bridge Company announced today that its engineering consultants Peter Brett Associates have started studying a project for widening the Pangbourne approach embankment to improve the conditions for vehicles and pedestrians. This was considered four years ago but it was not possible for the project, which requires land ownership changes, to be included in the reconstruction of the bridge. There are more details on the Bridge Company’s website.
The Company also wants to discuss with the Parish Council a potential improvement to the pedestrian crossing point near the toll booth. It has been suggested that the present narrow speed bump could be changed to a platform wide enough for buggies to be pushed across.
Date/Time : Saturday, 27th February 2016 21:17
Let others admire your garden this summer
Looking ahead, this year’s Garden Walk will take place on Sunday 19th June. Gardens will be open from 1.30 to 4.30 pm. Tea and cakes will be served in the White House garden from 3.30 pm, once more with the generous agreement of Matilda and Neil King.
Ian Bruce, Secretary of the Whitchurch Society, says: “As the current organiser, I am always on the look-out for new gardens to show. Please contact me if you would like to open your garden on 19th June. A notice with the list of gardens on show and their location will be delivered door-to-door a week before the event. I can be contacted on 0118 984 2653, 07879 405559 or firstname.lastname@example.org."
The Whitchurch Society page of the website (under Village Groups) has been revised recently to describe how the current role of the Society has changed and how its various events are now organised.
Date/Time : Friday, 26th February 2016 13:53
Village visit to La Bouille on 29th April
Whitchurch’s photographers, gourmets, francophiles, artists and explorers are invited to join a trip to France this Spring.
Vicky and Martyn Jordan say “come and join us on the Twinning Association’s visit to La Bouille, near Rouen. We go from Whitchurch by coach on Friday 29th April and return on Monday 2nd May. The long weekend promises great hospitality in a delightful village by the Seine. An added attraction is Nick Brazil’s exhibition of photographs at the village gallery. Our full day excursion will be to Honfleur with its beautiful harbour, art galleries, Eric Satie museum and waterside cafes and gardens. Four days for £200. Comfortable executive coach.”
Contact Vicky and Martyn Jordan 01189 843260 or Vickyjordan5@hotmail.com
Picture: Honfleur harbour
Date/Time : Tuesday, 23rd February 2016 11:54
Residents asked to object again on Eastfield House
A leaflet has been distributed to houses in the village encouraging residents to submit comments by 27th January to the Inspector who is hearing the Appeal against the refusal by South Oxfordshire of the application by Ross Healthcare to demolish all except the Victorian façade of Eastfield House in order to build a much bigger new care home on the site.
The leaflet lists five reasons why the proposed development is unacceptable.
See also our news item of 26th December.
Date/Time : Sunday, 17th January 2016 10:40
Update on parish council plans
The new parish council has been discussing a wide range of issues, some old and some new. Results of the online survey on use of the Village Green have been reported in the previous news item. Here is a brief round-up of other topics:
Re-paving The Cut: A quotation has been obtained for re-surfacing the footpath connecting Eastfield Lane and Swanston Field (photo). Oxfordshire County Council, whose responsibility it is, has said that there is no chance of their funding it.
Village Hall: A new site for the village hall, in a combined new pavilion/village hall building on the village green, is being tentatively considered. The current hall in Manor Road might then be demolished and replaced by low cost housing.
Neighbourhood Plan: A subcommittee has been set up to look into the process of preparing a Community Plan for the village, to be followed by a Neighbourhood Plan.
Land formerly occupied by the Polish chapel: The untidy area at the northern end of Manor Road is to be cleaned up and a community garden may be created.
The Bulletin: Richard Williams of Hillside, Hardwick Road, is the new Editor and publication will be every three months instead of two. Colour printing and advertising will be considered.
War memorial refurbishment: A recent online survey showed that a majority of respondents would like to have the memorial rebuilt to its original height, assuming a grant is available.
For more information the minutes of parish council meetings can be consulted. They are posted in draft form shortly after each monthly meeting and can be found here.
Date/Time : Wednesday, 06th January 2016 11:36
Village Green 'no charge' policy agreed
At the Parish Council meeting on 4th January, Jim Donahue, chairman of the Village Green Working Group, revealed the results of the recent online survey and provided this statement on charging policy:
We are pleased that we had 78 responses to the Village Green Survey which approaches one third of households in the village. It is clear from the survey feedback that the residents of the village place a high value on the Village Green for a broad range of purposes. The numerous comments will provide invaluable feedback for planning its future use, including replacement of the pavilion. Some proposals such as adding a fitness trail and skateboard or bicycle ramps are clearly not desired, while others, such as adding a basketball net, should be considered in the future.
Regarding the issue of charging the Football and Cricket Clubs for use of the Village Green, a clear majority were in favour of the Parish Council’s recommendation that all required maintenance can come out of the existing Parish Council budget as long as it stays within approximately 10% of the overall Council Budget. The Working Group also supports the separate agreements with the Football Club and Cricket Club, which define specific responsibilities of all parties to maintain agreed aspects of their respective playing fields (e.g. football goals and nets, cricket square). The Cricket Club and Football Club are happy to consider contributing to Village Green costs, on a case-by-case basis. The Cricket Club is also looking to make a fair contribution towards the cost of, and/or help with, fund raising for the new pavilion. The Cricket Club, Football Club, WoTHabs, and School have all expressed an interest in supporting periodic working parties to maintain the Village Green, including repairs to fencing, the pavilion, and annual clearing. The next working party will be arranged for March.
Jim reports that the Parish Council voted to support the recommendation that charging the Cricket Club and Football Club for use of the Village Green is not required, in line with the survey results. The Parish Council had previously voted not to charge the School for using the Village Green during term time.
Date/Time : Wednesday, 06th January 2016 11:17