Vale Of White Horse Council

Re-opening date for Abbey Meadow outdoor pool after £1.3m refurbishment

Abingdon’s popular Abbey Meadow outdoor pool will re-open on Saturday 16 June after its £1.3million refurbishment.

Vale of White Horse District Council has invested in the rebuilding work which included joining two pool tanks to create a single large one. The new pool features a beach-style gently sloping walk-in area that provides easy access for young children and for visitors with disabilities. There is also a deep water area for more experienced swimmers.

The changing areas have also been fully refurbished to make the whole experience much more enjoyable for all visitors.

The pool is now surrounded by a safe, non-slip rubber surface and the council has improved accessibility throughout the pool area and buildings. New energy saving lighting and equipment will also help make the pool more efficient to run. 

The council is holding an official opening event on the morning of 16 June and it will be open to the public from 1pm.

The council is appealing for people to send in old pictures of Abbey Meadow pool which could feature in a special picture display at the re-opening event. A free swim is on offer for anybody who submits a picture that is used in the display. Please contact for more details.

Branches reach out for new community café

A brand-new café to support young people is opening in Botley thanks to a grant of almost £7,000 from Vale of White Horse District Council. 

Branches is opening a community café at the West Way shopping centre providing a much-needed meeting place for the local community. 

Branches aims to open before the summer for the whole community to use during the day.  After school and into the evening, the café’s focus will to be provide a safe and fun place for young people to socialise and take part in workshops and positive activities.  There will be opportunities for secondary school children and young adults to be involved in running the business. 

The new venture will benefit local families and friends with a new place to meet up, help young people aged 12 - 18 and will help Branches raise funds for their youth work and projects in the Botley area. 

Branches café is currently looking for volunteers to help support the local enterprise.  Anyone can get involved by contacting

Unlicensed scrap metal dealer fined

Vale of White Horse District Council has successfully prosecuted a Birmingham man for illegal scrap metal dealing in Abingdon.

Ionel Petcu, (pictured left), of Kirby Road, Winson Green, Birmingham, was found guilty on Tuesday (1/5) at Oxford Magistrates’ Court of two charges related to dealing in scrap metal without a licence. He was fined £500 for each offence and ordered to pay a contribution to costs of £350 and a victim surcharge of £50.

Cllr Elaine Ware, cabinet member for Housing and Environment for the Vale of the White Horse District Council, said: “There are strict laws and regulations around the collection and disposal of scrap metal. This is to prevent against metal theft and fly tipping to protect our environment and the area we live in. 

“This man’s actions undermine legitimate scrap metal collectors and waste removal companies operating in the Vale. I hope this case shows that the council will not tolerate this kind of blatant disregard for the law when it comes to the protection of our environment.”

Council continues with strong housing land supply

Vale of White Horse District Council is continuing to deliver on house-building as latest figures show it is once again exceeding a five-year housing land supply.

Under government planning rules set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), all local planning authorities must have an up-to-date deliverable five-year housing land supply.

The council’s Housing Land Supply Statement for 2017-18, published today, shows that the Vale has a 6.8-year supply.

To determine this figure, the council monitors planning permissions, carries out site surveys to check progress on house-building and works with housebuilders to understand how many houses are likely to be built in the next five years.

Its latest housing completion survey shows that 1,620 homes were built and finished in 2017/18. The Housing Land Supply Statement can be viewed here.

Vale calls for public inquiry into Thames Water’s reservoir plans

Vale of White Horse District Council has responded to Thames Water’s proposed draft Water Resources Management Plan by recommending a public inquiry is held to examine the draft plan to ensure the water company has correctly followed procedures. 

The council is concerned that Thames Water has not fully explored and assessed each option in sufficient detail in its draft plan, which sets out how it intends to provide a secure and sustainable supply of water for the next 80 years. 

One of Thames Water’s options is to build a large reservoir between the villages of Drayton, East Hanney and Steventon that would hold 150 million cubic metres of water and would be larger than the whole town of Abingdon.  

The council needs to see all of Thames Water’s proposals to include detailed analysis on the implications on local residents, roads and landscape, wildlife and habitats, biodiversity and take into consideration any archaeological significance of any proposed site. 

Cllr Matthew Barber, Leader of the Vale of the White Horse District Council said: “We are yet to be convinced that the proposed reservoir at Abingdon is necessary or indeed the most effective option to address the future water needs of the south-east of England.” 

He added: “The key issue in a previous public inquiry in 2010, into Thames Water’s draft plan, expressed the same concerns and we would still like to see all proposed options fully assessed to the appropriate level of detail.” 

A copy of the letter sent to Thames Water can be found here (50.8 KB) PDF.

New Vale Leader announced

Cllr Roger Cox is set to be confirmed as Leader of the Vale of White Horse District Council this evening. Roger and I were both elected for Faringdon & The Coxwells ward in 2003 and it has been a pleasure to work with him over the last fifteen years. I have no doubt that he will lead the Council with a clear vision and serve the people of the Vale incredibly well.

Today I stand down as Leader of the Council after seven years. It has been a fantastic experience and I am proud of the many achievements the Vale has made over the years and how we have tackled a number of challenges. 

I will continue as councillor for the Steventon & the Hanneys ward on the Vale and look forward to serving under Roger's leadership. I will be continuing my other role as Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner on a full-time basis and look forward to updating you with the latest news on policing matters in the future.


The next leader of the Vale of White Horse District Council will be Roger Cox.


He will replace current leader Matthew Barber when he steps down next week.


Mr Barber is taking a full-time job as Thames Valley's deputy police and crime commissioner later this month.

Mr Cox, who is currently the council's deputy leader and member for planning, is expected to be formally elected by councillors at a meeting next Wednesday. He is also a district councillor for Faringdon.


His deputy is expected to be Ed Blagrove, a councillor for Kennington and Radley, who is member for corporate services, and who was chosen by Tory colleagues on Tuesday.

I am standing down as Leader of the Vale after seven years

Today (April 20) I am announcing my intention to stand down as Leader of the Vale of White Horse District Council at the annual meeting on 16th May 2018 but will continue as councillor for Steventon & the Hanneys ward.
It has been an honour and a pleasure to serve as Leader of the Council for the last 7 years and it has been a difficult decision for me to step back from a role I have thoroughly enjoyed.
I am proud of the many achievements of the Council over the years and to have played a part in serving the communities of the Vale during this time. I am extremely grateful for the support of my colleagues, council officers and many members of the public who have worked with the council to improve the place that we all love.

There are many things that I will reflect on with pride, including delivering a Local Plan, introducing 2hr free parking, managing to expand services with diminishing budgets as well as planning and delivering significant projects, from new leisure facilities to flood defences.
As many people will know, since 2017 I have also been Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley and I will now be taking on this role full time. I look forward to continuing to serve the community in this role.

Harwell Link Road Officially Opened

There was ‘something old and something new’ when Oxfordshire’s latest major transport improvement - the £11.65m Harwell Link Road – opened on 28 March.

Vintage vehicles from the golden age of motoring were joined by a ‘driverless’ car, a hydrogen powered vehicle and electric bicycles and be the first to travel down the brand new route.

More than 5,000 people work at Harwell Campus each day and the newly opened road, with its cycle and pedestrian facilities, will deliver an array of benefits to those currently living near and working at the campus. 

By improving the local transport network the road will provide the confidence necessary to attract more business investment and high-skilled employees. 

The project was also designed to improve national and local connectivity and boost local employment opportunities with links to new housing developments and further improvements to the road networks planned.

Calls for great public engagement on Expressway options

Following the Government's announcement that it will accept the National Infrastructure Commission's recommendation to create a new Oxford-to-Cambridge Expressway, Highways England have taken on the task of developing the project. Whilst there is a great deal of public consultation planned on the detailed route, a much bigger decision is set to be made first. This is to determine the "route corridor". In broad terms, for Oxfordshire that could mean does the road go North or South of Oxford. This will obviously have huge impact on the county's infrastructure and will determine which communities are directly affected (or indeed benefit) from the new road.

Therefore I have written to the Secretary of State for Transport calling for more public engagement on the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway before a decision is made on the route corridor. You can view the letter by clicking here.

Government announces funding through Housing Infrastructure Fund

The Government has confirmed that two of Oxfordshire's bids for the Housing and Infrastructure Fund (HIF) are progressing through to the co-development stage.

Detailed business plans will now be developed for the £300 million of transport infrastructure investment.
If agreed, the investment would substantially improve the county’s transport infrastructure, including a new river crossing at Culham and an upgrade of the A40. The improved infrastructure would enable the development of new living and employment areas using sustainable design principles, including improved cycling provision.

The announcement comes on top of the recently agreed £215 million Oxfordshire Housing & Growth Deal, which will fund transport improvements and more affordable housing.  Didcot Garden Town – £171m is sought for transport improvements including a Didcot Science Bridge and A4130 dual carriageway, a new river crossing at Culham and Clifton Hampden Bypass. This would support the delivery of over 22,000 homes in Didcot, Culham, Harwell and Berinsfield. Additionally up to £70m of cycle and other sustainable transport improvements are proposed for inclusion in the bid plan. West Oxfordshire Garden Village – £135m is sought for further upgrades to the A40, building on existing schemes and based on the approved A40 Long Term Strategy including development of the Rapid Transit network and additional highway capacity on A40 transport corridor. This would support the delivery of over 10,000 homes in Witney & Carterton, and around Eynsham.

Final funding awards for the bids will be determined by Government following the agreement of detailed business plans on the delivery of the new infrastructure.

New awards for voluntary and community groups

People needing independent advice and help with transport around the Wantage area will continue to receive vital support thanks to a grant for an advice centre from Vale of White Horse District Council. 

TheWantage Independent Advice Centre (WIAC) offers advice and transport to people in and around Wantage, Grove and Faringdon. 

Thecentre was founded in 1971 with a small group of volunteers providing an information service and advice from a small office in Falcon Court. After a spell in Mill Street in the 1980s, WIAC moved to its current home in Market Place, Wantage in 1995. It now has around 110 volunteers. 

Nowall this good work has been supported by a three-year partnership grant of £58,000 per year from 2018/19 to 2020/21 by Vale of White Horse District Council. 

The grant was approved by the council leader Cllr Matthew Barber, who said: “I am delighted that once again we were able to contribute towards the advice centre, which has been part of the community for more than 36 years. The Council is proud to continue to support organisations like the Advice Centre that do so much to help local people.” 

Organisationsinterested in applying for funding can find out more information at 

The Council's grant schemes open for applications on 25 April and the Council is holding advisory workshops on 16 April at Botley, 18 April at Uffington and 24 April at Letcombe Regis.

Booking is required as spaces are limited - people can book a place by emailing or by calling 01235 422103. Groups can book up to two places per round of funding.

Man convicted of fly-tipping

Vale of White Horse District Council has successfully prosecuted a 29-year-old man for fly-tipping and he has been ordered to pay more than £1,500.

John Francis Joyce of Redbridge Hollow, Oxford pleaded guilty to three counts of illegal dumping of waste at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on 27 March.  Magistrates heard how Joyce was caught on camera depositing three van loads of waste, including mattresses and building waste, on Allotment Road, Redbridge Hollow, near Oxford on 20, 21 and 23 September 2017.  Joyce was ordered to by the magistrates to pay a total of £1,580.56 which included court costs, clear-up costs and a fine.

The land is owned by Oxford City Council, but it is in the Vale of White Horse district council area and it was the Vale’s environmental protection team and legal department, who brought the prosecution. Councillor Elaine Ware, Vale of White Horse District Council Cabinet member for Environmental Services, said: “This was a brazen flouting of the law, where the defendant returned again and again to dump illegal waste at the same spot. We will not tolerate this behaviour which blights our landscapes and people’s lives and we will do our utmost to prosecute offenders.”

Tim Sadler, Oxford City Council Executive Director for Sustainable City, said: “It is always incredibly frustrating when taxpayers’ money has to be spent clearing up after the selfish actions of those who fly-tip. This prosecution sends a clear message that fly-tipping will not be tolerated in our communities, and we are grateful to Vale of White Horse District Council for leading on the prosecution.”


Local Plan Part 2

Vale of White Horse District Council has submitted the Local Plan 2031 Part 2 to the Secretary of State for independent examination.
The Plan, and its supporting studies, set out the Council’s vision for the district until 2031. Together they identify where housing, retail, and employment land should be located, as well as the infrastructure required to support this growth, such as new roads, schools, health services and sewerage.
Local Plan 2031 Part 2 will complement Part 1, which was adopted in December 2016, by detailing policies and locations for housing to meet the Vale’s proportion of Oxford’s unmet housing need.
The council is mindful that the Government is working on guidelines entitled ‘Planning for the right homes in the right places’, which considers how housing need is calculated. However, the Council is required to work on the existing housing needs figures until any new Government guidelines are finalised and published, and must also consider economic growth, affordable housing and the need for new infrastructure.
The Inspector will set a timetable for a series of public examination hearings, expected to be held later this year. The public can attend the examination to witness the proceedings, however only those invited by the Inspector will be able to participate in the hearings. Dates and a venue for the examination will be confirmed after an Inspector has been appointed.
For more information about the Vale of White Horse Local Plan see localplanpart2.

Vale leads the way on autonomous vehicles

Government green-lights first use of autonomous vehicles on UK roads UK’s first trial of autonomous vehicles on public roads will begin in the Vale of White Horse Trial funded by Government’s innovation agency, Innovate UK .The project seeks to reduce car usage within a large business park by half.


The first use of fully connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV) on public roads is set to take place in Oxfordshire, following the announcement of government funding into a trial project. Innovate UK has announced the award of £2.5 million to trial self-driving vehicles in and around Milton Park. The vehicles will travel between private roads at Milton Park and the public roads that link the site with nearby transport services.


The 30-month MultiCAV project will be undertaken by a consortium of organisations with different sector backgrounds who are investing in the development of autonomous vehicles and led by UK transport operator FirstGroup.


Science Vale UK is already renowned for creating state-of-the-art technology and, along with our business partners, we are delighted to receive the Innovate UK grant that confirms our ambitions to establish the Science Vale at the forefront of bringing zero emission autonomous public transport to our region.


Meet Munching Molly and pals – the new food waste recycling trucks


VWHDC set a challenge to primary school children in both districts to come up with a list of new names for the new food waste trucks. Residents then voted for their favourites.
After nearly four weeks and thousands of votes, the most popular name in Vale was Munching Molly. The name was put forward by two pupils at John Blandy Primary School in Southmoor.
There are 12 new food waste trucks, the new fleet was recently introduced by the Councils’ waste contractor Biffa.
The children who put forward the top names have each won a swimming pass for our local leisure centres for their family, courtesy of GLL the Councils’ leisure centre contractor. Each child also scooped £150 book tokens for their school.


New awards for voluntary and community groups


Voluntary and community groups across the district are being invited to tell everyone the difference they have made to their communities – and the best will win new awards thanks to VWHDC. The Council is sponsoring an award, for the first time this year, for the Best Group in the Vale of White Horse.
The awards are part of the prestigious annual Oxfordshire Charity and Volunteer Awards – co-ordinated by Oxfordshire Community and Voluntary Action. The winners will be announced in Oxford on 05 June 2018.
The challenge has been set down for voluntary or community groups, large or small, new or old to show how they have made a significant impact to their local communities.
Please visit the OCVA website for more information and how to nominate. Nominations close at midday on 10 April 2018.


Latest news hitting your doorstep

Conservative councillors, activists and volunteers across the Vale are beginning to deliver the latest newsletter through residents' letterboxes. Reporting back and keeping residents informed is important and whilst email newsletter such as this and the use of social media are growing they still haven't replaced the good old-fashioned leaflet!

Vale approves safeguards in Growth Deal

The Vale Council has agreed the Oxfordshire Housing & Growth Deal, based on a commitment from government and partner councils to address a number of so called ‘red-lines’ which aims to protect the district from uncontrolled development.

By agreeing the Deal, the Vale is securing £150m of infrastructure funding for Oxfordshire, with the hope of additional cash in the future, and £60m for Affordable Housing. The Vale has already been successful in a bid for an additional £8m to deliver the Wantage Eastern Link Road, £9m for the Lodge Hill junction and is hopeful for a further application of nearly £200m to benefit both the Vale and South Oxfordshire.

In addition the Council has negotiated a number of benefits to protect the Vale's existing local plan, including reducing the current 5 year housing land supply requirement to just 3 years. 

The deal would see Council's establishing a Joint Statutory Spacial Plan (JSSP) for Oxfordshire to improve joined-up planning across the county. Importantly the Vale has made it clear that this plan must not allocate housing sites and will put no additional pressure on the Vale in the period to 2031. The Vale will consider the most appropriate way to consult with our residents on the scope of the JSSP in due course.

Commenting after the meeting, Cllr Matthew Barber said, "This is a big step forward. I have been extremely cautious about this deal, but I am confident that if the red-lines we have set down can be met then the Vale, and indeed the whole of Oxfordshire, can benefit from much needed infrastructure spending without the fear of returning to a period of uncontrolled development. This is not the end of the story, we need significantly more investment than is currently being offered, but my Council is seeking to mitigate the risks whilst hoping to maximise the benefits."

Funding agreed to improve public realm


The Vale of White Horse District Council agreed its 2018/19 budget, including £750,000 over the next three years for a new flagship team to improve the look of public areas across the Vale and deliver an attractive district that residents and businesses can be proud of.

Cllr Matthew Barber, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “Our new action team will work alongside town and parish councils to ensure that everyone can benefit from the beautiful environment we are blessed with in the Vale. We are proud of our district and we want to ensure that residents and visitors are proud of the places they live and visit as well.”

£8 million awarded by government for new Wantage link road

Wantage is set to receive nearly £8 million to provide an easy route from Mably Way to the Reading Road, east of the town.

The Wantage Eastern Link Road will connect the A338 to the A417 to avoid people travelling going through the town or along Charlton Village Road and passing the local primary school. 

The total cost of building the road is expected to be around £15 million with the remainder of the money coming from developer contributions and other funding pots. 

Councillor Matthew Barber, Leader of the Vale of White Horse District Council said, “We welcome the funding for the new link road.  This route is an important part of our plan to help bring new homes to the Vale over the next 20 years.”

Vale completes sale of West Way in Botley

Vale of White Horse District Council has completed the £12.4 million sale of land to Botley Development Company who are set to revitalise the shopping centre and adjacent land at West Way.

The district council has been working to secure the redevelopment for some time to enhance and breathe new life into the whole shopping area for Botley residents.  

Since the original agreements to sell in 2012, the developer has adapted and changed its plans after extensive consultation with the local community.  The updated plans were granted planning permission in 2016.

The district council and other site land owners agreed a new price to help Botley Development Company proceed with the purchase and to make changes to their plans that were necessary to meet the needs of the community.  The council took a reduction of approximately £1.4 million and agreed to sell the land for just over £12.4 million. Botley Development Company hopes to start preliminary work on the site as soon as possible.


Fly-tipper ordered to pay more than £3,000

A man has been ordered to pay over £3,000 after admitting dumping rubbish in a drainage ditch in Abingdon.

Andrey Kafica, 28, of Dodgson Road, Oxford, appeared at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 30 January when he pleaded guilty to one charge of the unauthorised depositing of waste and another of transporting a controlled waste without the required registration.

On Monday 5 June 2017 rubbish including garden chairs, wooden frames and cardboard boxes were found in the ditch by Peep O’Day Lane, a popular cycling route. 

The waste was traced back to a house in nearby Steventon.  The occupants were interviewed by enforcement officers from Vale of White Horse District Council, they confirmed the rubbish had been removed by a cleaning company, providing invoices, receipts and photos of the men who had taken it away.

Mr Kafica was then interviewed under caution when he admitted fly-tipping the waste.  He said that he had agreed to take the rubbish away as an additional job which had not been agreed by his employer.

In court Kafica was fined £1,800 and also ordered to pay £1,076.75 costs and £201.42 compensation.

To find out how to stay legal when having waste removed from your property visit

Innovative district heating network could be built in Didcot

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils have identified an innovative opportunity to use excess heat from industrial sites to heat other buildings in and around Didcot Garden Town.  

One potential idea is to build a ‘district heat network’ that could be to use excess heat from Didcot B Power station to directly heat nearby business premises.  

The scheme could provide heating to new businesses and offices set to be built on the old Didcot A Power Station site and stretch out via underground pipes to a nearby business Enterprise Zone sites in North Didcot.    

As part of Didcot Garden Town plans to introduce renewable energy, the environmental project would lead to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions whilst providing low-cost reliable heat.  The water source heat pump could produce 16,500 megawatt hours per year – equivalent to powering 1,375 homes.  

The district councils have completed two preliminary stages of feasibility studies and worked closely with RWE, land owners, businesses, developers and local key stakeholders.  The studies have also included other local schemes, some of which would supply heat and power to other businesses and residential developments.

Matthew Barber, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council said, “Working with RWE and other partners, the initial signs are very positive for building a new energy centre and heat network.  Using excess heat from power stations has been successful throughout Europe and our Science Vale region has the potential to be one of the first to install this technology in the UK.”  

The district councils hope to receive government funding later this year to progress the heat network project further by completing financial and technical tests and to create possible designs for the proposed various combined heat and power networks.