4 min read

Update, Sunday 8th October

Here's an update of some of what I've been up to over the past week. Please do get in touch either if you have questions or if you would like to help us hoof out the Conservatives.

#64 bus - Perhaps the juiciest news is the morsel I heard yesterday, but haven't yet seen in writing. I've been told that #64 bus linking Swindon with Carterton and Witney is coming back into service from 27th November. Apparently it will run four times a day from Carterton to Swindon, three of which will start in Witney. Fantastic news!

Witney North - I spent a couple of hours at the event on 7th Oct at Witney Community Primary School reviewing the plans to build 1,250 homes between Witney and Hailey. I think this is a terrible plan. I have other concerns too, but at the top of the list are:

1) Transport - adding 3,000 into a location which has really poor transport links is a big mistake. Those people will naturally want to come into town and that's going to put far more pressure on Woodstock Road, the double roundabout and Bridge Street. Sure, some people might walk or bike, but the distance is substantial and the majority won't. We need to be realistic about this.

2) Flooding - this is already terrible. Houses in Eastfield Road, directly downstream of the site are regularly flooded. Sure, the developer's hydrologist says that adding all these roofs and patios will actually improve things. Really? Makes you wonder if any hydrologist being paid by a developer ever says "er, no, hang on, we shouldn't do this."

Windrush Catchment Partnership - I spent three hours on Wednesday up at the deeply impressive FarmED mainly talking flooding. WCP is set up to improve the Windrush. My key interest at the meeting was to explore what steps can be taken in a time and cost effective way to lower and slow the flood crest through Witney, thereby reducing the flood impact on the town and further downstream. This is a long journey but one we need to move quicker on, as evidence by conversations with Eastfield Rd (see above) and Riverside Gardens residents in Witney.

Thames Water - I spent three hours with Thames Water and the district council team on Friday.  Issues covered included:

i) drafting planning text to require that sewage treatment works capacity must be increased before new homes can be occupied.

ii) Adding flow monitors at Aston and Brize Norton to get a better understanding of where the leaks are and what needs to be sealed. Monitors will be installed at Aston next month and should help set out what work is required to accommodate the extra 40 homes going in at Marsh Furlong. With Brize Norton, we're grateful that TW have accepted our pushy request to receive the raw flow data. Geoff Tombs of WASP has already made great strides in interpreting the flow data from last year's flood events. I'm hopeful that we are now (after 20 years?!) making material progress to a solution at Brize Norton pumping station.  

iii) we are seeking more details on what upgrades are planned at Carterton, Cassington (serving Eynsham) and Woodstock's treatment works.

Carterton Community College - I spent a fascinating couple of hours on Thursday with Chris Hart, the Head of CCC. Chris and his team have done a really terrific job of turning around the school over the last four years. Pupil numbers up by more than 100, 6th Form numbers nearly tripled, thumbs up from Ofsted. Chris clearly has his eyes set on getting more good things done for CCC. Hats off!

Rail presentation - many thanks to Rev Drew Tweedy and David Melvin for allowing me to give a presentation as Chair of Witney Oxford Transport Group on the rail project at St. John the Evangelist on Saturday. I enjoyed meeting everyone and the Big Veg Man was a hard act to follow. Check out the photo. Nope, it ain't a meteorite, it's a beetroot.

Carterton Tea Party at the Community Centre - I managed to get to the tail end of this, in time for plenty of cake and the washing up. Very well done Kathy (aka Mayor of Carterton) and team for putting on such a good show.

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