Category Archives: politics

Neighbourhood Plan – final three topics for consultation

The people of Abingdon are invited to comment on three more topics for the neighbourhood plan. They are:
* Travel, access and movement (A 20 MPH limit has already been requested by Abingdon-on-Thames Town Council. The neighbourhood plan has a map of proposed changes to encourage cycling and pedestrians along many of the town’s through roads. )
* Business and employment (Allow more integrated employment close to people’s homes. This is in addition to the current business parks, shopping areas, schools and health centres.)
* Families and young people (Encourage pupils to walk and cycle to school with play-on-the-way schemes and hangout places.)

People can still comment on the other three topics.

After this consultation, the neighbourhood plan will be submitted for an independent examination to ensure it is complete.

The plan would then be put forward to an Abingdon-wide referendum next year. If adopted, the plan would influence planning decisions and help set the agenda for council actions and decisions over the next fifteen years.

To comment on any of the topics, visit

A spectacular display

Here are pictures from the spectacular floral displays in Abingdon on the 7th of July 2022, the day that Prime Minister Boris Johnson resigned after a series of resignations by government ministers.

Boris Johnson’s time in office was the most eventful of any recent Prime Minister. It began with getting Brexit Done. There followed a Pandemic that forced people to stay at home.

The real danger came when he sacked his Brexit ally, Dominic Cummings, appointed as the  Prime Minister’s special adviser. Dominic Cummings blogged about parties at 10 Downing Street when the rest of the country was in lockdown.

Russia invaded Ukraine, and Boris Johnson became a friend of Ukraine.

Spectacular displays do not go on forever.

Town Council – 29th June 2022

The Town Council meeting was held in the old magistrate’s court and began with a minutes’ silence in memory of Brian Tonkin – Town Clerk from 1985 to 2000. The town flag was flying at half-mast for him. The silence was also for Johannah Aynsley, Guildhall Manager, from 2012 to 2016. The Town Council have a tribute to Brian Tonkin. The Oxford Mail have a tribute to Johannah Aynsley.

The council meeting was hybrid. Most councillors attended in person, but a few joined using Microsoft Teams. Virtual councillors don’t have quite the same privileges as physical councillors.

The meeting began with a presentation by Sustrans and Oxfordshire County Council on early design work to improve cycle and pedestrian links at the junction of East St Helen Street, Bridge Street, and Stert Street. People may remember there used to be a triangular island at the bottom of Stratton Way to provide three-way pedestrian access. A similar triangular island is proposed with three zebra crossings at this junction. Reducing the flowerbed by the County Hall would help make room for the island and give pavement access. There is no funding yet to do a detailed plan or undertake the work.

Only two committee papers were considered at the meeting, those of the finance and the community committees. The last Town Council meeting was a special meeting to consider the Jubilee celebrations. At that meeting, it was decided to make evening concerts free, using money from reserves to cover the extra cost.

A report from the County Council had the latest timing for the Lodge Hill Junction. Planning permission will hopefully be submitted in September 2022.

Town Councillor Jim Halliday has been made an Alderman by VWHDC (Vale of White Horse District Council). This honour is similar to being made a Freeman by the Town Council and allows him to attend all ceremonial events. Dr Jim Halliday (in the dark suit) was a VWHDC councillor from 1995 to 2015, representing three wards during his time. He began as a councillor for the Abingdon Ock ward and went on to represent Abingdon Northcourt in 2003. From 2007, Jim was a councillor for the Abingdon Fitzharris ward. He also served as Chair and Vice-Chair on the Scrutiny Committee and the Abingdon and North East Area Committee. (Jerry Patterson and Reg Waite were also made Aldermen.)

This year is a time for staff changes at the Town Council. Steve Rich recently retired as outdoor and facilities manager, and now the financial officer Susan Whipp has decided to move on.

There was a discussion of standards in public life. A national report from 2019 has led to changes. Central government wanted changes decided at a local level. Oxfordshire’s new standards set out how Abingdon councillors are expected to behave.

Annual Parish Meeting

The Annual Parish Meeting is held by Abingdon-on-Thames Town Council to tell residents what has happened that year. The meeting was first advertised as being held on 16th March and was put back when it became apparent that the Covid case rates continued to be very high, with some counsellors and staff contracting the virus. So it was decided to delay the meeting and hold it online instead. Covid rates are now dropping.

There were several reports by town council committees on what they had been doing over the last year. There was also an update on the Neighbourhood Plan. They have looked at three areas in detail and consulted on the new website. The next three areas are now being expanded for consultation on the website. They will be access, family and young people, business.

This new play equipment at Box Hill is part of a rolling programme of improvements.

The museum continues with its programme of exhibitions, including one showing what happened in Abingdon during the seven decades of the 2nd Elizabethan Era.

These reports were gone through very quickly. But anybody interested can see them all at

There is also a video.

One thing that was highlighted in the video was the council’s commitment to the environment. This year’s Mayor, Councillor Cheryl Briggs, is a Green Councillor.

The Town Council gives grants to community groups. Several organisations that got larger grants also did presentations at the meeting. They included:
• Abingdon Carousel (0-5 years and family support)
• Be Free Young Carers (2 pupils in every classroom on average have care responsibilities)
• The Abingdon Bridge (provide support for teenagers, including counselling when waiting for  NHS counselling would take so much longer)
• South and Vale Citizens’ Advice (support adults often with financial difficulties)
• Christ’s Hospital of Abingdon (run Albert Park, and they would be happy for the town council to take it over if they so wished).

Then followed a presentation by the Abingdon Integrated Youth – Support Project (AIYSP). The young people involved have learned to lead and done surveys and helped find what concerns young people in Abingdon. These issues can then be looked at further.

In the final part of the meeting, questions were asked by members of the Abingdon public. There was a question about progress on a new cemetery. This is a very complex subject. It needs to consider current and future burial rates, planning rules, land availability, groundwater conditions, and national regulations, which are currently under review. The council has employed a specialised contractor, CDS group, to carry out a review. They will look at how much space is available at the current cemetery and then look for the best of the proposed new sites.

I asked two questions about Bun Throwing to lighten the mood. How would councillors throw buns to the back of the Market Place? Would Social Distancing be a problem at Bun Throwing?

But then it got heavy with questions about the Upper Reaches Hotel and the delays in getting Abingdon Bridge mended. Folly Bridge in Oxford has apparently leapfrogged Abingdon Bridge and is being repaired first.

Hester asked why did Community Groups have to fight for Abingdon? It should be the town council, but the town council seems to get fobbed off by insultingly vague answers from the district council regarding the Upper Reaches. Then community groups get to know before councillors from the county council that work on Abingdon Bridge has been delayed.