There was a meeting of Abingdon-on-Thames Town Council on Wednesday evening using Microsoft Teams. I was the only member of the public to attend having requested an id beforehand by email. Councillors and officers appeared in equal size boxes and could be seen more clearly than from the public gallery. Each person also had a name and so could all be identified. The meeting went fairly smoothly. (I hope I am entitled to share a screenshot of people voting. See above.)
I read the minutes of the various committees beforehand, as they appear on the Town Council website. Most of the minutes were agreed without discussion. When it came to the Guildhall, which appears to have had heating problems in the old rooms, the Guildhall Committee Chairman noted that they would be coming back to discuss the Guildhall later, in the confidential meeting.
From a report from the Vale of White Horse District Council a consultation has been launched for residents to give their views on some proposed changes to parking arrangements in the district council’s off-street car parks. The following changes are being proposed:
– phasing out residential permits for West St Helen St and Rye Farm car parks
– adding electric charging bays to car parks, and making only electric cars parking there legally enforceable and finable
– removing the parking for lorries in the Rye Farm car park
– formalising the parking bays in Hales Meadow car park – for coaches etc.
To find about more about the proposals and to take part in the consultation visit www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/parking. The consultation is open until Thursday 19 November.
From a report from Oxfordshire County Council we learned of progress on the Lodge Hill interchange onto the A34. Land has been purchased. Initial design work is underway. The Target start is currently July 2021.
The Town Council has some policies and a half dozen of these came up for review, and Councillors voted them through unanimously without any comment.
There was a good discussion on a Motion proposed by Cllr Andy Foulsham and seconded by Cllr Alex Greenaway:
“This Council acknowledges that the absence of free school meals over school holidays is a real issue for some residents of Abingdon. We thank businesses, including Willow Shakes, Annies Tea Rooms and The Barns Cafe and organisations such as the Abingdon Food Bank, the Community Fridge and the SOFEA Larder at Abingdon Carousel that have helped by providing food for local children who are usually in receipt of free school meals over half term. In the absence of a scheme from UK government or Oxfordshire County Council to provide food to families in receipt of free school meals over the Christmas holidays, we commit to working with councillor colleagues from the Vale of White Horse District Council & Oxfordshire County Council to meet the need for such meals over Christmas in the belief that no child should go hungry.”
The motion was passed unanimously with a number of councillors volunteering their time to help coordinate efforts and help where volunteers needed help. The museum will also close during the 2nd lockdown and some staff would be available to help. This was heartwarming.
It was recommended to council that a report on long term planning is adopted as the basis for building on previous work and developing a five year plan process, before putting together a five year plan. The council is eighteen months into its four year term.
Looking back at the minutes, that were not discussed, the following items caught my attention…
New Noticed Boards have not had top priority in these strange times. The two new ones should be installed soon but an officer said ‘the social distancing rule made installation difficult.’ Also ‘Members were informed that despite several reminders the company asked to design a round notice board for the Market Place had not produced a proposal.’
All benches in St Helen’s Wharf have now been replaced with recycled wood look-alike plastic.
There have been problems along part of Wilsham Road with fishermen blocking the pathway and endangering the public while fishing. Records could not be found regarding the rights to fish along Wilsham Road. The Amenities Committee resolved that the area of Wilsham Road which is railed and has a walkway should not be used for fishing purposes, and signage provided.
At the museum a 3D ‘virtual tour’ tour has been produced. See https://www.abingdon.gov.uk/partners/abingdon-county-hall-museum. There is a youtube channel and more social media activity. The ‘Museum Crafting Crew’ Facebook page was established during lockdown and successfully carried out eight virtual children’s craft events. The museum took part in this year’s Heritage Open Day (HOD) on Saturday 19th September.
The museum was offered some of the stones from the Covid 19 snake displayed originally at the fire station. The museum collections officer welcomes being able to add to the collection something contemporary from lockdown.
The museum received a visit from two researchers from Portsmouth University who looked at the Ichthyosaur skeleton and discounted the previous identification as Ophthalmosaurus and suggested that it might even be a new species. They also corrected the arrangement of the bones in the case.
The Bob Frampton prize (single use plastic) results are show at https://www.abingdon.gov.uk/abingdon-news/abingdon-county-hall-museum/bob-frampton-prize-2020-winners .
Abingdon Museum Friends gave £1000 towards the cost of making the museum safe to reopen.
The Green Scrutiny Committee has noted the use of plastic bags at the Monday Market. Anyone going to the Fruit and Veg stall will know that stall holders have a tendency to put things into plastic bags before you even ask. So the Town Council will provide 1000 reusable branded cotton bags at a nominal price.
The Town Council has covered the cost of providing security at the Monday Market and Farmers’ Market, as required in the Covid-19 risk assessments.
There will be no big Christmas light event this year. The town centre Christmas lights be switched on sooner. They have already been installed so thats could be at anytime.