Empty state of Old Abbey House brought to mind by blue plastic sheets

Empty state of Old Abbey House
The empty state of Old Abbey House has been brought to mind by the blue plastic sheets that have appeared on the porch roof. It has been empty since Abingdon-on-Thames Town Council and the Citizens Advice moved out of the building in May 2014, and was boarded up in October 2018 to stop vandalism.

During this time the property department at the Vale of White Horse District Council has been outsourced and brought back in house again, and that probably resulted in a lack of continuity in the people dealing with Old Abbey House. Reading the minutes of the VWHDC Joint Scrutiny Committee on 7th March 2019 I read ‘The property management and facilities management services were brought back in house as it became clear that it was not possible for the contracts to deliver the anticipated level of savings. Since bringing the services back in house, they had been co-located in one property team.’ 

So things should get better from now once the ‘one property team’ gets established.

It was suggested in the Abingdon annual parish meeting that providers of social housing will be contacted to see if they can use Old Abbey House. This is in line with previous announcements by the district council. The district council has said inbetween whiles ‘Working with Oxfordshire County Council and other partners, the district council is conducting a ‘one public estate’ review to look at how we can use Old Abbey House alongside other key public buildings and sites in the town.’

In their current newsletter the Friends of Abingdon say ‘The Friends are aware of several people who have contacted the District Council in the last 2-3 years with serious proposals to take on Old Abbey House for various purposes, all involving some degree of public use. It is disappointing that officers and councillors have declined to engage with them.’ 

It would be good if such options could be reconsidered by the incoming council after the election, and the new ‘one property team’.

9 thoughts on “Empty state of Old Abbey House brought to mind by blue plastic sheets

  1. Iain

    We are sitting on three massive property issues in Abingdon:
    – Charter
    – Old Abbey House
    – Upper Reaches
    (I’m not including the Guildhall now as I think the cinema has finally solved that one – hooray!!)

    I hope we get serious Abingdon representation on the Vale Council who will pay proper attention to these issues after the next election. Most of the current Abingdon councillors can see the problem but they have failed to use their influence to solve these problems.

    Time to give some new people a chance I think.

  2. clara

    Shame the carpark cant be officially used..especially for cinema visitors….The Abbey carpark can get quite busy …..and will be even busier when the summer season begins…just a thought.

  3. Daniel

    I don’t disagree Iain – and also think the cinema is great!

    However…is it “new people” or is it the political colours and political football that is played that causes the issue?

    If ‘new people’ are still going to put party colours first…then it won’t matter a jot, sadly.

  4. Iain

    To be honest Daniel, whilst I fully agree the party system doesnt help, particularly at the Town Council level, my point was more around the general capability of the individuals.

    Most of the councillors are nice people and are well intentioned, and I have a lot of respect for them that they volunteer their time to try and make a difference to our love,y town.

    The problem is that too few of them really have the skills needed to actually make a difference. I have met and worked with many trully talented people in this town, but the combination of most of them having busy lives, the party system and the thankless nature of being branded a local ‘politician’ tends to discourage them from standing.

  5. clara

    Since the cinema has opened the Abbey car park can be very busy and with the summer almost upon us it will get even busier…..maybe the car parking spaces in Abbey House could be utilized on a temporary basis….just a thought…

  6. hester

    Just following on from Iain’s last sentence – while it would be great to have more young people on the Councils the pressures on their time make it very difficult. But there are a lot of people around who are past that stage, have many years experience working in the “real world”, whether business or public sector, and have skills which would be incredibly useful in tackling some of the difficult issues which the Councils have to face. People who are past the stage of having to ferry children around and maybe also past the worst of the “long days culture” in their working lives.
    So – a plea to all of you out there – you have until 3 April to put your papers in! You can do it either via a party or as an Independent: in these days of social media that is a lot easier than it would have been in the past.

  7. R.

    It was anounced on last night’s 6:30 BBC TV local news that cancer screening services are to remain at the Churchill which is very good news.

  8. Brian

    Who is ultimately responsible for these properties? Is the collective of the “Town Council”. If a good offer was submitted, is there an individual or committee empowered to answer?


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