News index


Charlbury Open Gardens JAZZ LUNCH - 8th June

To celebrate the 10th Open Gardens, we are holding a JAZZ LUNCH —so come along early for a cool, relaxed, Jazz Lunch with Alan Fraser & Friends in The Memorial Hall at 12.30 pm.

Numbers are limited for the lunch and tickets are available for purchase from outside the Corner House on Saturdays 24th, 31st May and 7th June, from 9.30am to 12 noon. Tickets for a scrumptuous two course lunch are £8.50 each including coffee. Alternatively, you can contact Susie Finch on 01608 810861 or at

Susie Finch · Fri 30 May 2008, 16:17 · Link

Railbus - Town Council asks for views

Locally subsidised bus services come up for review approximately every four years. Amongst other services that Oxfordshire County Council are currently reviewing in December this year are the following routes which directly affect Charlbury:

  • 20A Oxford-Woodstock-Stonesfield-Charlbury
  • 69 Witney – Charlbury – Chipping Norton
  • C1 Charlbury Railbus

As your new (very new, i.e. only since May 14th) Transport Representative on the Charlbury Town Council, I am doing my best to learn as quickly as possible what are the various local concerns. I have already been to a meeting in Oxford of the Transport Dept. of the OCC which was discussing the revisions of Chapter 3 of the Oxfordshire Bus Subsidy Policy.

As many of you will have heard there is to be a more local review of the services with which our town is concerned, and accordingly Transport Reps. of all local parishes have been invited to meetings on Thursday, June 5th, either in the Memorial Hall, Charlbury at 2pm– 4pm or the Chipping Norton Town Hall, 7pm–9pm. I understand, however, that these are officially not for full public attendance, although I have been advised I could invite a few concerned members of the public to join me, since they may know more about the problems than I do. This meeting is to be structured around general discussion on the bus services of the whole area, and the OCC do not want to be involved in too much specific local lobbying, though obviously our great concern is the Charlbury Railbus.

However, they are, fortunately, asking for more detailed comments or suggestions from Parishes to be sent to OCC Transport Dept. by Friday July 4th.

I am therefore asking for two things:

1) Two or three Volunteers and users of the local bus services to accompany me to the meetings on June 5th. (contact as below, or ring 810914)
2) All comments for the July 4th deadline to be made in writing to me, Helen Bessemer-Clark, Spring Cottage, Sheep Street, Charlbury OX7 3RR or to .

You may obviously also contact the Town Council, through Roger Clarke, on 810608 but we hope to try to co-ordinate all comments through one channel. There is already a note on the Charlbury website specifically concerning the Railbus. While it is obviously OK to lobby especially on this point, it would be helpful if you could send Roger or myself copies of your views, so that we can route them through the official line. ie. we should all sing from the same hymn book – the noise is louder!

Helen Bessemer-Clark

Richard Fairhurst · Wed 28 May 2008, 17:57 · Link

Bus Routes Consultation Process: Have Your say!

(I was preparing this for the News items when Susie's item (below) appeared! However, as there is additional information here, I've posted this item anyway. There is a thread on the Forum for discussion of the Railbus service, but postings on the Forum are not part of the official consultation process.)

The current subsidy contracts for bus services in the Charlbury area end in December this year, and the County Council is consulting with parish and town councils on the way ahead. They are holding meetings to which all Parish and Town Councils throughout the review area (essentially the entire northern half of West Oxfordshire) are invited to send one or more representatives. They can choose whichever meeting (one in Chippy, one in Charlbury) suits them.

The principle is that local councils seek the views of local people, then the County seeks their view as local representatives. Section 3.6.5 of the Bus Strategy, which is on the County Council's website (roads and transport plans and policies Local Transport Plan other documents, describes how this process works.

If town and parish councils do not "consult", then the system obviously breaks down.

A notice was sent to local councils for them to put up. It says that individuals should contact their local Council or public transport representative (do you know who that person is for Charlbury, and has he or she been seeking opinions?) if they have views on any service under review. Charlbury TC have put the notice on their noticeboard outside the Corner House.

Notices have also been put up on principal bus stops saying the same thing (there is one in Church Street), and the county has also sent bus companies similar notices and asked them to display them in buses. Neither Worth's nor the Railbus company have put up such notices (yet).

Of particular concern is the future of the Railbus. The cost per passenger-journey of the Railbus is very high (over £5: the usual cut-off for subsidy is around £2) so its future in the current format is in doubt for financial reasons. The final decision, to be taken in early October, will take into account consultees' views.

Clearly Charlbury Town Council is not holding a public meeting of its own, at least at this stage, and their meeting with the county council on Thursday June 5 at 2pm in the Memorial Hall will be behind closed doors.

The only way you can gain access is as a representative of one of the town and parish councils being consulted, each of which can send more than one representative.

The deadline for comments to reach the County Council is July 4. You can find a list of town councillors on this website, but no phone numbers or email addresses. The clerk to the Council, Roger Clarke, can be emailed at (phone 01608 810608).

The Worth's 69 service Witney-Chipping Norton also comes up for tender for the subsidised services, and it is widely assumed that the contract will go to Stagecoach, who might then provide an hourly through service Witney-Charlbury-Chipping Norton-Banbury. The future of this (and all other bus routes in this area) are being discussed and consulted on at the same time.

Jon Carpenter · Wed 28 May 2008, 10:17 · Link

Charlbury Rail Bus under threat

The County Council are considering whether to continue to subsidise the Charlbury Rail Bus and there is there a strong suggestion by the CC that this will no longer continue.

Please send all letters/emails of support to either Ian Hudspeth at is the chair of the transport committee) or to Dick Helling, the Public Transport Officer at with a copy to Roger Clarke, the town clerk at The Town Council will be collating responses from members of the public to put forward to the County Council in July.

In the County Council's Local Transport Plan it cites that one of their objectives is to "deliver accessibility to all. Accessing jobs and services is fundamental to a good quality of life. The availability of public transport is essential to minimising the risk of social exclusion, particularly for people without access to a car. Targeted public transport is fundamental to quality of life".

Perhaps we should remind them of that.

Susie Finch · Tue 27 May 2008, 19:23 · Link

5p Voucher Scheme launched for CAWAG's jute shopping bag

Collect a 5p voucher when you spend over £4 and use this bag in Charlbury shops. The vouchers will be redeemed for 5p at CAWAG's stall at Street Fair on 20 September 2008. If you wish the 5p can then be donated to the Schools' Eco Project. The serial numbers on the vouchers will also go into a free prize draw at the Street Fair for prizes donated by the local shops.

The 60 faces on the bags are printed on the vouchers. 4,020 vouchers have produced - that's 67 of each face. Vouchers will be available until they run out or until Street Fair - whichever happens first!

Bags are available at 2 pounds (while stocks last) from Charlbury School, News & Things, Good Food Shop, Post Office, Cotswold Frames, Evenlode Books, Co-Op, and Londis.

Bags were produced by the Charlbury Area Waste Action Group (CAWAG) and funded as a Community Action Group Project - all money raised goes to the Schools's Eco Project.

Colin Critch · Sat 24 May 2008, 17:46 · Link

Cogges Farm: URGENT! Closure danger - action group formed & online survey link

Cogges Farm is in danger of closing. There is a very tight deadline - 29th May - for responses to the County Council. Cogges Farm is a "staple" resource for people with children over the entire West Oxfordshire and Oxford area, and an important educational resource for all of us in Oxfordshire. In this news item from the Wychwood Network the Director briefly outlines what moves are afoot:

The Future of Cogges Manor Farm – Survey Request: Urgent

You may have heard that the options for the future development of Cogges Manor Farm Museum, in Witney are being reviewed.

One of these options is that responsibility for the site be taken on by a newly formed community-based organisation, with the aim of retaining Cogges Museum as a facility that will benefit the people of Witney and West Oxfordshire. A group has been formed to develop proposals and a business plan. The Wychwood Project has been supporting the development of these ideas with advice and information on local conservation opportunities.

To assist in developing their ideas the group has created an on-line opinion survey. Their aim is to collect 500 responses. However, there is very little time left before a formal proposal has to be made to Oxfordshire County Council on the 29th May. If you are able to complete the survey please do so. Click on the link below or copy and paste it into your web browser.

Malcolm Blackmore · Fri 23 May 2008, 21:22 · Link

Dramatic rescue for Charlbury bellringer

Bellringer at St Mary's (and contributor to the website forum) Tony Merry was dramatically rescued by the Fire Service on Wednesday night after a ringing accident.

While ringing at the weekly practice, Tony is believed to have caught the rope on a set of keys attached to his trousers - lifting him some three feet off the floor. "The shock made me black out, and I lost consciousness, fell to the ground and bashed my shoulder," he said.

But because the bell chamber is reached by a narrow spiral staircase up the church tower, there was no way that he could be taken down the stairs on a stretcher - so paramedics took the decision to call the Fire Service.

The firemen then carried out a rescue using the trapdoor in the bottom of the bell chamber, originally installed to enable bells to be lifted up into the tower from ground level, but not used for many years. Despite some initial anxiety as to whether Tony would fit through, he was hoisted down with just 18in to spare.

The full-time Fire Service from Kidlington was joined by retained firefighters from Charlbury, keen to be involved in this unusual episode, and to see - and photograph - how the rescue was carried out. Bob Swanton, incident commander, later explained the technicalities to the Oxford Mail. "This type of rescue is rare and requires a very different approach with the casualty being secured in a special stretcher which is first lowered vertically and then horizontally using a pulley system to ensure the casualty does not remain suspended upright for too long."

Staff at the Horton Hospital, Banbury, later diagnosed a broken collarbone and Tony was discharged in Thursday afternoon - vowing he would be back ringing as soon as it heals. However, Charlbury residents are unlikely to hear the bells ringing out on Wednesday night or Sunday mornings for a week or two until the floorboards around the little-used trapdoor can be checked and repaired as necessary.

The incident has garnered national news attention with reports on the BBC website and Radio 2 as well as the Oxford Mail.

In a statement, the church said the rescue was "a tribute to the skill and professionalism of the three services involved, ambulance, fire and rescue, working together - we would like to thank them for their dedication and help".

Richard Fairhurst · Thu 15 May 2008, 21:59 · Link



Setting out policies and goals for the management of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, (AONB). The AONB covers 790 square miles and is the second largest protected landscape in England, stretching from south
Warwickshire and Worcestershire, through Gloucestershire and parts of west Oxfordshire, down to west Wiltshire and the area surrounding Bath in the south.

The five-year plan has been produced by the Cotswolds Conservation Board.

The board has two statutory purposes; to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the AONB and to increase public understanding and enjoyment of the area. In fulfilling these roles, the board also seeks to foster the social and economic wellbeing of people living in the Cotswolds. Designed as a guide for local authorities, statutory agencies and other bodies such as businesses and individuals working within the AONB, the new management plan
covers a wide range of issues that affect the Cotswolds such as; development and transport, rural land management, natural resources, biodiversity and the historic environment. There are also three key issues that influence the whole plan; climate change, globalization on land use and pressures from development, changing lifestyles and transportation.

The Chairman of the Cotswolds Conservation Board, Niel Curwen said: “The new plan not only sets out our policies, aims and objectives for the next five years but also provides a vision for the future of the AONB over the
next 25 years. This is not just a plan prepared by the board for itself. It is a plan for all those who value the area and have an interest in it.

The plan is available on the AONB website at

Malcolm Blackmore · Wed 7 May 2008, 21:17 · Link

Charlbury Garden Society Annual Show

An early warning about the Annual Show’s change of venue on August 30th. This, the Society’s major event of the year, is normally held at the Memorial Hall but, due to urgently needed maintenance work, the Hall will not now be available. Charlbury Primary School, on The Slade, have kindly agreed to allow the Society to use the School instead. Other arrangements will be as normal.

Geoff Holmberg · Sun 4 May 2008, 11:54 · Link

New Town Councillors elected

The following have been elected as town councillors:

  • Nick Potter
  • Susie Finch
  • Ian Cox
  • Valou Pakenham-Walsh
  • John Stanley Harrison
  • Reg James
  • Liz Reason
  • Willem Dirk Hackmann
  • Ron Prew
  • Helen Elizabeth Bessemer-Clark
  • Gareth Miller
  • Nicolette Lethbridge

Steve Vaux, Carolyn Robin Hazeel, and Patricia Perry were unsuccessful. Full vote details are on the WODC website.

Richard Fairhurst · Fri 2 May 2008, 06:48 · Link

Glena Chadwick re-elected despite strong Conservative challenge

Charlbury has re-elected Liberal Democrat Glena Chadwick, a town resident, as one of its two district councillors. She was opposed by Gill Hill from Asthall Leigh in an event that unusually saw party leader David Cameron campaigning in the town for a Conservative win!

The total votes were LibDem 883, Conservative 639. The turnout of 51.64% was the highest in the whole of West Oxfordshire.

Richard Fairhurst · Fri 2 May 2008, 06:44 · Link

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