title="Baldons Parish Council in Oxfordshire">

Nuneham Courtenay Parish Council News Mar 2020

Nuneham Courtenay Parish Council News


In March you receive your Council Tax bills for the following (financial) year. The Parish Council is not expecting to start any major new projects in the year ahead: you can see that from the budget for next year, which you can find on our website.  What we have done since stepping into the breach in 2017 is to try to tackle quite a few things that you seemed to want us to tackle. Some of these things have cost the Parish Council money, some did not.


The gravel site

Right now, the biggest threat we face is the proposal by the County Council that most of Oxfordshire’s future gravel needs should come from a huge proposed sand/gravel extraction site down near the river at the back of Lower Farm between Nuneham and Sandford.  We are working with Sandford Parish Council and hoping to work also with Radley Parish Council to get the County Council to drop the proposal and, if unsuccessful, to prepare a robust case against this for when a planning application goes in, as it surely will if the County Council approves it as a preferred site.


If anyone has any ideas, expertise or contacts to help us or would like to join a steering group then please get in touch. There is potentially a huge amount of money involved for anyone successful in obtaining permission to quarry down there, so we really do need all the help we can get.


The main road

Residents raised concerns about the London plane trees along the main road, so we contacted Oxfordshire County Council and were successful in getting them to trim the trees in 2018 and put them on a five-year maintenance schedule.

Residents keep expressing concerns about the speed of cars along the main road through the village. So, we tried to see if there were enough volunteers to form a Community Speedwatch group, supported by the local police, that could help to enforce the 30mph speed limit.  We have also talked to the County Council about a Vehicle Activated Sign to warn drivers if they are driving over the 30mph speed limit.


It is generally agreed that gates beside the road at the entrances of villages help to get some drivers to slow down. But the ones at the northern entrance to the village are in a poor state and the County Council refuses to carry out maintenance on them because, it said, they were so high a ladder would be needed to clean them or repaint them.  So, we arranged with the County Council to get a new set of gates installed – the same at each end of the village – and they agreed, on condition the parish council went 50/50 on the cost. 


The new gates should be in place fairly soon. We think they will look smarter, be easier to maintain and will catch the attention of more drivers than the present ones. We have not received the bill yet but we’re expecting to have to pay over £1,800. We hope that, looking back in a few years’ time, we can all say it was money well spent.


Residents have complained that the footways along the main road, which have been damaged by the tree roots, can be tricky, especially in the dark. So, we have had the footways examined by both a tree specialist and a Highways Inspector from the County Council.  The inspection concluded that nothing can be done to the footway on the east side because of the risk of damaging the trees, which are protected by Tree Preservation Orders. However, surface skimming work could be carried out on the west side without risk to the trees. Now we are trying to see if we can get the County Council to do the work. We will keep you informed of any progress.


There were concerns about litter, so the parish council purchased and installed four new litter and dog waste bins in November 2018, one on each bus stop, and liaised with the District Council to arrange for them to empty them.  We think we have noticed a decrease in litter since the new bins were installed, which makes the environment nicer for everyone. The bins cost £266.


We are still pressing the County Council to reinstate a right turn road sign halfway down the main road which was demolished by a vehicle a couple of years ago. The old sign has been removed but a new one has not yet appeared. We will continue to pester the County Council until it gets done.


Things done or in hand

We funded improvements to the Village Hall to rebuild the disabled access ramp, which was not fit for purpose, and the disabled toilet, which was also not accessible by wheelchair users and we gave a grant to the Adult Luncheon Club to enable them to purchase new equipment. Those three grants in 2018 amounted to over £2,500.


David Clibbon gave us a fantastic new noticeboard outside the Village Hall. We then commissioned and installed a name plate to go on top. We approached two local social enterprises, Raw and Restore, and Restore gave us the best quote.


We are almost at the end of the process of purchasing a defibrillator. In the end we have listened to advice from the Ambulance Service: we will put the defibrillator in a locked cabinet on the outside of the Village Hall (to which the 999 staff will have the access code) and it will be semi-automatic so no one touching the person who needs help will get a sudden and unexpected electric shock. We tried to get a grant from the District Council but were told we weren’t eligible.  We hope the defibrillator will be installed and ready for use by Easter. The defibrillator and the cabinet are both sophisticated pieces of equipment and the pair may cost around £2,000. But what is the value of a live saved?


Since summer 2018 we have been paying for a garden waste brown bin to be kept at the churchyard, so mourners have somewhere to throw away dead flowers.


This winter we have obtained a supply of winter salt from the County Council, free of charge, for you to use on untreated roads and pavements. If we do get ice and snow (rather than more and more rain) then you can obtain some salt by contacting John Peters (Vice-Chair of the parish council) on 07582 170960, who will arrange to meet you at a mutually convenient time. You will need to bring your own container as it has been delivered in 25kg bags! However, we will make arrangements for those who would find it difficult to transport their own supply. 


Things we’re still working on

We have worked hard with our District Councillors, Sue Lawson and Sam Casey-Rerhaye, to try to raise the profile of Nuneham Courtenay with the District Council and get them to understand their responsibility under the Nuneham Courtenay Legal Agreement to preserve the unique and uniform appearance of the houses along the main road.  Dr Malcolm Airs of Kellogg College, Oxford, who is a noted expert on the history of Nuneham, has worked with us on this and has been extremely helpful.


The parish has been plagued with interruptions to the power supply. So, we applied to SSEN’s Resilience Fund in 2018 for a grant to buy a generator for the Village Hall, which could then serve as an emergency centre in a power cut, but were turned down.


We continue to communicate with the Nuneham Courtenay Sports and Playing Field Association about getting the playing field back into use. Like us, they are volunteers and have to find time to deal with complicated legal issues.


At the moment the Parish Council is waiting for the Association’s response to our last communication in December but at other times it has been the Association that has had to wait a few months to get a proper response from us. We will get everything resolved in the end, surely.



We are still one member short on the parish council. We can have five parish councillors, but we only have four. We need three councillors present to hold a meeting and take decisions so we have to make sure members aren’t poorly or can’t attend for some reason otherwise meetings can’t go ahead.


If anyone is interested in finding out more, please contact any of the current councillors – Madhvi Saini, John Peters, James Fallon and Mandy Rigault – or ring our clerk Geoffrey Ferres (07419 991623). Come on – your village needs you!

But it is not just the parish councillors who make things happen. We are very grateful to Simon Gray, a local resident, who created and maintains the parish council website in his own time, free of charge, as his gift to the community. We are very appreciative of this and would like to say thank you to him from all of us.

A large part of what we have managed to date is due to our Chair, Madhvi Saini, who combines being a wife and mother with a full-time job, outside commitments and her work for the parish. Where would we be without her?


Closing comments

Last year we reduced the precept to from £5,530 to £5,000 because we did not think we needed so much money but then we decided to accept the County Council’s offer to go 50-50 on the gateways so we expect to spend more this year than we ever anticipated.


As a result, we decided to put the precept up next year to just over £6,000, or an increase of exactly £10 per year on a Band D home’s Council Tax for 2020-21. It means the Parish Council may cost you next year about an extra 20p per week

Finally, may we send our best wishes to all our residents. We hope to see some of you at parish council meetings, which are usually held on the first Tuesday evening of the month at 7pm in the Village Hall. The next meeting is due on 5th May as we brought the March meeting forward to 24th February so we could agree our response to the consultation on the gravel sites, which closes at the end of February.