Wednesday, 31 May 2023

Church of St Mary-le-More, Market Place, Wallingford

Community Safety
  • Desire for increased police presence and knowledge of timings of PCSO attendance. Some questioned whether the lack of police was a perception
  • Agreement that Police based their work on data.   Need to report to 101 reported evidence.  Resources will be allocated if we report.
  • There used to be volunteer group.  There used to be more community engagement.  Should we form one, as happens in Reading?
  • Anti-social behaviour should tell us what’s not being provided
  • COVID caused some groups and services to be closed, and they haven’t been reinstated
  • Crime Summit at Waitrose being run by David Johnston MP on 15 June
  • Town Council can signpost and facilitate new schemes, as it has done with Community Speedwatch (already proving effective)
Getting around
  • Concerns over parking on verges
  • Thames Street and Wood Street specifically mentioned re parking
  • Walter Bigg car park (partly funded by OCC) should be unrestricted
  • Concerns over illegal parking at the side and in front of the Town Hall
  • Parking insufficiently enforced
  • Is there a case for some form of park and ride as town grows?
  • Speeding is a big concern for many, including New Road, Croft Road, Goldsmith’s Lane, and St John’s Road.  People regularly driving through red lights at main cross road (High Street/Castle Street/St Martin’s Lane).  Calming measures are needed, e.g. bumps, mini roundabouts, 20 mph limits, solar powered speed cameras (but these are expensive).  Accident waiting to happen otherwise
  • Need for more formal crossings, e.g. Market Place (St Martin’s Lane), Goldsmith’s Lane, Croft Road.  These are expensive.
  • Goldsmith’s Lane should be one-way.  More one-way systems as in European towns
  • Watch bus services aren’t reduced further.  How are community needs represented to Thames Travel/Oxford Bus Company?
  • Bus services to new housing developments
  • Maintain upkeep of pavements and footpath
  • Concerns over air pollution.  Above acceptable levels in High Street
  • Hopefully bus companies will introduce electric vehicles.  Diesel-powered vehicles noisy and pollutant
  • Town Councillor Mark Hoskins to be lead on local transport
  • Cholsey Parish Council have created an integrated transport plan.  We should follow their example
Environment & Sustainability
  • Nature – importance of, and ways to sustain and engage residents
  • Open spaces, e.g. poor air quality on High Street, increasing the productivity open spaces, e.g. orchards.
  • Litter – number of litter bins (litter situation is far poorer than other European countries).  Litter is an issue and 1155 have taken over the litter pick from the Town Council
  • New housing – maintain dialogue with developers
  • Neighbourhood Plan is very environmentally conscious
  • Nature Recovery Networks – there will be opportunity to feed into this (public consultation)
  • What about Council ESG policy?  Businesses are already looking at their policies
  • Treating this properly as a true emergency.  District and County Councils are very clear on this.  Residents need to be part of this; it has to be a community effort
  • Clean bathing water at riverside.  New application to be made, involving Town Council, District Council and Thames21.   This is address releases of untreated sewage upstream, putting pressure on other bodies.  There will be signs up around the beach area in future.
Community Facilities
  • Need for community space, but let’s audit what we already have and make that known, e.g. churches, sports park
  • The Regal. What’s happening?  One last legal huddle. Current understanding: it will be demolished. Everything has taken a lot longer than it should.  New District Councillors may be able to help us get it finally across the line
  • Young people’s facilities.  Long time since disappearance of youth club.  OX10 Group holding meeting with stakeholder.
  • County lines/ sexual exploitation meeting recently
  • River – irresponsible/dangerous behaviour by young people
  • Infrastructure levy (106 and CIL).  Improve understanding of this. Council has created Grants Officer role and developed new CIL Strategy (Cllr Hughes leading). Neighbourhood Plan helps to access and increase these funds.
  • Schools – County Council has published its plan: Primary (Highcroft), Wallingford School can’t expand on its present site and will have to reduce catchment area, new secondary school to be building in north Didcot
  • Creating a café culture for teenagers, e.g. opening hours which suit that audience, e.g. evenings
  • Need to continue to be aware of poverty in the town, e.g. increase space for Food Bank
Retail & Economy
  • Banking, especially as community grows and individual banks close.  Wallingford has been identified as a key place for a banking hub
  • Markets – we currently have three; there’s a need for shade/protection during challenging weather, e.g. space between Town Hall and St Mary’s
  • Empty shops – intentional policy of some property investors.  There aren’t that many?
  • Town Council has no influence on who takes up shop units. Nor District Council
  • What do people think is missing from the retail mix? Butchers, alternative pharmacy, greengrocer, children’s clothes
  • Challenge is the proximity and growth of Didcot as a retail centre, and also Oxford and Reading.  We have to accept this and Wallingford’s niche
  • There’s a good reason why there are so many eateries (including coffee shops) in Wallingford.  The USPs of Wallingford and Didcot have to be accepted
  • Car parking at weekends – ask Beechcroft if their spaces in Goldsmith’s Lane car park can be used
  • Accommodation for tourists – this also has to be borne in mind
Arts, culture and heritage
  • Wallingford has long rich history. Are we making the most of this? Bringing Wallingford’s history to life more, e.g. Civil War re-enactment, engaging young people, other education/entertainment using re-enactors. Curfew Bell celebration event mentioned
  • Library and museum are both working with young people to increase understanding of the built and natural environment
  • However, heritage must be balanced with modernity.  We can’t always be looking back.  We’d need also to look to the future and be creating a welcoming town where inclusivity and diversity are valued
  • Big heritage jobs ahead: Town Hall, Kinecroft (ramparts) and Bull Croft should be the priorities
  • Lots of socio-economic benefits to the heritage projects.  Will help make the town viable.
Town Council external communications
  • A sense that we are not using Window on Wallingford effectively or strategically.
  • The opportunity to connect into street WhatsApp groups, many of which were set up during pandemic
  • Council has been poor at telling residents what’s happening with certain projects, e.g. The Regal