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Parish Council update for April

New parish councillor

The Parish Council is delighted to welcome John Sparks as a new councillor. John has taught geography at Radley College since 1996. He also currently holds the position of Director of Partnerships at the College, overseeing partnership activities with schools and other organisations locally, nationally and internationally. His wife, Heather, teaches at the primary school and the family attend St James’ Church.  John will serve on the parish council in a personal capacity but he will also bring welcome links to the College, primary school and Church.

There has been interest in filling the remaining vacancy on the Council and we hope to make a further co-option at our next meeting.

College boys help with litter picking

In an immediate spin-off from John Sparks’ co-option, College boys have been out and about around the village and along the Thames Path picking up litter on Wednesday afternoons. This has been especially welcome as our normal litter-picker has been unable to work over recent weeks. The boys are also working on a project to analyse what the data from our speed indicator signs can tell us about speeding in the village (seen in the picture with councillor Ed Blagrove downloading data from the camera in the Kennington Road). The Parish Council is very grateful to the boys for their work and to the organising staff for making all this happen.

Sewage overflows in Lower Radley

In a less happy story, many readers will be aware of the sewage overflows in Lower Radley homes and gardens in January and February. All the waste water from homes in Radley village flows through gravity sewers to the pumping station in Lower Radley, from where it is pumped upstream to the sewage treatment plant at Littlemore, crossing the river at Sandford. During this latest crisis, Thames Water had to send more than 150 tankers down to Lower Radley, working round the clock to tanker away the excess flows which were overwhelming the system. Starting on 30 January, it was not until the end of February that the situation returned to normal.

The Parish Council has long been concerned that the new housing developments in Radley would overload the existing sewage infrastructure, causing even greater problems with sewage than we have faced over recent years. We have put a great deal of effort through the planning system and otherwise to try to get the problems properly addressed. Most recently, we have been working with a group of Lower Radley residents to put pressure on Thames Water, and are currently in touch with the Chief Executive’s Office. 

Despite all this, there are few signs yet of any real progress towards diagnosing the cause of the problems and developing an effective plan of action. Thames Water’s current proposed ‘solution’ to deal with the extra loading from the new houses is to add an additional 43mof storage capacity under the road at the Lower Radley junction with Common Lane. This would be laughable if it were not so worrying.  The extra storage capacity proposed is equivalent to 2-3 tanker loads and would have been overwhelmed within hours of the start of the recent crisis.

The Parish Council will continue to press for effective action in every way we can but our influence is limited. This may be a case where we will need to ask local people to add their voices to ours in lobbying to get something effective done.

Expressway cancelled

This thought links neatly on to an issue where local voices working together have been heard! The Government announced on 18 March the cancellation of the proposed Oxford-Cambridge expressway, saying that analysis had confirmed the project was not cost-effective. The many questions raised about the scheme by local groups, including at the public meeting organised by the parish council in the Silk Hall at Radley College in July 2019, have on this occasion worked to stop a plan which could have brought a major new road through the fields of Radley.

Planning permission for the NW Radley site

As anticipated in our comments last month, detailed planning permission for 240 homes on the NW Radley site was finally granted in early March. The first houses to be built will be in the area close to Church Road. Pye Homes are hoping to complete 13 units in 2021 and 48 units a year thereafter.

There have been discussions between Pye and a group of local residents about landscape design and biodiversity issues. Pye has welcomed a novel idea put forward by the group to plant up biodiverse gardens for the new houses prior to sale. There is a separate report on this elsewhere in this edition.  

Gooseacre consultation

Finally, a big thank you to the 167 residents who took the trouble to complete and return our questionnaire about what we should be doing to improve the community facilities at Gooseacre. There have been some very interesting ideas raised and a wide range of views offered. We will provide a summary next month.




Permanent link to this article: https://www.radleyvillage.org.uk/parish-council-update-for-april/