Monday, 7 October 2019

Post Office at Gainsborough Green closes

Post Office Closes 

McColl's Newsagent and Post Office at Gainsborough Green appears to have closed. A lot of people are upset by this closure as it leaves South Abingdon without a post office, and the closest alternative is in town.

It is too late to stop the closure as McColl's lease has expired. I would like to see what can be done to bring back a Post Office to the area. I will investigate and ask whether there are any options to make this happen.

Saturday, 8 June 2019

South Abingdon Children's Centre - Crayon Fence

At the South Abingdon Children's Centre, on Caldecott Chase, the Mayor of Abingdon, Cllr Charlie Birks did a bit of DIY to fix the last crayon to the fence.
He also gave a speech thanking everybody who helped get the centre back up and running. It is now run by the Abingdon Carousel charity.
There is a named crayon for each of the organisations that have helped provide funding or done work to make sure the Children's Centre opened.

Other news is that the Children's Centre has started a Saturday Club last week that runs between 9.30 am and 12. They do things like stories, science, cooking, planting and gardening, music, art and crafts. Parents or carers stay with the children who can be any age - although activities will mostly suit pre-schoolers.


Saturday, 11 May 2019

Try Sailing and Hatwells Funfair


 There will be the chance to have a go at sailing on Sunday 12th May 2019 from 12:30 pm to 4:30 pm at the Abbey Sailing Club (off the Wilsham Road). This is an open day for people who want to try sailing.

Just feel free to pop along and they will hopefully get you on the water (weather dependant). There is also a BBQ.
Also this weekend Hatwells Funfair is on. They have lots of stalls and are in Ladygrove Meadow - by the Drayton Road, Ock Bridge.

Friday, 3 May 2019

It is not the end. It is just the beginning.

Thankyou for all your support during the campaign and for your votes. On a day where the Lib-Dems (and their partner Green candidate) were way ahead of all the other parties, we came within 14 votes of returning an Independent in Caldecott.

This is not a time to stop as so many issues has been raised that need addressing. So I will be keeping this website open and trying to campaign on some of these issues.
If others are interested in continuing in such a community action / pressure group, please let me know and I could schedule meetings.

Here are just some of the issues raised while campaigning:

* Need for dropped kerbs in town near the top of East St Helen Street - person was to show me exact location
* Need for places and activities for people with learning difficulties - meeting with person in a few days to find out more even though not elected.
* Parking and pot holes on Wilsham Road makes it dangerous for cycles.
* Chicane cycle passage on Preston Road dangerous for cycles
* Need for school crossing on Preston Road
* Speeding cars down Preston Road
* Cars going on verges on Caldecott Road to drop or pick up children from school. The existing wooden fence is decaying.
* Elderly people need the 41 bus and don't want to loose it.
* More sound proofing needed somewhere ( I have the details)
* Some suggested rubbish bin locations + signs to make sure they are noticed
* Some suggested places where dog mess enforcement is needed
* Pavement cracking (I have details)
* Outside 74 Saxton Road bushes are overgrown - raised on fix my street
* Why not put skips down Saxton Road so people without transport can clear gardens
* Road needs a makeover (I have details)
* Upset old Abbey House might be used social housing rather than benefiting the community
* Railings on wharf need repainting black
* Need more trees in public places
* Town Council should declare its own climate emergency
* Town needs recharge points for electric vehicles
* State of roads bad
* Find way to open path from Morland Gardens more directly to town.

Sunday, 28 April 2019

Preston Road Community Centre


Preston Road Community Centre was first opened in 1974 thanks to the great efforts of the Thameside Residents Association some of whom I have met while canvassing. They each gave some money to get it built. It is still going strong as a charity managed by volunteers. I am one of three trustees (we are looking for more) and serve as honorary secretary, and help at the bingo. The centre is well used and is available for hire for children’s parties at the weekend. Regular users    include: Youth Clubs, U3A, Bingo, Vineyard Church, craft and games groups, Wine Circle, Adult Education, various keep fit groups, and dog training. The centre is also used for blood donations, and elections.

The Preston Road Community Centre Association (PRCCA) is the current charity and runs the centre for the benefit of local residents and organisations. Its objects are to advance education and, in the interests of social welfare, to provide leisure and recreational activities.' The PRCCA website has more. If elected as a town councillor I will learn more about other groups that could fit in well at the centre.

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Saxton Road Skip idea

While canvassing Saxton Road on Saturday one lady told me that some years ago skips were brought in and it allowed people to clear some of the bulky items cluttering gardens. She wondered whether it could be repeated. Helping people clear bulky items by finding a community solution..

I had canvassed 3/4 of Saxton Road when I met a group of Labour people who had just done that last bit so rather  than visit people who had just had a visit I visited John Morris Road and leafleted the final bit of Saxton Road.

There is another issue somebody raised but it has already been raised on fixmystreet. It is an overgrown hedge and the owner is not currently there. A suggestion has been made that the council get it cleared then charge the owner.

A bin is needed round the side of the Reynold's Way shops as that is where litter gets dropped or blown. There are three bins in front of the shops and one on the green. A bin is also needed round the side of the Tower Close shop where sweet wrappers get dropped on the way home from school. Maybe with a children's art sign about no litter


Thursday, 25 April 2019

Litter and Local Environment


I will find ways to  improve the local  environment.

I help in litter picks in Abingdon and Caldecott but think removing litter traps and adding more bins will help more.

Dog mess left on pavements is a problem in places and needs education and enforcement.

I love the murals on the Reynold’s Way wall, and would like more art work in the area. I will explore people’s ideas for brightening up the area and tackling issues. There is one road in particular that is strongly in need of a general facelift to cheer it up and make people feel more happy. A couple of residents said that and I felt it too.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Elderly disenfranchised?

I have taken letters round to people on the electoral register in the sheltered housing in Caldecott. I was shocked at one place to be told that their residents would not be voting as they are 'elderly'. 

I believe everything should be done to keep people active in body and mind and spirit. Why not use elections?

Monday, 22 April 2019

Safer School Crossing and Cycleways


Some cars accelerate to get through the chicanes at the top of Preston Road. There is also speeding at the bottom end, and there has been a fatality. I would like to see a safer  crossing point near Thameside School and other measures to slow down traffic. I would like to see at the very least a speed indicator.

There has been no progress on improving cycle ways from Caldecott through the town centre in many years. I will see whether a working party could be set up to look at this again. Cyclists get on the pavements along the Drayton Road, and then risk being knocked off by cars coming out onto the Drayton Road from side roads. The Wilsham Road is clogged with parked cars and dangerous for cyclists.

Sunday, 21 April 2019

New Cinema


The new Abbey Cinema in the Guildhall is excellent, as is the work done refurbishing the older rooms.

 I am not in favour of plans to move the library to the Guildhall. People, I have spoken to, would prefer to see the cinema continue there if successful. The library works well where it is. If elected I would campaign to protect cinema and library.

Congratulations to the cinema in being so pro-active about coming to Abingdon. They approached the Town Council with their proposal, and we are very glad they have a good business case and one that can work here.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Children’s Centre


The Children’s Centre was recently reopened and is now run by a charity called ‘Carousel’. The Mayor of Abingdon, Councillor Margaret Crick, opened the centre. She is also one of the trustees of Carousel. There are baby clinics, parenting help, citizens advice and much more.

For the latest information see the Caldecott Road notice board or www.abingdoncarousel.org.uk.

Well done to the current Town Council for helping to fund this work for three years. It is a great shame it was closed by County Council cuts in the first place. I will work to ensure that funding is sustainable.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Sunday Off - WWII re-enactment, Head of the River rowing, Cycling Festival

I have been canvassing on weekdays and Saturdays but take Sundays off, and this Sunday enjoyed some wonderful events in Abingdon.
There was the WWII re-enactment at Abingdon Lock. A great event at a Great location. My Abingdon Blog has a report.
There was the rowing in Head of the River with nearly 400 boats. The event is organised by Abingdon Rowing Club, in Caldecott.
There was also the fantastic cycling Festival. This ride pictured above is heading out along Wilsham Road in Caldecott. We do need to look again at the cycle way along Wilsham Road, with all the parked cars.


Friday, 12 April 2019

Canvassing

I am trying to get round as many houses as I can to talk to people, but when it comes to sheltered housing and flats I am writing a letter instead to try to keep a personal touch.

People have been very kind so far and I have had some very good questions, like a lady who has always voted Conservative but would consider voting for me as an Independent as she knows me. She asked whether, when the council is divided on a vote down party lines, I would vote with Lib-Dems or Conservatives. I said I would vote as an independent and for the best interested of Caldecott and Abingdon as I saw it. I have committed to being non party political. I am in favour of keeping good community services but think we must  run things as efficiently as possible. Most of the town council money comes from council tax payers directly.

I spent some time explaining to one young man about the different councils and what they do. A lot of the leaflets delivered by the parties assume a lot of prior knowledge. I went through one Conservative Party leaflet with him explaining the different responsibilities of Town and District Council. The candidates were standing for both so had blurred the responsibilities. I said in an ideal world there would be enough candidates so people would stand for one council and not both. Also that the three levels of council: County, District and Town was very confusing and need to be simplified for the sake of electors. A lot of people complain about the town council when it is the district or county responsible.

On Caldecott Road the wood barriers on the grass are starting to fall to pieces. People driving to school to pick up children often park on the grass and those barriers were put there as a safety measure so people did not drive where children could be walking. It is still a mess after school time and the other verges get churned up.

The traffic parked on Wilsham Road is a danger to cyclists, as are pot holes, and going through the chicanes on Preston Road.

There are some people don't like canvassers. I tend to avoid knocking on the door if there is a notice. Some areas are very positive. Others less so. The Parties probably have a record of where they get a very negative response and can avoid that property but as I have no such records I just have to see what happens. The positives far outweigh the negatives.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Hustings

There is a “hustings” on the Abingdon Facebook group. https://www.facebook.com/groups/2211282796/

The members of my group would like to ask the candidates the following questions.

* What changes - specifically and realistically – would you make during your term to make Abingdon an even better place to live?
* How will you improve the cycling and recycling facilities in and around Abingdon?
* Through the work of the OCSB, how will you ensure that school’s safeguarding and inclusion policies are written by independent experts and adhere to the guidance laid out in the Department for Education’s “Working Together To Safeguard Children” document?
* The electorate has received mixed messages over whether the Vale can afford to "forward-fund" their share of the Lodge Hill junction slip roads. Please could you tell us your view on the situation.
*How would you celebrate the contribution of LGBQT people to our community?

I gave the following answers:

If elected I will of course go to all the Council Meetings and Committee Meeting and volunteer to help at Town Council events and take up any case work people raise with me.

I will also pro-actively look at the issues people have mentioned during canvassing and those on my manifesto and create a list of projects. These are not town council matters but matters of local concern. I will then do a little fact finding on each project to see which might be feasible to tackle in the first year, and which will need more planning and funding to address.

Projects I hope to tackle earlier rather than later include suggesting new litter bins where they are needed and even get some areas patrolled. Put up anti dog mess stickers in some areas and get them patrolled. Also request a speed indicator down Preston Road and let people know the response. I would also like to look at some ideas for safer cycling, having talked to cycling group, and set up a meeting to discuss them with County Councillors and Officers on site to see which could be taken further. At the same time ask the officers what can be done about parking on bends down Preston Road. Also find the facts about the dangerous Wilsham Road parking. Who parks there and why? What alternatives there might be. If there is a strong case to stop parking there then start a petition of local people, and also request letters of support for a change from Police, Ambulance, Fire Services. Then take the petition to the Town Council Planning and after discussion to County Council for formal consultation.

I am standing as a town councillor, not a district councillor, so will not have direct control over recycling. However my wife, and I, have given up plastic during Lent as we are not convinced plastic gets properly recycled and think it better not to produce waste in the first place. I would, as a Town Councillor, continue to promote Abingdon markets where you can buy without plastic, and promote Added Ingredients where you can get refills, and encourage any other such initiatives in other shops both as a councillor and through the Abingdon Blog (abingdonblog.co.uk) which I write. On Cycling I am committed to safer cycling and pedestrian routes from South Abingdon into town and would like to talk to cycle groups about how this can be achieved before putting forward a positive proposal. It has been tried before so we need something that will make a difference and work.

Regarding school's safeguarding, I am a school governor, and am fully committed to safeguarding our children and giving them the best, and a safe, start in life. I will be running a Code Club at school and any matters that come to my attention will be raised with the school child protection officer. In community events, put on by the Town Council, I will use my training in this area to ensure safeguarding risks are kept in mind when planning events.

I am not privy to information about Lodge Hill forward-funding. I strongly believe we need the infrastructure before the houses. The extra traffic from North Abingdon will have a knock on effect on Marcham Road and Drayton Road and make things worse for South Abingdon where traffic is already awful at times. My understanding is that the Highway Agency are considering the proposed plans but are probably not going to make a decision until they know what will happen with the Oxford Cambridge expressway.

I celebrate all who take part in our community whatever their race, religion, or sexual orientation. I do not discriminate. I love to see community engagement and have always covered LGBQT events on the Abingdon Blog which I write.

Alastair Fear

Independent Candidate for Abingdon Town Council in Caldecott Ward

P.S See my wife's blog about about giving up plastic https://unfantasticplastic.home.blog/.

Monday, 8 April 2019

Communication


I believe money has now been put into the Town Council budget for at least one new town centre notice board. This is one of the things I wanted to see happen, and will fully support if elected. I will use my allowance, if elected, to send out Caldecott newsletters to keep people informed, and keep this website updated about the Caldecott Ward. I would also like to find out whether there is a need for a local noticeboard. This was tried before by SARP (South Abingdon Residents Plan) and has not survived.

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Playgrounds and Green Spaces and sport


There has been little new  playground equipment in the Caldecott area over the last eight years. I would like to hear what young families would like in future.  Abingdon Town Council look after Caldecott Rec. and River Close play area, and the Vale of White Horse District Council looks after Southern Town Parks and Tower Close.

Caldecott is the base for a number of sports clubs and has a lot of green space, as well as access to the Ock and the Thames. I celebrate what it has to offer: Saxton Rovers and Abingdon Youth Football Club, Abingdon Rugby Club, Abingdon Rowing Club, Abingdon Sailing Club, Abingdon Tennis Club. There are indoor Marshall Arts groups and Keep Fit and Dance at the primary schools and Preston Road Community Centre. It is a great shame that the army and district council did so little to support the Kingfisher Canoe Club when it was forced out of the area. I will support them in their search for a new home.

Also I did try to establish a boxing club in the area, and am one of three trustees that look after funds raised for that purpose. We never reached the goal of the required £200K - having raised £23K. Those funds are still available and we will be looking again at what can be done to benefit young people in the area with sport's facilities.

Friday, 5 April 2019

Nominated Candidates for Town Council in Abingdon Caldecott


I am standing as an Independent for people who want to vote for a person rather than a party. I am up against 4 Lib-Dems, 4 Conservates, 1 Labour and 1 Green. 

Unfortunately not many Independents have stood in other places in Abingdon. There were quite a few considering it. If I get in I will work with whoever is there for Caldecott, Abingdon.

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Flooding - Please look again!


I looked after a website for the South Abingdon Flood Action Group which  campaigned for better land management upstream on the River Ock to slow any floods.

I am disappointed that the cost of the flood  storage area west of the A34 has meant the project  being postponed by the Environment Agency. I will campaign and work with others to ensure more funds, or another way, are found.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Junk Neutral Campaign

Now the hedge is cut back, we returned to litter picking Reynold's Way yesterday.  Somebody teased me later ... "I saw you doing your Community Service earlier Alastair."

I will be delivering two leaflets during the campaign. There are 3,500 properties in Caldecott so that makes 7,000 recycled A4 sheets. I am doing litter picking, as a penance, to ensure the campaign is junk neutral. So far I have done two picks near Reynolds Way, one at Preston Road and one by Caldecott Road. On Caldecott Road, the mowers had made it worse by shredding and not clearing the rubbish. That creates more litter to pick up and takes longer. People have already raised that as a local issue. The state of the electricity cabinet in this picture could also be raised with whoever owns it. I can see no owner's tag but there is a high voltage warning. So I raised it on fix my street to see if that finds the owner.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Litter and Local Environment


I will find ways if elected to improve the local  environment.

I help in litter picks in Abingdon and Caldecott but think removing litter traps and adding more bins will help more.

Dog mess left on pavements is a problem in places and I would find ways to tackle that.

I love the murals on the Reynold’s Way wall, and would like more art work in the area. I will explore people’s ideas for brightening up the area and tackling issues.