Major transport improvements in Didcot Garden Town

Major transport improvements in Didcot Garden Town: Oxfordshire County Council submits bid for £218m Housing Infrastructure Fund

Oxfordshire County Council has submitted a Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) business case to the Ministry of Housing Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) associated with expected growth in the Didcot Garden Town area. It sets out how we want to improve travel for residents, communities and business and support thousands of new homes and jobs.
If successful, this bid for £218m (towards a total of £234m) will deliver:
• A4130 widening from A34 Milton Interchange towards Didcot;
• A new Science Bridge over the A4130, Great Western Railway Line and Milton Road into the former Didcot A Power Station site;
• A new Culham to Didcot river crossing between the A4130 and A415; and
• A Clifton Hampden Bypass
All schemes include improved segregated walking and cycling routes which will give people real travel choice. The lack of suitable crossings over the railway line and river coupled with growth in the past three decades has resulted in heavy congestion.  The same constraints have resulted in limited alternatives to the private car. HIF will enable direct and convenient access between new and existing homes and key employment sites in and around Didcot. The HIF schemes have previously been identified in Local Plan development to deliver growth across South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse districts.
Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council said: “This bid for more than £200m shows the sustainable growth ambitions of Oxfordshire. It demonstrates that Government is listening and the recognition that infrastructure is required in parallel to the delivery of new homes. The infrastructure will also be vital to economic growth and support job creation in an area important to the local and national economy whilst helping to support the objectives of Didcot Garden Town.”
Cllr Jane Murphy, Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, and Chairman of the Oxfordshire Growth Board, said: “We are committed to ensuring our residents get the infrastructure that’s vitally needed in our district and in Oxfordshire as a whole – it’s one of the reasons we applied for garden town status for Didcot in the first place.  We believe this bid is a strong one and we’re working positively and constructively with all our partners, including the government, to ensure this remains one of the best places to live in the country.”

Oxfordshire County Council held a consultation to hear residents’ views on our plans to support growth around Didcot in late 2018.

The HIF schemes have previously been identified in the district councils’ Local Plan development to deliver growth across South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse. The county council has been working in partnership with the two district councils to help enable this necessary infrastructure.

Oxfordshire County Council expects to hear the outcome of the funding bid by early summer 2019.

Oxford County Council

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Cities Outlook 2019 a decade of austerity

As a decade of austerity comes to end, this year’s edition of Cities Outlook looks at how city spending has changed.

Austerity has hit cities hardest

In a spending review year, Cities Outlook 2019 explores how local government cuts since 2010 have impacted UK cities, finding that cities have shouldered almost three-quarters of all local government spending cuts.

Not only that, but with an ever-increasing demand for services like social care, cities are dedicating more and more of their spending to these vital services, leaving little room to pursue activity in support of their wider economy.

With the end of austerity in sight, this year’s Cities Outlook looks at how cities have responded to cuts in their spending, and what new avenues for revenue they have been able to explore.

Key findings

Per head, cities saw a cut in spending of £386 compared to £172 elsewhere in Britain.

The largest cuts were felt in the north of England, on average seeing 20% reductions in their budgets.

London also saw huge reductions in its spending, accounting for 30 per cent of the total cut to local government day-to-day spending since 2009/10, despite being home to 16% of the population.

Southern English cities (except London), were relatively less badly hit – and were more likely to find ways to replace lost government grants, such as setting charges for services.

Cities experienced an increase in demand for services like social care, more than half of cities spend most of their budgets on social care – in 2009/10, only four cities were in that position.

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Blenheim fire engine

Blenheim palace launches search to find lost fire engine

The Oxfordshire UNESCO World Heritage Site is appealing to anyone who may know the whereabouts of the Merryweather steam fire engine.

Blenheim Palace had its own brigade from the mid to late 1800s and owned a variety of fire appliances, including the Merryweather.

Believed to have been built by Merryweather & Sons in 1890, the horse-drawn engine used a steam boiler to create pressure to pump water. It was mounted on a four-wheeled sprung carriage.

After many years of operation, the engine was taken out of service and its location is now a mystery.

“We believe the fire engine underwent repair and re-conditioning work relatively recently in Kent and, at some point was based in the West Midlands,” said Blenheim Palace Operations Director, Heather Carter.

“We then understand it may have gone to a new owner in the Brighton area but, until now, we have been unable to track it down.

“It would be fantastic if we were able to find it and perhaps arrange for it to return temporarily to Blenheim Palace for a visit,” she added.

In 1898 the Estate was the venue of a Fire Brigades Rally in 1898. Permission to stage the event was given by the 9th Duke of Marlborough (1871 – 1934) who was also the President of the National Fire Brigades Union.

The Blenheim fire brigade was still in operation during the Second World War.

Anyone who may be able to help locate the fire engine can contact or call 01993 810530.


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Oxfordshire Voice Partners

Oxfordshire business gets a new voice …and lots to shout about 

Oxfordshire’s business community is talking about itself in a much louder and more confident voice than ever before.
A new initiative to give the county’s companies and workforce a much bigger say in how decisions which affect them are made, has been born. 
The Oxfordshire Voice organisation was officially launched at a special event hosted by the Blavatnik School of Government, in front of representatives from more than 100 local businesses.
Oxfordshire Voice is a partnership of elected local authority officials, key decision-makers and business people from across the region. Its aim is to bring people together in the early stages of any decision-making process which affects Oxfordshire businesses.
It will also be instrumental in investigating and instigating new ideas and initiatives to create a better working environment in Oxfordshire.
Oxfordshire Voice and its partners are also tasked with ensuring the benefits of living and working in Oxfordshire are promoted across the country and around the world.
The initiative was the brainchild of a number of business people, local councillors and the B4 networking organisation. 
Leading partners include Unipart, Blenheim Palace, Owen Mumford and Barclays Bank who will work in direct collaboration with Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council and Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP).
“This is a very important new opportunity for the county. It will give us a much needed boost to create the very best conditions to grow businesses and attract companies and workers to the region,” says Bob Price, one of the founding members of Oxfordshire Voice (OV).
OV will address the challenges affecting four key areas which are stifling Oxfordshire’s business economy: Skills, Transport & Communication, Housing and Social & Environmental issues.
“We are determined to put Oxfordshire very clearly on the business map and ensure it is right at the top of the list of places people want to be to work rest and enjoy themselves,“ says Simon Howson-Green from OV. 
OV will regularly poll and question business people from across the region to establish what they most want and need to make their companies thrive. These findings are discussed at regular forums where a plan of action is put into place.
“This whole process will speed up the rate of progress, cutting out so much red tape and confusion,” says Richard Venebles, the County’s High Sheriff.  “It’s all about collaboration. Getting things that need to done fast and effectively.”  
The organisation is already developing initiatives to improve recruitment potential in Oxfordshire and working with digital technology providers to ensure the county’s communications network is second to none by the end of the decade. 
A special forum to tackle the numerous issues around the lack of affordable housing in Oxfordshire is being discussed at the first monthly forum being held at Blenheim Palace at the end of January. 
OV is funded by its partners and receives no grant funding.
See pictures from the Oxfordshire Voice Launch HERE

See the Launch Recap Video HERE

Oxfordshire Voice Forum:  Housing in Oxfordshire

January 31 @ 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm @ Blenheim Palace
Register HERE

Connectivity and your business – Digital solutions for innovative businesses in Oxfordshire

February 15 @ 9:30 am – 2:00 pm @ Unipart House
Register HERE

Note to editors

About Oxfordshire Voice:
Oxfordshire Voice is a public and private sector collaboration which aims to provide solutions to the key challenges stifling economic development in Oxfordshire. Oxfordshire Voice was set up and is managed by B4, Oxfordshire’s leading business community. For further information about OV see:

Oxfordshire Voice partners include the following:

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Oxfordshire Community Foundation

Tampon tax funding reaches oxfordshire as projects helping women and girls share £3.4 million of national grants

More than 400 local projects across the uk working with some of society’s most vulnerable women and girls have received a much-needed funding boost from their local community foundation. in oxfordshire, four local charities have received over £31k to give girls and young women mental health counselling, empower them to overcome the trauma of sexual violence, and support isolated mothers.

Small charities and community groups across the UK have received grants of between £5,000 and £10,000 from the Tampon Tax Community Fund to provide services for women of all ages and backgrounds facing issues such as period poverty, domestic and sexual abuse, mental health and long-term unemployment to build their skills, confidence and self-esteem.

As one of the UK’s largest grant-giving organisations, UK Community Foundations (UKCF) was asked by government to distribute the largest share of the funding raised through the levy on sanitary products in 2017/18 to small, local projects, working with its network of community foundations across the country.

Locally, Oxfordshire Community Foundation awarded four grants to the following organisations:

• Henley-based Riverside Counselling Service were given £9,700 to provide counselling for girls and women aged 12–20 who are experiencing mental health problems as a result of family and relationship difficulties; self-esteem, depression or anxiety; self-harm; worries about body image or more complex mental health needs.
Oxford Sexual Abuse & Rape Crisis Centre received £9,500 to recruit, train and support volunteer counsellors to work with survivors of sexual violence experienced at any point in their lives, helping them to understand and process their trauma.
• Children’s charity Fegans are using their grant of £5,000 to run a female-only parenting programme that encourages healthy relationships, builds self-confidence and improves outcomes for women and their children affected by domestic violence and maternal mental health problems.
Home-Start Oxford will use £9,935 from the fund for a Family Support Worker to help mothers who have increasingly complex needs, including poor housing, poverty, domestic abuse and extreme isolation – visiting each mum weekly for up to three hours and providing ongoing liaison between statutory services.

UKCF Director of Programmes and Development Vicki Papworth said: “Community Foundations work with grassroots groups who are running vital local services on a shoestring. This funding will enable them to run some amazing projects that make difference on the ground to the women and girls who need it most.”

There are 418 projects being funded across the UK, ranging from supplying period products to girls in Grimsby to supporting young female carers in Redcar take on new challenges and build their confidence, skills and motivation. Other community foundations have funded projects such as employment and skills classes for Nepali women in Farnborough, and encouraging disadvantaged girls in Belfast to take up a career in computer science and technology.

Community foundations were oversubscribed in all areas for the Tampon Tax Community Fund. Only a quarter of the 1,500 applications for vital women and girls projects could be supported from this stream of funding.

Community foundations are independent charities that make grants to support grassroots groups. They work with local businesses, funders and government to create tailored programmes of grant-making that respond to the needs and assets of communities. They also distribute funding secured through national programmes, including the Tampon Tax Community Fund.

Oxfordshire Community Foundation

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James Cowper Kreston provides transaction support for Panoramic in MBO of online home retail

James Cowper Kreston are pleased to announce their involvement with the management buyout of Online Home Retail, trading as The transaction services team provided financial and tax due diligence services to Panoramic Growth Equity, the investment firm which backed the MBO.

Online Home Retail are an e-commerce company which source high quality bathroom products; their ranges include items for both home and trade. The management buyout was headed by James Hickman, the original owner of the business prior to its purchase by Grafton Group plc.

Panoramic Growth Equity are an equity investment firm who work alongside small and medium businesses; they offer advice and capital to allow these firms to reach their full potential. James Cowper Kreston’s transaction services team worked closely with Panoramic to ensure that financial and tax issues and risks were considered before they made the choice to back the buyout.

Transaction Services Director, Brad McAvoy, who led the project said: “This was our first time working with Panoramic and we were excited to support their investment. The whole team worked incredibly hard in a tight timeframe to provide everything that the Panoramic team would need to make an informed decision and we are thrilled that it worked out well for them and for James’ team at Online Home Retail.”

James Cowper Kreston

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Blenheim affordable homes

Residents enjoy first Christmas in Long Hanborough’s affordable homes

A young family was among the first residents to spend Christmas in their new home at Long Hanborough, as part of Blenheim’s affordable housing scheme in partnership with West Oxfordshire District Council.

Janie Drinkwater, who has been on the housing waiting list since the summer of 2016, moved into her three-bedroom property along with her 10-year-old daughter Cora and 21-month-old son Logan.

Her property is among nearly 60 on the new development which Blenheim Estate, in partnership with West Oxfordshire District Council, is making available for either social-rent or shared ownership as part of its commitment to house at least 300 families in high quality affordable homes.

As part of the initiative, rental levels are being set at 60 per cent of the current market rate, enabling many more people to be able to afford to live locally.

“As soon as I saw the new homes were being built in Long Hanborough I put my name forward and was offered a house. I was so happy when I received the ‘phone call and I couldn’t wait to move,” said Janie.

“I am now living much nearer to my family and my boyfriend Christian and his family too. It’s really nice to be so close to them and have all the help I need with my children as it’s just a nice little five-minute walk there and back.

“I love my new house as it fits in so well with my children. They both now have their own rooms and a bigger and better garden to play in.

“We had an excellent Christmas with all our family nearby and did not have to drive everywhere like I did before when I lived in Witney,” she added.

Four homes are now occupied, with more homes available to move into over the coming weeks. A further 48 affordable homes will follow at the site later this year.

Priority is being given to local residents with urgent accommodation needs as well as key workers in areas such as the NHS, Police, Education, Local Authority and the Ministry of Defence as well as those working for Blenheim.

The initiative is part of Blenheim’s 10-year development programme that includes tripling the Estate’s contribution to the local economy and completing a £40m restoration programme of the World Heritage Site.


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