Local lad takes over our local pub!

Aidan behind the barLocal boy Aidan Madden has just started work as the new landlord of the Red Lion. He has taken on the tenancy following the departure of Mel and Sarah Phipps after 14 years at the helm.

It will be a family affair with Aidan’s brother Kegan helping out when he’s home from duties in the Royal Navy. The boys’ parents Kathy and Colum are also assisting with lots of practical help and business support.

The family come from Middle Aston and have been visiting the pub for many years. In fact Kegan worked behind the bar for a while. They know lots of local people, not least because Aidan and his brother went to Dr Radcliffe’s School and then The Warriner.

Aidan studied jewellery design at university, and hopes to continue with this when time allows. But he has always worked in kitchens, including in the coffee shop at Blenheim Palace and most recently as a chef at the Three Pigeons in Banbury.

He says that when they saw the tenancy was becoming available from the owners Hook Norton Brewery he and his brother both thought “Let’s go for it!”

They plan to brighten the pub up with a lick of paint, possibly updating the toilets and making more use of the small room on the right of the entrance. They will continue to offer pizza to eat in and take away. There will be main courses on offer during the day, and small plates available later in to the evening in the bar. The aim is to have a reasonably limited menu with seasonal changes and using local produce.

Aidan will have help with the cooking from Josh Tollet from Banbury, and members of staff who worked with Mel and Sarah are staying on.

One of the first investments made by the new team is an up to date coffee machine. The hope is to attract more customers during the day for tea and coffee as there is no café in the village.

There will be an open evening on Saturday, 9th November when free snacks will be on offer from 6.00pm until late. Then food service proper will start with Sunday lunch the following day. More details about menus and opening hours will be available soon

More Sunday buses for Steeple Aston

The S4 bus service which runs between Oxford and Banbury via Steeple Aston will be much improved on Sundays from Sunday, 1st September. The initial funding for this improvement comes from developers who are required to make payments towards bus services as a condition of their planning permission.

Stagecoach, the company that runs the S4 has announced that they are making the changes following discussions with Oxfordshire County Council, a review of usage, and feedback from staff and customers.

They say the Sunday service, which currently only has four buses in each direction, will be enhanced to every 90 minutes, initially using developer funding, with later journeys in both directions and an earlier arrival from Steeple Aston, Deddington and Adderbury into Banbury.

Buses will leave Banbury at 0830, 1000, 1130, 1300, 1430, 1600 and 1730. Buses will leave Oxford at 1000, 1130, 1300, 1430, 1600, 1730 and 1900, with an additional trip at 0917 from Steeple Aston to Banbury (arriving 0953).

Sunday buses will also now serve Tackley and Rousham

To see the new timetable, please click here 

Parish Council’s annual expenditure explained

Parish Councillor Amanda Rodgers gives a detailed account of what the council spends our money on:

If you’re like me, when your Council Tax Demand arrives, you tend to just give it a quick glance and then file it, without paying much attention (perhaps other than to grumble at the increase and mutter about what we get for our money…).

However, included as a line item on your Council Tax Demand is ‘Steeple Aston’ and this is the amount paid to the Parish Council to enable us to carry out our responsibilities. On behalf of the Parish Council, we want to provide a brief explanation of how we use those funds for the benefit of the village.

As we are at the beginning of the financial year, all figures are based on budget rather than actual costs and I have rounded the figures to the nearest £100 for ease of reading. 

For 2019/20, the precept that we receive from Cherwell will be c.£29,500, an increase of 0.9% on last year’s amount or, in real terms, just under £600. The need for this increase reflects increases in service costs and our assessment that there are likely to be some slight additional costs relating to building maintenance this year compared with last year.  

We were pleased to be able to keep the increase low, without compromising our ability to deliver, as we appreciate that there were more significant increases in other areas of the Council Tax this year, particularly policing.

So, what do we spend your money on? As you will see from the breakdown below, the vast majority of our spend goes on the upkeep and improvement of village facilities and support of village associations/societies.

  • Facilities – £18,500
    This covers the costs of keeping village facilities up and running and ensuring they’re fit for purpose and in the best possible condition, these include:

    • Maintenance of the following:
      • Village Hall – this year our lease requires the repainting the outside of the hall, including windows, doors and all wood and metal work, including gutters and downpipes
      • Sports & Recreation Centre
      • Play Area – there are significant ongoing costs associated with ensuring that the play area remains in both good and safe condition, and continues to be available for all families to make use of
      • Pocket Park
      • Public Toilets
      • War Memorial
      • Street Furniture (including Bus Shelters)
    • Grass cutting, hedge trimming and weed control
    • Repayment of the loan for the football pitch
    • Hosting of the village website (

In addition to our annual spend, we are also required to plan for future major works to village assets such as the Village Hall, to cover costs of things such as re-roofing at a future date or the replacement of play area equipment, for example. For this reason, we hold cash reserves of an amount assessed as both necessary and sufficient to cover such major works as and when required (and outside of the scope of any insurance policies).

  • Grants – c. £3000
    These comprise contributions to village societies/associations or those providing services used by those in the village, including:

    • Barton Bus
    • Deddington Library
    • Parochial Church Council (PCC)
    • Royal British Legion (Poppy Wreath)
    • Steeple Aston Church Allotments Society
    • Steeple Aston Recreation Trust
    • Steeple Aston Village Archive (SAVA)

These contributions are allocated based on the receipt and objective review of a completed application form. Applications are welcome from any organisation or society which is village-based or provides services to the village. Application forms can be found on this village website here or can be obtained from Cathy Fleet at  Applications are considered once per financial year and the deadline for submission for the next financial year is 31st October.  

  • Administration – c. £8000
    We always aim to keep the administration fees as low as possible.

    • Parish Clerk’s salary and expenses (legally required)
    • Insurance (legally required)
    • Audit Fees (legally required)
    • Training (including legislation and best practice)
    • Mid Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan

Parish Councillors are all volunteers and, other than in exceptional circumstances, do not claim any expenses. As such, time spent reviewing planning applications, responding to correspondence, assessing and reporting potholes, liaising with highways, dealing with disputes and assorted other activities are dealt with at no cost.

This year we are also looking at what additional funds may be open to us to apply to for specific projects. Further updates will be provided on this in the monthly Parish Council Report published in Steeple Aston Life.

Our 2018/19 accounts (as well as previous years) are available for you to review in the Parish Council section of this website here  and you are always welcome to attend our Parish Council meetings, held on the third Monday of each month at 7.30pm in the Village Hall Committee Room.

If you have any additional questions regarding how we spend the funds we receive via the precept, please contact Amanda Rodgers at or 07793 553150 or Cathy Fleet at

Southside planning application temporarily withdrawn 

The application for planning permission to build 10 new homes on Southside opposite the entrance to Hill House has been withdrawn by the developers. But they intend to resubmit a revised application as soon as possible.

The developer, Rectory Homes (, had submitted plans for a mix of houses: 2 two-bedroomed and 5 three-bedroomed houses, and 3 houses with four or more bedrooms plus 33 parking spaces or garages. There have also been changes to the road layout proposed, which, according to the developer, have been agreed with Oxfordshire County Council, the Highways Authority.

Steeple Aston Parish Council is ‘broadly supportive’ of the planning application, but it does have a number of concerns which it thinks should be addressed by the developers before they’re given the go-ahead.

The council’s concerns are over:

  • Thames Water’s assurances that the sewerage system can cope: there have been problems in the past where the system runs down through Bradshaw Close.
  • the maintenance of road markings and signage, which is necessary to maintain a high degree of safety
  • the narrowness of the road where there is to be a ‘build out’: a local farmer needs to be able to get wide farm vehicles into and through the village.
  • The general appearance of the development and how it will tie in with the appearance of the rest of the village. The scheme should enhance the entrance to the village.

These concerns have been underlined by a number of comments and objections to the planning authority Cherwell District Council. They have come from members of the public as well as Oxfordshire County Council and the Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan forum.

The MCNP was particularly concerned about the appearance of the development and the views across neighbouring fields. OCC has now confirmed its approval in principle of the highways/pedestrian scheme, subject to revisions needed to allow access to Southside for buses and wide farm vehicles. They have however objected to the development on “sand extraction” and archaeological grounds.

Several residents are still concerned about the safety of pedestrians and drivers with a dangerous increase in traffic at a site where visibility is already an issue.

The plans, associated documents and the full comments from the council, members of the public and others can all be seen on the CDC website here.  

Council Chair reports on a year of “stability and consolidation”

In his first Annual Report as Chair of the Parish Council, Richard MacAndrew describes the last year as “one of relative stability and consolidation”  – a contrast with all the change and disruption of 2017-18.

He describes Steeple Aston as a “vibrant community” and says that the Parish Council is committed to making sure that it remains so. The aim is to ensure that the village has the quality facilities it needs so that village organisations and services can continue effectively to serve the needs of the community.

In the report Richard thanks the many people who, both paid and unpaid, have helped the village over the last year. There is particular praise for Martin Lipson and John Coley for their tireless efforts on the Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan, which after an overwhelming endorsement by the electorate will influence planning decisions in the area until 2031.

The report details the various issues dealt with by the Parish Council over the last year. The list includes planning applications, parking and potholes. There has been progress on dealing with potholes in the village, and the council has recently been in consultation with the Highways department about a possible new drainage system for The Beeches, which may provide a long-term solution to the pothole problem there.

The report also gives details of other work done by the council this year, and looks forward to a major refurbishment of the Village Hall in the year to come.  To read the full report, please click here.


The Beeches planning application refused

Cherwell District Council has refused planning permission for the building of up to eight houses at The Beeches on Heyford Road, Steeple Aston.

The council’s case officer who recommended the refusal judged that “the proposals represent an inappropriate form of development beyond the built-up limits of the village, for which no essential or identified need has been demonstrated.”

This was the second time that the owner of The Beeches, Adrian Shooter, had applied to develop the plot where he currently lives. The first time the application was withdrawn following objections from Steeple Aston Parish Council and several others.

This time, the parish council decided by a majority not to object to the revised plans. However, Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Forum still had several objections and said the plan should be refused.

The district council give two reasons for the refusal, both on the basis that the proposals are contrary to the Cherwell Local Plan and government guidance contained in the National Planning Policy Framework.

The first is that: “The proposed development represents new housing that would significantly encroach into the countryside beyond the built-up limits of Steeple Aston, contrary to the housing strategy of the Development Plan for the area, for which it has not been demonstrated that there is a justified need. In its proposed location the development would therefore be an unjustified and unsustainable form of development. “

The second reason is that: “The proposed development represents inappropriate ‘back-land’ development that would fail to relate well to the pattern of development in the area and would appear as an intrusion of built form into the countryside, detracting from the rural character and quality of the area the setting of the village.”

Mr Shooter has six months to decide whether to appeal the decision.

The detailed report, which explains the reasons for the refusal, and all other associated documents can be found here on Cherwell District Council’s website