News

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 (www.steepleaston.org.uk)

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 parishclerk.steepleaston@gmail.com.  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 amanda.rodgers1003@gmail.com or 07793 553150 or Cathy Fleet at parishclerk.steepleaston@gmail.com.


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 (www.rectory.co.uk), 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.


Tory Hugo Brown returns as local councillor 

Conservative candidate Hugo Brown was re-elected as a District Councillor for the Deddington ward in the election on Thursday, 2nd May.  Steeple Aston is part of the Deddington ward of Cherwell District  Council following recent local government changes.

Mr Brown was the only Deddington councillor up for re-election this year. The other two Deddington representatives, Bryn Williams and Mike Kerford-Byrnes, will be in office until May 2022.

The turnout in the election was 38.47 per cent. Mr Brown was opposed by three other candidates. The Green Party candidate polled second highest, with the Liberal Democrat third and Labour in fourth place.

The votes cast were as follows:

Candidate Party Votes Elected
BLISS, Aaron James Green 523  
BROWN, Hugo Michael Hubert Conservative 1376 Elected
DAVIS, Nigel Geofrey Liberal Democrat 477  
MURPHY, Annette Labour 382  

 

Planning application for The Beeches withdrawn

The application for planning permission to build up to eight houses at The Beeches on Heyford Road in Steeple Aston has been withdrawn. This followed a message from the planning officer dealing with the application that he had an “in principle” objection to the development.

Steeple Aston Parish Council, on the other hand, was not against the principle of building of some houses in the grounds of The Beeches, but it did object to the proposal on the basis of the mix of houses proposed. Others including the Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Forum and the Highways Authority had more wide-ranging objections.

Agents acting on behalf of the owner Adrian Shooter asked Cherwell District Council for more time to respond to the various objections, but they were refused.

Bob Neville, the Senior Planning Officer dealing with the application wrote in an email to the agents, “With minor development proposals such as this application, extensions of time are only likely to be appropriate when it is clear what needs to happen to achieve a positive outcome, and there is agreement on the timescale within which this can be achieved. As discussed, highways matters are just one of a number of issues that all contribute to the proposals being considered unacceptable and even if these matters were to be satisfactorily addressed (which in my opinion (in relation to highways only) would require amended plans increasing the size of the access, not just Speed Survey and assessment of the visibility splays). However, the fundamental issue is that the principle of development is not considered acceptable being contrary to the Council’s rural housing strategy and not representing a sustainable form of development; as such we are unlikely to get to a position where we would be considering a positive outcome.

“If you believe you can address all of the matters that have been raised during the application then I would advise withdrawing the application and resubmitting once all the appropriate information is available; however I would advise that in my opinion this would be very difficult to achieve and unlikely that such a resubmission would receive officer support given that the principle of development is not considered acceptable. In light of the ‘in principle’ objection I see no reason to extend the application beyond its statutory target date of 09.05.2019 and will be preparing my recommendation early next week.”