News Archive 2020


Church services move indoors

From October 4th onwards, church services in Steeple Aston, North Aston and Tackley will move indoors. The three churches will take it in turns to have one service each Sunday, except for on 8th November, Remembrance Sunday, when there will be a service in all three villages, with the Steeple Aston service in the open air.​

All members of the congregations will be asked wear face coverings or masks and observe social distancing at all times when attending services.

To keep everyone safe and ensure social distancing, people will have to book their place for services in advance with the churchwardens.​

To book at Steeple Aston church call Eileen on 340099

To book at North Aston church call Clive on 340470

To book at Tackley church call Julian on 331252 ​

The dates for services in October and November are as follows:​

October 4th 5.30pm Tackley – Evensong​

October 11th 10.30am Steeple Aston – Holy Communion​

October 18th 5.30pm North Aston – Evensong​

October 25th 10.30am Steeple Aston – Holy Communion​

November 1st 5.30pm Tackley – Evensong for All Saints​

November 8th Remembrance Sunday

9.30 North Aston

10.50 Steeple Aston Churchyard (no need to book)

5.30pm Tackley ​

November 15th 10.30am Steeple Aston – Holy Communion

November 22nd 5.30pm North Aston – Evensong ​

November 29th 10.30am Steeple Aston – Holy Communion

The Rector is still sending out regular emails to those on the parish email list and the church’s website homepage will continue feature a new Worship at Home video each week. This can also be accessed by a special phone service: just dial 929021 and you can choose to hear the whole service, the sermon or the prayers for that week.​

The church buildings will continue to open for personal prayer during the day on Saturdays, though when a Benefice service is happening in a parish on the Sunday, the church will not open on the Saturday.


Rebecca joins the parish council

Rebecca Lewin was co-opted on to the parish council at its July meeting. She will fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Amanda Rodgers.

Born and brought up in High Wycombe, Rebecca moved to the village with her husband James in early 2018. Baby Jacob came along 14 months ago. The family are currently living in Kidlington while an extension is built to their home, Lansdowne House on Heyford Road.

They have been away from Steeple Aston since March. Although she is living closer to her mother and sister, Rebecca says she is really missing village life and the friendliness she has found here. They will be back in the autumn once the building work is finished, and she will look forward to taking on her new role as a parish councillor.

She has already thrown herself in to village life joining the choral society, taking on an allotment and becoming a member of the Horticultural Society committee. Rebecca very quickly got hooked on horticultural matters, visiting the Spring Show on her very first weekend in the village, and going on to win prizes for her flowers and preserves.

And since Jacob was born Rebecca and James have met lots other new parents through the Baby and Toddler group and the Mums and Dads groups that have grown from there. They’ve been coming back to the village during lockdown for walks and James helped out with the recent renovation of the play area.

All this is quite a contrast with her previous life where she spent 15 years travelling to some of the world’s most unhappy places. Though she studied astrophysics at university, Rebecca soon found a career working on logistics, managing operations for emergencies on behalf of  large international charities including Oxfam and Plan International. She visited and lived in Africa, the Middle East and the Asia Pacific region as she says seeing “some of the loveliest places in the world at the worst of times.”

Rebecca met James, who works in IT, at an evening class on photography when she was working for Oxfam. She says she could hardly miss him as he is 6ft 7ins tall! They were married nearly four years ago in the small Northamptonshire village he comes from and decided they too wanted a change of lifestyle and looked for in a village in which to bring up their family.

Rebecca has stopped travelling and now works for a small charity based in Kidlington. She is Operations and Finance Director for Emergency Nutrition Network which is a think tank and knowledge centre working to overcome malnutrition across the world.

She brings plenty of experience to her role as a parish councillor. She knows about financial management, human resources, legal and health and safety issues. But she readily admits that she has plenty to learn about parish council matters.  She says, “I was surprised and honoured to be appointed, and I’m pleased to be of service. I hope to learn from the very experienced councillors, and perhaps to represent the views of my age group who don’t always have time to get involved in village affairs.”

Steeple Aston playground

Please note that after Monday 31st August the playground equipment will no longer be sanitised. Parents and carers are encouraged bring their own sanitising gel and hand wipes, and to sanitise touch points on equipment before and after use by their children.

The public toilet will continue to be cleaned and sanitised as usual every morning. It will also be wiped down with sanitiser in the early afternoon.

You use the playground and the public toilet at your own risk.

Steeple Aston Parish Council

Online exhibition for Not the Annual Flower Show

Usually on August Bank Holiday Monday the village is buzzing with visitors to Robinsons Close to see the extraordinary range of flowers, fruit and vegetables on show – not to mention the great entries in the handicrafts, cookery, photography and children’s classes.

Sadly, this year the show had to be cancelled. But you can see some examples of all of the above in an online exhibition of photos on the theme “Colours of the Rainbow”.

Just hover your mouse over each of the thumbnail photos to see who the contributor was. Then click through to enlarge the photo and use the arrows to make your way through the exhibition. There are two separate pages to look at.

Many thanks to all who contributed to this wonderful, colourful exhibition of village talent.

Church bells to ring again!

Steeple Aston chiuch belltowerSteeple Aston Church bells will be heard this weekend for the first time since March. They will be rung at 11.00am this Saturday, 15th August for the 75th Anniversary of VJ Day, which marks both the surrender of Japan and the end of the Second World War.


Thank you from the Parish Council

The Parish Council would like to extend a huge public thank you to all the volunteers who have been helping in the village over the last four months. Some of you helped with leafleting at the start of the crisis. Some have been paired up with vulnerable and self-isolating people: running errands, picking up shopping and prescriptions, etc. Some have been ‘chatting,’ providing an essential social lifeline to people who cannot get out and about. All of your help has been invaluable.

Special thanks on this occasion go to Anna Thatcher and Katie Crawshay who have both now stepped down, having run weekly prescription deliveries around the village from the Deddington Health Centre for the last two months. Thank you both for your efficiency and good humour. Their roles have been taken over by Penny Cummins and Linda Watkins respectively.

We also owe a special thank you to Tom Coker and his amazing army of volunteers, from Steeple Aston and Middle Aston, and from further afield as well, who made such a wonderful job of smartening up of the playground ready for its re-opening. In the relatively short space of time available they achieved far more than they had planned, and the results are fantastic. Thank you too to Hannah Hodges, who has volunteered for the duration of her school holidays to help Bob Bickley keep the facility as clean, safe and sanitised as we can make it.

We would also like to extend our thanks to those people who have not yet been called on to help. You allow the PC Chairman to sleep at night, knowing there are people in the village willing to lend a hand if the need arises.

Writing this as lockdown starts to ease in mid-July, it is difficult to know what to expect over the coming months. We hope for a return to some sort of normality; but we must be prepared for the possibility of a second wave. Whatever the future holds, we will do our best to ensure everyone in the village stays safe. Thank you to everyone who has helped us achieve all we have done so far.

Steeple Aston Parish Council

Church services restart in the open air

Notice about church servicesChurch services in Steeple Aston will begin again next Sunday, July 19th – not in the church, but in the churchyard, weather permitting.

The Rector, Rev Marcus Green explains, “These are going to be open air services, and we will hold one service for the whole Benefice (Steeple Aston, North Aston & Tackley) every other week to begin with. We are asking people to bring their own chair or rug to sit on, to observe social distancing, and to wear a face covering or mask.

“Someone said to me – we wash our hands to protect ourselves; we wear masks to protect others. And in that spirit, though worship will feel odd with face coverings, it seems the right call.  I’m going to award a prize for the most colourful or creative mask at our first services! The diocese is asking us not to sing, but we will be sharing communion.”

Saturday, 11th July was the first day the church doors were open to the public, but only for private prayer. The photo below shows the three churches’ open doors! Volunteers welcomed a handful of parishioners who visited the buildings during the day.

The Worship at Home video, which the Rector has provided during the lockdown, will continue to be available on the church website. The weekly service is also available via a phone line.  The Rector, Rev Marcus Green says, “If people dial 929021 they can choose to hear either the whole service, or just this week’s prayers, or just this week’s sermon. It’s a local call so hopefully it’s a really helpful thing for those who can’t access a computer easily! And you can phone any time you like.” 

Planning application for chicken sheds withdrawn but……..

The developers, Middle Aston Limited, have withdrawn their application for planning permission to redevelop Hatch End Old Poultry Farm between Steeple and Middle Aston as a 29-unit business park.

The application was withdrawn after the Planning Officer James Kirkham responsible for the application raised a number of concerns about the proposal. These include the impact on the rural character and appearance of the area of the increased height and the design of the buildings along with the amount of office floor space proposed on the site.

He expects the developers will be looking to amend the scheme and come back  with a
resubmission of the planning application.

The withdrawal follows objections from Middle Aston Village meeting, Steeple Aston Parish Council, the Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan, and Dr Radcliffe’s School. Nearly 30 residents of the two villages also put in written objections to the planning authority Cherwell District Council.

The main concern of the objectors was the amount of traffic that would be generated first during the construction of the site and then when it was up and running. 

The proximity of Dr Radcliffe’s School and the Pre School, where there have already been worries about road safety for children, was a particular worry.

The objections from the parish council raise a number of other concerns, as do the submissions from Middle Aston and the MCNP and others. They include:

  • economic factors – intensification of the existing use of the site
  • parking provision is already double that on the site and will be insufficient
  • lack of footpaths
  • the design and height proposed new buildings are out of character with the rural setting
  • the failure to consult the school or local neighbours
  • that the application fails to comply with planning policies at a national and local level.

Oxfordshire County Council, the Highways Authority, did not object to the scheme, but the Conservation Officer at Cherwell District Council did raise concerns about the appearance of the proposed new buildings.

In her response Emma Harrison writes: “Although there are concerns regarding the proposed development overall the redevelopment of the site is supported, and it is acknowledged that there may be consequential public benefits. It is also considered that the scheme could be amended to address the concerns raised. The Conservation Team would welcome further involvement to find a solution that is acceptable to all.”

It remains to be seen whether the developers will take her up on her offer and submit a revised scheme in due course.

Playground re-opens – but with new safety rules

The Parish Council is pleased to announce the playground will be open again from 9 o’clock on Saturday 4th July. Please take note of the guidance below and please be aware that you are using the facilities at your own risk.

We would like to say an enormous ‘thank you’ to Tom Coker and his army of volunteers – young, old and everyone in-between – who have done such an amazing job of smartening it all up. We hope you will enjoy using the facility again, but please maintain social distancing, and follow the guidelines below.


We are doing our best to make the playground as safe as possible but please note:

You use the playground at your own risk.

The playground will be sanitised every morning.

Parents and carers are encouraged to sanitise touch points on equipment before and after use by their children.

Please bring your own sanitising gel or wipes. Sanitise your hands before entering the playground, when moving from one piece of equipment to another, and after you come out.

Please do not bring food or drink into or near the playground.

Maintain correct social distancing when using the playground.

Please follow the guidelines on numbers of users, both in the playground and on each piece of equipment.

Only one parent or carer may accompany a child into the toddler area, but please can adults keep out of the junior area.

Remind children to keep their hands away from their mouths.

If the playground is busy, please stay no longer than 30 minutes.

Wash your hands thoroughly again as soon as you get home.

Please follow current government guidance.

Steeple Aston Parish Council

Village families get cooking for charity

Families in Steeple Aston have been having fun learning to cook (and eat) the Ugandan way!

They’ve also been supporting a local charity which runs education and community development projects in Kenya, Lesotho and Uganda.

It’s all party of a competition in which you are taught online how to make a Ugandan meal of bean stew with chapattis. Then you enjoy eating your meal in authentic Ugandan style – with your hands!

You photo or video the process and post it on Instagram or email it to the charity,  the Rafiki Thabo Foundation. The winners of the competition will have a Zoom cookery lesson from Prue Leith of the Great British Bake Off.

Pictured above are Maisie and Ted with parents Abigail Boisot and Matt Butcher. And below you can see Charlie, Hattie and Woody Wright. Their parents Helen and Dan were probably wise to suggest they ate in the garden!

Finding something different to do with the kids is proving popular with parents. Abigail said it was the best fun they’d had in ages.


Planning permission for The Beeches refused again

Cherwell District Council has refused planning permission for the development of up to eight houses in the grounds of The Beeches in Heyford Road, Steeple Aston for the second time.

This was the third time that the owner Adrian Shooter had applied for permission to develop the site. His first application was withdrawn following objections from Steeple Aston Parish Council and several others. A modified plan was submitted which took into account some of these objections. This time, the parish council decided by a majority not to object to the revised plans. However, the Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan Forum still had several objections and the plan was refused

The third application was exactly the same as the second one, but with the addition of a lengthy legal counsel’s opinion. The lawyer Peter Goatley looked in detail at the case and made the point that the refusal of permission last time was delegated to a planning officer and never considered by the council’s Planning Committee.

He argued that the officer made an incorrect decision and that the relevant development plan policies, council guidance and strategies had been misinterpreted and misapplied. He said that if the application went before the committee “there would be a sound prospect for members of the planning committee, properly informed, to reach a different view to that expressed in the officer’s delegated report.”

Steeple Aston Parish Council once again voted by a majority to support the application, but the Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan Forum continued to argue against the development. The decision was once again delegated to an officer, and did not go before the full Planning Committee as requested by the lawyer.

The application was refused for two reasons, stating once again that it was contrary to local plans (including the MCNP Plan) and government guidelines.. The first was 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 was 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.”

In his opinion the lawyer Mr Goatley said that if permission was refused again Mr Shooter would have little option but to appeal. He has six months in which to do so.

You can see the plan and supporting documents and comments and the officer’s report  on the Cherwell District website planning register.

New bus timetable and new service

The S4 bus service between Oxford and Banbury via Steeple Aston will return to its normal weekday timetable from this Monday. 29th June.  There will be no change to weekend times.

Here is the new timetable. For more information about how the service will operate to ensure passenger safety, see the Stagecoach website. 

In addition, a new company called Hallmark Travel is taking over the 250 service between Bicester and Oxford, which stops at Lower Heyford. Here is their new timetable from Monday, 6th July.

Oxfordshire County Council made the following announcement about the change of provider:

As the service will no longer be operated by Oxford Bus Company, tickets and passes for use on this company’s buses will no longer be valid after Saturday 4 July 2020. This includes all SmartZone and Key card products. Passengers holding such tickets should contact the Oxford Bus Company for a refund, and details of Hallmark’s ticket range should be available in due course. The company will be offering as a minimum weekly, monthly and multi-trip tickets for regular travellers.

The new contract has provisions to run until December 2022.

As Hallmark are a new provider of County Council local bus contracts, we will be particularly interested to hear of your experiences with the service and any feedback you may have. In the first instance, any problems should be discussed with Hallmark directly but also can be reported to us via the email address

Hallmark Connections can be contacted at 01784 425612 or at

Remember Government advice is still to avoid public transport unless your journey is strictly necessary, and you must wear a face covering to travel.

Council and many others object to chicken sheds plans

Steeple Aston Parish Council has now submitted to Cherwell District Council its detailed objections to the proposed development of 29 business units at the chicken sheds – Hatch End Old Poultry Farm between Steeple and Middle Aston. 

At a Zoom meeting on Monday, 15th June attended by more than 15 villagers, all opposed to the scheme, councillors voted unanimously to object to the plans.

Middle Aston Parish and Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan Forum have put in detailed objections too along with a large number of villagers, the governors of Dr Radcliffe’s School and Marcus Green, The Rector of Steeple Aston.

The main concern of the objectors is the amount of traffic that would be generated first during the construction of the site and then when it is up and running. Initially there will be heavy construction traffic needing to travel to the site via Southside and Paines Hill in Steeple Aston.  Then the daily arrival of at least 100 employees’ cars and 50 bicycles in addition to clients visiting the site and deliveries would lead to an enormous permanent increase in traffic on narrow village roads.

The proximity of Dr Radcliffe’s School and the Pre School, where there have already been worries about road safety for children, is of particular concern.

The objections from the parish council lists a number of other concerns too, as do the submissions from Middle Aston and the MCNP and others. They include:

  • economic factors – intensification of the existing use of the site
  • parking provision is already double that on the site and will be insufficient
  • lack of footpaths
  • the design and height proposed new buildings are out of character with the rural setting
  • the failure to consult the school or local neighbours
  • that the application fails to comply with planning policies at a national and local level

The submission from the parish council concludes that the application is exactly what national planning policy guidance seeks to avoid – “a development that is not sensitive to its surroundings, has an unacceptable impact on local roads, and fails to facilitate access on foot.”

You can see the plans and the comments on them on  Cherwell District Council website ref: 20/01127/F. click on supporting docs. A decision on the planning application is expected in early August.

Church to re-open for private prayer

Steeple Aston Church will be open for private prayer during the day on Saturdays from July 11th. Volunteers will welcome those who wish to take time and pray quietly. The weekly Worship at Home video will continue to be available on the church website. Now this weekly service is also available via a phone line.  The Rector, Rev Marcus Green says, “If people dial 929021 they can choose to hear either the whole service, or just this week’s prayers, or just this week’s sermon. It’s a local call so hopefully it’s a really helpful thing for those who can’t access a computer easily! And you can phone any time you like.” Please pass  this message on to anyone without internet access who might find it helpful.

Council raises questions with chicken sheds developer

Steeple Aston Parish Council has sent a series of questions to the developer who has applied for planning permission to build 29 business units on the site of Hatch End Old Poultry Farm between Steeple and Middle Aston.

There has been concern in both villages about the volume of traffic which would be generated during the construction phase and thereafter with parking spaces for nearly 100 cars included in the plans. There is also concern about the appearance of the proposed buildings, seen as not suitable for the site’s rural setting.

Councillors, who will decide whether to support the planning application at their June 15th meeting , wrote to the developer, Charles Sandy of Middle Aston Ltd asking a series of questions.

They wrote: “When Steeple Aston Parish Council saw the preliminary scheme in September 2019, we expressed our in-principle support for this sort of scheme, aiming to provide local employment as it does.

“However, it has become clear that the traffic issues in particular are of great concern. We believe that the scheme will generate “a volume of traffic that would have a significantly harmful effect on road safety or congestion or cause unacceptable noise and disturbance for local residents or to the rural environment”, and consequently may fail to meet one of the key criteria of Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan policy PC1 (which would otherwise lend support to the scheme).

“Concerns about the visual effect of the development on the environment may fail to meet another of the criteria.

“We would therefore be keen to hear of ways in which the impact of the proposed scheme can be reduced, so that we might be able to consider supporting the application.”

Mr Sandy said he was prepared to consider measures to mitigate the traffic problems and possible changes to the appearance of the buildings. His responses to the council’s detailed questions can be read here.

He said he very much hopes they allay most if not all of the council’s concerns. He went on the say, “We all see the scheme’s local employment benefits and its potential to be a genuinely exciting, tranquil place to work and start businesses. We also genuinely appreciate the Parishes concerns and want to address these whilst also ensuring viability so all our hard work comes to fruition.”

However, there have already been objections to the scheme from several villagers and the Governors of Dr Radcliffe’s Primary School. In a lengthy submission the Chair of the School Governors, Lisa Boote says “The amount of traffic passing school is currently a problem and an increase in traffic is a cause of great concern.”

The site is in Middle Aston where Edward Dowler is the Chair of the Parish Meeting. Because of the lockdown, he’s had to canvass the views of villagers by email. He said that that the increase in traffic is the number one concern for villagers.

Both Steeple and Middle Aston have to send in their comments on the application to Cherwell District Council by 20th June. SAPC will discuss it again at its next meeting on Monday, 15th June. Members of the public are welcome to join the  meeting which starts at 7.30pm. Contact the Parish Clerk, Cathy Fleet on 01869 347000/07989 398838 or email for  a Zoom invitation. If you aren’t able to join the meeting, you can email your comments in advance to Cathy.

The Parish Council also encourages parishioners to send responses to the planning application to CDC . You can view the application, and comment on it if you want to, on the Cherwell District Council website ref: 20/01127/F.

Originally the application was to be considered only by officials, but now it has been decided to bring it before the CDC Planning Committee.  A decision is scheduled for 6th August.  


Village celebrates VE Day in lockdown

Hope you enjoyed celebrating VE Day despite the restrictions. The Union Jack in this picture belonged to Vaughan Billings’ parents and was flown on VE Day in 1945. There are lots more VE Day pictures in the Photo Gallery.  Thanks to Merrill Bayley for  her contributions. If you have any more photos you’d like to share please send them to

The Rector, Rev Marcus Green reports on a new way of celebrating. He writes: “Singers and musicians from Steeple Church, along with Tackley and North Aston, have recorded a version of the Easter hymn ‘Thine Be The Glory’ in isolation!
“As a celebration of our community and our faith this VE 75 weekend, and really feeling the pinch that we couldn’t come together in person, we all recorded our parts in our own homes – and then became a congregation again by the wonders of technology! The result is something we hope will bring some joy to everyone. It is included in the special VE 75 Worship at Home service which will be on the church’s homepage,, on Sunday.”

You can have a sneak peak here

Mobile virus testing sites open locally

The JR Hospital Bulletin reports that as part of the Government’s new testing programme, three new Government run mobile testing sites have opened in Oxfordshire. They offer testing for key workers and for the over-65s who believe they may be displaying COVID-19 symptoms.

They are located in the car park of Cherwell District Council’s offices at Bodicote House;in the car park of Bicester Village; and in New Street car park in Chipping Norton. The facility at Bodicote House came into operation on 1 May and council staff worked closely with Ministry of Defence staff to ensure the set-up of the site ran smoothly.

These sites are in addition to the regional site at Thornhill park and ride and the NHS staff run testing sites at the Churchill and John Radcliffe Hospitals.

If you think you might have coronavirus, do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Stay at home. Go to to find out what to do if you have symptoms and follow the advice here which will be updated regularly

Plans for Old Poultry Farm raise traffic concerns

Steeple Aston Parish Council and Middle Aston villagers are considering how to respond to a planning application for a new business park to replace the chicken sheds on the road between Steeple and Middle Aston.

The 29 units proposed at Hatch End Old Poultry Farm could be used for offices, research and development or industrial activities. The application includes provision for parking for nearly 100 cars and 50 bicycles.

Steeple Aston councillors had seen some outline plans at their meeting last September and were initially supportive. They can still see advantages to the proposals as can villagers in Middle Aston. The site is an eyesore. The current chicken sheds are collapsing and can’t be let. Only 15 people work on the site.  A new development could bring jobs as well as greater use of the shop, the pub and the bus.

The site is in Middle Aston, which doesn’t have a parish council. Edward Dowler is the Chair of Middle Aston Parish Meeting. Because of the lockdown, he’s had to canvass the views of villagers by email.

He said that that the increase in traffic is the number one concern for villagers. The same is true in Steeple Aston.  Initially there will be heavy construction traffic needing to travel to the site either via Southside and Paines Hill in Steeple Aston or via Middle Aston.  Then the daily arrival of at least 100 employees’ cars and 50 bicycles in addition to clients visiting the site and deliveries would lead to an enormous increase in traffic. The proximity of Dr Radcliffe’s School, where there have already been worries about road safety for children, is of particular concern.

The parish council discussed ways in which the traffic impact could be reduced. Edward Dowler believes the traffic information included in the planning application is incorrect, and has spoken directly to the developer Charles Sandy of Middle Aston Limited about traffic mitigation measures, not just during construction but also for the long term. He wondered for example whether traffic could be limited during school pick up and drop off times, or whether perhaps employees could travel to the site by minibus. The Parish Council also want to speak to the owners and get more detail about what’s intended.

In addition, there is also concern in both villages about the appearance of the site, and whether it will be in keeping with its rural environment.  The plans show buildings that are 50 per cent higher than the current ones and look quite urban.  Some thought that judicious tree planting could help.

Both Steeple and Middle Aston have asked for an extension to the time allowed for comments. This has been granted and their comments now have to be in on 20th June. SAPC will discuss it again at its next meeting on Monday, 15th June. Members of the public are welcome to join the council meeting which starts at 7.30pm. Contact the Parish Clerk, Cathy Fleet on 01869 347000/07989 398838 or email for  a Zoom invitation.

Originally the application was to be considered only by officials, but now it has been decided to bring it before the CDC Planning Committee.  A decision is scheduled for 6th August. You can view the application, and comment on it if you want to, on the Cherwell District Council website ref: 20/01127/F.


Parish Council Update

Last week we posted notices round the village, on the website, and on Facebook, asking people to get in touch if they needed help, or if they knew of people who needed help. We have had some response to this; and we have identified other people in the village who are vulnerable and need assistance either with shopping or meals. We realise that there may be more people who we don’t know about; and there will certainly be more who need help in the coming weeks as people go into self-isolation.

We also have a list of people who have generously offered their services as volunteers to help in whatever way they can. We are sure we will need more volunteers as more people start to require help.

If you are able to volunteer in any way at all, please get in touch with:
Cathy Fleet at or on 01869 347000 or 0798 939 8838.

If you need help with shopping or picking up medication, or you know someone who does, please get in touch with Richard MacAndrew at or on 01869 347209.

If you know someone in an ‘at risk’ group, who would benefit from the new food delivery service, please get in touch with Charlotte Bartlett at or on 01869 347347.

Tell us if you need help! Tell us if you can help!

CDC says bonfire smoke is a threat to health

Cherwell District Council has asked people not to start bonfires during the current lockdown. The council has issued the following Important notice entitled COVID-19:

With the current Coronavirus pandemic many people are in their homes and cannot escape the smell of smoke if a neighbour chooses to have a bonfire. People must consider the health of others during these unique times. Coronavirus is a respiratory disease and people’s breathing could be worsened due to smoke inhalation.

We appreciate that the waste recycling facilities are closed so we would strongly urge that appropriate garden waste is either composted where able/practical or disposed of using the brown bins provided. Any surplus waste is then stored for either the next brown bin collection or for when the waste recycling centres are back open.

Whilst there are no smoke control areas in this district and there are no laws against having occasional bonfires we are asking if people could also support their neighbours by not lighting bonfires while the pandemic continues. Smoke can pose a risk to people’s health, so avoiding fires will reduce the chance of people having their airways affected and avoid further burden on the NHS.

We have powers to deal with smoke nuisance from any bonfire and for dark smoke offences on commercial and industrial premises.

There are no smoke control areas in this district and there are no laws against having bonfires. However it is an offence for the smoke, or the smell of the smoke, to cause a nuisance. Smoke from garden bonfires in a residential area can seriously affect the residential amenity and enjoyment of other premises.

For a bonfire to be a legal nuisance we would consider the following:

  • How much smoke is being created and does it affect nearby properties?
  • What is being burnt? – the type of material being burned affects how much smoke is being produced/ how noxious the fumes from the smoke are
  • How often do the bonfires occur? A single bonfire is unlikely to be a nuisance even though it may cause annoyance to one or more neighbours.

We ask that residents compost or recycle the material, however if there is no alternative to having a bonfire then the burning should be carried out when the weather conditions are suitable.

Message from Deddington Health Centre

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, there are likely to be a number of changes to how you access care over the next days and weeks. Now all same-day appointments will start with a telephone call. We are aiming to see as few patients face to face as possible to protect vulnerable patients and our staff. Rest assured we will do our very best to provide a high level service as usual. It will just be different for a while. Do not attend or call the surgery if you have a new cough or fever. Follow the advice here which will be updated regularly

For the protection of our patients and staff we have divided our surgery into two zones. The main entrance is now out of bounds. Do not enter via this entrance. You will see the sign shown in the picture – please do not ignore it.

If you have an appointment or you are picking up a prescription, please go to the Dispensary entrance at the far end of the car park.

Thank you for helping us to keep our patients and staff safe.

Thanks to S&J for food deliveries in the village

S&J Cuisine have already stepped in at very short notice to help the Parish Council make sure the over 70s, vulnerable and self-isolating have meals delivered to their door during this uncertain time. Nearly 50 people are so far having three meals delivered to them every Wednesday and our warm and sincere thanks go to them for that.
If anyone else in this over-70s, vulnerable and self-isolating group would like more details about the scheme or to sign up, please contact Charlotte Bartlett on 01869 347347.
For anyone else not in this group but who would also like meals delivered in this lockdown period, S&J are happy to deliver to them also. 3 meals (main and pudding) delivered to the door for £15. Contact Jasmin on 07801 975210.

Parish Council supports Beeches development again

Steeple Aston Parish Council has once again decided by a majority to support the application by owner Adrian Shooter to build up to eight houses at The Beeches in Steeple Aston, despite a conflict with the Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan.

The Plan states that there are houses, mostly on the edge of the village where it would be inappropriate for large gardens to be developed because such sites are characterised as ‘backland’ never intended to be covered with houses. The developers at The Beeches are arguing that the MCNP view is not relevant to their planning approval.

The majority of the Councillors are not against the Beeches development seeing it as an acceptable way to help meet our limit of new homes by 2030. But they recognise the importance of not undermining the MCNP as it is a vital element in our arsenal to prevent unsuitable developments

This is the third time that Mr Shooter has applied to Cherwell District Council to develop the site. His first application was withdrawn following objections from Steeple Aston Parish Council and several others. A modified plan was submitted which took into account some of these objections. This time, the parish council decided by a majority not to object to the revised plans. However, the Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan Forum still had several objections and said the plan should be refused.

The plan was rejected by Cherwell District Council. 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 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 latest third application is exactly the same as the second one, but with the addition of a lengthy legal counsel’s opinion. The lawyer Peter Goatley looks in detail at the case and makes the point that the refusal of permission last time was delegated to a planning officer and never considered by the council’s Planning Committee.

He argues that the officer made an incorrect decision and that the relevant development plan policies, Council guidance and strategies have been misinterpreted and misapplied.

He concludes that “there would be a sound prospect for members of the planning committee,  properly informed, to reach a different view to that expressed in the officer’s delegated report … Clearly, if that approach is not successful then Mr Shooter will have little option but to appeal.”

The target decision date for the application is 1st June, and you can see the plan and supporting documents and comments on the Cherwell District website planning register.

 Temporary closure of Village Shop and Post Office

Sadly the Village Shop and Post Office have closed temporarily. The Parish Council has put measures in place to support those who will be affected by the closure. See below. 


First we would like to thank Raj and Pari for keeping the shop open for as long as they have done in very difficult circumstances. They are well aware of how important the shop is to the village and have been doing their very best for us. To close it was an extremely difficult decision and not taken lightly.

The main and overriding reason for this temporary closure is that the shop is not a ‘safe’ place for anyone in terms of social distancing. Raj and Pari have tried all sorts of measures to make it work: having the till at the back of the shop, having a screen by the main till, card-only payments. But, the shop is very small and it is virtually impossible to keep 2 metres away from anyone else. They felt that this was compromising not only their health and that of the members of their families who work there, but also the health of their customers.

We appreciate that this move might cause stress to the vulnerable and the elderly. However, under current guidelines the vulnerable and the elderly should not be going out at all, let alone to the village shop. The Parish Council were aware from the outset that this particular group of people would need a lot of support during this crisis. That’s why three weeks ago we put out a village-wide appeal for volunteers, and a request for those who needed help to let us know.

There has been an amazing response to the appeal. Over 50 people have already volunteered to help, and many of them are already running errands, shopping, and picking up medication for those people who are unable to leave their homes. The closure of the shop will obviously increase the workload on these people. We are hoping that 50 plus will be enough. But, if there are any more people who would like to volunteer, please get in touch. Similarly, if you are having difficulty, or you know of anyone who is, do let us know. We are here to help.

We are also aware that many people used the shop as a pick-up point for their prescriptions. We have been in touch with Deddington Health Centre about this. While the shop is closed, the Parish Council will arrange for your prescription to be delivered to your door. If you have any concerns or questions about this, please contact Anna Thatcher on 01869 340672 or 0797 156 1493 or This service will commence from this week: Thursday 9th April.

While we appreciate that the closure of the shop is of great concern, we are also mindful of the position that Raj and Pari find themselves in. It has been a difficult decision for them to make, but the Parish Council are supportive of that decision as being the right one, and the most responsible one in the circumstances. We trust that you will understand, and support them too; and we hope to see them back in Harris’ Stores as soon as they feel able.

Steeple Aston Parish Council

Getting your prescriptions from Deddington Health Centre

If you usually collect your repeat prescription at the shop …

While the Post Office is closed, the Parish Council will arrange for a volunteer to deliver your prescription to your door. This is what you need to do:

  • Place your order in the usual way with Deddington Health Centre before midday on Monday. It is best if you can do this online. If you can’t, leave your message on the Repeat Prescription phone line between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. The number is 01869 338847.

Your prescription will be delivered to you on Thursday or Friday. If you have any concerns or questions about this, please contact Anna Thatcher on 01869 340672 or 0797 156 1493 or

If you usually collect your repeat prescription at Deddington Health Centre …

You can still do this; but, if you are self-isolating or not wanting to leave your home, the Parish Council can arrange for a volunteer to do it for you. This is what you need to do:

  • Place your order in the usual way with Deddington Health Centre before midday on Monday. It is best if you can do this online. If you can’t, leave your message on the Repeat Prescription phone line between 10 and 3. The number is 01869 338847.
  • At the same time tell Katie or Mitch that you would like your prescription collected. Make sure you give them your name and address and a contact telephone phone number. Call them on 0781 276 8690 or email
  • They will collect your prescription on Friday, and deliver it to you on Friday or Saturday.

If you have a new or urgent prescription to collect from Deddington …

You can still collect this yourself. But if you cannot leave the house for any reason, call Richard MacAndrew on 01869 347209 or email and we will arrange for a volunteer to collect it for you.

Steeple Aston Parish Council

No increase in Parish Council charge for this year

Steeple Aston Parish Council has managed to hold its part of the council tax bill, known as the precept, to the same level as last year. There will be no increase in the charge for the year 2020/21.

On behalf of the Parish Council, Stuart Ferguson explains how the Steeple Aston element of the council tax bill is spent:

“At about this time for each of the past few years, the Parish Council has published a commentary on the Parish ‘precept’ or element of the overall council tax bill. The good news for 2020/21 is that the Parish Council has managed to avoid any increase whatsoever over the charge levied in 2019/20. Despite ever rising costs, this 0% change has been achieved through a rigorous analysis of all our necessary expenditures.

“Precepts vary between villages depending upon what has to be paid for in a given year. In general, the precept levied for a relatively urban area will be larger than for villages, a reflection of the greater responsibilities of those areas.  The Steeple Aston precept is not one of the smallest, but we do have more facilities to maintain than many villages. At one extreme, for example, Middle Aston has no facilities and thus no expenditure or precept. (I understand that Middle Aston has a Millennium Fund, fed by voluntary contributions, which were also used to purchase their defibrillator. In Steeple Aston the defibrillator, now attached to the Sport and Rec building, was purchased using Parish Council Funds).

“Prominent amongst the responsibilities of the Steeple Aston PC are the Playground and Village Hall.  The playground was established after very successful fund raising campaigns led by Richard Preston. The first section opened in 1994 (cost c£80K), the teenage area including the MUGA followed in 2009 (cost c£100K). Everyone knows that it is almost impossible to acquire funding for ongoing running costs. So costs of repairs, general maintenance, tidying, ROSPA reports etc are borne by the Parish Council. As the years go by, replacement fencing and equipment will be needed, quite probably at short notice, so the PC needs reserves to meet such immediate needs. The layout of the playground is such that it cannot be ‘locked up’ and thus the option of leaving time-expired/broken equipment behind a secure gate and fence does not exist. When the playground was first opened there was an army of volunteers which enabled regular Saturday maintenance/cleaning/tidying work to be done. Now we are reliant on paying for these things, except that the village is very fortunate in having one councilor who possesses the skills (and equipment) to do many repair jobs on a voluntary basis. There have been a few comments recently about how many of the notices are looking grimy. Fair point, but there have not been volunteers to do weekly cleaning and so now pressure washing of the MUGA area is needed. When the current crisis is over the PC intends to do this work but quotes suggest that there may not be much change out of a four figure sum.

“Many in the parish pleaded that the PC installed a toilet at the playground and that was done. Requests that Cherwell DC contribute to that, and ongoing costs, were rebuffed. So we pay for daily cleaning, consumables and repairs, some of which are necessary as a result of anti-social behavior. All of this costs money.

“There are the Village Hall and Sport and Recreation buildings to maintain. The respective management committees do a great job in acquiring funds for some improvements, most recently to the kitchen in the Village Hall, but other things, for example exterior decoration, come out of PC funds.  The heavily requested exterior lighting is another example of relatively recent expenditure. Salutary was the cost of extensive repairs to the Village Hall roof in 2000. In the end, under the auspices of the then chair, Margaret Mason, we obtained a Lottery grant of 65K and the PC would have made an additional contribution. The anticipated life time of the new roof was said at the time to be c75 years. The original had lasted longer but it may have been luck that it had not started leaking. Repairs were expensive as it is in the Conservation Area and thus replacement tiles had to be essentially identical to the old tiles; use of new materials would have been cheaper no doubt, but not allowed. The Parish Council is being responsible in maintaining reserves with a view to expensive repairs and mindful that time flies. 55 years to go and no guarantee that there will in future be grants, or possibility of cheap loans, so it is prudent to put money aside.

“The foregoing illustrates some (not all) of the expenditures we have to meet. Let me finish by thanking our Clerk, Cathy Fleet. During my time (over 20 years? – nobody seems to remember!) on the Parish Council, the work of the Clerk, and associated things like auditing, have increased substantially. The clerk is paid in accordance with nationally agreed pay rates which in my view are not over-generous. In summary I believe that the PC is providing facilities that the villagers as a whole want. Yes, more could be done such as cleaning out bus shelters and general tidying around the village, but it would have to be paid for. My judgement is that we have things about right. I hope you agree; certainly over the years that has been the view of the village.”


Police warning after arrest for burglaries

The police have warned villagers to be on alert after a series of burglaries and attempted break-ins resulted in the arrest of one man. But others are suspected of being involved.

Message from Thames Valley Police

Following a series of burglary offences in the Steeple Aston Area, detectives from our Priority Crime Team and uniformed officers from ICR Team 3 have arrested a 21yr old man on suspicion of burglary. That man has been released on bail whilst enquiries into a large amount of recovered property continues.

“Sadly some criminals will seek to take advantage of the current situation to commit crime, rest assured though that as busy as we may be protecting our community from the risk of COVID-19, we will always make time for the those who think they can commit burglary on our area.

“Please ensure that you are keeping garages and external outbuildings locked and secure, garden side gates bolted and make sure the doors and windows of your home are secure; even when you’re indoors.

“Report any suspicious activity and we will always endeavour to respond quickly.”

There have been several reports of burglary or attempted burglary starting on 29th March  and continuing after the arrest. So more people may be involved. If you have any information including CCTV call 101 ref 43200100951.

Call 101 for anything suspicious, 999 if a crime is in progress.

Planners say no to Great Wolf development, but yes to Southside

Cherwell District Council’s Planning Committee has made decisions on two important applications for the local area. Steeple Aston Parish Councillor Martin Lipson, who is also Chair of the Mid-Cherwell  Neighbourhood Plan Forum, was at the meeting. Here is his report.

“The application from American company Great Wolf  to turn Chesterton into a Centreparcs-style theme park  was unanimously rejected by Cherwell’s Planning Committee on 12th March. About 60 local people turned up to oppose the application, and various district councillors spoke strongly against the scheme. No one spoke in favour of it, and the representatives of the applicants sat stony-faced listening to their plans being rubbished. It will be a while before we hear whether they are going to appeal against the refusal.

“Later in the meeting, Rectory Homes’ scheme for 10 dwellings in Steeple Aston was approved by 10 votes to 4, with one abstention – against the recommendation of their officers.

“The vote took place after the planning officer had explained that the main reason for recommending refusal was the capacity of the site to take more houses, thereby triggering the requirement for four of them to be “affordable homes”. This despite the fact that Rectory had volunteered to make two of the houses “shared ownership”, which means they would in effect be affordable homes.

“The views of Steeple Aston Parish Council and Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan Forum were presented to the Committee by Martin Lipson, who said that the village had led the way in recent years in providing two rural exception sites for affordable housing (Shepherds Hill and Coneygar Fields), and that the officers’ view that the scheme should be refused was paradoxical, as without the support of SAPC and MCNPF the Committee would not be considering a scheme of any kind.

“Mike Kerford-Byrnes, our local Cherwell councillor, proposed a motion of approval. The Leader of the Council – Barry Wood – felt that Steeple Aston had done its bit. He said “Steeple Aston has championed rural exception sites and affordable homes, and was a classic and leading example that others should follow”. He thought that rural areas need not have the housing density that might be required elsewhere, and praised Rectory Homes for volunteering to have two affordable homes in their scheme.

“Approval will bring with it a Section 106 agreement requiring the applicants to fund a number of community benefits to the parish, the details of which will be discussed with the Parish Council.”

Information for those who have to self-isolate

Who to contact if you need help and advice

Parish Council – contact the Parish Clerk Cathy Fleet or on 01869 347000 or 0798 939 8838

Volunteer Driver Service

Age UK free telephone support service…/coronavirus/   or 01865 411 288 

Citizens Advice

Turn2us, charity offering financial help and benefits advice

Local volunteers to contact if you need help

The Parish Council has a list of 54 volunteers, and they’re actively managing support for those in need on aa daily basis. For more information contact the Parish Clerk, Cathy Fleet on 01869 347000/07989 398838.  or email 

The following people volunteered directly to the website.

Gareth John 07960131327

Amanda 07793 553150 and Paul Rodgers 07785 502605

Anna Thatcher  07971 561493

Elaine Kelly 01869 340449 (evenings & weekends)

Carl Tomlinson  07796 698664

Shirley Palmer 01869 347049

Local suppliers who will deliver to Steeple and Middle Aston

Of course our local village shop and Post Office stock a wide variety of goods, but if you want  a delivery to your door, you could try these suppliers

North Aston Dairy for milk, meat

North Aston Organics for veg

Forge House Bakery for bread

Eagles Fine Food in Deddington free delivery on orders over £30

Milk and More

Pete Goss Butchers free local delivery on orders over £10

Jericho Coffee  Traders , freshly ground or whole coffee beans delivery
Get a 10% discount by using code HOMEBREWING2020 at checkout

Smiths Newsagents for daily newspaper deliveries,

Takeaway food

Several local pubs are offering takeaway food during the lockdown. So if you’re getting fed up with cooking every night, give them a try. Food is usually for collection although The Cinnamon Stick in MiddleBarton does do some deliveries for those who are vulnerable  and self-isolating.

First of all our own Red Lion in Steeple Aston  is offering a takeaway service from Tuesday to Saturday evenings. Pizza is available every night plus fish and chips on Tuesday, chicken wings and burgers on the other days. Drinks also available. The pizza menu is on their website. Place your order on the telephone from 5.00pm on 01869 340225.

The White Horse at Duns Tew posts a new takeaway menu on their website every evening at 6.00pm. It also does Sunday lunch.

The Crown Inn at Church Enstone is doing takeaways on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday lunchtime. Details on their Facebook page.

The Cinnamon Stick at Middle Barton is open for takeaway collection every evening between 6.00 and 9.00pm. Deliveries are available for the vulnerable and those who are self-isolating. Details, menus etc on their website.

The Killingworth Castle in Wootton does takeaway food and drink every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Order online on their website.

Ideas for keeping cheerful and busy at home – with and without kids

Sustainable Steeple offers crafting kits

With many of us now stuck at home (working or not) and the likelihood of imminent school closures, finding fun things to occupy us will be increasingly important! We’re in the process of putting together crafting kits for anyone (young or old) who would like to tap into their creative side over the coming weeks.

All of the kits will be made up of things donated to us as part of our ongoing campaign to recycle & reuse rather than throw things away.

Initial kits will be:

Card Making – including card blanks, colourful paper & card, various sticky card toppers/stickers/buttons and a sheet with some ideas

Collage Pictures – painted wood off-cuts with a variety of colourful papers and a sheet with some ideas.

Kits will be available from Saturday, 21st March and can either be picked up from the porch of Windyridge on Paines Hill or, if you aren’t able to get out, delivered to you and left on your doorstep.

Any questions or ideas for other projects, please contact Amanda on 07793 553150 or  

More Arts & Crafts

Based just down the road, literally, The Arty Crafty Place are putting together lots of ideas for creative block printing projects to keep us busy whilst we’re ‘social distancing’. A great way to keep the kids entertained – and indeed, for a bit of creative release from all the gloom for the rest of us!

Watching and listening

For anyone with young(ish) children looking to keep them entertained whilst we’re more confined than normal, you can stream this West End production of The Wind in the Willows for free! 
Audible are making stories available free of charge for as long as the schools are shut; you don’t even have to sign up.

Getting out in the fresh air

Information on walks locally and further afield is given in the Leisure section of this website

Online resources – courtesy of Tackley Parish Council’s website

It is parents’ responsibility to ensure their child’s safety online whilst accessing these resources

Education Resources for Younger Kids

Primary school teacher, Josh Massey, has written a story to help young children (and adults!) who are scared by the current situation. You can download and read it here Free reading resources for preschool and primary children Worksheets and resources for primary age Worksheets and resources for primary age History resources for Secondary pupils Maths work sheets for years 7-9 free activities and worksheets for all ages Activities and resources for preschool children Listening activities for younger children online activity about instruments of the orchestra activities and revision for all ages activities and ideas for primary age children resources grouped in topics for primary age learn languages for free online or on an app subject based resources for primary children US grades, but good for primary age activities for primary age

GCSEs, A Levels and University GCSE revision resources GCSE revision GCSE revision guides for A level Free revision content for GCSE and A level. Paid access to higher lever material. Free taster courses aimed at those considering Open University

Other Educational learn computer programming skills for free creative computer programming Free science lessons Aimed at secondary age geography games educational online games activities and quizzes across covering many subjects Digital enterprise scheme you can complete online science awards you can complete at home Norwich Science Festival STEM activities resources about farming primary and secondary age children

Videos Youtube videos on many subjects as above but for older kids and grown ups wide range of cool educational videos

Creative Creative art and craft activities for preschool and primary children easy arts and crafts ideas fun art activities all kinds of making

Non School Based Activities many badges can be completed at home to be posted to Blue Peter Free challenge packs and other downloads. Badges cost but are optional National Trust activities to do outside (many can be done in a garden) National Trust online collections

Exercise and Wellbeing
Cosmic Kids Yoga for children
Joe Wicks, AKA The Body Coach, home workouts including 30 minute kids PE lessons at 9am each morning

Virtual Tours
Take a tour of landmarks, museums and art galleries on your computer, tablet or phone National Gallery The Louvre Natural History Museum The White House Versailles Dali Museum Sistine Chapel

Entertainment list of theatre shows that you can watch online, some for free free online books, movies and music

Religion St Nicholas Church Worship online, updated weekly






Getting out in the fresh air

Information on walks locally and further afield is given in the Leisure section of this website

From Monday, 23rd March Blenheim Palace & the Pleasure Gardens will be closed, but the Park will stay open for FREE from 10.00am until 4.00pm.  See the Blenheim Palace website.

Playground and church closed

The village playground and the church are closed following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday, 23rd March.

A message from the Parish Council said: “As a result  of the Government announcement last night, the Parish Council have had to take the decision to close the playground and toilet in the interests of Health & Safety and to comply with instructions.  No safety checks on the playground equipment  will be carried out until the playground is able to be re-opened.”

Steeple Aston church is now closed as well. The Rector, Rev Marcus Green said: “We received notification from the Bishop last night following the PM’s broadcast. We have sadly closed all three of our buildings for the time being, but will be updating our Worship At Home video every weekend …..and also I am sending out three or four emails (“Rector’s Ramblings”) a week, and anyone who would like to be included on that list has only to ask me at”

Church services on hold – a message from the Rector

The archbishops have called on all Church of England parishes to pause public worship for a season during the COVID-19 infection, and so for the time being there will be no Sunday services. Full info from the Church of England can be found by clicking here

So what do we do in Steeple Aston? Well, the church building will remain open daily for private prayer or reflection or for folk to come and find space for faith, hope and love.

I will be posting a short video resource, ‘Worship at Home’, every Sunday on the homepage of our church website, . This is available for anybody who would like 15 minutes to pray, listen, seek God and feel connected to the community of faith in this place. 

In addition, because community matters, I am sending out regular emails to everyone on our benefice email list. These have offers of help from across our three churches, a little news of others, and some encouragement and hope along the way. If anyone who isn’t currently on that list would like to be – please let me know at and I will gladly add you in. I am also (of course) available on the usual phone number, 340903.

And most of all, the church is here to care. The Church of England, as Archbishop Justin has said this week, is the church for England. We are here to serve everyone and anyone in any way needed. Sunday services may not be happening right now, but the church is far more than a weekly gathering on a Sunday morning. I hope I speak not only for myself but for the churchwardens, the PCC and every member of Steeple Aston Church when I say that (like everyone else) we don’t really know how to respond to these days; except we promise to try and help the person next to us that needs help, and to receive the help given to us when we need it. 

Revd Marcus Green, Rector


We all know that we have Emergency Services who deal with most types of emergency, but a major incident may occur in our village when they could not reach us quickly (such as deep snow or a major incident elsewhere). 

This means the Community needs an up to date plan to provide effective, immediate support to those involved in an emergency, including any who have been injured or displaced, as well as to support the Emergency Services when they do arrive.

As part of the Parish Council’s Emergency Plan we need to keep an up to date list of expertise and resources within the village. 

Please let the Parish Council know if you have any of the following skills:-

Paramedic / Doctor
Nurse, Retired Nurse / Midwife
Trained First Aider
Pharmacist/ Chemist
Radio Amateur
Computer technician

Or if you have any of the following resources:-

Radios, walkie talkies
4 x 4 vehicle
Tractor and trailer
Lifting Equipment
Gas stoves/catering equipment
Surface water pump
Wet Vac
Old-fashioned plug in telephone

PLEASE CONTACT:  Cathy Fleet on or 01869 347000 if you have any of these skills, resources or anything else you think would be useful in an emergency.

SAL has not just one, but TWO new editors!

Angela Smith with James & Becca Coker with Imogen.From this month there are two new editors of Steeple Aston Life, Angela Smith and Becca Coker. Both of them are on maternity leave and are pictured here with their babies. Angela on the left is holding  seven-month-old James, and five-month-old Imogen is with her mother Becca.

Angela and Becca both came forward individually as a result of the desperate appeal in SAL for someone to take on the editorship after Heather Sherkunov had to resign when she  moved away from the village. They are going to share editorial responsibilities, with one taking the lead on alternate months. Angela is going first and will edit the April edition.

Angela may be known to SAL readers for her ‘Ramblings’ articles, seasonal reports on walks and wildlife in the area. Brought up in Beaconsfield, she moved to Steeple Aston four years ago from Bracknell in Berkshire with her husband David, an accountant. The couple met at Birmingham University where they both studied biochemistry.

After graduation Angela backpacked across Asia and Africa, taught English as a Foreign Language, wrote travel guidebooks and sold safari holidays. She still loves travelling, and is currently on maternity leave from a job in marketing at Flight Centre in Oxford.

Becca moved to the village just under two years ago with her husband Tom, who is a cavalry officer based at the Defence Academy in Shrivenham. She knows the area well as she grew up in Barford St Michael, where her mother still lives, and, as a child, had some close friends in the village.

After studying philosophy and psychology at university in Durham and Cambridge, she went on to work in the City as a lobbyist for the financial services industry. Becca is on maternity leave from Keble College, Oxford where she is a major gifts fundraiser.

She says that everybody was so friendly to her when she moved here, she would like to contribute to village life by helping to keep SAL alive. Angela too loves the village and hopes to meet more people through her work on SAL. She has already made some local contacts at the Baby and Toddler group.

They both hope that by sharing the editorship it will take the pressure off just one individual. They don’t have any major changes in mind for the magazine to begin with, but over time we may see some additions as they get in to their stride. Becca would like to include more about activities at Dr Radcliffe’s School. Angela says she has found SAL really useful for suggestions of things to do and places to visit, and she might want to expand this to include recommendations for places to eat as well.

If you want to contact Angela or Becca with ideas, comments or even complaints about SAL, please use the new email address

NB There is an error in this address on page 1 of the March edition of SAL, the address above is the correct one.

Planning decision on Great Wolf Resorts imminent

Urgent Message from Chesterton Parish Council

The Great Wolf planning application 19/02550/F is to be decided at the planning committee meeting this Thursday 12 March at 4pm.  This does not give much time so may I ask you to do two things:.

    1. Please email your strong objection to ALL the councillors on the planning committee by this Wednesday 11 March (this can of course be your original objection).  Although Cherwell District Council has recommended refusal we cannot afford to be complacent or assume that more distant councillors are as well informed.  No doubt Great Wolf will have done their utmost to reach these councillors so we must adopt the same approach.

To make it quick and easy, here is the list of councillors’ email addresses on the Planning Committee. These can be copied and pasted into a Bcc address box to make it more personal.;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

  1.  A planning QC has advised Chesterton PC that attendance at the meeting would show the strength of opposition and could make a real difference to waverers.  In anticipation of a large turnout of objecting residents and PC reps, Cherwell District Council have booked additional car parking at Banbury Cricket Club whose entrance is almost opposite the entrance to the Bodicote offices on White Post Road.  There will be someone directing cars at the entrance to the Cricket Club from 3.15pm on Thursday.  

You can find out more about what’s planned by Great Wolf Resorts on their website, and the objections to it on petition website


Award for Martin

Congratulations to Martin Lipson for winning a High Sheriff of Oxfordshire Award 2020. This award is given to people who have done great service to their community and has been awarded to Martin for his work on the Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan. 

Pre-Schoolers appeal to dog owners

For years the Parish Council has been appealing to owners to pick up their dog’s mess. But there are always a few in the village who still take no notice.

Now the children at Steeple Aston Pre-School have joined in. Let’s hope they will have more success than the adults.

The three- and four-year-olds have been making posters asking villagers to “please pick up your dog poo”. You can see some more examples of their work below.

At Pre-School they also have a poem on the subject which pulls no punches! It goes:

Poo Poo on the street
Ends up on our tiny feet
We don’t know the consequence
But you do know it’s an offence
We tread it home and into school
Do you think that’s really cool?
You wanted a dog, you get the muck
So be the adult and pick it up.

Find out more about Steeple Aston Pre-School

child's drawing

Child's drawing

child's drawing

child's drawing


Parish Council acts on mobile phone reception

Following its recent survey on mobile phone reception,  Steeple Aston Parish Council has called on the providers to “effect a significant improvement to the poor mobile phone reception in our village”. Its strongly worded letter to the heads of the companies asking for immediate action has also been copied to the local MP Victoria Prentis and the Communications Ombudsman.

The Council is also urging individual villagers to write to their mobile phone provider to add power to the council’s request.

In a message to villagers the council says:

“Thank you very much for completing our short survey on mobile phone reception. We had an excellent response from the village with over 50 replies. We have combined and anonymised the results, and sent them to the CEOs of the eight mobile phone companies currently in use in the village, with copies to Victoria Prentis MP, and the Ombudsman for Communication Services.

Our letter, and the data we collected up to 15th January, are available on this village website.

“The data speaks for itself.

“While we wait to see what the reaction is, please can we urge you to write individually to your mobile phone provider. It may be that companies are more inclined to respond to complaints from individual customers to their own provider, rather than a collective complaint to many different providers. If so, an individual letter from you can only add power to our request.

“Before you write, please first check the coverage for your post code here:


  • explain why you are writing: to ask for an improvement to the mobile phone service in the village.
  • comment on how accurate the coverage checker is: say what the service is actually like in your home and garden.
  • say how poor service affects you:

            – do banks send codes to your mobile phone?
            – do any of your shopping sites use pass codes?
            – if you use the HMRC website, how does coverage affect you?
            – if you run a business from home, how does coverage affect you?
            – have you been refused a smart meter because of poor coverage?
            – do you have any other difficulties?

  • politely request again that something is done to improve the service.

We attach a list of addresses for you to choose from.

Once again, thank you very much for responding to our request for information.

Philip Jansen
Chief Executive Officer
81 Newgate St
Marc Allera
Chief Executive Officer
Trident Place
Mosquito Way
Hatfield AL10 9BW 
Tom Denyard
Chief Executive Officer
Tesco Mobile
Shire Park
Welwyn Garden City
AL7 1GA 
Nick Read
Chief Executive Officer
Vodafone House
The Connection
Newbury RG14 2FN
Lutz Schüler
Chief Executive Officer
Virgin Media
Bartley Way
Bartley Wood Business Park
Hook RG27 9UP
Mike Fairman
Chief Executive Officer
Giff Gaff
11 Vine St
Uxbridge UB8 1QE
Mark Evans
Chief Executive Officer
260 Bath Road
Slough SL1 4DX
Dave Dyson
Chief Executive Officer
Three, Hutchinson 3G Ltd
Star House
20 Grenfell Road
Maidenhead SL6 1EH

Village defibrillator is now active

Defibrillator on the wallThe defibrillator on the wall of the Sports and Recreation Centre is now active. It is registered with South Central Ambulance Service, who will issue the code for the cabinet if the circumstances of an emergency call indicate the use of a defibrillator

Villagers might also want to download the Save A Life App onto their phone. In the event of an emergency, this shows the nearest defibrillators to your location.

Parish Council Chairman, Richard MacAndrew explains how the installation of the new defibrillator came about, and most importantly how to use it!

He writes: “Last spring the village inherited a defibrillator from the first responders/South Central Ambulance Service. As there is now only one first responder in the village, the Parish Council volunteered to take responsibility for the defibrillator and mount a cabinet for it in a prominent place. However, further investigation, and discussions with the manufacturer, revealed that the machine was in fact 15 years old. Whilst the life span of a defibrillator is considered to be around 20 years, the warranty only is 10, so the Parish Council felt that it would be sensible to purchase a new one. The money to pay for this came out of the Parish Council reserves. The annual maintenance charge and funds for new batteries and pads, when needed, will come out of the precept.

“The new defibrillator is now mounted in its cabinet beside the entrance to the Sports and Recreation building, a site chosen for visibility, ease of access and the easy availability of an electricity supply. Since defibrillators have to be kept above a certain temperature, the cabinet is thermostatically controlled and therefore needs an electricity supply. ”

“The cabinet is locked to prevent theft. If a 999 call indicates that the use of a defibrillator might save a life, the Ambulance Service will give the key code to the caller. Using the defibrillator is very simple. You take it out of the cabinet, open it up and follow the spoken instructions. You cannot do someone harm using a defibrillator because it only works when it needs to. Or, as someone once said, the only way you can hurt someone with a defibrillator is to hit them with it!

“In order to reassure and inform villagers, we will be holding an `Awareness Session’, open to all, later in the year when a qualified practitioner will give practical advice on how to deal with an emergency, and demonstrate how a defibrillator should be used.

“To ensure that the machine is functioning correctly, the Parish Council will appoint two ‘guardians’ to inspect the cabinet and the machine on a regular basis and enter the results of their checks on an internet-based record system. The Ambulance Service can then be sure that they are directing callers to a working defibrillator.

“In the next few weeks a Village Emergency Telephone System (VETS) will be set up. This will enable someone who rings 999 to stay with the patient. If the Ambulance Service receives a 999 call and thinks a defibrillator is necessary, they will activate the VETS system, which will ring round a telephone chain of volunteers until it finds one who is able to collect the defibrillator and take it to where it is needed.

“The Parish Council is looking for volunteers who have a landline and who would be willing to add their names to the VETS list. If you are interested, please get in touch with the Chairman, Richard MacAndrew on 01869 347209 or”

Parish Council supports revised Southside housing plan

Steeple Aston Parish Council has agreed to support an application to build ten homes on Southside opposite the entrance to Hill House. A revised proposal from the developer  was considered by the council at its January meeting. The council was pleased to see that Rectory Homes had addressed the issues they had previously raised and now unanimously supported the application.

Martin Lipson is a Steeple Aston parish councillor and Chair of the Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan Forum. He reports on the latest stage in the long-running saga of  the attempts by the property developer to build houses on Southside. 
He writes: “Rectory Homes has now resubmitted its application to build ten houses on the site opposite the Red Lion car park (19/02948/F).
“The scheme has been revised in a number of respects, the most important of which perhaps is the detail of the proposed footpath and traffic-calming arrangement. The documents on the CDC website now include an independent Safety Audit which has been conducted on these proposals, which resulted in numerous recommendations for improvements. The document shows that the details of the footpath and traffic scheme have been amended in line with most of the recommendations. The applicants clearly hope that this thorough and transparent process will convince doubters that the scheme will be as safe as it can be made. It will certainly be safer than it is at present, they claim.
“The design of the houses themselves has also gone through something of a rethink, particularly in the choice and use of more appropriate materials, and responding to many of the criticisms made by the Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan Forum in its comments on the previous version of the scheme. The new application also shows the extent to which the new houses will be seen from a distance.

“Whatever is the outcome of the application, Rectory Homes should be given credit for listening and responding to local views – something that not all developers are prepared to do.”

However, not all villagers are happy with the proposals despite the recent changes. There are objections by three residents living close by who continue to be concerned about the proposed development. They are mainly worried about safety of pedestrians such as schoolchildren leaving the site, particularly in the morning and evening when drivers often have difficulty seeing because of low sun.

The planners are expected to make a decision on this application by 9th April. The revised application along with associated documents and comments by members of the public and others can be seen on Cherwell District Council’s website.