Garsington Plan Update: What the Survey is telling us

The stand-out result from our recent questionnaire concerns Garsington’s status as a village. In response to the question: “How important to you is it that Garsington remains ‘separate’ from Oxford, and does not become part of some bigger urban development?”, 92% of 800 respondents said that it was important. 79% of them classed it as very important. That’s a pretty powerful expression of opinion!

This information will provide useful ammunition to our elected representatives when they are making the case for preserving the Green Belt and holding back urban development. We in the Steering Group also believe that it makes a strong case for embarking on a Neighbourhood Plan for the village. Garsington needs to tell the world what kinds of development it thinks are appropriate. (Neighbourhood planning allows communities to decide the future of the places where they live and work. This is a different exercise from the one we are engaged in at present because it carries some legal weight.)

As we expected the questions around transport and traffic produced some very interesting data. Some of it was as expected, some less so. It wasn’t surprising to learn that we Garsington residents are very dependent on our cars, or that people have serious reservations about the bus service. Our previous discussions had prepared us for the fact that 85% of respondents agree that there is a problem with speeding in the village. We were less prepared for the fact that only a bare majority (53%) is in favour of more traffic calming measures. Similarly, just over half of respondents thought a 20 mph speed limit worth introducing. There was, however, much more support for better pavements: 83% thought that Garsington needs safer ways for pedestrians to get around the village. We also received lots of comment on the need to provide safer pathways for pedestrians and cyclists down to the edge of Oxford city.

We think that the problems identified fall into three categories: those areas where we can organize ourselves to respond (e.g. Speed Watch); those where the Parish Council might act if it raised the precept (e.g. resurfacing pavements); and those where, preferably following external advice, we seek to put pressure on the District or County Councils (e.g. improving the quality of the road surfaces).

Another important outcome from the Survey is the large number of people who wanted either to know more about existing associations or activities or to volunteer their services. We hope that, by now, the majority of those people will have heard from the organisation in which they were interested or have been put in touch with other people in their area of interest.

There are, however, a number of people who still will not have heard anything further. (But please also remember my comment in the last newsletter that some respondents didn’t give their contact details.)This is either because the voluntary group they wish to join does not yet exist, or because a previously existing group no longer has the leadership to carry it forward. Our solution to these issues will be to arrange two sessions at the Village Hall – preliminary dates are 6th and 20th September, but please watch for confirmation – to bring these groups of people together so that they can agree their way forward. To take an example: 5 people expressed an interest in running a Swapshop in Garsington. They will be invited to meet together and work out the resources they require so that a calendar of events can be put together.

In the next Newsletter, we shall try to cover the remaining issues from the Survey, which space and time prevent us from addressing in this edition. It remains our firm intention to publish the Garsington Plan before the end of this year. In the meantime, the Steering Group would be very interested to hear from any Garsington resident who has professional expertise in the planning & development, transport or traffic fields. We would greatly appreciate your input and advice during this crucial phase of our work.

Garsington Plan Update: the Survey has taken place…what now?

I am delighted to be able to tell you that we have collected 808 completed copies of the Questionnaire. That means that well over half of the people living in Garsington aged over 11 have filled one in. A warm thank you to everyone who did so!

Especial thanks are due to the small army of distributors (25 or so people) who worked to such good effect, ensuring that so many completed Surveys got out and back in time.

The data on the Questionnaire will initially be analysed electronically, thanks to the good offices of South Oxfordshire District Council. They will let us have the results by the beginning of June – too late, unfortunately, to catch this copy of the Newsletter. You may be very sure that the headlines (and some of the detail) will feature prominently in the next edition. We shall also be including a good deal of our what we have found out on our website.

Before moving on, I should like to apologise to the very few households who did not receive a copy of the Survey. We hope you understand that any oversight on our part was completely unintentional. Also, where returns have come in past the deadline, we cannot now add them in to the work being done by SODC. We can, however, look at them ourselves and pick up on any interesting comments.

Fewer “wraps” (the outside pages where people were asked to identify themselves) were returned overall, but 157 people said either that they wanted to know more about village activities, or wished to volunteer their services. Many of you ticked more than one box. That data is in the process of being analysed by the Steering Group. We shall pass on the relevant information as quickly as we can to the clubs and groups in the village. In some areas, however, the activity is not already supported by any existing group. In those cases, we shall try in the course of the next few months to start discussions involving the people who have expressed an interest – provided, of course, that there seem to be sufficient numbers involved.

I should add that, if you ticked a box you might expect to hear from someone connected with that area of activity in the fairly near future. There were, however, a number of people who ticked boxes, but omitted to put their name or contact details on the sheet. If you hear nothing over the couple of months, you could contact us to see whether we had your details.

Last, but by no means least, is the Prize Draw! I am pleased to be able to announce that the lucky winners from the 200+ who entered are: MARK HORNER and DELIA WELLS.

Have your Say – the Garsington Plan Survey is coming to you

The chance to have a say in the future of your village does not come around very often. Do not let it slip through your hands! By the time you read this article, I hope a copy of the Garsington Plan Survey will have arrived at your door. The answers you give will help shape the Garsington Plan when it is published at the end of the year.

A named person from the village will deliver two copies to you and will return to collect them on a given date. Additional copies are available on request – we want you to complete the Survey as an individual, and not as a household.

The Survey is asking you to tell us about the things that really matter to you. It is in two parts. The bigger part is a Questionnaire. Some of the questions ask for your views and preferences. Some ask whether you would be prepared to back a particular course of action. The Questionnaire is anonymous – no person or household can be identified from a completed Questionnaire.

Please note that there are some issues we already know about. If a particular question is missing from the Questionnaire as a result of the work we have already done, this does not mean that the subject will not be included in the Garsington Plan.

The last 2 pages of the Survey are separate. They ask how you would like to be involved in present or future activities in Garsington. For these purposes, we do ask for your name and contact details. The name and contact details will also be used to enter you in a Prize Draw, with the possibility of winning a three-course meal for up to 4 people at the Three Horseshoes!

This may all seem to add up to a lot of questions, but they are mostly answered by ticking boxes. We have pilot-tested the Survey on some of our volunteers and it should not take you more than about 20 minutes to complete. This does not seem a huge investment of time to have your say on the future of your village!

Steering Group activities during July & August

This has been a busy time. The Group’s activities have focused largely upon attending meetings and events in the village during the period.

Garsington School Sports Day – 15th July

Thanks to the good offices of the School authorities, we were able to set up a stall and engage people in discussion about the future of the village.

The majority of comments showed a distinct emphasis on activities, traffic and transport, and safety. It’s probably fair to say that most people thought that Garsington should offer more to children and young people in the way of activities. An equal number were concerned about traffic speed and footpaths.

We were also able engage with some of the children. They, too, wanted to see a great deal more in the way of activities. One little boy was kind enough to offer a complete redesign of the village, including hotel, airport, parking lot, factory and desert, but I felt his approach, though innovative, was perhaps a little over-ambitious!

Family Fun Day on Poplar Close – 10th August

The Family Fun Day was excellent! Stephanie Byrne and her colleagues did an absolutely brilliant job. Stephanie counted 154 people attending (66 adults and 88 children), many more than any of us had expected. Fortunately, the refreshments held out…

Table of cakes

Table of cakes at Poplar Close. Photo copyright Sally Inch

If nothing else, the afternoon told us that one of the things we should test is whether the creation of a regular series of Fun Days in different parts of the village has public support.

We had some great discussions, although some of the people we spoke to did not live in Garsington (it was, after all, a Children’s Centre event). As you might imagine, most of the comments were once again focused on children’s and family activities. However, it was possible to get a much more detailed understanding of what people are looking for. For example, when discussing the possible development of open spaces, people are not just looking for a replica of the existing playground situated in the lower part of the village. They want play or exercise equipment that complements the environment in which it is placed.

Coffee Morning at King’s Copse

Another excellent event! Things began a trifle inauspiciously, however, when we were not, after all, able to get access to the field to set up our tables. One of the residents, Mary Hooper, stepped magnificently in to the breach and offered her garden. In fact, I think that may have turned out for the best, as everyone seemed very relaxed and happy, most staying for quite a long period. 34 people attended. People spoke of setting up a regular series of Coffee Mornings on the Park in the future.

Garsington Plan at Kings Copse

Garsington Plan at Kings Copse. Photo copyright David Baker.

People’s concerns centred on the recent withdrawal of the bus service, the possibility that the Park might be further enlarged (although no current plans are known) and a lack of connection with the rest of the village. There was considerable discussion around the possibility of setting up a volunteer driver scheme (from both potential users and drivers). King’s Copse seems to offer no amenities of its own. There is no meeting place (there used to be an old hut where people could get together, but it was pulled down).

Special thanks are due to Jane Kay and Annie Wright for the time and energy they have devoted to catering arrangements for the August events.

David Baker and Mary Hooper made the Coffee Morning at King’s Copse possible. Mary gave up her garden for the event when the agreed venue suddenly became unavailable!

Last, but by no means least, grateful thanks are due to Alan Bowers who has delivered and collected tables and chairs at Poplar Close and King’s Copse with rare good humour.

 

Litter and Cakes

One of the issues raised at the first meeting of people in the village in January this year, when we were invited to think about how we could help shape the future of Garsington (henceforth known as the Garsington Plan), was whether ‘something could be done about the litter’. Well, something has been done and I hope everyone can see the difference.

The response to our request for volunteers for the Big Litter-Pick was slow at first, but as time went on and the list grew longer, we began to think we might have more volunteers than we had litter to keep them busy. My suggestion that we scatter a few bins of rubbish around the village to make the day worthwhile was politely dismissed.

Litter-Pick volunteers

The Litter-Pick volunteers, raring to go. Photo copyright Jonathan Kay.

At 2.30 on Sunday 9 June, about 30 volunteers assembled on The Green, where they were issued with litter-picks, hi-Viz vests, gloves and two empty plastic bags each. From there they were despatched to Garsington N, E, SE, SW,W, and all points in between, with instructions to return by 4 o’clock for tea and cakes at the Village Hall. Of course, we were hoping they wouldn’t just hang around the next bend and come back empty handed – I’m sure you’ve heard tales of cross-country runners at school doing just that and strolling back with ne’er a drop of sweat on their cocky faces; my husband certainly has, since he was one of them! However, the bags were satisfyingly full and our troops got stuck in to the promised cakes, superbly baked as always by several people from the village, whose skills never fail to amaze me.

After the Litter-Pick

After the Litter-Pick. Photo copyright Jonathan Kay.

However, the cakes were just the bait, since we had an ulterior motive: to find out whether there were any amongst our volunteers who had enjoyed themselves so much that they would Adopt-a-Spot in Garsington that they would keep as litter-free as possible on a semi-regular basis. I don’t know whether there were any hidden ingredients in the cakes, but we now have a 16-strong group that is already ensuring that the tidy village that emerged on 9 June will remain so in the future.

In February or March next year, we’ll be asking for help again, to tackle the verges at the far ends of the village, where at present several layers of litter are hiding in the long grass. There’s no need to wait till then, though, if you want to experience the joys of litter-picking. Most of the village has been ‘adopted’ now, but there are certain areas that may build up too quickly with litter for our group to keep up with, so it would be great to have extra volunteers on hand for SAS purposes, to deputise in cases of illness or long holidays, or just to give the main group a rest! Do get in touch, if you’d like to get involved – you have nothing to lose but your sanity, as you find yourself obsessing about the anti-social behaviour of litter-droppers/chuckers, but then finding it again when you realise that we can do something about it.

I would like to thank by name everyone who was involved in this project – one that promises to run and run – but I would hate to leave anyone out, so I won’t! Suffice to say, many, many people were needed to make our first Garsington Plan event a success, including litter-pickers, poster-makers, website-posters, cake bakers, Garsington Plan Steering Group, Garsington Parish Council and South Oxfordshire District Council. Thank you all.

Trish Stableford

A shortened version of this report will be printed in the Garsington Newsletter.

Notes from Parish Council meeting, July 2013

The July meeting of Garsington’s Parish Council was on Monday. All but two of the Parish Councillors attended, as did our County Councillor, District Councillor, Parish Clerk, and one member of the public (me). Expect the official minutes to be approved at next month’s meeting and published on Garsington Parish Council’s website sometime after that. In the meantime here are a few unofficial notes I took.

  • The most recent speed monitoring on Oxford Road has finished but the PC has not yet received the results. Possibility of OCC painting 30mph limit roundels on the roads at the entrances to the village.
  • The planning investigation relating to 9 Kiln Lane is ongoing.
  • The recent audit noted some issues that need addressing before the next one.
  • Planning application P13/S1346/HH for 15 Pettiwell – PC recommended refusing permission.
  • Discussion about tidiness of the Burial Ground.
  • Arrival of a plaque to mark that Parsler’s Piece is now a Field In Trust
  • Discussion about wooden bollards to protect the verges on the corners of Wheatley Road, North Manor and Denton Lane. (No decision. Expect it on the agenda for next month.)

The next meeting will be Monday 05 August.

The Big Litter Pick

Meet on the Green outside the Three Horseshoes on

Sunday June 9 at 2.30 pm

Tea and Cakes in the Village Hall at 4.30 pm

To provide enough safety equipment and to bake enough cakes for everyone, we need an idea of numbers by mid May if possible.

To sign up please fill in the form below

[The sign-up form is no longer active.]

What do you want to see in the Garsington Plan?

Around 450 individual post-it slips gave an idea of the positive views, concerns and suggestions of those present at the initial meeting, covering eight provided categories, such as: Crime and Community Safety, Environment, and Road traffic & transport.

On the plus side, the village is seen as having “the basics” – such as a village hall and school; services and activities, such as the newsletter and the new lunch club for older people; and it is an attractive village. There were more specific concerns and suggestions, the more frequently mentioned examples including:

  • Provide safe pavements & footpaths
  • Improve traffic calming
  • Improve reliability of public transport
  • Improve pothole repair
  • Improve broadband coverage
  • Provide a pre-school group
  • Volunteers to remove litter
  • Organise volunteer cars for the elderly and unwell
  • Affordable housing for young people
  • Smaller housing units for single people
  • Activities for younger people
  • Provide playground in lower village
  • More opportunities for adult recreation

As a result of these, we have already organized a Litter-Pick Sunday. However these are only the ideas of those present – who did not represent older people or young families, for example – what do you want?

The Garsington Plan

In January, over 60 people attended a meeting on how to “Make Garsington a Better Place” arranged by the Parish Council. Anton Nath, from Oxfordshire Rural Community Council (ORCC), explained the benefits other local villages had achieved by developing Community Led Plans.

People identified what they liked about Garsington, what they disliked, and what changes they would like to see (summarized in What do you want to see in the Garsington Plan?). The meeting was overwhelmingly in favour of developing a Plan for Garsington; eight people volunteered to form the steering group, and 20 volunteered to help with follow-up activities. The steering group has now met a couple of times to plan the next steps using ORCC’s nine step process.

We very much hope that you will want to contribute to the Plan and feel able to do so. We shall shortly be consulting with everyone in the village about possibilities and priorities, and we will keep you fully informed of progress through the parish newsletter, our website at http://plan.garsington.org.uk/ and via village events.