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PLAGS Questionnaire
We still want to hear your views!

July 2008

Good news for Marcham: the HGVs are now being routed through Abingdon when the A34 is closed at night in July:
Click here for the update to the story
Click here for the original Abingdon Herald story regarding the closure of A34 at night with diversion through Marcham for HGVs

June 2006

Dear All
Firstly thank you very much for your returned questionnaires and the time you gave to filling in your comments. If you are reading about this Campaign for the first time or feel you are unsure of what the aims of PLAGS are, please let me assure you of why we started this campaign and what we hope to achieve:
We are a group of residents from a variety of areas of Marcham who are running this campaign in order to gauge the feeling of our village about the poor safety aspects that have been highlighted by the recent number of ‘clippings’ of pedestrians by vehicles on Packhorse Lane. Our aim is not to propose a solution but to see if we have agreement from the rest of the village that they consider this section of road is a safety problem. Hence the Questionnaire in the April edition of MADNews.
We are very conscious that whatever the proposed solution is to this safety problem we need to have your support and the support of the Parish Council as the starting point. We have received a fantastic response from residents of Marcham and the surrounding area - the responses received unanimously felt that there IS a safety issue on this road for all users. From your comments we are aware that you have a number of fears and concerns about any proposed solution and that it might adversely effect other roads in Marcham - this must not happen - we must protect the safety and residential use of non A-roads in Marcham. This campaign should not diminish the urgent need for a bypass in the future, and is an interim measure to safeguard human life and give the village a say in reclaiming ownership of this road for its residents.
PLAGS are hoping that we can gain the support of the Parish Council - now that we know we have a good number of you in agreement. We will be attending the Parish Assembly Meeting on the 24 May to hear what the OCC Highways officer has to say on this issue and hope to see some of you there. After this meeting and the June Parish Council meeting we will give you a further update on what the next stage of the campaign should be.
With the continued support of you all, the Parish Council, our County Councillor, Iain Brown, our District Councillor, Jane Hanna, and our Member of Parliament, Ed Vaizey, we can work together with the OCC to plan a campaign to address the safety issues that we see as becoming more and more worrying. In this way we hope to safeguard those using not only this section of the A415 but also other areas of the Village associated with it.
Please email plags@madnews.co.uk with your name, address and contact details if you would like to know more and I will happily contact you. Please look at the PLAGS webpage (www.madnews.co.uk/plags) to see a list of what we consider are the Needs and Benefits for people living or driving through Marcham. We also hope to post updates on our progress on this webpage.
Thank you for your support.
Sally Timberlake, on behalf of PLAGS

April 2006

Dear Mr Vaizey
I believe that the much needed and awaited Marcham By-pass has again been refused and for a period of at least five years due to a lack of backing from the South East Regional Assembly an unelected QUANGO!
Nobody wants to see our countryside blighted by unnecessary road building, but Marcham really does need help. I am utterly disappointed that no one seems to be taking this issue seriously. I have contacted the police about incidents just to be told that and I quote "It will take someone being killed before we can do anything" and "Well I would never have bought a property in Marcham". We have now lived in Packhorse Lane (A415) for over two years and really do like Marcham as a village. We currently do not have any parking to our property and live right on the bends, where presently there are five children under the age of four and another expected in May.
It can take an average of 10 to 15 minutes to cross the road with my two children aged 3 and 1, trying to get them to Nursery, whilst having to put up with disapproving looks from motorists including the police. It is not just the amount of traffic and danger it is also the abusive language that my children hear when playing in the garden and when we are crossing the road and even at the more considerate drivers who let you cross or slow up.
As I am sure you are aware there have been many unfortunate incidents on this road recently including vehicles and pedestrians and whilst some of these could not be helped, it is only a matter of time before someone is going to be killed or severely injured. It is not acceptable; we have a right to go to and from our house without abuse and danger. If the by-pass is not going to happen - how long do we have to wait before something will be done, this road needs to be made safe for all users.
I believe that Marcham has been waiting for a by-pass for a number of years. It seems that other villages with less severe problems are having their issues resolved without delay, why isn’t our village a priority; the roads are completely inadequate for the vehicles that go through it.
Whilst I am sure that you have received much communication regarding Marcham, I felt it was appropriate as one of your constituents to let you know how affected we are by the A415 and hopefully this will enable yourself and other local bodies to look into this matter and try to resolve the problems that residents of Marcham are facing.
Amanda Rowe

Dear Editor
Flesh and Metal Should Never Meet - The Bends
I was hit, or rather, clipped by a vehicle as I walked around the bends on Packhorse Lane at the beginning of February. I was taking our dog for a walk and was heading towards Mill Road having crossed the road using the mirrors mounted on the wall. Mirrors which are great and I do appreciate but only useful if you have good eye-sight, are able to move quite quickly and the sun isn’t sinking in the west, reflecting into them rendering them all but useless. But I had done the tricky bit, or so I thought! The vehicles wing mirror hit me from behind, on my upper arm and twisted me sharply into the wall of Mrs Chadwick’s house. The driver was not driving too fast, in fact he was driving quite slowly as he lives in the village and was due to turn right up North Street. Had the driver been doing the speed limit or faster I would have been seriously injured. The driver stopped and was hugely apologetic and shocked – he had not seen me as he was temporarily blinded as he rounded the bend coming from shadows into the afternoon sun. When I got over the shock and pain of the moment I had to admit that looking back at the corner every car driver was struggling to see past their sun visors. My back is still painful at times and gets stiff easily.
I have written to Ed Vaizey, Iain Brown, the Parish Council and the OCC Highways Dept. I have delivered a letter to every house on Packhorse Lane and now I write to you all as residents, via the MadNews. I am not sure how many of you don’t dare to walk along this part of Packhorse Lane, or how many of you avoid using the road because you feel it is dangerous. All I can say is that please be aware, as I was not – even after 26 years – that there is yet another reason to be very careful when using this section of the road. We bought a house on a busy road therefore we have lived with this fact, as does everyone on this road – we try to be as careful as we can but I have to say that this incident has finally made me see that I cannot stay silent and just put up with it. There is yet another unforeseen danger which I for one was unaware of until I got hit. I cannot just accept this awful state of affairs and I would never forgive myself if I did not do all I could to change things before something serious happens. The road no longer offers pedestrians or drivers the safety that an ‘A’-road should. It is not fit for purpose – especially in its present state with the sheer physical size, volume and sadly, speed at which we see vehicles approaching these bends!
I have now heard of other incidents – about other ‘clippings, hits or near misses’ in a variety of circumstances. Some people have reported them, others have not – some have even been reported in the local press – but what is being done? With the kind support and helpful information from a number of residents already, I am now aware that the by-pass is no longer a viable option due to funding issues. For further information please see the following website pages.
www.transaction.org.uk/downloads Chapter 13 A415 Marcham Bypass
However, I do not think a Bypass has any bearing on this issue – the problem is the narrowness of the road for approx 200 metres with no pavements, two sharp blind bends and nowhere for people or vehicles to pass each other safely. The A415 has one-way traffic and traffic lights operating on it elsewhere, so why not here? Why can’t we have a width restriction on this road? What does this say about our priorities. The narrow point at the bends is less than should be allowed for any two-way road – why should huge lorries be allowed to use this small country road. Why should we accept the warning ‘Vehicles in middle of the road’ on an ‘A’ road without any protection for its residents.
I am horrified when I see the families with young children trying to get round the bends, babies and toddlers in tow. The official line from the OCC Transport Department seems to suggest that our bends “do not have an accident record that singles it out for action in comparison to other roads across the county”. I do hope this doesn’t mean someone has to die or be seriously injured before we get ‘singled out’. I have supplied some photographs of the sheer danger that families have to go through just to get their children safely around the corner. What about the Postman, the Paperboy and anyone else trying to do their job in this village?
I am aware of the down-side that queuing traffic pollutes our air – but they are queuing now as vehicles constantly get stuck on the bends. The up-side is that the ‘rat-run’ vehicles might get fed up with having to slow down and even have to wait for the lights to change and decide to use a more appropriate road thus reducing the volume. Huge vehicles should not be allowed down into the village – my worry being that we just place this problem on other villages – but should this be a reason for us doing nothing to help protect people both on foot and in cars. Traffic lights will certainly help to control the speed at which many vehicles enter the village from either direction. Traffic lights will assist anyone trying to get out of Howard Cornish Road and all the roads meeting at the cross roads at the bottom of North Street.
Please – in reading this letter consider how you might help to improve our village. You may think that this problem does not affect you personally and therefore you do not see the point in doing anything – but even if you don’t use or live on this road you probably know people or relatives who do and for their sakes I would urge you to make a stand. It would be great to achieve something worthwhile for all residents and drivers who use the roads through our village. Please write to those who you feel can make Marcham a safer place – please make a difference by being heard.
Sally Timberlake, Packhorse Lane

PLAGS - Marcham Bypass - Anson Trust/Institute - Reservoir - Top of page

Marcham Bypass

October 2006

Oxfordshire County Council: CABINET MEMBER FOR TRANSPORT (links to OCC site)


September 2006

Marcham Bypass in The Times, Monday 11 September 2006 (links to articles at TimesOnline)
Broken promises leave dozens of towns in queue for a bypass
Villagers see no sign of relief after 27 years of close scrapes

May 2006

Dear Editor
I feel the time for keeping quiet is over. Traffic Lights, Bumps, Flashing Lights and Warning Signs - these are not working. The only answer is the BY-PASS.
I’ve lived in Marcham for 17yrs on Packhorse Lane and seen the traffic increase in size and speed. Now outside my house the large lorries have to mount the 2ft path (if you can call it that) to pass. Do we have to wait till someone is killed or seriously injured? My son stepped out of our front door to meet a massive lorry with its wheels on our front garden which is only 1ft wide, because he is young and quick he dodged it what if it was a pensioner or someone less agile? I shudder to think.
As the lady in last month’s MADNews, he too has been clipped whilst delivering daily papers and his paper trolley hit. We have had scaffold poles, bags of cement and all sorts of objects from lorries deposited along the path from the bends by the chapel to our house. Cars have been through the chapel wall demolishing large sections so must have been moving as the wall is 20 inches thick. Has anyone seen the state of the kerb outside Priory Lodge and Mr. Pointer’s yard? Please take the time to look. Lorries tipped over, destroying telegraph poles, gardens, cars smashing into each other: 6 vehicle accidents in almost as many weeks, two serious. The latest just makes probably the most valid point: the new lights put up to make our entry for pedestrians crossing the road SAFE, destroyed by a vehicle. Suppose it had been your child or mum coming from school or shops waiting to cross, they would almost certainly have been KILLED. You could say why buy a house on Packhorse Lane. Answer: it was quiet. Present laws allowed bigger lorries, it’s now recognized as a short cut from the A420 to the A34 and most importantly a BY-PASS was on the cards. When the voting for the BY-PASS was polled, 84% of the village wanted it to happen, now is the time to push and campaign to make it a reality. As proved, short-time safety measures are not the answer. What is money compared with a life? It could be you or yours, it better not be one of mine.
ANGRY resident
Mr R Dredge

February 2006

Dear Editor
Bypass NOW please
The end of the evening rush hour found tailbacks on the A415 through Marcham on Wednesday 18th January as police, ambulance and fire crew attended a serious collision caused by a driver from London who was later taken away by police in hand-cuffs and charged with having excess alcohol in his blood.
A Marcham resident had his car virtually destroyed as he neared the Marcham side of the new Pelican crossing on his way to Abingdon. Luckily he and his daughters were able to walk back home after being checked out in the ambulance called to the scene. The other driver reportedly swerved into the side of his car pushing it off the road and sending one of the rear wheels and bits of the suspension half way up the driveway towards my front door.
After colliding with the first car the other driver continued along the pavement for some 50 yards before coming to a final stop. Happily there were no pedestrians walking along at the time or they would almost certainly have been killed.
Bob Anderson

January 2006

Dear Editor
I wrote to you some time ago concerning the new crossing and traffic lights to be installed in Marcham and pointed out the dangers of this. The crossing and lights have been in operation for one week. Has any body noticed the tyre skid marks on the road because cars and lorries are travelling too fast and don’t see the crossing until too late, also people crossing the road do so near the nurseries. I fear someone will be injured soon. There was not much thought put into this crossing and was a waste of money.
JR Busby, Willow Farm

Dear Mr Vaizey
I am writing to you as a very concerned and upset parent who lives at 10 Packhorse Lane, Marcham. I know you are fully aware of the bends on this road and the danger to us residents with the speed and amount of traffic that passes through this road.
Today at lunchtime I had just walked out of my gate after checking the road was clear when a car came up from behind and knocked into my 11 month old daughters car seat which I was carrying. Luckily on this occasion she is fine. This section of road is getting worse and worse as the months go on and the speed of which vehicles go through is NOT acceptable by any means. They pay no attention what so ever that this is a village location and that there is a sign (although not at all clear enough in my opinion) before entering the village that adults and children may be walking on the road.
I did get the registration number of this vehicle who did not have the common courtesy of stopping even knowing what they had done and reported this to the police. My concern now is for the five children who are under four years of age, the elderly and a newly pregnant mum who all live on this stretch of road. Something very serious will happen one day if we are unable to get something organised quickly. I cannot understand why things take so long to sort out with such an obviously dangerous situation. Is it really going to have to take a nasty or fatal accident for something to be done?
We have tried in the past to apply for a driveway but this has been turned down due to the speed limit of the village so we have no alternative but to use roadside parking which involves walking on this dangerous corner. We have been told IF the bypass goes through we would be able to re-apply and all going well it should go through, but this is not soon enough. I look forward to your comments on this subject.
Jackie King & Robert Waldram

December 2005

Dear Editor
This is a letter I sent to The Rt Hon Alistair Darling MP, Secretary of State for Transport on 10 November.

Dear Alistair
Marcham Bypass, Oxfordshire
The proposal to bypass the village of Marcham in Oxfordshire, as part of the wider objective of improving the A415 between Witney and Abingdon, has been identified as a key recommendation from the County Council’s Transport Networks Review study. The scheme, which has reached an advanced stage of planning, would significantly improve the quality of life for those living in the village, as well as cutting journey times and congestion along the route. Environmental conditions on the route are very poor with HGVs in particular causing noise, vibration and perceived danger to pedestrians.
However, despite this strong case having been made for the scheme, along with all major scheme proposals in the South East region, it is now at the mercy of the funding availability and prioritisation for the region as a whole. This, as you will know, amounts to £135m p.a. for the coming 5 years and is wholly inadequate to deliver the transport infrastructure needs for the region in the context of the historic under investment in the South East and the huge growth demands placed on the region by the Government. Inevitably, relatively small but locally important schemes such as Marcham Bypass are liable to fall. These schemes are too large to be delivered through the Integrated Transport block of Local Transport Plan funding but too small in their own right to be of regional significance to achieve the priority they need for major scheme funding within the next LTP period. Marcham Bypass itself has achieved a ranking of 3 in the regional prioritisation methodology for the South East and therefore just misses out on being included in the funding allocation determined by the Regional Transport Board. Given the strong case made for the scheme I cannot believe the methodology for allocating regional funding priorities would not enable it to happen, but if this is the case I would urge you to consider how the overall funding allocation for regional transport infrastructure in the South East could be increased to enable this and other locally important schemes to be delivered within a reasonable time frame.
Yours sincerely
Ed Vaizey

Ed Vaizey MP for Wantage (Con)

October 2005

Dear Editor
I Don’t Believe It
Over a glass of wine I was bemoaning the fact that I get more like Victor Meldrew every day, and through the mellow haze my thoughts drifted to the road works at the end of Howard Cornish Road.
So we’re going to have an extra bus service for the village, Great, I thought, that’s got to be an improvement. So why are we having EXTRA bus Stops? What’s wrong with the existing ones? More problems, ...deciding which one to catch...... I suppose they know what they’re doing! Now we need a pedestrian crossing with lights so that we can use the bus stop! More delays for the motorist....What about the cost? Well it’s only Tax Payer’s money! I know, I’ll go on a course in “Planners Logic”! Right time of year, I’m a pensioner, got the time. I THINK I’VE GOT IT!!!!.... It’s a sort of Da Vinci Code Thing telling us:- WE ARE NOT GOING TO GET A BYPASS.
Bernie Cole
PS I don’t think I’ll bother with the course, there’ll be something else to moan about tomorrow

September 2005

Dear Editor
Some Marcham residents have written to me about the speed of the traffic passing through Marcham. I have been in touch with the County Council about this, and have been working with your new County Councillor, Iain Brown, on what can be done. County tells me that they are conducting a review to see what improvements can be made to slow down traffic as it passes through Marcham, and we will keep you up-dated.
I have also written to the Secretary of State for Transport, Alastair Darling, about the by-pass. As most of you will know, the final say on this rests with the Government, and once I hear from the Secretary of State, I will have a better idea of what I need to do to press the Government on this important issue.
Ed Vaizey MP for Wantage (Con)

Dear Ed Vaizey
Thank you for your email of 30 June concerning the village of Marcham, and I apologise for the delay in responding to you.
Our Road Safety Team are currently investigating the placing of a vehicle activated speed sign (smiley face) on the western approach to the village. A suitable site has been identified for east bound traffic at this location but this would require the relocation of some lighting; the current work is looking at whether the street lighting can economically be moved to allow for the speed sign to be installed. On the eastern approach to the village there is only one possible site identified within the 30 mph speed limit, although even this was marginal in terms of having a length long enough for the sensors to operate. However, this site would interfere with the proposed pelican crossing to be sited on the A415 near the junction with Howard Cornish Road. This scheme is due for construction this autumn and should in itself act as a “gateway” for traffic entering the village from the east.
Traffic levels are being fuelled by traffic using the A415 to avoid congestion in the Oxford area, both between A34 and A420 and between A34 and A40. It is highly unlikely that the re-classification of the road would act to halt this trend. It was recognition of this, and its likely continuation in the future, that led to the Transport Networks Review proposal to improve the full length of the A415. This has been incorporated in the Council’s Provisional Local Transport Plan, with Marcham and Newbridge included for improvement in 2006-2011 and the rest of the route (Standlake, Kingston Bagpuize) for 2011-2016. The Bypass is currently being considered by the Regional Assembly as part of their regional prioritisation process. If it gets approval through this then the County Council will begin the process of getting permission/funding for the scheme.
Yours sincerely
David Robertson, Cabinet Member for Transport

January 2005

Dear Editor
... on the subject of the Marcham By Pass, bad news I am afraid. The County Council submitted its bid to the Department for Transport last month as part of its Local Transport Plan. The DfT chose not to support the scheme (indeed it only supported 6 out of the 64 schemes promoted nationwide)and this will mean that the Council will have to re-submit a new bid next year. I am told that it is not unusual for schemes to be turned down at the first attempt but nonetheless it is frustrating given how long the Marcham By Pass has been in its embryonic stage. The County still intend to go ahead with the formal Planning Application although this is now likely to be in February next year. The Abingdon Transport Study has also been considering measures to calm traffic in villages around Abingdon and last month at the Parish Council meeting we were shown outline ideas of what measures could be implemented in Marcham. These were generally well received and our Transport Planners will now firm up proposals for more detailed consideration.
Cllr Andrew Crawford

December 2004

Dear Editor
The County Council will be submitting a formal planning application for the bypass within the next month or so. Both the District and Parish Councils will be consulted and this is also an opportunity for all residents to make their views known. Plans will be available for inspection both at Abbey House in Abingdon and at the County Council offices in Speedwell Street, Oxford. I have asked our officers to try to set up an exhibit of these plans in Marcham itself but with the Institute closed this may be difficult.
It is hoped that the Planning Application will be determined early in the New Year. After that the timetable is:

  • Spring 2005 – the issuance of Traffic Orders
  • late 2005 – Public Enquiry
  • late 2006 – Secretary of State’s decision
  • early 2007 – works to start.
    Obviously this timetable is not set in stone and each stage is dependent on the outcome of previous stages.
    I am also aware that some residents in Frilford are concerned that the proposals now include a roundabout at the junction of the A338 with the A415. This was as a result of the Department of Transport’s role in the plans now that it is considered to be a “major scheme”. The imminent planning application stage will be the initial opportunity for concerns such as these to be raised. It may be helpful that when residents communicate their views to the council, I am copied in on any correspondence so that I am fully briefed before a decision is made.
    Cllr Andrew Crawford

    Dear Editor
    I welcome the news that the bypass now has a clear timetable for progress. We are still, of course, waiting for confirmation that the Government will agree to fund it. Because of the cost of the bypass, it is now in the Government’s in-tray, not the County Council’s. Concerns have however, been expressed to me about the final route proposed for the bypass where it intersects with the A338. Residents in Frilford are worried that the proposed roundabout is far to close to their houses. I have met the residents and heard their concerns, and will work with them in the coming months to explore alternative sites for the roundabout.
    Please contact me if you have any questions on these or any other issues. Tel 01235 769090 or ed@wantageconservatives.com
    Ed Vaizey, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate

    Dear Editor

    Pelican Crossing

    I was somewhat dismayed to read in last month’s MADNews that there are proposals to build a pelican crossing in the village. Why is our money being used on a project like this when the building of the VERY long awaited bypass would negate this need? I agree that it would possibly cause more accidents than we currently have. Also, I object to having to pay for something that would not be needed if government could make a final decision on the bypass. It’s always the man in the street that has to pay for what amounts to incompetence in local and national government.
    Name and address supplied

    February 2001

    Marcham Residents Opinion Survey EXECUTIVE SUMMARY (Magenta)

    In February 2001, Oxfordshire County Council commissioned market research to test public opinion amongst residents living in Marcham and its surrounding parishes, to the proposed by-pass route of Marcham village.
    The proposed route was exhibited in Marcham village hall on Friday and Saturday 11th and 12th May. Following this, the market research field study was conducted from May 13th to June 11th, 2001 by the research consultancies magenta and Touchdown Marketing. The total number of questionnaires delivered in this period was 1716.
    In order to avoid the 1996 problems, and to provide councillors with a clear, independent and unequivocal result, the research was required to be objective and robust. The research methodology was designed and executed in such a way that there can be no argument with the final results.
    There is unequivocal support from residents living North and on Packhorse Lane, and from the surrounding area, for the proposed by-pass route (and for a by-pass but not the route necessarily proposed).

    The top 2 reasons given for supporting a by-pass are:

  • Safety - Packhorse Lane is dangerous for pedestrians, property and motorists.
  • Less congestion through the village would enable crossing Packhorse Lane easier and safer.

    Marcham residents returned a 93.3% (643 questionnaires) Yes vote for the proposed route and 100% (702) Yes vote for a by-pass but not necessarily the route proposed.
    Residents living South of Packhorse Lane show little or no support for either the proposed route or for a by-pass in general. It would appear therefore, that residential opinion from this area remains firmly opposed as witnessed from earlier exhibitions held since the initial proposal in 1995. Their top 7 concerns are (in order of importance):

  • Worry over the visual impact of this route
  • Concern over the effect on agriculture
  • Detrimental effect on walking, cycling and riding routes around Marcham
  • Noise levels
  • By-pass would encourage more traffic to the area
  • By-pass would not reduce the number of accidents in Marcham
  • By-pass would not improve our quality of life

  • PLAGS - Marcham Bypass - Anson Trust/Institute - Reservoir - Top of page

    Anson Trust - The Institute - St Nicholas Institute

    Anson Trust Web Site
    Neighbours Around the Field (NAF) Web Site

    To see the latest news about the Anson Trust - please go to the new Anson page here

    November 2007

    Anson Trust

    Anson Trust Accounts 2006 Full version (45kb PDF file)

    Anson Trust Accounts 2006 Overview (10kb PDF file)

    Anson Trust Accounts 2006 Signed by Accountant (140kb PDF file)

    May 2007

    Letters between the Anson Trust and Christopher Jessel, Farrer&Co

    can be read and downloaded here

    Anson Trust Accounts 2005 PDF file JPG file

    Anson Trust Web Site

    December 2006

    Dear Editor
    Just lately I have been considering the possibility that I MIGHT be going through a mid-life crisis. Over what, you might ask? Well, this proposed Anson Field Development and the plans to build these new leisure facilities are messing with my head; everything is so confusing. I hasten to add (just in case you are worried) that I am still able to sleep at night (just)!
    On one hand the thought of new sports facilities and a football field sounds great, but the goal posts keep being moved! Having attended just about every meeting about these proposals, my brain is bouncing around like an out of control yoyo. I think, at last, without boring you all, that I might be seeing things more clearly.
    With all the rumours that are flying around the village, the fact is that no one knows quite what to believe, which is why there are so many mixed views. We have gone from a beautiful field, to 45 houses, to 90 houses, to a possible whole new estate (if you were to believe the scaremongering aspects). But in reality I think it may be very simple. I would like to share my hypothesis with you, in case anyone feels as confused as I did:
    Building houses on the Anson Field contravenes many local plan policies and it is unlikely to get planning permission unless it is seen as being ‘exceptional’. There are two reasons that this proposal may be deemed ‘exceptional’. Number one is if it is ‘an exception site’. An exception site is an area of land, that would not normally be considered for development, except to provide a small scale development of entirely affordable housing for local people. The second is a ‘special exception’ which states that community uses need to be treated as a special exception to current planning policies, and this would need to be justified on the basis of the benefits they would bring to Marcham as a village (to quote from the Anson Trust website). In other words if we, as residents, really needed and wanted these new proposed amenities of a new village hall and playing fields, and saw them as exceptional benefit to our village, then our views would be listened to and taken into consideration when it comes to planning permission being sought. Well, the hundred million dollar question: Do we want these new facilities? How many of us would actually use them over and above what we already have, use, and have use of just a few miles up the road? I believe that everyone in our village should have an answer to this question, and a say in the future of our village. However, in making your decision, I would urge you all to think about not only how this will affect you in terms of where you live in relation to the new developments and their access points; but the disruption, mess, noise and turmoil that will come with it for months to come. Also the additional traffic it will bring into and through our village throughout and after the development AND the additional traffic from users of the new facilities from outside the village.
    Finally, picture our village at the end, no Anson Field, instead houses and an abundance of traffic making our village no longer quiet and safe. Is this really what we want for ourselves and our generations to come?

    The Neighbours Around the Field (NAF) committee met for the first time on 8th November to discuss our response to the news that the Anson Trust is proposing to sell the Anson Field for building on. At the earlier meeting on 1st November organised by the Anson Trust the trustees suggested we form a committee to represent those householders bordering the field in discussions with the Anson Trust. The committee has representatives from Tower Close, Orchard Way, Abingdon Road and the east side of the field (Howard Cornish Road) but needs the input of EVERYONE who borders on the field. Our preferred method of communication is by email but for those not on email please contact either of the committee members below to let us know your views.You can see our latest news on our web site http://www.scilutions.co.uk/anson/ . Email us at field@scilutions.co.uk Or phone: Nick Lawrie 391540 Bob Anderson 391460.

    QUESTIONS FOR ANSON TRUST from the Parish Council

    Existing field
    1. Why does the Anson Trust think it is going to be successful with planning consent when the scheme appears to contravene the Local Plan?
    2. At what stage will the Anson Trust provide a fully detailed site plan of the proposed development on the field – this to include any recreational facilities/open space which will remain?
    3. To what extent has the loss of amenity to the older residents, that building on the field will cause, been taken into account ?
    4. How will the needs of local residents in terms of sports facilities be taken into account, given the availability of Tilsley Park and the VOWH leisure centre. The users of the present facilities do not accurately represent the needs of the local population. How will the Trust gauge the views of all the parishioners?
    5. What assurances can the Trust provide that the proposed development will not subsequently be enlarged beyond the initial level of building? How will the Trust minimise the development scheme?
    6. Can you clarify and justify the number of houses you expect to see on the field?
    7. How will the Trust ensure that 40% of the housing remains affordable?
    8. How has the Trust taken into account the additional traffic which will be generated by the new housing development and recreational facilities? This is of particular concern in regard to the morning and evening rush hour, those driving to the new facilities and the increased risk to the safety of the elderly and children.?
    9. Should the scheme go ahead, how will the Trust ensure and what assurances will it give to make sure of minimal environmental impact? There has been references to wildlife corridors. What environmental technologies will be used in any new proposals in the existing field?
    10. What consideration has been given to the lack of infrastructure? It was suggested at a Council meeting that there had been blockages and overflowing drains in North Street for example. How will the Trust ensure that there is proper infrastructure to support the development?
    11. The Parish Council has been planning to invest a considerable sum of Council tax payers’ money into renovating the play area. What assurances will be given that the play area will remain where it is? Would the Trust be able to provide a Lease or Licence for a fixed number of years?
    12. Parishioners have said that there is little information regarding the future of the Institute. Has thought been given to re-vamping the Institute? Is a sale to the village possible? When will the Institute and car park be sold?
    New Facilities 13. How is it intended to manage any new facilities? Will user groups be key holders and manage their own areas and equipment.?
    14. Access to Howard Cornish Road is proposed from the new facilities on to a bend on a very busy road. What arrangements are in place to ensure that the concerns of the villagers regarding the loss of the copse and the dangers on the road have been taken into account?
    15. How will the increase in road traffic envisaged through relocation be compensated. Will an adequately sized CO2 sink be provided? What environmental technologies will be used in any new proposals?
    16. Will the Anson Trust provide a fully detailed business plan which covers all the financial implications of the proposed new development and recreational facilities at the earliest opportunity? The questions raised by the public to the Council include reference to the sale figures expected for the field, the cost for the new land, the profits to be made.
    17. Can you confirm that all alternative plans have been explored and presented for open debate?
    18. Why have all the other options been disregarded?
    19. There has been criticism that the Trust is too secretive, and that there should be an open village forum/committee to discuss the way forward. Would the Trust consider this?
    20. The Parish Council has been asked to consider ways in which interested groups could be helped to provide suitable facilities on the present field, would the Trust consider this?

    Questions & Answers from The Anson Trust

    What are the Trust’s aims and vision?

    Over the past few years the Trust has been seeking to establish itself on a sounder footing and to improve significantly its contribution to the leisure facilities and social life of Marcham. The first task was to update and modernise the operation and management of the Trust. This was a slow process requiring protracted and detailed discussions and dealings with the Charity Commissioners. The outcome was a revised scheme and the creation of the company which now manages the Trust and has widened the governance of the Trust by introducing additional representation (Directors).

    That has been accomplished and the Trust has now set itself on the path of recreating the original Trust in a twenty first century context. When it was established the Trust provided a new community centre, sports facilities, an endowment to provide income to support operations and some property which could be rented by villagers. The Trust’s present scheme is to establish a new community centre, designed for the current and future needs of Marcham, first class sports and recreational facilities, a small number of houses owned by the Trust, which can be rented out to villagers, all underpinned by an endowment substantial enough to support all operations.

    The means of achieving that vision is by creating the facilities on land north of Hyde Copse and funding that by development of the Anson Field and disposal of the Institute site.

    What will happen to the Institute?

    In line with the Trust’s vision the Institute will eventually be disposed of in order to provide part of the funds for the realisation of the vision. What happens to the site will be dependent upon the wishes of the purchaser and the requirements of the Vale of White Horse District Council, if the purchaser wishes to develop the site.

    When will we know what’s happening on the Anson field?

    The Trust has already outlined its general intention with respect to development of the Anson Field and has received a number of comments, which it will consider carefully. Once detailed plans have been drawn up these will be shared with interested parties including the Parish Council and villagers. The detailed plans will form the basis of a submission to the Vale of White Horse District Council for planning consent.

    The detailed plans will have to take account of a number of requirements and constraints. The comments that have been received, the requirements of the Charity Commissioners, any planning requirements of the Vale of White Horse District Council, and the need for the Trust to achieve a sufficient level of endowment will all influence and be reflected in the plans.

    What is happening with regard to the case being brought by the Ex Servicemen’s Club?

    The case concerns the Ex Servicemen’s Club’s rights with respect to the car park of the Institute. Following the Trust’s announcement of its plans, a settlement has been proposed by the solicitors representing the Ex Servicemen’s Club and that proposal has been accepted by the Trust. A document incorporating the settlement is being drafted by the solicitors representing the Ex Servicemen’s Club. Once this has been produced and signed by both parties, the dispute will be at an end and the court case obviated.

    What is happening to Marcham School?

    Any development will be subject to the wishes and will of Oxfordshire County Council and Marcham School. However, there is a possibility that a new school, to replace the existing one, could be constructed close by the proposed new community building with the potential for some joint use of facilities (as is the case presently with the tennis courts at the school). However, the Trust will have no part to play or influence in any decision.

    Why have the Trust chosen this plan rather than some alternative?

    As is well known the Trust has contemplated a number of alternative possibilities but ultimately the Trust decided to adopt the bold vision described above which could reinvigorate the Trust’s contribution to the life of Marcham and provide a sound basis for the future. The Directors were unanimous in deciding upon this course.

    Below is a summary of the alternatives that were available to the Trust.

    1) Do nothing

    Some people have suggested that the existing facilities are in fact adequate and there is no need to take any action to improve them.

    Why it wouldn’t work.
    • Without the realisation of some assets the Trust has no funds available to it, in fact it has borrowed from its endowment. The existing facilities would simply have to close and be sold.

    2) Sell the Institute car park for development and renovate the Institute

    Why it wouldn’t work.
    • This was a course which the Trust had looked to pursue a few years ago. However, given the protracted delays faced by the Trust, as a result of the threatened court case, and given the rapidly deteriorating financial position of the Trust, the sums simply didn’t add up. The renovation of the Institute, which is not a building suitable for modern needs, would have left insufficient funds available to replace the buildings on the Anson Field, which must be replaced in the near future

    3) Sell the Institute and redevelop on the Anson Field

    This was also a course that was seriously considered by the Trust.

    Why it wouldn’t work
    • When the Institute was put up for sale, it became clear that it could not achieve its full market potential under prevailing circumstances and the sum which would be released would be insufficient to provide adequate facilities and provide an endowment substantial enough to fund the Trust into the future.

    4) Lottery funding

    The Trust looked at the possibility of obtaining lottery funding to help improve the recreational and sport facilities in Marcham.

    Why it wouldn’t work

    We sought professional advice about how to go about this and it was concluded that:

    • The process of applying for lottery funding is significantly expensive whilst the likelihood of winning lottery funding based on postcode and area evaluation was minimal.

    In the end the Trust concluded that there was a one in a lifetime opportunity to provide the village with radically improved facilities underpinned by a substantial endowment which will enable the Trust to fulfil its historic role in the village.

    Why can the Trust not hand over control of the Institute and the Anson Field to the Parish Council and let them run it?

    It is extremely unlikely that the Charity Commissioners would allow the Trust to cede ownership of either property to the Parish Council. It would be possible for the Trust to grant a lease or a licence to the Parish Council for one or both but the Charity Commissioners would require such lease or licence to be on commercial terms.


    October 2006

    Extraordinary meeting of the Marcham Parish Council to discuss the Anson Trust Proposal - draft minutes PDF file 18kb

    September 2006

    Dear Editor
    Many people by now, may have noticed that the For Sale board has been removed from outside the Institute. The Institute had also appeared “For Sale” in the Abingdon Herald at a price in excess of £500,000. When enquiries were made of the Estate Agent about its removal, the answer given was that it had been withdrawn from the market by The Trustees. This was very confusing to say the least. We knew from recent meetings with the Trustees’ that the anonymous benefactor, who had pledged a 6 figure sum towards the restoration of the Institute back in 2004, (see Abingdon Herald cuttings opposite) had, in fact, made an offer of the asking price. The Trust were fully aware that the benefactor had said that he had no intention of developing the site. He also said he would offer the Ex-Servicemen’s Club a long lease on The Institute and Car Park, plus pledging financial support in restoring the property. The reason he gave for this very generous offer, was the fact that a hundred years or so ago, his family had close ties with the Anson family. He commented at one meeting between the Trustees and the Ex-Servicemen’s Club, that he was sure that what the Ex-Servicemen’s Club was trying to achieve were the wishes of the Anson sisters. Since the news of the withdrawal, the anonymous benefactor has once again made his offer. Should the Trust accept it, it would secure the future of The Institute for the people of Marcham for many years to come.
    As one can see from the newspaper cuttings of 1903/04, there is little doubt what Arthur Henry Anson wanted when he financed the scheme all those years ago.
    Marcham Ex-Servicemen’s Club

    February 2006

    Dear Editor
    Many readers will have noted Mr. Buckingham’s letter about the Institute (or Village Hall as he referred to it) and perhaps agreed with his sentiments. He came along to the latest Parish Council meeting and re-stated the points in his letter. Although a member of the Parish Council, because I am also a Director of the Anson Trust company, I declared an interest in the matter and therefore was not present when the subject was discussed. However, I understand that the Parish Council re-affirmed that it has no proprietorial interest in the Institute and therefore can only make representations to the Anson Trust on behalf of parishioners. In addition the Parish Council does not have the necessary financial resources to make a contribution on a scale, which would be needed to ‘save the priceless jewel’.
    I offered to speak to Mr. Buckingham outside of the meeting and he took me up on my offer. Briefly I explained the situation as I saw it. The Anson Trust exists to provide facilities and amenities for the welfare, recreation and leisure of parishioners. The present hall is not well suited to the provision of suitable facilities and because of its age and state is very expensive to maintain. Equally the temporary buildings on the sports field are now time expired and suffering significant problems. I said that in my opinion, even to maintain both the Institute and the temporary buildings, even in their current unsatisfactory state, would require expenditure of at least £10,000 per annum over and above what present users could reasonably afford. When this is set against the funds available to the Anson Trust, essentially nil, then the proposal to sell the Institute site and build a facility to meet adequately, at a sustainable cost, the current needs appears to be the only reasonable option.
    Mr. Buckingham appreciated what I told him but felt that many villagers were not aware of the situation, as I had set it out. Accordingly, I have written this letter in an attempt to correct that.
    Colin Bough
    PS I have written this letter in a personal capacity and not on behalf of the Parish Council or the Arthur Anson Memorial Trust Limited

    Dear Editor
    Marcham, along with the rest of the villages in the vale, will almost certainly grow. One only needs to look at an exhibition by the Marcham society to see the changes in the last 60 or so years to get an idea of the scale of growth. A bypass, which we are all working for, would almost certainly bring the land between it and the village to the attention of the ever watchful developers. Marcham would then grow quite quickly again.
    This possible increase in population would require more facilities. It is for this reason that residents of Marcham – and quite a number too – have been saddened and frustrated by the closure of the Institute. The idea that a village the size of Marcham cannot support a village hall and a new facility on the Anson field is totally unproven. Here in Sparsholt, we have saved, rebuilt and enhanced our cherished Griffin Hall, with no great benefactor, few grants - as we don’t tick the boxes of many of the funders, and a population of only 200! Just up the road in Childrey, we are involved in fundraising for a new sports pavilion for the playing fields, population of Childrey about 500! So, FW Buckingham you see it can be done. You have, in your words, a generous benefactor, and I have just organised a meeting of the reservoir affected parishes, which proved to be most useful to all who attended, even though the views of some parishes differed considerably. I would be more than happy to organise a similar meeting for the residents of Marcham to air their views publicly on the future of the institute.
    I would point out, however, it appears to be a Marcham solution which is required, not a district or county council one. I was elected to represent your views at county level and will continue to do so. A meeting place, time and date can be arranged if it is what the residents of Marcham wish.
    I look forward to your comments.
    Iain Brown, County Councillor

    Dear Editor
    I would like to respond on another important matter raised in the January MADNews concerning the Anson Trust. I was involved over a year ago in attempting a mediation of a legal dispute in respect of the Institute. Although this encouraged a sharing of information, it did not settle the matter, which is now in proposed litigation. I understand that sensitive negotiations are ongoing, and although it is very frustrating for the local community I know with my legal hat on that this is likely to impose some restrictions on public information from the Anson Trust. I am encouraged that a letter in this edition of MADNews from one of the directors of the Anson Trust will provide some further information for residents.
    Jane Hanna, District Councillor

    December 2005

    Dear Editor
    I refer to Janet Frere’s letter to the possibility of the Village Hall being at Sherrards Farm and making use of the existing Barn. This “New Hall” would then be about 100 yards from my bedroom window! She will not be surprised at my hostility to this proposal. The obvious noise at weekends from Weddings, Discos etc. Perhaps she has missed a trick here. What if the hall was to be built on the Millennium Field thus putting it in her back yard!!! Plenty of parking available and perhaps it would bring some life into Church Road with such a lots of empty houses fewer people to disturb. In the past planning permission was refused for a small development of six houses at Sherrards farm due to access. No such problems for the Millennium Field.
    Sorry Janet
    Brian Gower

    November 2005

    Dear Editor
    The decision by the Anson Trust to ditch the refurbishment of the Institute comes as no surprise The cock-eyed two-halls idea was obviously just a sop to the opposition to selling the Institute. It is a bad situation not helped by the threatened court case which will produce no gain for anyone but the lawyers. Three cheers for Neil Steptoe and his sensible letter last month. If a new hall is to be built, I still feel that the Anson Field is the wrong site and would like to put forward another idea. A lovely piazza-like development could be created by building the hail on the site of the barn in Sharrards farmyard with vehicular access as now from Mill Road and an attractive carparking area and pedestrian access formed on the scruffy bit of land between the hall and the main road, incorporating the dovecot and the war memorial. This would make a vast improvement to the appearance of the village from the main road and it would be the sort of scheme I should have thought would be bound to attract lottery money.
    A really worthwhile development like this might inspire others in the village with enthusiasm (which present plans do not) and help alleviate the disappointment and heartache of those of us who value the Institute. Perhaps a place on site could be found for the lions. It would also leave the Sports, Scouts and Social Club in peace to carry on as before and avoid the clash of sporting events with functions, such as wedding receptions, which appears to me to be one of the least desirable aspects of the present proposals. I realise that this would depend on the willingness of the land owners in question to part with their land and hope that they will forgive me for the suggestion. If a new hall must be built, let’s take the opportunity to provide a really good solution rather than one forced upon us through lack of proper funding.
    Janet Frere

    Dear Editor
    I disagree with the Directors of The Anson Trust Company’s announcement in October’s MADNews. Their suggestion not only destroys an historic part of the village but also leads us to believe that we would not be in the same trouble a few years hence.
    Originally there were two buildings, until the fine old wooden cricket pavilion deteriorated and was eventually burnt down. Presumably the Trust progressively sold off 11 out of the 12 cottages which they were given by the Ansons.
    I suggest the solution is now to develop the available land at the back of the Institute, build a news sports hall and restore the Anson hall, but raise money locally to supplement this and inaugurate an on-going Halls Fund to support them.
    Jack Spicer

    Dear Editor
    Further to the latest scheme/dream of the Directors of the Anson Trust Company, and a personal entry in the MAD News June 05 by Colin Bough, a Director of the above, we see in this short period another “About Turn”.
    No longer the modified proposal of retaining the Institute, and selling off part of the site for development, which were the result of consultation with the parishioners and groups within the village. Now it is the whole Institute site that is up for sale.
    We are led to believe from our legal representative, that one of the legal companies used by the Trust were hardly aware of the details of this plan. He felt it was “Very much a long term plan to come into operation at the end of our lease” If this is the case,” What of the Institute”? The present Lease expires on 31st December 2010, it is a Protected Lease and no doubt there would be strong legal claims should there be any problems renewing it. What the Ex Servicemen’s Club, and we are sure the rest of the village would like, is a realistic time scale for these proposals.
    Back in July we approached the Trust over the reopening of the Institute. In August a formal letter through our solicitor was sent, offering to pay for Safety Inspections required for the issue of a Licence, and the Licence itself. To date, no reply. These financial offers were made as Colin Bough in his letter had stated “The reopening of the Institute was not feasible in current circumstances”.
    Does all this mean that the Institute will remain closed, unused, until 31st December 2010 when our present lease expires? That is 6 Christmases away, will we be denied the opportunity to provide the Senior Citizens with their Christmas Lunch and entertainment by the children of the village?
    We are sure that the whole community await with “Bated Breath”.
    Committee, Ex Servicemen’s Club

    October 2005

    After careful consideration and debate, the Directors of the Anson Company have decided to adopt a vision for the Anson Trust that will best serve the needs of Marcham for the foreseeable future. The only means of realising such a vision is to adopt a single site policy. This will involve selling the Institute site for development and, with the funds realised, building a modern facility on the Anson Field, which is capable of accommodating Marcham’s recreational, leisure and sporting needs. This decision was not arrived at lightly and the Directors appreciate that not all parishioners will welcome this.
    How and why have the Directors come to this decision? There are a number of reasons.
  • One factor has been the professional advice received. This has been unambiguous in support of the single site solution. The economics of the situation are clearly in favour. The costs and benefits of operating a single site as compared with two sites overwhelmingly point to the former.
  • Next the money, which would be raised by selling part of the Institute site for housing, would be insufficient to fund the refurbishment of the Institute and provide a suitable facility on the Anson Field.
  • Furthermore there is the fact that the majority of user groups, who have used the temporary buildings on the Anson Field, have found them to be perfectly adequate (in some cases preferable to the Institute) so the temporary loss of the Institute facilities will not have the impact that was originally feared whilst the Anson Field as a location for facilities within the village has been demonstrated to be very suitable.
  • Finally, and most importantly, the Directors believe that their duty and obligations to the Company and the community require them to take this decision which is in the long term best interests, even if it may result in unpopularity in some quarters.

    The Directors have given user groups and other interested parties prior notice of this announcement and intend to keep all villagers abreast of developments in the future.
    The Anson Trust

    Dear Editor
    In response to a letter from CR in September’s MADNews, (why can’t contributors sign their name, it would save having to guess who they are). If it was possible for the Ex-Serviceman’s Club to resolve the problems amicably with the Anson Trust, I sure this would have been done months ago, but if you have a confrontation between two groups who both know they are right, then a stone wall will be hit. Perhaps the only solution is for the Ex-Serviceman’s Club to throw in the towel, after all they only have five years lease left. CR seems to know more about this than me but as a member of the Ex-Serviceman’s club I would hope the committee and it’s officers would apply for a lease renewal. Also CR you do not have a monopoly on voluntary work. The Ex-serviceman’s Club has been in the Institute small hall 45 plus years and all work carried out from then to the present has been done entirely by volunteers. Many of the Sports and Social Club members are members of the Ex-Serviceman’s Club and Vice Versa, which indicates that members from the Ex-Serviceman’s Club also helped in the building of the Sports and Social Club as I did myself.
    If the Sports and Social Club is unable to cope with the excessive use then maybe the Parish Council could be approached to use their influence to get the Institute re-opened. I might suggest this would be a waste of time as at all the meetings that have been held a Parish Councillor has been present and no consideration has been given to re-opening the Institute. Perhaps it’s time that the Parish Council distanced itself from the Anson Trust. The Institute has been used as a village hall since it was built, maybe now is the lime for the Parish Council to look into providing a village hall for the community. Surrounding villages have halls built and run by the Parish Council perhaps now it’s our turn to do the same. I can hear the shouts now, “Who’s going to pay for it?” Let’s start fund raising. I just feel that our Parish Council should be doing more and be seen to be more impartial.
    According to CR the Anson trust are broke win or lose as are the Ex-Serviceman’s Club. As a member, committee member and son of a Founder member of the Ex-Serviceman’s Club this is purely my personal view. I would like to see an amicable conclusion to the situation for the good of the community, making it back into a community unlike the divided village it has become.
    NS (that’s Neil Steptoe)

    September 2005

    Dear Editor
    Having read both letters regarding the Institute/New village hall proposal in last months MAD News, I felt I must put pen to paper. In both letters objectives were quoted, they read as follows:

  • Anson Trust – “for the welfare and recreation of the people of Marcham”.
  • Ex-Servicemen – “to foster good citizenship in Marcham and seek to improve amenities”.
    It seems to me that reading between the lines, neither of these objectives are being met. The people or community of Marcham are certainly not being considered. It is more like a personal argument. Maybe both these parties should consider how the community is suffering because of this. We have all been very amicable so far by imposing upon the Sports and Social Club building (which incidentally was built entirely by voluntary labour for the community). The Youth Club and Play Group are sharing the portable building, and the café, cubs, guides, cricket club, football club, parties and meetings are taking place in the remaining building.
    This argument is costing both parties thousands of pounds which could be used, according to their above objectives, much more sensibly within the community. Whatever the result of these legal proceedings, it is going to be of no benefit whatsoever to the community. If the Ex-Servicemen win they only have 5 years left on their Lease. Are they then going to sit tight for that 5 years watching the Institute decay around them.
    If the Anson Trust win they will probably be in the red and the sale of the car park will not cover the repayment of their debt, restoration of the Institute, build a new village hall or leave them enough money in an Endowment to run the new facilities. So what is the point of it all !!!!!!!
    If both parties had their objectives at heart it would be the future of our community they were putting first not themselves. There are many people within this village giving hours of voluntary time to make it what it is, and it just seems such a pity that a legal battle, which could be resolved amicably, could over night ruin everything that we have tried for the last 30 years to achieve. Please let’s think sensibly about this whole situation. Hopefully it has not already gone too far to be resolved amicably.

    Dear Editor
    The two articles on the Institute in the July issue of MADNews were most informative. It is a welcome development that the village is now being told what the issues are. Much less welcome is what we were told on the details of the current impasse. It seems both parties are being forced into positions not of their own choosing and that money that should be used for more constructive purposes is being diverted into legal fees.
    The time must be coming, if it hasn’t come already, when the village will regretfully have to conclude that the Institute is lost as a local facility, and that we should be exploring ways of financing a replacement. Other local villages have been able to build modern halls for themselves. Surely Marcham can too.
    Jessica and Manfred Brod

    Dear Editor
    Why is the Institute closed?
    What is happening with the Anson Trust?

    These are questions, which are concerning many villagers, and I consider that they should be addressed. Indeed Jack Spicer has raised the matter of the Institute in last month’s letters column. In this article, I intend to do just that.
    I should start by explaining how I am involved. As the current Chairman of the Parish Council, I am aware of matters relating to the Trust and the Parish Council. In response to a request from the Trust, and with the aim of broadening the governance of the Trust, the Council was asked to nominate (along with other organisations) two of the directors of the new charitable company, the Arthur Anson Memorial Trust Limited. I was nominated by the Council as one of several directors of the company (the other nominee was Malcolm Denton). (Directors are unpaid). In order to understand the current situation, it is necessary to set out some of the history of the Trust and its objectives. The Trust was established by the Anson sisters in 1913 in memory of their brother Arthur Anson and its objects were for the welfare and recreation of the people of Marcham. The original endowment comprised the Institute and its site, the Anson field and 12 cottages (in various states of disrepair). The Trustees were the incumbent vicar and two churchwardens who were responsible for the management of the Trust along with a Diocesan Trustee (nominated by the Oxford Diocese). In my opinion it would be fair to say that affairs were generally left to run their course and management of the Trust could not be described as active. The outcome was a slow decline in the financial affairs of the Trust with the consequent sale of the cottages over time.
    The present Trustees, have had to deal with the consequences of that decline; hence the formulation of a proposal to sell the Institute site and develop a new building on the Anson field. Following consultation with parishioners and groups within the village, the proposal was modified to retain the Institute but realise some capital from the site by selling off part of the site for development. Planning permission for six houses was obtained in September 2004 (subject to a section 106 agreement). At this point the Ex Servicemen’s Club came forward with a claim to rights over the car park and are subsequently pursuing the matter through the courts. There have been meetings aimed at resolving the dispute, mediated by Jane Hanna our Vale Councillor and subsequently by John Duffield, but these have not lead to a resolution.
    It is in the light of these developments that the decision to close the Institute was taken. There were two principal reasons; with the granting of planning permission it was necessary to prepare for the sale of the development land and this would necessitate the transfer of users to the building on the Anson field and more importantly, in the light of the dispute, the legal advice received by the Trust was that closure was recommended. That decision has now become almost irreversible due to the state of the finances of the Trust (see below). I have referred to the Anson Trust and the Anson Company and some explanation is required. The present Trustees, as I stated earlier, have shown willingness and a desire to improve the management of the Trust. One means of doing this has been to improve and widen the governance arrangements. (This is also consistent with good practice for charitable Trusts). The Trustees have put in hand the establishment of the Anson Company, which is now taking over responsibility for the operation and management of the Trust. This means that more parishioners are involved and the Trust is more representative of village sentiment and opinion.
    There are a few more facts that need to be understood in order to better comprehend the current situation. These are the financial position of the Trust, the role of the Diocese and the role and requirements of the Charity Commissioners. The finances of the Anson Trust comprise its income and its endowment. The Trust cannot access the endowment except in special circumstances and even then only with the permission of the Charity Commissioners. The Trusts income comprises income from day to day activities plus a small investment income from the endowment. Many will be shocked to learn that the Trust’s current account is now at very low level and the Trust is in danger of being unable to meet its bills. This is why the reopening of the Institute is not feasible in the current circumstances.
    The involvement of the Oxford Diocese, whilst of itself not unhelpful, has had the unfortunate consequence of slowing down decision making, involving a further body and requiring additional (expensive) legal advice.
    The position of the Trust is also deeply affected (perhaps afflicted is the better description!) by the Charity Commissioners. As a consequence of the previous history of the Trust and the straightened financial circumstances, the Charity Commissioners have taken a keen interest in the operation of the Trust. This has not been entirely helpful and one of the consequences is that the Trust has been obliged to rely heavily (in my opinion to a harmful degree) on professional advice and in certain matters has had its freedom of action curtailed. For example, if the Trust wished to pursue a certain course of action with regard to the legal proceedings, referred to above, it would be obliged to follow the advice of its legal team, even if that were not the Trust’s preferred course! The baleful influence of the Charity Commissioners’ rules has also made life very difficult for the Trust. The Charity Commission rules require the Trust to let its facilities at a commercial rent, other than for charitable groups. This has led to the ludicrous position where the Trust should seek a commercial rent for the use of the sports pitches and facilities. (The Charity Commissioners have granted a temporary derogation so that the Trust is not doing this currently, but will have to eventually). This makes relations with the sports users very awkward, as they find it hard to believe that these rules are so. The Trust sympathises deeply with them but cannot defy the Charity Commissioners. Kafkaesque is the word that springs to mind! Sorry to take up so much space in MAD News but I do believe the facts, as least I as I understand them, need to be publicised and hopefully villagers will have a better understanding of the situation. Finally, I would like to say that I believe that the Trustees and Directors who now manage the Trust are men and women of great goodwill, who have a sincere desire to provide the best possible facilities for Marcham and who are doing their best in very trying circumstances.
    Colin Bough
    NB I have written this article on a personal basis and not in my capacity as a Director of the Anson Company; the opinions and views expressed are entirely mine.

    Dear Editor
    Marcham and District Ex-Servicemen’s Club
    Shortly after the Second World War had ended, a group of local ex-servicemen met for a beer and chatted and discussed how life was treating them after their military service. In time they formed an Association and met in local pubs. Amongst their members was the local vicar.
    As time went on, it was mooted that it would be good if they had a place of their own in which to meet. The vicar, as an Anson Trustee, came up with the idea of using the Small Hall adjoining the Institute. It was run down, and had not been used for many years. They all agreed that the Small Hall had potential, and the vicar agreed that he would accept a peppercorn Rent until such times as the venture was up and running. Thus the present Ex-Servicemen’s Club was conceived. In drawing up their charter, it was agreed that among their objectives would be:- To foster good citizenship in Marcham and District, and seek to improve the amenities in that area. Of those original ex-servicemen very few remain, but we are privileged to have one who is still a very active member today.
    During the 1960’s, the Club grew in popularity, and by the 1970’s car-parking was becoming a problem in North Street. Discussions took place between the Club and the Anson Trustee’s regarding the construction of a car-park on the grounds behind the Institute. The Trustee’s applied for planning permission which was granted. Two of the conditions for the approval were, 1. To prevent the site becoming used for commercial or industrial use, and 2. In the interest of road safety. With the massive increase of traffic in North Street, it is impossible to understand that in granting Planning Permission in 2004, the 1973 Conditions were totally disregarded.In financing the development, the Trust wrote that they accepted that the Club would be the main user, but they themselves had concerns as to whether they might or might not be able to raise their agreed half of the costs. The Club subsequently paid at least 50%, and it was agreed that this would give them 20 year use of the car-park.
    During these years, the Club, as pledged in its original Charter, fostered good relations with the village, and made numerous donations to local activities, including to the Trust itself, in the form of repairs to the Institute. One regrettable effect that the closure of the Car Park and Institute has had on the Club, was the necessity to increase our Bar prices, also to review our charitable activities to the village in general.
    In the late 1990’s, the Club’s lease was due for renewal, this proved to be a long protracted affair. It was in the drawing-up of this lease that has led us to the situation we are in today. The Club’s legal representative requested that the car-park be included in the lease. The Trustees legal representative wrote that he saw no problem in this amendment. Unfortunately, it did not get entered in the final copy of the lease, and no further action was taken by either party.
    As the new century dawned, so did the rumblings of the Village Facilities Project. These entailed the interviewing of professionals for the role of Project Manager and Architect for the refurbishment of the Institute and the proposed new building on the Anson Field. In January 2004 the Trust applied for Planning Permission for seven Cottages on the Car Park, these actions were taken in spite of protests from the Club.
    Over the following months there were several meetings between the parties, no progress was made. At a meeting in May 2004, the Club indicated that the loss of the car-parking facilities might give rise to an inability to pay the lease. Aunt Sally matches were played both in and outdoors throughout the year , bringing the Club a regular income. Shortly afterwards, the Club was informed that the Institute and the car-park would be closed from Sept 1st 2004.
    Fortunately, the Club is in a position to pay the lease which was based on a Commercial Scale, with annual increases in line with the Retail Price Index, and will continue to do so until the lease expires in 2010.
    In Faringdon, on the August 31st 2004 the Planning Application was heard, and passed. It was a very brief hearing, in the presence of people who appeared to be strangers to the Marcham village situation. In fact, one photograph that was used, showed just one car parked in North Street, and no buses. A quiet day in Marcham! After the Planning permission was granted, the Institute and the car-park were closed. The Club had no other option but to initiate legal proceedings. At present both parties have obtained Barristers’ opinion, and the case moves on.
    The search for a negotiated settlement continues. Alternatives suggested by the Club, and a Third Party have so far been rejected by the Trust. A comment in a recent letter referred to the fact that the main problem seemed to be getting clear instructions from the Trust. This comment sums up the problems the Club has had with the Trustees since the negotiations of the 1997 lease.
    Ex Servicemen’s Club

    June 2005

    Dear Editor
    What’s Wrong?!
    Why is the Anson Hall closed? Closed since last September! Rumour has it that there is a legal quarrel between the Anson Trust and the Ex-Service Men’s Club. We can’t stop them wasting their money that way but the village has a right to use the hall while they settle it. Many thanks to the Sports Club for allowing us to use their hall. But we need both halls and the present position reflects no credit to the Ex-Servicemen’s Club nor the Anson Trust.
    Jack Spicer

    December 2004

    Dear Editor
    Since my last letter on the Institute I have met with the Ex-Service Men (14/10) and have mediated a meeting between the Anson Trust and the Ex-Service Men (20/11). I have been in contact with the Vale planners and have been informed that I will be consulted on the Planning application on the Institute shortly. This right to be consulted before approval, which I won by speaking at the Planning meeting on August 31st, includes “access to the site, parking, design, materials and details of the rear (elevation) of the Institute building” which are still awaited.
    I am sorry that the Ex Service Men consider that their concerns were not adequately represented at the Planning Committee but they would have been better advised to contact me before that meeting to tell me of their specific concerns. I understand that instead they had been advised that the planning application would fail. It was apparent to me that under planning law the application had a very good chance of success and therefore it was important that I, as local member, be consulted on much of the detail so that as far as is possible the various concerns which villagers had about the scheme could be resolved.
    Specifically: The issue of the number of parking spaces is clear. As a matter of Planning Policy guidelines require a set number of spaces to be provided for village halls. For the capacity of the Institute 17 spaces is within these guidelines. The plans lodged for approval clearly show a reduction in the length of the Institute and removal of outbuildings and this is what was approved. What remains outstanding is the detailed plans of the rear elevation which is among the conditions for final approval. Regrettably, interior plans for the Institute are not a planning matter, although I am aware that these are very important for village groups.
    Access and traffic safety matters, both for local residents and users, remains a concern for me which is why I felt it important that this be delegated rather than simply being approved on the night of the Planning meeting. I was also perturbed to learn subsequently that access to the building from the existing front doors may be lost and this is one of the many issues I have already taken up with planning officers.
    I remain more than happy to hear from villagers or village groups to inform my representations to the Vale or any discussions with the Anson Trust.
    Jane Hanna, District Councillor for Marcham and Shippon

    Dear Editor
    As you are aware from the October [2004] issue of the MADNews, the Anson Trust have obtained Planning Permission, subject to certain conditions, for the development of the Car Park to the rear of the Institute. A small note on one of the pages of the Plans reads “End of building removed and new end constructed”.
    What exactly do those words mean to you? They mean the demolition of the old outside Toilet Block, the demolition of the sloping roof extension, part of the old Boiler House, and most importantly some 15 foot off the rear end of this 100-plus-year-old Institute. The total demolition, as far as can be ascertained, will be to the rear of the Stage. The Plans mentioned in the October MADNews have yet to be seen by the Parish Council or the Vale of White Horse. The ground space gained by this demolition will provide a new Car Park for 17 vehicles as shown in the Plans, the existing one has spaces for at least 34.
    The new Main Entrance to the Institute will be through this new Car Park. Scant regard has been shown for the safety of pedestrians using this entrance, up to a possible 175 the maximum Institute capacity. Young and fit, mobility impaired or those with wheelchairs or pushchairs, all will take their chances negotiating the sloping drive with no footpath. And bear in mind that there will be traffic from the new 6 houses sharing that drive with you.
    It is very difficult to understand how the Planning Application could be presented to the Development Control Committee of the Vale of the White Horse and these points not be mentioned at the hearing, let alone discussed, without the Detailed Plan mentioned above being available. The Application was “Resolved” by 17 votes to Nil.
    Marcham Ex-servicemen’s Club

  • PLAGS - Marcham Bypass - Anson Trust/Institute - Reservoir - Top of page

    Reservoir Plans

    January 2008

    GARD Leaflet No Reservoir Needed! click here to read more from GARD PDF 151kb

    December 2007

    Environment Agency Update: click here for Update Issue 7 December 2007 PDF 29kb

    September 2006

    Thames Water Website: www.thameswater.co.uk/utmrd

    Dear Editor Thames Water are due to make a major announcement on plans for the Upper Thames Major Resource Development ( UTMRD ) - reservoir to you and me ! - on September 13th. This announcement will be made behind closed doors, and will not be made public until the next day, giving Thames Water enough time to catch the papers for the next day, heralding the site for a reservoir. I am certain, as are many others, that the area south of Marcham will emerge from an as yet unpublished list of alternatives. I cannot wait to see what else was “ evaluated “ apart from our site. We need water and a more sustainable supply in the future, as we will have to cope with climate change and massive unplanned development in the Thames Valley.
    The United Kingdom is not short of water, in fact, we have enough rainfall to supply a much greater population than we have now. Even with the average consumption set to rise above 200l/ day per person - 160l/ day at present - in the next 20 years, we have more than enough water. The problem is that we are developing areas that have little available supply locally ie Swindon. Thames Water say that Oxfordshire will have a supply deficit by the year 2020, of course it will if we pump millions of litres per day West to the ever sprawling conurbation that was once a railway town of 20000 people and is now nearly 200000 people in size!
    We need to ensure that there is available supply in the River Thames at all times, and the only way to guarantee this is to enact the already planned, passed, vetted and re-evaluated Welsh Scheme of 1869.
    Joseph Bateman developed a supply scheme for London in 1869, his scheme involved capturing and storing water in reservoirs in valleys in North Wales, and then transferring water via rivers and aqueducts to London. Bateman had already designed and built schemes for Glasgow, Manchester - twice, as the city outgrew the capacity of the first scheme, and Birmingham.
    On his death in 1889, another engineer, Alexander Binnie, redesigned the scheme and used the Elan and Claerwen valleys as his supply in the Cambrian mountains in Mid Wales. This scheme, known as “The Welsh Scheme “was approved by two Royal Commissions on water supply in 1895 and 1897. Unfortunately the government of the day did not want the London County Council to be in charge of the water supply for London, and it did not support the Welsh Scheme through parliament in 1899.
    The government instead formed the Metropolitan Water Board in 1903, after bringing all of London’s water companies into public hands. The Metropolitan Water Board did not have financial resources of the London County Council, and as a result, the Welsh Scheme was dropped in favour of building reservoirs along the River Thames.
    The Welsh Scheme was fully re-evaluated in 1976 by Dr Barry Rydz and his team, and found to be a very worthwhile and sound engineering scheme. Thames Water and the Environment Agency must PROVE the case for a reservoir in our area against all other reasonable schemes, not hide behind useless EU directives that other countries do not adhere to, or put forward bizarre and unfounded reasons for not using water transfer to the Thames. We all need water - but in a way that best suits the environment and the long term sustainability of supply, not just the short term financial plans of a private company operating a monopoly position.
    Iain Brown, County Councillor

    February 2006

    Reservoir Plans
    Do you want to know more about Thames Water’s plans to build a reservoir and the planning processes involved? Vale Reservoir Group (Fluvius) has set up a web site www.fluvius.org.uk; this has drawn together most of the information available at present. You can download information from the county council, district council and central government. Your parish council will also be encouraged to post information on the website about their views if they wish. You can give your own views via the forum page, and these can be passed on to your parish council (if you wish). You can register as a member and receive updates on what is happening. Thames Water will be making public presentations starting in March 2006 when the public consultation process begins. The planning process has started. View the web site for more information and make your views known either to your parish councillors or to us via the web site. The reservoir is a massive project so you should make your voice heard.

    November 2005

    Fluvius is a group which believes that Thames Water will be given permission for the reservoir to be built near Abingdon. We believe that
  • If we wait for Thames Water’s plans we risk being too late to alter them.
  • If the five villages most affected, Steventon, East Hanney, Frilford, Marcham and Drayton act individually they will not gain the maximum benefit in terms of overall planning gain, nor will they minimise disruption during the build.
  • Benefits should come from the building of the reservoir.
  • A co-ordinated response which accepts that the reservoir is likely to be built is most likely to maximise these benefits.
  • The time to start influencing Thames Water is now.
    Thames Water have indicated that they no longer intend to seek planning permission for the reservoir from the District Council but have said that instead they will apply next year to the Secretary of State, John Prescott under the Utilities Act for permission to build.
    We cannot afford to just wait and see what Thames Water’s plans are. We must influence them before they are put forward. It is vital that the plans put to Mr Prescott include compensation for the disruption we face and take full account of our hopes and fears. If you agree with our aims then register your support by emailing us at info@fluvius.org.uk
    Leave your name, contact details and if you are prepared to help in any way please say so. More information about public meetings and consultations will be sent out as soon as possible.

    September 2005

    Dear Editor
    The reservoir is now firmly back on the agenda. Thames Water is pushing very hard for this. We are all familiar with the arguments. Thames Water says they need the reservoir to provide water supplies for the growing number of people living in the south east and London. On the other hand, some of us point out quite fairly that 40% of Thames’ existing supply is lost through leaks. Worse, something I learned recently, none of this water ever finds its way back – it leaks eventually into the sea. So Thames, I feel, should be doing a lot more to repair the old pipe system in London before deciding to go ahead with a reservoir.
    I have had a meeting with the Environment Agency about the reservoir – they will have a small role to play and it was useful to hear their views. I am also going to meet the water regulator, Ofwat, in early September. Ofwat have given Thames £30 million to do some feasibility studies. In theory, Thames will be reviewing the need for a reservoir and also looking at all the other sites that they could use. But I suspect they are set on Drayton. I have, of course, asked to meet Thames Water, and am waiting to hear back from them. And I will be seeking a meeting with the relevant Minister to get an up-date on the Government’s view.
    I’m afraid that, as you will see from the above, I have very little concrete news to give you at this stage. I am still very much in fact-finding and up-dating mode, and will let you know as soon as I have any news.
    Ed Vaizey MP for Wantage (Con)

    December 2004

    Dear Editor

    Thames Water

    I had an interesting meeting with the managing director of Thames Water, John Sexton. We covered two important issues: a new proposed sewage treatment plant at Faringdon, and the proposed reservoir. First, the treatment plant. Why is this important to you? The proposed plant, although based in Faringdon, would treat sewage from Abingdon. So (you’ve guessed by now) that would mean several huge Thames Water lorries (25 tonners) trundling through Marcham every day on their way to Faringdon, making the traffic problems here even worse.
    Following the meeting, Thames Water have agreed to review their plans for Faringdon. This means that work planned to start in January will be delayed until the summer, and may not happen at all. I will keep you posted.
    Now, the reservoir. Thames Water still want it. They are convinced that it is needed, they are convinced that the Oxfordshire site is the best one, and they are convinced that they need a reservoir that big. OFWAT, who regulate Thames Water, are keeping an open mind. By the time you read this, OFWAT will have published its prices and output requirements for Thames Water. This will in effect be targets for water production set for Thames Water. If they are low, the need for a reservoir may be less immediate. In any case, one specific point of difference is clear already. Thames Water would like to put in a planning application in two years’ time, and OFWAT think they can wait five years. If Thames Water’s view prevails, the provisional timetable is:
  • 2005/6 Thames up-dates its proposals
  • Late 2006 Planning application
  • 2006 Public Enquiry
    Please contact me if you have any questions on these or any other issues. Tel 01235 769090 or ed@wantageconservatives.com
    Ed Vaizey, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate

  • PLAGS - Marcham Bypass - Anson Trust/Institute - Reservoir - Top of page