Tackley Newsletter
August & September 2023

Contents

Parish Council

Liz Marshall, Chair
liz.marshall@tackleyvillage.co.uk

Botley West Solar Farm Scoping Report Response

The purpose of the responses from parish councils and other interested parties to the environmental section of the scoping report for Botley West is not to object to nor agree with the proposed development but to add further considerations thought to be missing.

Tackley Parish Council considers that the following elements should be included in the applicant’s environmental statement. Numbers in brackets refer to points provided by the Stop Botley West campaign:

  1. Impact on biodiversity. We note the opportunity to increase the natural biodiversity of the land in Tackley parish that will be impacted by the proposed development. Therefore, at the very least, we expect the environmental statement to cover all elements of biodiversity; to set out how the design of the proposed development provides an opportunity for an increase in natural biodiversity; and to set out the measures that will be put in place to ensure that this is achieved. We would expect the environmental statement to consider the entirety of Natural Capital Best Practice Guidance: Increasing Biodiversity at All Stages of a Solar Farm’s Lifecycle, published by Solar Energy UK (formerly the Solar Trade Association) in 2022, and to refer to the evidence provided to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee regarding Technological innovations and climate change: onshore solar energy on 11 January 2023.
  2. Impact on food security. Within a national context, the environmental statement should consider the environmental impact of the off-shoring of the equivalent acreage of food-producing farmland, including (i) transportation of the equivalent tonnage from the most likely suppliers; and (ii) the impact of the creation of new arable farmland (e.g. through deforestation) to meet new production. Where it is considered that mitigations to this are achieved through increased productivity in other farmland within the UK, innovation, or changes in consumer habits, the environmental statement should provide robust, credible, peer-reviewed evidence of the achievability and economic reality of this.
  3. The net benefit of the proposed development on carbon emissions. The environmental statement should consider the level of embedded carbon in the proposed development – i.e. the asset and the construction activity – in particular providing robust evidence that the use of any imported solar panels, instead of solar panels produced in the UK, is not significantly detrimental to the carbon emissions abatement provided.
  4. (10.2) Whether any protected, important or sensitive species of flora or fauna that use areas on or around the site, e.g. for breeding, nesting, foraging, resting, overwintering or migration, will be affected by the project.
  5. (12.1) Whether there any areas or features, designated or not, that may have archaeological value on or around the location which could be affected by the project.
  6. (8.1) Whether there will be any risk of major accidents – including those caused by climate change, in accordance with scientific knowledge – during construction, operation or decommissioning.
  7. (8.2) Whether the project will present a risk to the population – having regard to population density – and their human health during construction, operation or decommissioning; for example, due to water contamination or air pollution.
  8. (6.1) Whether the project will produce solid wastes during construction, operation or decommissioning, and how these wastes will be handled or disposed of.
  9. (7.1) Whether the project will release pollutants or any hazardous, toxic or noxious substances into the air.
  10. (7.2) Whether the project will cause noise and vibration or the release of light, heat, energy or electromagnetic radiation.
  11. (7.3) Whether the project will lead to risks of contamination of land or water from releases of pollutants onto the ground or into surface waters, groundwater, coastal waters or the sea.
  12. (13.1) Whether there are any routes on or around the location, used by the public for access to recreation or other facilities, that could be affected by the project.

This last point also gives rise to Tackley Parish Council to require the environmental statement to specifically state if and how access to an enjoyment of Dornford Lane will be impacted by the proposed development throughout its lifecycle. While Dornford Lane is not within Tackley parish, it is enjoyed by many of Tackley’s residents.

Tackley Parish Council has received a request from a parishioner to request that the environmental statement also specifically consider the impact on Long Mead meadow, a Local Wildlife Site near Eynsham. Again, while not in Tackley parish, it is clearly of interest. We would expect the environmental statement to consider this site specifically but also within the analysis indicated in point 1 above.

Proposed Rail Bridge

Tackley Parish Council has sent the following letter of formal objection to Network Rail:

We were told in 2019 at a meeting in Tackley Village Hall that the village could have an underpass which would accommodate both horses and pedestrians. The finances were available and this option was welcomed by all residents at the meeting as well as your very own Mike Gallop, who went on record in April 2020 with a press release saying “We thank the community in Tackley for their support and look forward to working with them on the permanent subway.”

Since then, the crossing has closed by way of a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order and a temporary bridge has been installed. There is no provision for horse riders. The residents were not happy about it, but were assured that it was temporary only and permission was granted by the highway authorities on the understanding that it was temporary. At this point, the village was still under the impression that an underpass would be built, however a potential alternative option was available to Network Rail further north, the ‘Barwood Bridge’ option. To facilitate this option, a portion of land was kept back by the landowner rather than being developed for housing. The portion of land would accommodate a small car park and a bridge over the rail cutting which could connect to both the station and the public right of way via a new bridleway on the east side of the line. The landowner on the east side of the line – Tackley Estate – has recently reconfirmed their preference for this option to us.

In 2021 Network Rail informed us that a new study would be done to assess the different options and were told that the underpass was no longer viable. While we were told that this was due to flooding issues, this seemed odd as in 2001/2 Network Rail had planning permission to build an underpass and flooding was not flagged up as a problem.

The new study also did not include the Barwood Bridge option.

During the whole consultation period over the last two years, not only have we had numerous changes in Network Rail employees to deal with, it has never felt like a consultation. No matter what is discussed, Network Rail come back with the same footbridge option behind the houses on Nethercote Road and a reroute of the bridleway.

The proposed bridleway introduces significant safety concerns and these issues are being ignored. Local riders, the British Horse Society and the landowner of the field – Tackley Estate – all say that this proposal is dangerous. Given its length, the frequency and speed of trains and the popularity of horse-riding in the local area, there would be a significant risk of a horse bolting and injuring or killing multiple pedestrians. It is possibly even more dangerous than the original level crossing that it is intended to address. A resident was told at the consultation in the village hall by Network Rail staff that any accidents which happened on the bridleway would be the liability of the rider. We are now aware that this is not true and Network Rail, as the landowner, would be liable.

We are also now being told that the current public right of way from the station on the east side is to be closed. This route has been used by residents for centuries if not millennia and is part of a very popular circular route from the village, particularly during winter when other paths are not accessible. It is also current a key right of way to access the station from Kirtlington.

The issue of crossing the line to get to the east platform and the public right of way/bridleway need to be considered together, not separately, and we request that the Barwood Bridge option is formerly examined and costed. We understand that this will not be the cheapest option, but it is one which solves the problem of the public right of way, providing safe provision for horses and pedestrians, as well as station access with a single bridge. As a village we must live with what is built forever and we must have what most suits the village, not just the cheapest option for Network Rail. In the grand scheme of your spending, it is a small price to pay for you.

Gardiner Arms

Many of you will be aware that the Gardiner Arms pub closed on 25 June and that a community group has been established to purchase it. Because the Gardiner Arms is a listed asset of community value, it cannot just be sold in a traditional manner; something called a Section 95 notice outlines the requirement of a sale. Earlier in the year a Section 95 notice was issued, and part of that requirement was met by the parish council offering to bid on behalf of the community group.

A representative of the parish council has recently met individually with both parties involved in the sale of the Gardiner Arms to the community group. The council wants to recognise and thank the Perrins for their hard work over the last seven years serving the people of Tackley, supporting the local community, and for ultimately offering the community the chance to purchase the pub. We also want to thank Mr Gough for working hard to establish the community group, and put the group in the best possible position to purchase the pub.

To ensure the entire community is represented in the negotiations, the council has agreed to join the community interest group and will be represented by Councillor Angus Paxton.

Road Safety

The new vehicle-activated signs have been in for a couple of weeks now and are working well.

Tackley will be in the next phase of the 20 mph rollout in the district. Most villages in Oxfordshire will be moving to 20 mph limits over the next year or so, as data shows that the number of life-changing injuries and deaths from being hit by a car at 20 mph is vastly reduced compared to 30 mph. With the increased population of Tackley and corresponding increase in traffic, this will make our village safer for pedestrians, cyclists and especially children.

If you have any comments regarding this, please email Councillor Richard Holland-Oakes at richard.holland-oakes@tackleyvillage.co.uk.

The Gardiner Arms: History Ancient and Modern

Jeremy Posnansky on behalf of the Gardiner Arms Community Interest Group
gacommunityinterest@gmail.com

On his death in November 1797, Sir John Whalley-Gardiner, 1st Baronet, of Tackley left to his heirs and successors not only “certain messuages, lands and tenements, situate in the parishes of Tackley, Cuddesdon, and Denton”, but also an almighty legal mess. Litigation bedevilled his estate. Perhaps that was not a surprise because Sir John was remembered for “drinking to death five aldermen and Oxford tailors three”. Whether he did his drinking in the pub in Tackley that now bears his name, the Gardiner Arms, is unclear. What is clear is that the litigation was not resolved until a High Court trial in February 1819. Despite few signs for optimism, I dare to hope that the current impasse with the owners of the Gardiner Arms will be resolved more quickly and more simply.

After that little bit of ancient history, let me turn to the recent history of the Gardiner Arms and our group’s efforts to buy it for the village.

In my last article (Tackley Newsletter, June & July 2023) I said that we would not despair at the lack of progress but would press on and remain hopeful. Surely, a more constructive approach would be taken by the current owners, Martin and Jackie Perrin? Sadly, that has not proved to be the case. There has been little progress. This second article is to keep residents informed about what has happened since and what our plans are.

Twice I offered to meet Martin to discuss our article in the last Newsletter, but he did not accept. Perhaps he has written a response for this edition? It would be good to know what his position is now.

We wrote to Martin and Jackie in late June telling them that we had received the report of the specialist surveyor/valuer instructed by us. The report had, of course, been written without the benefit of a full inspection of the property because Martin and Jackie had declined to give permission.

We told them that the report expressed serious concerns about the condition of the pub and gave rise to anxiety about the cost of repairs. We said that although we believed that it would be possible in due course to agree terms with them for the purchase of the pub, we had concluded that it would be premature to make an offer at that time. We explained that we were concerned that to do so then might make the relationship between them and our group even more problematic than it had been. We didn’t want that. We wanted to have a better and more business-like relationship with them.

We pointed out that a key part of the problem about making an offer then was that we did not know the extent of the structural and other repair liabilities. Reluctant as we were to return to an issue which had proved difficult in our earlier correspondence, we asked Martin and Jackie to reconsider their position and to allow our surveyor to inspect the property so that we were better informed about the pub’s condition and likely cost of repairs. We said that we would then do our best to make a better offer than was indicated by the report, with the aim of achieving an agreed price. We expressed our hopes for an improved relationship with them.

There was no reply to the letter, which was delivered to the premises by hand and also sent by email.

About 100 households replied to the questionnaire which we circulated with the June edition of the newsletter. The responses included these statistics and comments:

130 people attended our meeting in the village hall on 11 July to learn what had – and had not – been happening, and to have a full discussion about how to proceed. We invited Martin and Jackie, but regrettably they did not attend. Many helpful contributions were made, and support for our efforts was kindly expressed, but there was evident frustration at the stance taken by Martin and Jackie.

Shortly after the meeting we wrote once more to Martin and Jackie. We also wrote to Raymond Foulk, Jackie’s father, and Heston Holdings Ltd, the company of which he is a director. That company owns the function room and a large part of the car park as a result of the division of the site in 2018.

Among other things, our letter to the Perrins asked them to clarify their position about the car park in the light of a recent change to the pub’s website which now said that the pub had been offered to the village “with large car park”. Were they now saying that they could sell us the car park, with full access? We obviously needed to know their position because vehicle access and parking will be essential for the successful running of the pub.

Another recent change to the website now described the pub as being “in good condition”, which surprised us, and we asked if they might now be willing to allow our surveyor to inspect the premises.

Finally, we referred to the fact that they had said on more than one occasion that they were not well disposed towards our group and would prefer not to deal with it. We pointed out that we are simply representatives of the village and that none of us acts in a personal capacity. Even if one or more of us were to stand down, if Martin and Jackie really did want to sell the pub to the village they would have to deal with other representatives of the village, acting as a group on its behalf. We asked them to please put such personal issues to one side and work together constructively to that end.

There was no reply.

The letter to Mr Foulk and Heston Holdings Ltd asked:

At the date of writing this article, no response has been received.

On other fronts, we have asked Tackley Parish Council if they will help us in our efforts to buy the pub. We expressed our concerns on two main points. First, that such an important Asset of Community Value was proving so difficult to buy for the village. Second, that a Grade II listed building was in worrying condition. It was very evident that the council shared these concerns, and we are pleased and grateful that it so readily agreed to do what it can to assist. Councillor Angus Paxton has kindly offered to act as our liaison with the council.

We have also turned our attention to West Oxfordshire District Council. Councillor Tim Sumner kindly came to see us a few weeks ago and was very supportive. Additionally, we have approached an officer of the council who has responsibility for the relevant issues. We hope to have met him and colleagues by the time this article is published. We intend to ask them to focus on such issues as the condition of the pub and the fact that it has now closed down. We believe that there are steps that the district council can and should take to tackle the situation.

Aside from these issues, I need to make clear that a fundamental problem which I wrote about in the previous article persists: namely, the price that Martin and Jackie are asking for the pub. Only recently, they told an intermediary who attempted to mediate between our group and them that the price is £600,000 minimum. Any objective assessment shows that to be a vastly inflated figure. To offer to sell something at a price which bears no proper relationship to reality is not a genuine offer to sell.

Finally, to assist in keeping the village updated, there are two new places where you can find information and documents about what we are doing. The first is a new part of the main village website tackleyvillage.co.uk where you will find a section under ‘Clubs and Groups’ for the Gardiner Arms Community Interest Group. The second is on our dedicated website, savetackleypub.org. We will upload copies of correspondence, and there are also copies of the 2015 structural survey and the November 2015 valuation.

If you would like to get in touch, please contact us by email to gacommunityinterest@gmail.com.

Editor’s note: when asked, Mr Perrin told me he would be uncomfortable contributing an article, or a reply to the community interest group’s piece in our June issue, to this edition of the Newsletter.

Conservation of Tackley Heath

Rachel Strachan & Katherine Woodrow
Handwritten sign saying 'Heath work party' with an arrow and a drawing of a comma butterfly.

After a pause for the ground bird nesting season, we were back with a work party in July. Ten wonderful volunteers did a sterling job fighting their way though the bracken to clear the paths.

Two volunteers braved ladders to put up donated bird and bat boxes on trees along the public footpath. The bird nesting boxes were made and donated by the children of Tackley & Heyford Cubs. These will serve as roosting as well as nesting sites, and the bat boxes will also serve for winter hibernation.

Three small dark-coloured wooden boxes fixed at the same height to different sides of a tree trunk.
Bat boxes

Others volunteers used various methods to bash down bracken along several core paths, often working through dense foliage two to three metres high. A prototype ‘bracken roller’ was trialled, heroically pulled by someone mimicking a shire horse! Also trialled were wooden poles and rakes. The results were good.

The paths that were worked on are now easier to see and walk along, with several circuits through the heath now accessible. If you’ve recently been put off by the height of the bracken, do please go and use the newly-cleared paths — it will help keep them open.

The low, sparse bracken in the trial patch that the busy Cubs worked on, during the growing seasons this year and last, demonstrates the impact of more consistent bracken control.

We are delighted to welcome two new committee members, Dan and David. If you are interested in joining the committee or volunteering for future work parties, we would love to hear from you.

Please note that this autumn contractors for Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks will be carrying out tree and vegetation clearance near the power lines that cross the Heath. This work is essential for the safety and continuity of the network.

St Nicholas’ Church

Rev Harriet Orridge
01869 932224
harriet.sntchurch@gmail.com
sntchurch.com

As summer approaches I love hearing about where people are going and what they are looking forward to doing. The variety of places is fantastic — from the spectacular scenery of the Norwegian fjords, to sunny beaches in the Greek islands, to family activities at Butlin’s. Equally there is an enormous range of things that people enjoy doing, from walking to reading, exploring different cities and museums. John and I will be returning to the Jura region of France for some more cycling and walking.

With any holiday the trick is to find the right balance of things, so that when we arrive home we don’t “need another holiday to recover from the holiday” but are in fact fully rested, reinvigorated and ready to go forward.

The word holiday, from the 1500s – and earlier haliday, c. 1200 – comes from Old English haligdæg, combining halig (holy) with dæg (day). Definitions include: holy day; consecrated day; religious anniversary; Sabbath. By the fourteenth century it referred to both a religious festival and to a day of exemption from labour and recreation.

Taking time to rest is very important; you may remember the parable of the woodcutters from June’s article. Having created the world, God rested on the seventh day, setting the example for us to follow and commanding us to “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20:8–11).

What we actually do on holiday is important, so that we return fully rested and reinvigorated. We can all fall into two unhelpful habits. First, as the holiday approaches and things pile up, we often delay certain things – like reading, or jobs around the house – until we are ‘on holiday’. But this only fills our time off with non-work jobs; and we remain equally busy, doing things rather than resting.

Second, we often carry with us the cultural pressure to always be available for work, which equally prevents us from relaxing. To actually take time off, without looking at emails or answering the phone, requires planning and discipline.

Wherever you go and whatever you do, I wish you a wonderful, fun and refreshing summer holiday.

Methodist Church

Jan Grimwood
01869 331575

We continue to hold coffee mornings in Tackley Methodist Church on Thursdays between 10:30 am and 12 noon, so why not join us for a drink, biscuits and a chat? We’ve also been known to eat cake! You can be sure of a very warm welcome.

Thank you to all who donated items for our food bank boxes. These have now been collected, and I know they’ll be gratefully received by those who are finding things difficult at the moment.

As usual, Messy Church is taking a break during August.

Gardening Club

Mary Lee
mary.lee2@hotmail.com

The gardening year is sailing by and we are now looking forward to our September meeting, when we will welcome Tim Walker and will be joined by Steeple Aston Garden Club. If you missed Tim last time, do come along — he’s very knowledgable and entertaining. This will be on Tuesday, 19 September — look out for posters.

On Tuesday, 17 October we have Hugh Warwick and his very interesting talk on hedgehogs again.

In June we had a wonderful garden party combined with our farewell to Gill Laurence’s husband, Geoffrey. She laid on a beautiful spread, and it ended with a short firework display.

We hope to see you all in September.

Walking Group

Linda Birch
lindabirch20@hotmail.com

We meet at Tackley Village Hall at the times given to arrange transport to the start of each walk. Walking is at the participant’s own risk.

Local History Group

Sue Ashton
tackleyhistory@gmail.com
tackleyhistory.org.uk

Our new programme of talks begins on Monday, 25 September at 7:45 for 8 pm in Tackley Village Memorial Hall when Bob Hessian will talk about the rail disaster at Shipton-on-Cherwell on Christmas Eve 1874. Membership is £12, due in September, or visitors are welcome for £5.

Elsie Wren Coles

Zachary Coles and Lucy Pike

We were privileged to be at St Nicholas’ Church on 25 June to celebrate the christening of our daughter Elsie. We would like to extend our thanks to the Reverend Harriet Orridge who delivered a beautiful service, and to our friends and family who joined in the celebration. It was truly a magical day.

John Perkins

Sue Whitaker-Perkins

I was incredibly touched by how many of you came to John’s funeral and joined us at Nether Barn afterwards. He will stay in Tackley’s memory for many years to come — for everything he did to enhance the history group, but also for his kindness and support to many young people in the village; a gap that will be hard to fill. Thanks to all of you who have kindly donated in his honour to Médecins Sans Frontières, a charity he supported for many years. And thanks from me for your kindness and support. I miss my John.