In response to a statement on the forthcoming Community Governance Review, ex Parish and District Councillor Rick Atkinson describes West Adderbury Residents’ Association (WARA) as “a particular nasty little group of selfish people who have been responsible for disrupting the workings of the Parish Council, squandering large sums of parish money by there actions and generally waisting the time of people who are undertaking important community work“. That anyone could actually believe this just goes to show how little notice has been taken of the views of West Adderbury in recent years.
The petition for the Community Governance Review (CGR) was signed by over 200 West Adderbury residents, so presumably Mr Atkinson applies these comments to us all. His statement, published for all to see on the village website (see below and here), reflects the hostility directed towards West Adderbury since we requested Cherwell District Council to reinstate West Adderbury Parish Council. Many appear to believe that this request is simply to “get control of the Milton Road site to stop the community project there“.
Since 2004 at least, those living in West Adderbury have been begging the Parish Council for robust traffic calming measures on Milton Road, Cross Hill Road, Berry Hill Road, Manor Road and Horn Hill Road. By “robust” we do not just mean signs and gates, but measures such as chicanes and pinch points that will actually slow traffic down. Over the last 16 years there have been accidents and near accidents, including a child hit by a vehicle on Berry Hill Road and a resident of Cross Hill Road hit by a van.
Traffic around the oak tree at the junction of Berry Hill, Horn Hill and Milton Roads is a particular problem. Cars speed along this straight stretch and then turn into Horn Hill Road without pausing to see if there are pedestrians crossing. Anyone who has tried to cross here knows the feeling of having to jump back onto the pavement to avoid being run down on the blind corner.
More worrying, the oak tree is a bus stop for at least four local schools, including Warriner. In the mornings and afternoons, large groups of children wait here for the bus; all have to cross Horn Hill Road to get there. My child is one of them. Many of us believe that it is only a matter of time before a child is seriously injured, or worse. Traffic calming measures that actually work are the only way to prevent this.
Time and again over the past 16 years, we have been told by the Parish Council that there is no money for this.
So when the Parish Council received over £64,000 in Section 106 (developer) funds following construction of the Adderbury Fields estate (13/00456/OUT) and £450,000 from the developers of Henge Close (17/00813/F) – both in West Adderbury – many of us were optimistic that some of this money could be used to make the roads of West Adderbury a bit safer.
So it came as something of a shock to find out that every single penny had been earmarked by the Parish Council for the sports and community project on the Milton Road. As you read this, the £64,000 from Adderbury Fields (and more) is being spent on the drainage and re-levelling needed to create the two top-quality adult football pitches.
In desperation, a group of West Adderbury residents decided they would call for a parish poll on the subject. The question was:
“It has been identified that Adderbury Parish Council, Cherwell District Council and Oxfordshire County Council have at their disposal up to £30,000 to spend on traffic related projects in the village. If effective traffic calming requires more funds to be committed do you want that money to be sourced from some of the existing funds (known as Section 106) available to village projects?”
Naively, many in West Adderbury believed that residents in Twyford and East Adderbury, who also have concerns about speeding traffic, would support them. They believed that if the village came together and voted for traffic calming, the Parish Council would have to listen.
But Twyford and East Adderbury did not support us.
In fact, a vigorous campaign was mounted and the result was that 150 parishioners voted for traffic calming and an incredible 303 voted for this badly needed funding to be spent on football pitches, two bars and a dance studio. Following the result, residents of Twyford and East Adderbury actually celebrated their “triumph” on social media.
For those of you unfamilar with Adderbury and its many problems – yes, the residents of Twyford and East Adderbury voted AGAINST spending money to make our village roads safer for pedestrians, cyclists, riders and school children. They voted to spend this huge amount of money, received from housing developments in WEST Adderbury, on what some might consider to be a luxury project. According to District Councillor Heath, no other village in Cherwell will have a facility of this size and expense…except for Kidlington (population 14,000).
After being let down by our neighbours and friends, residents in West Adderbury found themselves with no other choice but to ask Cherwell District Council to reinstate West Adderbury Parish Council, which ran West Adderbury until 1972.
And now that over 200 of us have made this request, we are receiving abuse and being villified on the village website (which clearly has no problem publishing these vile comments) and on social media:
“a particular nasty little group of selfish people” (ex Parish Councillor Rick Atkinson)
“A perfect example of self-interest…Wara’s actions are elitist and divisive” (ex Parish Councillor Val Scarff)
“petty, spiteful and misguided” … “a small group of vociferous people who will not accept the democratic result and continue to hurl falsehoods at APC simply to stir up friction and bad feeling” … “Whoever set this in motion should be ashamed of themselves“. (Chair of WFAC Jackie Head)”
“we only became one Parish Council in 1974 and, it has worked well, until recent upheavals by newcomers” (ex Parish and District Councillor Aline Griffiths)
“shallow and selfish” (Mr Rowland Bratt, husband of Parish Council Chair Mrs Diane Bratt)
“The people of west adderbury think they are better by having their own parish council“
I wonder, would you say this to our faces? You know us, after all. We are your neighbours; we have met; exchanged pleasantries at church and in the village shop. Our children go to school with your children. And yet you are now happy to refer to us as “shallow”, “selfish”, “nasty” and “elitist”.
Ironically, Ms Scarff also comments that “We as a village have been one of the best at bringing people together and working as a whole community” and that “I think it is intolerable to be doing this at this time, when we as a village are all working together ,helping our neighbours“.
The time for coming together as a community and helping your neighbours was when we called on the whole village for support back in 2019. You chose to work against us instead. All we asked for was some of the funds the Parish Council has squirrelled away. Instead of helping us make our roads safer for our children, you chose to spend the money on a luxurious sports pavilion which will actually increase traffic volumes in West Adderbury. In the process, you have decided that some West Adderbury residents will need to put up with a 141-space car park and 8m floodlighting at the bottom of their garden. At the same time, you have taken away an open green space which was well-loved by dog walkers and those with small children.
Perhaps some of you reading this will understand our frustration and anger, especially when the likes of Mr Atkinson say that all of this is just about football. It is very much not about football. You may consider that the provision of football pitches in Adderbury is important, but for us, this Community Governance Review is about our safety, the safety of our children and our right as a community to have a say in our own future.
Whatever the outcome of the Community Governance Review, please understand that WARA is not going to go away. We in West Adderbury need a voice, and clearly this is not provided by the current Parish Council. As a minority of just 23%, the needs of West Adderbury will continue to be sacrificed to meet the demands of Twyford and East Adderbury. We will continue to be told that if we ask for something that doesn’t fit with these demands we are “subverting democracy” and “trying to stop the badly needed community centre in the village”.
How on earth can a community centre be “badly needed” when our roads are so dangerous? Who seriously thinks that this project is more important than the safety of our children?
When a majority systematically denies a minority its rights, this is NOT democracy.