A newsletter to members of the Beckley & Area Community Benefit Society
Proposed Countryside Park
BACBS Members and supporters living in the Otmoor area may have seen the proposal to establish a ‘Stowood, Bernwood and Otmoor Countryside Park’. The park would include the ancient Bernwood forest, a number of old woods (including Stowood, Noke, Stanton and Woodeaton Woods) and the Otmoor, Sydlings Copse and Asham Meads Nature Reserves / Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
The proposal is for the park to be allocated in the Oxfordshire Joint Strategic Spatial Plan, and is motivated by the need to protect this valuable natural space in perpetuity, particularly from the very real current threats posed by the proposed Oxford-Cambridge Expressway and massive new housing development – both of which have indicated that Green Belt and open land is no longer accorded previous degrees of protection. A Countryside Park would safeguard this beautiful open area, which is crossed by few roads and inhabited in relatively few well-boundaried villages.
The proposal offers real associated benefits in terms of protected recreational space, enhanced access from Oxford, Kidlington and Water Eaton / Oxford Parkway for walkers and cyclists, improved public transport, and support for local enterprises. Because these aims accord with the wider aims of BACBS, the Society’s management committee has offered support in principle for the proposed Countryside Park. Further information can be found in the attached document.
Good Neighbour Scheme
Preliminary discussions with established nearby schemes and local Parish Councils have shown support for our proposal to develop a Good Neighbour Scheme for Beckley, Elsfield, Stanton St John and (possibly) Forest Hill. The aim of our Good Neighbour Scheme, for residents who do not have their own transport, will be to provide lifts to the Islip Medical Practice, social and recreational events at The Abingdon Arms, and as the scheme develops, to include help with shopping and lifts to hospital appointments. The intention initially is to start small and establish the scheme on a limited and relatively informal basis, to test both the need for lifts, and the availability of volunteer drivers. Development of the scheme is being coordinated by John Stradling and Cathy Davies, who would welcome potential volunteers, and indications of potential interest in lifts – please contact on 01865 351623, 01865 358850 or email BACBSgoodneighbourscheme@gmail.com
Toilet construction update
Progress continues apace. If you’ve passed by recently you will have noticed that the roof is nearly finished – just awaiting the tiles – and that the windows are now in place. The builders have in the last couple of days knocked a doorway through to the pub, and this is now screened off in the bar to minimise noise and dust while the works continue. It won’t be too long now!
‘More than a Pub’ programme
In addition to our regular community events – children’s after-school activity café, coffee morning, afternoon tea, Beckley lunches – this month we offer the following events of exceptional interest!
Music – The Jazz session on Sunday 19th will feature saxophonist Adam Waldmann who grew up locally and has returned to live in Oxford after several years based in New York and performing around the world! Adam will play with our renowned house regulars, Frank Harrison on keyboards and Mark Hodgson on bass.
Talks – On Sunday 12th, we are delighted to welcome back Mary Stuck to tell us about two local authors who are now little known, and little read, but who had close connections to this area. The works of R D Blackmore and A E Coppard offer intriguing insights into life in this area in Victorian times, which Mary will bring inimitably to life again.
Advance notice – At the beginning of June (Monday 3rd), we will welcome back Prof Barbara Cooke, who spoke last year after the unveiling of the blue plaque commemorating Evelyn Waugh’s association with The Abingdon Arms. Barbara will read from her book Evelyn Waugh's Oxford. She will be joined by playwright Sophie Swithinbank and poet Robert M Francis who will present the products of their Creative Writing Residency at Oxford University, which ends the following day. Please note this is a Monday session, and do put the date in your diary.
Walks - This month’s community walk (on Sunday 19th) will be led by Cathy Davies, and will take us into local woods with which many will be unfamiliar. The terrain will include hills which may be slippery after rain. Don’t miss it!
There will be an additional walk in June (Tuesday 11th), an evening round walk organised jointly with Wheatley Ramblers from (and returning to) The Abingdon Arms. A mid-summer night’s walk!
The May MtaP programme is attached.
Other dates for your diary
In addition to the monthly pub quiz (Wednesday 1st May), The Abingdon Arms will host two Bank Holiday Sunday evenings of music in May:
On 5th May, performed by singer-songwriter Frazer Lepford
On 26th May, Celtic folk rock band Slainte (winning group at the Raindance Festival 2017) will play at The Abingdon Arms. Slainte is the Irish word for cheers, good health – exactly!
Beckley and Area Community Benefit Society Ltd
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