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‘Explore Oxfordshire’ exhibition

A countywide exhibition showcasing Oxfordshire’s tourist attractions is taking place on March 23 at the Barceló Oxford Hotel, between 10.30am and 3pm.
As tourism businesses across Oxfordshire prepare for Easter and the new season, this ‘first ever’ event marks the start of British Tourism Week 2009. It is being organised by West Oxfordshire District Council’s tourism team on behalf of all the Oxfordshire councils.
Over 40 Oxfordshire attractions are exhibiting and amongst these will be major attractions including Bicester Village, Blenheim Palace, Cotswold Wildlife Park, Didcot Railway and Oxford Castle. The exhibition is set to appeal to a wide audience and it is expected that many smaller businesses involved in the tourist industry will be attending.
One of the museum attractions exhibiting is Kelmscott Manor, the former home of William Morris. Jane Milne, the Manor’s Property Manager said: “It is a really good opportunity to advertise the forthcoming season alongside other museums and attractions in the county. For us it is particularly important as this year we are opening up more of Kelmscott Manor to the public and there will be more Saturday openings than in previous years.”
Cllr Hilary Biles, West Oxfordshire District Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for Tourism said: “This is a brand new event which is attracting a lot of interest. We believe it will serve a range of needs from guesthouse owners to travel operators. For tourism businesses it as an important meeting place before the season begins and is likely to result in new working relationships for several companies.
“For local residents it is an opportunity to find out what’s on offer close to home – and there is even a chance to enter a competition to win a ‘Day Out’. Everyone is welcome to attend this free event.“
Tourism is an important industry in Oxfordshire, contributing almost £1.5 billion a year to the local economy and providing employment for nearly 28,000 people. It is estimated that about 23.5 million people visit Oxfordshire each year.
The exhibition is being promoted by all the Oxfordshire councils, Tourism South East, newspaper advertising and the British Tourism Week website. To find out more about the event visit the Oxfordshire Cotswolds website: www.oxfordshirecotswolds.org/site/industry or telephone 01993 861553.

£1.4 million pound project: "Get Oxfordshire Active"

More than £1million pound is being ploughed into a major new project
aimed at getting people in Oxfordshire more active.

Over the next three years £1.4 million pounds will be invested in the
Get Oxfordshire Active (GO Active) project. This aims to get adults
aged over 16 doing moderate exercise for 30 minutes at least three
times a week. At present only 23.2% of adults in the county achieve
this amount of exercise.

Sport England’s South East Regional Sports Board has given the
project £635,490- its largest ever award. GO Active is led by the
Oxfordshire Sports Partnership and brings together the county’s key
health and leisure providers, including 5 District Councils, and the
Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust who are contributing £255,000 as
part of their work to tackle obesity.

Staff will be based across each of districts councils working to
promote and create opportunities for people to take part in physical
activity. They will steer people towards existing services such as
swimming, exercise classes and gyms, and will set up extra activities
tailored to meet local needs. They will also work closely with GPs to
identify people who would most benefit from being more active.

Rich Beer, Sports Development Manager of Oxfordshire Sports
Partnership, which includes agencies involved in education,
community and sport said, “The project is in its very early stages but
has massive potential to make a real difference to the lives of
Oxfordshire people. Oxfordshire is by no means the least active
county in England and is 1.2% higher than the national levels of
participation (21%), but there is a real opportunity here to reach out to
the 76.8% who would benefit from leading a more active lifestyle. We
are currently in the process of recruiting project staff and will be
looking to launch this later in the year”.

Kate King, Health Improvement Practitioner, Oxfordshire Primary
Care Trust said, “The PCT is committed to supporting people &
families in their efforts to lead healthier lives. The Get Oxfordshire
Active project is one of the many local initiatives we are
commissioning as part of our strategy to tackle rising levels of
overweight and obesity and improve the health & well being of local

Hannah Bladen, Interim Regional Deputy Director, Sport England
South East said, “We are excited by the potential that the GO Active
project has to increase participation in sport and physical activity in
Oxfordshire. The project partners identified that there was a shortage
of professionals and volunteers working in the county to address the
barriers, which stop people participating. The funding we have
provided will supply the workforce needed to provide more
opportunities for the residents of Oxfordshire to get more active”.

Commercial waste recycling scheme extended

With 130 tonnes of refuse diverted away from landfill in just nine months, West Oxfordshire District Council’s waste recycling collection scheme is being extended for another year.
Launched in June 2007, it is proving a big hit with over 120 customers throughout West Oxfordshire already signed up to have cardboard and glass collected. And with last year’s highly competitive prices held for 2008-09, more clients are expected to join.
The District Council launched the service following a survey that showed that 93% of the firms contacted would rather recycle their waste than send it to landfill.
“All our waste cardboard used to go in with the rubbish for landfill and we were feeling very guilty about it,” says Zoe Wraight, Manager of the Usborne Publishing archive store at Stanton Harcourt.  “So the West Oxfordshire District Council recycling service is just the job as it helps us honour our commitment to be as green as we can.”
On glass recycling, Tom Gee of the Clanfield Tavern says “People should be encouraged to recycle and I’m glad we now have an alternative to throwing empty bottles into our wheelie bin. The waste glass is collected bang on time every time and there’s no mess left behind.”
Clients including pubs, restaurants, factories and other commercial premises have the choice of four different sizes of waste collection bin and these are emptied on Saturdays. The competitive price of the services means that clients can expect to make considerable savings over a year in comparison to normal waste collection charges.
Cardboard recycling for traders at Witney Market was introduced last October with collections every   Thursday.  Collections could be extended to other West Oxfordshire markets in due course.
Cllr David Harvey, Cabinet Member for the Environment says, “The overall viability of our commercial waste collection service will be reviewed in Spring 2009. In the meantime we are exploring opportunities to offer commercial customers an enhanced service to collect a wider variety of waste materials for recycling.”
“Recycling more is a must to help us achieve our priority goal of protecting and enhancing the environment of West Oxfordshire and maintaining the district as a clean and beautiful place.”

Keeping a watchful eye on the countryside

Thames Valley Police, in conjunction with the West Oxfordshire Safer Communities Partnership are re-launching Country Watch across West Oxfordshire on Thursday 17 April.

The launch will take place at Blenheim Palace near Woodstock from 6-8pm and is open to anyone living or working in West Oxfordshire. Visitors will be able to get advice from the district’s Crime Reduction Adviser and Thames Valley Police Wildlife Crime Officer as well as meet their rural Police Community Support Officer. There will also be environmental crime and rural and wildlife crime displays

Country Watch schemes operate on a similar basis to Neighbourhood Watch where members receive crime alerts and witness appeals direct from the police. Membership is free and a welcome pack contains specific crime reduction leaflets and signs to display on property.

Cllr Jill Dunsmore, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Communities at West Oxfordshire District Council said: “The Country scheme strengthens community spirit as everyone plays their part in protecting their property therefore reducing the opportunity for crime in rural communities. It also improves the two way communication process between the police and residents as members are encouraged to report information.”

Chief Inspector Dennis Evernden, Police Area Commander for West Oxfordshire said: “Engaging with local communities is a critical element of neighbourhood policing. The introduction of dedicated Neighbourhood Police Teams in West Oxfordshire as well as five Neighbourhood Action Groups has helped us tackle local priorities. We launched School Watch earlier in the year and re-launching County Watch will ensure people who live and work in rural communities are engaging with us and working together to reduce even further the low levels of crime and disorder in West Oxfordshire.”

All existing Country and Horse Watch members have been invited to the launch but anyone interested in attending should book their place by telephoning Danielle Hanton on 01993 861640.

Planning for the future

Local people are being asked their views as to how they would like to see West Oxfordshire develop over the next 15 to 20 years.

The consultation, which is expected to start at the end of March, is seeking comments on the options available to tackle the major development issues that the District faces to meet the challenges set by central government.

Questions asked will include: How and where can we identify new sites for housing, employment and other development needs? What supporting infrastructure (roads, schools, transport etc) is needed?

The consultation will also review planning strategy issues. For example, ‘Where should new development be concentrated – should this continue to be in the larger towns or should more take place in the villages in future years?

Nearly 100 sites throughout the District have also been suggested so far by town and parish councils, landowners or developers for possible development in the longer term. None of these sites have been put forward or have been evaluated by West Oxfordshire District Council and at this very early stage there are no specific proposals for any development on the sites. They are for consultation purposes only. There is also the opportunity to submit alternative or additional sites to the Council for assessment.

Cllr Jill Dunsmore, Cabinet Member for Communities said: “It is very important to stress that no proposals are being put forward by West Oxfordshire District Council and that none of the sites shown on the maps are either counted in or counted out of any plan.

“This public consultation is the beginning of a complicated and often contentious planning process. We hope as many people as possible will contribute their ideas so the best strategy is adopted which meets local development requirements at the same time as protecting this beautiful part of the country”.

The consultation is one of the first steps towards the production of major new planning policy documents, known as the Local Development Framework (LDF). It will replace the current adopted West Oxfordshire Local Plan.

The consultation period is expected to end 12 May 2008. This was agreed by Cabinet on the 19 March and is subject to the Council’s usual call in period.

Further information about the consultation and the new 'Planning for the future' (LDF) process is on www.westoxon.gov.uk/LDF. Interactive maps showing sites submitted can also be viewed on the website. Alternatively, for further details, contact the Council’s Planning Policy team on 01993 861420. Copies of the consultation documents will be available at Council offices and local libraries. All Parish/Town Councils and many local organisations will be separately consulted.

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