Newsletter Update no 129, February 1st 2024

This is likely to be the last newsletter that I, ex Chairman of the PC will issue but fear not, Owen Jones, a new Parish Councillor, has agreed to continue the newsletter to keep everyone informed of news in and around the village. Stratton House is now empty whilst the new owner arranges for a live-in caretaker, who I am sure will make themselves known to many of you in the fullness of time. I have included a piece about our move from Stratton Audley towards the end of this newsletter so please read on.
I also take this opportunity to let you know that I have been asked to remain as a parish councillor during the hand-over stage, so in the words of Arnie – I’ll be back! (actually for next PC meeting on Wednesday 6th March).

The following information is from Anthony (Interim Chairman):

Volunteers Wanted
We have a number of jobs to do around the village each year and urgently need to collect litter from verges NOW along Stoke Lyne, Mill Road, Bicester Road and Launton Roads and your help will be most welcome. We are planning to carry out this task on Saturday 10th March 2024 at 10.00 hrs and meet outside StrattonHouse and look forward to you letting me know if you can help – flack.wine_train@bt
    Other activities where help will be appreciated are:
           *  Clearance of the Mill Road stream.
           *  Erection of a community metal shed in Churchyard.
*  Spring Clean of the south end of the Churchyard.
* Wild flower initiative in The Pound.
*  Clearance of ditches in Launton Road.

Garden Waste
Just to remind you, renewal of garden waste fee of £49.00  must be paid by 29th February 2024 to ensure your Brown bin is collected in the next 12 months.

Despite introduction on 20 mph speed limit last year,
 speeding continues to be an issue on Bicester and MillRoads and Church Street, now the latter is clear of parked cars, as a result of the closure of The Red Lion. Please help by complying with the limit.

With so much rain, potholes have begun to appear again
 and the culprits have been marked and – Fix My Street has attended to them

Dog Excrement
I regard the village as exemplary in ensuring dog excrement is picked up in bags provided and dispensed in containers situated in The Pound, at the start of the Cross Bucks Way, at the lower end of Cherry Street and on Mill Road at the entrance to the Pond footpath.
The reason I am reminding everyone is that dog excrement has been noted on various footpath areas in recent days. Please help by ensuring it is picked up and dispensed with and help us return to a dog clean village again.

The Pound
Calling knowledgeable village gardeners – we need your help and guidance with the designated wild area in The Pound.
It has been cleared of debris and is ready to start a new flowering life.
We now need to know the next stage of how and when we should  prepare the area, scatter wild flower seeds, bearing in mind they will be sharing it with  grass and weeds during the Spring and Summer.
Please let me know -email – Anthony Flack: flack 
Looking forward to hearing from you.

Church Matters
The following is from Becky Adams:
Church Services – There will be a Morning Service in Stratton Audley Church at 10.45am on Sunday 11th February and a service of Holy Communion at 9.15am on Sunday 25th February  – all are welcome, as ever.

‘Fun @ 4’ – Families are especially invited to the next ‘Fun @ 4’ in Stoke Lyne Church on Sunday 18th February. This runs from 4pm til 5.30pm and, whilst great for children, it is very much open to all. There are activities and crafts, prayer and praise, sandwiches and cake.

Please check the Shelswell website for details of services on other Sundays and in other parishes in the benefice

‘Shelswell News’ Magazine – Stratton Audley Church is part of the Shelswell Benefice, a group of ten local churches who work together. We produce a monthly magazine called ‘Shelswell News’ which runs to over 50 pages and carries  details of lots of local events and activities as well as useful advertising from local firms providing goods and services. If you would like to a free introductory copy of this month’s magazine then just email Becky on A network of local distributors deliver the magazines through your door for an annual subscription of just £12. Please could regular subscribers remember to pay their subscriptions promptly as this saves our volunteers a lot of extra work chasing people up. Thank you.

Coffee Morning – The Coffee Morning continues in church on Tuesdays from 11am. If you haven’t been before then why not pop along and say hello?

‘Little Lambs’ baby and toddler group continues in church on Wednesdays, starting at 9.30am and finishing at 11am. If you would like more information about the group, please contact Alice  at

Bicester Foodbank – Thank you for your continuing contributions to the Bicester Foodbank. Just leave things in the box in the church porch; we take them in and drop them off regularly. Note the latest information from their website:

  • JAM

Warm Spaces – A reminder that in the cold weather you might want to make use of some of the ‘Warm Spaces’ available locally. Bicester Library is a good one. It is easily accessible, with a lift for pushchairs etc, and tea and coffee available free (donations invited). There lots of comfortable seating to while away an afternoon with a good book or doing some work at a desk.

April Scramble – local residents discount 
There are still some tickets available to the next Scramble, taking place on Sunday 21 April.

The annual Drive-it Day extravaganza will ensure classics and enthusiast cars descend on Bicester Heritage in their thousands, with gates open from 9am until 4pm. It’s usually the most popular event of the year.

As usual, discounted tickets are allocated for local residents at 50% off, the promo code is: BristolBoxkite

And now a few words from me:

Farewell Stratton – we shall miss you

Firstly an apology to everyone who I was not personally able to speak to in the week leading up to our departure on Tuesday.  I had planned to pop around to see as many people as possible who I have got to know over the last 14 years, but logistics took over and it was not possible.

As I write I am reflecting on the secret party that was organised to celebrate our departure, an occasion that felt a bit like attending your own wake, both tearful and joyous, to which I feel honoured and humbled to have been on the receiving end. My thanks to everyone who turned up and particularly to my friend and fellow councillor Anthony Flack who secretly spearheaded the arrangements for this do and for the effort that he and his wife Anne plus others put in to making it such a pleasant and happy occasion. For those of you who were not able to be there for one reason or another, it was a fun evening and I felt you were there in spirit if not in the flesh. 

I should also mention that due to an error it has emerged that Cherry Street, Cavendish Place and the Manor never received the hand-delivered initiation. This was not intentional and only became apparent after the event when a number of you got in touch to say they did not know the event was taking place but would have come if they had known.

I have been genuinely overwhelmed by your generosity of spirit, the cards and emails I have received with goodwill messages and shall treasure the presentation made by Anthony on behalf of the community for my service as a parish councillor for 12 years and chairman for 8 years.

I originally got involved for no other reason than I felt that it was time to give back something to the community and having changed down a gear in my professional advertising life, the opportunity presented itself thanks to Maggie who co-opted me onto the council.  At the presentation Anthony ran through a list of things that have been achieved in my time which was good to hear and again I thank him for his great support from the very beginning of my time in charge and I wish him well in his interim role as Chairman. I thank my wife Chris once again as she has always supported me through thick and thin and did so much behind the scenes that no-one but me will know about.

But I also want to draw attention to someone else who without her support, so much of what has been achieved would have taken much longer and of course I refer to Anne Davies, our Clerk, who I recruited when I took over as Chairman. It was a bit of a turbulent time, mainly because I wanted to do things differently and get things done faster with greater openness and transparency, which resulted in some waves being created that had a ripple effect. Fortunately I found a kindred spirit in Anne and a person who had considerable experience in local Government as she had just retired from being Head of Planning and previously Head of Legal at Buckingham County Council. We could not have done what we have achieved over the years without her, so please value and treasure her going forward.

I would also like to repeat what I said at the leaving do about the importance of supporting and preserving the church, the only public building we have in the village. Up until the moment we officially designated it as our Community Centre, the Parish Council had only ever been able to donate a maximum of £100 towards the upkeep of the building in any given year. It was Anne who confidently advised that this was the way forward and since that time it has been possible to do much more to raise funds and help the church in other ways through equipment purchases to support it as a community space. I encourage everyone to think of ways to utilise the building for events, and whilst it will primarily remain a place of Christian worship, its’ very survival may depend on each and everyone in the community. 
I am of course pleased to have recently donated £1000 towards the upkeep and fabric of the building and thank everyone who came to the garage sale before Christmas who made it possible.

Thank you once again for your support over the years and it is comforting to know that there is a welcome in this village which I will enjoy on return visits in the future. Let’s hope to pub opens again soon where we can all celebrate together.

Finally and for those who don’t know, we decided to sell in order to be closer to our family including new grandchildren plus the fact that the house, although marvellous, was simply too big for us going forward. But our ties with Stratton will remain strong and if for any reason you want to contact me in the immediate future, my email and mobile remain the same and my address for the next year or so is as follows:
Mobile: 07801 816 600
Address: 26 Kings Avenue, Buckhurst Hill, Epping Forrest, IP9 5LP


And a few previous items that are still relevant:

Update on Two Major Planning Matters
There is no further news since the last update in December when we had received the following from the Planning Department at CDC:

Solar Farm
The application is still under consideration. The procurement process for securing landscape consultants has taken longer than expected as we have worked through the Council’s procurement process. We have now selected consultants and I’m working with he procurement team to get the contracts sorted so this work can be completed. 
We were aiming to take this to committee in January, but as the report deadline will be before the Christmas break, this is now looking unlikely as we need the landscape work to be completed. I think it is more realistic that this will be presented to the planning committee in February”.

Bicester Heritage
“This application is also still under consideration. We had asked the applicant to provide some more information to help us to better understand the details of the uses that are proposed. I have another meeting with the agent this week. 
I will also be meeting with our enforcement team so we can better understand the already permitted uses/applications and the activities that they are currently investigating. We are planning to work together as we are aware of the concerns being raised by third parties. 
There are clearly a wide range of activities that the applicant is hoping to capture within this application. Some of them, such as the larger events or noisy uses will have the potential for a greater impact on neighbouring residents. At this stage, I think we need more information so that everyone can better understand the precise nature of the proposal and the frequency of uses that are being sought. 
This application will also need to be referred to the planning committee for determination. Again we are aiming for January committee but this may not be possible”.

I am frequently contacted about potholes and other local issues such as flytipping, abandoned cars, debris on roads and temporary signages being put up on waste land and whilst I can pass these on to my contacts, the very best way to report anything that concerns the county council is via their Fixmystreet portal. They tell me that it is checked daily and matters are put straight into the system for investigation.

You can upload photos but you don’t have to and it really isn’t difficult, so please give it a try:

Fresh Fish every Thursday – Still Parking outside the pub!
Despite the pub closing, Jack from Grimsby continues to come to the village on Thursday’s between 6.15-7pm and parks his van outside the Red Lion. He has a wide selection of fresh fish and shellfish. You can just turn up or place orders in advance by text and his mobile number is 07535 935119.

Fish & Chips Van in the village on Saturdays
For those new in the community, a Howe’s Fish and Chip van comes to the village every Saturday lunchtime from 1.30pm to 2pm. You will hear a bell (like a school bell) and his first stop is in Cherry Street. He then drives along Cavendish Place and stops again at the junction with Mill Road.
They also have a general number you can call 07809 901761

Local Police Bicester and Kidlington Rural Team News
To report a crime or contact the police there are now three options:
·       Call 999 if you see a crime being committed or in an emergency
·       Call 101 to report anything else to the police – or go online to do so
·       And now police are partnering with CrimeStoppers to remind everyone of ‘The 3rd Number – 0800 555 111’ that enables you to report your information totally anonymously if you prefer.
Finally for the latest crime statistics there is a useful national site into which you can put your post code. Click on this link  Bicester Rural | (