Community News: Council in place after death holds up voting

Oxford Mail: Parish council chairman Charlie Haynes, front, and Peter Cox outside the Mortimer Hall polling station in Old Marston Parish council chairman Charlie Haynes, front, and Peter Cox outside the Mortimer Hall polling station in Old Marston

OLD Marston’s new parish council is finally in place in after the death of a long-standing councillor delayed the election.

Voters headed to the polling station in Mortimer Hall on Thursday to elect 12 councillors for the parish.

The election was to have taken place on May 22 – the same date as European and local authority elections.

But it was delayed after the death of Marston parish councillor Roy Jones on May 5 from bronchial pneumonia.

Marston Parish Council chairman Charlie Haynes was re-elected as a councillor after already serving for 32 years.

He said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed being on the parish council. It has been more enjoyable since I retired and had more time to do the job.

“It’s a job you really need to be involved in. I spend about two hours a day doing parish council work.

“I get the satisfaction that we are keeping the parish as nice as we possibly can for the parishioners to enjoy.”

Voter turnout at the election was low, with 13 per cent of the electorate entering the ballot booth.

Mr Haynes said: “It’s a one-off parish election and people are not bothered to turn out.

“It’s a level of government that people do not know much about.

“But I think we have a good profile and do a lot of good work for the parish.”

Mr Haynes said the councillors now had ambitious plans to replace the sports pavilion and to upgrade children’s play equipment in Boults Lane.

The parish council has been quoted £550,000 to carry out the work, which would include zip lines and swings.

It would pay £75,000 and get a loan of £200,000. It is hoped grants from Sports England or the Big Lottery Fund would make up the remaining £275,000.

Mr Haynes said: “It has got old swings and equipment, so we want to bring it into the 21st century and give the children what we can. It’s always interesting times ahead. We have increased demand on the parish council’s budget so we have to plan very carefully.”

The parish council will elect its new chairman at its next meeting at Mortimer Hall, in Oxford Road, at 7.30pm, next Tuesday.

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