It’s double the delight for West Way Festival

Morris dancers taking part at the West Way Festival

Morris dancers taking part at the West Way Festival

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Blackbird Leys and Greater Leys. Call me on 01865 425403

BOTLEY’S second West Way Festival attracted almost double the number of visitors as last year for a day a sunshine-filled fun.

More than 350 people attended celebrations in The Square on Saturday, 150 more than last year’s inaugural event.

Cafe Aloha co-owner Charlie Bartlett organised the 12-hour event from noon to midnight.

It included Morris dancing and live music from Sam Edwards, Pipa Moran and The Strumblemonkeys.

Visitors enjoyed a barbecue, stalls including cakes, and face painting.

Mr Bartlett said: “It went very well. It was absolutely incredible.

“I’d say 350 people arrived. It was amazing. It was great to see all the community come together.”

He added that the brief storms did nothing to put off visitors: “The weather held just until we went inside for the live music, it was amazing.

“We went in at 6pm and at 6.01pm the heavens opened.”

The event came amid discussions around a planned £100m redevelopment of the shopping area by Doric Properties.

He said: “It was enjoyed by everyone, and we hope to do it next year if we can.

“Doric Properties are probably going to raze the shopping centre to the ground, and there will be nowhere for us to be.

“They have said that we can do it in their new space but it’s going to be a building site for a couple of years. We’d love to do it again, though.”

West Way Community Concern, which opposes the planned £100m redevelopment of the shopping area, had a stall and raffle.

A planning application has been submitted to Vale of White Horse District Council, which will make a final decision.

Members of the group were urging people to write to councillors against the plans.

Doric wants to demolish the empty Elms Court office block, West Way shopping centre, Botley Library, Seacourt Hall and the Botley Baptist Church for 500 student flats, shops, a cinema and a hotel.

Campaign group co-chairman Chris Church said: “We had a lot of support from people at the festival, people left their comments what we’re focusing on at the moment is for people to write to their councillors.

“The community is absolutely against the proposals.”

Botley Road’s Mick Phillips, fiddler for Cry Havoc, a Cotswold Morris dance side that performed at the event, said: “It was good fun, it was nice to see that sort of thing happening just across the road.

“We wanted to support the event because we’re a local group.

“We had a couple of people interested in joining us in September when we start rehearsals again which is great.”

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