Community urged to rally round splash park scheme

4:00pm Wednesday 27th August 2014

By Dan Robinson

A CAMPAIGN for a community splash park in Witney has hit a stumbling block after interest in the project dwindled.

Witney Town Council has raised £200,000 to transform facilities in The Leys recreation ground after a petition signed by more than 160 parents last year.

It needs residents to raise about an extra £25,000, but councillors and officers said they are “frustrated” at lack of progress.

Councillor Harry Eaglestone, chairman of the splash park working party, said: “It was started off by a load of mums wanting something done, but it’s gradually dwindled away.

“There’s only a certain amount the council can do with raising money and the rest has to come from the community.

“We just want that last big push so we can finally start the work but it’s very frustrating.

“The public say they want something and write letters but when it comes down to the nitty gritty we can’t get anyone to back us up.

“I think people do still want it. If we had it in place this summer it would have been glorious.”

Plans for the splash park came after Witney’s only outdoor pool was closed after 45 years in February last year because of broken slabs around the pool.

The pool had to be shut five times last year due to broken bottles found in the water.

Community campaign group Liven Up The Leys was set up to work with the working party and raised almost £9,000 for the project, but it has lost most of its members and has not met since October.

Proposals include a wet play area, adventure playground, sand pit and a family area, with hopes to later include a sensory garden.

The town council has pledged £70,000 towards the initiative, while a £75,000 grant has been given by landfill tax grants body Wren and £45,000 by West Oxfordshire District Council’s community facilities grant. But other funding bodies will only accept applications from community groups.

The council’s facilities manager Claire Swan said: “We have listened to people and put money aside, working hard to raise other funding, but nothing else has happened.

“What we really need is motivated people in the community who have certain skills to join the Liven Up The Leys group, even if they could just offer an hour or two a month.

“It would be a shame to see it dwindle because it would be a waste of an opportunity.”

Oxfordshire Playing Fields Association has worked with the town council to help it access funds.

Community development officer Nicole O’Donnell said funding bodies like The Bernard Sunley Charitable Foundation, which gives £2.5m in grants to charities each year, would not give funds to councils.

She said: “In these kinds of community projects there are pots of money councils can’t apply to because it’s really important to show that everyone locally supports it.”

Mum-of-one Claire Growther, who started last year’s petition and was a member of Liven Up The Leys, said she had been unable to offer her time after starting a new job.

She added: “I think the will is still there for it but people just haven’t got the amount of time the council required to help sort it.”

Anyone interested in getting involved should contact the town council on 01993 704379 or email

Send your Letter to the Editor: What do you think? We welcome letters from our readers on a wide variety of subjects and you can send us a letter for publication here

11:20am Monday 28th July 2014

What do you think? We welcome letters from our readers on a wide variety of subjects and you can send us a letter through the blue headline above.


Our top stories

15-year-old girl raped while walking to Cowley bus stop

Oxford Mail:

5:10pm Thursday 8th October 2015

A 15-YEAR-OLD girl was raped in Barns Road, Cowley on her way to the bus stop. According to Thames Valley Police the girl was walking to the stop before Blackbird Leys bridge between 2pm and 4pm on Sunday, September 20.  She was approached by a man who walked alongside her. As they came to the bridge he grabbed her arm and pulled her down to a muddy track at the side of the bridge. He then raped the victim and left her on the track, walking away.  The offender is described as white, aged in his late teens, 5ft 7ins or 5ft 8ins tall and slim. He had very short dark hair, blue eyes, freckles on his face and a short ginger beard, and was wearing a chain around his neck, black trainers and dark grey Nike jogging bottoms. The girl reported the rape to police on Tuesday ((06/10)) this week. Investigating officer Det Insp Steve Raffield of Banbury CID said: “Specialist officers are supporting the victim who has reported this rape to us.  "What happened to this young girl is unimaginable and I am sure that members of the public will be shocked to hear about this incident, which happened in broad daylight.  "“A full investigation is now under way and there are officers in the area today making enquiries and providing reassurance to members of the public who may have concerns.  “Incidents like this are extremely rare, but it is essential that we identify the offender as soon as possible. I would urge anyone who has any information about this incident, or who saw or heard anything out of the ordinary in the Barns Road area around the time of the offence, to contact me as soon as possible by calling 101.”

UPDATE: Boy taken to hospital after car crash in Bicester

Oxford Mail:

5:00pm Thursday 8th October 2015

A boy has been taken to hospital after being involved in a crash in Bicester.

‘Slave’ at travellers’ site seen treated like a ragdoll on CCTV

Oxford Mail:

6:36pm Thursday 8th October 2015

CCTV footage from an Oxford travellers’ site has shown a man who was allegedly kept as a slave being pushed around and treated “like a ragdoll”.

E-fit released after man spotted holding little girl's hand in Greater Leys

Oxford Mail:

4:50pm Thursday 8th October 2015

AN E-FIT of a man who ran away after being caught holding a little girl's hand in Greater Leys has been released by Thames Valley Police. According to officers, a two-year-old girl was playing outside a property in Shepherds Hill at about 6.20pm on Friday, September 11. When her mother came to check on her she saw a man holding the girl's hand. When she challenged the man, he ran away. He is described as white, in his thirties, about 5ft 7ins or 5ft 8ins with short spiky blond or brown hair. He was wearing a knee-length jacket that may have been leather. Investigating officer Det Con Lorna Briggs of Force CID in Oxford said: “We are keeping an open mind regarding this incident. There might be a innocent explanation as to why the man was holding the girl’s hand. “If anyone recognises the man in the E-fit or has any information about the incident then please contact your local police station."

Persistent beggar banned from asking people for money in Oxford

Oxford Mail:

4:50pm Thursday 8th October 2015

A BEGGAR has been banned by police from approaching people in Oxford and asking them for money, food or cigarettes.

Update: Missing teenager Michaela Rose from Chipping Norton found

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

7:50am Thursday 8th October 2015

MISSING teen Michaela Rose from Chipping Norton was found safe and well last night. 


© Copyright 2001-2015 Newsquest Media Group

Oxford Mail: site_logo

Click 2 Find Business Directory