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Twitter: @WeAreOakhurst Facebook: ORA Facebook Page

Chair: Paul Exell (email: phone: 01793 703276)

Membership Secretary: Sarah McDermott

Thursday, 22 November 2012

School Places - Where's the Council's compass?

The Council's compass department appear to have a problem.  After assuring everybody that their proposals for a school on land to the West of Thamesdown Drive did not encompass land at Mouldon Hill Country Park we are now told that it does.

The proposed consultation has now been cancelled as councillors await advice.  Red faces all round.

SBC Cabinet Report from July 2012
3.9.1 Land to the west of Thamesdown Drive at Taw Hill – one, two or three
forms of entry (30, 60 or 90 reception places) attached as Appendix 1.

a) It must be noted that the proposed land is not located as part of the Country Park.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

School Place Consultation in North Swindon - Can the Council Organise a Drink in a Brewery?

The grand old Duke of York has yet again been at play in the council's cabinet.  Previous decisions from the council have left people of North Swindon not knowing which way to turn.  After a much lauded and advertised grand consultation about where the next school places should be provided for Oakhurst, we find that no sooner had we been marched up to the top of the hill then we were marched back down again.  The consultation was cancelled at very short notice.

School Places in North Swindon - "That's just the way it works"

Quote from Cllr Renard, cabinet member for children's services, in an Adver article about huge disparities in the take up of free school meals (20th November 2012):

"Given that parents can express a preference for a particular school and that over 90% get the school they want, it is not a situation that the schools or local authority has an influence over.  That's just the way it works".

Oakhurst residents tell us that they haven't got much confidence in their local councillors to secure a local school in Oakhurst.  Not much change there then.

Scout Christmas Post 2012

Scouts across Swindon will once again this year be taking part in the annual Scout Christmas Post.

Since 1981, Scouts across the UK have been licensed to deliver Christmas cards as part of a Scout Post. In Swindon this helps to raise funds for Groups and raises the profile of Scouting within the local community.

The 7th Swindon (Abbey Meads) Scout Group, which covers North Swindon, will be selling stamps at Asda Walmart on the Orbital Retail Park.
Stamps cost 25p each and will be on sale (Royal Mail 1st class 60p, 2nd class 50p)

The delivery area includes:

Thursday, 15 November 2012

More Information about School Places

Information supplied by interested third parties in South Swindon
Swindon Borough Council’s Lead Member for schools, and a North Swindon Councillor to boot, is oft in the Press and on the radio chuntering on about the need for schools places. The residents of North Swindon would echo his sentiments but are at a loss to understand the process which he has applied to date in the hope of addressing this.
So let’s paint a picture of 2 existing developments in Swindon...

Friday, 9 November 2012

Primary School Places in North Swindon - ORA Committee Decision taken on 7th November 2012

Oakhurst Residents’ Association recently requested the following information from Swindon Borough Council (SBC) under a Freedom of Information request: 
“Copies of correspondence received by Swindon Borough Councillors or Officers in support of/or requesting either, additional primary places, or a new primary school in North Swindon for September 2011, 2012 or beyond. Please also provide the year groups to which these letters or emails refer.” The Council responded: “None”.

ORA are surprised to hear that SBC are not offering any new reception places but are still only able to cater for our children already in the system.  Our children would have been on the radar of SBC for many years through the PCT numbers.  Any new reception places will not be provided for under this consultation. 

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

First the FOI and now for some facts

Oakhurst residents tell ORA that they want a school within Oakhurst not a school at the end of a convoluted trek over mixed terrain.  Adver columnist Rod Bluh, who coincidently is the leader of the Council and his cabinet, has been a long way from the front line of the North Swindon school places issue probably because he has been organising a much needed North Swindon school at Croft first. 

Well we know that local councillors have not lobbied for an additional school where it's needed in the North.  They have been too busy shunting North Swindon s.106 monies to build sports pitches at Croft.  What is this fascination that the North councillors have with Old Town?

Let us look at some of the facts that the local councillors are not rushing to tell the residents of Oakhurst:

Monday, 5 November 2012

School Places in North Swindon - FOI Result

It is with some perplexity that ORA read that local councillors are finally waking up to the need for school places in Oakhurst.  Residents have been aware of this serious problem for years.

That is why Paul Exell submitted a Freedom of Information request to Swindon Borough Council in the summer.  The results were astonishing.

Please can you send us: "copies of correspondence received by Swindon Borough councillors or officers in support of/or requesting either additional primary places, or a new primary school in North Swindon for September 2011, 2012 or beyond.  Please also provide the year groups to which these letters of emails refer."

The answer came back "NONE"

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

North Swindon Councillors Did Not Lobby For Primary School Places In The North

There is, as our residents are constantly telling us, a severe shortage of primary school places in North Swindon which has resulted in :-

  • Families in Oakhurst having to send their children to Rodbourne Cheney as it is their nearest available primary school place
  • Families living two minutes away from their local primary school being told that families half that distance away from the school could not get in this year
  • Families being told that if they live more than a couple of hundred metres away from their local school they are too far away to be guaranteed a place
In light of this a Freedom of Information request was recently made to Swindon Borough Council for :

"Copies of correspondence received by Swindon Borough Councillors or Officers in support of or requesting either, additional primary places, or a new primary school in North Swindon for September 2011, 2012 or beyond . Please also provide the year groups to which these letters or emails refer."
The total input from our local councillors trying to obtain more primary school places for North Swindon was, according to SBC's own answer to the FOI -



When will we get the promised Northern Relief Road?

Northern Relief Road


The Purton/Iffley Link Road is the long proposed northern relief road that was first considered back in the nineties and still hasn’t been built despite the construction of over 10,000 homes in the Northern Development Area.  

Where will it go?  When Priory Vale was first considered the original proposal was to join the Purton Road (at the base of Thamesdown Drive) to the Iffley Road (close to the Bruce Street Bridges) by a dual carriageway.  There has since been another route considered which connects Thamesdown Drive to Barnfield near to B&Q instead.  Both of these routes would serve to ease the weight of traffic congestion in both north and west Swindon. 

How much will it cost?  There has been talk of the cost being £100 million and therefore too expensive to be built.  The honest answer is that nobody has ever properly costed the route.  To put the figures in context, the 9 miles of the Newbury bypass cost just over £100 million; the current project in Norwich for a dual carriageway of 8.7 miles is estimated at just over £90 million and the current estimate for the bypass at Bedale is £42 million (of which the local authority is paying just £6 million). 

The northern relief road has an estimated length of just 1.3 miles and no junctions.  However, getting under the Gloucester rail line will not be cheap.  Nobody will know for sure until the surveys are done but it is very likely that the stated cost of £100 million is an overestimate. 

It has never been the intention of Swindon Borough Council, or even the developers, to pay for this road.  It is a matter for central government funding and if Swindon Borough Council is going to green light all the additional houses that are continually being put forward then central government has to fund the infrastructure. 

Is it agreed?  Yes, it is agreed, all bar the paying for it.  At a recent Full Council meeting Swindon councillors made a decision to that effect.  

When will it happen?  That is a whole different question.  Everyone needs to ensure that enough pressure is applied to get the latest route of Thamesdown Drive to Great Western Way (at Barnfield) to be considered as Swindon’s number one priority for infrastructure investment.
(Presentation given by Cllr Des Moffatt at Haydon Wick Parish Council - September 2012)

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Housing Development In East Swindon

It was very interesting to note that at a recent Full Council meeting the local councillors in North Swindon supported a motion put forward by Cllr Dale Heenan* that infrastructure should be place before any development in East Swindon goes ahead.

In the Swindon Advertiser (22nd September 2012) Cllr Dale Heenan said, "Oxford Road cannot possibly take all that traffic.  We don't want it going down Covingham...We need a new link road."

* Cabinet member for strategic planning & sustainability

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Graham Mack Breakfast Show - Tadpole Farm Approval

Oakhurst resident, Steph Exell, appeared on the Graham Mack breakfast show this morning and rebutted comments made by Dale Heenan * - where were the ward councillors from Priory Vale? - about the approval of the Tadpole Farm development on 11th September 2012.

He believes that Swindon is excellent at meeting school place demand.  However, parents in Oakhurst may not agree with him.  Dale Heenan spouts out figures without backing them up with fact.  Let's get down to facts campaigner, Kareen Boyd, has demonstrated that the education figures do not add up.

When it came to the question about Oakhurst Way, he was totally unable to clarify how much money would be spent defending the local road from becoming nothing more than a major rat-run.

There were some glib comments about flooding and solving the problem by building more houses on boggy land.

Objective facts carry far more weight than vacuous blather so why do politicians use one rather than the other?

* Cabinet member for Strategic Planning and Sustainability

Wednesday, 12 September 2012


On the 11th September 2012 ORA learned from a twitter account hosted by a consultant involved in the Tadpole Farm application that the s.106 agreement had been signed off by all parties concerned.  At lunch time we were able to print off the signed agreement from the Council’s website.  It was outrageous that no-one had contacted the residents of Oakhurst to let them know what was happening.
According to sources in the media the local councillors were already spinning this issue or unavailable for comment.

ORA had to print off scores of pages from the Council’s planning portal to drill into the detail.  However, after much drilling the residents of Oakhurst will be disappointed to learn that there is no ground-breaking, earth-shaking improvement to what the original agreement said.
ORA’s interpretation is that there is nothing new to tell you from three months of negotiations.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

ORA Office Closed For Summer Break

Please be aware that the ORA office will be closed for the summer break from 23 July 2012 until 7 September 2012.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Tadpole Farm Debate - Let's not gild the lily

After a recent spate of tweeting with people in Oakhurst we think the time has come to put the record straight.  ORA are not running with a political agenda despite what local councillors and their friends are saying.

If the councillors and a body of people, whether in joint enterprise or by disparate commonality, want to ambush ordinary Oakhurst residents and ORA then let them carry on.  We in Oakhurst know that the Association does not have a political agenda.  We had no influence in the council chamber.  We could not have a vote in what happened and ORA were only allowed three minutes to give their point of view.
So why is a little residents association that takes on the might of the ruling party being treated in such a way?  The story of David and Goliath is well known to people and if Oakhurst has to play the part of the former rather than the latter it is not a position we relish. 
Our aim in this campaign has always been against the inappropriate development of Tadpole Farm.  Our position has always been clear.  We want to see new roads such as the Purton/Iffley Road link and a northern spine road.  We all know the pressing need for additional primary school places in North Swindon but more worryingly plans for secondary provision are woefully lacking too.
When this is balanced against the local councillors’ desire for a community centre in Redhouse, ORA are even more concerned that the same effort has not been applied to secure the necessary infrastructure in the Oakhurst area. 
It is outrageous that councillors think that they can concrete over Oakhurst Way and scandalous that it is so easily spoken about as a general subject in North Swindon and at meetings.
We are not being political as we know that politicians from the main parties are in favour of the principle of developing Swindon.  However, what politicians need to understand is that their favour for development must not ride roughshod over this community’s favour for proper and adequate schools, roads and the right to a private life that is not disturbed by the imposition of a traffic route.
Be advised that various meetings are taking place with politicians over the next week and if you would like any representations made you can contact the Chairman, Paul Exell, directly on 01793 703276, email: or go to the meetings and voice your opinion on the development or your objection.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

ORA Attend Oakhurst Community Primary School Fayre

ORA would like to extend a huge thanks to all the residents that made us feel so welcome at the Oakhurst Community Primary School Fayre.

The committee really enjoyed the opportunity to speak to so many of you, to find out what you are interested in and what worries you about what is happening in Oakhurst.

Our thanks go as well to headteacher Dale Burr, his staff and everyone else involved in putting on such a varied and well attended event - it was good to see so many members of the community having a good time at their local school.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Invitation to a Public Meeting to discuss the Tadpole Farm Development

ORA have received this invitation to a public meeting about Tadpole Farm.

Dear Sir/Madam

Public Meeting to discuss the Tadpole Farm Development

I would like to invite you to a public meeting I have organised to discuss what actions North Swindon residents and community groups would like the Council and developer to take to mitigate the impact of the Tadpole Farm development. This public meeting will take place at Moredon Community Centre on Tuesday,17th July 2012, starting at 7pm.

North Locality Fund Meeting on July 12th 2012 - Postponed

ORA have been informed by email that this meeting has been postponed.  Look out for further details on the blog. 

Comments from Dale Heenan

Dale Heenan has posted the following comments to ORA and he and Emma Faramarzi continue to tweet and post on Facebook about ORA. We welcome this effort from local politicians who are desperate to improve their readership to the extent that they are driving more web traffic to the ORA blog and improving our readership statistics.

ORA are now part of the interweb political conversation taking place in Swindon and this has been picked up on Geoff Reid is not one to miss an opportunity to expose and scrutinise the actions of the councillors at Swindon Borough Council.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Haydon 3 (Priory Vale) S.106 Highways Contribution - Where did it all go?

Cllr Dale Heenan, Member of Planning Committee, speaking about the Tadpole Farm S.106 Highways contributions on 12th June 2012.
"And this scheme will be built over the next ten to fifteen years, so what we decide in the next few months may not be what actually is needed in the area in ten years time, so I would also like the period to be there so that the Highways Officers can be, I wouldn’t want to say as generic as possible, but keep the recommended scheme of works fairly high level...."

Where did the Haydon 3 Highways contribution go?  Is this an indicator of what might happen to the Highways contributions of the Tadpole Farm S.106 agreement?

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Authentication of Blog Communication - 'Dale Heenan''

ORA received a communication today via its blog comments purporting to be from a Dale Heenan.  As the communication came with a no reply email address, before we publish these comments we would like confirmation from Dale Heenan that the comments are authentic.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Councillors' Quotes at Planning Committee - Cllr Heenan

"And this scheme will be built over the next ten to fifteen years, so what we decide in the next few months may not be what actually is needed in the area in ten years time, so I would also like the period to be there so that the Highways Officers can be, I wouldn’t want to say as generic as possible, but keep the recommended scheme of works fairly high level...."

"If you look at the scenarios where we’ve had the hard working councillors, like Tomlinson, trying to campaign for things like the pub and community centre, these kinds of things are things we need to nail down now and this period of further negotiation would allow Officers to really tackle those kind of points."

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Councillors' Quotes at Planning Committee - Cllr Heaton-Jones

And I am not here to represent the Conservative administration of this Council – I am here as a ward councillor to represent the views of residents...To do anything else would not have been honest....Chair, I have to say a phrase that includes the words ‘not worth the paper it is written on’ springs to mind....My job tonight has been to tell you that many residents I represent, many of whom are here tonight, are opposed to this application. I share their concerns, the message is loud and clear, please do not ignore it."

Tadpole Farm is being mentioned on Oakhurst doorsteps

During bouts of heavy rain tonight Oakhurst residents got together and went out to speak to fellow Oakhurst residents.  Though people were busy on a Saturday night they took time to talk to their neighbours from Oakhurst.  We are grateful for the time they spent talking to us and it was obvious that the local Conservative councillors had actually created more questions after their visit.

ORA was able to answer these questions and hope that more interventions like this do the same.

Justin Tomlinson, MP uses a term, it's being mentioned on the doorsteps.  If he continues to promote the capitulation by Cllr Elliott, who proposed Tadpole Farm for approval, then people will react in a way he may not have seen before.

It is good that the local Conservative councillors and MP are aligning themselves to their actions and attempts to reassure local residents are failing.  If they had been aiming at a target then today they would have missed it by a country mile.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Councillors' Quotes at Planning Committee - Cllr Tomlinson

Cllr Vera Tomlinson (St Andrews) has served several years as a member of the Planning Committee.
She completes a U-turn in her point of view about what should happen to the Tadpole Farm application in the space of five days.  What happens to change her view so completely would only be conjecture; but it is ORA's opinion that to say it should be refused in one meeting and then say it should be approved in another is, at the least, very disturbing for the residents of North Swindon. 

At the North Locality meeting on Thursday, 7th June 2012 Cllr Tomlinson speaks to the residents about how the Tadpole Farm application should be refused:
"We’ve got to get through this first hurdle, and you know our mission is to try and bring up enough points to persuade the committee to vote against it.  And it is only outline planning permission that they are seeking on the night.  So you don’t get all the conditions and bits and pieces – it is purely do we have permission to build and then the officer will decide what the conditions are. Now, if I was on Planning Committee I wouldn’t vote for that because I think the committee needs to know exactly what they are voting for......

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Councillors' Quotes at Planning Committee - The Decision

"Tonight you have complained about the fact that consultation does not always happen and you want to close the circle further? I think that as many ward councillors as want to have a say should." 
(Cllr Toby Elliott to Cllr Vera Tomlinson)

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Councillors' Quotes at Planning Committee - Cllr Friend

"There is nothing in this application to support it being refused and I am very sad to say this, but like Cllr Tomlinson, I am a realist."  Planning Committee - 12th June 2012
"It shocked me how many people were against it and reading the application there are so many things that are wrong with it for the people that already live in the area."  North Locality Meeting - 7th June 2012

Monday, 25 June 2012

Tadpole Farm - North Locality Meeting 7th June 2012 - What's in a Minute?

On 7th June 2012 the North Locality meeting went ahead and Tadpole Farm was on the agenda.  We have put the minute up from the Locality Lead and have contrasted this minute with ORA's.

ORA note that the Northern Development councillors who attended the meeting spoke against development at Tadpole Farm but at Planning Committee recommended it for approval or left it up to the Planning Committee.

Cllr Vera Tomlinson says:

"I would like to respond to David [Cllr David Renard (Haydon Wick)] and I am sure he knew I would. It is a bit of a defeatist attitude, that one. We are fighting for something that means an awful lot to an awful lot of people that live in the area which we are talking about and who will be affected most. It is not a done deal if we turn it down, if this Planning Committee turns it down, that the inspector will also turn it down. We have the right to speak at that appeal and if our arguments are good then the inspector will agree with us. So don’t think that if it is turned down it is going to cost you all a lot of money. Not necessarily so. And, in my opinion it is a fight worth fighting. We have to do it, it concerns so many people and it is such a bad application..."
On the night, Cllr Tomlinson recommended the committee to approve the planning application.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Quotes from Officers at Planning Committee - Ms Cornelius, Transport

This is the discussion about the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system at Planning Committee on Tuesday, 12th June 2012 reference development at Tadpole Farm.  This post should be read in conjunction with ORA's briefing about the Bus Rapid Transit.

Ms Cornelius opens the discussion about the BRT: 

"A couple of comments on the Bus Rapid Transit system... I’d just like to clarify a couple of issues.  We know that all of the residents and councillors will be interested.  The Bus Rapid Transit is not a scheme put forward by the developer or devised by the developer it is a Borough-led scheme.  It is contained within our own Transport Strategy and in our own Local Transport Plan all of which have had consultation procedures that go with it.  

Bus Rapid Transit - Critical Infrastructure for Tadpole Farm?

ORA prepared a brief about the Bus Rapid Transit for Planning Committee on 12th June 2012.  However, the three minute rule meant that this evidence could not be presented on the night in response to the Planning Officer's report (this was released on-line on Friday, 1st June 2012 and was  over 120 pages long).

Core Strategy (CS) Policy NC5 B:  For the development at Tadpole Farm to be viable there has to be, “a rapid transit link between Tadpole Farm and Swindon town centre from the first phase of development and other public transport links”.  On pg. 108 point 4.77 the CS states that “a rapid transit route is critical to deliver the smaller scale urban extensions in a sustainable manner and should be phased in the early part of the development”. 

Friday, 22 June 2012

Quotes from Officers at Planning Committee - Mr Bell, Head Of Planning

So does the core strategy have significant weight, very significant weight or limited weight?  Do you have to take your pick from the lucky dip?

Quotes from Officers at Planning Committee - Mr Awojobi, Borough Solicitor

At the start of the Planning Committee, the Chairman of the committee, Cllr Colin Lovell (St Margaret and South Marston), passes over to Mr Awojobi, the Borough Solicitor.  The first question ORA members may want to ask:  What is the normal custom and practice of the Planning Committee for who speaks first after the Chairman introduces the application? Is it the Planning officer or the Borough Solicitor?
"Thank you, Chair, I just want to give a very quick advice due to the nature of this application....Can I just check I can be heard properly.  Thank you.
Because of the controversial nature of this application it is important that I give a very short advice before the debate starts.  The Council has final authority, has a statutory duty to determine whether the application bears weight for determination.  That statutory responsibility does not mean that you have to say yes or no – it just means that when you have an application before you which the applicant says they want determined,  you have to determine it.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Why did the Tomlinsons and the Leader attend information sharing meetings with Tadpole Farm developers?

ORA would like to extend its thanks to for enabling a big conversation to occur online for people with an interest in the issue of development at Tadpole Farm.  In particular, ORA would like to thank the person who signs himself/herself as Mellon who today, brought to our attention the following statement:
Why would he need to go to the planning committee?  He has already attended an official unofficial meeting with developers while he was PPC on 25th January 2010 with Vera Tomlinson, Rod Bluh and Peter Greenhalgh.  And surprise, surprise no minutes were taken for the meeting.  There was a second meeting took place on the 3rd December 2010 but Justin wasn’t there”.
There is correspondence on What do They FOI No: 101000244815.

No Quote at Planning Committee - Mr Tomlinson, MP

It does not appear that Mr Tomlinson, MP is mentioned in the planning officer's committee report.  A text search of the electronic copy of the report (over a hundred and twenty pages long) does not seem to find a single reference to him.

Mr Tomlinson did not attend the planning committee but the planning officer reports a letter as follows:

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Tadpole Farm - Back to the Future?

On looking back through our records we came across this item. Isn't it so relevant now?

In February 2011, yes 2011, ORA sent a leaflet out to the whole of Oakhurst.

Developers and MP reveal their disastrous proposals for Tadpole Farm!
On Friday, 25th February 2011 a meeting was hosted by the North Swindon MP for the developers and ORA.  The purpose of the meeting was for ORA to gain a better understanding of the developers’ proposals for Tadpole Farm.
The outcome of the meeting is that ORA are now a lot clearer about the position of our political representatives – with both the MP and the ward councillors appearing, to all intents and purposes, to be batting for the developers against the residents of Oakhurst.

Cllr Martin - another quote at Planning Committee

"First statement of useful fact – Roderick Bluh, Leader of the Conservative Group, hasn’t discussed this application with me, hasn’t made any points to me about this application or hasn’t put any influence on me in any shape or form or publication on the subject of this planning application.  I therefore declare entirely and completely that I am unfettered in any views I take tonight and in the way I vote tonight.  I think that’s important for a member of the planning committee to state given some of the influences that have been brought to bear on some of the members which I have been interested to read and astonished me".

Councillors' Quotes at Planning Committee - Cllr Martin

Councillor Nick Martin (Shaw) contributed to an article about the Ridgeway Farm appeal in the Swindon Link in March 2012.  He linked Tadpole Farm's go ahead to the defence of development at Ridgeway: 
"The point is that the infrastructure for Tadpole Farm is in place and it will satisfy the needs of people who travel north on the A419 and to M4 Junction 15.  I believe the number trying to access the west wil be limited.  Swindon Council can make demands on [the developer] to deliver the necessary infrastructure improvements". 
At Planning Committee Cllr Martin talks about how development in the North has affected West Swindon and how one of the road links between North and West Swindon should be severed:
"As residents of West Swindon, I and my fellow residents have suffered because of the northern development and the lack of infrastructure roads such as the Iffley Road link to Thamesdown we in West Swindon have traffic flushing through our roads, we have Mead Way bogged down. I mean ideally, if it was at all possible, I would like to close the old Purton Road link somewhere just short of Thamesdown Drive and tell the folks up there to find their own way someplace else.

But then it can’t be done, it would be really nice, it would change the whole dynamic of driving around West Swindon. It would also open up Mead Way wonderfully. 
Maybe I ought to actually blow the road up, but there you go".

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Swindon Link Article - "Reversal of the [Tadpole Farm] decision is unlikely"

Please see the on-line article from the Swindon Link magazine:
"The permission to proceed is subject to further negotiations and agreement between Crest, planning officers and local councillors on Section 106 contributions. However, with Crest holding the appeal gun to Swindon Council's head, the probability of any reversal of the decision is unlikely."

Developer's Consultation or Insult-ation at Tadpole Farm?

It has been said by those holding a loftier position than a Residents' Association secretary that the developer's consultation, concerning the Tadpole Farm application, was an insult (see Councillors' quotes from Planning Committee, Cllr Dempsey).

Here is a quote from the developer's Statement of Community Engagement, Nov. 2011 (Tadpole Farm), a requirement of the Localism Act:
"In spite of encouraging local people to comment on the detail of community facilities and timing of facilities to provide at Tadpole Farm, there was a reluctance to engage at this level of detail by those living locally.  They were either insufficiently concerned to submit a view..whilst others had more fundamental concerns and could therefore not contemplate the development proceeding until their concerns had been addressed to their satisfaction."

Monday, 18 June 2012

Councillors' Quotes at Planning Committee - Cllr Dempsey

Cllr Mark Dempsey speaks after the Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Jim Grant.  He introduces himself as a resident of St Andrews Ridge, Chair of St Andrews Ridge Residents' Association and Deputy Leader of the Labour Group. 

Cllr Dempsey makes a heartfelt statement about the developer's consultation which he describes as an insult to the residents:
"And I thought there was a failure, a deep failure of consultation – we weren’t consulted, frankly we were insulted.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Councillors' Quotes at Planning Committee - Cllr Faramarzi

Cllr Emma Faramarzi has been a local ward councillor in Priory Vale for just under two months.  In pre-election literature all three Conservative candidates for Priory Vale,  Cllr Mark Edward, Cllr Emma Faramarzi and Toby Elliott said:
"We'll fight the developers whose plans threaten to increase traffic levels, over-burden local services and concrete our countryside.  We will continue to oppose the current Tadpole Farm Application."

Toby Elliott and his website?

It has been brought to our attention recently that Toby Elliott posted this on his website during his campaign to become a Borough councillor:

"Saturday campaigning: Tadpole Lane"
"On Saturday myself and Councillor Emma Faramarzi joined Paul Exell and Kevin Lay from the Oakhurst Residents’ Association to collect signatures for a standard objection letter relating to Tadpole Farm".
We wish to clarify that he spent 90 minutes with ORA, as an Oakhurst resident, helping us to collect objections to the Tadpole Farm application.
We have looked into the matter and found that he never sought our consent to use our logo or written documents either in writing or verbally. Now that Councillor Toby Elliott has been elected to Swindon Borough Council we do not consent to our logo or any of our documents being used by him without our express written permission.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Councillors' Quotes at Planning Committee - Cllr Wakefield

One of the ward councillors who spoke at Planning Committee is Steve Wakefield (Mannington/Western).  His focus was the Purton/Iffley Road link:
"What I want to say tonight, Chair, is all about the Purton/Iffley Road link, or the Great Western link road as it is sometimes referred to."

Friday, 15 June 2012

Councillors' Quotes from Planning Committee - Cllr Elliott

ORA will be putting up a day-by-day account of the words spoken by our local councillors at the Planning Committee on Tuesday, 12th June 2012.  The decision to approve was taken by a number of councillors, not just one, and ward councillors from across North Swindon had a viewpoint on the decision.

We would like our membership to have a flavour of how the meeting went - in total it lasted for about 3 hours - to make up their own minds about how the decision was taken and by whom.

First of all ORA will concentrate on Cllr Elliott, Priory Vale Councillor and member of the Planning Committee, who proposed the application for approval with conditions:

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Are you having a laugh Mr Bluh?

"I note the comments by other councillors and residents' association spokespersons about Tadpole Farm and I welcome their commitment to the Council's position". 
Political columnist (PC) Rod Bluh, in the Adver on 14th June 2012, appears somewhat confused about his role -whether as a PC or as a pundit/raconteur? As a PC he appears to have fallen into the age-old journalistic trap of never allowing the facts to get in the way of a good story.

Anger as Council folds on Tadpole Farm Plans

Please see a link below to an article about the approval of the plans to build at Tadpole Farm -

Swindon Advertiser article - Anger_as_council_folds_on_Tadpole_Farm_plans/

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Disbelief - Tadpole Farm approved at Planning Committee

We have very disappointing news to report that last night Swindon Borough Council approved (to all intents and purposes) planning permission for 1,695 houses at Tadpole Farm. It was also very disappointing that our Priory Vale ward councillor, Toby Elliott, proposed the approval of this application as a member of the planning committee. Residents from Oakhurst and Redhouse, who attended the meeting (over 3 hours long), expressed utter disbelief about the decision and what the local councillors had said/done. The local ward councillors spoke of how many residents had expressed their grave concerns about the development and how strong the local opposition had been but then said that they had no choice but to recommend approval of the application (for information there were two other choices – refusal and deferral). Although there were warm words about us, the local councillors were not willing to turn it down and fight on appeal even though ORA had taken expert advice that there was a genuine case to fight. It was as if there was only one option and the Council talked the community’s view to defeat.
What is Oakhurst going to get?

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Oakhurst's Worse Fears Confirmed - Tadpole Approved

Residents from Oakhurst who attended the planning committee meeting expressed sadness and disbelief about the decision taken this evening.  They found it odd that councillors didn't agree with what the developers were proposing in the application but still said it should go ahead.  Priory Vale councillor, Toby Elliott, recommended Tadpole Farm for approval seconded by councillor Dale Heenan.

There will be a three month extra negotiation period for the S.106 agreement but the Head of Planning made it clear that 45% of the site's traffic and £60,000 to mitigate the harm was a fair deal.  This is less than the amount of money that the developer paid to put the application through the Council system.

The Labour Leader, Cllr Jim Grant, challenged Crest Nicholson to do better and appealed to their better nature.  He said that they needed to put an improved package in place in consultation with the residents.

Cllr Vera Tomlinson made the point that only the St Andrews councillors should have any say over the negotiations about the S.106 money because Tadpole Farm sits entirely within that ward.  However, a plethera of councillors challenged her on this issue and now all the north Swindon councillors will have an opportunity to find a way forward.

In all the discussions about how to improve the S.106 package none of the St Andrews or Priory Vale councillors mentioned speaking to the community to find out about what they would like to see.  They thought that the developer consultation was not very good but did not express a need to share their decision-making role with the local residents.

Now the Oakhurst residents will be left to deal with the hundreds of extra cars down their local road with two minor crossings to deal with the impact.

Tadpole Farm - ORA say to Planning Committee "TURN IT DOWN"

Later today, Swindon Borough Council's planning committee takes place to decide whether the Tadpole Farm development should be granted planning permission.  ORA will have representatives there to speak and Haydon Wick Parish Council will be sending councillors too.

ORA's position is, as always, NO to Tadpole Farm.  The application should be refused on the grounds of prematurity.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Oakhurst/Redhouse Rapid Bus Route

The Rapid Bus Route is detailed in the Borough Council's planning committee report about the Tadpole Farm application:
  • Option 1  Oakhurst Way and western junction into the development
  • Option 2  Via Redhouse Village Centre
"Crest will have no influence over whether it is option 1 or 2 that is implemented thereby allowing the Council to give due consideration to the most appropriate and effective route"...(pg. 59, paras. 148/9)

At Blunsdon St Andrew Parish Council meeting on Monday, 11th June 2012, the ORA Committee were asked the question, by a Redhouse resident, if they had been involved in any deals with the developer about the Rapid Bus Route?  Were they behind putting the route through Redhouse?

The ORA Committee would like to make it very clear that they have not been involved in any meetings, decision-making or planning of the final bus route.

They were surprised to be asked this question when this matter has been dealt with by SBC's planning department and councillors.  Any questions about the routing of the rapid bus service should be referred to them directly.

ORA's position is that this is a matter for the planning committee to decide and we wait in anticipation for that decision.

If the Council decides to put buses down Oakhurst Way then we will deal with that decision appropriately at that time.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Tadpole Farm plans not ready for consideration say residents

Please find a link to the above Swindon Link Magazine article -

Reminder - the Tadpole Farm Planning Application will be considered by the Swindon Borough Council Planning Committee on Tuesday, 12th June 2012, 6pm at the Civic Offices, Euclid Street, Swindon SN1 2JH.

If you want to make your views known about the Tadpole Farm application, then come along. If you want to speak at the meeting, please call the committee clerk on 01793 463605 by 12 noon on Monday 11th June.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Date Confirmed For Tadpole Farm Planning Decision

It has been confirmed that the Tadpole Farm Planning Application will be considered by the Swindon Borough Council Planning Committee on Tuesday, 12th June 2012, 6pm at the Civic Offices, Euclid Street, Swindon SN1 2JH. 

If you want to make your views known about the Tadpole Farm application, then come along.  If you want to speak at the meeting, please call the committee clerk on 01793 463605 by 12 noon on Monday 11th June.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Transport - Leader/Ward Councillors U-Turn On Their Promise to Oakhurst

Cllr Rod Bluh and the Abbey Meads ward councillors promised ORA and the North Swindon residents a Borough funded, independent transport review by a professional body outside of the Borough. It was acknowledged by the ward councillors at ORA’s first public meeting that completely independent data would be the only way to look at the true impact of the proposed Tadpole Farm development on the Oakhurst/North Swindon roads.

Promise timeline:

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Are the Locality Groups Working?

A group of community associations (CAs) recently attended a meeting at Swindon Borough Council with Mr Matt Gott, Director of Policy, Partnership & Communications.  A large number of CAs all over Swindon have been very concerned about the organisation of the Localities, particularly the role of the Chair, the perceived diminution of the community view and the lack of consistency about how the groups are organised.
In response to these concerns Mr Gott explained to the CAs that:

Friday, 2 March 2012

Are There Two Sides to Community Engagement?

At a recent Full Council meeting, the Chair of ORA spoke in support of the petition that 450 local residents had signed.  The Chair urged the Councillors to take account of the views of the large majority of Oakhurst residents:

The Leader of the Council has been reported as saying that all discussions have two sides - and that is a view that I think all residents will agree with, but unfortunately one that many will also feel does not apply when it comes to many community consultations that are carried by the Council. 

ORA Petition - Councillors Do Not Have To Take Account of Our Views

The ORA petition, signed by 450 local residents, was debated at SBC's Full Council last week.  The petition stated, "We, the undersigned, want Swindon MPs and councillors to regularly consult the Oakhurst Residents' Association and other representatives of the local community about developments in the area and take account of their views".

North Swindon Locality Meeting

The North Swindon Locality meeting will be held at 7.00pm on Thursday, 8th March 2012 at Haydon Wick Parish Offices, Thames Avenue, SN25 1QQ.

The agenda for the meeting will include:

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Oakhurst Residents Say "No to Tadpole Farm" - Thank you from ORA for your support

Over the last weeks we have been out knocking on doors and talking to you all about Tadpole Farm and we have been overwhelmed by the level of support you have continued to show for the campaign against development at Tadpole Farm. 

We have received well over three hundred written objections to the Tadpole Farm planning application over the last week.  This is a clear and robust expression of the level of feeling in the area about this issue.

Oakhurst says,  "No to Tadpole Farm".  The vast majority of people we have spoken to have been clear that the plans submitted by the developer fall woefully short of Oakhurst's expectations.  You could not bridge the gap between Oakhurst's demands for infrastructure such as transport, school places, health care services and employment and what the developer is offering.

Members of the North Swindon Communities’ Association (NSCA) say “We Are Stronger Together”

The North Swindon Communities’ Association is made up of community representatives from across the whole of North Swindon including the Parish Councils of Haydon Wick, Blunsdon St Andrew, Moredon Residents' Group, Oakhurst Residents’ Association, Rodbourne Cheney Residents’ Association, St Andrew’s Ridge Residents’ Association and the Whitworth Road Residents’ Association.   

At a recent meeting on 12th January 2012, which was also attended by residents from Haydon End, Redhouse, St Andrew’s Ridge and Oakhurst, the NSCA put together their mission statement: 

·       To bring together North Swindon community and interest groups to discuss matters of mutual interest in a non-political context.
·       To share information.
·       To speak as one voice.
·       To take action on agreed issues affecting the community within North Swindon.
·       To be ‘stronger together’.  
It was emphasised by members of the group that they wanted a "grassroots up" Association with the community taking the lead.  Terry Hunt (Chairman of Rodbourne Cheney Residents’ Association) was duly elected the new Chair of the NSCA.

Date for North Swindon Locality Meeting

Formerly known as North Swindon Cluster Group, the next meeting of the North Swindon Locality will take place at 7:00pm on Wednesday, 1st February 2012 at Blunsdon Village Hall, High Street, Blunsdon, Swindon SN26 7AT. 

The agenda will include updates on Neighbourhood Policing, Section 106, Mouldon Hill and the Redhouse Community Centre.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Details For Next Meeting of North Swindon Communities' Associations

The next meeting of the NSCA will be held at 7:00pm on Thursday, 12th January 2012 at Oakhurst Community Primary School, Pioneer Road, Oakhurst, SN25 2HY.

If you would like a copy of the agenda or have any items to be added to the agenda then please let Paul Exell, Chair of ORA, know: or 07989 494421.