WCG Annual Report 2016

WOODCOTE CONSERVATION GROUP

www.woodcotecg.org.uk

Annual Report from the Committee 2015/16

(For Annual General Meeting, 10th November 2016)

The Committee is pleased to present the following overview of the Group’s activities during the year since the 2015 AGM. Public and membership events.

 Bird Walks:

The four regular seasonal Bird Walks around Dean Wood and into the fields beyond have been led by John Sandford and on one occasion by Sue Sandford. The number of different species identified on all the walks remains at sixty-two, after the spike in last year’s numbers, the slow downward trend of earlier years has continued.

Over twenty people went on the Woodcock Walk in Common Wood this summer and this event has proved very popular with the membership.

Bat Walks

One Bat Walk did take place at the end of May; the route was through Dean Wood, crossing South Stoke Road into High Wood and along Beech Lane back to the village. Most of bats (soprano pipestrelles) seen or picked up using the bat detector were in High Wood. A baby owl, that looked like it had just fledged, was spotted in a tree very close to the main footpath through Dean Wood.

Butterfly Walk

Because of bad weather this year’s Butterfly Walk had to be cancelled.

Working Parties

Part of the hazel crop harvested from the allotment in December last year, was given to the Primary School and the remainder left on site for use by the allotments holders.

Further clearance work round the Greenmoor Ponds site was undertaken during the winter months including rerouting the path around the upper pond.

As usual, the summer Walking Party’ took place in August, this year the destination was the King William IV in Hailey following Walk 12 from the ‘Stilehopper’ book of ‘Woodcote Walks’. (The beer kitty, surprising enough was more than sufficient for the alcoholic demand and those who contributed to the kitty generously agreed that the remaining cash (£11) was gifted to WCG.)

The Autumn Working Party cleared the entrance path to the Thames Water site.

Chilterns Commons Project

Sam Peates, Sue Sandford and Susan Maguire have completed four chapters of the Dipping Well History booklet covering time up to c1902. Further research is required to fill in the period between 1902 and when the village was eventually connected to the mains water supply in the 1920s.

Tidmore Pool

The issue of the boundary fence around the Tidmore Pool has not been resolved. The fence is still in the wrong position despite the Parish Council solicitors writing to the owners demanding that it is moved back to the proper boundary.

Thames Water Land

WCG has now full access to the Thames Water land leased to the Parish Council.

There have been a number of meetings with Ian Crump (Thames Water) and Rod d’Ayala  (ecologist) to update the draft Management Plan for the site. Changes include moving the access to the site away from two hydrants and a manhole cover. Ian Crump has agreed to the suggestion they we establish a path around the perimeter of the site that will exit on to Green Lane opposite the land gifted to Woodcote by Millgate Homes (Snowdrop Wood).  When complete this route will link the Greenmoor Ponds and the Thames Water site with Long Tool via Green lane and “Snowdrop Wood) provides a half a mile circular walk.

Ian Crump also said that Thames Water would look favourably on a request to source and supply FOC a small footbridge to provide a crossing over the drainage ditch into Green Lane.

Both Langtree School and the Primary School are interested in getting their pupils involved in projects associated with the Greenmoor Ponds/Thames Water site. Langtree School has already completed one working party on site helping to clear undergrowth, bushes and small trees for the Thames Water site and have plans for three more sessions (see below).

Publicity

As stated in last year’s report the WCG website is in need of a refresh and updating.

The contractor who set up the site originally no longer carries out web site development. Therefore, the Committee will have to decide whether a complete refresh of the site can be funded or whether we just continue with the current set up. Two minor additions have been made to the website, the WCG Annual Reports are now available online and conservation events organised by other groups in Oxfordshire will be publicised on the website.

The Group’s column in the Woodcote Correspondent is still the simplest way of publicising the WCG to village residents. The Committee needs to evaluate whether the writing of adhoc articles in the Correspondent, as and when the need arises is sufficient or is there a need to look for other ways of ensuring that we have a WCG article in every issue of the Correspondent rather than just relying on Committee Members to write them.

In spite of the inclement weather having a stall at the Woodcote Festival this year successfully attracted new members

The Community Centre Coffee shop. Thanks to everyone who supported the event in October by baking cakes and helping to run the Coffee Shop on the day itself. Sadly, the event only raised £63, rather a disappointing return for all the effort put in. Apparently, there was a family fun run in Oxford on the same day and this may have contributed to the low customer turnout.

We have secured another booking for next year on Oct 21st and hopefully this event will be better attended.

Woodcote Neighbourhood Plan (WNP)

The Parish Council Working Party are evaluating proposals of what use the land off Long Toll, donated by Millgate Homes, could be put to. Karen Woolley on behalf of the WCG has urged that it should be a wild life site.

Old Reservoir Site (P15/S2685/FUL – 41) has yet to be approved by SODC. WCG Committee has submitted a response to SODC highlighting the risks and concerns regarding the developments of this site following the release of the Geo-Environmental and Hydrogeological Site Assessment by Omnia Environmental Consulting Ltd.

The Parish Council has recently circulated a flyer regarding the proposed development of 65 houses on land at the rear of Bridal Path.  The Parish Council who strongly opposes this development has urged residents to send their views on the development to SODC. As residents rejected the development of this site when they were consulted during the formulation of the Neighbourhood Plan, it was not included in the WNP and should therefore be opposed by residents concerned with the over development of the village.

Woodcote – Low Carbon Village Initiative

Liam Woolley has had a meeting with a representative of Oxfordshire Community Action Groups (CAG) with a view to setting up Woodcote CAG to pursue the Low Carbon initiative.

Woodcote already had a CAG set up for running the Swap Shops so it would make sense to combine both activities under one CAG.

Liam Woolley subsequently contacted Sam Peates and currently the Village Hall Committee has not continued with the Swap Shop CAG set up by Chris Quinton because the funding from the central Oxfordshire group had ceased and they have been unable to find a replacement to run it.

If effectively a new Woodcote CAG were set up to run both activities then leadership of the combined CAG would not be undertaken by the Village Hall Committee. However, individuals from the Village Hall Committee previously involved in running the Swap Shop might be prepared to assist in continuing to run them in the future.

So unless we can find a volunteer to head up the CAG it is unlikely that we can continue with the Low Carbon Village initiative.

Health and Safety

The Woodcote Conservation Group has maintained a good standard of H&S on all its activities over the years and is supported by formal H&S documents in accordance with ‘Good Practice’. 

The Health and Safety Plan, a general Risk Assessment and associated Method Statements are regularly reviewed for their respective purpose and they form the basis of that documentation enabling a Safety Briefing Check List to suffice for the majority of WCG activities, which has proved to be appropriate.

The Leader of each activity, who is conversant with the Main Core documents, thus ensures that participants are duly recorded and advised of the principal H&S issues that that Leader oversees throughout the activity.

No accidents or H&S incidents have been reported on any of the WCG events during the past year.

Funding

Outside funding since the last AGM has continued to come from the Parish Council. The Committee is very grateful for their ongoing support.

The WCG Chairman have been informed that the Rally Committee will be making a donation this year

The Committee is also grateful to the membership for their subscriptions and support.

Membership

The Group’s current membership has increased this year to over a hundred and ten individual members and family memberships.

The Committee

The Committee is still short of volunteers to serve on it. If any member of WCG would like to serve on the Committee could they please contact the Liam Woolley.

Liam Woolley

Chairman, WCG

On behalf of the Committee, November 2016