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Villagers fear isolation after council staff move
RESIDENTS in Cumnor fear they may be left isolated when council staff move from offices in Abingdon to offices near Wallingford next year.
The Oxford Mail revealed this month that about 80 Vale and South Oxfordshire District Council employees will move from Abbey House, in Abingdon, to Crowmarsh Gifford, near Wallingford.
Cumnor is inside Vale of White Horse District Council boundaries, despite being closer to Oxford city centre than to Abingdon. The council move would mean residents and councillors in Cumnor would be 17.6 miles away from their district council base in Benson Lane, Wallingford.
That is 11.8 miles further away than the 5.8 miles to Abbey House in Abingdon.
Brian Stops, chairman of Cumnor Parish Council, said: “People are concerned about the move to Crowmarsh Gifford. It gives us a feeling of it going a bit further away from us.
“The shape of the Vale means we are stuck in the north east of the district, particularly compared to Faringdon and Wallingford. Although it is not supposed to happen for some time we feel the damage is almost done.
“The idea of going to Crowmarsh Gifford is not great. It all seems very remote. We want access to the offices quite often.”
He said the parish council had not considered asking for boundaries to be altered.
Cllr Stops said it raised the question whether Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire District Council had taken a step towards merging. But in a full meeting last week Vale leader Matthew Barber denied that was the case.
During the meeting 27 councillors voted in support of the move, 18 abstained and three councillors voted against the move.
Cllr Barber also promised that no public services would move out of Abingdon, and even suggested some county council services could be provided from Abbey House.
Abingdon Town Council leader Sandy Lovatt said: “I have always said Abbey House should be used for the benefit of the community. We need more county council services here, so bringing them to Abingdon is a good thing.
“The decision makes sense, it is good in principle.”
About 200 people work for both councils in Abbey House in Abingdon and 50 of them also have desks at South Oxfordshire’s headquarters in Crowmarsh Gifford and travel between the two offices.
The decision was made at a Vale cabinet meeting earlier this month.