Thursday, 24 June 2021

Villages awarded £120,000 towards community projects

GRANTS totalling £120,000 have been awarded to community projects in Benson, Watlington and the surrounding area.

Five organisations will share the money from South Oxfordshire District Council.

Ewelme Parish Council will receive £75,000 for the rebuilding of the village pavilion and the Millstream Day Centre in Benson will get £17,590 towards a new kitchen.

The Watlington Club in High Street, Watlington, has been awarded £19,500 for replacement squash court flooring, fire doors and a lawn aerator.

Benson Parish Council was given £6,050 for play area improvements and Lewknor village hall will receive more than £4,500 for replacement doors.

Peter Lemaire, a Ewelme parish councillor, said: “We very, very pleased because this money is a superb boost.

“It’s going to be about 30 per cent of the final cost so we can now start with a vengeance to fund-raise.” He said the current pavilion, which is about 60 years old, was “tired”.

Councillor Leamaire added: “We have been looking to have a decent pavilion for quite some time years.

“We want it to be a small meeting venue and we’re pushing for children’s parties as it’s right next door to the adventure playground. We want it to be for the whole community.”

Geraldine Gault, who chairs the Millstream Day Centre’s management committee, said: “We were thrilled, absolutely thrilled.

“It’s one of those things you go into thinking, ‘it would be lovely if we got it’ but you’re never quite sure what’s going to happen when it gets in front of the committee.”

Work on the new £36,000 kitchen will begin next month. The solid plate hobs will be replaced with induction hobs and there will be more working surfaces and better storage space.

Mrs Gault added: “The fact that the district council sees that it has value and we’re getting grants from other places means we should have most of the costs covered, which is very exciting.

“What we are doing is future-proofing the centre and making it more fit for purpose. With the amount of development that’s going on in Benson there’s bound to be a certain amount of elderly people coming in.”

Benson Parish Council’s grant will go towards a new zip wire and viper swing at the St Helen’s Avenue play area.

This comes after the council conducted a survey of children at Benson Primary School who chose what pieces of equipment they would like to see.

The council is planning to spend £20,000 on four new pieces of equipment for the play area and the one in Green Close.

Jon Fowler, vice-chairman of the council, said: “It’s really good to get some grant money towards the cost of all the work. It helps us maintain and provide new play equipment for the children. It’s very important that we don’t forget about the youngsters in the village and do make provision for them.

“The parish council will fund some of the cost but if we get grant funding towards anything like this it helps an awful lot.”

Elizabeth Gillespie, cabinet member for grants at the district council, said: “This funding achieves our goals to make a real difference in our communities across South Oxfordshire, helping ensure existing facilities are upgraded and that new ones become available for residents to use.

“The next round of grant funding is now open for applications. We’ve still got more than £105,000 available so I urge groups with a project that will benefit the local community to contact our grants team.”

Community groups have until September 6 to apply for a grant. For more information, call 01235 422644 or visit southoxon.gov.uk/grants

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