Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Residents to be asked what welcome signs should say

A PUBLIC consultation could be held on plans to install three new signs welcoming visitors to Goring.

Earlier this year, the parish council agreed in principle to accept a £2,500 donation from the Goring-on-Thames in Bloom committee to place the signs at the village’s main entrances in Reading Road and Spring Lane and on Goring Bridge.

These would celebrate the village’s status as best small town in Britain and national gold award winner in the Royal Horticultural Society’s 2019 Britain in Bloom contest and replace old ones which recognised its victory in the 2011 Calor South of England Village of the Year competition.

But some residents have complained after a proposed design of the signs showed them reading “Goring-on-Thames” rather than “Goring”.

They say this is inaccurate because the suffix doesn’t typically appear on maps, although the parish council adopted the former name in 2014.

In a letter to parish clerk Laura White, one opponent said it was “flummery” used by estate agents but didn’t exist historically so the idea should be “quietly forgotten”.

They said the existing signs had been there for 25 years and should last 25 more so the money, which would be matched by a £2,500 contribution from Oxfordshire County Council, would be better spent elsewhere.

They added: “I find it really hard to imagine why a donor might want to fund pointless road signs instead of helping a food bank.”

The clerk is now researching historic records while parish councillor Bryan Urbick says he will propose an “inexpensive mini-consultation” at the council’s next meeting.

He said: “Although the Bloom committee has kindly agreed to raise half the money, the other half is set to come from public funds and some people have claimed it’s wasting perfectly good money which could go on other things.

“Some have also said it’s pretentious and we shouldn’t go down that route.

“The village’s legal name is Goring according to the Post Office. We can ask to change that but it’s quite a procedure and would also cost public money, albeit not the parish council’s.

“My view is that this is a place where people live — it’s their home and we should at least offer them a chance to comment before the parish council moves forward.

“Some people say we should just make decisions but I wouldn’t feel comfortable rushing this.

“I admit I was surprised that Goring-on-Thames isn’t the official name as the council adopted it before I joined, so I assumed it was correct.”

Stephanie Bridle, who chairs the Bloom committee, said she was disappointed at the delay since the council had already agreed the idea in principle and it had been in discussion since September.

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