Banbury Community Action Group

BCAG Feb 2023 Minutes

Chair:          Jim                       

Minutes:    Harriet

Present:      Jim S, Lynda S, Harriet J, Chris M, Colin S, Lynne C, Melissa Z


1. Agenda item I   Welcome and apologies                                                                            Jim

A warm welcome to everyone.  Apologies from Maria M, Tila R, Zsofi B

2. Agenda item II   Matters arising from January meeting, 03/01/23                              Jim

To do: Lynda to look into the merits or otherwise of seeking charitable status. 

All other matters arising are covered under agenda items.

3.  Agenda item III   BCAG admin                                                                                              Jim

Total hours spent on BCAG business and projects for January were recorded – thanks to everyone for putting in time.  Harriet to ask any core members not at the monthly meeting, for their hours.  Thanks to Lynda for completing the data spreadsheet for CAG Ox.

4.  Agenda item IV   Treasurer’s report                                                                                Lynda

The balance stands at c.£5k.  

Abbie has kindly offered to audit the BCAG accounts and can also provide support to Lynda and Tila on suitable accounting systems to use. 

TSB are closing their Banbury branch so banking will need to move online.

5. Agenda item V   Social media, Newsletter, publicity                                                      Jim   

Stats: Mailchimp: 233 Newsletter subscribers with 165 of these voting members; Facebook: BCAG 1101 followers.  All these numbers again show an increase on last month.  Thanks to Jim for making this happen.

The update for the leaflet is almost complete with only the decision on the front fold picture still to be made.

6. Agenda item VI   Bridge Street Community Garden  BSCG                                          (Tila)

The Garden hosted a fruit tree pruning workshop on Sunday, 22th Jan, with an outreach session at Browning Road Orchard in the morning and a second workshop in Bridge Street in the afternoon.  Many thanks to Andy from The Heritage Fruit Company, Adderbury for leading the events and sharing his expertise. 

Lynda has met the Chamberlain Court gardeners to discuss their concerns.  They request access to tools which might be best met by having a lockable tool box.  Lynda/Tila to find the cost for this.

Thanks as always to Mush for continuing to keep an eye on the Garden.

The Garden has now completed all its existing funded projects; Tila is concentrating on applying for further funding.

The Garden will be represented at the Grimsbury half-term Play Day event, 14th Feb.  The next drop-in Community Gardening Session will be 18th Feb.

7.  Agenda item VII   Browning Road Orchard BRO                                                        Colin

The winter pruning workshop on 22nd Jan, led by Andy from the Heritage Fruit Tree Company, was held in a challenging -4°C but was well attended and informative (although a tad tricky to examine buds when branches were covered with a thick white layer of rime!).  Andy takes a conservative and tree-sensitive approach to pruning.   A session is needed at the Orchard prior to the growing season, to check stakes and ties, and to mulch the trees.  Julia from BTC will try and source the chippings; Colin also to see if he can secure a supply.

Wild Banbury volunteers have been doing work in the wider Browning Road Park, opening out the ditch to help with drainage and improve habitat, and planting a range of native trees suited to the heavy wet clay soil.

8. Agenda item VIII   Banbury Active Transport Supporters group                             Chris

The draft LCWIP has finally been published and is out for consultation.  The consultation closes on 26th February.  The Plan contains details of routes for walking and cycling across the town and gives suggestions for improvements from minor upgrades to major projects. 

BATS are meeting on 9th February to discuss a BATS/BCAG response to the Plan, but everyone is also encouraged to reply as individuals. 

9. Agenda item IX     Biodiversity                                                                                       Harriet

Following the XR Dirty Water protest (28th Jan, front page and p.4 of the Banbury Guardian, 2nd Feb) Thames Water invited those interested to meet them and find out more about their operations.  A sign up to be included in the next Newsletter. 

BCAG Biodiversity has been awarded a bursary from Earthwatch Europe, for water quality monitoring of the River Cherwell and its tributaries, which is great news.  This follows nicely on from the XR Dirty Water protest.  Without the grant, the cost of the package of registration, training and kits, would have been £400.  Harriet is registered as group lead with Earthwatch.  Kits should be available towards the end of February.  Other local environment groups will be invited to join in.

Thames 21 are looking into the possibility of offering training for BCAG BEN, for river habitat monitoring in the Upper Cherwell and its tributaries.

Through the Cherwell and Ray Catchment Partnership, Harriet met with Anita and Kay from the Environment Agency, Thames 21 (who now co-host the Partnership with BBOWT), and CDC, to discuss how BCAG might support nature recovery at the Banbury Country Park.  It would be valuable to have a ‘Friends of the Country Park’; it was agreed that this was in principle an appropriate concept for BCAG to lead on.  Jim suggested that a simple notice displayed in the Country Park might result in interested parties coming forward.

BTC has awarded BCAG £495 towards equipment for habitat improvement work across the town.  Thank you BTC! The grant was applied for jointly with Wild Banbury volunteers and, while the kit will be the property of BCAG, it will be available for Wild Banbury volunteers to use at their Friday morning sessions.

10. Agenda item X     Climate Action COP26                                                                    Jim

Several BCAG core members attended the ‘Banbury Acts Together’ meeting convened by XR 18th Jan.  The meeting brought together a wide range of groups and individuals with an interest in climate action, with a view to discussing whether there was a place for combined action.  While supportive of the idea, there was some concern about capacity, with those at the meeting being those already active and busy with their own valuable projects and work.

A follow-up meeting has been arranged for 8th Feb, focused on responses to the draft Local Plan soon to be put out for consultation by CDC.  Lynda has kindly agreed to attend as BCAG rep; Chris also hopes to be there.

Thanks to Zsofi for arranging the screening of the film, The Oil Machine, at Lock 29, 3rd Feb.  Donations received covered roughly half the cost of the venue.  It was agreed that, when budgeting for future film screenings, it needs to be kept in mind that BCAG’s contribution should be limited to £40 towards the cost.  It was suggested that the film organisers ask other groups such as Biodiversity Bloxham, how they are funding film showings.

11. Agenda item XI     Spring Give & Take                                                                     Lynda

Toby R at BTC is very supportive of BCAG hiring the Town Hall for the Give & Take Plus.  CDC has offered a £100 donation towards the cost of hiring the venue.  The Give and Take plus Skills Share will include contributions from The Shed, Orinoco, Sunrise, and The Haven, Dr Bike, and a clothes swap (Lynne to arrange), plus seed swap (Lynda).

Agreed: 25th March, 11am -1pm, with Hall booked 10am-2pm.

Cherwell Recycling have indicated that they might be able to help with funding for a similar event this autumn.

12. Agenda item XII     Food action                                                                                 Lynne

The Britannia Road centre ‘open kitchen’ Monday events continue to be extremely successful and much appreciated by those attending.  The sessions are offered, with support from BCAG volunteers, by Maria, Candy and Assia, at the Sunrise Multicultural Project, to a group currently housed in a hotel and thus without cooking facilities.  The women cook delicious dishes out of the basic ingredients, to a large extent sourced from food surplus.  SMCP now have some funding to help towards the sessions.  Thanks to Banbury Food for Charities and Banbury Community Fridge, for contributions to the ingredients.

Note that, although we have helped get the group started and there is an overlap with volunteers, this is a Sunrise project rather than a BCAG initiative.

The next Cook Together, Eat Together event was held on 10th Jan, in partnership with the RVS.  The event went well, but Dan found it hard to get people to sign up.  Lynne and Harriet will meet Dan to discuss next steps.

The CT,ET project has been awarded a £750 Community Food Organisation grant by CDC for a project officer to take the initiative forward.  The role is currently being advertised to those signed up to the BCAG Newsletter.


Melissa expressed an interest in setting up a ‘Library of Things’ in Banbury.  Jim explained how BCAG works, providing support and a platform from which relevant projects can develop.  The meeting was keen to offer its backing to Melissa and offered some suggestions for possible next steps.


Tuesday, 7thMarch, 7.30pm, Zoom.

Those present agreed that online meetings work well, there being plenty of opportunities now outside of the monthly meetings, to meet up at the Garden or at other events.  This decision will be reviewed on a month by month basis.