Banbury Community Action Group

BCAG March 2023 Minutes

Chair:          Jim                       

Minutes:    Harriet

Present:      Jim S, Lynda S, Harriet J, Chris M, Colin S, Robin


1. Agenda item I   Welcome and apologies                                                                            Jim

A warm welcome to everyone.  Apologies from Tila R, Melissa Z

2. Agenda item II   Matters arising from February meeting, 07/02/23                              Jim

To do: Lynda to look into the merits or otherwise of seeking charitable status; the Co-op Futures webinar 08/03 should provide useful guidance; point of info: Bloxham Biodiversity is a CIC 

3.  Agenda item III   BCAG admin                                                                                              Jim

Total hours spent on BCAG business and projects for February 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.

Harriet wanted to check about circulation of draft minutes.  The meeting agreed that the present system works well with Harriet sending draft minutes to Jim, Jim reviewing the draft minutes and, presuming there are no questions on them from him, posting them on the website.  To formalize this, going forward there will be a standing item added to the monthly meeting agenda, to confirm that core members are happy with the minutes of the last meeting.

4.  Agenda item IV   Treasurer’s report                                                                                Lynda

The balance stands at c.£5k out of which c.£2K is ‘BCAG funds’, that is, not already earmarked for particular projects.  There has been an anonymous donation of £500 to pay for Tila’s time in this gap between projects to fund her – warm thanks to the donor.  Banbury Charities have provided a grant of £240 which came with very supportive words about the work BCAG achieves, particularly that done through the Garden. 

Harriet expressed disappointment on the complete lack of communication received from OCVA and Community First Oxfordshire over our OCC communities grant application.  Over the phone we were told that the application will be recommended to OCC for grant aid, but there has been no response to emails since.  Community First Oxfordshire are aware of our disappointment in the level of support being offered for a scheme that launched with much stress on the levels of support which would be offered to applicants!

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

Stats: Mailchimp: 237 Newsletter subscribers with 169 of these voting members; Facebook: BCAG 1111 followers.  All these numbers again show an increase on last month.  Thanks to Jim for making this happen.

Harriet apologized for the further delay on updating the leaflet.  Maria’s draft does not include mention of the food action; to include this will involve a rearrangement of the text.  Jim suggested there should also be mention of the proposed Library of Things.

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

The Garden outreach was present at the Grimsbury half-term Play Day event, 14th Feb: thank you to Tila and the volunteers who attended. 

A drop-in Community Gardening Session was held 18th Feb.  Aspire and Turning Point have been attending their weekly sessions at the Garden. 

Tila has been busy writing and submitting funding bids. 

The Garden has been awarded £500 from OxCAG for x4 food-related Garden events to be hekd with Sunrise MCP, so strengthening this wonderful link with them.

Tila has been leading on a number of tree planting schemes in the Banbury Country Park and on privately-owned land, under the banner of Banbury Trees.  The BCP trees are part of the Queen’s Green Canopy scheme, and there will be a ceremonial planting by the Lord Lieutenant on 28th March.

Lynda joined Pat and his son who planted a pear tree at the Garden in honour of victims of war.

Thanks to Jim and Sue for their regular check-ups of the Garden.

7.  Agenda item VII   Browning Road Orchard BRO                                                        Colin

Colin thanked the Wild Banbury volunteers who have continued their work in the wider Browning Road Park, opening out the ditch to help with drainage and improve habitat, creating ‘dead hedges’ to screen off and protect areas, and planting a range of native trees suited to the heavy wet clay soil.

Thanks particularly to Vaughan who joined the Wild Banbury volunteer group at their work party and gave the apples and pears a much-needed winter prune.  Colin will contact Julia at BTC to progress the question of sourcing suitable chippings for mulching the trees.  Work is still needed to check the stakes and guards.

Colin suggested that it would be helpful to provide some signage to explain the work going on in the Park to local residents and visitors, particularly for those who might have concerns about the works.  Agreed this was a most sensible idea.

Colin put forward the idea of a late April / early May Spring Orchard event timed to showcase the trees in blossom.  One idea is for this to be a nature amble round the Park.  Colin and Harriet to discuss this further.

Lynda reported that at the first meeting of the newly formed FAWG (food action working group), CDC, there had been discussion of how to expand growing space across the District, and the Orchard had been mentioned in this context.

8. Agenda item VIII   Banbury Active Transport Supporters group                             Chris

BATS submitted a collective response to the draft LCWIP.  BATS work has also been acknowledged and used by the Oxfordshire-wide Active Travel group which looks to connect rural areas to the towns.

9. Agenda item IX     Biodiversity                                                                                       Harriet

A small group is meeting with Thames Water at their Thorpe Lane depot, 13th March, to find out more about their operations.  A larger public meeting might then be arranged.

A meeting to discuss the Earthwatch-funded water quality testing, for those who have expressed an interest following the item in the Newsletter, is to be held on 24th March.  Thames 21 are coming to help run the training.  

Again working with Thames 21, BCAG BEN will be hosting a Riverfly training event in May.  This will be for a limited number of volunteers willing to commit quite a high level of engagement in monitoring. 

10. Agenda item X     Climate Action COP26                                                                    Jim

As spokesperson for BCAG, Chris attended the ‘Banbury Acts Together’ meeting, this being a forum which brings together all those interested in sustainability issues, across Banbury.   Thanks to Chris for agreeing to represent BCAG at the next meeting also, and to speak on our behalf.

11. Agenda item XI     Spring Give & Take                                                                     Lynda

25th March, Banbury Town Hall, set up from 10am, open to the public 11am – 1pm, finished and all cleared up by 2pm. 

The Give and Take plus Skills Share will include contributions from The Shed, Orinoco, The Haven, upcycling clothes.  Katherine House and the Salvation Army are both willing to accept leftover items.

Provision for refreshments is limited to hot water urns (tea/coffee), squash and biscuits.

Jim to send out a reminder about the event to subscribers and on the socials, with a request for additional volunteers.   Donations in advance can be left at Jim’s house or, if sufficient in quantity, Harriet is willing to collect.

12. Agenda item XII     Food action                                                                                 Lynne

There was a limited response to the advert for a project officer for the CT,ET project, to be funded from the CDC Community Food Organisation grant.  Jim and Harriet discussed the role with one applicant who was Oxford based but have decided to readvertise the post.  There have been several expressions of interest.

Harriet was invited to speak at the CDC Brighter Futures event on 2nd March, held at The Hill Community Centre; Tila was there to represent the Garden, and Lynne represented our food action.  This was an excellent opportunity to raise the profile of our food-centred work and also the Community Garden.  It provided a great chance for networking with useful discussions with Cllr Chapman and Cllr Biegel, amongst others.  A small group from the Monday morning sessions kindly baked for the occasion with the ingredients funded by CDC. 

Lynda attended the first meeting of the Cherwell DC Food Action Working Group, 7th March, representing BCAG.  The Group will be meeting again in April and it is great that BCAG is a valued member of this body.

One of the subjects raised, picking up on a discussion which Harriet had had at Brighter Futures, was accessing food surplus.  Cllr Biegel was able to report that the Oxford Food Hub might now be able to extend delivery to our area: this would be amazingly helpful but should be seen as a first step to us securing our own hub here in Banbury to strengthen the wonderful work done by the Community Fridge and Banbury Food for Charities.

The Britannia Road Centre ‘open kitchen’ Monday events continue to be extremely successful and much appreciated by those attending.  Sunrise Multicultural Project are funding the sessions which run as part of their core activities.  BCAG volunteers continue to support.  Thanks to Banbury Food for Charities for continuing to contribute to the ingredients.

Lynne had a valuable discussion with Dan to discuss how the test event at the RVS had gone and to talk about possible next steps.

12. Agenda item XIII     Library of Things                                                                         (Melissa)

Melissa has contacted Share Oxford who run the Oxford Library of Things.  They have been very enthusiastic about helping us. 

Three new LoT’s are being set up – Abingdon, Bicester and Witney, with funding from Oxfordshire County Council.  A meeting is to be held later this month to bring together the pilot teams and share learning, to which Melissa will be invited.

Share Oxford is producing a set of resources for setting up a LoT which they will share with us.  There will be a launch of the resources in April.

Share Oxford will also send information about possible funding streams.

OxCAG is also keen to help.


Jim reminded the meeting of the XR Walk in London, 21st-24th April.


Tuesday, 4th April, 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.