Banbury Community Action Group

May Newsletter

Welcome to our May 21 Project Update and News We hope you enjoyed our recent seed swap as much as we did.  Have you found a moment to sow any seeds you took away with you? Haven’t got round to it yet? Not to worry – there’s still plenty of Spring sowing time left!  This May News brings updates on our ongoing projects and flags up other interesting things going on.  Happy reading! 
Celebrating the return of Banbury’s swifts Banbury’s swifts arrive back to our skiesA very warm welcome to our homecoming swifts – back for the summer, after nine months spent in Africa, to nest here in Banbury.  Have you seen – or heard – one of these amazing iconic birds, yet this year? The first one we know of arrived home on 4th May. Tracking down swift nesting sites is not an easy thing to do.  The birds give you a clue, whirling around the nearby buildings at break-neck speed, in noise-filled, squealing groups, but it takes luck or patience to see where the entrance to a nest is.  The best you get is a fraction of a second of a fleeting black shadow as the bird enters, so quick that you can doubt you really saw it.   Swifts nest in spaces within buildings accessed through small gaps, holes or lifted tiles.  They are no trouble as lodgers, making no mess: in fact, most people lucky enough to have swifts as house guests, never even know they are there. Sadly, swift numbers are in decline. One reason for this, is loss of nesting sites.  As part of our work supporting local wildlife, BCAG has joined with the ongoing Cherwell Swifts Conservation Project, to identify which Banbury buildings these birds use as nest sites.  The Project’s survey work has been running in the town for quite a few years, and a number of nest sites have been identified by the team of eagle-eyed volunteer surveyors.  This year, we will be searching for signs of other nesting locations, and confirming whether birds have returned to those already known.  

If you are interested in joining in, please get in touch via the BCAG contact details.  The “work” involves strolling round your local area on a warm evening, as often as you like, noting where there are low-flying swifts, observing known nesting sites, and watching to find more.  It’s a wonderful excuse to spend a pleasant hour or so out in the fresh air.Swift spotting event, July 21
To celebrate our good fortune in having swifts that choose Banbury as their summer home, we are arranging a town walk and talk for early July: we hope you’ll join us then.  The date will be announced in the June BCAG News.Bridge Street Community GardenThe recent Seed Swap event was made extra-special by having Banbury Trees with us, giving away lots of lovely healthy saplings – mostly of British native trees – and also representatives from Harvest @ Home.Thank you to everyone who generously brought seeds and plants to give; to Good Food Oxford for donating pumpkin and squash seeds as a lead-in to this year’s Pumpkin Festival; to Pat for (once again) making sure the helpers were sustained with delicious Sri Lankan food; to the Garden volunteers for keeping the Garden growing; and to everyone who supported the event. We are keen to start our insect-friendly planting project soon, so please keep this in mind.  If you have spare plants, seeds or bulbs you know produce good supplies of nectar and pollen for pollinators to feed on, we’d love to have them to grow or replant.  Please bring them along to the Garden at the next Swap, or get in touch (details below) and we can collect.  Perennials or shrubs are best.  Thank You!

With the help of generous support from Banbury Town Council, supplies of top soil and rotted manure have now arrived at the Garden.  Thank you to Lorna and Mike and the horses at Broadway stables, for the muck.   That means there’s now plenty of growing medium available.  We are delighted to now also have a supply of boards just waiting to be used for repairing existing raised beds and making new ones.  This is due to a generous donation made by Stratford Scaffolding Services Ltd.   Thank you Nick, the gift is much appreciated!

Additional volunteers are always welcome: intoduce yourself at the next seed swap or use the contact details below to get in touch.SEEDS SWAP EVENT AT BRIDGE STREET COMMUNITY GARDENSo many people called in to our April Seed Swap and Bridge Street Community Garden open day, that we’ve decided to hold another one!  Saturday morning, 22 May, 10.30 – 12.30.
Help yourself to free seeds and please bring any spare seeds, seedling or plants you have, to give away to others.We look forward to seeing you at the Garden.Browning Road OrchardWith a huge amount of help from the team at Wild Banbury – thank you! – the new fruit trees and hazels kindly purchased for the Orchard by Banbury Town Council, are in the ground.  It’s not the easiest of sites for the trees, due to the clay soil.  With caring local residents on hand, though, and a good mulch of wood chippings – by-product of some work to the other trees in the park – the trees are sure to flourish and provide a bountiful harvest of delicious fruit!Banbury Active Travel Supporters
There’s been lots of work going on as part of the BATS project.  The volunteer planners at BATS have been building up a town-wide picture of routes for cyclists and pedestrians, and we are now ready to embark on the next stage of the survey.  The route maps will go out to the wonderful volunteers who have signed up to check them, looking for any issues or problems there might be for users.
If you haven’t yet joined in, but think you might be interested in helping out, you can let the BATS team know by sending them an e-mail at
Use the same address to flag up any thoughts you have about where extra cycle racks are needed – BATS are keen to know where you think bicycle parking provision is lacking in the town.Urban WalkingHere’s a great opportunity to get involved in a local project aimed at encouraging healthy living. 

Cherwell District Council has secured COVID recovery funds to develop a set of walking routes around Banbury. Having the routes will help encourage residents to keep active by getting out and about around their neighbourhoods.  The routes will be clearly marked using a combination of signs and lines on the ground, and there will be activities painted up along the way, such as hop scotch and stepping stones, to make them fun to use.

The CDC Healthy Place Shaping team (Community Services) has drafted up two potential routes and are looking for feedback from the community.  One is for the Grimsbury area, the other around Ruscote, Bretch Hill & Neithrop.  
Links to the routes and feedback forms are as follows: 
Grimsbury route  
Ruscote, Bretch Hill & Neithrop route  
Use this chance to try the walks out, and to have a say now to make sure they work well.Mental health awareness weekEnjoying a walk is good for physical health: it’s good for mental health too.  The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from 10thto 16thMay, is ‘Nature’.  St John Ambulance are running a free mental health webinar, repeated throughout the week, which explores how making small changes in our daily lives can improve wellbeing.  It also looks at means of supporting others with particular reference to remote working and returning to work post-lockdown.  To find out more, and to register for the webinar, visit the SJA website hereClimate change action targetsSince sending round our last News, the UK government has announced that it intends to set a climate change target of reducing emissions by 78% (compared to 1990 levels) by 2035.  The target is to be enshrined in law by the end of June.  This new resolve follows on from the commitment to a 68% reduction by 2030 announced in December; the net zero target is 2050.  A major change is that this sixth Carbon Budget will incorporate the UK’s share of international aviation and shipping emissions – things that have been missed out before.  

The UK is co-hosting the UN COP26 climate summit to be held in Glasgow in November.  The announcement of new UK targets is intended, through leading by example, to help encourage other countries to set their own ambitious targets, in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.  The next important task will be to ensure this goal moves from ambition to reality through specific policies that will deliver the reduction in emissions.  If you want to know what they have to say about it, the Government press release is here. Carbon cuttingIf mention of national targets makes you wonder about possibilities for action closer to home, then here’s a couple of (online) events being organised locally that you might like to sign up for.  On 19 May, 7.30-9pm, there’s a (zoom) meeting looking at domestic energy use hosted by the Low Carbon Oxford North and Low Carbon West Oxford.  There will be people talking about changes – big and small – that they’ve made to their homes, with plenty of time for questions.  For more information, look here
Our mother CAG, CAG Oxfordshire, is teaming up with Low Carbon Hub to put on an event looking at opportunities for solar panels in local communities, and how to work with local businesses to invest in renewables.  Date: Wednesday 12th May; time: 7.30-9pm.  If that sounds of interest, register for free hereBanbury CAG is a volunteer-led group organising community events to raise awareness of, and promote action on, environmental issues such as sustainable transport, climate action, biodiversity protection, waste reduction, food and water issues.  BCAG also runs the Bridge Street Community Garden and the Browning Road Orchard.  We meet on the 1stTuesday of every month to plan campaigns and activities. Our meetings are open to anyone who would like to be involved.  The next meeting is 1 June and will be online (Zoom).
Our community projects are always looking for individuals, groups or businesses who may wish to participate or contribute.                Come and join in!With thanks to, in order, Jemima Swain, Colin Bird, John Cameron, Engin Akyurt, Artur Luczk, Chris Barbalis, Jenn Simpson, Nicholas Doherty for the photos, courtesy of Unsplash.
Copyright © 2021 Banbury CAG, All rights reserved.

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