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This is a Press Release issued by
WODC in September 2005.
Its now August 2006 and we are none the wiser!

Enterprise Centre for Chipping Norton

LEADER+ and SEEDA are contributing 10,000 towards the cost of a study to assess the feasibility of a sustainable Enterprise Centre for Chipping Norton. The proposed Enterprise Centre would provide flexible space for new businesses to start up as well as act as a hub for business support, mentoring and training for the town and the surrounding area. The project is being led by West Oxfordshire District Council (WODC) and its core partners are Oxfordshire County Council and the Chipping Norton Town Partnership. Chipping Nortons Town Appraisal and WODCs Economic Development Strategy have both identified a range of issues relating to the need for the creation of jobs, support for both start up and existing businesses and training. The recent closure of Parker Knoll led to 400 job losses and although most of the people made redundant have now found alternative employment, the majority need to travel away from Chipping Norton to work. This goes against the vision of a working town and has environmental costs. An Enterprise Centre has been identified as a potential solution to create long term jobs for the area and enable people to work closer to home. The research will identify the demand and viability of an enterprise centre and will include significant community consultation and involvement. It is a real opportunity to draw the range of relevant communities (e.g. the local business community, the education sector and rural communities that look to Chipping Norton as a centre) into the process.

We still need more local jobs!

Some long-standing readers may remember that two years ago - before Parker Knoll actually closed - a group of people in the town tried to interest the District Planners in supporting an attempt to maintain the PK furniture refurbishment business which was still operating at the time. The main intention was to try and retain the skills of some town workers at the site. This idea was rubbished by the District Council. Next idea up was to try and establish a "centre of excellence" for furniture-related businesses - concentrating on custom-built kitchens and furniture. This would require investment in small industrial units and a large retail showroom. We needed the District's support to get some funds from SEEDA. Idea rubbished. At the time there was new legislation coming in requiring all councils to offer residents a recycling service of computers and other electronic equipment. Oxfordshire had no facility. Why not set up our own - in Chippy. A Town Council delegation visited a computer-recycling set up in South Yorkshire to collect facts and information. A helpful WODC officer with relevant experience proved invaluable. Experts made useful suggestions on this website Forum - and a solid proposal was developed. It was supported by the County Council. This idea was rubbished by Mary Neale who memorably responded when a presentation was made to her. "We're not doing that" she said. Instead the Partnership was formed to bring jobs to the town. That was eighteen months ago and so far not a single job has materialised. Now we have also just heard how the issue of computer re-cycling has been tackled by Oxfordshire councils. In a glossy magazine from "Community Action Groups in Oxfordshire" which is "inspiring residents to reduce waste in their community" there is a feature headed "Where do old computers go"

What happens to computers taken to the recycling centres in Oxfordshire The computers are collected by a company called DTC. The computers that they collect are taken to...............where they are broken down into their individual components. The reusable bits are made to build computers for local schools and the non-reusable items are recycled. (Thats exactly the proposal that we made!) But where are the old computers taken to Which was the location that was preferred to Chippy as a site for creating jobs from the recycling of Oxfordshire's old computers

The old computers are taken to a prison in Nottinghamshire!

What is an Innovation Centre

Innovation centres are different to business centres and offices with managed workspace. They provide workspace for small companies in an instructive and supportive environment. Their aim is to maximise the formation and development of businesses with the potential for growth. Typical features include:
  • Professional infrastructure and image for a small company
  • Communities of like-minded entrepreneurs, individuals and companies
  • The flexibility of a straightforward licence to occupy with only one month notice
  • Selection on entry to ensure business viability and growth potential
  • Practical help and access to a network of information sources and advisers
  • Close relationship between centre management and client businesses
  • Focus for support measures aimed at fast-growing companies

OK We'll have one of those in Chippy please. Soon as you can.

The Town Council agrees to give the Partnership 3,000
but only if it opens up its meetings and publishes its minutes.

"What on earth is going on" someone asks in the Forum this morning relative to the Partnership funding debate. Well rest assured, if you had been at the Town Council last night you wouldn't be any the wiser. The Town Council decided to give the Partnership the money they asked for - but without any obviously good reasons for doing so. It was apparently all about showing our faith, demonstrating we care and sharing a vision for the town. This was the same blind leap of faith we were invited to take eighteen months ago. Since then nothing has happened (except 10,000 has been spent on a feasibility study which nobody has seen) - so now another leap is required. This time to pay for a Programme Manager, whose job will be to apply for grants. A fantastically complicated task - according to Will Barton from WODC. Its not just a question of writing and saying I'd like 120,000 please. And lets all understand - added one supportive councillor - that the members of the Partnership are fantastically busy people and certainly don't have the time to shop around for grants and make applications. (Fancy that and we thought that these people who had elected themselves on to the Steering Group had done so precisely because they had some serious time to devote to it) No - what is required is a professional fund raiser and consultant who will - single-handedly- transform the towns prospects but according to Councillor Galbraith's arithmetic will be paid less than a bricklayer. Now what Town Council could refuse an offer like that One with their wits about them is a possible answer. Carterton kept being mentioned. They have had a Programme Manager for three years - mostly paid for by the Countryside Agency since Carterton was a "Pilot" town. So how much funding has their manager raised in the three years during which she has presumably been paid around 60,000. According to the Partnership's Business Plan around 80,000. Doesn't exactly sound life-changing. How many jobs have they created - asked Councillor Greenwell. None - was the eventual answer. (Perhaps the Partnership Steering Group have not heard about the young man from nearby Salford who on a purely voluntary basis masterminded a plan for the refurbishment of Salford Community Hall and secured 120,000 of funding for the project. No Programme Managers there. I wonder if he would be prepared to join the Partnership Steering Group) The rhetoric kept coming. This was about creating a future for the young people at the school. It was about creating an engine to drive the success of the town. The Town Council needed to be "at the heart of it". Excuse me - said Councillor Qadir - I think we are getting our priorities wrong. We should be spending the money on equipment for recreation grounds for which we currently have no budget. He was ruled out of order by the Chair. We're not discussing what else we might spend the money on - snapped Councillor Lake. Steady on - that's exactly the point. Why are we backing a pig in a poke with this proposal when there are other more pressing and tangible projects to spend it on. We should just concentrate on the Enterprise Centre and get a proposal done on that and fast - said Councillor Alcock. We don't need a Programme Manager. Someone like Oxford Innovation would help with it. They know all about getting SEEDA money. We should forget about other projects until we have secured a full-blooded Enterprise Centre. If we don't find a Programme Manager we will still be able to bid for funding won't we asked Councillor Grantham. Well yes. So it all became clear. The Steering Group couldn't spare the time themselves so they wanted to pay someone 20,000 a year to get this show on the road. (When you see the Mayor's Diary it is not surprising that she has no time. Her consort - who is also on the Partnership - leads an equally frenetic life these days.) But they were not prepared to extend their magic circle to embrace any expert volunteer helpers. Councillor Graves proposed we spend the money. Councillor Alcock proposed an amendment that we should at least insist that Partnership Meetings are held in public and the minutes published (neither of which have happened up to now). How could you hand over public money - without any kind of scrutiny Passed unanimously. I believe there's a Partnership Steering Group Meeting this week. Any one know where and when Need to get along to that. A couple of things were made crystal clear. The Town Council's commitment is only for a year. And if the Guild of Commerce don't come up with their promised contributions then the Town Council will not be approached for additional money. So now the die is cast. Bring on the Programme Manager. Interviews are taking place this week. Good luck to him. After all the hype we will be looking for some fast results. The partnership now have a huge sum of money for their website so for a start lets get an archive of all the agendas and minutes online as soon as possible so we can all catch up. I was very impressed with the new Headmaster Mr Duffy - perhaps he will write a visionary foreword for the new website. With him and Hilary Biles now driving this machine, your webmaster thinks there could be a real chance that the Partnership may finally stop its navel contemplation and get into a forward gear. And not before time!

The WODC Spin machine is in overdrive. An e-mail arrives addressed to "Media Contacts" with the message header........CN TAKES BIG STEP FORWARD ........ Big step What can this all be about I ask myself. My finger hovers over the mouse button before clicking. My imagination goes into overdrive. They are going to fix the pavements or mend the drains. Not surely a big enough step to justify the description "big step forward". They have found a site for the new town loos Could be that. The Partnership is to launch a new website. At last! They are going to position an ambulance in the town. If only. They are going to ban HGVs Could be. They plan to devote the whole of the Castleview site to community facilities - a library, a youth centre a youth theatre and a coach park. And why not CN is going to be transferred to Cherwell District Now that would be something. Its none of these things but the news is indeed momentous.
Check it out for yourself


Pic L to R: Wing Commander Ian Tolfts, Catherine Chater Carterton Fast Forward Project,
Gordon Morris Country Side Agency. Seated in fire vehicle Carterton Mayor Keith Stone.

Barry Norton - Leader of WODC - speaking on
BBC Radio Oxford March 6th

"We are close to concluding deals on two or three employment sites in Chipping Norton which will be providing several hundred jobs. The deals are commercially sensitive and confidential but we will be announcing the details in a few months time".


An Enterprise Centre to the Rescue

Over two years ago Parker Knoll - who had employed 500 people - decided to leave town. Their decision was made much easier by the WODC Planners agreement that 10 acres of their site could be developed for housing. A parting gift of something like 15m to the beleaguered company. A Joint Committee was formed between Town, County and District to consider ways in which the creation of new replacement jobs could be encouraged. The Town Council representatives pressed the case strongly that 200-300 "blue-collar" workers from the town would now be looking for work and it would be much better all round if they could find it in Chippy - instead of having to travel to Witney, Banbury and even Swindon. The County said it was prepared to spend some of its own windfall proceeds from the sale of land at Parker Knoll on employment projects in the town. Various ideas for schemes which would need council backing were presented by local business people - for example for a furniture refurbishment facility, a Furniture Village, a recycling operation for electronic goods and even for a WODC-financed Business Park. But the District didn't buy this approach at all. These schemes were simply dismissed out of hand. Its been obvious for ages that Witney are more than content to see the "gentrification" of Chipping Norton continue. Industry belongs in Witney and Carterton. "Blue Collar" workers would easily find employment somewhere. The District did absolutely nothing to help. They even reneged on the offer they had made to collect the details of workers leaving Parker Knoll so that they could subsequently be consulted. But what was even crazier was that WODC Planners continued to approve plans for building hundreds of new houses. Less jobs- more homes is the daft economic policy for Chippy which the District have been applying now for several years. The Planners solemnly promised that a binding marketing plan would be produced for the five acres of employment land at Parker Knoll and that Wimpey would not be allowed to sell its houses until this plan was in place. The plan would call for a mix of industrial units. This was a totally hollow promise which has been ignored and never enforced. Two years on and Wimpey are happily selling their houses but simply offloading the five employment acres on to somebody else. Nothing is being done there. Wimpey have simply ignored the Planners. Barry Norton (Leader of WODC) claimed back in March this year that all sorts of deals were being done to get "hundreds of new jobs in Chippy" and would be announced soon. So far we know that CETA have been persuaded to keep their 100 existing jobs in the town by subsidising the company's purchase of a plot of land for a new headquarters. Owen Mumford were given planning permission for a factory extension which should create 80 new jobs. But we need many more new jobs than this.

Two years ago the District and OCC closed down the Joint Committee and decided that any money from the County Council or from SEEDA should be spent though a new Town Partnership. The Partnership would take over the role of job creation in Chipping Norton. There is absolutely no doubt that when 60 people voted in the Town Hall for the formation of a Town Partnership in December 2004 they did so because they were led to believe that this would be the fastest way of getting public funds to help create new jobs in the town.

Two years on and how are they doing How many jobs have they come up with so far How many are they estimating Is there a clear economic strategy Is there good publicity material in place to sell Chippy as an employment centre How many trade fairs has our Trade and Tourism Promotion Group attended in the last year Is the WODC Rural Development Group actively marketing Chipping Norton as a place for inward investment If you read this website regularly, you already know the answers to these questions. The Partnership is beginning to look like yet another local quango that has talked a lot and done nothing. But hang on. There's been a development only this week. Is there light at the end of this particular tunnel

A report (READ IT HERE) is being presented by a WODC officer to the Cabinet of West Oxfordshire District Council tomorrow (Wednesday 30th August) about plans for an Enterprise Centre in Chipping Norton. Goodness knows why its being discussed by WODC before its even been shown to anyone in the town. Its full of wish lists and good intentions. Would you believe there is not a single financial figure in the whole thing. No clue as to what it will cost. More seriously not a murmur about how many jobs this project may create. I would have been laughed out of a board meeting in my old company if I had presented something as vague as this. We are told "WODC identified that a sustainable Enterprise Centre was a good way of encouraging structured business development in an area," then "The Town Partnership have fully endorsed this as an approach." So at least we know who to give credit to. This whole scheme is the District Council's who seem to have persuaded a gullible Town Partnership into believing that something useful will be achieved on the jobs front. Hardly surprising since by my reckoning out of ten Partnership members only one is actually involved in running a business. What on earth do schoolmasters, council bureaucrats, teachers, representatives of the Rotary, Ace Centre and Theatre know about profitable job creation A year ago they paid consultants 10,000 to do a study. These consultants concluded there was plenty of larger size business space available in Chipping Norton but an enormous shortage of smaller units - around 500 sq ft. They speculated that there were thousands of self-employed business people in West Oxfordshire who were trying to grow into bigger businesses and were frustrated by the lack of small office accommodation. These people could be the salvation of Chipping Norton. And on this dodgy assumption they built a so-called economic strategy. The problem is that the assumptions were all tosh. There have always been plenty of small offices available. Vacancies at Stones Business Centre, 2 West Street, above lots of shops, Cromwell Park. Absolutely no problem. However, small workshop units have always been like gold dust. And it's larger offices that have been impossible to come by. The Phone Co-Op, CETA and Wise Investment have all been looking for larger premises. But its obvious that the consultants were not really sure of their facts and suggested that WODC shouldn't do anything so rash as actually build anything. That would be too financially risky. Better to assess the demand by trying out a Phase1 scheme consisting of "hot desks" "easy in/easy out accommodation for start-ups" with add-on services like business mentors, training, seminars etc. The whole set up would have a Director and be run by SEEDA and Business Link. If it was successful business units and workshops could come later. (The report astonishingly says that there is a shortage of employment land in Chippy - another reason for moving slowly. What about the 5 acres of land at Parker Knoll which are still sitting idle) This "off-the-shelf" concept is all based on a scheme from SEEDA called "Enterprise Gateways". The report recommends that we visitwww.faringdongateway.co.uk to find out what it's all about. If you do that you find 2,500 sq ft of office desks and meeting rooms, a Breakfast Club, a Womens Networking Group, training courses and seminars, A Director who dispenses advice and 69 members. 40 of these members supply some details. Surprisingly only 14 are from Faringdon. 6 are from Oxford, 4 from Swindon,7 from Wantage 2 from Carterton, 2 from Henley - even one from Woodstock. Its a big catchment area. Apparently No retailers. No manufacturing companies. Marketing, Training, Web Design, Life Coaches...that sort of thing. Get the flavour from these phrases taken from the members descriptions of what their companies do.

Does your body show signs of being stressed out If so, you might like to explore the Bowen Technique......Quality Childrens Bouncy Castle hire ....Design and landscaping company...Sculpture that is stylised ...provides Enterprising Branding ....provides marketing support to all sizes of business ....a small independent software developer.....Outsourcing your companys marketing capability....a full-service marketing communications agency ......BE YOUR OWN BOSSCOMMUNICATE WITH IMPACT...... Bespoke Gifts & Hampers....provide flexible and relevant IT training solutions...Making life work for women.....effective learning solutions to support the implementation of new technology....With our busy lifestyles it is often easy to let our personal administration fall behind..... Large format printing...science consultancy services to Biotechnology companies .....achieve results by utilising reward management to recruit, motivate and retain the right people.....Phobia consultant - life-changing therapies.....Advice on using Google Adwords ....a Life Coach that helps motivated individuals to re-discover their criteria of happiness.... innovative first aid and safety products

So it seems as if what's being created here is a focal point for small business people over a wide area. Often one-man bands - with bright ideas. Usually in the services sector. A place to network, catch up with best practice - make presentations to potential clients. All sounds like good stuff. But it also sounds expensive. Is this money really well-spent or wouldn't it help budding entrepreneurs a lot more simply to cut out all this kind of expenditure on advisers and posh premises and lower crippling business rates instead Will the scheme create 500 jobs in Chipping Norton That's the real question to ask. The report doesn't provide any clues.

Whatever happens about this particular idea - nobody must be allowed to think that an Employment Gateway in any sense relieves the pressure and urgency on getting those 5 acres of employment land at Parker Knoll developed as industrial units. That is where both the District Council and the Town Partnership should be devoting their strongest efforts.


Read the article down the page for a summary of the daft idea which the Town Partnership have hatched up for a two stage development stretching over goodness knows how long a period ahead. First an Enterprise Gateway - which sounds a bit like a social club for home based start-ups. Hot-desk accommodation, a meeting room, a breakfast club, a plasma television (wow) and business advice from Business Link. A complete waste of time. Only followed much later by a proper Enterprise Centre with workshop units run by an outside operator - hopefully someone with a strong local track record - like Oxford Innovation. This is what we need. This is what we should be getting straight on with. We have already wasted two years doing nothing. Unfortunately the Town Partnership is populated with people who know nothing about business and seem to be more concerned about sucking up to SEEDA - who have promised them some money for an Enterprise Gateway. Wasting SEEDA money is one thing. But it looks as if just as much of our own money will be frittered away on this Enterprise gateway as well - because they plan to use the County Council Parker Knoll pot of money as matching funding. Wasting our own money is another thing altogether. And we still haven't seen any estimates at all of costs - let alone grants. How on earth can you take any decisions without financial information According to the minutes of the cabinet meeting this is what Mary Neale said:

Mrs Neale stated that the Council had been involved in this project for some time but indicated that she had some concerns that an Enterprise Gateway would only be able to provide limited assistance. It would be directed towards office based services whilst an Enterprise Centre would provide a vehicle for business expansion and could include provision for light industrial units. Mrs Neale urged the Council to proceed with the development of a full Enterprise Centre concurrently. She noted that no costings had been provided for the proposed Enterprise Gateway and suggested that a little extra funding might be sufficient to meet the cost of establishing an Enterprise Centre.

Spot on Mary! Absolutely right! But as far as I can see nobody answered your point. They seem to be ploughing on regardless. You don't usually let people off the hook that easily. Please speak up even louder and make them see sense. PS Please come back and re-join the Partnership. All is forgiven.

Close vote as salary put under scrutiny

TOWN councillors in Chipping Norton voted only narrowly to hand over their 3,000 share of funding to the town partnership towards the year's salary of the partnership's programme manager, Catherine Chater. Several councillors voiced concerns at an apparent 50 per cent increase in pay for the manager, who will carry out the work over 100 days for 20,000. Cllr John Galbraith told a council meeting on Monday: "We are now paying 50 per cent more salary, having advertised the post at 100 a day, even though the responsibilities haven't changed. "The partnership cannot say that if they had advertised the job at a higher rate, they wouldn't have attracted a different sort of applicant. I am not suggesting that anything improper has taken place, but this appears to have been mismanaged." Partnership chairman Simon Duffy (pictured left) said the budget for the post had been between 15,000 and 20,000. He added: "We wanted people to come to us and pitch for the work, telling us how many days it would take them to complete the projects. The bids varied hugely, with some people asking 250 a day. "We have chosen the best person for the job and we know she will make a great contribution to the benefit of Chipping Norton. "As programme manager, she will direct our efforts and bring in funding to provide business support. We want to promote the town as a business destination to help create more jobs." The council voted by five votes to three with two abstentions to make the grant of 3,000. The role is also being funded by West Oxfordshire District Council, the Chipping Norton Society and Chipping Norton & District Guild of Commerce. The partnership's initial projects include an Enterprise Centre to help new and growing businesses, the marketing of the town to businesses and tourists, developing a clear understanding of employment issues and needs, and the development of a Youth Forum.

say these 5 councillors

From the left: Councillors Qadir, Greenwell, Davidson, Jarrett and Graves. Just five votes. That's all it needed on Monday night for the Partnership to get 3000 of the Town Council's money to go alongside 7,000 from the District and a promised 10,000 from the Guild of Commerce to pay for a Programme Manager who will spend her time applying for grants to help create jobs in Chipping Norton. Three councillors voted against. Two abstained. Two couldn't vote because they are members of the Partnership. Four councillors were away. What kind of "representative" democracy is this The council had written to the Partnership querying the way in which the Programme Manager had been selected and asking for an explanation - before the money was handed over. The Mayor had chosen to interpret this as a personal criticism of herself and Councillor Evans and before she absented herself for the discussion and vote she launched an astonishing blast at the Council saying that she was very upset at the implications of the letter. This was quite clearly intended to influence the vote that was to follow and somebody should have ruled her remarks out of order - except it was the Mayor herself in the chair. In the discussion Councillor Galbraith thought that no satisfactory explanation had been offered as to why the Partnership had advertised the Programme Manager job and invited applicants on the basis of 3 days a week at 130 per day and then appointed somebody for two days a week at 200 per day - particularly since at the presentation which Simon Duffy had made to the Council, Councillor Galbraith had specifically queried whether the terms being offered would attract the right applicants and had been told categorically they would. This sort of thing wouldn't happen in private business (Councillor Galbraith has spent many years in big business). "Oh yes it does" said Councillor Graves (who is a teacher). "Its quite common for a salary to be negotiated quite different from what is advertised". So now we know. Councillor Alcock (who has spent all his life in big business) then expressed the view that having a selection panel some of whom knew the candidates well wouldn't happen with important jobs in business either. "Well " said Councillor Graves "that is quite common in Public Service jobs - particularly teaching". So now we know. It could explain quite a lot. Councillor Graves had heard the new Programme Manager at the Partnership Meeting last week and been very impressed. Let her now get on with the job raking in the money. At least that seemed a reasonable position to take. But we didn't hear what the other give-em-the money councillors thought since they didn't say anything. Councillor Galbraith continued to fret about the way things were done in the Partnership. They seemed to think they could do what they like - without reference or accountability. He was reprimanded by the Acting Chair (who later voted to give-em-the-money). Councillor Galbraith had already said that three times in different ways so would he now move on please. Councillor Alcock had another grumble about acquaintances serving on selection panels. (As my old mum used to say....a blind man on a galloping horse could see what was going on here.....but the bureaucrats were closing ranks and everyone else was looking the other way) And so it came to pass... a cash-strapped council which has been forced to cut its recreation playground budget to zero chose to hand over 3000 to an outfit which has been in existence for nearly two years with a remit to create jobs and has so far achieved nothing. Its latest plan is to launch a website soon. They have also made a deep analysis of the employment needs of Chipping Norton and decided that what is required is lots more small office space. Total fantasy but hey...lets get funding for an Enterprise gateway - which is a SEEDA invention and seems to consist of a meeting room, some "hot" desks for start-up companies, some Business Link mentors and (oh yes) a Chipping Norton Business Champion who will be a successful local entrepreneur. It makes you weep when what we want (and have been promised many times by the planners) is workshop units. It doesn't look as if they will be built any time soon. There had obviously been some heavy lobbying going on to secure the votes of Councillors Qadir and Greenwell last night. (although Yasin vehemently denies this in the this morning) Councillor Galbraith was approached last week with a suggestion he should join the Partnership - presumably in an attempt to "nobble" him ahead of last night's vote. I guess that offer is now withdrawn! I suggest we all remember to approach these five councillors over the next year or so with regular friendly enquiries like "How many jobs has the Partnership created this week then". That is if we all manage to survive the hefty tax and utility bill increases expected this winter.

The bottom line is that so far - after two years - the number of jobs created equals one

Miskersation reports on Wednesday's public meeting of the Steering Group of the Town Partnership. Post your comments in the

I attended the Town Partnership meeting last night. After this meeting I am convinced that this is a complete waste of time and money. During the meeting the word jobs was not even mentioned. They are now ploughing off at an angle and suggesting they will organise a youth forum for Chipping Norton. Worthy as this may be, what is it to do with the Town Partnership, which we all thought was set up to create jobs and promote Chipping Norton. When the Council voted on giving the partnership 3,000 we were told that the 20,000 for the Programme Managers wages would be financed as follows: 3,000 from the Council, 7,000 from the district and 10,000 from the Guild. They were asked outright if the Guild had paid up. They would not answer this. Remember this is a public body, self elected, self appointed, funded by your money. The Chairman Mr Duffy did not seem to know if they had or not, so its nice to see they are looking after the finances. He said he would produce some sort of balance sheet for the January meeting. The representative of the Guild then said the Guild had not actually said 10,000 but would see what was needed at the end of the year to make up the wages, if the Partnership had not raised enough themselves. I am positive that at his presentation to the Council, Mr Duffy stated that the Guild would be contributing 10,000. Would the Council have voted for the 3,000 if this assurance was not forthcoming Maybe they should have adopted the same attitude. A complete turnaround from the previous statement. The business plan which was presented months ago says that the Guild of Commerce will contribute 5,000 towards Partnership costs this year and 10,000 next year, not that anybody on the Partnership could remember this. So where is the rest of the money to pay Catherine Chater's wages coming from My best bet is that as usual the ratepayer will bail them out. The land at Parker Knoll that I seem to remember was destined for Industrial Units, which I think was one of the reasons Wimpey was granted planning permission, is now under offer to several developers. We were not allowed to know who they are or what their plans are. Whoever buys it will decide if and where the Enterprise Centre will be built. The Partnership were then asked if they were approaching the Council next year for another load of funds. Once again, this was in the wind - they would have to see how things went. The much awaited website will go online on December the 4th. To cover themselves they stated that it was not perfect yet and if there were any faults on it these would be sorted eventually. Would you buy a car from a dealer who said it still had many problems but they would eventually be sorted out Why put it online when it is not ready Is this to stop any criticism that they are not producing the goods They discussed the logos for the Partnership, but we were not allowed to see them. The main objective seems to be to get funding from SEEDA. According to SEEDA themselves Oxfordshire will receive a grand total of 700,000 over seven years divided up between 19 market towns. That's about 5,000 a year each on average. Good idea, pay 20,000 a year for a Partnership Manager to get back 5,000 if we are lucky. I personally will better the SEEDA money. If the Partnership will give me 20,000 a year, I will give them 10,000 thus doubling the amount. I think most folk in Chippy would do the same. I cannot see the point of them asking for questions from the Public - whose presence seemed to be tolerated rather than welcomed - as none of them were answered. I also came away with the impression that most of the Partnership did not seem to know what was happening. All this reminds me of the legendary Oozlum bird which is a particularly rare mythical creature, supposedly able to carry out many fantastic things, including being able to fly backwards and flying in ever-decreasing circles until it manages to fly up its own rear end, disappearing completely, adding to its rarity. I came away with the impression that if waffling raised money and created jobs, this Partnership would be doing a wonderful job. The bottom line is that so far jobs created equals one, The Partnership Manager, paid for by ratepayers money. If I have misunderstood anything that happened at the meeting, I am sure one of the members of the Partnership will correct me, I look forward to their replies.

The Editor - who was also present - comments: Miskersation's account is absolutely spot on. The whole thing was a farce. How on earth can high-powered people like Richard Dudding (Head of Econonic Development OCC) and Tony Walker (Head of Tourism and Economic Development WODC) waste their time sitting listening to such stuff They hardly said a word. The ramblings of Chater, Biles, Evans and Duffy were clearly boring them rigid. There was much discussion about the new website, The funny thing was when Mike Howes said he had visited the site and couldn't find any content. This provoked uproarious mirth among the techie administrators who clearly thought Mike was out of the ark and said things like...."Ho Ho...didn't you press the red button in the bottom left corner and access the drop-down and pop-up menus". When Mike said he hadn't seen those the administrators almost fell of their chairs with laughter. He would have to report for some urgent training, Unfortunately the vast majority of Chippy residents are much more like Mike than they are like Roger Backhaus. Doesn't bode well. But we must be patient until Dec 4th.The only sense all evening was talked by Councillor John Grantham from the Public Gallery who was pushing the case for developing the employment land at Parker Knoll hard. He knows more about job creation than the lot of them put together. To top off all the politically correct mumbo-jumbo, the Chairman announced that he wanted one of his sixth- formers to join the committee. In the next couple of weeks the Town Council must decide whether to support the Partnership financially next year.