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'Give area better leisure facilities'
Leisure facilities including a skate park, better bus links and controls on commuter parking have been listed by South Abingdon residents as major priorities in a new survey.
Neil Boston, who runs community group South Abingdon Residents’ Plan, is conducting a consultation to find out what 10,000 residents, who live in about 4,500 households, would most like to see.
Hundreds of homes in the area have been leafleted and, so far, the consultation has received about 800 responses.
At the same time, Labour district councillor Aidan Melville has been contacted by residents suggesting that a new GP surgery should be set up near Preston Road Community Centre, incorporating a dental surgery.
Mr Boston said initial responses to the consultation would help the group to produce a more detailed questionnaire on what facilities residents want like to see, with households encouraged to respond online.
The group will use results to petition councils and other decision-making bodies.
Mr Boston said: “There are about 10,000 people living in South Abingdon and some homes in the area have been leafleted, while others have responded after seeing our survey advertised on local noticeboards. We have received about 800 replies so far, with some people providing more than one response.
“Given the size of South Abingdon, it is quite bereft of facilities and contains the Caldecott ward, which is considered a deprived area.
“We are trying to find out what residents’ priorities are and the information will then be passed on to the local authorities, police and housing associations.
“There is a rugby club, boys’ football teams, a community centre in Preston Road and lots of green space but there are few facilities for an area of this size and some people feel that South Abingdon has been ignored for too long.”
Mr Boston added that, so far, residents have called for new leisure facilities including a skate park, basketball and netball pitches, an end to commuter parking in streets like Wilsham Road, and better transport links.
He said so far only about four per cent of residents have flagged up a desire for more health facilities, and added: “A major problem in South Abingdon is that there is very little development land left and if you tried to build a new health centre on a rugby pitch then there would be hell to pay.
“Health covers a lot of different areas including counselling, but it has not come up on the radar much so far in the responses we have looked at.
“I’m not sure if there would be room for a health centre next to the community centre in Preston Road.”
Mr Melville, who is Vale councillor for Abingdon Caldecott and a town councillor, said: “The Caldecott ward is in the worst 25 per cent in the country for child poverty and there are lots of elderly people and mums with young children who would benefit from health facilities here.
“At the moment they have to trek to the surgeries in the town centre.”
For more details on the consultation, visit sarp.org.uk