Neighbourhood Walkabout

The Oakham Neighbourhood Plan team are coming to a street near you!  Well, certainly if you live in Oakham or Barleythorpe.

With the Task and Finish Group, set up by Rutland County Council, getting into its stride focussing on work to rejuvenate Oakham town centre the Oakham Neighbourhood Plan team are moving to the next, and exciting, phase of their project.  Some of you may be wondering how the work of the Task and Finish Group differs from that of the Oakham neighbourhood planning team?

Well, both pieces of work involve gathering ideas from those who live, work and visit Oakham on the future development of Oakham. The difference is the Task and Finish Group work will focus on the town centre and take a short term view, 2018 / 2019.  The work of the Oakham Neighbourhood Plan will concentrate on the whole Oakham / Barleythorpe area with a more long term, strategic view, 2030 / 2035.

Neighbourhood planning gives local residents a greater say in the way their community develops and the power to produce a shared vision for their neighbourhood.  In short, to shape the development and growth of their local area over the next 10, 15 and 20 years.  To do this they put in place actions or policies to deliver these developments

To make this a reality, the Oakham’s Neighbourhood Plan group are looking for volunteers to participate in ‘Walkabouts’ / Neighbourhood Profiles in a number of areas across Oakham.  Recent events have shown that residents do care about the future of their town so this could be an opportunity for you to make a real difference to the area in which you live.

So, what are Neighbourhood Plans and Neighbourhood profiling?

The Neighbourhood Profile process allows members of the local community and the Neighbourhood Plan group to develop a greater understanding of their ‘place’. This is done by gaining knowledge of the area’s history, how it operates today what is valued by local people and what makes Oakham a great place to live or work.

Neighbourhood Profiles also help to define the character of an area and act as guidelines to the future for both residents and developers.

We already have a huge amount of evidence gained through the various consultation meetings and the Big Survey carried out last year.  About 1,500 questionnaires were submitted and we will be using all the information received to help gain an understanding of peoples hopes and wishes and testing this out in conversations with local people.

If you are one of those who do care then please get in touch via the ‘contact us’ button on the ONP website to join one of our community walkabout groups.  We have divided Oakham and Barleythorpe into six ‘community walkabout areas’ and these are 1, north east Oakham, 2, south east Oakham, 3, south west Oakham, 4, Barleythorpe and Oakham Heights, 5, the Industrial Area and Oakham School and 6, the town centre/conservation area.

We are also looking for support in writing the objectives and policies for the plan and if you are interested in assisting then please select a topic area and express your preference, again, via the website.  The seven topic areas are businesses, community services, heritage and open spaces, housing, sports and leisure, town centre and transport.

If you are able to join us we want you to have a rewarding experience of working with the team on the Oakham and Barleythorpe Neighbourhood Plan so full training will be given to help this happen.

See for further details and contact information.

New start for Oakham’s Community Building

Following extensive building alterations and renovations, Oakham Studio’s will be officially opened by the Mayor of Oakham on Saturday 24 February.

This is a little later than originally anticipated, however we believe the quality of the building alterations and new facilities make the wait worthwhile.


Councillor ‘Judges’ School competition

ESU Public Speaking Competition for Schools

In my role as Mayor I represent Oakham at civic events and meet other local requests including opening shops, businesses and housing projects, attending local prize giving and open days, switching on Christmas lights, drawing raffles and I have been to prison twice (guest not inmate).

I was intrigued when I received an e-mailed request to join a judging panel for the English Speaking Union Public Speaking Competition for Schools. Intrigued for two reasons:

  1. I had no knowledge of the competition
  2. Why was I considered suitable to judge?

The first was easy to resolve. A quick internet research told me that the ESU is an educational charity that includes helping people develop the skills and confidence to effectively orally communicate with others. Further reading explained how this can be achieved with young people through a programme of Public Speaking Competitions for Schools.

The competition was held at Catmose College and consisted of teams of school age students drawn from a number of schools including Catmose College. To help to prepare I received a comprehensive Judges’ guidance and marking criteria and was relieved to find that I would be one of three judges, the Chairing judge having much experience. Teams consisted of three students. A Chairperson to introduce the team, chosen topic, set the scene and sum up. A speaker who has a set time to talk about their topic and answer unrehearsed questions.  A questioner drawn from another team, again time limited. The Chairperson also invites questions from an audience of students. Each team had selected a topic to address.

Sounds easy? I can clearly remember how my stomach churned when waiting to deliver my first lecture as a trained and qualified teacher even though it is many, many years ago. For school students to stand at the front of an auditorium packed with students from their school and strangers from others, not to mention three unknown judges, takes a lot of self-confidence and fortitude. To then Chair and orchestrate the event, deliver an effective speech and ask probing, pertinent questions, all being clearly articulated, is even harder.

Judging wasn’t easy either. Whilst we, the judges, were supplied with comprehensive, objective marking sheets, the standards were high, much higher than I had expected. Whilst some competitors were better than others, all spoke confidently and articulately and kept within their time limits. A tribute to their hard work and the time, effort and encouragement of their teachers who commit many hours to extracurricular activities such as this.

Following the final presentation the judges retired to compare score sheets, determine the winners and then award prizes. We were also tasked with providing feedback, did this also provide the participants with an opportunity to judge our public speaking abilities?

This was one of the more unusual tasks I have performed during the year but also one of the most enjoyable. I would like to thank Catmose College for their warm welcome and hospitality, the help and support of the organisers and fellow judges, the organiser on the day and not least the enthusiasm of the participants.

I wonder what students felt about my first lecture? – perhaps it’s best not to know!


Cllr Michael Haley

Mayor of Oakham



Early removal of Christmas lights

Many residents are asking why the town centre Christmas lights were taken down so early?

As you may be aware, further civil engineering work commenced in the High Street on 2nd January and is scheduled to continue until 5th  February. This  means that there will not be access  to  remove them at the normal time.

Your Town Council did not feel it would be appropriate to have Christmas decorations still in place  in February as we start to look forward to the Spring and Easter and reluctantly had them taken down early.

HMP Stocken Prison ‘Fathers inside’

HMP Stocken Report  – Fathers Inside – Dec 2017

New start for Oakham’s community building

I am pleased to be able to report that the Oakham Town Council’s community building in Princess Avenue will shortly be in use again.
The building has been empty since the Fitness Centre closed about two years ago and has been the target of vandals in recent months.
Since then Council has been trying to lease the building and after a few false starts, Sarah Gott of Oakham Studios, approached the Council earlier this year.  Sarah could see the potential of the building and that it has good off road parking for her clients.  The building is detached and has more space than her existing premises.
Now that change of use Planning approval has been granted a lease agreement has been signed and builders will soon be moving in to make the building fit for purpose.  Work will include the installation of a sprung wooden dance floor, disabled toilets and improved access.
Sarah will be offering all of the dance classes that ran from her former premises, including ceramic painting sessions and will be adding a new programme of craft sessions for preschool age children and parents.
The anticipated opening day is January 8th 2018.


Business Challenge Days

The Mitie Foundation run Business Challenge Days in prisons that help soon-to-be-released prisoners improve their employability skills and prospects and we like to invite other prospective employers to participate as Business Partners.
The event is run in an enjoyable Dragons Den style.
As well as helping prisoners improve their employment prospects and hence reduce the likelihood of re-offending these events also prove to be a good team-building opportunities.
This will take place on 25th January 2018 with registration at 8:15am with day ending around 3:30pm, refreshments and lunch will be provided.
Link below for more details


The Mayor Opens New Bistro within HM Prison Stocken


HMP Stocken Report- Sept 2017




Costcutter have been championing independent retailers for 30 years with over 2600 stores throughout the UK with the commitment to help independent retailers, like Navaneethan and his wife Tharshini, thrive and provide an outstanding range and price.Navaneethan, or Nava as the locals were getting know him as, at the opening of the re-vamped local stores on Willow Crescent is clearly well motivated and like Cost cutter has the community interests at heart.

Family, friends, many of whom made a special trip up from London, local residents and Town Councillors were not only able to witness the grand opening by the Mayor of Oakham, Cllr Michael Haley, they were also presented with a visually wonderful tradition from the family of a Sri Lankan blessing at the entrance to the shop.  

Area Manager, Darren Fulcher, from the family orientated Cost cutter supermarkets group was on hand to ensure that Nava was well supported, with the success of this partnership built on a forward-thinking family business approach with the customer very much at the forefront of a flexible business solutions that enables Nava to run your local store just the way you want with big ranges and very competitive pricing.

The Mayor of Oakham was more than pleased to be invited to perform the opening and the event was well supported by other Town Councillors, which included Cllr Paul Buxton and Deputy Mayor, Cllr Peter Ind and like the local residents that were present took the opportunity to get the business ball rolling for Nava with a few purchases of their own.

 The shop may appear small, however it certainly packs a lot of the day to day items that you need, including your local papers, so you can even pick up your copy of the Rutland Times when you pop in to take advantage of  the regular deals, competitive pricing with friendly service right on your doorstep.

East Midlands in Bloom Competition Results

Oakham in Bloom report 2017