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New fence to improve safety and tackle geese problem at Abbey Meadow

A new fence at Abbey Meadow will help to keep young children safe and could reduce the problem of geese causing havoc for park users.

Abbey Meadow, the park area next to the Thames in Abingdon, is very popular with families, however there is currently no barrier to stop young children around the splash park from running off and possibly falling into the river. 

To reduce the risk of children accessing the riverbank unsupervised, Vale of White Horse District Council is to install a 1.2m high fence a few metres away from the water’s edge.

The fencing is also expected to help deter geese from getting into the much-used splash park area.  Geese currently walk up from the river and defecate on the splash pad which requires daily cleaning in the summer.  They also pick at the rubber crumb covering, often damaging the surface, and leave mess on the grass which is a popular picnic spot for families.

While the fence is unlikely to stop the geese completely it could reduce the problem as they will need to fly into the contained area, instead of having an easy route into the site on foot.  To help discourage the geese, people are asked not to feed them and ensure they take any food waste and packaging with them when they leave the site.

The new fence will be located away from the river to allow walkers access along the river bank up to the Abbey Meadow boundary.  It will include two self-closing gates and will look the same as other fences in the area.

This project is the latest in a series of improvement works to be carried out at Abbey Meadow to help encourage people to visit the area.  Over recent years, the Vale has refurbished the outdoor pool, installed a large play area for children, upgraded the toilets and added a Space to Change fully accessible toilet to ensure the facility is accessible for the whole community.  The path from the outdoor pool to the Abingdon Lock has also been replaced with a new rubber surface.

Cllr Andrew Crawford, Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate Assets, said: “As a district council it’s important that we do what we can to improve our public facilities, especially if there are safety concerns.  Park users told us that they wanted to see a new fence to help keep children safe by the river, so I’ve very pleased that we will shortly have this in place.”

Cllr Helen Pighills, Cabinet Member for Healthy Communities and ward member for Abingdon Abbey Northcourt, said: “Geese have been causing havoc in Abbey Meadow for quite a while now and the issue is putting families off visiting the area.  Every time they enter the site, the geese leave an incredible mess and cause damage which costs us additional money to clean up and repair.  Hopefully the new fence will result in a lot less visits from our feathered friends.”   

Cllr Cheryl Briggs, ward member for Abingdon Abbey Northcourt, said: “I’m really pleased that there will be a new fence to help prevent young children potentially getting into problems around the riverbank.  I’m sure this new addition to Abbey Meadow will be welcomed by visitors to the area.”