Fiona Berry

Fiona makes an enormous contribution in her role as Chairman of the Parish Council Planning Committee and I would suggest that we are very lucky to have her working on our behalf.

She moved to the area in 1988: she and her husband were house-hunting for their first house together and Peppard fitted the bill. She admits to being a country girl and enjoys the countryside in this area. Fiona was brought up in Hove and spent many hours walking on the South Downs but says that she loves the variety of landscape that we have here. Living by the sea, water sports were prevalent in her youth and she participated in sailing, rowing and canoeing.  She has always been a walker but she has also recently taken up rowing again and says that Henley most certainly beats the industrial Shoreham Harbour!

Her career was spent primarily at ICL (International Computers Limited) which she joined when they sponsored her degree course in computer science. The company was subsequently taken over by Fujitsu and then Siemens.  She continued working for them throughout and became the person responsible for the development and implementation of healthcare IT systems throughout the UK.  In more recent years , she has wound down a little and has worked part-time doing consultancy which she has been able to do from home.

She joined the Council six years ago and quickly became interested in planning issues.  It was around the time of the proposed recycling plant at Manor Farm which also coincided with the Community Survey.  Realising that other people care as much about their environment as she does, Fiona was determined to help in a practical way to preserve what we have.  Joining the Planning Committee and attending many meetings at local and District level was the way to achieve what she believes is the right outcome.

There was a huge learning curve, made more difficult because of the on-going changes in government policy. At parish council level, it is only possible to make recommendations to South Oxfordshire District Council, the organisation that makes the final decision on planning issues.  Fiona became Chairman of the Planning Committee nearly three years ago and often finds herself putting a case forward and having to argue for the preservation of our green spaces to councillors from, for example, Didcot, who have a completely different criteria for building. Her own taste is in designs where some creativity has been employed – she finds repetition in house design very boring.

She estimates that she spends two days a week on council work and then, quite possibly, extra time will be spent on site visits. As well as keeping up with the ever-changing rules and regulations, she spends an enormous amount of time researching the detail to back up planning decisions. At one time she wrote a 7,000 word report to establish whether an area on Wyfold Lane was classified as a brownfield site or greenfield. Some of her research has been thoroughly enjoyable – she learnt so much ancient history when considering an application for The Dog pub.

Fiona is looking forward to retiring from work very soon but intends to remain very active as well as taking up new leisure pursuits  Recently, she acquired a weaving loom and intends to experiment with creating different textures and patterns.  She has also joined Phyllis Court and hopes to take advantage of the various interest groups there.

With two adult boys who, while still living at home, lead independent lives she and her husband can look forward to more travelling: they went to Vietnam and Cambodia earlier this year. Having travelled the UK and seen the interiors of lots of offices, she would especially like to see more of the real country.

In the meantime, our village is in a very safe pair of hands.

Rita Hadgkiss