Wantage councillors expand on decision to report vape shop

The new store Wantage Vape Zone opened in the town’s Market Place earlier this month.

Town councillor Erik Johnson said the authority reported the store to enforcement when it first appeared and concerned people living in the town have spoken out against the shop.

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A statement issued by the town council said: “Wantage Town Council has written to the Vale of White Horse District Council planning enforcement team regarding the illuminated sign on this new shop on the junction of Newbury Street and Market Square as no planning application has been submitted for it.

Oxford Mail: Wantage Vape Zone Wantage Vape Zone (Image: Ed Nix)“Wantage Town Council seeks to maintain the historic nature of the town and we will work with shop owners to help achieve this.

“Policy four of our emerging Neighbourhood Plan states ‘Specifically on shop signs efforts should reflect the historic town centre and again reflect the historic character and be made of wood and not illuminated.’

“However, neither Wantage Town Council nor the Vale of White Horse District Council has any power to prevent vape shops opening. This can only be done by central Government.

“We urge people to contact their MP asking them to bring the restriction of this type of shop before Parliament.”

The store’s appearance has drawn concern from all levels of local government.

Jane Hanna OBE, Wantage and Grove county councillor and chairwoman of the Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, said: “Vaping has contributed to 50,000 to 70,000 fewer smokers per year in the UK, but the rise in non-smoking children taking up vapes has skyrocketed in the past few years.

“This is with the colourful packaging and sweet flavours seen as appealing to children, and single-use kits being easy as well as harmful the environment.

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“The Oxfordshire County Council Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee reviewed the evidence in April 2023 and heard that teenagers mention vaping as one of their top mental health concerns.

“The new shop in Wantage Market Place with its bright yellow illuminated sign and bright vapes alongside colourful candies and drinks is a serious concern. 

“National legislation does not permit local authorities to chose whether most business types set up in the town. 

“I alerted the director of public health and the health committee last week, and I have requested trading standards, which is doing work to tackle unregulated products and under-age sales to investigate.”

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