COLOURFUL markings that have appeared on paths in Bicester as part of a series of new health walks in a bid to get people moving have been welcomed.

Residents in the town are discovering a range of fun, interactive markings painted on their local streets by Cherwell District Council's healthy place shaping team.

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Inspired by three existing 5km health routes marked in a blue line on the pathways around Bicester, the new designs are to help people become more active and explore their local area on foot.

Chairman of Langford Village Community Association Carole Hetherington says she has already seen children using the markings for fun.

She said: "They have been well received in Langford and I have personally observed children 'jumping the hurdles' and playing on the hopscotch. Personally, if they make people smile and it encourages children to be more active and have fun, then why not?"

The new designs have been financed through the government’s Contain Outbreak Management Fund (COMF) supporting the local community to recover from Covid by encouraging more outdoor activity and improving general wellbeing in a safe environment.

A total of £8,000 was spent on them including the production supply, delivery and installation.

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The bid was made by Bicester Town Council specifically for ‘health route enhancements’.

Bicester Leisure Centre also welcomes the vibrant installations.

Laurence Bourne-Francis, fitness manager at the centre, said: "I feel the initiative is a great one. The markings, like with the blue lines, provide a tool to encourage people outside and to take part in physical activity in whatever form best suits them.

"Do I feel it is money well spent? Absolutely. Anything that encourages people to get up, get active and to go for a walk is a win in my book."

But some residents think they are a waste of money. Richard Ponsford said on Facebook: "These new markings are awful and completely inappropriate. Like the original blue lines, the new marks and characters are immeasurably crass and implemented without due thought. There are surely much better ways to spend these various grants."

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Councillor Andrew McHugh, Cherwell District Council’s lead member for health and wellbeing said: “Cherwell has led the way in developing programmes to improve the health and wellbeing of residents. One of the most popular of these has been our blue line health walks in Bicester, which have seen a surge in use during Covid.

"When funding became available to replicate similar schemes across our other urban centres, we acted quickly to share the benefits.”

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