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Local News Oct 12-19 2017

Including Marlborough’s possible old/new railway station, Wantage’s possible new road, Hungerford’s judicial review reaction, Swindon’s and Thatcham’s festivals, Newbury’s consultation, Cold Ash’s hedgehogs, Great Shefford’s flood defences, police and roadwork updates, good causes celebrated, council grants available, Hungerford Showcase, the Harrow’s star, an open letter, a note on a windscreen, flu jabs, a musical shark attack and three battles.

Click on any highlighted and underlined text for more information on the subject. Some will link to other pages on this site, others to pages elsewhere.

Roadworks updates. Click on the links for news regarding West Berkshire, the Wantage area, Wiltshire, Hampshire and Swindon. In particular, there will be roadworks on the A339 both north and south of the Robin Hood Roundabout until mid-October which will result in lane or road closures. Click here for information on forthcoming closures on closures, partial closures and delays on the A34; and here for the same on the M4.

• Note that there will be M4 closures as follows, all from 9pm until 6am (this may change):
Friday 13, Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 October – Full WESTBOUND closures from junction 12 to junction 13.

• Further west down the M4, click here for details of two weeks of night-time closures on the A3102 between Wooton Bassett and J16 from 23 October.

Neighbourhood policing updates. For the Thames Valley Police’s ‘Your Local Area’ page generally, click here. For specific areas, click here for Hungerford and Lambourn; click here for Newbury Town Centre; click here for Newbury Outer; click here for Bucklebury and Downlands; click here for Thatcham, Aldermaston and Brimpton; click here for Wantage and Grove; click here for Wiltshire East (including Marlborough); click here for Swindon and other parts of Wiltshire; click here for Hampshire.

• Please click here for more about the tri-service station in Hungerford and policing in the area generally.

• A number of community minibus and car schemes provide transport services for – but not exclusively for – older and disabled people. You can click here to find more about the range of services (and volunteering opportunities) in West Berkshire. Click here for services in Wiltshire and Swindon.

District, town or parish council contacts. To view the contacts page for Hungerford TC, click here; for Newbury, click here; for Thatcham, click here. If you live in the Vale of White Horse area, click here (and here for Wantage); if you live in Wiltshire, click here (and here for Marlborough). For Swindon, click here.

Over the weekend of 13 to 15 October, West Berkshire Council’s website and phone lines may be out of action for some systems updating.

• West Berkshire Council and Zest for Media are hosing a free social-media workshop for businesses from 9am to 12 noon on Tuesday 24 October. Click here for more information.

National Libraries Week ends on 14 October. Click here for what’s going to be happening in the libraries in West Berkshire.

• Please click here for the latest news from Hungerford Town Council.

• A further reminder about this month’s Penny Post Hungerford: click here for a wide selection of articles about the town including the monthly updates from the Town Council and the Town & Manor, news from Barrs Yard, information about the Hungerford Trade Showcase and the Totally Locally campaign, appeals for first responders and for Christmas lunch volunteers and a whole heap more.

• A reminder that Friday 13 Oct sees the first Hungerford Trade Showcase at John O’Gaunt School – click here for more. This is a unique opportunity for anyone of any age who is considering embarking on or changing a career to meet representatives from the town’s major (and often invisible) employers and find out what skills and qualifications they require and what employment and apprenticeship opportunities they can offer.

• There’s an article on p5 of this week’s Newbury Weekly News, the first half of which reports on the recent Full Council meeting of Hungerford Town Council (which I attended) and the councillors’ reaction to the recent failure of the judicial review to pass the permissions stage. Cllr Small commented that the judge had taken a ‘very narrow view’ of the issue. I’d probably agree with him, though I’m not sure how wide a view judges are allowed to take: certainly this one didn’t want to get involved in any considering any of the evidence that West Berkshire Council had used in arriving at its decision but merely whether procedure and policy had been followed. Many would argue that, particularly with regard to establishing ‘exceptional circumstances’ for building on an AONB, procedures hadn’t been followed; or, at least, not demonstrated.

The second part of the article is mainly a letter from a Mr Hughes from the nearby Wiltshire village of Froxfield which is strongly in favour of this particular development and strongly critical of Hungerford Town Council’s role. He also draws a questionable inference about the views of Hungerford’s residents based on the response to the crowdfunding campaign. Indeed, so vehement is his support for this housing plan that readers might be left wondering if he has some form of personal interest in the matter.

• I would like to declare my own interest at this point: Penny is, of course, one of the organisers of the Hungerford Food Festival which took place last Sunday, so when I say that it was well run, well attended and generally a great day out you may want to dismiss my opinion as being biased. None the less, if you were there you would, I hope, agree with me. For a report on this, including a list of winners in the cook-off categories, see p19 of this week’s Newbury Weekly News.

• The new WHS and Post Office in Hungerford should now be open for its first day’s trading. Read more here.

• This Saturday 14 October is your last chance this year to have a flu jab at Hungerford surgery. 14 October is also the anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. There’s no connection between these two events that I’m aware of. After all, flu jabs aren’t made into your eye.

• If you live in the A4 corridor or the Lambourn Valley, South Central Ambulance Service is on the lookout for suitable people who can become co-reponders to assist paramedics and ambulance crews. Click here for more details.

• Advance notice of an event that will be of great importance to residents of Great Shefford. At 6pm on Thursday 9 November there will be an open meeting in the Village Hall to see and discuss the Environment Agency’s plans for the proposed flood alleviation scheme in the village. For more information, see the latest Great Shefford Parish News (40p and available at the shop, the garage and The Swan).

• Two village clean-up and maintenance days in East Garston this weekend: on Saturday 14 October it’s the churchyard (10am start); on Sunday 15 October it’s the whole village (10.30am start at the Village Hall car park). For more details, make sure you open your copy of East Garston News which should recently have arrived in your inbox. If you don’t get this and would like to, please email eastgarstonpc@gmail.com.

• Please click here for the latest news from Newbury Town Council: and here to see NTC’s archive of monthly newsletters.

• Here’s your chance to have some input into the way Newbury will change (or not) in the future: consultation is now open for the Newbury Town Design Statement.

• Please click here for the latest news from Marlborough Town Council.

• There have been plenty of stories of cars, vans, lorries, tanks and other vehicles causing damage to buildings in and around the town. One of these days, something like this is going to happen there…

• On the same theme, I didn’t know that 20 years ago Marlborough nearly got a fully-funded by-pass. You can read more here about recent council debates and proposed solution for the traffic issues in the town.

• I also didn’t know that Marlborough used to have two railway stations (I’m learning a lot from Marlborough News Online today). Now of course it has none. Plans to re-open a spur off the GWR line just west of Bedwyn were discussed, and supported, at a recent Town Council meeting about which you can read more here. I’m not quite clear how far up the list of possible rail schemes this one is but I’d imagine that the case for every one is becoming more compelling by the day. I wonder how many of them could be accomplished if the ridiculous HS2 were to be cancelled? You can also click here for more on the history of Marlborough’s former stations.

• I think that the Town Council and many residents of Hungerford would welcome the stations in Marlborough and at Wantage Road in Grove being re-opened. The car park at Hungerford station is usually full to bursting and anecdotal evidence suggests that a lot of users are coming from these areas, and perhaps even further away, to catch the train. I’m sure the town welcomes visitors from Wiltshire and Oxfordshire with open arms but the reality is that commuters don’t spend any money in Hungerford, apart from their parking charges which go straight to West Berkshire Council. Obviously this increases the traffic problem as well. Another result of this is that any redevelopment around the station needs to ensure that the number of parking spaces isn’t reduced, an almost impossible trick to pull off. A proposal by Oakes Bros, which Hungerford Town Council supported, was refused partly for this reason only a few weeks ago.

• No station + no by-pass = air pollution: click here for more on attempts to address this in Marlborough.

• Click here for information about the quest to find Marlborough’s Citizen of the Year for 2017. (For future awards, I’d guess that if you can get a by-pass sorted, re-open the rail link, cure the air pollution and stop tanks crashing into houses you’d probably have a good chance of winning.)

• Congratulations to The Harrow in Little Bedwyn  which has recently retained its Michelin star (as has The Woodspeen.)

• Please click here for the latest news from Thatcham Town Council.

• Click here for an open letter from a disabled Thatcham resident to a person who frequently parks in a disabled bay in Thatcham but doesn’t have a blue badge.

• On the subject of letters and parking, this reminds me slightly of the story I heard on Radio 4 (so it must be true, right?) of a man who came back to his car to find the front smashed in. On the windscreen was a note, which read as follows: ‘Anyone seeing me write this note after reversing into your car will think that I’m leaving you my name and address – but I’m not.”

• The 17th Thatcham Festival runs until 20 October with the usual wide range of events – click here for details.

• If you could have a free, zero-effort, environmentally friendly and highly effective way of killing slugs in your garden, you’d probably go for it, wouldn’t you? Well, they do exist and are called hedgehogs. We’ve covered some of the work that local expert Gill Lucroft and her team at Hedgehog Bottom do to help encourage these important pest controllers in your garden (in fact, they’re even featured in the current Penny Post Website Quiz). I’ve just learned from the Cold Ash Bulletin, which dropped in by inbox a few moments ago, that she’ll be giving a talk on the subject at 7.30pm on on Wednesday 1 November at the Ackland Hall in Cold Ash.

• Please click here for the latest news from Wantage Town Council.

• Plans have been announced for the proposed Wantage Eastern Link Road to serve the new Crab Hill development in Wantage.

• The Vale of the White Horse Council is making grants available for community groups which are holding events in the run up to Christmas. Click here for details.

• And the same council also invites local community groups to apply for a share of £175,000 in grants to improve local facilities – act very soon, though, as this closes on 15 October.

• Local residents have until 23 October to comment on the Vale of the White Horse’s proposed housing strategy.

• Grants of up to £10,000 are available to organisations that promote heart health in the Swindon area. Click here for details.

• Click here for details of the Celebrate Swindon artistic and cultural events coming up this weekend.

• If you use South Western Railway’s services you might want to take part in SWR’s current consultation about proposed timetable changes.

• A number of good causes have received valuable support recently, including: Macmillan Cancer Support (thanks to the numerous World’s Biggest Coffee Morning events in the area); Daisy’s Dream (thanks to the charity football match in memory of Paul Wilson); Falkland primary School (thanks to three peak-scaling dads); Macmillan Cancer Support and Great Ormond Street Hospital (thanks Noushin Garrett’s garden open day); newbury Samaritans (thanks to town-centre shoppers); Brighter Futures (thanks to Natalie Shirley).

• On the same theme, click here for more on Greenham Trust’s forthcoming Pitch to the Panel event, including details of the six shortlisted causes.

• And so it’s time for the Song of the Week once again. We had a Crowded House song a few weeks back: this is from Split Enz, the Finn brothers’ previous band – Shark Attack.

• And so, as is customary, the Quiz Question of the Week draws this post to a close. This week’s comes from a recent charity quiz in support of Neuroblastoma UK and is as follows: Which battles took place on the following dates: 18 June; 14 October; and 25 October? (The answer to one of these has been given elsewhere in this post). Last week I invited you to select from a total of 57 questions spread across our three 500th-edition quizzes: one locally themed using words and numbers, one locally themed using pictures and one involving a rootle about in the Penny Post website to find the answers. Wonderful prizes for the winners and the runners up in each case. As none of the quizzes have yet closed I can’t give you the answers.

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Brian Quinn

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