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Local News Oct 5-12 2017

Including Hungerford Rugby Club, Thatcham forum meeting, M4 closures, police and roadwork updates, good causes celebrated, council grants available, co-responders needed, Marlborough’s traffic, a badly-timed holiday, social-media backlash, award-winning pubs, Tom Petty’s cheekbones, a Swindon mascot, invisible paint and the end of the world.

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. There will be delays in and around Newbury until the middle of next week as a result of emergency water-main repairs which will affect the A4.

• Note that there will be M4 closures as follows, all from 9pm until 6am (this may change):
Monday 2nd October to Friday 6 October – Full EASTBOUND closures from junction 13 to junction 12.
Monday 9, Wednesday 11 and Thursday 12 October – Full EASTBOUND closures from junction 13 to junction 12.
Friday 13, Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 October – Full WESTBOUND closures from junction 12 to junction 13.

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.

• 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.

• It’s National Libraries Week from 9 to 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.

• Sad news from Hungerford this week with the death of Chris Jennings, a former town councillor and Mayor in 2000-01. Her funeral will take place at Our Lady of Lourdes Chursh at 10.30 on Monday 9 October. Any donations to Speakability. Current Hungerford Mayor Keith Kinght will attend the service and make a donation on behalf of the Town Council.

• For those of you who missed 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.

• The Hungerford Food Festival takes place on Sunday October 8. Click here for more information, and here if you are able to help on the day.

• The issue of the relationship between Hungerford Town Council and Hungerford Rugby Club is covered in this week’s Newbury Weekly News (p21), mainly in the form of an open letter from the Rugby Club. Part of the issue turns on whether or not the RFC is subsidised by HTC to the tune of £7,500pa. It seems that technically it isn’t, although in practice it is; this sum being over the last five years the average shortfall between all HTC’s costs of running the site and the rent paid to it by the RFC. If so, surely it would have been better for HTC to have charged the RFC a commercial rent (which at the least would have covered all the costs) from the outset and also given an annual grant which could have been reduced to reflect the increasing income of the club from its membership fees and other sources: I understand that membership numbers have more than quadrupled over the last five years and also understand that any financial support, indirect or otherwise, was only intended as a start-up and not in perpetuity. The RFC is clearly an excellent contribution to the life of the town: how much the town should be expected to subsidise it – which is effectively what’s happening but without any easy mechanism for this to be adjusted to reflect the increasing, and welcome, success of the club – is another question.

• I was at the excellent fruit & veg stand in Hungerford Wednesday’s market, stocking up on my five a day. ‘We won’t be here next week,’ Neil the owner said. ‘Holiday?’ I asked. He made a face. ‘We booked to go to Barcelona with Monarch Airlines.’ ‘So,’ I said, ‘you’re flying on an airline that doesn’t exist to a country that doesn’t exist?’ He agreed that the timing could have been better. As a small contribution to his having had to fork out for another pair of tickets from BA, and possibly on arrival having to fork out for another hotel after finding that the one he’d booked into had been requisitioned by the Spanish army, I added another half dozen satsumas into my basket. I’m eating one now: very good it is too.

• The opening of the new WHS and Post Office in Hungerford having last week been put back a couple of weeks was, this week, put forward again to what had been the case the week before last; meaning that it’s opening next week. On re-reading this sentence, it might be clearer to say that it will be opening on 12 October. Read more here.

• 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.

• The Friends of Lambourn Library will be holding an open meeting at 7.30pm on Wednesday 11 October in the Memorial Hall to formally approve the FoLL constitution and to to discuss various plans for the library’s future.

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

Newbury Town Council has voted to oppose the proposed 36-home development in the so-called Greenham Gap on the grounds that this would be an over-development. You can read more on p6 of this week’s Newbury Weekly News.

• Last week the same paper mocked up a picture of how the BT building in Bear Lane, the scariest structure in West Berkshire apart from the AWE at Aldermaston, might look like if a ‘living wall’ were added to it. BT has said that this is ‘not its preferred option’ as this might damage the building. The statement adds that BT ‘regularly reviews the condition’ of its properties, a remark that’s almost impossible to believe given the state this one has got into. There are further suggestions in this week’s paper. Mine would be to give it a couple of coats of invisible paint but it seems this hasn’t been invented yet.

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

• Further suggestions can be found here about how to solve the increasing traffic and air-quality problems in Marlborough.

• The Household Recycling Centre in Marlborough will be closed until 12 October while the new contractor makes changes to the site. Other recycling sites in Wiltshire will be open.

• Click here for a brief report of a river walk organised in Ramsbury by Action for the River Kennet and of a forthcoming one in Marlborough.

• Last week we mentioned  The Bell in Ramsbury which has recently been named as the Pub of the Year by the AA Hospitality Awards. Click here for some background as to what the pub needed to do to win this award.

• You don’t have to travel too far from Ramsbury to find another pub which is winning awards. Drive a couple of miles east down the B4192 and you’ll find yourself in Chilton Foliat, whose local The Wheatsheaf is up for a couple of gongs from the Sustainable Restaurants Association. Penny Post caught up with the owners Lauren and Ollie and had a chat with them about what they’ve done over the last two years to put them in the running for these accolades.

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

Click here for more on the proposed move by car dealer Dick Lovatt from Hungerford to Thatcham

• I didn’t go to the recent community forum in Thatcham but the Newbury Weekly News correspondent did and I’ve just read the report in this week’s paper. I’m confused by a remark, made by Neighbourhood Inspector Mark Tucker, that the community needed to ‘build resilience.’ This could mean a number of things, including simply putting up with what appears from the article to be a fairly long list of local concerns. He also said that the increased use of volunteers was ‘nothing to do with cutbacks,’ as had been suggested. For everyone to take more responsibility for the safety of their community is, as he said, very important but volunteers, being largely untrained and with other commitments, can only do so much. I think everyone would agree that the pressure for the increased use of volunteers in this and so many other aspects of life has largely been driven by recent funding reductions even though this is sometimes being dressed up as something else.

• This meeting was also attended by Susan Powell who is running a new West Berkshire Council initiative, Building Communities Together. Click here to find out more about its work.

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

• 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 soon, though, as this closes on 15 October.

• The council is also able to collect an extra bin-full of garden waste in the week commencing 16 October, but only for households which have signed up for brown bins collections. All is explained here.

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

• A mascot is being sought by Swindon Town FCyou have until 14 October to apply.

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

• All teenagers are obsessed with with social media and are, like, totally in love their mobile phones, right? Apparently not…

• All footballers are obsessed with conspicuous wealth and are, like, totally in love with their sports cars, right? Apparently not…

• Penny Post is never afraid to grapple with the big stories and they don’t get much bigger than the end of the world. Over the last few months, this event has been confidently predicted by a number of websites: this article from The Independent suggests that this event isn’t in fact imminent. I’m reminded of a Peter Cook sketch in which he leads his followers to a mountain top to witness Armageddon. “Ten seconds,” he counts down, “five, four, three, two, one…” Silence. “Well, it wasn’t quite the conflagration we were banking on.”

• A number of good causes have received valuable support recently, including: Wiltshire Air Ambulance (thanks to Bedwyn Surgery); Marlborough Community & Youth Centre (thanks to the Big Lottery); Macmillan Cancer Care (thanks to all those who hosted and participated in the nuerous World’s Biggest Coffee Morning); Ark Cancer Centre (thanks to Clarke & Son of Basingstoke); Biking for a Paw (thanks to three Thatcham cyclists).

• And so it’s time for the Song of the Week once more. Another good one gone recently, Tom Petty, he of the charming snarl, blond locks and dramatic cheekbones. Only one choice in my opinion from his back catalogue: his peerless rock-pop classic Refugee.

• And, as last time round, the Quiz Question of the Week invites 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.

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Brian Quinn

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