Local Councils

Hungerford Town Council News – October/November Update

This notes incorporate some but not all of the matters discussed at the Full Hungerford Town Council (HTC) Meeting on 6 November, the agenda for which can be found here. Any references below to ‘the meeting’ refer to this event unless specified otherwise. The official minutes of the meeting will in due course be found on the HTC site. See the foot of this post for a link and for more information.

Salisbury Road Judicial Review

At the Full HTC Meeting on 2 October, it was decided (as reported here last month) not to challenge the decision to refuse permission for the judicial review but to leave all options open when it came to its scrutiny of the final planning application, when this was eventually approved by WBC. At the time of writing, the application has not been approved: until this has happened, HTC is not in a position to offer any further comments on the proposal.

For an article (written by Penny Post, not HTC) about the wider issues opened up by judicial reviews and why it’s so important that they exist, regardless of their outcome, please click here.

None the less, it was felt that not all the possibilities had been exhausted. After a discussion involving some members of the public at the meeting, it was agreed that HTC would send a letter to the Secretary of State highlighting what it felt was a clear breach of national policy with regard to paragraph 116 of the National Planning Policy Framework, which concerns the AONB. The text of this letter can be read here.

Council Vacancy

There are currently two vacancies for town councillors which will be filled by co-option. Anyone interested should contact claire.barnes@hungerford-tc.gov.uk.

Office-staff chances

Alison Blake, the part-time Administrative Assistant at HTC and formerly the Deputy Clerk, will be leaving later this month after five years at HTC. She will be replaced by Sarah Hennessy.

Library Update

Following the meeting of the Executive West Berkshire Council meeting on 19 October, an agreement in pronciple has been reached for transferring the lease of the building to HTC. Negotiations are still taking place about the details of the heads of terms. HTC is also awaiting the result of its application for grant funding which will enable the building to be used as a community hub as well as a library. It is hoped that Citizens Advice will be able to hold fortnightly sessions in the building: details of this are likewise to be confirmed.

Post Office Update

The Post Office is now operational in the new WHS on the old Martin’s site in the High Street, which was opened by the Mayor on 20 October. For the final time, thanks are due to HTC for their efforts in keeping the service open since Martins closed earlier this year and for Sue Rendall for providing this outreach service in the Library. It’s important to stress that, without this, it would have been quite possible that the service would not have continued. The Post Office has no obligation to continue to operate a counter service in a particular town.

The regularly-updated post on this site, which was viewed over 3,000 times, in which we chronicled this sage can still be seen here although it’s hoped that no further changes to it will be needed. We retain it as a record of just some of the work and discussions which took place; also in case some of the points may be of interest to those in other communities which are faced with a similar problem.

West Berkshire Council and Hungerford Town Council

It was reported last month that a number of long-running issues were recently raised at a meeting between these two bodies. The topics included a bus shelter in Church Street, the issue of school transport for over 16s, the split ownership of the town’s streetlights, parking charges, parking spaces at the library and an officially designated coach parking space or drop-off bay. It was reported that, save on the fairly uncontroversial matters of the Neighbourhood Watch and the bus shelter, no agreement was reached.

The Mayor and Deputy Mayor then requested that District Councillors Paul Hewer and James Podger request a meeting with WBC’s leader Graham Jones to re-address these and other matters of direct interest to Hungerford. This was agreed to and a date for a meeting between all five will be agreed as soon as possible. The over-16 transport and the issue of coach parking are regarded by HTC as being the most urgent. To date it has not been possible to arrange this meeting but it’s hoped that this will happen soon.

Neighbourhood Plan

HTC intends to hold a public meeting in January 2018 at which this will be discussed. It is hoped that pat Wingfield, who has led the team which has produced the neighbourhood plan for Stratfield Mortimer, will address the meeting and report on the many positive things that have come out of the process.

If you are interested in finding out more about neighbourhood plans, the following websites provide more information: My Community; Forum for Neighbourhood Planning; Planning Aid; Locality; The Department for Communities and Local Government; and West Berkshire’s own site.

The Hungerford Trade Showcase

This event took place on 13 October at John O’Gaunt and provided an opportunity for businesses and potential employees in the town to meet find out more about what they can offer each other. Initial feedback suggests that this was found to be useful by exhibitors and attendees alike and it’s hoped that this will become an annual event. For a brief report on the event, please click here.

Christmas Lights

All the contracts for the Christmas lights have now been awarded. The switch-on ceremony will be on Sunday 3 December, with award-winning Author Robert Harris pressing the button. The switch on will be earlier than previously announced, at 5pm, and this will be preceded by music beginning at 4pm. The Primary School, Town Band and Rock Choir will be there to entertain you..

At the meeting, Councillor Brookman said that volunteers would be needed both before and at this event. Anyone interested in helping should contact him via the HTC office at claire.barnes@hungerford-tc.gov.uk.

(An interview with Councillor Brookman can be found here.)

Police Update

Members of the Thames Valley Police were present at the November meeting and made a short presentation. They apologised for recent non-attendance, saying that current staffing levels meant it was impossible to visit every parish meeting in their area.

The main point was that Hungerford had recently been ‘quiet’ (their attention had been more opccupied in some neighbouring villages). One issue that was anticipated, particularly in the run up to Christmas, was shoplifting. Some known offenders from Newbury were being monitored. It was suggested that the new WHS might attract shoplifters.

With regard to the new tri-service station, it was again pointed out that this was not designed for public access but was merely used as a base. However, in what seems to be a slight change of policy from a previous statement, the meeting was told that it was hoped that a police doorbell and a letterbox would be fitted so as to provide some method of contact in case the police were in the building. The matter was, however, beyond their control. Councillor Crane said that HTC would write to the relevant authorities and Richard Benyon in order to expedite this decision.

In response to a question from HTC, the police said that they could not confirm that any shoplifting incident would be attended by an officer that day. It was pointed out that in some cases CCTV or other evidence made identification easier, in which case the matter would be regarded as less urgent.

It was also mentioned that current policy was to spend time patrolling areas where there had been trouble in the past. In Hungerford’s case, this was mainly the skate park.

Some initiatives are also being developed to help combat rural crime and further details would be announced soon. These include discounts on and advice about specialist crime-prevention equipment, such as for farms.

There will a Community Conversation at which representatives of the police will be present to answer questions from residents. This will take place from 7pm to 8.30pm on Wednesday 15 November.

General information about the police presence in the area, including about the nature of the new tri-service station in Hungerford, can be found here.

Neighbourhood Watch Meeting

Angela Money of the West Berkshire Neighbourhood Watch (NW) also addressed the November meeting. She reported that there are currently about 700 NW areas in West Berkshire, 20 of which are in Hungerford with more planned. The town’s first Junior NW has also recently been set up. In all, 8.7m households in the UK are within a NW area.

Despite these impressive statistics, it’s hoped and anticipated that more areas will join the scheme. As well as the benefits of greater security and community engagement there are more tangible advantages such as discounts on various anti-crime equipment; and on household insurance. A minimum of six properties are required to create an area.

There will also be an opportunity to learn more at the NW meeting which will take place at the West Berkshire Council Offices in Newbury at 7.30 on Monday 20 November. The event will also include a talk on Newbury’ history and updates from the police and fire service.

You can find out more about the Neighbourhood Watch scheme by clicking here. This includes a video of part of the above-mentioned meeting.

Pigeons

A recurring problem and one for which there is no obvious permanent solution. It appears that the population of these winged vermin has halved since a cull last month. Additional measures to reduce their population still further are being considered in consultation with WBC’s Environmental Health team. These are likely to include litter control and extending the pigeon-proof spikes on buildings in the High Street.

 

The sections above cover some of the issues with which Hungerford Town Council has recently been involved or concerned: it by no means describes all of the Council’s activities.

For more information on Hungerford Town Council, please click here.

If there’s anything that you’d like to see addressed by Hungerford Town Council, and perhaps also covered in this way in future editions of Penny Post Hungerford, please email claire.barnes@hungerford-tc.gov.uk. Any such suggestions should be received at least four working days before the end of the month (and preferably sooner) if they are to be included in the corresponding post for the following month. That is not, of course, to say that the Council will not in any case give the matter its attention and respond personally if appropriate.

This information has been compiled by Penny Post from information supplied by Hungerford Town Council and others. Links have been provided to other posts, on the Penny Post site or elsewhere, to provide additional information where this has been judged necessary. The presence of such a link should not be taken to imply that Hungerford Town Council necessarily agrees with, endorses or supports any of the material contained therein.

 

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