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Local News Nov 9-16 2017

Including Sandleford, fly tipping, police priorities, market parking in Hungerford, police and roadwork updates, local plans, council leader jabs CEO bombshell, Thatcham’s traffic woes, good causes celebrated, The Rising Sun sets, how not to put an Audi in a garage, a proposed cycle duel , blackjackly enters the English language, bow ties, road gritting, Roman remains and an unfaithful servant.

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.

• Click here for details of weekend closures at that Thatcham level crossing in November.

• There will be a full closure of the M4 between J12 and J13 in both directions from 9pm Friday to 5am Monday starting on the weekends starting Fri 24 Nov; Fri 8 Dec; Fri 15 Dec; Fri 12 Jan 2018; Fri 19 Jan. Click here for more. These will obviously lead to considerable delays and disruption.

Hungerford‘s level crossing will be closed on Thurs 9 Nov from 10pm until 6am the next day.

• Due to Remembrance Sunday this weekend, many towns will have road closures in place. Be prepared for delays and diversions.

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.

• I was listening to a programme on the radio this morning and there was a police spokesman talking about how stretched the service is. One thing that came out of it is that their decision whether or not to send a uniformed officers to a crime scene needs to based not (as previously) on the nature of the crime but on the effect on the victim/s and the likelihood of being able to make an arrest. This seems to make sense – and squares with what was recently said about shoplifting offences by the police spokesman at the Hungerford Town Council meeting earlier this week – but, as the spokesman admitted, depends on having intelligent, alert and experienced people staffing the 101 and 999 services. As he admitted that staff retention in these areas was a problem this policy may not always work as well as it might. Still, at least there is a policy and in these financially tight times it seems to be a reasonable one.

• The waste wars and fly tipping are back in the news. A report on page 4 of this week’s Newbury Weekly News suggests not only that the cost of clearing up the mess costs West Berkshire Council over £69,000 a year but also that the Council has not issued any fines or penalty notices for this illegal activity, despite now having the power to do so. Someone who was caught twice in one day in Oxfordshire was jailed last week. He was from Newbury: perhaps he now wishes he’d dumped the stuff in his own council area where, according to the NWN piece, he wouldn’t even have been fined.

• The letters pages of the Newbury Weekly News this week includes several interesting communications. One, from Peter Norman, criticises West Berkshire Council’s strategy with regard to traffic, particularly regarding the much-delayed Sandleford development (click here for the latest on this). Tony Calvertz-Jons talks about some of the harmful environmental impacts of plastic, and links neatly to an article I’ve just written about recycling, To Bin or not to Bin? Thirdly, Stan Green has challenged Barrie Singleton to a bike ride around Newbury to establish whether or not the town is safe for cyclists. See this week’s paper for more.

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

• For those of you who missed this month’s Penny Post Hungerford, please click here to see the newsletter. It contains the usual mix including news from the Town Council (including some matter arising from the last Full Council meeting), the Town & Manor and the Chamber of Commerce, a look back at the recent Hungerford Trade Showcase and Jon Snow’s talk to the Historical Association, some appeals for volunteers, special offers and local events. If you do not receive this directly every month but would like to, please email penny@pennypost.org.uk.

Hungerford Town Council has vacancies for two town councillors. If you are over 18, a citizen of the UK, the EU or the Commonwealth and live or work within three miles of Hungerford then you are eligible. For more information, contact claire.barnes@hungerford-tc.gov.uk.

• If you want to help John O’Gaunt school raise money for floodlights, which will benefit the community as a whole as well as the school’s sports teams, please click here to visit relevant page on The Good Exchange website.

• Another Hungerford institution in need of funds is the Hungerford Extravaganza. Click here for more information.

• The excellent fruit and veg stall was unable to set up in the High Street on Wednesday due to parked cars. There are signs put up on Tuesday asking people not to park in certain bays after midnight. Apparently (though I’ve never been around to see it) they arrive fresh from the market in the early hours of Wednesday morning. They have really good produce and the town doesn’t want to lose their weekly visits to help keep us scurvy-free.

• Former Hungerford Town FC manager Bobby Wilkinson will be coming up against some of his former players on Saturday when the Crusaders visit his new club, Wealdstone, in the National League South. Hungerford are currently 17th in the table and Wealdstone 11th.

• The Newbury Weekly News  has an article this week about the significant Roman remains at Boxford and Silchester. You might also like to have a look at our post about the former site as well as this about the Roman mosaic in the grounds of Littlecote House.

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

• The Sandleford Saga – which could be a series of novels by Trollope, but isn’t – grinds on, with the news that West Berkshire Council has rejected the plans submitted by the two developers because of ‘lack of detail’. You can read more here.

• The leader of West Berkshire Council was spotted this week jabbing a needle into the Council’s Chief Executive. Graham Jones in a pharmacist and the exercise was designed to promote flu jabs, so it’s not quite the bombshell of a story you might have thought. Apologies for the shamelessly sensationalist opening sentence

• Click here for news of another West Berkshire Council initiative, the Public Protection Partnership.

• With winter well on the way, click here for West Berkshire’s road-gritting policy.

• Time is running out  to have your say on the proposed changes to the Newbury Town Design Statement: the consultation closes on Friday 17 November.

• I mentioned last week about the debate surrounding the Cross Keys pub in Great Bedwyn and you can read about the campaign by clicking here. Another pub, the Rising Sun in Stockcross, has also closed recently, leaving the village without a pub at all now the Lord Lyon has gone down the increasingly familiar housing-conversion route. I’m not sure what’s going to be happening to the Rising Sun. Does anyone know?

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

Marlborough News Online suggests that Wiltshire Council’s new recycling policy may result on collections every three weeks rather than every two. For a whole number of reasons this seems like such a terrible idea. The article discusses some of these and provides a link to the report. You might also want to have a look at this post on our site which looks at some of the challenges facing householders getting they recycling right (which policies like this won’t help) and also how two local businesses noted for their sustainable credentials, The Wheatsheaf in Chilton Foliat and Green machine Computers in Ramsbury deal with their leftovers.

• When I first looked at Marlborough News Online’s headline to this article (which mentioned ‘three weekly collections‘) , my first thought was ‘oh good, the council will be collecting stuff three times a week.’ The reality is, as I soon discovered, rather different. With my pedant’s hat on (it’s always within easy reach) I wondered if ‘three-weekly collections’ would be better; by the hyphenated phrase looks so odd that it almost seems to be a mistake. When you think about it, ‘three weekly’ with our without a hyphen couldn’t mean three times a week because something that happens three times a week isn’t weekly. By this point I’ve written the word ‘weekly’ so many times that it’s ceasing to mean anything at all. We’re going to need a three-week equivalent of ‘fortnightly’ to describe council’s collection cycles or everyone’s going to get in a terrible muddle. On the theme of 21, how about ‘pontoonly’ or ‘blackjackly’? Creating a new word or phrase is one thing: getting anyone else to use it or agree what it means is another. Take ‘bi-weekly’. I once looked this up in a dictionary to try to settle an argument about what it meant. The dictionary gave two definitions: (a) twice a week; (b) every two weeks. Well, that’s a lot of use.

• Hungerford’s Town Council met on Monday (see above); so did Marlborough‘s. Penny Post not being able to cover both, click here to read Marlborough News Online’s report of theirs.

• Music fans in and around Marlborough can click here for news of the new festival to replace the Jazz Fest from 2018.

• I mentioned the other week about the discussion concerning the possible restoration of rail services to Marlborough and came across this blog which might be of interest. I’d have thought that this would stand a greater chance of success if it could eventually be extended north to Swindon and so provide a useful link between the two east-west main lines.

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

• The success of the Nature Memories Café at the Nature Discover Centre on Monday mornings has led to a six-month trial of a new Dementia Café in Thatcham at Alice Bye Court from 2pm until 4pm on Fridays. Contact organiser Hayley Dunn on hayleyscompanions@yahoo.com for more information.

• Of our local towns, Marlborough is generally the one that has the most cases of cars, lorries and even tanks cannoning about the place and crashing into buildings. This happens elsewhere, of course, most recently in Thatcham. Click here to see what happens when an Audi and a double garage are brought into contact with each other.

• There seem to have been an unusually large number of roadworks in and around Thatcham recently: click here for some views and opinions on this. See also the top of this post for details of the imminent level-crossing closures.

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

• Businesses in the Vale of the White Horse area will be able to get more support from the Council following the launch of its Business and Innovation Strategy Action Plan 2017-20.

• It seems that the Wantage Summer Festival will not be taking place in 2018 unless someone steps forward to run it.

• It’s being suggested that the proposed Wantage and Grove Leisure Centre should be made bigger so it can cater for the likely population increase in the area.

• South Swindon MP Robert Buckland has launched his annual competition among local primary schools to find a design for his 2017 Christmas cards.

• Plans have been announced to build 1,650 new homes in North East Swindon.

• Residents of Swindon can click here for news of the current consultation about proposed changes to Swindon’s local plan.

• Earlier this week I had to put on a bow tie to attend the NWN’s Best in Business awards. If you want to see picture of me, looking rather like the aging love child of Count Dracula and a zebra crossing, turn to page 17 of this week’s NWN. My main fear was that the bow tie would come undone: I’ve never tied one before and didn’t this time, Penny being far more adept. One man turned up with his bow tie undone, an unspoken cry for help which was answered within a few minutes. There was a time when everyone could do this, which made me think of what other perhaps more useful skills so-called civilization has made us lose. I suspect that our species’ survival has been the at least partly result of our ancestors being able to run away from things like sabre-toothed tigers. Unless it was a very old tiger, I don’t think I could do that, and certainly not without my bow tie coming undone. Thanks to all involved for a great evening.

• And talking of felines, the main domestic focus this week has been introducing our two new kittens to our surviving adult cat. Outright hostility has now mellowed into armed neutrality. When they’re they’re around he’s developed the seeming knack of sleeping with one eye open which makes him look rather like Smaug. He hasn’t quite decided if they’re playmates, usurpers or lunch. They – unlike me and unencumbered with bow ties – can at least run away from him when they need to, often up the curtains.

• A number of good causes have received valuable support recently, including: UNICEF (thanks to Julie Ashmore Dann of Cold Ash); St Wilfred’s Hospice (thanks to Justin White of Coffin Mew); The Rosemary Appeal (thanks to Jones Robinson and The Good Exchange); Burghfield School (thanks to IKEA)

• And so it’s time for the Song of the Week to cue itself up on the digital gramophone. I heard a wonderful song on Radio 6 Music this morning but the DJ didn’t bother to say what it was, such information perhaps being a bit uncool to impart. It reminded me of The Band, which made me think of probably my favourite song of theirs: the utterly beautiful, sad, haunting and jazzy-yet-not-jazzy The Unfaithful Servant.

• And finally the Quiz Question of the Week winds things up. You have until Monday 13 November to enter the  Penny Post quiz which you can see here so I suggest you have a look at that and give yourself a chance of winning the superb prize on offer, courtesy of The Pheasant in Shefford Woodlands. There’s a hamper of local produce for the runner up. Tomorrow I’m off to the East Garson Quiz at the Village Hall, always a wonderful evening with some pretty fierce questions set by local quiz lord and part-time fundraising auctioneer Ed James. As long as there are plenty of questions on football, late 20th-century pop music, medieval history or the novels of Evelyn Waugh I might be OK. If I can remember any of the questions I’ll offer one up for you next week.

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Brian Quinn

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