Local Councils

Hungerford Town Council News – November/December Update

These notes incorporate some but not all of the matters discussed at the Full Hungerford Town Council (HTC) Meeting on 4 December, 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 more information.

Berkshire Age UK

Before the meeting, a brief presentation was made by Greg Smith of Berkshire Age UK explaining about Easy Shop, a charitable initiative aimed at elderly people who find it hard to buy food personally or online which has proved very successful since its launch and which he was hoping to promote. Various suggestions were made by the councillors as to how this could be promoted in the town. Please click here for more information if you are interested in the service yourself or if you know someone who might be.

Salisbury Road Judicial Review

Outline planning approval was granted by WBC for this site on 30 November. To view the decision notice, click here to visit the Planning Documents section of WBC’s site, then enter the reference 16/03061/OUTMAJ in the search box, then click on Documents, then on View Associated Documents, then look down the list in the left-hand panel and see under ‘Decision Notice.’

Discussion have taken place between HTC and the planning consultants Ashburn Planning. It was recommended by Ashburn that no further action be taken with regard to the planning application but that discussions are commenced with the developers with the aim of building a good working relationship with them.

Councillor Co-option

After a brief presentation, John Downe was co-opted to join HTC. John has lived in Hungerford since March 2016. He is recently retired, having spent his career working at IBM in a variety of technical, marketing and sales roles in the UK and Europe. Between 2010 and 2016 he was a parish councillor in West Hoathly in the High Weald AONB in Sussex, four of them as chairman. During this time the parish produced a neighbourhood plan which was approved by referendum in 2015.

There currently remains one vacancy for a town councillor which will also be filled by co-option. Anyone interested should contact claire.barnes@hungerford-tc.gov.uk.

New Staff Member

Alison Blake, the part-time Administrative Assistant at HTC and formerly the Deputy Clerk,has now left HTC after five years. She has been replaced by Sarah Hennessy.

Library Update

Discussions continue with WBC about the transfer of the Library building to HTC. As the least will be long (99 years) both parties need to ensure that the apportionment of any future costs are clearly expressed and agreed. A structural survey will be conducted in December. It is hoped that the discussions will have been completed in time for HTC to take over the building by April 2018. HTC has had confirmation of a £12,000 grant from WBC towards equipment to use the building as a community hub so things like projectors, screens, PCs, soft furnishings and stands for tourist info.

West Berkshire Council and Hungerford Town Council

A meeting was held in November between the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor and the leader of WBC to discuss various Hungerford-related matters. Three potentially positive things emerged from this. The first was that WBC has agreed in principle for welcome signs to be displayed at the entrances to the town on the A338 and the A4, to be provided by HTC in conjunction with the AONB. The second was that five possible sites on the High Street have been identified for coach parking. Each presents some challenges but will be investigated further. It’s hoped that before too long there will be at least one permanent coach-parking bay in the town. The third is that it’s hoped that some parking permits will be available for use by volunteers at the Hungerford Library/Hub.

Neighbourhood Plan

There will be an open meeting in the Corn Exchange comples at 7pm on Monday 22 January 2018 to discuss the possibility of Hungerford adopting a neighbourhood plan. 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.

HTC intends to produce some information describing some of the issues involved in advance of this meeting: these will be publicised in Penny Post and elsewhere. In the meantime, if  you are interested in finding out more about the subject, 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.

Christmas Lights

It was reported at the meeting by Councillor Brookman that the complicated business of installing these had been a success, although this had involved more more time than than the new contractors had envisaged. Particular thanks are due to all the volunteers, particular Roger Ballard and family and 6 Armoured Close Support Battalion. There may be some left-over Christmas trees for sale once the installation is complete.

Here’s a brief video that Penny Post made of the event.

The Mayor’s Activities

During November, the Mayor has attended a number of events and meetings in and around the town. These include opening the new hairdresser’s shop (Perfectly Posh) in Charnham Street and the compost toilet at March Lane allotments, meetings of HTC committees and of the Hungerford Library’s trustees, the prizegiving evening at John O’Gaunt, the Wishing Wheels event at Hungerford Care Home and a meeting with the Deputy Mayor and Graham Jones of WBC.

Committee Meetings

It was reported at the meeting that various meetings had taken place and the reports circulated. There were no matters arising from these that occasioned any significant discussion at the meeting. For more information on the work of these committees, please click here.

Financial Matters

it was reported at the meeting that the HTC was on budget for the financial year (with four months left to run).

A preliminary budget for 2018-19 was circulated to the councillors and no issues were raised. Final approval is expected to take place at the Full Council meeting in January.

It was pointed out that WBC is also finalising its own budget (which is expected to see a further reduction in revenue and thus services). There is currently a consultation open on this which will run until Wednesday 10 January 2018. HTC will be making its own response and members of the public are invited to do so as well.

The War Memorial

There have been discussions between HTC and the Town and Manor about some outstanding matters concerning some technical legal and insurance issues concerning this, the memorial itself being the legal responsibility of HTC but the land being the property of the Town and Manor. It was reported that these were close to being agreed and that a letter of agreement (rather than a more complex and costly lease) seemed to be the best way to confirm this.

The Railway Station

A grant application has been made to GWR to improve and enlarge the eastbound passenger shelter and Network Rail has agreed in principle to HTC’s request that this can go ahead when funds are available. Painting of the station has started. The railings have been painted black in line with the standard livery for GWR stations. Painting the footbridge is the responsibility of GWR but there is no money in their current budget. GWR and NR have looked jointly at the general maintenance issues at the station and agreed an action plan.

HTC is  investigating adopting Hungerford station. GWR is promoting this initiative but we do not have any details at this stage. Two representatives from GWR will be attending the H&T meeting at the end of January to provide more details of the scheme.

Street Lights

WBC has confirmed that the streetlights in The Croft and in Parsonage Lane have been replaced.

HTC has sent a purchase order to WBC to replace the street light outside 1 Bulpit Lane which was badly damaged during building works and had to be removed by WBC as an emergency. The estimated cost of replacement is £1,261.62. To mitigate future costs we have arrange insurance to cover third party damage to our assets.

There seems to be an ongoing problem with the failure of the Belisha beacons outside The Three Swans and also outside the Royal Mail sorting office. HTC is keeping a log of when these have failed and will escalate the problem with WBC. If anyone has any street-light problems to report, please contact claire.barnes@hungerford-tc.gov.uk

Pigeons

There has been a meeting with the Town and Manor to agree a future strategy for keeping the pigeon population to acceptable levels. When completed a paper setting out the strategy will be circulated and discussed.

Police Update

Members of the Thames Valley Police were present at the meeting and made a short presentation.

It had been a quiet month in Hungerford which had enabled the offers to be trained, and to start using, mobile speed guns. These have mainly been deployed on the A338 and the A4. Several incidents involving speeding and other driving offences have already been detected.

On the third Wednesday of every month, the police have a presence in the car park behind From the Heart (at the back of the Royal Mail sorting office and at the front of the Tesco car park). This has proved very popular. Some of the issues raised have concerned the changed nature of the police presence in Hungerford: some questions about this are covered here. This post also has information about ways of contacting the local police and how to register for online alerts and updates.

The skate park has been monitored regularly following various reports of anti-social activity there. It was reported that the incidents appeared to be low-level and that there was no direct evidence of any drug-related activity there. The site will continue to be monitored. A new CCTV camera has been installed and is currently awaiting a broadband connection.

There had been cases of fraudulent (non-registered) Big Issue salespeople operating in Hungerford High Street. The police reported that, on investigation, the two currently there are accredited.

One question from the Council concerned the long waiting times for answering 101 calls. The police representatives said that they were aware of this, that they themselves had experienced this delay in the course of their own duties and that they would pass the comment up to those who might be able to improve this slightly alarming problem. They also urged people to dial 999 if there was any suggestion that a crime was taking place or was about to.

The Triangle Field and Hungerford Rugby Club

It was reported at the meeting that a deal had finally been agreed to put the relationship between HTC and Hungerford RFC onto a more equitable footing. After questions from the floor as to nature of HTC’s support for other organisations in the town and some discussion about certain details of the new arrangement, it was agreed that the new agreement would be signed by both parties. This includes a provision for reviewing some of its conditions within the next 12 months. The net result is likely to be that that HTC’s contributions to the cost of the Triangle Field (previously about £7,500pa on average) will fall by about 50%. The intention is that as much of this saving as possible will then be available for other local causes. Various comments, from HTC and the floor, confirmed that the history of the relationship between WBC, HTC, Hungerford RFC and the Triangle Field was a slightly complex one.

 

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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