Local Councils

Hungerford Town Council News – December 2017/January 2018 Update

There was a wrong link in the February Penny Post Hungerford which would have directed you to this page when you were probably expecting to visit the HTC January/February Update. Please click here to be re-directed – apologies for the detour.

These notes incorporate some but not all of the matters discussed at the Full Hungerford Town Council (HTC) Meeting on 8 January, 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.

 

Salisbury Road Judicial Review

As mentioned last month, 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.’

The meeting discussed whether or not it was viable to consider a further judicial review, this time against the planning application rather than, as previously, the DPD. Points discussed included whether the deadline had expired (it being uncertain whether the six-week period was triggered by the decision notice or the Section 106 details, which define the contribution made by the developers to local infrastructure projects); whether the S106 had in fact been issued (HTC was told by WBC that it was unavailable but a representatives of one of the developers, present at the meeting, said he had a copy and would email it to HTC); whether there was any material change in the legal case which would increase the chances of success; whether there was a sufficient appetite for a further appeal among the council members and the town as a whole; and whether the council had enough funds to embark upon this. There were also several contributions from the floor.

It was eventually agreed that legal opinion of up to £500 would be sought without delay and, if necessary, an extraordinary meeting be convened to decide what action to take.

There will be a meeting of the Environment and Planning Committee in the Library at 7pm on Monday 15 January. It is hoped that representatives from Wates and CALA Homes (the two developers involved with the Salisbury Road site) will be able to make a presentation and answer questions from the committee members and the public but it’s currently uncertain if they will be available to attend on this occasion. Members of the public are invited to attend in any case. The agenda can be seen here.

Councillor Co-option

Mark Cusack expressed his desire to join HTC. Mark has degrees in Medicine and Law and has wide experience in a number of areas including working with the EU, dealing with statutory agencies, providing legal advice and developing public-health impact assessments. After a vote he was co-opted onto the Council.

Councillor Colin Bumberis has resigned with immediate effect for family and work reasons and the council recorded its gratitude for his contributions, not least on the Finance and General Purposes Committee. As a result, there still remains one vacancy for a councillor which will, like the others, be filled by co-option. Anyone interested should contact claire.barnes@hungerford-tc.gov.uk.

Library Update

As with any largely untried solution to a problem, the transfer of the Library from WBC to HTC has proceeded neither as smoothly nor as quickly as many hoped. The latest issue concerns the state of the building, HTC being understandably reluctant to take on a 99-year lease unless it is in as least as good a condition as a nine-year-old building should be and that its future maintenance and upkeep needs and costs are clearly understood. This attitude WBC fully accepts: indeed, it recently insisted on the same standards from HTC when there was a suggestion that WBC took back control of such of the street lights in the town that are currently HTC’s responsibility.

It appears from a recent survey that there are a number of issues with the library building. Some of these seem to be down to inadequate maintenance in the past but others are surprising in such a comparatively new building. Whatever their cause, HTC and WBC need to agree how, when and by whom these things need to be put right. It seems unlikely that the proposed handover date of April will be met. Work needs also to be done on converting the current very general heads of agreement into a formal lease. A slight concern is that WBC is (as has been well publicised) under severe financial constraints and the library cannot keep on running on its current basis indefinitely.

Neighbourhood Plan

There will be an open meeting in the Corn Exchange complex 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. Members of the public are urged to attend

HTC has produced some information about the issues involved which can be seen by clicking here.

In addition, 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.

The main purpose of the meeting on 22 January is to provide information, to enable local experts to explain their own experiences and to have a forum for discussion. It’s possible that a firm decision as to whether or not to proceed with the plan will be taken at the end.

It’s also worth mentioning that planning is not the only issue that a neighbourhood plan can cover.

The Mayor’s Activities

During December, the Mayor attended a number of events in and around Hungerford including the lights switch on in Hungerford and other towns, several Christmas parties for a number of voluntary and charitable groups and several carol services (including a sol performance at the one in Hungerford). Given the time of year, seasonal events dominated his diary but he also had a meeting with WBC Leader Graham Jones.

Committee Meetings

It was reported at the meeting that various meetings had taken place and the reports circulated. The Planning Committee representative expressed surprise and dismay that WBC had recently turned down a conversion application near the library. There were no other matters arising from these that occasioned any significant discussion at the meeting. For more information on the work of these committees, please click here.

All HTC committee meetings now take place in the Library. Full Council meetings will continue to be held in the the Corn Exchange complex.

Financial Matters

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

Some small adjustments were made the the budget since the draft presented at De3cember’s meeting. The reduction in the Rugby Club expenses and other cost savings has allowed extra money to be budgeted for grants and towards the Croft improvement project and for a projected 2% wage increase. The final budget showed expenditure  of £291,092 and a Precept request of £273,596 (a 0% rise in the Precept this for 2018-19). This was unanimously agreed by the council.

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 only until Wednesday 10 January 2018. HTC will be making its own response and members of the public are invited to do so as well.

Members of HTC expressed their disappointment that the district councillors had neither been able to attend the meeting nor provide a report to state their own position on these budget cuts.

The Railway Station

As reported last month, HTC is  investigating adopting Hungerford station. Two representatives from GWR will be attending the H&T meeting on 29 January to provide more details of the scheme. members of the public are welcome to attend.

Police Update

Members of the Thames Valley Police were unable to be present at the meeting but provided the following report:

We are pleased to report that the Christmas and New Year period passed without incident in the town. We were able to get involved with both the Extravaganza and the turning on of the Christmas lights, two events that we look forward to every year.

We have seen a spate in vehicle crime in the town, predominantly the target has been vans where tools have been taken. There have been incidents reported to us in Hamblin Meadow, Chapel Court and Moore’s Place. This has not been restricted to Hungerford as there have also been reports north of the M4 in Shefford. We strongly advice that all tools and valuable items are removed from vans overnight.

As a team we have carried out speed enforcement in the Downlands part of our area. Here 17 drivers were found exceeding the speed limit. The fastest speed recorded was 46mph in a 30mph zone. We have dates in the diary to carry out enforcement in the Hungerford area.

Contact information

The Neighbourhood Policing Team can be contacted via email at hungerfordanddownlandsnhpt@thamesalley.pnn.police.uk. The email box is checked daily so even if the local team are off, colleagues can review messages in case a prompt response is required.

You can also report incidents to TVP on line via our website www.thamesvalley.police.uk.

There is a letterbox on the wall to the right of the front door at the station. This will not be checked daily but can receive written correspondence. Found property should not be left here.  Found property can be notified to the police via 101 and details recorded. If the police need to take possession of the items arrangements can be made.

(Please also click here for a general article created by Penny Post about the current policing arrangements in and around Hungerford.)

The Triangle Field and Hungerford Rugby Club

A final agreement between HTC and the Rugby Club is expected to be put in place soon which will result in a different and more equitable way of apportioning the various costs associated with the Triangle Field.

 

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. Every reasonable effort has been made to provide a clear and dispassionate summary of the points covered but these may contain expressions of opinion which may not accord with Hungerford Town Council’s official view on the particular matter. Links have been provided to other posts, on the Penny Post site or elsewhere, to provide additional information where this has been judged useful or 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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