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Local News Feb 8-15 2018

Including neighbourhood plans in Hungerford and Cold Ash, a town plan, fake news and roses in Newbury, road funding and fly tippers in Wantage, parking and traffic in Marlborough, parking and a quarter-final place in Thatcham, flood relief and HMPI in Shefford, an eyesore and a cycle lane in Swindon, a possible station in Devizes, police and roadwork updates, the area’s most dangerous road, a glance through the letters, council overspends, Munich, the suffragettes (and a city), four legs, nine kings, 13 hoards and Europe’s first orange grove.

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.

Police, traffic and council contacts

Roadworks updates. Click on the links for news regarding West Berkshire, the Wantage area, Wiltshire, Hampshire and Swindon. Please click here to visit Traffic England’s site for information on motorways and major strategic roads (which include at A34 and the A419). The ‘Map Layers’ toggle can be used to display different levels of information.

• Station Road in Woolhampton will be closed from 8am to 4pm on Tuesday 20 February.

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.

Across the area (and further afield)

• This article from the BBC website paints a fairly harrowing picture of the finances of local councils at this time of year when they are finalising their budgets. The problems of Northants have been widely reported recently: according to this, one in three are currently or are soon likely to be overspending. of particular concern are the figures which show the expenditure on social care. As has also been widely reported, demand for this is rising at just the time that central-government funding is being reduced. A number of reports also suggest that the effect of these financial pressures is being disproportionately felt by areas that already have a lot of poverty. The Tories’ 2010 election rallying cry of ‘we’re all in it together’ seems more and more hollow every day.

• There’s also this article from the same source which shows in broad terms how councils raise money and what they spend it on, as well as touching on (as have we) some possible problems and challenges as the funding model changes over the next few years.

Thames Valley Police has launched Protect Your World, a campaign encouraging young people to take action to protect themselves online.

• The letters pages of the Newbury Weekly News this week include the claim that remote areas of Scotland enjoy a better broadband service than does West Berkshire; a lengthy polemic in favour of Brexit; congratulations to Iceland (the shop, not the country) for their intention of banning plastic packaging; suggestions as to how to resolve a dispute between West Berkshire Council and a town council (although the council isn’t named); and how people in Wash Common have been ‘blighted’ by Sandleford.

• There are probably a good number of Manchester United supporters in the Penny Post area. It’s often said that many people with no connection with the city started following the club after the Munich air crash, the 60th anniversary of which took place this week. As anyone who knows me at all will be aware, I have no love for Man U myself though I have every sympathy for the victims and survivors. I also wonder what the team might have achieved had it been spared: by all accounts they were on the cusp of being the best side in Europe. One thing I wasn’t aware of until I read a few articles recently was how abominably the club behaved to the survivors and the families of the victims after the disaster. Things were done differently then, of course, and that kind of behaviour wouldn’t be tolerated now. I offer these thoughts to counter-balance the oft-stated view that life was always kinder, gentler and generally better in the past.

• Another current anniversary  – this time a centenary – and one of a happier kind is that of the suffragette movement. This article tells the story through seven objects associated with the struggle.

• A local company has recently been fined over £11,000 for failing to dispose of its waste correctly.

• Click here for details of West Berkshire’s Love your Library campaign.

• A number of good causes have received valuable support recently, including: Style Acre (thanks to East and West Hendred WI); Swings and Smiles (thanks to shoppers in the Kennet Centre); Alzheimer’s Research (thanks to Thatcham Rotary Club); Action Through Enterprise (thanks to Penny and our two sons who’re about to go off to Ghana for ten days); several voluntary and community groups (thanks to the Co-op); Brighter Futures (thanks to Dawn Ball and Rachel Burbridge’s music marathon).

Hungerford & district

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

• Those of you who didn’t see this month’s Penny Post Hungerford can click here for the best round-up of news and views from the town, including an update on the Town Council’s work, a report on the recent decision to proceed with a neighbourhood plan and a focus on some of the high-street retailers as well as interviews, property, jobs, features and a prize quiz.

•Attention is particularly drawn to this article which provides the usual summary of Hungerford Town Council’s activities including the discussion at the recent Full Council meeting which led to the council deciding to adopt a neighbourhood plan.

• The same article has also recently been amended to provide a brief summary of a recent Hungerford Town Council committee meeting which was attended by representatives of CALA Homes, one of the developers involved in the Salisbury Road site.

• The Hungerford Tuesday Club, which provides social events and outings for elderly and disabled people in and around the town, is looking for a volunteer driver with a licence suitable for driving a minibus. The club meets on the second Tuesday of the month but transport will be needed at other times as well. If you can help, please contact Sheila Bamford on 01488 686 982.

Lambourn Valley

• The 4 Legs Community Radio for the Lambourn Valley is likely to be going live in April.

• A reminder about the excellent work being done by the Great Shefford Flood Alleviation Association which is aiming to raise funds for a local flood-defence project to be built by the Environment Agency. You can read more about the issue and the organisation’s aims and forthcoming events here.

• A letter has been written by a local councillor to HM Planning Inspectorate pointing out various alleged errors and oversights in HMPI’s recent decision to overturn West Berkshire Council’s refusal for a knacker’s yard near Great Shefford, which will now go ahead. The problem appears to be (as far as I understand it) that whatever the rights and wrongs of the case, HMPI does not have the power to overturn its own decision and only an appeal to the Supreme Court can reverse the verdict.

• The snowdrops are out in Welford Park. If you’re driving down what we call the bottom road proceed with caution in the area as a field on the opposite side of the road is as usual being used as a car park.

The Pheasant in Shefford Woodlands has now re-opened after two weeks of renovations.

Newbury & district

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

• Newbury is consulting on its town plan (closes 18 March) which aims to ‘focus on how the town of Newbury should respond positively and constructively to the expected challenges over the next 20 years and to inform and influence the WBC Local Area Plan 2019-2036.’ Click here for more.

• The town will also soon have some more roses in Victoria Parkdetails here.

• Hoards and treasure are words always likely to catch the eye, whether in bold type or not. There’s an exhibition at the West Berkshire Museum of 13 finds from across the area, some dating back over 4,000 years.

• West Berkshire Council has been awarded £1.5m from the government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund to fund some projects connected with the Sterling Cables development.

• Nearly 75 years ago – on 10 Feb 1943, to be precise – Newbury suffered a bombing raid in which 15 people were killed, scores were injured and over 260 buildings damaged. A service of remembrance will be held in St John’s Church at 3pm on Sunday 11 February. You can also read a report on this in this week’s Newbury Weekly News.

• A reminder that nominations are now open for the 2018 Newbury Civic Awards (and will remain so until Friday 9 March) to recognise the huge contribution volunteers make to the local community. For more information, click here.

• Newbury now has a new twin town (its fifth in all) – Carcaixent near Valencia in Spain. Read more here. Its main claim to fame seems to be that the first large-scale commercial orange groves in Europe were established just outside the town in 1781.

• I was sorry not to have been able to attend the most recent Newbury Talks by journalist James Ball, describer by organiser Judith Bunting as ‘one of the best Newbury Talks so far. Click here for information on forthcoming events.

• There are plans to re-open the library in Wash Common: you can visit the friends of Wash Common Library website here for more.

Thatcham & District

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

Cold Ash Parish Council has recently decided to adopt a neighbourhood plan, following Burghfield, Tilehurst, Compton and Hungerford (as well as Stratfield Mortimer which has already had its own plan adopted) in West Berkshire. More news on how they get on with this as it becomes available. As the recent meeting at Hungerford demonstrated, a neighbourhood plan requires a lot of work but can also yieldsome welcome and tangible benefits. Other parishes may well decide to follow suit.

• Thatcham Town Council has recently voted to oppose West Berkshire Council’s plans to introduce pay-by-phone parking charges. The world is, in my humble opinion, already over-dominated by the tyranny of smartphones and it seems very discriminatory to accept only one method of payment.

• Congratulations to Thatcham Town FC, who have made it through to the quarter finals of the FA Vase after a 2-1 victory over Bromsgove.

• West Berkshire PDA Group and the charity Swings and Smiles are running a series of play sessions in Thatcham for autistic children: the next one is on Friday 23 February. Click here for more information.

Marlborough & district

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

• Judging by this article in Marlborough News Online, I’m glad that I don’t need to drive through Marlborough regularly.

• And, just to make the whole experience even more fun, a reminder that new parking charges have now come into force in the town.

• Tempers are already getting frayed as Redrow Homes start work on the 172-home Salisbury Road site, with local residents claiming that trees have been felled unnecessarily.

• It’s slightly to the west of our area, but it’s recently been announced that the proposal to restore rail services to Devizes is gathering steam, a move which could give encouragement to other towns such as Marlborough and Wantage which are also seeking to be reconnected to the network.

• There are currently five vacancies that need filling on Great Bedwyn Parish Council.

• Click here for information on what’s on in and around Ramsbury.

Wantage & district

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

• Grants of up to £100,000 are available from the Vale of White Horse Council for projects that support the rural economymore here.

• Nearly £8m of government funds have been allocated to the Wantage Eastern Link Road.

• Whether you know it by its old name (Crab Hill) or its new one (Kingsgrove), the plans for the 1,500-home site have recently been publicly exhibited.

• The A34 and the M4 are usually the roads that grab the headlines round here (and usually for the wrong reasons) but the A420 must now be added to the roll-call of shame: apparently it’s the most dangerous road the the southeast of England and is likely to become more so.

Fly tippers beware – the Vale of White Horse Council is on your case, one man recently being fined £3,000.

Swindon

• Click here for the latest news and information from Swindon Borough Council.

• Plans are being developed for a cycle route between Swindon and Wootton Bassett.

• The proposed redevelopment of the speedway and greyhound racing stadium at Blunsdon has taken a further step forward recently.

• It seems likely that an abandoned care home in Stratton St Margaret will soon be being redeveloped.

The song and the quiz

• The Song of the Week swings round into our sights once more. To celebrate the centenary of votes for women, Bowie’s Suffragette City from his virtually flawless Ziggy Stardust album obviously suggests itself, at least because of its title: the subject matter (in so far as it’s possible to work out what this is), however, is less a homage to the emancipation struggle than an attempt to come to terms with his own ambiguous sexuality. Whatever, it’s a damn fine rock song . Rock songs very rarely change the world, contrary to what their authors would sometimes like to believe, and I don’t think this one is even trying to. Mind you, with Bowie you never could tell…

• Which brings us, as ever was, to the Quiz Question of the Week. This week’s is taken from the current Penny Post Valentine’s quiz and is as follows: What links Toby Meres, Major Horst Mohn and AJ Raffles? Click on the link for this and nine other questions which could win you a box of mouth-watering hand-made chocolates. Last week’s was What do the years 1066, 1483 and 1936 have in common? The answer is in each of these years there were three kings on the English throne. How many of the nine can you name without resorting to Wikipedia? This re-drafting of Willie Willie Harry Stee might also help.

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Brian Quinn

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