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Local News June 14-21 2018

Including station adoption plans in Hungerford, apologies in Thatcham and Theale, youth councillors in Newbury, planning refusal in Swindon, cloudy water in the Valley, new hope for Oxenwood, arts in Wantage, litter in Cold Ash, old photos in Lambourn, police and roadwork updates, bet on Belgium, the Minnesota raccoon, the Axford wallaby, a chef’s DNA, C roads, scams, empty homes, Lake Baikal, green bins and Macca’s drumming skills.

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, transport 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.

• You can also visit Roadworks.org for similar information: this also provides the ability to toggle layers and select dates (it defaults to today’s date but you can adjust this) and other preferences. (It seems that West Berkshire at least – see link above – gets its feed from this source).

• There will be a number of closures on the main railway line between Pewsey and Theale in 2018 as a result of the electrification project.

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.

• For information on flood warnings and alerts, click here.

• 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)

• The so-called ‘green bin tax‘ will soon be in place in West Berkshire. Here’s a story from nearby Reading which proves, if proof were needed, that once a charge has been introduced at all it’s then very easy to raise it (see also tuition fees, prescription charges, dental check-ups, etc, ad nauseam).

• I read an online article this week which considered who would win the World Cup. Based on an analysis of past tournaments, the winners are likely to be seeded, to have the best goalie, the meanest defence and the most experienced squad, to be from Europe and not be the holders or the hosts. By this logic, put your money on Belgium.

• I was saddened to learn of the death this week of Anthony Bourdain, the chef and writer. I never ate any of his food but if he was as good am cook as he was a writer then this would have been a wonderful experience. If you read no other book about the world of restaurants, I recommend his Kitchen Confidential: if you read no other travel book I recommend his A Cook’s Tour. Were the DNAs of Hunter S Thompson, Keith Richards and Gordon Ramsey to have been mixed up in a blender, Bourdain might have been the result. The world’s a poorer place without him. Go buy his books.

• West Berkshire Council has been awarded an additional £3 million from the Department of Transport (DfT) to resurface a number of its A, B and C roads.

• What, I hear you ask, is a C road? They’re the un-numbered ones (except by planning and highway departments) and make up the vast majority of Britain’s 246,500 miles of highways. Identifying these can cause confusions. For instance, I’ve always referred to the road which goes from Lambourn to Shefford, Welford and Boxford and which ends at the B4494 by Donnington Park as the ‘bottom road’ and the B4000 as the ‘top road’.  Seemed logical to me. I’ve since discovered some people call the former the ‘top road’, the ‘lower road’, the ‘valley road’, ‘Newbury Street’ or, most confusingly,  the ‘other road.’ Anyone else got any other names for it?

• Forget the Trump/Kim love-in, forget the World Cup – the real news this week has been the raccoon that decided to climb a skyscraper in Minnesota.

• Apparently it’s Father’s Day this Sunday but I’m not holding my breath from any recognition from my brood. The Newbury Weekly News has a pull-out section on the subject this week.

• The Public Protection Partnership (PPP), which works with the Citizens Advice in communities across Bracknell, West Berkshire and Wokingham to raise the awareness of scams, has recently seen an increase in the Metropolitan Police fraud scam. As June is national Scams Awareness Month a local resident tells her story to warns others of the dangers of these deceptions.

• A new strategy for supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) across West Berkshire has been published.

• The support available to rough sleepers in West Berkshire Council will receive a boost thanks to a £200,000 grant from the government.

• The letters pages of the Newbury Weekly News this week includes another hole in the local mobile network revealed; further debate on the costs of the Police and Crime Commissioner; yet more Brexit wrangles; a warning about unexpected parking charges; and a picture of a dog that doesn’t like hairdryers (although looks as it it’s just spent 20 minutes using one).

• A number of good causes have received valuable support recently, including: Berkshire Vision (thanks to Gary Poulson’s skydive); the NSPCC (thanks to the West Berkshire Luncheon Club); various local charities (thanks to the Speen Fête); Parkinson’s Newbury and The Rosemary Appeal (thanks to the recent Golf Day at Donnington Valley); Kennet Community Transport (thanks to pupils at St John’s, Marlborough).

Hungerford & district

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

• For the best round-up of news and features in and around the town, we can do no better than recommend you click here to visit the June edition of Penny Post Hungerford, published earlier this week.

• Regular users of Hungerford Station will probably agree that it’s not the most beautiful place in the country. For some time there have been plans to address this, one plan being for the Town Council to ‘adopt’ the station. You can read more on p17 of this week’s NWN; and also here, where the matter was raised at last month’s meeting of Hungerford Town Council’s Highways and Transport Committee. I imagine that if the proposed housing development on the Oakes Bros site goes ahead this might provide a suitable opportunity to improve certain aspects of the station and its surroundings.

• And sticking with the station for a moment, a grant has been approved to extend the passenger shelter on the eastbound platform. It’s hoped this will be in place by the end of the summer.

• The same hoped-for schedule applies to the new bus shelter near the Library, funding for which was recently received through a West Berkshire Council member’s bid.

• A reminder that Hungerford Library will be being officially handed over from West Berkshire Council to Hungerford Town Council at 10am on Friday 15 June.

Lambourn Valley

• Please click here to visit the village websites or Facebook pages for Lambourn, East Garston, Great Shefford and Boxford.

• Some people in the Valley have reported that their tap water is cloudy. I know there are some water repairs in Shefford at present which may have something to do with it. I’ve just poured a glass and it came out quite milky but this clears after about 20 seconds. For more information, see Thames Water’s information page on the subject here.

• Click here for information on a photography exhibition which will be held in Lambourn in August. This page also includes details of whom to contact if you have any old protographs of the village you would like to have included.

• We mentioned last week that on 6 June there was a suspicious incident in Lambourn involving the attempted abduction of a child. Thames Valley Police has now confirmed that there was a further incident in Compton although it’s not clear if these are related. Parentsd and carers have been advised to vigilant and ‘even more careful than usual.’ Please click here – see the ‘Communications’ section – for ways of reporting crimes, suspected crimes or incidents.

4 Legs Community Radio Station will on Friday have its tenth day of broadcasting – click here for more.

Newbury & district

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

• Newbury Youth Council has elected Daniel Parnell and Charlotte Beaven as their new Junior Mayor and Deputy Mayor. Click here for more.

• You have until Saturday 30 June for applications for the 2018 Newbury in Bloom campaign.

• The support available to rough sleepers in West Berkshire and Newbury in particular will receive a boost thanks to a £200,000 grant from the government.

Thatcham & district

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

• A group of Thatcham residents has launched a campaign to reduce traffic speeds  on a stretch of the A4 in a bid to reduce the number of accidents.

• See p20 of this week’s NWN for an apology from Thames Water about some sewage problems in and around the town recently.

• And on p6 of the same paper there’s another apology, this time from Thames Valley Police after the way the matter of the recent illegal traveller encampments near Theale was handled.

• Click here for information on yet another closure of the level crossing at Thatcham, this time on the night Saturday 16/Sumday 17 June. Surely it’s time to look again at the idea of a bridge?

• There’ll be a community litter pick in Cold Ash on Saturday 16 June. Meet at the Acland Hall at 2pm. Equipment will be provided. In the hall itself there will be an exhibition on the problem of plastic waste and how households can better recycle plastic products.

• A reminder that Thatcham Market takes place every Friday from 9am on The Broadway.

Marlborough & district

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

• Another week, another U-turn by Wiltshire Council. This one concerns the role of Director of Social Care. Marlborough News can take up the story from here.

• In separate article from the same source, Wiltshire’s social-care services have received criticism from the CQC, as has Prospect House in Wroughton.

• David Walliams has been announced as the Marlborough LitFest children’s author for 2018.

• Community First, a not- for-profit organisation, has submitted a business plan to run the threatened Oxenwood Outdoor Education Centre near Marlborough.

• I mentioned the case of the Axford wallaby last week which escaped from his home. Did he get found?

• 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.

• Please click here for the latest news from Grove Parish Council.

• A new scheme designed to help those at risk of abuse in a pub or bar has been launched in the Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire. Click here for more.

• The Wantage Summer Arts Festival is now under way – click here for details.

• A chance to have your say on a government proposal to give Oxfordshire councils greater protection from speculative housing development.

Swindon & district

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

•  A series of free events will be taking place in Swindon to provide support and advice for local businessesclick here for more.

• Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service is looking for young people from the Swindon area to join its Fire Cadet programme.

• A developer has failed in an attempt to overturn Swindon Council’s refusal to grant permission for 2,800 new homes.

• According to this report, a similar number of homes (about 2,000) are currently empty in the town.

• Click here for details of the many volunteering opportunities at Great Western Hospital.

The song and the quiz

• The Song of the Week is here once more. As the World Cup has just got under way the mind naturally turns to something with a Russian theme: and what better than McCartney’s belter from the White Album, Back in the USSR (this clip is actually from a show he did in Kiev in 2008). As Ringo had (briefly) left the band, McCartney played the drums on this track. This probably led to John Lennon’s later withering remark that ‘Ringo’s not the best drummer in the world – he’s not even the best drummer in The Beatles.’

• Which brings us to the  Quiz Question of the Week. Yet again, I’m directing you to our latest quiz which has a pair of tickets to the Garstonbury Festival in (where else) East Garston on 14 July as the prize. Bonus question? OK – Roughly what percentage of the world’s fresh water is held in Russia’s Lake Baikal? Last week’s question was: Five players have been sent off in a World Cup final. Who was the only one to have ended up on the winning side? The answer is Marcel Desailly who saw red in the ’98 final at which France beat Brazil 3-0.

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Brian Quinn

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