Including library confusions, library friends, council meetings, Newbury Talks, defibrillators, food markets, canoe racers, civic awards and a welcome to the working week from ’77.
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• There still seems to be uncertainty over the costs of running the libraries in Hungerford, Lambourn and elsewhere which is making it hard for voluntary groups to understand what steps they can usefully take. Take a look at the Friends of Hungerford Library Facebook page for more. It certainly seems incredible that the council should still not have provided (or perhaps even unearthed) the relevant information: the more so, as I’ve mentioned several times before, that they have known for some time that cuts of some kind were on their way and so had ample time to make plans. This Friends of Hungerford Library Facebook page also include some observations on Cllr Law’s recent comments about how the cuts are only ‘small’ as they represent only a fraction of West Berkshire’s total economy. See also last week’s Local News for more on this.
• For news of Lambourn Library, click here to keep up to date with the Friends of Lambourn Library Facebook page.
• The final decision on the second round of cuts will be taken by West Berkshire Council today, Thursday 24 March. To view the entire 236-page Public Document Pack which includes the Agenda (and likely conclusions) of the Special Meeting of West Berkshire Council, click here. For more information on how the transitional funding has been allocated (subject to ratification at this meeting) please click here. This meeting (and probably other ones in the future) will also be streamed on YouTube.
• The Newbury Corn Exchange is one of the many organisations which has had its funding cut and received good suuport in the recent consultation (see last week’s Local News for more on these figures). It has recently launched a Love Your Corn Exchange fundraising campaign.
• A long-running dispute between Hungerford Town Council and West Berkshire Council has recently resurfaced about the respective contributions towards the costs of repairing the Croft Field Building. The confusion seems to lie in the fact that the sum raised from a Member’s Bid by the two Hungerford District Councillors (£8,500) is exactly the same as the sum West Berkshire Council is obliged to pay under the lease. I suppose it will all get sorted out eventually…
The Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race takes place from Friday 25 to Monday 28 March and will pass along the Kennet and Avon Canal through Bedwyn, Hungerford and Newbury in the later part of Friday. For more information click here. I was chatting to someone last weekend who’d taken part in this a few years ago and he gave me a harrowing description of how he felt afterwards. I splash up and down the pool at the Hungerford Leisure Centre a couple of hundred times each week but this is a massively different level of fitness.
• If you are a patient at the Lambourn Surgery, click here for news of a few changes that will be taking place from Friday 1 April (no, really, they are…)
• Roads and around Lambourn will be busier than normal on Friday 25 March as the Lambourn Open Day will be taking place, attracting an estimated 10,000 visitors. Click here for more.
• Please click here for more information on the various reactions to the cuts in West Berkshire, including links to some of the organisations which have been set up to oppose or mitigate these.
• I saw Nick of Gastro Nicks at the Hungerford market on Wednesday and he reminded me that there’s an Italian market in Hungerford High Street from 10am on Sunday 3 April. Pecorino cheeses, pasta, panettone, pesto and many other things, many beginning with letters other than P, will be available for sampling and purchase from Gastro Nick’s and the other stalls.
• Before that, there will also be a farmers’ market in Hungerford from 9am to 1.30pm on Sunday 27 March.
• Another chance to see how Newbury Town Council is responding to the funding crisis: their response is reproduced in full here.
• Congratulations to all those who were recognised in the recent Newbury Civic Awards. For more, click here.
Congratulations also to recipients of a similar award, Pride of Swindon, in the recent ceremony at the Steam Museum.
• A final reminder that Hungerford Town Council’s annual Town Meeting will be put back a week until Thursday 31 March (7pm in the Town Hall) to avoid a clash with West Berkshire Council’s meeting on Thursday 24 March which will will decide the fate of, amongst other things, the Library and the Children’s Centre.
• There will be a meeting of Thatcham Town Council at the Council Offices at 6.30pm on Tuesday 29 March. It will be open to the public.
• If you run a business in or near Great Bedwyn, click here to see details of a survey which is being conducted as part of the Neighbourhood Development Plan.
• As mentioned previously, we’re well aware that West Berkshire is not the only council in the area which is facing Westminster’s demands for draconian cuts. Click here to find out more about similar issues in the Unitary Authorities of Wiltshire, Swindon, Hampshire and Oxfordshire, the District Council of Vale of White Horse, and the Town Councils of Newbury, Marlborough, Hungerford and Thatcham.
• An interesting hour was spent at the Corn Exchange in Newbury last Sunday at the first of the Newbury Talks. Click here for more on this talk specifically, and here for more on Newbury Talks generally.
• The Aldbourne Heritage Centre will have its official opening ceremony on Monday 28 March.
• Good news for St John’s in Marlborough which has been selected to become a National Teaching School.
• West Berkshire’s Library Fest is continues and there will be a wide range of activities in most of the libraries in the area until late April.
• The Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service has been training residents of Great Shefford in use of defibrillators and two further training dates have been booked for later in the year. If you’d like to find out more about this life-saving skill, contact Sue Benn on 01488 648 800.
• Congratulations to Maddison and Zach Pettifer, winners of this year’s John O’Gaunt School X Factor held at the school last week, and to all the others who took part in and organised the event.
• Residents of Chilton Foliat and the surrounding area are invited to contact the new Village Hall chairman Nick Davies if they are interested in joining the committee – email [email protected]
• Several people were inspired to book musical instrument lessons after the recent Learn to Play weekend earlier this month in Parkway shopping Centre organised by Hogan Music. Click on the link if you feel like joining them.
• Moving slightly away from the Penny Post area for a moment, it seems the people of New Zealand have voted not to change their flag. It’s amazing to me that a flag which not only contains the Union Jack but which is, to me at least, almost indistinguishable from Australia’s should remain so popular there. If any Kiwis out there who can shed any light, do post a comment below.
• Several good causes have received valuable financial support recently, including: Sport Relief (thanks to people and organisations too numerous to mention – you know who you are); Autism Awareness (thanks to pupils at Park House); Eastcott Community group (thanks to the Wiltshire Community Foundation).
• So the Song of the Week creeps up on us once more. It’s occurred to me that we haven’t had any Elvis Costello yet which seems a terrible oversight so let’s fix that right now. I’m going for Welcome to the Working Week, the first track on his superb first album, My Aim is True. It’s got all his hallmarks – sharp lyrics, superb arrangements, a strong melody and vocals delivered with a mixture of anger and disgust – condensed into under one and a half minutes. As we have a couple of short working weeks coming up this would be good time to give it a listen.
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