Local News Apr 1 – 8

Local News

Including continuing library confusions, library friends, Shakespeare, Build Community Together fund, Italian food market, Lydiard Park, White Horse investigations, Swindon consultations, Newbury Car Club and a seasonal song about fools.

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The council cuts start to bite this week with the closure of the Information Centre and the public toilets at The Wharf. As we all know, much more is to follow. See this week’s Newbury Weekly News (pp6-8) for more details.

A similar story in Marlborough where the George Lane car park and Chantry Lane toilets will close, although the plan is that the first of these will only be temporary.

Council cuts in Swindon have also led, amongst many other results, to some doubt over the future nature and ownership of Lydiard Park. Click here for the latest news including the results of Swindon Link’s recent survey.

The cuts are also likely to affect private businesses as well as public services: The Kennet Pharmacy in George Lane, Marlborough, is one of the 3,000 pharmacies the DoH wants to close over the next nine months.

There still seems to be confusion about how much some of these axed services cost when split down into their individual parts. This applies particularly to the libraries. You can keep up to date with developments at Hungerford and Lambourn libraries through their ‘Friends of…’ pages. In particular, it seems uncertain whether (a) councillors were aware of any breach of the 1964 Libraries and Museums Act in closing the libraries, (b) whether any needs assessments will as a result be carried out and (c) whether the Act can be challenged at all, past attempts by other councils elsewhere in the country having all (I believe) failed. It seems odd to me that there should be government legislation which appears to prevent something happening and yet, when it does, the legislation proves of no help. As I mentioned some weeks back, 1964 is a long time ago and describes a world quite different from the one we now inhabit. Perhaps it needs updating. But would I trust the current executive-dominated parliament to create a better version of it? Probably not.

Some better news for West Berkshire: the council has released information about the Build Community Together (BGT) fund which is designed ‘to strengthen communities across the district and to help them do more for themselves as austerity measures have an increasing impact on services.’ A range of grants and other assistance will be available for locl projects. Click here for more information.

The longer summer opening hours start today at the Waste Recycling Centre in Newbury. (If you want to know more about where your recycling goes, click here.)

If you have any memories or stories or old photographs of Marlborough’s Preshute White Horse, the North Wessex Downs AONB is keen to hear from you as part of a current historical research project – click here for more details.

Figures have recently been released which show the high level of air pollution in the London Road area of Marlborough although (as ever) there are a number of different views as to how this largely invisible problem should be tackled.

Residents of Great Bedwyn and the surrounding villages can click here to have their say on how their communities might change and develop over the coming years.

The new Newbury Car Club will be officially launched in the next few weeks – click here for more information.

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 the recent Local News for more on these figures). It has recently launched a Love Your Corn Exchange fundraising campaign.

The dispute rumbles on between Hungerford Town Council and West Berkshire Council about the respective contributions towards the costs of repairing the Croft Field Building. £8,500 is at stake: quite a lot in today’s circumstances.

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.

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.

A reminder about Italian market in Hungerford High Street from 10am on Sunday 3 April. We’re just back from France laden with cheese but that’s no reason not to go and buy some Italian stuff as well.

What is the capital of Armenia? Who won the FA Cup in 1947? Who kept her face in a jar by the door? These are three questions which might (but probably won’t) crop up at the annual East Garston Quiz on Friday 29 April. Some spaces are still available for teams of up to six – contact EdJames@sportingagenda.co.uk to book your table at what is always a great evening. (Answers to the above are Yerevan, Charlton Athletic and Eleanor Rigby, as if you didn’t know.)

Advance notice of Lis Allen‘s forthcoming Talking Bollocks event  (not to be confused with her recent successful Vagina Dialogues) at Hungerford’s Herongate Leisure Centre on Thursday 28 April.

The recently renovated Shaw House in Newbury will be hosting a month-long season of Shakespeare-related events and activities during April.

Another chance to see how Newbury Town Council is responding to the funding crisis: their response is reproduced in full here.

There will be a number of road closures in and around Cold Ash over the next few weeks.

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.

Click for this month’s neighbourhood police updates in West Berkshire (March update here) & North Hampshire  and police advice for South Oxfordshire & Wiltshire.

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.

Plans have been published by Swindon Borough Council for the New Eastern Villages and for development in and around South Marston. To see more, click here. The public consultation runs until Wednesday 4 May.

Several good causes have received valuable financial support recently, including: Swings and Smiles (thanks to the recent event at Englefield House); Sport Relief (thanks to numerous local individuals and companies, including Audley Inglewood); several sports facilities in West Berkshire including the Downland Sorts Centre and the Hungerford Rugby Club (thanks to Greenham Common Trust); various charities in the Lambourn Valley (thanks to the Lambourn Open Day); Wiltshire Fire and Rescue (thanks to the fundraising activities of the Benwell and Wannell families); Falkland Primary School (thanks to the Newbury Rotary Club); various groups, schools and children’scentres in and around Wantage (thanks to the Ray Collins Charitable Trust).

  Time once again for the Song of the Week to wind up this post. You’ll probably think I’m an awful wet blanket but I’ve never found April Fools’ Day particularly amusing (I never enjoyed Candid Camera, Beadle’s About or Ali G either, which seem to be cut from the same block). So, rather than hiding a whoopee cushion in the sofa or sending an email to your colleagues telling them that the company’s going to be locating to the Shetland Islands next week, have a listen to April Fools by the remarkable Rufus Wainwright. He’s not someone I’ve listened to that much though I shall be addressing this. A slightly odd video but then they so often are. He’s a better songwriter, musician and singer than he is an actor, that’s for sure.

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Brian Quinn

Local News Apr


Local News April




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Covering: Newbury, Thatcham, Hungerford, Marlborough, Wantage, Lambourn, Compton, Swindon & Theale