Including horses in Hungerford, even more horses in Lambourn, a bridge in Wantage, a Vision in Newbury, a bench in Thatcham, a name game in Marlborough, road signs in Chaddleworth, childcare in Swindon, grants for local services, a town plan, trustees needed, a missing post box still on the run, good causes celebrated, roadworks, police news, local football round up, the Penny Post April Quiz, a bit of 80s nostalgia and counting forward from the vernal equinox.
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• Roadworks updates. Click on the links for news regarding West Berkshire, the Wantage area, Wiltshire, Hampshire and Swindon. There will be road closures in and around Lambourn on Good Friday due to the Lambourn Open Day. Click here for details of roadworks in Ackers Way in Swindon which are set to continue until late May. Click here for some information about local travel over the Easter weekend.
• Please click here for details of long-term roadworks on the M4 between J12 and J13 and which will result in some overnight closures between 31 March and 22 May.
• Neighbourhood policing updates. For the TVP ‘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.
• 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.
• The confusion rumbles on in Chaddleworth where five signs to promote The Ibex (an official Community Hub, as designated by West Berkshire Council) have become mired in what many see as heavy-handed, bureaucratic, evasive and inconsistent behaviour by West Berkshire Council. One of the original signs was wrongly located by WBC (ironically, the one that led to the objection). The cost of the official brown signs has not been confirmed but is likely to be about one third of the parish’s annual precept. The debate has already occupied a good deal of the council’s time and seems set to occupy more. The argument of the area being in an AONB is used, despite this not having cut any ice in the recent development in Hungerford. Probably worst of all, there have been at least eight unapproved signs (all useful and none obtrusive) in the area of the village for some time. If anyone from West Berkshire Council, or anyone else, wants to put forward an alternative view of this, please get in touch (you can post a comment at the foot of this post).
• As mentioned last week, Hungerford Town Council has voted to proceed with creating a Neighbourhood Plan. This can be an expensive and time-consuming business (taking perhaps two years) but is intended to give communities more of an influence over issues such as planning and development. You can read more about Neighbourhood Plans here. The process also needs to be inclusive and Hungerford Town Council will in due course be publicising the ways by which people can contribute to this. If in the meantime you have any questions or would like to get involved, please contact Claire Barnes on [email protected] or on 01488 686 195.
• A reminder that Hungerford Library will be needing trustees if, as expected, it converts itself into a CIC or CIO (discussions on which are going well). There’s been a good response so far from potential trustees but more may be needed. Click here for details.
• We mentioned last week the Strange Case of the Vanishing Post Box in Hungerford, the file on which is still very much open. Many will be aware that the Victorian Post Box near the old Police Station was removed after allegedly having been damaged in a vehicle accident last year, although eye-witnesses suggest that there was in fact no damage to the box itself. There also seems to be no firm evidence that an accident took place at all. In any event, it was taken away a month or so ago (to be sold according to the contractors). Later, the Post Office said it would cost £2,000 to repair. More recently, there have been sightings on Ebay of a very similar post box for sale, specified as having originally come from this area. Hungerford Mayor Martin Crane has been in touch with Royal Mail to try to reconcile these conflicting reports. A Royal Mail spokesperson replied in terms that suggested she hadn’t much idea what was going on. Royal Mail made a profit of £267m for the year ended March 2016, down from £342m in the year ending September 2015. This shortfall of £75m would require the sale of 37,500 Victorian post boxes at £2,000 each to plug. (There are about 100,000 post boxes in the UK, not all of them Victorian.) I will be studying RM’s next year-end reports to see if this item appears in the accounts.
• Another option is to put a post box (perhaps this one, if ransomed; perhaps another one, if appropriate) further up Park Street. If so, the Town Council may need some suitable bricks to build the housing for it. Any help with this, or with the laying of them, gratefully received by Claire Barnes at [email protected] or on 01488 686 195.
• Some of you may have noticed that there are quite a lot of horses in this area. On Monday 24 April there are going to be a few more as the Thames Valley Mounted Police Section will be visiting Hungerford and patrolling the High Street from 12.30pm. Between approximately 1.30pm and 3pm they’ll be at the Inkpen Gate on Hungerford Common and happy to answer questions and pose for photos.
• Still on equine matters, an even larger number of horses will be out and about at the Lambourn Open Day on Friday 14 April. Expect some delays and diversions. If you’re not visiting the event you might want to avoid the area altogether.
• A permanent home is still being sought for the Hungerford Post Office – click here for more information, including on the PO’s re-location to the Library for the time being after Martin’s closes later this month.
• A reminder that a new website giving communities across West Berkshire the chance to become more involved in providing local services has been launched. For more information, click here.
• Wiltshire Council has voted to refuse permission for a recycling centre to be build at Manton Drove.
• Developers in Marlborough are inviting suggestions for the name for a complex of 27 retirement flats being built in the town.
• And still with local democracy, some areas are electing new councillors on 4 May. Swindon is one and you can read more about what some of the candidates are proposing here. Click here for a list of all the candidates.
• Click here for the new Love Wantage website run by the Wantage Town Team.
• Click here for our local AONB‘s April e-Bulletin (scroll down to the bottom for events)
• Good news for parents with young children in Swindon – funding is in place to create an extra 170 child-care places in the borough.
• Stories of the NHS’s funding crisis appear every day. Click here for some practical advice from the Great Western Hospital about other sources of medical advice and help which might in some cases be more appropriate than a visit to the hospital.
• West Berkshire Council’s Housing Site Allocations Development Plan has been approved – click here for more.
• Anyone who lives or works in Newbury should be aware of the Newbury Vision Conference on Thursday 4 May which will provide an opportunity for the various proposed plans and developments affecting the town over the next decade to be explained and discussed.
• A memorial bench has been unveiled at Thatcham Park School in memory of Nicola Dunbar – read more here.
• Football news: For the second week in a row, Swindon scored a last-minute goal, this one being enough to salvage a point at home to MK Dons. Despite this, their survival chances are still looking very shaky. The less said about Reading’s match against Norwich the better, though in spite of this mauling their play-off place seems all but assured. It also appears that Reading FC is up for sale. Hungerford Town FC picked up another three points last weekend with a 90th-minute winner against Whitehawk. You can read more here. In another development (which shook the world of football to its foundations, etc etc), a representative of Juventus has recently contacted Steve Skipworth of Hungerford Town FC as follows: “We suggested 31 June as the date for the proposed friendly against The Gentlemen of Hungerford. Unfortunately our diary is full on that day: would 30 February 2018 work for you instead?”
• A number of good causes have received valuable support recently, including: Cancer Relief (thanks to the Mills family from Hampstead Norreys); the Rosemary Appeal (thanks to the Newbury Conservative Club); Save the Children (thanks to shoppers in Newbury); Farringdon’s Folly Tower (thanks to Tesco); Caring Cancer Trust (thanks to the Peaky Climbers); Wiltshire Air Ambulance (thanks to staff at Excalibur Communications); over 50 local charities and voluntary groups (thanks to Greenham Common Trust); the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (thanks to the John Lewis Community Matters Scheme).
• And the Song of the Week fades up once again. I didn’t realise until a month or so ago, when BBC 6 Music had a big retrospective on them, that Depeche Mode were still in business. Listening to their stuff, old and new, reawakened memories of life in the 1980s, both the good and the bad. if you like this sort of music – some do, some don’t – then DM are pretty good exponents of it. If you’ve never heard them or have forgotten if you have or not then People are People from 1984 is as good a place as any to start. As an anti-war song it’s not in the same league as, say, Shipbuilding, but it’s got a bouncy style and swagger as well as having some hearty helpings of those synth sounds that may now seem to have been done to death but at the time were utterly new. In short, a rather good period piece and, for people of that generation, one drenched in nostalgia.
• And as usual, we finish with the Quiz Question of the Week. Last week I directed you to the Penny Post April Quiz for a chance to win a meal for two and a bottle of house wine at the Hungerford Arms. I haven’t got any questions from other pub or club quizzes in the area (if you run any, please give me a question from a recent quiz for this section) so we’ll go with that again. You want a sample question from this quiz? OK – What takes place on the second Tuesday after the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox? Get this and the other 12, send you answer in by the deadline. and the meal and bottle of wine could be yours. If it’s puzzles you’re after for the Easter weekend, then the current Newbury Weekly News has a magazine devoted to just this, the contents ranging from word searches to cryptic crosswords (‘Listener’s part taken by old boy in the French surroundings’ and all that sort of thing).