Including elections happening (and others not), Hungerford Town Council meeting, more on the vanishing post box, level crossing concerns in Thatcham, policing concerns in Wantage and Grove, signage concerns in Chaddleworth, King George V in Swindon, Hungerford’s Post Office, good causes celebrated, roadworks, police news, the Penny Post April Quiz, a Lion roars again, thoughts on localism and 12 things about the late Purple Prince.
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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 information on forthcoming closures on the A34.
• 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.
• There has been some progress in the dispute about signage in Chaddleworth (see last week’s Local News) with the announcement from WBC that ‘as long as the proposed ‘brown directional signs’ conform to the norm by way of size and colours and are not located on highway land’ then the council will not object to them. This still leaves open the question of the cost of providing these: they aren’t provided free and have to be constructed to a very specific standard.
• There will be an Extraordinary Meeting of the Full Hungerford Town Council in the Town Hall at 8pm on Wednesday 26 April. The meeting is open to the public. There are two items on the agenda. The first is ‘a consideration of further actions’ following the decision of the West Berkshire Council WAP meeting to agree the outline planning permission for the houses in Salisbury Road. The second is a discussion about the proposed Neighbourhood Plan. NPs can be expensive and time-consuming (taking perhaps two years) but are intended to give communities more of an influence over issues such as planning and development. You can read more about Neighbourhood Plans here.
• 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.
• The Strange Case of the Vanishing Post Box in Hungerford remains unsolved – see last week’s Local News. A local resident who had read that post said that in the week before lat Christmas thick tape had been put over the slot but that there was no sign of any damage: then, overnight, the box was gone…
• If this post box is indeed gone for good (and no one seems to know the answer to that one) then a replacement may be needed in that part of town. 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.
• A reminder that the area’s equine population will be boosted slightly on Monday 24 April with visit of 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.
• A reminder also that the Hungerford Post Office in Martin’s (and Martin’s itself) will be closing on Friday 21 April. An outreach service will be available in the Library from 10am to 2pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Click here for more information, including a link to the Post Office’s site with details about how retailers can apply to run a post office.
• Further developments earlier this month at a meeting of the Save Baydon Lion Group – click here for more.
• 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.
• As you may have heard, there will be a general election in June. In 2015, we interviewed all the candidates standing for the Newbury constituency and will be doing so again once the full list of candidates has been confirmed (the deadline for this is 11 May). If you have any questions that would like to have put to all the candidates, please email [email protected]
• Town-council elections might have taken place in Marlborough but there were more candidates than there were seats to be filled. As the article explains, this is not surprising given the increasingly heavy workload of the (unpaid) councillors, here and elsewhere, partly as a result of the increasing trend town and parish councils taking on the administration of services such as libraries and youth clubs from their county or district councils .
• 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.
• Many things in life illustrate the law of unintended consequences and the electrification of the main GWR line to Newbury is no exception. For a long time it seemed as if this would result in Bedwyn, Hungerford and Kintbury losing their direct services east of Newbury, a threat that has recently been averted. The latest challenge is to residents of Thatcham who will have more trains but even longer waits at the already notorious level crossing near the station.
• And still on the railways, another chance to see Royal Scot on a Cathedrals Express on Wednesday 26 April. It departs Newbury at 11:50 following the westbound HST service (rather than having to keep ahead of it all the way to Westbury – something of a relief for the train crew, no doubt). The relevant RTT entry to check on the day is 1Z60 0733 Horsham to Bristol Temple Meads with the ‘radar’ provided by Open Train Times. Return is via the Vale of White Horse route by which the loco returned from Bishops Lydeard after its one-way trip to the West Somerset Railway on 20 April. Timings for the evening journey are at 1Z62 1636 Bristol Temple Meads to Horsham if you happen to be in the area of Challow shortly before 8pm.
• Congratulations to all those who took part in the recent Junior Chess Championships in Wantage.
• It’s been announced that the new 1,000-place school in Grove should be open by 2019 and will be run by the Vale Academy Trust which operates King Alfred’s.
• Those concerned by the possibly of fewer police officers on the street in Wantage and Grove may or may not be reassured by this article which quotes a TVP spokesman speaking of ‘redeployment of resources’, ‘flexibility’ and ‘remodelling’, phrases which can mean more less anything.
• Click here for more information about Newbury in Bloom 2017 (which includes two additional categories compared to last year).
• An article here for the Newbury Weekly News about plans to develop the Kennet Centre in Newbury – there’s also more on page 5 of this week’s newspaper.
• Also in the Newbury Weekly News is a letter from West Berkshire Council’s Acting Leader Graham Jones in response to the many communications received following the recent death of Council Leader Roger Croft and his wife in a car accident in France.
• And still in that newspaper’s letters’ page, there’s one communication which refers to the age-old dilemma of how much a local paper (or website) should restrict itself to covering local views and events. There’s no easy answer to this. It could be argued that in this interconnected world the distinction is increasingly hard to draw. Some might say that one definition of ‘local’ is whatever affects us where we are, which would also admit a lot more things than previously. As the US election proved (and as our own may prove also) the definition of ‘news’ isn’t as certain as it one was. To what extent is a charity jumble sale in the next village of more importance than a speech made 10,000 miles away that might affect one of our large local employers? For what it’s worth, I think the NWN pulls off this balancing act pretty well. Whether I do so in this column is another matter. Despite its title, I’m aware that a few of the things covered in this weekly post are perhaps neither strictly local nor strictly news (this paragraph perhaps included). I make no particular apology as I normally manage to get back to some kind of local and topical point eventually. The furthest I remember having strayed recently is to the rings of Saturn – in astronomical terms, that’s certainly local. The best best example of this was provided by a friend of mine who, back in the 1980s, got a job with a local newspaper. His first story had the impressive headline ‘World Debt Crisis Looms’ (we might all have been better off were the piece to have been more widely read at the time but that’s another matter) and he was delighted to see it published on page 5. He was less pleased to see that, next to it, and with a headline twice as big, was the story headed ‘Local Man Caught in Speed Trap.’ He is no longer a local journalist.
• Steam enthusiasts will be able to see the iconic King George V locomotive at STEAM until the end of the year. (There is a small irony in the photograph – in this article about the exhibition – of a railway engine arriving in Swindon, that famous railway town, on the back of a lorry…)
• A message here from Wiltshire Police about the need for dog owners to keep their pets on a lead when near livestock.
• Good news for hospitals in Hampshire with news of a grant from HEE to fund extra training for maternity staff.
• A number of good causes have received valuable support recently, including: West Berkshire Mencap (thanks to Adecco); elderly residents of Wantage (thanks, yet again, to the Ray Collins Charitable Trust); a large number of local charities and voluntary groups including Young Enterprise (thanks to the Greenham Common Trust); various local projects (thanks to GWR’s CCI Fund)
• This week marks the anniversary of Prince’s death, an event that remains as mysterious as many of the things he did while alive. Rather than have a Song of the Week I’ll direct you instead to this article about him. The amount of unreleased material in the vaults at Paisley Park is estimated as being in the thousands: more than enough for a Song of the Week every week for the foreseeable future.
• And as usual, we finish with the Quiz Question of the Week. Once again, I point 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. You’ll see that your entry needs to be received by Wednesday 26 April.