Local News Apr 28 – May 5

Local News

Including Crafty Craft, CCTV, carrier bags, cider, council elections, cows, white harts, strange noises in Swindon, library, roadworks and police updates, one quiz question and one answer and a blistering guitar solo from the late lord of Paisley Park.

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The consultation period regarding the plans to impose parking restrictions in two places near the Great Shefford shop is now over. A decision is expected by July.

We seem unsure in this country whether we want to have fewer CCTV cameras (‘Big Brother is Watching You!’; ‘State X-ray Spies to See You Nude!’) or more of them. According to the Daily Mail (not the world’s most reliable source, but even so), there are over 4 million CCTV cameras in Britain making us the most watched nation by camera-to-people ratio. The average Londoner might be viewed 300 times each day, although probably many fewer times round here unless there are a lot of cameras in East Garston I’m unaware of. One thing’s for sure, you’re now less likely to be watched in Newbury as the CCTVs there were switched off on 1 April and remain so while the various interested parties consider how they can be funded.

No doubt as to the major aquatic event this bank-holiday weekend – the annual Crafty Craft Race from Kintbury and Newbury on Monday 2 May organised by Newbury Round Table with a Rio Sporting Carnival theme. The first boats (if that’s the right word) leave the Dundas Arms at 8am and there will be a range of activities in Newbury from 10am. Typically for a bank holiday, some rain is forecast; but as a reasonable number of participants fall in the canal anyway that won’t be too much of a problem for them.

Some advice here from Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue about the dangers of open water (such as if you’re watching the Crafty Craft race).

Since the 5p carrier bag charge was introduced I’ve modified my behaviour and generally remember to take bags with me when I go shopping. A lot of ones you can buy at supermarkets for more than 5p look quite sturdy at first but often turn to be anything but (can’t think why). Materials like jute are a bit tougher, and more sustainable. Newbury Town Council together with Newbury BIS has sourced some of these and will be giving them out to shoppers at the Sunday market on 30 April.  The Town Crier will be there to remind you.

Congratulations to Newbury Weekly News for being nominated for another award: Weekjly Newspaper of the Year (under 20,000 circ.) by the Society of Editors Regional Press Awards.

Congratulations also to Swindon student Lottie Jenkins for getting through to the finals of the Song Academy National Young Songwriter of the Year awards.

It appears that Wantage Community Hospital is to close as a result of urgent work needed to eradicate Legionella bacteria. The closure is officially temporary but some residents have expressed doubts as to whether it will re-open. The nearest other hospital is 10 miles away in Abingdon.

Still in Wantage, tickets are available for 2016 Mayor of Wantage Ball on Friday 6 May in aid of Cancer Research.

Good news for children in Wantage who will soon be able to enjoy a range of new play equipment at the Manor Road Recreation Ground.

If you hear strange noises in the Swindon area at noon on Saturday 30 April, this might be the explanation

A reminder about the music-themed youth club and music tuition at the Hungerford Youth Club on Wednesdays between 3.15pm and 8pm. Contact Hogan Music for more details and to book tuition.

There used to be a railway between Newbury and Lambourn, of course, and evidence of it is still plentiful in parts of the valley. There will be an exhibition on the subject in Lambourn during July. If you have anything that might be of interest for this or would like to contribute in any way, contact details can be found here.

Nominations for the West Berkshire Learner Achievement Awards close on Friday 29 April – click here for more information.

The Newbury Dogs Trust is appealing for volunteers – click here for more information.

More information can be found here about the recent work done to combat rogue traders (a euphemism for con artists) by West Berkshire & WOkingham Trading Standards and the Thames Valley Police during April. You can also click here for some good advice on the subject from the local Neighbourhood Watch.

In another recent initiative by the council, West Berkshire Libraries has launched a scheme to help the estimated 10% of young people who have a diagnosable mental-health issue by providing books recommended by experts.

You can keep up to date with developments at Hungerford and Lambourn libraries through their ‘Friends of…’ pages. There will be meeting about the future of Lambourn Library at 7.30 on Wednesday 27 April in the Memorial Hall.  You can read more here about the latest discussions concerning the future of Thatcham library.

On a similar theme, 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. The opposition to the council cuts in the area continues with news this week that two families with disabled children are taking legal action against West Berkshire Council.

Newbury Town Council in association with the Greenham Common Trust welcomes Grant Aid applications for projects that will provide benefit to the community. Applications need to me made by 20 May.

We mentioned last week that a new herd of cattle has arrived in Hungerford Common. Here’s a picture of them lying down. They also are sometimes to be found standing up, though, often the the middle of the road. Drivers please take extra care.

Also on the subject of traffic problems, click here for details of planned roadworks in West Berkshire, the Wantage area, Wiltshire, Hampshire and Swindon.

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

The debate concerning the future of the White Hart Inn in Hamstead Marshall continues. West berkshire council this week rejected plans to permit the 16th-century pub to be converted into housing, although some doubts remain as to whether the pub will be viable under new management. You can keep up to date with the ‘Save’ campaign here; and with activities and events in the village generally here.

If you live in Newbury’s Victoria Ward there will be seven candidates to choose from in the council by-election on Thursday 5 May. Click here for more.

Residents will on the same day also be able to choose the Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley. More details on the role of PCCs and on the election may be found here and also here

Calling local businesses – Newbury MP Richard Benyon would like to know your views on the forthcoming European Referendum. (This survey will be ‘confidential’ (he may later contact you if you respond) rather than ‘anonymous’.)

Another initiative from West Berkshire Council: Fit for Life, a programme of events aimed at older people. Click here for more.

A reminder that this will be last season to sample cider from the Lambourn Valley Cider Company – at, amongst other places, The Swan in Great Shefford – as proprietor Roy Bailey is retiring. (I also heard that Roy’s wife Annabel (a fine actress whom I’ve seen at the Watermill and in the Boxford Masques) stood in for the Queen at a recent tea party for the Great Shefford under-5s playgroup.)

The Spring/Summer edition of the latest free In Newbury magazine is now available online here or at various outlets in and around Newbury.

There will be a concert at Kintbury’s St Cassian’s Centre at 7pm on Friday 6 May to raise money for the centre. For more information, call 01488 658 267.

A number of good causes have received valuable financial support recently, including: various mental-health and homelessness charities (thanks to Steve Carr); numerous causes (thanks to numerous local runners in the London Marathon); Naomi House and Jacksplace (thanks to Newbury & Crookham Golf Club); the Watermill Theatre (thanks to Samantha Mills).

A few spaces may still be available for the East Garston Quiz in the Village Hall on Friday 29 April. Contact EdJames@sportingagenda.co.uk  . (To help get the trivia part of your  brain engaged, have a look at the last paragraph below.)

The Song of the Week this week once again doubles as an obituary column, this time for the man who must now be known as The Artist Formerly Known as the Artist Formerly Known as Prince – a truly exceptional musician and performer as well as being a bit of an oddball. If one has to pick one word to describe him it would probably be ‘prolific’. He would think nothing of spending the night in a studio after having played a four-hour gig and much of his output is buried in the mythical Paisley Park vaults: by some estimates there’s enough there to release an album a year until the 2060s. He once said that he only ever listened to his own music so he’d record another album when he’d run out of stuff to listen to in his car. My favourite story about him concerns a song he recorded after an emotional break-up – on his own with a dozen instrumental and vocal tracks, most done in one take, and with only one sound engineer on hand. They mixed it and listened to it, once. The engineer said it was one of the most beautiful things she’d ever heard. ‘That’s that, then,’ Prince said. ‘Erase it.’ The engineer couldn’t believe her ears. ‘I can’t,’ she said, ‘it’s too good.’ ‘Fine,’ Prince said, ‘then I will.’ And he did. For obvious reasons I can’t provide a link to this one. In fact, I’m not going to provide a link to a song he wrote at all but to a version of George Harrison’s While My Guitar Gently Weeps performed by an all-star cast, including Prince, in 2004. I suggest it just to show that as well as writing zillions of songs and performing with a zest and energy few others have matched and winding up journalists and bickering with his record companies and playing mind games with his fans and generally being a bit strange, the man really could play guitar (particularly from 3 min 28 secs).

And finally, the Quiz Question of the Week comes round to test your knowledge (or your internet access). This one comes from the quiz on Friday 22 April at John O’Gaunt School in aid of the school’s PSA  Many thanks to quiz-master Mike Hall for setting this question (and 99 others). It was this: ‘It’s well known that Elizabeth II and Victoria both reigned for over 50 years (and counting, in the former case). Which three other English monarchs achieved this distinction?’  The answer will be revealed next week. If you have organised or taken part in a quiz and want to submit a sample question, please do so by posting a comment just below. Last week’s question (from the quiz at The Wheatsheaf in Chilton Foliat) was  ‘Sunderland did it in 1979 and Villa did it in 1981 – who did it in 1980?’  The answer is Trevor Brooking. All scored the winning goal in an FA Cup Final: Alan Sunderland for Arsenal v Man Utd in 1979, Brooking for West Ham v Arsenal in 1980 and Ricky Villa for Spurs v Man City in 1981.

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Brian Quinn

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