Local News Aug 24-31

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Including the A339, roadworks, football news, Building Communities Together, stolen items recovered, legal planning challenges, grants from the White Horse, rubbish driving and parking, GCSE results, a political Egyptian song, driving nearly ten times round the world, Satnavs, on the spot guidance and a great sporting comeback in Hungerford.

Click on any highlighted and underlined text for more information on the subject. Some will link to other pages on this site, others to pages elsewhere.

Roadworks updates. Click on the links for news regarding West Berkshire, the Wantage area, Wiltshire, Hampshire and Swindon.

• In particular, there will be roadworks on the A339 both north and south of the Robin Hood Roundabout until mid-October which will result in lane or road closures.

• Click here for information on forthcoming closures on closures, partial closures and delays on the A34; and here for the same on the M4.

• Resurfacing work is likely to start soon on the A419 near Swindon which will inevitably lead to some delays.

• A reminder that it’s Reading Festival this week so the roads in and around the town are likely to be even busier than usual.

• Due to engineering works, trains will not be running between Swindon and Bristol Parkway until 17 September.

Neighbourhood policing updates. For the Thames Valley Police’s ‘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.

• A number of community minibus and car schemes provide transport services for – but not exclusively for – older and disabled people. You can click here to find more about the range of services (and volunteering opportunities) in West Berkshire. Click here for services in Wiltshire and Swindon.

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.

• Please click here for the latest news from Hungerford Town Council.

• The Hungerford Tragedy  was remembered at a memorial service last weekend. The Hungerford edition of this week’s Newbury Weekly News has a report and a number of photographs.

• The outreach Post Office service in Hungerford seems to have recovered from its IT problems. Click here for more on this service and on the longer-term solution offered by the arrival of WHS.

• Manager Bobby Wilkinson has resigned from Hungerford Town FC after having taken the club on an unprecedented journey from the Southern League to the National League South, the sixth tier of the FA pyramid. He’s off to become the new boss at fellow league members Wealdstone. His new side is in an identical position to his old one – won one, drawn one and lost three and with a goal difference of minus three. Both clubs will be keen to improve on this before they meet, at Wealdstone,  on 11 November. (Wealdstone also has the distinction of taking part in the first ever live televised football match, in October 1946, away to Barnet.) Of the other local teams, Swindon are currently top of League Two and Reading a rather underwhelming 18th in the Championship. Meanwhile Thatcham Town are through to the first qualifying round of the FA Cup after beating Alresford 2-0 last weekend. Just 11 matches before you get to Wembley, lads.

• And in other sporting news, congratulations to the Hungerford Bowls Club for winning the Godwin Cup, a trophy which has been contested between Hungerford and Newbury since 1938. Played over two legs, Newbury won their home leg by 13 shots: in the second, Hungerford won by 14 – a dramatic sporting comeback by any standards. It’s the club’s centenary next year. Click here for more.

• Please click here for the latest news from Newbury Town Council: and here to see NTC’s archive of monthly newsletters.

• A new activity booklet to encourage children to experience culture in Newbury is being launched this week.  Click here for more information.

• A reminder that Stockfest ends on Friday 25 August. Click here for more information.

• Yesterday was GCSE-level results day. Click here for the latest on the results in West Berkshire, here for those in Wiltshire, here for Swindon, here for Oxfordshire and here for Hampshire. If you fancy seeing how you might do if confronted with a question sheet and a ticking clock, click here.

• It’s recently been announced that West Berkshire Council has won its appeal against developers who were seeking to ensure that planning permission for 85 homes in Newbury. This follows two similar victories last month. The decisions turned on the courts agreeing with the Council’s assertion that it already had a viable plan to decide where housing should be built and that this would provide enough to meet its obligations.

• West Berkshire’s legal team should not take their wigs off yet, however, as another similar challenge, this time relating to a refused development in Kintbury, is expected to be heard soon.

• News here of an initiative involving West Berkshire Council and the Thames Valley Police – Building Communities Together.

• Please click here for the latest news from Marlborough Town Council.

• If you’ve had anything nicked recently in the Marlborough area then you might want to have a look at these photos released by the police after a recent dawn raid (actually I don’t know when it was but I just fancied writing ‘dawn raid’).

• And another photo here, this time from Ramsbury, of a spectacularly stupid place to park a car.

• Finally, if you’re a lorry driver and you find yourself being directed by your satnav down a tiny country lane and you don’t stop and think that maybe something’s wrong, you might want to have a look at this short video taken in Barnfield near Marlborough earlier this month. The fact that someone was filming it suggests that they thought something bad was about to happen – it did.

• I’ll just carry on about satnavs for a moment. About ten years ago I was driven from East Garston to the middle of Devon by a friend who had just installed a satnav. Trouble was it wasn’t updated by a live feed but had been installed from a CD last updated about two years previously. It was the most horrible journey. Several times we drove through recently-built junctions that the satnav had no knowledge of; on other occasions it would bark directions about taking the second exit from a roundabout that no longer existed. I don’t think it knew where we were half the time. We certainly didn’t. Then the driver started arguing with it, offering specific reasons why he was going to take a different turning and then blaming it when we arrived at a dead end. As we were reversing down a tiny lane, the machine remorselessly telling us to go in the other direction, I had to tell him either to turn it off or do what it told him. He did neither. We arrived an hour late to discover that the meeting had in fact been scheduled to take place in the company’s London office. Then there was the journey home which followed a fairly similar pattern, but in the dark. I vowed never to get one of those things, a resolution I have kept.

• Please click here for the latest news from Thatcham Town Council.

• The deadline for entries for the Thatcham Students’ Photography Competition is 22 September.

• A new home has been found for a piece of wartime history that has been sitting idle in a Thatcham garden – click here for more.

• Please click here for the latest news from Wantage Town Council.

• “What better way,” Ray Collins of the Ray Collins Charitable Trust asks, “to spend a late summer evening than to be strolling through the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside in the company of family or friends?” Indeed. Click here to see how this bucolic activity plans to raise at least £2,000 for his charity.

• Communities in the Vale of White Horse area which are looking to improve local facilities can benefit from a share of £175,000 that is available from the district council. Click here for more.

• There are plans to build a new leisure centre in the Wantage and Grove area to help meet ‘the growing demand for leisure facilities’. To find out more and to have your say, click here.

• There is, for the same reason, also ‘a growing demand’ for transport facilities in the area. Still no further news about the possible re-opning of the station at or near the old Wantage Road site. The latest firm news I can find dates back to March of this year when it was announced that the necessary land had been safeguarded.

• We’re just going to veer of course for a moment and pop in to North Korea. What I love about the photos – aside from the hats, of course – is the fact that all the acolytes have notebooks in which they write down all the ‘on the spot guidance’ that uttered by the rotund supremo. Kim is, of course, no joke as he seems intent on blowing us all to smithereens. At least we know that people are taking notes.

• A number of good causes have received valuable support recently, including: The Royal Berks Charity (thanks to the Soapbox Challenge at Englefield); Cricklade Open Door (thanks to Bluebird Care); Swings and Smiles (thanks to the recent fun day in Thatcham)

• And so it’s time once again to cue up the Song of the Week. I’ve never heard of Ramy Essam, an Egyptian singer-songwriter, until I came across this clip of him performing The Girls in Prison at the Edinburgh Festival. I’ve heard that chord sequence before and I haven’t a clue what he’s singing about but this doesn’t really matter as the sounds coming out of his mouth are wonderful, particularly towards the end when he starts to let rip. He clearly means what he’s singing about as well, which makes a change from a lot of what’s played.

• And so we wrap things up with the Quiz Question of the Week. Last chance (until midnight on Friday 25 Aug) to enter our regular monthly quiz with the prize as a meal for two at the newly-renovated Three Swans in Hungerford. Last week I asked If all the UK’s paved roads were straightened out and joined end to end, how many times around the equator would they go? There are about 245,000 miles of paved roads in the UK and the equator is 24,874 miles so that makes the best part of 10 times. It seems a lot but I guess that, as this isn’t a productivity announcement by North Korea or a Brexit campaign message, the figures don’t lie.

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Brian Quinn

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