Local News July 20-27

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Including the Imagination Library, Summer Reading Challenge, Hungerford Post Office, good causes celebrated, roadworks, council contacts, community transport, planning milestones in Grove and Thatcham (but none at Sandleford), parking survey in Marlborough, Cats Brain barrow, testing the bi-modes, counting the swans and the tennis balls, adopting a phone box and aquatic Beatlemania.

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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.

• Click here for information on forthcoming closures on closures, partial closures and delays on the A34; and here for the same on the M4. Crookham Hill will be closed for resurfacing between 19 and 28 July.

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 no 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.

• Please click here to find our more about and to support, through The Good Exchange, Hungerford Town Council’s plan to build the Croft Field Centre Garden Room. You can also vote for this by using your tokens at the Hungerford Tesco.

• Some recent news about the future of Hungerford Post Office is just in – the old Martin’s premises in the High Street should soon be being taken over by WHS and the group has expressed some interest in taking over the Post Office services. Remember that there’s currently an outreach service operating in the Library building.  Click here for more.

• A reminder that West Berkshire Council in conjunction with EnterpriseRed is offering a free cyber-security workshop from 9am to 12.30pm on Monday 24 July – click here for details.

• A meeting was held at the Hungerford Town FC earlier this week to discuss reports that the nearby skate park has been used by drug dealers. This was attended by town councillors, residents and representatives from Thames Valley Police. Various solutions were proposed including installing a CCTV camera, increasing the police presence and initiating a Neighbourhood Watch scheme. If you see or think anything suspicious going on, please report the matter by calling 101 (or 999 if a crime is actually taking place). Please ensure that that you are given a crime number as this will ensure that the report is logged and included in the statistics.

• Click here if you would like to help Hungerford Town Band replace some of its (often quite elderly) instruments.

• Please click here to see some CCTV images of someone the police are anxious to interview following a theft from the Living Art Gallery in Hungerford last month.

• The much-delayed Berks & Bucks Cup Final between Hungerford Town and Maidenhead United will take place at 7.45 on Tuesday 25 July on Slough Town’s artificial pitch.

• The question of what to do with an old phone box has been mentioned before and here it comes again. There’s one in our village of East Garston that once provided an essential link with the outside world but which is now used less than once in a blue moon. What is to be done with it? Local councils can adopt them and use them to house, for instance, defibrillators, libraries, art, information leaflets or floral displays. They also serve a useful function in rural areas as a low-level street light and, indeed, landmark. If you have any thoughts about how East Garston’s might be used, contact eastgarstonpc@gmail.com. if you live elsewhere and know of a phone box in need of a new purpose in life, contact your local council. If you want some ideas as to how these things can be re-used, have a click here.

• And still in East Garston, congratulations to all those who organised and raised money at the East Garston fete last weekend. Click for photos and results of the Flower and Produce show. Mention must given once again to Pat Murphy, a salesman so proficient and relentless that he often manages at the end of the event to sell people things they have cooked or grown themselves. The auctioneering world’s loss is the racing world’s gain.

• The Dolly Parton Imagination Library (DPIL) provides children registered with the scheme with one free, age-appropriate book per month from birth to five – so, up to 60 books in all. The Imagination Library in the Lambourn Valley area is operated by the local affiliate, Helen Hastle. For more information, visit the website, email lambournil@gmail.com or call 07881 613 472.

• Please click here for information about becoming a Dementia Friend, an initiative started by the Alzheimer’s Society and supported by West Berkshire Council.

• This year’s Summer Reading Challenge for children is now under way in West Berkshire’s libraries – click here for more information.

• Happy first birthday to West Berkshire’s Family Hubs, which was founded a year ago to help provide services for children and families in the area.

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

• Nearly 700 people visited the Cat’s Brain barrow at Marden during the recent open day organised by Reading University’s Archaeological Department  – click here for the full story.

• 13 July was the day of judgement for the Marlborough in Bloom bid – the final decision will be made at an awards presentation in Torquay on 5 October.

• Tickets are now on sale for Marlborough Litfest which runs from 28 Sept to 1 Oct.

• If you live in Marlborough and want to take part in a survey about parking in the town, please click here.

• Up to £4m of free skills training is available for businesses in Wiltshire and Swindonclick here for more.

• West Berkshire Council has once again announced a series of its popular Bikeability cycling classes for children over the summer.

• There seems to be no end in sight to the delays and recriminations which have dogged the Sandleford Park development, with one councillor declaring that the delays were an ’embarrassment’ for the local authority. It may prove to be worse than that, as I understand that if West Berkshire cannot demonstrate it’s capable of providing the housing demanded by national policy it risks being placed in special measures.

• Plans have provisionally been agreed by West Berkshire Council to construct over 30 new homes at Crown Yard in Thatcham, something that might re-open the debate about whether a bridge is needed to replace the delay-prone level crossing by the railway station.

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

• A grounds maintenance contract has been put out to tender by Thatcham Town Council. Please click here for more details.

• Few people in Thatcham will want, or need, reminding about the floods in the town ten years ago this week: but none the less there’s a reminder to be found here.

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

• The theme of this year’s Waterways Festival in Newbury (Sunday 23 July, 10am to 5pm – click here for more information) is Beatlemania. Organisers and attendees will be hoping for a bit of Good Day Sunshine or Here Comes the Sun, rather than Rain: canal boat owners will hope that they won’t need to be Fixing a Hole or hit by a Yellow Submarine. It’s free so you won’t need a Ticket to Ride in order to Come Together. There’s sure to be plenty of What Goes On, expected or otherwise – Tomorrow Never Knows, after all.  One thing’s for sure, if you turn up on Sunday the event will have been Yesterday. (That’s enough Beatles’ songs – Ed.) OK – it’s The End.

• Anyone wanting to see photos of the recent Newbury Carnival can find plenty in a special section of this week’s Newbury Weekly News.

• What do Hungerford and Newbury Town Halls, The Gun pub in Wash Common and the Falkland Memorial have in common? They were all designed, as were a number of other buildings in the area, by the architect James Money, who will be honoured with a plaque at Newbury Town Hall on 1 August – click here for more.

Click here for information on the appeal from Mary Hare School which is aiming to raise £6m for a new primary school by 2020.

Click here to download entry forms for the various competitions at the Lambourn Carnival on Sunday 26 August.

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

Allotments are currently available in Wantage – click here for details.

• Agreement has finally been reached between Taylor Wimpey and the landowners at the old Grove airfield which should have cleared the main obstacle to the construction of 2,500 homes  on the site, a project which was first conceived 50 years ago. Click here for the official reaction from the Vale of White Horse Council. The S106 (the agreement between the developers and the council about the contribution the former will make to local infrastructure and services) is yet to be published. Local residents will doubtless wish to be assured that all the agreed conditions are met, something which has been a problem in past developments.

• The addition of perhaps 6,000 people (about the population of Hungerford) as a result of this development will doubtless add impetus to plans to re-open the Wantage Road station. The most recent piece I can find about this after a quick search dates back to March of this year when it was reported that the Vale of the White Horse Council had set aside land on both sides of the A338 on and around the site of the old station which closed in 1964. This will be the more likely if the proposed re-opening of services between Oxford and Westbury takes place.

• Grants of up to £175,000 are available from the Vale of the White Horse Council to boost the rural economy in Oxfordshire.

• Volunteer welders are urgently required by the Swindon and Cricklade Heritage Railway click here for more.

• Stagecoach bus services in the area are likely to have been converted to cash-free payments by the autumn.

• And still with transport, it was announced on 20 July that the government has scrapped several rail electrification schemes, although this doesn’t appear to affect the ongoing work on the GWR line to Newbury. I suppose this will mean that even more money will be poured into the bottomless pit of the colossal vanity project that is HS2.

• It was reported here a few months ago that a solution had been found to the problem of direct rail services from Bedwyn, Hungerford and Kitbury to London post-electrification. Bi-mode trains, which can run on electricity and diesel, are to be introduced and these were tested on the route this week. Thanks to Tony Bartlett for the information and the photos. They look rather elegant to me – sleek, streamlined beasts in dark green GWR livery and with a bright yellow nose.

• Thanks also to Tony Bartlett for notification that a LNER Pacific Class locomotive hauling the Cathedrals Express from Reading to Weymouth will passing through Hungerford at about 11am on Sunday 23 July.

• What would you wear if you had to count the Queen’s swans? Jeans, T-shirt, waterproof jacket and a pair of wellies? Wrong. This is how it’s done…

• A number of good causes have received valuable support recently, including: St Mary’s Under-fives (thanks to Marlborough Golf Club); Marlborough Youth Centre (thanks to the Marlborough Area Board); Cancer Research UK (thanks to pupils at Whitelands Park school); The Rosemark Appeal (thanks to the 1st Kennet Vale Rainbows); Tadley Community First Responders and Cancer Care UK (thanks to the recent fundraiser at Bishopswood Golf Club)

• The  Song of the Week swings round in front of us once more. To celebrate the imminent Beatlemania-themed Waterways Festival in Newbury, let’s go for Come Together. (Anyone entering Penny Post July Quiz which closes on 26 July might find it helpful to listen to this song.)

• And so we come to the Quiz Question of the Week. This week’s sportingly topical question is: What lasted 11 hours and five minutes in 2010? The answer was the longest professional tennis match in history between John Isner (USA) and Nicolas Mahut (France) at Wimbledon, the American eventually winning 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68. I’m feeling exhausted just typing those numbers. This week’s question is also Wimbledon-related: How many tennis balls were used in the 2016 Championships?

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Brian Quinn


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