Local News July 27-Aug 3

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Including double good news in Hungerford, a literary milestone and some profitable toilets in Marlborough, burst pipes (followed by pipe bursting) in East Garston, planning disputes in Thatcham and Swindon, a promotion in Cold Ash, green flags for five local parks, the waste wars again, good causes celebrated, roadworks, council contacts, community transport, three and a half miles of tennis balls, six minutes on a canal boat and Bill Bailey’s ears.

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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 until 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 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.

• Some further cause for optimism regarding the future of the Hungerford Post Officeclick here for more.

• And more good news with the announcement that the 99-year lease agreement between Hungerford Town Council and West Berkshire Council for the Hungerford Library building is all but finalised.

• There’ll be more detailed coverage of these and other Hungerford-related matters in next week’s Penny Post Hungerford e-newsletter. If you would like to receive and currently do not, please email penny@pennypost.org.uk

• No one in East Garston will be unaware that the main sewage pipe running through the top of the village burst twice earlier this week. A Thames Water spokesperson has confirmed that this is a pressurised sewer running from the pumping station to the treatment works and no homes are connected to it. If, however, anyone has any concerns about any of the water services in or out of their home they should call 0800 316 9800.  This incident was apparently not caused by the heavy rainfall over the weekend, although it seems that other more localised sewage problems along the Lambourn Valley have been. Thames Water is replacing the section of the pipe, a task which should take about two weeks. The method by which a new sewage pipe is inserted into another one to effect the repair is called ‘pipe bursting’, as confusing a term for fixing something that’s burst as you can think of.

• Still in East Garston, click here to take part in a survey run by the Parish Council about speeding on the road running past the village. Please reply by Saturday 26 August.

• The much-delayed Berks & Bucks Cup Final between Hungerford Town and Maidenhead United resulted in a narrow 1-0 victory for Maidenhead.

• A reminder about the Dolly Parton Imagination Library (DPIL) which 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 the latest news from Newbury Town Council: and here to see NTC’s archive of monthly newsletters.

• This week’s Newbury Weekly News covers the latest exchanges in the waste wars, the disputes between various councils in the area about access by non-residents to waste and recycling centres. Re3, which owns the Smallmead site near Reading, has ruled out the possibility of West Berkshire residents using its centre ‘for a charge or otherwise.’ West Berkshire’s expansion of Padworth is, meanwhile, bogged down in planning issues.

• The Royal County of Berkshire Show is looking for volunteer stewards for its annual event on 16 and 17 September.

• It was announced this week by Superfast Berkshire that 95% of the county now has access to superfast broadband, with all but 0.5% planned to be added to this in the next two years. Not being quite sure what the definition of ‘superfast’ is I did a bit of checking. In 2014 there were  at least four different definitions but the consensus seems now to be that this is anything above 24Mbs of download. We’re lucky if we get 20 – that’s when we get anything at all as the router switches itself off, sometimes 10 times a day, for reasons I can’t understand and, more importantly, BT can’t either. So, if Penny Post is sometimes a bit late, that’s usually why.

• Linear, Northcroft and Goldwell Parks in West Berkshire, Abbey Gardens in the Vale of the White Horse and Lydiard Park in Swindon are among the public parks which have been given the prestigious Green Flag Awards which recognise environmental standards, high levels of maintenance and excellent visitor facilities.

• And speaking of parks, there’s a feature in this month’s Out & About magazine about the history of Newbury’s Victoria Park.

• 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

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

• Congratulations to the White Horse Bookshop in Marlborough for reaching the milestone of having sold 100,000 books, tickets or pieces of art equipment since it changed hands in 2014. Bookshops, particularly independent ones, are utterly vital places in my opinion. It’s often said that the last 10 years have been a time of crisis for bookshops (and pubs). True, judging by the attrition rate: but it was in particular a crisis for bad bookshops and bad pubs of which there were a fair few in 2008 and a lot fewer now. This is perhaps starting to sound like a libertarian justification of the banking crisis (Yes, it is a bit – Ed.) so I think I’ll stop (Yes, I think you better had – Ed.)

• It’s not often you see a headline telling you that some public toilets sold for double their valuation, but that was what Marlborough News Online presented me with. I will let them tell the story…

• And from the same source, police in Wiltshire are having a crackdown on dangerous driving, particularly involving people driving too close to cyclists.

• There are few funnier people on the planet than Bill Bailey so in my book that makes him worth a mention. Here’s a short report on his imminent charity walk along the Ridgeway.

• I remember reading in an interview that Mr Bailey has perfect pitch. I don’t, though have reasonable relative perfect pitch – in other words I can spot certain intervals by ear but couldn’t be sure what the notes are. My question to you people out there who do have perfect pitch is this: if you hear someone playing an instrument that’s perfectly in tune with itself but a quarter tone out from concert pitch, does it irritate you? Please let me know by replying to this post. I think I should also mention that Bill Bailey is an Honorary Member of the Society of Crematorium Organists, a distinction that surely deserves to be more widely known.

• 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.

• 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.

• Relations between local councils and developers are notoriously fragile. A case in point is provided by the disagreement between Thatcham Town Council and Persimmon Homes  concerning a restrictive covenant affecting the Lower Way workshop and pavillion.

• Congratulations to the Cold Ash Brass Band which has been promoted to the second division of the London and Southern Counties region.

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

• The Newbury Weekly News reports something that residents of Upper Lambourn have suspected for some time, that The Malt Shovel is to be converted to residential property. This is the latest of a long list of pubs in the area, with events generally following this pattern: (1) pub changes hands; (2) new owner either closes ‘for refurbishment’ or allows the pub to run down; (3) owner states that the pub is no longer viable and announces plans to convert it; (4) villagers unite to oppose this, with varying results.

• Details of buses serving Lambourn can be found here.

• This coming weekend marks the centenary of the start of one of the bloodiest battles in human history, Passchendaele, which lasted for more than three months and resulted in at least half a million casualties. Few people know more about the conflict than Max Hastings, who will giving a talk entitled Passchendaele – The Worst Ordeal at the Lambourn Royal British Legion at 8pm on Monday 31 July. Contact jonstevens@theiet.org for more information.

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

• Click here for some eye-catching photos of an hour in the life of Wantage taken by phtoographer Alastair Clunie earlier this month.

• Farmers, foresters, businesses and community groups in rural Oxfordshire can now apply for  more grant funding from Oxfordshire LEADER for projects which support the local economy. Click here for more.

• The six councils covering Oxfordshire have between them made the case for a £9bn infrastructure investment programme in the county.

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

• Young people in Swindon have been the given the opportunity to take part in a new work experience scheme with Wiltshire Police. The local force could certainly do with some new recruits as it’s recently been reported that it has the lowest number of police officers per head of population in the country.

• Hardly a week goes by without a story of opposition to a housing development. This one is from Swindon where Wimpey Homes were accused by residents of proposing to build over sixty houses on a flood plain.

• A number of good causes have received valuable support recently, including: Alzheimer’s Support (thanks to the Friends of Savernake Hospital); the RAF Association (thanks to Briony Fuller); Naomi House and Jacksplace Hospices and the Newbury Athletics Club (thanks to the Bayer 10k run); the appeal for Kayleigh Barham (thanks to David Barham and Mark Harvey); Bloodwise (thanks to the Bobby Challis Rod Race); the Rosemary Appeal (thanks to the Thatcham Duck Race)

• And so it’s time once again to welcome the Song of the Week into your life. Living, as so many of us do, on or near a canal, this is a good opportunity to introduce you to Don’t Let Me Keep You by the wonderful Shakespeare and the Bible, which features a delightfully bucolic canal-themed video. Put it on full screen and you have a six-minute canal break with a soundtrack, all for free and without any risk of getting your feet wet. What’s not to like? Lovely song. Click and enjoy.

• And so we come to the Quiz Question of the Week. This week’s question is related to several of the above paragraphs: Which book shop is staffed by Mr Black and Mr White and frequented by Miss Hangover? Last week’s question was: How many tennis balls were used in the 2016 Championships? The answer is 56,000. If you put them all next to each other the line of balls would be about two and a half miles long. Why would you want to do this? I don’t know: but people do some very odd things to get into the Guinness Book of Records.

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Brian Quinn

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