Local News June 16-23

Local News

Including police and roadwork updates, a possible by-pass, Hungerford Youth Club news, library consultation, business fraud awareness, neighbourhood plans, Brexit suggestion, Scottish inventions, hospital protest, fancy-dress library campaigners, Operation Tramline, good causes celebrated, Delia and Keef,  sudden death at Garstonbury and a mole’s snout.

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Click on the following links for details of planned roadworks in West Berkshire, the Wantage area, Wiltshire, Hampshire and Swindon. Click here for news of the planned road closures in Marlborough during next month’s jazz festival.

Click on the following links for neighbourhood police updates in West Berkshire (June update here for Hungerford and Lambourn; here for Newbury; here for Newbury Outer; here for Thatcham and area; here for Bucklebury & Downlands) & North Hampshire  and police advice for South Oxfordshire & Wiltshire. See also here for specific advice on what’s known as courier fraud.

What is Operation Tramline? (a) A proposed light-rail system in Newbury? (b) A Robert Ludlum novel? (c) A recent crackdown by Thames Valley Police against unsafe driving, including driving while using a mobile? You guessed it right. By some estimates, mobiles can be as detrimental to safe driving as drugs or alcohol. According to the recent report in the Newbury Weekly News, one motorist was stopped for ‘not being in control of a vehicle because of reading a novel.’ I’d like to know which novel: it’s clearly unputdownable.

Good news for Hungerford residents – the revitalised Hungerford Youth and Community Centre is an excellent facility near the Leisure Centre which is once again available for hire. There are two open days planned (Friday 24 June and Saturday 25 June, both from 10am to 1pm). You’ll be able to meet some of the other groups which currently use the centre and get advice and information about starting up your own club or society. For more information and to make bookings contact 01488 685 363 or click here to visit the website.

Work has now started on Marlborough’s Neighbourhood Plan and there will be an open day at the Town Hall on Saturday 19 June where you can find out more information.

The Wantage & Grove Community Hospital is set to close. There will be a march organised by opponents of this plan from the Market Place to the Town Hall at 10am on Saturday 18 June. Click here for more information.

The Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service recently co-ordinated an emergency exercise to prepare for a water emergency, part of their water safety week. Click here for more.

You can keep up to date with the large development planned for Monks Lane in Wantage (which is on a similar scale to Sandleford Park in Newbury) by clicking here.

West Berkshire Council has organised drop-in sessions to canvas views on the library service which, as is widely known, under threat. Click here for details.

More drop-in events, this time organised by Swindon Borough Council, to explain details of the M4 Junction 16 improvement works.

And on a related topic, a funding bid is under way to create a western by-pass for Swindonread more here.

Congratulations to all those who were celebrated at the recent West Berkshire Learner Achievement Awards.

Congratulations also to the Save Swindon Libraries campaign group which won the first prize for a parading group at the recent Old Town Festival Parade. Let’s hope the Council will be as convinced by the campaigners’ cause as the judges were with their costumes.

Click here for a short film showcasing some of the places to eat and drink in Wantage and Grove.

Applications for grants from the Vale of White Horse Council’s Cash for Communities initiative need to be in by 29 July – click here for more information.

If you have a bike that’s surplus to requirements or that would like to ride but aren’t sure if it’s roadworthy, click here for details of a scheme that can help solve both these problems.

West Berkshire and Wokingham Trading Standards is hosting a free business breakfast on Tuesday 5 July aimed at small- and medium-sized businesses which wish to protect themselves against the many and varied kinds of fraud.

The Canal and River Trust is looking for volunteers to help improve the bank of the Kennet & Avon Canal in and around Kintbury. Click here for more information on the organisation or email max.ward@canalrivertrust.org.uk if you want to help with this specific project. The work will take place on Monday 18 July and Wednesday 17 August.

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.

A number of good causes have received valuable financial support this week, including: the New Horizons Club (thanks to its frtiends and members); John Radcliffe Hospital (thanks to Helen Shilton); various local charities (thanks to the organisers and participants at the recent Speen fete); Parkinsons UK (thanks to staff and customers of Pineapple Palace in Thatcham)

In case you hadn’t heard, the EU Referendum takes place on Thursday 23 June. You can visit the About my Vote site by clicking here for information about how and when and where to vote. Note that the registration deadline has now passed but if you were able to vote in last year’s general election and assuming you haven’t since moved, been certified insane, sent to prison or elevated to the House of Lords then you should be OK. As to how you should vote, you’ve probably already made up your mind. If you haven’t then you have a week left to do so. If you’re happy with the idea that Boris Johnson might become Prime Minister, if the real danger of economic insecurity doesn’t worry you, if you believe that leaving the EU will solve all the problems that the Brexiteers claim and that we shall be ever thereafter free from over-regulation, red tape and irksome restrictions on our personal liberty, if you feel that quitting the EU will cure both the causes and the consequences of the refugee crisis, or if you feel that our national circumstances will be improved by striking out on our own in a world utterly different from how it was when we joined the EU in 1973, then you should vote ‘Leave’. I don’t think the Remain campaign has been as effective as it should and its opponents have regularly accused it of scaremongering: there is, however, a reasonable amount to be scared of. I’m reminded of the characters often seen in the early part of a horror film who, against all logic and common sense, voluntarily decide to enter a spooky house and, having done so, divide up. This isn’t a film, though. One unwelcome consequence, whatever the result of the vote, will be that politicians for years to come will be blaming every problem from economic recession to England’s inability to produce a decent left-sided midfielder on the fact that we stayed in or pulled out, as the case may be.

There will be an EU Referendum debate at Hungerford Town Hall at 7pm on Monday 20 June. Newbury MP Richard Benyon  and Judith Bunting, the Lib Dem’s Newbury candidate in last year’s election, will be involved.

On this Brexit/in point, the letters pages of this week’s Newbury Weekly News contains the usual wide range opinions. One caught my eye: this claims that the main reason we should leave the EU is because British innovation and inventions are being stifled by the Brussels bureaucracy. Britain’s record of inventions is certainly formidable but it’s worth stressing that a disproportionate number of these were made by the Scots, not the English; and that if we vote to leave the EU next week then Scotland will almost certainly vote to leave the UK the next time they have the chance, all of which rather undermines the case made by the writer. (Scottish inventions include television, bicycles, steam engines, golf, telephones, adhesive postage stamps, international time zones, tarmac, passenger steamboats, pneumatic tyres, the Encyclopædia Britannica, the Bank of England, gas lighting, ultrasound scans, postcards, the decimal point, lime cordial, colour photography, Penicillin, Bovril, lawnmowers, logarithms, mackintoshes, marmalade, refrigerators, radar and Dolly the cloned sheep.)

This week’s Song of the Week is not a song but a general nod in the direction of La Mort Subite (quite possibly the only band named after a Belgian café) who played the final set at Garstonbury last weekend – strange and quirky and superbly played and un-classifiable music, well worth checking out. Garstonbury was great, by the way. If you missed it, there’ll be another one in two years. A big hand to Sue and Freddie and everyone else involved in organising it.

This week’s Quiz Question of the Week comes from the nature round of a recent quiz at the Tally Ho in Hungerford Newtown (where last summer I had one of the best Sunday roasts ever). All ready? Pencils sharp, paper to hand, smartphones turned off? OK – What colour is a mole’s snout? Last week’s question was what person links Norwich City FC and the Rolling Stones’ album Let it Bleed? The answer, as several people have pointed out, is Delia ‘let’s be ‘aving you’ Smith who, as well as being the majority shareholder of Norwich City, baked the cake that appeared on the cover of Let it Bleed. I’m still trying to imagine what she and Keef might have had to talk about if they ever met. In his autobiography, he shared his favoured recipe for bangers and mash. Maybe he got it from her.

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Brian Quinn
Local News June

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