Local News June 8-15

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Including various Hungerford updates, voting dos and don’ts, good causes celebrated, events for carers, Crab Hill gets underway, ex-mayor of Marlborough doesn’t get underway, lido opens, police news, roadworks, grants, consultations, business awards, a warning to local councillors, no news in Swindon, apparently no election in Hampshire, fixing a hole, a new kit and democratic dogs.

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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 the A34.

Some specific closures: Click here for details of a closure on the A346/Herd Street in Marlborough on Sunday 11 June. Click here for revised details of road closures in Lambourn over the next two weeks.

Please click here for details of long-term roadworks on the M4 between J13 and J14 from early May to late July which will result in some overnight weekend lane closures and, in July, some complete motorway closures.

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.

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.

And so election day is upon us. Click here for a guide to the candidates standing in every constituency the general election. Click here for a video of the hustings in Hungerford last week and also some answers from the candidates to other questions for which there was not time on the night. Click here for some information from the BBC website about what you can and can’t do in a polling station. Click here for election information from West Berkshire Council, Vale of the White Horse Council, Wiltshire Council, and Swindon Council (I can’t find anything on Hampshire Council’s website that suggests they’re even aware that an election is happening today so I can’t give you a link to that.)

Almost every online picture I’ve seen of the election today seems to include a dog. I don’t own a dog: am I still allowed to vote? I can’t find anything about this on the gov.uk website.

I couldn’t resist adding this in from the BBC coverage of the election at about 11.15pm. This is from the person who seems to be the biggest expert in the business of predicting and interpreting results. “Political scientist Prof John Curtice says unless the exit poll is incredibly wrong, the prime minister has failed to achieve a landslide or big majority. He says it’s unlikely that Labour will end up with more seats than the Conservatives, so it will be the Tories still in power. He adds that he cannot rule out the possibility that the Conservatives will have an overall majority, but it could be the same as 2015.” What an utterly useless series of remarks. Every rational possibility is covered with varying levels of qualification. It’s as if it had been written for him by a lawyer. It may be cold tomorrow or it may be hot or something in between. Or the weather may be the same as today. Our systems might be wrong so we can’t be sure. My invoice is in the post.

Each week I visit various council websites so I can point you to any initiatives, awards, grants, planning issues and the like that might be of any interest. For the last goodness knows how many weeks, the page on the Swindon Council website that claims to be providing news has said ‘Latest News – sorry, there is currently no news.’ The repetition of the phrase is starting to play on my mind. It could, of course, mean a number of things: nothing of any kind has happened in Swindon; things have happened but the council does not regard these events as news; no one at the council has bothered to update the site (all the other councils manage to do so). Fortunately, there are a number of other sites that do report goings on in the town, including Swindon Link.

If you live in or near Hungerford and missed our monthly Penny Post Hungerford newsletter, here are a few links that may be of interest: a summary of the Town Council’s activities in May and a look ahead to some of June’s; an interview with Mayor Keith Knight and Deputy Mayor Helen Simpson; the latest on the library and the Post Office; news from some of the town-centre shops, from the Primary School and from John O’Gaunt School; and an update on the town’s proposed Neighbourhood Plan. (If you would like to receive Penny Post Hungerford each month, please email penny@pennypost.org.uk.)

The letters page of the Newbury Weekly News has the usual mix of opinions and topics. One that caught my eye, and I hope the eye of any district councillors, concerns the risks in local councils getting involved with matters they are not expert in, such as long-term commercial-property investment. I recall that in the crash of 2008 a number of councils lost a good deal of money from speculating on the financial markets. I guess the underlying issue is that with increasing financial constraints, councils are looking for new ways to raise funds. I’m unaware if there are any restrictions on what they can and can’t do with their funds.

Please click here for details of forthcoming performances by the Community of Hungerford Theatre Company.

And sticking with municipal matters, this time in Marlborough, please click here if you’re interested in becoming a town councillor.

We all read about the chaos last week caused by a gremlin in BA’s computer system. Marlborough’s ex-mayor Nick Fogg was caught up in the confusion: you can read his account here.

Marlborough is in the process of creating a neighbourhood plan. You can learn more about how Marlborough’s is shaping up here.

As mentioned abouve, Marlborough’s neighbourhood plan is underway. In addition, various parish and town councils (including Brightwalton (click here), Newbury (click here) and Hungerford (click here)) are considering adopting one themselves. The following websites provide more information on these: My Community; Forum for Neighbourhood Planning; Planning Aid; Locality; The Department for Communities and Local Government; and the appropriate District Council site – West BerkshireVale of the White Horse, Wiltshire, Hampshire or Swindon as the case may be.

West Berkshire Council is looking for volunteers to help run its ‘At Home’ library service.

The lido at the Northcroft Centre in Newbury will be open from Friday 9 June.

Please click here for details of some forthcoming events designed to provide advice and support to carers in West Berkshire.

Walking sports are becoming increasingly popular: click here for more on these in Wiltshire, here for Hungerford and here for Lambourn.

Please click here for information on the Military Civilian Integration (MCI) partnership involving Wiltshire Council.

And click here for details of grants available from Newbury Town Council.

It’s National Bookstart Week until 11 June, an annual event designed to introduce young children to the immense benefits of books, stories and rhymes. Most libraries in the area will be having various events during this period. Click here fo0r more information.

There’s information here about the Newbury Weekly News’ Best in Business Awards which will culminate in a ceremony at the Racecourse on 3 November.

There will be a range of events in Swindon (and doubtless elsewhere) in support of Refugee Week from 19 to 25 June.

Please click here for advance information about the planned changes to Swindon’s Festival of Literature.

An updated report of the temporary blight affecting the Church Street area of Wantage can be found here.

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

Any residents of Wantage will already be aware of this but work is about to start on the 1,500-home Crab Hill development.

Applications are now open for the 2017 Pitch to the Panel organised by Greenham Trust (formerly Greenham Common Trust).

Football news. There’s an article here inviting people to comment on Swindon Town’s new kit for 2017-18 (red shirts, white shorts, red and white socks so all a bit the same as the last one). Even if it were pink and green stripes with tartan shorts and rainbow socks the main point is that the adult set costs £44.99 (if you miss this there’ll be another one along next year, and probably sooner). Meanwhile, Hungerford Town’s delayed Berks and Bucks cup final against Maidenhead Town has been provisionally set for Tuesday 25 July but the venue has yet to be decided. The club’s AGM is at 7.30pm on on Friday 23 June.

The country seems to be doing better than I’d thought at shedding its dependence on fossil fuels.

Congratulations to the staff at the West Berkshire Therapy Centre who have received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

A number of good causes have received valuable support recently, including: Oliver Cameron (thanks to numerous donors to his campaign); the Rosemary Appeal (thanks to the Monte Carlo or Bust rally, and Tom Ball, and the Lion’ Club of Newbury); The Watermill Theatre (thanks to those who attended its summer fair); Riding for the Disabled (thanks to Stacey Donnison); Christian Aid (thanks to shoppers in Thatcham); Swings and Smiles (thanks to all those who provided help and support leading up to the charity’s recent move to new premises); Brightwalton Village Hall (thanks to the villagers).

The  Song of the Week is with us again. Should have been something from Sgt. Pepper last week, so here’s one now, my favourite song from the album, Fixing a Hole. (This version is from a McCartney concert in ’92.)

And as usual, the Quiz Question of the Week finishes things off. This week I shall direct you to the Penny Post June Quiz on a book-related theme and with prizes kindly donated by the Hungerford Bookshop (‘What is unusual about Agatha Christie’s novel The Murder of Roger Ackroyd?’ is one of the questions.). Last week’s was an election-themed question and was: How many electors did the constituency of Old Sarum have on the eve of the Great Reform Act of 1832? The answer is 11, all of whom lived elsewhere.

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Brian Quinn


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