Local News Mar 16-23

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Including Hungerford Library update, less good news from Wash Common, the problem of dogs, a clarification from the Thames Valley Police, Marlborough’s precept, upcoming Hungerford Council meeting agenda, Wantage’s bus routes and (possible) railway station, good causes celebrated, traffic and fire-service news, roadworks, police updates for March, cleaning up the Og and the Kennet, pub news, sails back on the windmill, an unexpected twist at Greenham, three cricketing under-achievers and the whole of the moon.

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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.

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 lane closures on the A339 roadworks in Newbury over the next nine weeks or so. Roadworks at the Greenbridge Roundabout in Swindon have reached their ‘final stages’. Please click here for details of long-term roadworks that will be affecting the M4 between J12 and J13 from mid-February. In Newbury, the new road connecting the A339 with the London Road development is expected to open later this month.

Click on the following links for neighbourhood police updates in West Berkshire (March’s updates  here for Hungerford and Lambourn; here for Newbury Town Centre; here for Newbury Outer; here for Thatcham and area; here for Bucklebury & Downlands) & North Hampshire  and police advice for South Oxfordshire & Wiltshire (Marlborough‘s page here).

A number of the sections in Local News – and, indeed, other articles in Penny Post – encourage you to contact your district, town or parish council. Links are usually provided in these cases but for general reference here are some you might find useful. 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 news of revised plans which have recently been submitted for the 119 homes (now 100 homes) in Hungerford. The 15 March deadline for comments to be made has now passed and West Berkshire Council has said that it ‘may not consider’ comments made from now on: however, this also suggests that they may so it might not be too late to make your views known. A decision is likely to be deferred until after the formal approval by the Secretary of State for West Berkshire’s Housing Site Allocations Development Plan Document (HSA DPD) and Policies Map which might not be in place for another couple of months.

Still in Hungerford, discussions are progressing concerning with the positive and imaginative plan – which has been recognised as such by West Berkshire Council – for operating  Hungerford Library as a CIC or similar. A series of meetings have been planned by this working party to discuss the details. Some members of this group, including members of both Hungerford and West Berkshire Councils, recently went on a fact-finding visit to a library in Chalfont St Giles which has followed a similar CIC-based model. As we’ve mentioned here before, it’s tremendously encouraging that a practical and innovative solution to this problem seems to be within touching distance. Once again, congratulations to all concerned.

Less good news for users of Wash Common Library, as this week’s letters page in the Newbury Weekly News will testify. I’ve not been able to establish what the precise situation is with this (if anyone knows, please enlighten me) but its fate certainly seems to be in the balance. I imagine thatsteps are being taken by West Berkshire Council to see if it can follow the Hungerford model (see above).

There still seems to be some confusion as to what the action the police will take about shoplifting in Hungerford (and doubtless other similar towns) following a story in last week’s Newbury Weekly News that thefts of less than £100 were unlikely to result in arrests. Click here to read the minutes of the Hungerford Town Council meeting on 6 March at which the subject was raised. Thames Valley Police has been quick to point out that this does not represent its official policy. There’s usually a difference, however, between the ideal state of affairs and what can practicably be accomplished and it’s as well to be aware of this. We are perhaps seeing no more than a bit of frankness. Further comments from any of the interested parties will be published as they become available.

Still in Hungerford, the question of dog poo has been being discussed on social media and elsewhere. The responsibility for street cleaning lies with West Berkshire Council: for more on dog bins, see the next paragraph. Hungerford Town Council has recently reported this matter to West Berkshire Council, mentioning specifically the High Street outside the Nursery and by the Primary School. WBC should hopefully patrol these areas. The more it is reported the more likely that action will be taken. You should go to this page on West Berkshire Council’s website and follow the brief series of questions as to what and where the problem is. All complaints are logged and WBC will report back to you if you request them to.

Hungerford Town Council pays for the weekly emptying of the following dog bins: four on the Common; one at Dunmill Lock; two at Freeman’s Marsh; one behind Ligueil Close; one on park Street near Port Down; one in Bulpit Lane near the Memorial Avenue (with plans for another one soon). There are also three bins on West Berkshire Council open spaces ehich this council empties once a week: at Ramsbury Dive; at Smitham Bridge Road; and at Atherton Crescent. The bin to the rear of St Lawrence Church is the responsibility of the Canal & River trust which has promised to place another one on the tow path this year. If anyone has any suggestions as to where future bins should be located, please contact Hungerford Town Council.

Prevention being better than cure, the real fix for this is for dog owners to clean up after their pets.

There will be an open meeting of Hungerford Town Council on 23 March – click here for the agenda. Members of the public are welcome to attend.

Meanwhile, residents of Marlborough can click here to learn more about the Town Council’s precept for the coming financial year.

If you fancy being a councillor in Marlborough (and it seems that the town needs some more), click here to find out more.

It’s hoped that there will soon be some definite news about the short-term future of the Post Office in Hungerford.

Another reminder also about the annual litter pick in Hungerford on Sunday 2 April (meet at the Town Hall steps at 10am).

Click here for details of the Lives and Landscapes exhibition at West Berkshire Museum.

The strange story of the man who decided to move an ambulance in Newbury last December has reached court.

Another week, another pub threatened with closure and conversion to dwellings – this time the Red Lion in Baydon. Opposition to this move has been swift and widespread and in record time, the campaign group Save Baydon Lion, backed by Devizes MP Claire Perry, has been set up. You can read about its activities and aims here. One of the group’s models is the highly successful community pub the Tally Ho in Hungerford Newtown.  There’s less certainty about the future of the White Hart in Hampstead Marshall, about which you can read more here: even less about the Fox and Hounds in Donnington; while I don’t know what’s happened at The Swan in Great Shefford which closed seemingly overnight last week.

The future of Lydiard Park near Swindon has been much discussed recently: a warning here about the need to resist the temptation to permit development within the park’s boundaries.

The issue of the Greenham Control Tower has also been much discussed, often quite acrimoniously. It now appears that a former RAF gunner has weighed in with a request for funding to be supplied from a slightly unexpected source…

Good news for people campaigning to re-open the Wantage Road Station at Grove as the Vale of White Horse Council’s latest Local Plan has ringfenced land around the old station site. The possible re-opening of direct services from Bristol to Oxford would also help make this more viable, as would the considerable development planned in the area.

And still on transport issues in this area, the consultation on the future of the X30 and 31 bus routes closes on Wednesday 22 March.

Last week was National Apprenticeship Week, about which you can read more here. The idea remains just as valid and rewarding for the other 51 weeks, of course.

The sails have finally returned to Wilton Windmill on 15 March  – click here for more, including a brief video.

We mentioned last week about the upper reaches of the River Kennet which were perhaps  in a better state than is the case further downstream in Reading. Two bits of good news to report on this and its sister river, the Og: first, the announcement that a pipeline to help protect the Kennet is due to open at the end of the month; second, the announcement that 18 bags of rubbish have recently been cleared from the Og (though it’s slightly depressing that they needed to be).

A number of good causes have received valuable support recently, including: child refugees (thanks to many West Berkshire residents); the Rosemary Appeal (thanks to Thatcham Rotary Club); a range of local charities – see this week’s Newbury Weekly News page 27 (thanks to Thatcham Town Council and Greenham Common Trust); The Lewis Moody Foundation (thanks to the recent pre-Cheltenham fundraising event at The Dragon & Swan in Kingsclere)

And the Song of the Week clicks round again. it’s St Patrick’s Day this weekend so we’d better have something Irish. The most famous band from that island is probably U2 but if you think I’m going to recommend any of their self-important dirges then think again. Erm…oh, I know – The strangely haunting The Whole of the Moon by the Waterboys. There was a wonderful moon last night, too, so that all fits.

And as usual, the Quiz Question of the Week winds up this post. This week’s, still on an Irish theme, is this: By what name is Graham William Walker better known? Last week’s was: What do Gloucestershire, Northamptonshire and Somerset have in common? (It may help if I add that only 15 other counties are involved in this comparison). The answer is not that they all have the letter ‘t’ in their name (though that’s true enough) but that they’re the only teams not to have won the Cricket County Championship.

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Brian Quinn

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