Local News Mar 30 – Apr 6

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Including new neighbourhood police weblinks, Hungerford Town Council Annual Meeting, an appeal for trustees, fewer wards and councillors in West Berkshire, possibly fewer councils in Oxfordshire, planning delays, rate-relief talk in Hungerford, litter, good causes celebrated, M4 closures, Swindon’s libraries, the mysteries of baseball, a last-minute goal, the milkman of the year, President Tosh, yellow fish and a musical April Fool.

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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’. In Newbury, the new road connecting the A339 with the London Road development has now opened (with accusations from some that this is a very expensive rat run between the A339 and the A4).

Please click here for details of long-term roadworks on the M4 between J12 and J13 and which will result in some overnight closures between 31 March and 22 May.

Thames Valley Police appears to have changed the web information it displays about neighbourhood policing so any old links you might have bookmarked will probably not work (certainly mine don’t). The new ones are as follows: for the TVP ‘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. The old system of posting monthly neighbourhood updates seems to have been done away with so these links shouldn’t need replacing every four or five weeks. Let’s see…

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.

The Hungerford Town Council Annual Meeting took place at Thursday 23 March at the Town Hall. A report on the discussions can be found here. Topics covered included next year’s precept, the Great West Way, the Library, the Post Office, policing (including the issue of shoplifting) and the proposed development at Salisbury Road.

One matter arising worth highlighting: Hungerford Library will be needing trustees if, as expected, it converts itself into a CIC or CIO. Click here for details.

The same evening, West Berkshire Council agreed plans to reduce the number of wards and councillors. Click here for more.

Sadder news from the Council reported this week with the announcement that Council Leader Roger Croft has died following a car crash in France five weeks which also claimed the life of his wife Zelda. Our condolences to his friends, colleagues and family. You can read the statement from West Berkshire Council here.

A reminder about the Yellow Fish campaign to help mark storm drains that discharge directly into the River Lambourn. See also this post from the BBC website. Action for the River Kennet has also been busy planting trees and hedges.

We mentioned  last week about the article on page 5 of the Newbury Weekly News about some of the consequences of the delay to the Sandleford development. On the same page in this week’s paper there’s another article, covering eight reasons why West Berkshire’s Highways Department feel that the deal should be rejected. There’s also another piece on the following page quoting several views critical of West Berkshire’s decision to solve the bulk of its housing obligation by developing just one site. ‘Say No to Sandleford’ campaigner Peter Norman also has had a detailed letter on the subject published in the paper. Quite a bit of coverage, all in all.

In Hungerford, meanwhile, it seems that the case officer responsible for the proposed 100 (previously 119) dwellings on the south side of the town is recommending that the application be approved.: this story is covered on the front page of this week’s NWN. You can read more about the plans by clicking here: the matter was also addressed at the recent Hungerford Town Council meeting. The seeming collapse of the Sandleford plan would, I imagine, make it more rather than less likely that other developments in the area will be given the go-ahead, this one included.

News here from the Hungerford Chamber of Commerce, including the introduction of its new Chair and information about a forthcoming (6 April) talk given by an expert in business rate relief.

A final reminder from us about the annual litter pick in Hungerford on Sunday 2 April (meet at the Town Hall steps at 10am). If you are thinking of coming along – particularly if there’s a group of you – the Town Clerk Claire Barnes has asked that you let her know in advance so she can try to ensure there’s enough equipment. Contact her at claire.barnes@hungerford-tc.gov.uk or on 01488 686 195.

Football news: Hungerford Town FC is well on its was to implementing the necessary ground improvements needed to safeguard its league status: while, on the pitch, the team continues to pick up the points. You can read more here. If you support Reading you’re probably equally happy as your team is currently comfortably in a play-off spot. Congratulations also to Cold Ash FC who have, I have recently learned from the Cold Ash Community Bulletin, reached the finals of both the Lambourn Cup and the Newbury Knockout Cup. Last but not least, we turn to Swindon Town. I had a email exchange with a friend recently, a life-long Swindon fan (you know who you are, Jon) in which he was bemoaning his team’s capacity to concede last-minute goals and drop badly needed points. The following day, he went to see them play Millwall. What was the score? 1-0 to Swindon. When was the goal scored? In the fourth minute of injury time. Click here if you don’t believe me. Life isn’t always like this, of course.

There have been calls for Thatcham North Councillor Lee Dillon for investment in the town to be increased.

Congratulations to all those who participated in, Newbury’s Annual Community Clean last weekend with over 40 bags of rubbish being collected.

And talking about getting rid of things that we’ve decided we don’t want any more, Article 50 has finally been triggered. In case you haven’t seen it you can read Theresa May’s letter in full here. Her handwritten salutation slightly looks as if she was writing to ‘President Tosh’. Let’s hope he doesn’t read it that way as that would Not Be A Good Start. Goodness knows what will happen over the next two years. So far all the dire warnings that they sky would collapse, war would break out, the world would stop rotating on its axis and all the other predictions of the experts have not come to pass so hopefully we’ll be all right.

We’re in uncharted waters and many people are, quite understandably, lobbying to ensure that the Brexit is (for want of a better phrase) as soft as possible. The Lib Dems have always been unswerving in their support for the EU and the Remain cause and Newbury Lib Dem candidate Judith Bunting will be chairing an event in the East Garston Village Hall at 7.30pm on Tuesday 11 April on the subject of Brexit, Racing and Rural Affairs. There will be three guest speakers and the opportunity for questions and discussions afterwards. Entry is free and all are welcome regardless of which political party you support (if any).

Still with the wider world, there has been widespread and justified condemnation for the recent attack in Westminster which left four people dead. One of the many views, from Wiltshire and Swindon Crime Commissioner Angus MacPhearson, can be read here.

East Garston Village Hall will host another event exactly a week later at 7.30pm on Tuesday 18 April, the East Garston Annual Parish Meeting.

It’s that time of year, clearly: the annual meeting of Wantage Town Council will take place at 7.30pm on Monday 10 April.

Last chance for bus users in Wantage and Grove to have their say – the consultation on the future of the X30 and 31 bus routes ends on Friday 31 March.

Businesses in the Vale of White Horse can take advantage of free workshops on digital marketing starting later this month.

The same council has also published v2 of its local plan: click here for more. The consultation runs until 4 May.

Three councils in Oxfordshire have submitted proposals to the government for a single unitary authority in the county.

Swindon has a steam museum; it has the Magic Roundabout; soon it might also be home to the Milkman of the Year.

Perhaps inspired by the imaginative plans put forward by Hungerford to operate its library on a different basis, a number of organisations have stepped forward in Swindon in an attempt to save the services there.

We had a section on covering the problems faced by some of the pubs in the area in last week’s Local News. A potentially important announcement this morning concerning one of these,  the White Hart in Hamstead Marshall: the change of use requested by the owners has been refused by West Berkshire Council. This leaves open the possibility of it being revived as a community pub.

A number of good causes have received valuable support recently, including: numerous local charities (thanks to Comic Relief); Newbury Samaritans (whose new premises were officially opened this week); Newbury and District Cancer Care Trust (thanks to Park House School); Action Through Enterprise (thanks to John O’Gaunt School); Greatwood (thanks to the recent race day at Newbury); the Wantage October Club (thanks to the White Horse branch of CAMRA)

And the Song of the Week is with us once more. The late, great Ronnie Lane was born on 1 April and wrote a song called April Fool so that’s a pretty obvious choice. I’ve just realised that my mentioning his full name has revealed one of the answers to the quiz mentioned in the paragraph below – have it on me to get you started. (On a much lower level of excellence, you can listen here to The Passing Show, a song I wrote about Ronnie Lane and people like him whose mission in life is to keep it real.)

And as usual, we finish with the Quiz Question of the Week. For this week’s question you have 13 to choose from: go to the Penny Post April Quiz for a chance to win a meal for two and a bottle of house wine at the Hungerford Arms – thanks to Hugh Stanley for donating the prize. Last week’s came, once again, from the regular quiz held at The Wheatsheaf in Chilton Foliat (the next one will be on Tuesday 18 April) and was: From which sport does the phrase ‘step up to the plate’ originate? The answer is baseball. I know nothing of the peculiar sports they play in America but we seem to have adopted a lot of phrases relating to them. For years I thought ‘take a rain check’  meant ‘see if it was raining’ but I now know it doesn’t. I’m sure their sports are all wonderful – certainly Americans keep telling me this – but, if so, you do have to ask why they’re hardly played outside the USA. I’m braced for howls of protest from our transatlantic readers.

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Brian Quinn

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