Including mayor affairs (no, not that sort), police and traffic updates, new library uncertainties, local elections, the Kennet Cassette, ugly buildings, Lyme Disease warning, planning extensions, Grant Aid and a couple of inspirational history lessons delivered in unexpected ways.
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• Click on the following links for neighbourhood police updates in West Berkshire (April update here) & North Hampshire and police advice for South Oxfordshire & Wiltshire. See also here for specific advice on what’s known as courier fraud.
• The fate of the local libraries is back on the agenda with news recently that less transitional funding may be available than was thought due to the costs of a needs assessment. This may also affect other libraries in the area as well. There also still seems, several months on, to be considerable doubt about the true costs of running these facilities. You can keep up to date with events at the Hungerford and Lambourn libraries through their ‘Friends of…’ pages.
• A disturbing story in the Newbury Weekly News about a recent victim on the little-known but potentially very serious Lyme Disease. It seems West Berkshire is one of the hot-spots and that this is a particularly dangerous time of year. You can read more here in an article we posted last year but which is still just as relevant.
• The James Ballantyne Memorial Trust will be one of the beneficiaries of the proceeds of a barn dance in Hungerford Newtown on Saturday 14 May. For more information, call 07917 883 173.
• Over to the sports desk: it seems that Newbury FC will not need to vacate its Faraday Road Stadium as was feared, having been granted a two-year lease extension.
• Election news – there were a couple of local polls last week. The council by-election in Newbury’s Victoria Ward was won by Liberal Democrat Elizabeth O’Keefe, while the Conservative Anthony Sansfield retained his role as the local Police and Crime Commissioner.
• Democracy never sleeps, of course, and the Town and Manor of Hungerford is holding elections (at the Hungerford Corn Exchange) for its trustees on Wednesday 18 May. You can find out more about the Town and Manor here.
• On the same day (and also in the Hungerford Corn Exchange) there’s a flea market, from 9am to 2pm. Contact Kathy Coen on 07920 131 397 to book a stall (£15 each).
• Hats off (and chains back on) to Martin Crane who has agreed to serve for a Roosevelt-surpassing fifth term as Hungerford’s mayor.
• It’s all change in Wantage, however,where new major Steve Trinder takes up the reins from next week.
• And still on mayoral matters, click here to read about the ambitions of recently-appointed Marlborough supremo Noel Barrett.
• There are a number of ugly buildings in Newbury (as in every town and city). The news one of these, Pearl House in Bartholomew Street, is to be torn down seems to have been met with widespread agreement. The one that would be on the top of my list is the one on the Sainsbury’s roundabout next to the post office. It gives me the creeps. All those aerials on the roof, the stained concrete and the faceless windows makes me think I’m in 1970s East Germany and that it’s the nerve centre of something unpleasant. Maybe it is: after all, we would hardly know about it if it were, would we?
• This is Dementia Awareness Week. If you want to find out more about this, there’s a drop-in awareness event at the West Berkshire Museum on Thursday 19 May, organised by the Alzheimer’s Society.
• A reminder about the music-themed youth club and music tuition at the Hungerford Youth Club on Wednesdays between 3.15pm and 8pm. Contact Hogan Music for more details and to book tuition.
• A wonderful story in the Newbury Weekly News today about something I was not aware of: it’s now 40 years since the Newbury Round Table developed the idea of the Kennet Cassette to provide news stories from the paper on tape for blind and partially-sighted people in the area. It’s still going strong. If you know someone who like to use this service, please contact Peter Dann on 01635 200 443.
• In a slightly similar vein, a letter in the same paper from Gary Polson of the Volunteer Centre West Berkshire – click here to find out more – mentions an event from 10am to 12 noon on Thursday 19 May at Caffe Nero in Newbury’s Northbrook Street – drop in to find out more aboput volunteering to help befriend and support socially isolated people. As family ties weaken, the population ages and council funding diminishes, this is an increasingly common problem for many.
• As mentioned here a few weeks ago, the new disabled play equipment has been installed in Victoria Park and will be operational from next week.
• Those of you looking out for the steam-hauled train featuring the 60163 Tornado on Wednesday 11 May may have noticed that it was running late: this was not, I’ve been asked to point out, because in broke down but because the water bowser it needed for its drink at Newbury Racecourse was held up by the horrendous traffic problems on the M4: proof if proof is needed that our transport networks are interconnected. You can read more about local heritage railways and rail services here.
• Apparently, nearly £3m is wasted each year in Wiltshire alone on unnecessary repeat prescriptions and there’s no reason to think that county is unique. Do you really need every item you find yourself requesting? You can read more here.
• An issue of a completely different type has recently been highlighted by a report which claims over half of low-income families in West Berkshire are not claiming the benefits they are entitled to: again, this is unlikely to be unique to this area.
• If you want to find out more about the Kennet and Avon Canal, Thatcham’s University of the Third Age at the Frank Hutchings Hall at 2.30pm on Friday 13 May.
• Click here for news of the huge Sandleford Park development, a decision on which has been deferred partly due to a number of objections received about road access.
• Another planning extension has been agreed in Swindon over the plans for the future of Lydiard Park – click here for more.
• More information can be found here about the recent work done to combat rogue traders by West Berkshire & Wokingham Trading Standards and the Thames Valley Police during April. You can also click here for some good advice on the subject from the local Neighbourhood Watch.
• A further reminder about what are known as courier scams or courier frauds: there’s been a spate of these in the area recently with vulnerable people in particular being targetted. You can read some specific advice from the Thames Valley Police here.
• The new timetable has been published for the bus route 47 which will replace the route 90 from Monday 25 July: the 47 will run on a shorter route between Lambourn and Swindon only. We’re still working out how are children are going to get back from their regular after-school activities in Hungerford from next term once the 90 stops running.
• On a similar theme, 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.
• Newbury Town Council in association with the Greenham Common Trust welcomes Grant Aid applications for projects that will provide benefit to the community. Applications need to me made by 20 May.
• The Song of the Week this week once again takes us back to the ’80s. I’ve been dipping in and out of Rock Lives by Timothy White, a very good series of articles and interviews concerning various giants of the genre from Robert Johnson and Little Richard to Prince and Peter Gabriel. One of the most entertaining and revealing pieces concerns Billy Joel. I do love a well-crafted lyric and his best are right up there. I’ve always loved The Stranger but, with great lyrics in mind, I’m going to guide you towards We Didn’t Start the Fire. Aside from anything else, if anyone in your family has an exam coming up covering 20th-century US history, this makes a pretty good check list of some of the key events. If it’s 20th-century British History revision notes you’re after, try Al Murray’s superb monologue. Both of these wear their considerable erudition lightly (with some expletives in the latter case) are excellently crafted and – perhaps most important – highly entertaining.
• And so the Quiz Question of the Week comes round once more. I’ve not had one submitted from any local quizzes this week (let me know if you’ve taken part in one and have a question to share with us all) so I’m offering one supplied by a friend: Liechtenstein and Uzbekistan are the only two countries in the world that are – what? Last week’s question from the quiz on Friday 29 April at the East Garston Social Club, was ‘The three main ingredients of the cocktail White Russian are vodka, milk and what else?’ The answer is Kaluha. (White Russian seems like a foul drink to me but it takes all sorts, I guess.)
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