Including the problem with recycling centres, municipal redundancy payments, Hungerford’s library closure and re-opening, Newbury’s 10K, Kingsclere’s NDP, Marlborough’s Christmas reprieve, Swindon’s cream teas, Wantage’s festival, Aldbourne’s band, Thatchm’s civic charities, Shefford’s hen and stag, police and roadwork updates, flying the flag, beheading a knave, begging for a fourth jet, curing a slippery bridge, a two-year deal, friction burns and Mr Shankly.
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.
Police, transport and council contacts
• Roadworks updates. Click on the links for news regarding West Berkshire, the Wantage area, Wiltshire, Hampshire and Swindon. Please click here to visit Traffic England’s site for information on motorways and major strategic roads (which include at A34 and the A419). The ‘Map Layers’ toggle can be used to display different levels of information.
• You can also visit Roadworks.org for similar information: this also provides the ability to toggle layers and select dates (it defaults to today’s date but you can adjust this) and other preferences. (It seems that West Berkshire at least – see link above – gets its feed from this source).
• There will be a number of closures on the main railway line between Pewsey and Theale in 2018 as a result of the electrification project.
• 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.
• Please click here for more about the tri-service station in Hungerford and policing in the area generally.
• For information on flood warnings and alerts, click here.
• A number of community minibus and car schemes provide transport services for – but not exclusively for – older and disabled people. You can click here to find more about the range of services (and volunteering opportunities) in West Berkshire. Click here for services in Wiltshire and Swindon.
• 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.
Across the area (and further afield)
• Click here for information of the West Berkshire and North Hampshire Open Studios which runs until Sunday 3 June.
• The letters pages of the Newbury Weekly News this week includes further criticism of the role and cost of the Police and Crime Commissioner; a plea for more funds to be devoted to mental health for the young; a reaction which can most politely be called sceptical as to the progress made by West Berkshire in ‘abolishing potholes; a suggestion from a resident of Curridge that the recent claim that West Berkshire has the best rural braodband in the UK cannot have taken his village into account; and a photo of an extraordinary-looking cat (at least, I think it’s a cat).
• There’s also a letter about a matter we’ve mentioned before, the variation between what is accepted at recycling centres in different counties (and even, it would appear, in the same counties). The problem of plastic waste only stands a chance of being solved if all recycling centres are centrally run – or at the very least operate to identical and nationally-agreed standards – as a result of which manufacturers and packagers could then be obliged to print information as to whether or not the material could be re-cycled. This would also solve the absurd issues like the so-called ‘waste wars’ between West Berkshire and Hampshire, and doubtless other councils elsewhere, about access to their respective sites.
• Another letter mentions the fact that it was a shame that some Union Flags were flown upside-down during the recent royal wedding. I don’t think that more than one in twenty people know which the right way up is. The situation’s even more serious than he suggests as , technically, to invert it is not only an insult to the Crown (people have lost their heads for less) but also a signal of distress, perhaps somewhere between 999 and 101 in terms of seriousness. Perhaps we should get a simpler flag designed. If Scotland leaves the UK we’ll have to anyway.
• Few groups of people are as prone to self-parody as American televangelists. One, Jesse Duplantis, has recently announced to his followers that God had told him to buy a Falcon 7X private jet for $54m. He has three private jets already. If you have any spare cash and feel sorry, Google him and make your donation. A few years ago he and another preacher, Kenneth Copeland, appeared in a video on the subject of the importance of aviation of evangelical work in which Mr Copeland described travel on commercial airlines as ‘being in a long tube with a bunch of demons.’ I think we’d all go along with that.
• Moving back to (almost) the PP area, plans have been approved in Reading for a major traffic-reduction scheme in the eastern part of the city.
• There was a piece in this week’s NWN about the £770,000-odd spent by West Berkshire Council in redundancy payments to 65 staff in the two years to 31 March 2018. It’s a large sum but is, as Leader Graham Jones points out, a one-off item to save further costs. (Whether these redundancies are a good idea or not is a separate issue.) These figures are dwarfed by some other payments made by councils in the UK. To take but two examples, Coventry’ Executive Director for Resources was paid nearly £450,000 compensation for loss of office in 2017; while in Swansea, redundancy payments in 2017-17 were over £7.8m with 16 staff receiving payments of over £100,000. Further stories of municipal excess in all its forms can be seen in the Rotten Boroughs section of Private Eye every fortnight.
• Congratulations to all those involved in the Berkshire County Fayre last weekend which was attended by, and raised money for, the Berkshire Federation of Young Farmers Clubs. Our son Adam came back with friction burn marks on his arm from the tug-of-war competition – always proof of a good and competitive open-air event.
• A number of good causes have received valuable support recently, including: Daisy’s Dream (thanks to the family of Paul Wilson); Action Through Enterprise (thanks to Donnington Grove Golf and Country Club); Sue Ryder Hospice (thanks to those who took part in the Forget-me-not Walk); various local causes (thanks to pupils at Ramsbury primary School); Great Shefford Flood Alleviation Association (thanks to the recent Stag and Hen night at The Swan); Thames Valley Air Ambulance (thanks to staff at Irwin Mitchell); Macmillan Cancer Support (thanks to the Box 2 Beat Cancer event at Henwick); Oxfordshire animals Sanctuary (thanks to Margaret Grey and Pets at Home); The Rosemary Appeal (thanks to Thatcham Women’s Institute); Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance (thanks to the Paws in the Park event in Kingsclere); Naomi House (thanks to the Real Life Heroes day in Newbury).
Hungerford & district
• Please click here for the latest news from Hungerford Town Council.
• As a result of the works being carried out as a result of this, the whole library building – including the council offices – will be closed until Monday 4 June. The council can still be contacted by email and the website will work as usual – see link above – but there will be an ansafone service only for telephone calls.
• These works having been completed, Hungerford Library will be being officially re-opened at 10am on Friday 15 June. Although there are still a few legal issues to be finalised, this represents the culmination of over two years’ campaigning and work by many, notably the present and past Mayors of Hungerford and the Town Clerk, to save the library service and to have the ownership and use of the building put on a permanent and community-based footing.
• Hungerford Town FC, which avoided relegation by the skin of its teeth earlier this month, has rewarded manager Ian Herring with a two-year contract.
• Congratulations again to Catherine Wooliston, Chris Scorey and Norman Barr who were recently given the Freedom of the Town, the ceremony for which took place on 22 May. A fuller report will follow in the forthcoming Penny Post Hungerford.
• We mentioned last week two potential safety issues in the town (the proposed additional pedestrian crossing in Charnham Street and the possible safety railings at the foot of the slope where the west side of the High Street pavement joins the canal towpath). To this must be added another, mentioned in this week’s NWN and also at a recent council meeting, concerning the canal footbridge which gets vert slippery in cold or damp weather. West Berkshire Council has said that it’ll be cleaning the deck boards soon and looking into a longer-term solution which may well involve re-covering the surface.
• Applications are welcomed by East Garston Parish Council for community grants – click here for more information. You have until 30 June to get your bid in.
• If you’re trying to email The Swan in Great Shefford or visit the website, neither are currently working due to a technical issue beyond their control that may take a few weeks to sort out. Business continues as usual, however. If you need to contact them use the Facebook page or call 01488 648 743.
• And speaking of The Swan, congrats to all for another successful evening earlier this month at the Hen and Stag night to raise money for the Great Shefford Flood Alleviation Association. In particular, a hats off to the performers becky Jill and Add 59 who donated their fees to the fund.
• Look out in the next few days for the June issue of the Valley of the Racehorse e-newsletter which will cover the area from Shefford Woodlands to East Shefford and from Upper Lambourn to Membury.
• 4 Legs Community Radio Station will on Friday have its eighth day of broadcasting – click here for more.
Newbury & district
• A reminder that Newbury Town Council considered its response to the two revised applications for the revised Sandleford plans. You can read these in full here: the post also has a link to the part of the West Berkshire Council where the planning documents can be seen.
• See this week’s Newbury Weekly News for a report with several photos on Newbury’s annual 10k race last Sunday.
• You have until Saturday 30 June for applications for the 2018 Newbury in Bloom campaign.
• The parish of Kingsclere has had its neighbourhood development plan approved by the independent examiners: the remaining hurdle is a referendum later this year at which 50% of those voting will need to agree if it is to be adopted by Basingstoke and Deane Council.
Thatcham & district
• Please click here for the latest news from Thatcham Town Council.
• Thatcham’s Station Road will be closed from 11pm on Sunday 3 June to 10pm on Tuesday 5 June.
• New Thatcham Mayor Jan Cover has chosen the Thames Valley Air Ambulence and Hedgehog Bottom as her charities for the civic year. She assumed the chain office earlier this month, 24 hours later than planned due to outgoing mayor Ellen Crumly’s attendance at the FA Vase Final on the planned day for the ceremony.
• Cold Ash Parish Council is considering adopting a Neighbourhood Development Plan and has organised a weekend of drop-in events on Friday 1 June (2pm to 7pm), Saturday 2 June (10am to 5pm) and Sunday 3 June (10am to 4pm) at the Acland Memorial Hall to give local residents the opportunity to discover more about what’s involved. You can also visit the Cold Ash NDP’s website by clicking here.
• A reminder that Thatcham Market takes place every Friday from 9am on The Broadway.
Marlborough & district
• Please click here for the latest news from Marlborough Town Council.
• After some debate, discussion and accusations of municipal Scroogery, Wiltshire Council has reversed its decision to withdraw the free parking spaces in November and December which had threatened the switch on Marlborough’s Christmas lights. You can read more from Marlborough News here.
• Meanwhile, free parking of a more unofficial kind continues to be available at the George Lane car park.
• Congratulations to the Aldbourne Brass Band which has made it through to the finals of the British Open Championship.
• Click here for information on what’s on in and around Ramsbury.
Wantage & district
• Please click here for the latest news from Wantage Town Council.
• Please click here for the latest news from Grove Parish Council.
• Public hearing sessions of Vale of White Horse District Council’s Local Plan 2031 (Part 2) will begin in July.
• Parents in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse who have a child at primary school can sign up for a free session about how to keep their child safe online – click here for more.
• The Wantage Summer Arts Festival kicks off on Friday 1 June – click here for details.
• It’s the last few days to apply for community grants from the Vale of White Horse Council – applications must be in by Wednesday 6 June.
Swindon & district
• Click here for the latest news and information from Swindon Borough Council.
• Local blogger Angela Atkinson of Born Again Swindonian will be publishing a book about the town next month and in this article explains that there is a lot more to the town’s cultural life than is often believed.
• If you fancy a cream tea in Swindon, Brighter Futures is organising its third )and final) Cream Tea in a Box fundraiser – click here for details.
• Click here for details of the many volunteering opportunities at Great Western Hospital.
The song and the quiz
• The Song of the Week is here again. No particular reason but let’s have Frankly Mr Shankly by The Smiths, a song which by their standards almost counts as a comedy number. I had a weird experience with this in my car back in the day. It was playing on a cassette (yes, it was that long ago) and I decided to flick over to the radio half-way through. The same song was playing there from exactly the place I had stopped it on the tape.
• Which leads us to the Quiz Question of the Week. Once again, I’m directing you to our latest quiz which has a pair of tickets to the Garstonbury Festival in (where else) East Garston on 14 July as the prize. Last week’s bonus question (many thanks to Brian Barram) was a crossword clue and was: Villain heading off for part of church. Another word for a villain is a knave: take his head off and you get ‘nave’ which is a part of a church. You’d like another one? OK – US city needs no more curry (five letters, the second of which is A.) No, I wouldn’t have got it either if I wasn’t given the answer.
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