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Hungerford Town Council Update November/December 2018

These notes incorporate some but not all of the matters discussed at the Full Hungerford Town Council (HTC) Meeting on 3 December, the agenda for which can be found here. Any references below to ‘the meeting’ refer to this event unless specified otherwise. The official minutes of the meeting will in due course be found on the HTC site. See the foot of this post for more information. WBC = West Berkshire Council.

For HTC updates from previous months, please visit the archives here.

Police

Representatives from Thames Valley Police attended the meeting and said that, a few fairly minor and unrelated incidents aside, that there has been little to report apart from a few thefts from motor vehicles.

It was, however, pointed out that there had been some issues with local young people gathering in some parts of the town and causing various degrees of generally low-level trouble and that many of these were also attending the Youth Club. The organisers and the police are aware of concerns and issues and are actively looking at ways of reducing re-offending and, as importantly, preventing people offending for the first time. Letters have been written to parents in some cases by the Youth Offending Team. They also added that the skate park was currently in excellent condition following the removal of the shelter.

For more information on the police presence in and around the town, please click here.

To read a recent interview with Matthew Barber, the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley, please click here.

The Mayor’s activities

The Mayor’s activities in November included a WBC training session for parish councillors; attending the Remembrance Day events in Hungerford, the Lieutenancy and RBL Festival of Remembrance at Reading Minster and the arrival of the BBC Children in Need Rickshaw Challenge team in Hungerford; opening Jade Bailey Interiors shop in Hungerford; and participating in various HTC committee meetings. (The list would have been longer if illness had not intervened from 14 November until late in the month.)

Hungerford 2036 (Neighbourhood Development Plan) update

An update on the progress of the work can be seen here. The responses to the survey, which are still being evaluated, provided ‘invaluable insights into the current concerns and priorities of Hungerford residents.’ The next stage, currently under way, is ‘ to verify and refine the draft vision, aims and objectives.’ It’s expected that this will be completed during first quarter of 2019.

To be kept informed please click on this link and scroll down to the foot of the page to sign up to the Hungerford 2036 mailing list.

Planning matters

Councillor Farrell confirmed that the application for the takeaway pizza restaurant at the top of the High Street had been objected to by HTC and WBC on a number of grounds.

Asked at the meeting about the current situation with regard to the former Sun Inn in Charnham Street, she confirmed that the owners (Dicj Lovett) had returned the interior to its previous pre-pub state. Its being in a conservation area should afford it protection. The owners had no plans to sell it separately and that it remained part of their property in that part of town (the long-term future of which will only be decided once the proposed move of the dealership to Thatcham goes ahead: this has recently run into some planning opposition from WBC). Councillor Farrell agreed to look again into the issue of the de facto change of use of the pub’s former car park, which seemed now to be being used for storage.

There has been no further information from CALA or Wates as to when a consultation with HTC about the development in Salisbury Road or, presumably following this,  a public exhibition of the proposed plans would take place, nor what the people recently reported as being on the site had been doing.

Consultations on West Berkshire Council’s Local Plan Review and 2019-18 Budget Proposals

As mentioned many times, in Penny Post and elsewhere, these two consultations are ongoing. For more information, on the 2019-20 Budget proposals and consultation, click here (deadline for submissions in midnight on Sunday 23 December). For more information on the Local Plan review and consultation (deadline for submissions is 4.30pm on Friday 21 December), click here.

Various concerns about both of these consultations were expressed by a number of councillors. The Mayor confirmed that the councillors would be making their comments known individually and also that a response to each would be made by HTC based on the general consensus of all councillors. It was also pointed out that neither the timing nor the functionality of the consultations were conducive to responses (although the timing of the financial year is doubtless responsible for the former).

Members of the public were also urged to make their views known. The two main realities are, first, that about £5m-worth of savings need to be found as a result of central-government cuts; the second is that, in common with many other authorities, over half of West Berkshire Council’s budget is spent on social care of various kinds, which is a statutory obligation. None the less, there are many things which councils and individuals can still influence. There are many proposals involving cuts of small sums to small organisations which in many cases will lead to far greater costs being incurred in the long run dealing with the problems which early intervention would have prevented.

The Town Councillors are studying both these documents (which are in places quite dense and technical) before making their responses. If there are any aspects that you’d like to discuss with any councillor before making your own comments, please visit this page on the HTC site for their contact details.

Hungerford Town Council’s 2018-19 Budget

The draft version of this has been prepared and was discussed at the meeting. However, as not all councillors had had a chance to fully consider it it was agreed to defer the approval until the meeting in January.

The current draft budget assumes expenditure of £285,000, an increase of about 4.5% over the current year. This would be funded by a combination any surplus left over from 2017-18 and an increase in the precept (there was no increase last year). However until the budget has been finalised and WBC’s tax base confirmed, it’s not possible to say what each household will be paying.

Christmas Lights

These were switched on on Sunday 2 December and there was a good crown to witness the event. You can read a report of the event, which also includes a video made by Penny Post, by clicking here. Congratulations to all those involved in what is a major logistical exercise which result in what are probably the best Christmas lights for miles around. HTC has set up a funding page through The Good Exchange (meaning that donations will be match funded) should you wish to make a contribution to the cost – click here for details.

As with all such projects, unexpected issues can arise. This year , some of the trees mounted on the flagpole sockets snapped. during last week’s storm. It’s possible that the very hot summer may be partly responsible as this year’s trees and bushier and heavier than normal and have thicker trunks which might also be more brittle. Whatever the reason it’s hard to see how it could have been predicted by HTC or the contractors. The most important thing is that HTC has taken immediate steps to rectify by attaching cables above the flagpoles to help support the weight of the trees.

HTC email addresses

As part of the general climate of GDPR compliance and best practice, HTC will soon be creating HTC-suffixed email addresses for all councillors to use. When implemented this will publicised here and on HTC’s website, in particular the councillors’ contact page. Any communications with councillors on HTC-related matters should thereafter be made using these email addresses.

West Berkshire Lottery

As previously reported, WBC will be launching a lottery in 2019 – you can read more details here. Councillor Winser recently attended an information event on the matter. This will give local organisations the chance to raise funds by selling tickets to their supporters. Similar schemes are in operation in other council areas (Aylesbury Vale was the first) with great success. It’s expected that this will become an increasingly important part of the fundraising activities for voluntary groups and charities in the area.

DBS Checks

It has been suggested that all parish councillors undertake a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check. As the paperwork was quite onerous and that a lot of this would fall on the Clerk and her staff to complete, it was agreed that councillors would decide for themselves if they needed to have a DBS check, which would depend on how likely it was that in the course of their duties they would need to be working with children or vulnerable adults. The basic DBS service (which is sufficient for these purposes) is free.

Lorries at One Stop in Fairview Road

Discussions continue between WBC and HTC on the one hand and Tesco to try to find a solution to the problem of large lorries making deliveries, sometimes at the start or end of the school day which creates an obvious danger. This is not a problem that either council can easily solve as no traffic regulations are being violated: nor can the Onestop manager do anything about it. A solution can only be provided by the department at Tesco that organises the delivery logistics. It seems that other small stores elsewhere in the country have similar problems.

One suggestion is people who are concerned about this should contact Tesco directly. Penny Post did this on 4 December by calling 0800 50 5555: after a short wait, I was connected to a human being: he was very polite and helpful, listened to my summary of the problem, logged the complaint and offered the email address customer.service@tesco.co.uk as another method of contacting them. You can also write to Tesco Customer Service Centre, Baird Avenue, Dundee, DD1 9NF.

Hungerford Nursery School

District Councillor James Podger mentioned that a motion on the funding crisis threatening this school, and others like it, was being put at the next West Berkshire Full Council meeting and expressed his support for the campaign and for the school. For more information on this, please see the separate post here.

Army Engagement Day

It was hoped that this information event (which will not be a recruitment event) will take place in the town during the 2019 February half term.

Council elections in May 2019

In May 2019, all the HTC councillors will resign their seats and may, if they wish, stand again. In most town and parish councils, the number of applicants is less than the number of available seats and so these are filled by co-option. It is HTC’s hope that in 2019 there will be more candidates than seats, which will result in an election. As well as attracting new people into municipal life and increasing awareness of the vital work that HTC performs, this will encourage debate about what projects the council should concentrate on and how it might change any of the ways in which it operates. More information will be provided on this nearer the time.

Three new councillors have recently been co-opted but a further vacancy remains which will be filled in the same way. For more information please contact the Town Council by emailing claire.barnes@hungerford-tc.gov.uk.

Armistice Day events

It was reported that these were all very well attended, that the new bench at the memorial was installed in time and the memorial itself in good condition as a result of the recent cleaning.

Committee meetings

For more information on the work of these committees, please click here. For a full calendar of committee meetings, please click here.

As mentioned above, the minutes of these (and other) meetings are available on the HTC website now or will be soon.

 

The sections above cover some of the issues with which Hungerford Town Council has recently been involved or concerned: it by no means describes all of the Council’s activities.

For more information on Hungerford Town Council, please click here.

If there’s anything that you’d like to see addressed by Hungerford Town Council, and perhaps also covered in this way in future editions of Penny Post Hungerford, please email claire.barnes@hungerford-tc.gov.uk. Any such suggestions should be received at least four working days before the end of the month (and preferably sooner) if they are to be included in the corresponding post for the following month. That is not, of course, to say that the Council will not in any case give the matter its attention and respond personally if appropriate.

This information has been compiled by Penny Post from information supplied by Hungerford Town Council and others. Every reasonable effort has been made to provide a clear and dispassionate summary of the points covered but these may contain expressions of opinion which may not accord with Hungerford Town Council’s official view on the particular matter. Links have been provided to other posts, on the Penny Post site or elsewhere, to provide additional information where this has been judged useful or necessary. The presence of such a link should not be taken to imply that Hungerford Town Council necessarily agrees with, endorses or supports any of the material contained therein.

 

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