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Hungerford Town Council Update January/February 2019

These notes incorporate some but not all of the matters discussed at the Full Hungerford Town Council (HTC) Meeting on 4 February 2019, 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

A representative from Thames Valley Police, Sergeant Nick Emanuel, attended the meeting. He spoke for longer than normal due the widely publicised incidents involving some recent incidents of anti-social behaviour (and worse) in the town. Several members of the public also attended this part of the meeting (as they are free to do at any meeting, save for Part 2s where confidential or sensitive information is discussed).

Sgt Emanuel stressed that he and colleagues had been aware of the issue of anti-social behaviour for some time and have been seeking to engage with those involved. This was mainly through the Youth Offending Team which aims to prevent problems from becoming criminal matters. 13 individuals had already been identified as requiring this kind of intervention and the families of five of them so far have, as a result of letters sent to the parents, decided to work with the YOT. Sgt Emanuel also pointed out that, despite rumours to the contrary, no weapons had been found on any of the people stopped and searched. Nor, until recently, had any incidents been reported which could be classed as ‘substantive offences’. The policy, which he said was one that was working well elsewhere, was to avoid being too ready to tarnish people with criminal records at such an early stage in their lives.

The situation took a turn for the worse last week as a result of an incident which was widely reported, and widely (if not always wisely) commented on on social media. Sgt Emanuel was asked by District Councillor Hewer as to whether anyone has been arrested and, if so, whether they were still at large, but replied he was unable to comment on a current investigation. He did reassure the meeting that any offences that are reported – and it’s worth remembering that before any action can be taken offences or incidents need to be reported to the police, not merely shared on social media – are being investigated.

This prompted a few statements from the floor. A 16-year-old member of the public explained how the young people in the town are at least as much victims of this as anyone else. They too suffer from the fear of violence and are, it was claimed, being collectively demonised by some people. She also pointed out that, in such a small town, social groups tend to span quite large age groups and it can be hard to avoid all contact with someone who is perceived as being troublesome. This can lead to friction with parents who might believe either that their children are fraternising with the wrong people or are fearful for their safety. She also stressed that most people of her age wanted somewhere where they could hang out with their friends and that they did not welcome the recent attention. The youth club was, she said, of great value and hoped the hours could be extended. She for one was prepared to volunteer and get more involved in it. She also pointed out that the issue of ‘boredom’ or lack of places to meet was much more acute in the winter.

It was suggested by others that there has been some mis-reporting of the details of the incidents; that there were fewer facilities for young people in the town than perhaps there should be; that more volunteers would be needed if the youth club was to be able to open for longer; and that crime figures as a whole had seen a bit of a spike recently and many of these could not be blamed on young people.

The Mayor brought this discussion to a close by suggesting that a community forum should be set up which would help various groups in the town, including young people, explain and hopefully resolve grievances before they became more serious. Sgt Emanuel said that these were working well elsewhere in the Thames Valley area and that there were several experienced people who could advise on how one could be set up.

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 Hungerford Food Bank

Jennifer Bartter addressed the meeting on the subject of the Hungerford Foodbank. This was established in April 2013 and exists to provide up to about 10 days’ meals as well, as non-food items such as washing powder, at  times of financial crisis. A wide range of people and organisations, including health visitors, village agents, Citizens Advice and social workers, can refer someone to the service. Entitlement is not linked to benefits and anyone can appeal for help. Ms Bartter stressed that the intention was to relieve a crisis, not to provide a long-term solution and people will almost always be dealing with other sources of help and advice at the same time.

Despite initial doubt that such a service was needed in West Berkshire at all, in 2018 West Berkshire Foodbank provided 1,967 three-day supplies to families feeding a total of 2,841 adults and 1,550 children of which 356 adults and 300 children were in Hungerford.. It is thus a necessary and well-valued service, providing practical and immediate help to support the longer-term solutions which other agencies aim to provide.

It was admitted that both the council cutbacks and the introduction of Universal Credit have contributed to the need for the Foodbank’s services. In the latter case, the typical six-week delay in payments has pushed many fragile domestic budgets into crisis.

Donation points exist in Hungerford at the churches, Tesco and Co-op.

Please click here to visit the website which also includes information about how you can volunteer.

The Mayor’s activities

The Mayor’s activities in January included attending a number of council meetings and a good deal of time on the telephone much of it regarding the current issue of anti-social behaviour (see above, Police) in the town.

District Councullors’ report

Councillor Paul Hewer said that the plans for the proposed new affordable homes in Chestnut Way would probably come before WBC’s Western Planning Committee in March and added that because of employment by Sovereign Housing he would be unable to take part in the discussions. However, he foresaw no opposition to the plans and said that, if approved, the buildings should be completed by the end of 20198.

He also mentioned the missing part of the footpath at the top of Church Way which had not been created despite approval having been given. He was aware that this caused risk and inconvenience. He suggested that a  member’s bid might be a suitable way of addressing the funding for this. Please email him at paul.hewer@westberks.gov.uk.

Hungerford 2036 (Neighbourhood Development Plan) update

An update on the progress of the work can be seen here.

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.

‘Welcome Hungerford’ Signs

Councillor Martin Crane reported that permission from WBC should soon have been finalised for these.

Hungerford Trade Showcase

It’s planned that the third such event will take place in October 2019: details to follow. If you wish to get involved in this in any way or for more information, please contact martincrane41@sky.com.

Time to Talk

Councillor Mark Cusack explained his initiative to create a forum in Hungerford to help break down some of the barriers to an open discussion of the problem of mental health. The first event will take place on Monday 7 February – click here for details.

The Town Meeting 2019

This will take place in the Corn Exchange on Wednesday 20 March and is an important way by which HTC can explain its work over that previous year, and its plans for the year to come. It’s also an opportunity for other organisations in the town to showcase their achievements. Plans are being made to streamline the event and include even more community involvement. More information will be available in this post next month, and elsewhere. If you have any suggestions as to how the meeting could be improved, please email hm.simpson@btconnect.com.

Lorries at One Stop in Fairview Road

One suggestion for people who are concerned about the problem of large lorries making deliveries to this shop, sometimes when the school day is starting or ending, is that they 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.

The Great West Way and the promotion of Hungerford

Councillor Martin Crane explained the various initiatives which had recently been undertaken including the promotion of Hungerford in the Great West Way’s publications, the inclusion of Hungerford editorially in the Great West Way’s publications and the creation of a dedicated Hungerford website to promote the town.

For more information on the Great West Way, please click here.

Hungerford Town Council Grants 2019

Applications can now be received for these. For more information, please visit the HTC site.

For details of the grant awards made in 2018 and the many useful purposes to which the funds were put by the recipients, please click here.

Car parking in Hungerford

Discussions continue between HTC and other parties about the new car-parking arrangements at the station. For an update, and the background to this issue, please see this article.

Co-option of a new Councillor

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.

New email addresses for councillors

All councillors will soon be being given email addresses with the suffix @hungerford-tc.gov.uk and the contact list on the HTC website will be amended accordingly. Please henceforth use these email addresses for any communications with councillors on municipal matters.

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 fewer 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.

Anyone wishing to stand will need to complete a nomination form: these will soon be available from the HTC office and on the HTC website. Once completed, the form must be delivered by hand to the WBC offices in Newbury no later than 4pm on Wednesday 3 April. More information will be provided on this nearer the time.

Asset List

As a result of a good deal of work by various councillors and officers, an up-to-date list of the assets owned by HTC has now been compiled.

Committee meetings

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

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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