Local News Feb 28 to March 7 2019

Including Hungerford’s nursery school, Newbury’ traffic, Grove’s Post Office, Wantage’s repair experts, Thatcham’s councillors, Aldermaston’s consultations, Wooton Bassett’s mayor, Bedwyn’s lunch, Marlborough’s allotment, Swindon’s taskforce, police and travel updates, asking questions about questions, AWE’s award, big feet, mouth music, a missing ‘f’, toad news, wake news, fake news, online statistics, the first number one, a frisbee-catching dog, a karate champ, dried tarragon and the bird that falls out with its own shadow. 

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).

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. Click here for services in Wantage.

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)

• With the council elections now little more than two months away, here’s some information about the arrangements for these. Click here for information from West Berkshire and here for Vale of White Horse. Wiltshire and Swindon will not be holding elections this year. (If you want to know which councils hold elections when – it’s not straightforward – click here.)

• If you look at the Theale & district section below you’ll see a mention of AWE and an award which, slightly to my surprise, it’s recently won. I mentioned some reviews on the website Glassdoor.com, a website where employees and former employees anonymously review companies and their management, but I realised that I didn’t know much about it and whether it was regarded as reliable: so, I called a couple of local HR experts to find out. The general view was that it’s one of many tools that consultants of prospective employees might use when seeing what a company was like to work for. The three-star reviews are likely to be more revealing than the one- or five-star ones (this probably usefully applies to sites like Trip Advisor). Contributors are more likely to be junior than senior. Many might be disgruntled ex-employees (though off there are a lot of these that might tell its own story). Larger companies would have internal systems and processes which deal with grievances before people feel the need to go public so comparing the results of two companies of a similar size can provide a bit more perspective. 

It’s now easy to get statistics online but we often spend less time checking their veracity, the reputation of the source and the basis on which they’ve been compiled (which can include how they’re funded). I concede that in this column I’ve probably used figures or statements that had an eye-catching quality or which backed up an opinion I’d already formed. I remember when my youngest son started secondary school he was told by a teacher ‘don’t trust Wikipedia.’  I disagreed with this: ‘don’t trust any one source,’ I told him, ‘and that includes me.’ So, don’t trust anything you read in this column until you’ve checked it. If you find what you feel is wrong then let me know. And remember the old joke that 72.5% of statistics are made up on the spot.

• As mentioned last week, all questions previous posed in previous editions of this column concerning the London Road Industrial Estate remain unanswered. Attention now turns to the next Full Meeting of West Berkshire Council at 6.30pm on Tuesday 5 March at which some questions about this affair will be asked, though others have been excluded on the grounds that they are ‘substantially the same’ as ones posed at the Executive meeting on 17 January. Having seen two rejected questions, and the replies that it’s claimed have already answered these, I’m not so sure.

One concerns the reasons for the delay into consideration (probably by the Council’s Scrutiny Commission) of the LRIE decision-making process. The original question, asked by Councillor Lee Dillon, was whether this should take place before the elections to ensure that anyone who is not a councillor afterwards will be able to participate. The answer given was that ‘any review will hold anybody to account irrespective of whether they are District Councillor.’ We all welcome the clarification. The rejected question posed by a member of the public, Peter Norman, however, was ‘In light of the court case revealing that the contract the Council had drawn up with St Modwen to develop LRIE was unlawful, why is the Council delaying a review on how this situation arose?” It’s hard to see how this is ‘substantially the same’ as the first one, as the Council claims. This can easily be tested by pretending that the ‘any review…’ answer above was provided as an answer to Councillor Dillon’s question (summarised above). The result is like a surreal game of consequences.

The second question relates to the impartiality of the review. At the same Executive meeting, Councillor Dillon suggested that “no Member directly involved in any decisions regarding LRIE should chair the investigation.” The answer included the remark that “it is down to the Monitoring Officer to decide and ensure that all Members involved in this review declare an interest.” If so, it should already be clear which councillors could not chair this. The rejected question, also from Mr Norman, asked what steps were being taken “to ensure that any review is totally independent of anyone involved in the decision making process.” This is to some extent covered by the declaration of interests but hints at more stringent safeguards. I concede that this question could be seen as ‘substantially’ the same, as the Council claims. The basic point remains, though: who will chair the meeting and who will sit on the committee?

• The animal of the week is a dog. I don’t know its name, I’m afraid. Apparently there’s this sport called American football at which, during the intervals for commercial breaks, various eye-catching spectacles are laid on. One of these was of a dog doing a fairly impressive frisbee catch from 83 yards. Mind you, that’s what dogs do, isn’t it? Get a cat to do something like that (and bring the frisbee back) and we’d all be paying attention.

• I’ve always thought it must be very cool to be born on 29 February (my birthday is 29 August, which could hardly be further away). A friend has this distinction and celebrates on 28 February and 1 March three years out of four and then goes for it big-time on the actual day when the leap year comes round. If you are a leapling (out of our 4,000 subscribers there should statistically be 2.73 of you out there) you might want to adopt this approach.

• West Berkshire Council has announced its support for a new government adult social care recruitment campaign. There’re currently a staggering 110,000 vacancies in this sector nationwide.

• West Berkshire has launched a consultation (which runs until 24 March) into its latest four-year strategy.

• The campaign Group West Berkshire Stronger Together is changing its name to West Berkshire for Europe. You can find out more by clicking here.

• The letters pages of the Newbury Weekly News this week include local not-spots, an appeal to follow the rules, votes of support for the recent Youth Strikes for the Environment, a question about asking questions, an invitation to strum and an offer of a free cup of coffee.

• A number of good causes have received valuable support recently, including: Sarcoma UK (thanks to the recent charity ball at Marlborough Town Hall); Marlborough Lions (thanks to the beating the bounds walk); The Great Shefford Flood Alleviation Association (thanks to Matthew Webb); The Berkshire Community Hospital (thanks to numerous donors including the Greenham Trust).

Hungerford & district

• Please click here for the latest news from Hungerford Town Council.

• Please click here for the latest news from Shalbourne Parish Council.

• Nominations can now be made for the 2019 Freedom of the Town award – click here for information.

• The Hungerford Town Council Annual Meeting will take place on Wednesday 20 March. Click here for more information. 

• Congratulations to John O’Gaunt pupil Caitriona Durack who recently won first prize at an international charity karate competition. Read more on the front page of this week’s Newbury Weekly News (Hungerford edition).

• It seems that there’s some good news on the horizon for the long-running campaign to save the Hungerford Nursery School and the many others like it across the country which have been threatened by closure as a result in changes to government funding. On 28 februey, the Early Years Minister announced that funding (£24m in all) will be provided to cover until the end of the 2020 academic year. This doesn’t remove the long-term threat but is a welcome first step. We’ll be covering this more in the march Penny Post Hungerford which will be out on Tuesday 5 March.

• The Hungerford 2036 Team has completed the latest phase of its work with the publication of the project’s aims and objectives: any resident of the town is strongly advised to click on this link and have a look at the document. 

• The next Full Town Council Meeting will take place at 7pm on Monday 4 March in the Corn Exchange. You can see the agenda here. As ever, members of the public are welcome for the main part of the meeting.

• This week’s NWN comments, quite correctly, on the need to clean some of the ‘filthy and mouldy’ road signs in Hungerford, though the comment could be made about ones throughout the area, some of which are dangerously illegible: a sign that can’t be read is a truly pointless thing. The issue, with this as so much else, is who is responsible for them and whether volunteers or other groups can or should take responsibility for these. I’d like to fess up and say that I cleaned one in East Garston while I was waiting for Penny do do some filming on the snowy day a few weeks ago and very satisfying it was too. Snow and tissue paper works quite well for this, I can reveal.

• I’ve always hated my feet (although at least they work) because they’re too big for most shoes, 11 being the largest size most shoe shops seem to cater for. And it’s not only in shoe shops. Years ago on some hot holiday I went to the dive shop to rent some flippers. The dive master looked at my feet and asked ‘what do you need flippers for?’, which I thought was a bit harsh. Were I a woman, this problem would have been solved by Ellie Dickens’ shop in Hungerford which started off catering for the larger female foot but now offers shoes of all sizes. I see in the NWN that her shop is celebrating its 20th birthday on Friday 1 and Saturday 2 March: pop in for nibbles, bubbles, shoes (of course) and, if you need it, expert advice.

• There’s a piece in this week’s NWN (p19) about ‘disrespectful’ wakes that are held in the churchyard at Shalbourne. I have no strong views on this myself but there are many ways of commemorating someone’s death and one approach doesn’t necessarily mean contempt or disregard for all the others. I’m sure no disrespect was intended. Looking at some of the comments, this seems to be another example of a reaction to something that’s not inherently ‘disrespectful’ but appears so because it’s done in a different way from previously. I contacted the vicar but was told that she had no comment to make. 

• All village halls need to raise money to keep the roof over their heads (sometime literally) and Inkpen’s is no exception. Click here for details of a fundraising quiz night on 23 March.

Lambourn Valley

• Please click here to visit the village websites or Facebook pages for Lambourn, East Garston and Great Shefford.

• The Environment Agency has confirmed that the material discovered the bed of the River Lambourn during restitution work following the unauthorised dredging work at East Garston late last year is asbestos, as was suspected at the time. Click here to read more on this issue.

Lambourn Library continues to thrive (a welcome change from a couple of years ago when it was threatened with closure). There are a large number of popular events and activities, most of which are featured on the Penny Post website calendar. Although it’s still run by West Berkshire Council’s Library Service, volunteers now play an increasingly important role. If you’d like to get involved in this way, pop into the library and pick up a leaflet or click on this link.

• Work continues on preparing the ground for Lambourn’s neighbourhood development plan. Much of this has so far been fairly invisible but that should not be mistaken for inaction. Remember that nothing can happen without full community engagement, which is expected to start in the near future. This will be given publicity here and elsewhere.

• East Garston Amenities is organising a theatre trip to the Watermill on Thursday 20th June to see their production of The Importance of Being Earnest. Full details here.

Volunteers are still needed to help run Great Shefford’s youth club. The organisers say that they’re ‘just about managing’ at present but that more help is certainly needed.

• After a month off for consultation, the A5 Great Shefford Parish News is back again. One of the articles in it, Nature Notes, revealed many facts about our local birds that I din’t know (but then I know very little about birds). The long-tailed tit, apparently, pluck the feathers from dead birds to make its next, which is a bit grim but I suppose very practical. I also liked the remark about robins, those notoriously aggressive little beasts, as being able ‘to fall out with their own shadow’. 

• The same magazine also reveals, in the Parish Council notes, the public-spirited tale of metal-detector Matthew Webb who found an artefact worth over £1,200 in the Lord vestry estate. He donated this sum to the Great Shefford Flood Alleviation fund which, with Gift Aid and the Good Exchange’s match funding, brought the total donation to over £2,800. Good work.

• The Great Shefford annual Parish Assembly will take place on Thursday 4 April. If any local community groups would like to attend this and have a stand, please email [email protected].

• The Cheltenham Festival is now only weeks away, as ever, the East Garston Village Hall will host a panel of local experts in the annual Cheltenham Preview. This year’s event is on Friday 8 March from 7pm – click here for details. Book now the avoid disappointment as the event is usually a sell-out.

4 Legs Community Radio Station will on Friday have its 45th day of broadcasting – click here for more.

Newbury & district

• Please click here for the latest news from Newbury Town Council: and here to see NTC’s archive of monthly newsletters.

• Please click here for the latest news from Chieveley Parish Council.

• Please click here for the latest news from Hamstead Marshall Parish Council.

• This week’s Newbury Weekly News has on p2 an article which quotes West Berkshire’s CEO Nick Carter’s view on how Newbury’s traffic problems can be improved and also what could be done to reduce car usage in the area. The solutions to the first of these – including widening roundabouts and building another crossing over the River Kennet – in many ways work against the second. Additional electrical charge points and car clubs will certainly help but, as he admitted ‘it wouldn’t be easy’ to get people in this rural and fairly affluent area to stop using cars (particularly as there are now many fewer bus services). I can sympathise with the council’s dilemma, however. Humans appear to be hard-wired with a dominant ‘expand or di’e gene, to which the market economy gives unfettered expression, but at the same time it’s becoming increasingly clear that it many ways we must also do less.

• There are some yellow fish appearing in Newbury’s streets. All is revealed here

• A reminder about two contrasting stories about two local pubs: Hamstead Marshall’s The White Hart will shortly be re-opening.; while the Winterbourne Arms in Winterbourne is threatened with permanent closure.

• More councillors are required in Speen. If you’d like to make a positive, practical and important commitment to the life of the area, please contact Jean Lindsell at [email protected]

• A major road improvement project for Newbury is expected to continue until the autumn – click here for details.

• If you want to get involved in helping to plant some shrubs in Victoria Park then Newbury Town Council could do with your help. The planting day itself will be Saturday 16 March from 10.30am. Please contact James Heasman on 01635 35486 or email [email protected] if you’d be interested in lending a hand.

Click here for information on free English courses offered to ESOL students in Newbury (also Thatcham and Calcot) by the Berkshire School of English.

Compton & Downlands

• Please click here for the latest news from Hampstead Norreys Parish Council (where there are currently two councillor vacancies).

• Please click here for the latest news from Compton Parish Council.

• Please click here for the latest news from Ashampstead Parish Council.

• Please click here for the latest news from Chaddleworth Parish Council.

• Please click here for the latest news from Brightwalton Parish Council.

• Please click here for the latest news from West Ilsley Parish Council.

• Please click here for the latest news from East Ilsley Parish Council.

• The January newsletter from West Ilsley Parish Council can be found here.

Compton’s Annual Parish Meeting will take place on Monday 18 March. Click here for details.

• The Downland Practice, which has surgeries in Compton and Chieveley, holds regular Patient Participation Groups. More information on this and other matters can be found here

• Stallholders are wanted for Brightwalton’s Fete on 5 May.

• A reminder about Hampstead Norreys Community Shop’s eco-bricks project which re-purposes your one-use plastic. You can read more about this by clicking here.

• If you want to subscribe to Chaddleworth News, please contact [email protected].

• Please click here for dates and venues for the PCSO Have your Say meetings in the Thacham, Theale and Compton & Downlands areas.

Thatcham and district

• Please click here for the latest news from Thatcham Town Council.

• Please click here for the latest news from Cold Ash Parish Council.

• Please click here for the latest news from Bucklebury Parish Council.

• Please click here for the latest news from Brimpton Parish Council.

• Please click here for details of Thatcham’s civic events in 2019.

• There have been 1,355 recipients of the Victoria Cross since the award was introduced in 1856 and three of these were from Thatcham. Click here to read more about the recipients and how the town council recently commemorated them. There’s also an article on p22 of this week’s NWN.

• I saw this message about and explanation of coercive control on Thatcham Town Council’s website, worth a read if you think you or anyone you know might be a victim of this previously undiscussed form of abuse.

• You’ll be able to meet local councillors on The Broadway green this Saturday 2 March from 10am to noon.

• Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan is seeking volunteers to assist with the work involved. If you’re interested in helping, please contact [email protected].

• This week’s NWN reports on p21 about the fears of local retailer that reductions in the Post Office opening times are having the effect of driving people away from the town’s shops.

• A one-bed flat is currently available through the Thatcham Parochial Almshouse Charity: see our property Available post for more details.

• A reminder about the Thatcham Mayor’s Charity Quiz on Thursday 7 March. Click here for details.

• There are two other opportunities to pit your wits against those of the Thatcham area’s finest quizmasters, on Friday 8 March at Thatcham Rugby Club and on Saturday 23 March at the Acland Hall, Cold Ash. See the latest Cold Ash Community Bulletin (link below) for details of this and other local events.

• Please click here for dates and venues for the PCSO Have your Say meetings in the Thatcham, Theale and Compton & Downlands areas.

• Click here to see the latest Cold Ash Community Bulletin

Theale and district

• Please click here for the latest news from Theale Parish Council.

• Please click here for the latest news from Aldermaston Parish Council.

• Please click here for the latest news from Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council.

• Please click here for the latest news from Englefield Parish Council.

• Please click here for the latest news from Burghfield Parish Council (featuring a new website).

• I see from this week’s NWN that the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Aldermaston and Burghfield is the Sunday Times’ 25 Best Big Companies to Work for list. (Two are from West Berkshire, Vodafone being the other.) From what I can gather from the Sunday Times’ website, this appears to measure workplace engagement which includes ‘people taking pride in what they are doing and having faith in those around them.’ This doesn’t seem to have been the experience shared by the employees and ex-employees who reviewed the company on the Glassdoor website.  Only 28% said they would recommend the company to a friend and only 38% approved of the CEO (the corresponding figures for Vodafone were 74% and 100%). Some of the specific comments (which earned the company two stars out of a possible five) must make alarming reading for the senior management. In August 2018, Aldermaston was placed in special measures by the Office for Nuclear Regulation for the sixth consecutive year and was warned that unless safety fears were addressed operations there may need to cease. In November, Aldermaston was hit with a £1m fine after an incident which resulted in an employee suffering burns. (See also the Across the Area section above for some thoughts about online statistics.)

Click here for the latest from Highways England about the progress of the work to tuen the M4 from J3 to J12 into a smart motorway.

• West Berkshire is holding a consultation on the subject of the repairs and maintenance required at Aldermaston Wharf Bridgeclick here for details. You have until 19 March to have your say.

• A public exhibition will be held at Aldermaston Parish Hall on Tuesday 12th March 2019 from 3pm to 7pm to discuss proposals for Aldermaston Park. Click here for more.

• Applications are now open (and will remain so until 7 March 2019) for nominations for the Stratfield Mortimer Community Award 2019. Click here for more.

• Click here for information about Burghfield’s plans to create a community hub.

Click here for the February/March 2019 Parish Magazine from Englefield Parish Council.

• Please click here for dates and venues for the PCSO Have your Say meetings in the Thacham, Theale and Compton & Downlands areas.

Marlborough & district

• Please click here for the latest news from Marlborough Town Council.

• Please click here for the latest news from Aldbourne Parish Council.

• Click here for details of The Sustainable Living event to be held on March 23 from 10 am to 4pm in Shrivenham Memorial Hall.

• Penny visited the recently-opened Packaging not Included shop in Marlborough last weekend and made a short video which you can see here. As this article in Marlborough News also testifies, the shop has proved a big hit. If there’s something you’d like owner Hayley Lambert to stock which she currently doesn’t, suggest it to her. Dried tarragon, which we seem to get through in industrial quantities, will soon be available there as a result of Penny’s request. Remember to bring your own jars or bags to the shop – the clue’s in the name.

• This week’s Gazette and Herald reports on Wiltshire Council’s recent confirmation of its £332m budget for next year (with a council-tax rise of 2.99%) which the opposition Lib Dems have claimed ‘lacks ambition and innovation.’

• The same paper also congratulates the revitalised Marlborough Allotment Association which as recently as late last year had been ‘within minutes of folding.’

 • Well done to Sue Challen and her team for organising the monthly meals in Great Bedwyn for homeless and socially isolated people. The most recent one, for 25, took place last week. For more information, contact Sue on 01672 870202.

• There appears to be a disagreement in Wooton Bassett as to the political complexion of the new mayor. It was proposed that the current deputy, Steve Watts, would replace his Conservative colleague Mike Farrow in May, but another Conservative Councillor has suggested that having the same party hold the office for 20 years is not a good idea. Many might feel that having politicised town councils at all is not a good idea. It seems, from a quick glance at the town councils in the Penny Post area, that this starts happening when the population of the town gets into five figures (Wootton Bassett’s is about 11,000).

• The pre-school held in the village hall in Great Bedwyn is seeking more children so as to keep the facility going.

• 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. (Be prepared for a long wait for it to load.)

• Please click here for the latest news from Letcombe Regis Parish Council.

• Three loud cheers for repair cafés. These are, as you doubtless know, groups of handy people with various repair skills which host various events where you can bring along items that need fixing. Usually this is done in exchange for a donation linked to a percentage of the value of the item. The next one is this Saturday at The Beacon – full details here. Most things these days are not designed to be repaired and and there as also fewer and fewer shops that can do this work. A lot of the time, the item can be fixed quite easily by someone who knows what they’re doing. Our toaster, for instance, owes its continued life to a repair café.

• One of these repair experts we met yesterday at the Wantage Rotary Club, where we were delighted to have been invited as guests and to give a quick chat about Penny Post. The club engages in a numbest of activities throughout the year, most with a fundraising angle, and is always on the lookout for new members of all ages. More information can her found here.

• Click here for information the Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage Talking Newspaper (DAWN) for the blind and partially sighted.

• Wantage residents will be given a free trial to reinvigorate a bus service launched to help the elderly and less mobile.

Farringdon Academy of Schools has predicted that it will be in deficit by 2021, despite currently having funds of more than £22m.

• One of the things about amphibians is that they do feel compelled in the spring to lay their eggs in the ponds in which they were hatched. If there’s a road in the way then many of them suffer: as the Oxford Times points out, they tend to have ‘poor vehicle avoidance skills.’ This article highlights some of the work being done in the area to ensure that as many as possible survive this instinctive migration.

• The wonderfully-named The Extraordinary Hare pub in Wantage will be-opening soon (helping to reverse a trend of closures all too common in the country). My attention was drawn today to the FB page which includes a particularly fulsome passage of praise for the contractors. FB posts on this kind of subject are often otherwise. 

• There have been some articles recently about so-called ‘fake news‘ about Wantage’s parking problems. Penny Post was, I can exclusively and exciting reveal, the source of this: it was an error in this column two weeks ago (since corrected) in which I mistakenly transposed Wantage Town Council and the Vale Council. I can confirm again that any decriminalisation of the parking regulations will result in control being taken by the Vale Council, not the town. But was this ‘fake news’? Fake news is an attempt deliberately to paint a false picture of an event for some ulterior motive. The mot juste in this case is ‘mistake’. The term ‘fake news’ is a recent invention and a useful extra gradation in the various levels of error. However, to accuse something of being fake news when it isn’t is perhaps fake news itself.

• Good news for residents of Grove as it seems that the Post Office there, closed since December, will be reopening at the Co-op in Savile Way on Friday 12 April.

• The latest meeting of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) took place on Thursday 7 February to discuss the long-running issue of Wantage Hospital. It was announced that physiotherapy Services would be returning there as soon as possible. The long-running campaign is by no means over, however, as the long-term future of the hospital is still to be decided. 

• Julie Mabberley’s regular column on p8 of the Wantage & Grove Herald considers the changing plans for new schools (perhaps now just one all-through school) resulting from the Crab Hill and Grove Airfield developments and how these appear be deficient in some respects.  

• The Vale of White Horse District Council has published the proposed modifications to part 2 of its Local Plan following recommendations from the inspector examining the plan.

• In 2018, the Oxfordshire authorities signed the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal as a result of which the Oxfordshire authorities have agreed to produce a plan for the whole of the county, which will guide development in the area up to the year 2050. Please click here to read more about this on the Wantage & Grove Campaign Group’s website, which includes an onward link to the consultation (which runs until 25 March). 

• South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils have installed a number of collection boxes in council buildings as part of a new national campaign to recycle crisp packets. Click here for more.

• A reminder that the Grove Airfield forum focused on the several accidents caused by mud on the road from the Persimmon development. The Wantage and Grove Campaign Group has be asked to pass any problems on to the site managers so let them know any details.

• Click here for the latest edition of the Letcome Register, providing information about events and activities in and around Letcombe Regis.

Click here for the latest from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group.

• Click here for details of some forthcoming events in Wantage.

Swindon & district

• Click here for the latest news and information from Swindon Borough Council.

 a Taskforce has been set up to help minimise the impacts of the closure of the Honda plant on the the town and the Honda staff. Click here for details.

This article from the Swindon Advertiser looks at the various theories and plans for developing and sustaining Swindon’s town centre.

• A free scheme has been relaunched in a bid to boost revenue in the town centre and encourage residents to shop locally.

• An updated list of sites which have the potential for development within Swindon has just been published.

• Is Swindon’s heritage under threat? This article in Swindon Link looks at five local landmarks which have disappeared.

• As part of a social enterprise-project, young people from Swindon are preparing to launch a new online magazine focusing on social issues.

• Site clearance work which will pave the way for major improvements to Mead Way will start in early March.

• From April, the Council’s town centre car parks will be free on Sundays. Click here for more.

• Click here for details of the many volunteering opportunities at Great Western Hospital.

The song and the quiz

• The Song of the Week takes me back to my memories of Martin Swan, a musician far more talented than me, with whom I was in a band in Cambridge back oh-so-long-ago that I can’t write the decade. Regardless of this detail, give it up for So Step Off by Mouth Music.

• Which brings leads, as happens, to the Quiz Question of the Week. This week’s comes from the recent quiz at the Red House in Marsh Benham in aid of the Prior’s Court Foundation, and is What was the first number one single of 2000? Last week’s question was: Which local school is named in the very first line of one of Shakespeare’s plays? When I tell you that the first line of Richard II is Old John of Gaunt, time-honoured Lancaster, I think you’ll get it. It’s lost the ‘f’from ‘of’ since then but a bit of erosion in 400 years is only to be expected.

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Brian Quinn

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Covering: Newbury, Thatcham, Hungerford, Marlborough, Wantage, Lambourn, Compton, Swindon & Theale