Local News March 7-14 2019

Including Hungerford’s newsletter, Wantage’s old/new railway station, Thatcham’s new group, Newbury’s new trees, Chaddleworth’s blocked drains, East Garston’s asbestos, Eastbury’s speed limit, Stratfield Mortimer’s election request, Aldermaston’s exhibition, Baydon and Bedwyn’s pubs, Highworth’s fox, Swindon’s mural, police and travel updates, a letter on London Road, solar panels, local democracy, phoning the taxman, pub and shop apps, fly tipping, a spot of Franglais, non-predating cats, a hat-hating cockatoo, the Fab’s final cut and a blast from the Arctics. 

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.)

• I’ve said it before but I’m going to say it again: there’s something badly wrong with the way we elect councillors (indeed, all our representatives). I ask you all this question: you almost certainly remember for which party you voted last time round but can you name the councillor against whose name you made your mark? One of the many problems is that it puts entire political parties who attract enough votes across the area to merit some representation completely outside the political system, forcing them to make their cases in other ways and, as recent events at West Berkshire Council show, bring branded as being ‘interest groups’. The other result of this is that the winning party often has a huge majority of seats even more out of proportion to the number of votes it received than is the case with national elections. This encourages group-think and a lack of effective opposition. 

• This week’s Newbury Weekly News has, on p5, a report on the discussions about the 2019-20 budget at the recent West Berkshire Council meeting. As predicted, the council tax will rise by 2.99% from April though this will still require cuts of around £7m. This article from the BBC suggests that council taxes will rise on average by rather more than this, 4.5%. 4.99% is the maximum by which a council which provides social care (as West Berkshire does) can raise its council tax without holding a referendum.

• It was announced at the above-mentioned meeting of West Berkshire Council earlier this week that it is to spend £750,000 on installing solar panels on some of its properties. This is part of a response to the increasing demands from a wide range of local pressure groups for more to be done to work towards lowering the region’s carbon footprint. I have no idea if West Berkshire is ahead of the game on solar panels compared to other councils. I spoke to someone at one large national install company who believed that they only had one local-council client. I tried to ask MCS, the trade body, but their phone lines were down.

If West Berkshire, or other councils, are behind the game on this then it’s perhaps surprising. The feed-in tariff (FIT) was introduced in April 2010 with the intention of encouraging homeowners to generate some of their own power from renewable sources. What actually happened was that large organisations saw loopholes in the scheme that would enable them to claim a RoI of up to 20%, so triggering up a far greater level of payments than had been anticipated. Rather than try to reform the system so that it performed its intended function, the coalition government made dramatic and almost overnight cuts to the FIT. This had an immediate and catastrophic effect on demand for new installations and thus on the companies which, encouraged by government policy, had established themselves. Nearly 11,000 skilled, motivated and recently trained installers and experts lost their jobs as a result. The UK industry has not recovered from this: houses with solar panels are very much the exception.

It gets worse. From the end of this month, the FIT system will be closed to most new applicants altogether: you can read more about this here. I’m unclear from this what if any FIT-style income West Berkshire will receive from its projected scheme. It does, however, seem odd that local councils did not appear to take greater advantage of this opportunity when it first became available. In 2010 it must have been obvious that funding issues were looming and many councils were already dabbling with other forms of investment. This would have seemed to have been a good opportunity, to say nothing of being a vote winner. Mind you, back then installing solar panels might have been seen as a frivolity, as a piece of political window dressing (or roof dressing). Not so now.

• Yesterday I needed to make a payment to HMRC. Unfortunately, the letter gave no clue as to what account the money should go to so I had to call up. Twenty minutes later, I got through to a human. “It’s a very bad line,” she started brightly. “That,” I said, “is probably because it’s got worn out with all the recorded messages I’ve been listening to.” I gave her the reference and asked what account number I should use. “I don’t know,” she said. “Have you tried Googling it? That’s what I’d need to do to tell you.” I was staggered by this admission. “No,” I said, “I’m following the instructions on the letter. I assumed that you’d have the right account details.” There was a tapping of keys and a shuffling of papers from the other end. I decided to try another tack. “If you manage to find the account number, the account number, can I be sure that the payment will go to0 the right place, if I use the reference on the letter?” She thought about this. “It should do,” she said, in the way people say ‘I’m sure I turned the gas off’ when they’re not sure at all. “Do I need to put the spaces in or can I run all the characters together?” She wasn’t sure about this either. “You might miss out the double zeros, though.” But then, I said, the reference number would be the wrong length. She agreed this might be a problem but that said that that’s what she would do. “The other thing I’d do,” she went on, “would be put to put a 17 at the end.” “Why a 17?” “For the year.” “But this doesn’t all relate to 2017.” “Well, that’s what I would do.” The ground was shifting beneath my feet: the only certainty in this business had been the reference number and now that was vanishing like mist. “Ah,” she said, “here are the account details. The sort code is…” At that exact moment the line went dead. My roar of frustration could have been heard in Great Shefford and I slammed the phone down so hard that I seem to have damaged it. Half an hour later I spoke to someone else on the same number who gave me completely different information. I don’t know what the moral of all this is: I just wanted to get it off my chest. Thank you for listening.

• Anyone wanting a succinct summary of issues surrounding the London Road Industrial Estate which has been referred to in this column several times can do no better than read Peter Norman’s letter on the subject in this week’s Newbury Weekly News.

• The Padworth recycling centre has announced that its opening ours will be extended from next month.

Click here if you run a business and are interested in being involved in West Berkshire Council’s Small Business Saturday event which will take place later this year. 

• The animal of the week is in fact several cats who appear to have lost the predation instinct when it comes to dealing with birds.

• 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 letters pages of the Newbury Weekly News this week include, as well as the two letters from Mr Norman and Mr Murphy which are mentioned elsewhere; a criticism of the Conservatives’ record in West Berkshire; another criticism, this time of the plans for Newbury station; a third piece of criticism, of the sometimes confusing temporary road signs; a suggestion that supermarkets should not stock bottled water that comes from Fiji; and a photograph of a Galah cockatoo which dislikes people with hats.

• A number of good causes have received valuable support recently, including: spcc (thanks to Veezu Taxis); Marlborough Mencap (thanks to Waitrose’s green token scheme); Brighter Futures (thanks to the recent handbag amnesty and raffle); Dingley’s promise (thanks to The Plough on the Green); the Teenage Cancer Burst (thanks to shoppers and staff at Aldi’s in Newbury); the Hungerford Hub (thanks to shoppers at Tesco in Hungerford).

Hungerford & district

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

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

• As is always the case in the first week of the month, the Penny Post Hungerford e-newsletter has recently been published: so, for the best and most varied coverage of life in and around the town I suggest you click here to read it. It includes news from – deep breath needed – the Town Council, the High Street, Barr’s Yard, the Town and Manor, the Leisure Centre, the Chamber of Commerce, the Football Club, the Bowling Club, Hungerford 2036, Arts for Hungerford, all the schools and the Hub; gardening tips; the book of the month from the bookshop; details of future events; local jobs; special offers; a prize competition; and a short story in which Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple, Philip Marlowe and Hercule Poirot all appear. Something for everyone, we hope. If you’d like anything to be included next month, let us know.

• A particular reminder that the Hungerford Town Council Annual Meeting will take place on Wednesday 20 March. Click here for more information. This will follow a different format from perviously, more in the style of an exhibition than a formal meeting which should allow people more opportunity to discuss matters that are of particular concern or interest to them. There will be representatives from many of the groups in and and around the town.

• Another issue which was mentioned in passing at the recent Hungerford Town Council meeting and has since been reported elsewhere concerns two app-based schemes which are being piloted in Newbury with some success to help pubs and shops deal with any problems from shoplifters or other unwelcome patrons: Pubwatch and Shopsafe (the latter name is also currently being used by what appears to be a different organisation). This will also be a fast and efficient way of communicating with the police. A summary of this can be found here. It’s expected that this will be extended to Hungerford in the future. The key point is that the police have said that, based on past experience, ownership of the scheme needs to be taken by a local organisation such as the Chamber of Commerce or the Town Council, which needs to be agreed at a suitable meeting and so can’t happen overnight. There will be a short presentation on the subject at the start of the next Hungerford Town Council meeting at 7pm on Monday 1 April in the Town Hall – any publicans or shopkeepers in the town may be interested in attending this part of the event at least in order to find out more.

• A meeting to discuss plans for setting up a youth council in Hungerford, which will give young people a formal voice in the community, took place earlier this week. The group will br represented at the Hungerford Annual Meeting on Wednesday 20 March (see above for details). There will also be another meeting at the Youth and Community Centre at 7pm on Wednesday 13 March.  Any young person who lives or attends school in Hungerford or the surrounding area is welcome to attend.

• We mentioned here last week some good news in 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.  Please click here to seer our post on the subject which has been updated to reflect this.

• The police are appealing for witnesses following a car accident on the A4 in Hungerford at about 11.40pm on Wednesday 27 February. 

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. It’s also been confirmed that there seems to be no contamination of the soil. Click here to read more on this issue.

As the original incident took place in late November and as the river normally returns in January (after which not only would restoration work be harder but also any disturbed material would then wash downstream, so worsening the problem) I’ve heard people ask whether the EA has jumped on this as quickly as it might. Its position is, I understand, complicated by the need to do all the necessary investigations that would be required for a prosecution. To do the restoration too quickly might have compromised the investigation, almost to the extent of destroying evidence. Clearly there are processes that need to be followed. In any event, work is now under way. Anyone passing through East Garston can expect to see various people and equipment while this is being done and it’s hoped that this will be done within a couple of weeks – see the link above for more.  

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.

• There is a  campaign in Eastbury to have a 20mph zone established. Contrary to what might have been suggested elsewhere, the ‘refusal’ by West Berkshire Council is by no means final and it’s hoped that another survey will be conducted in 2019. The Thames Valley Police is also supportive of the community moving onto the next stage of a local speedwatch campaign. It’s currently being investigated how this could best be funded and operated.

• Both Thames Water and Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks have Priority Schemes for those who might need extra support during water or power cuts. If you or a neighbour think this would be useful then you can get further information on eligibility and how to register from: Thames Water: 0800 009 3652; and Scottish & Southern Electricity: 0800 294 3259. (Thanks to the Eastbury Village Wardens for this information – if you’d like to subscribe to their newsletters, please contact [email protected]).

• And, from the same source, well done to the volunteers who removed some silt from under the road bridge in January. There are always tasks that need doing in and around the river: please contact the Village Wardens (see section above) in the first instance so that these can be co-ordinated and so that they can be compliant with the regulations relating to the river’s SSSI status.

• Eastbury’s village spring clean will take place from 9.30am on Sunday 24 March: meet at the church. More details can be found here.

• 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.

• 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 East Garston annual Parish Meeting will take place on Tuesday 16 April, 7.30 in the Village Hall.

• The Cheltenham Festival is now almost here: 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. I’m told that there are still some tickets left.

4 Legs Community Radio Station will on Friday have its 47th day of broadcasting – click here for more. Two of our guests (from 11am til noon) will be Mark Brock, the local Flood Warden, who’ll be talking about the rise (and fall) (and rise again) of the River Lambourn; and Ed James, organiser of the above-mentioned Cheltenham Preview.

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 NWN has, on pp8-9, a report and photographs on the 25th annual Newbury pancake race.

• Over 50 pupils from schools across the district will be demonstrating their wares at the annual Young Enterprise Trade Fair this weekend. Click here for details.

• Nine wild cherry trees have been planted at City Recreation Ground running alongside the pathway leading to the play area. These trees are native to the UK and will provide an attractive white blossom display in the spring and, when pollinated, will produce edible cherries, adding to the existing apple and plum orchard at the recreation ground.

• 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.

…Et pour des renseignments sur un livre bilingue, (Max et Sacha en Vacances en France) publié par the Vici Academy in Newbury recently, please click here.

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.

• Grahame Murphy, the indefatigable chairman of Chaddleworth Parish Council, has written a letter which has been published in this week’s NWN about the ‘deaf ear’ which has been turned towards his parish’s regular (I can confirm this, having seen some of the correspondence) requests to West Berkshire Council for local flooding problems in the area, caused by blocked drains and gullies, to be addressed. His letter claims that this is a duty for West Berkshire under section 41 of the 1980 Highways Act. The parish council has also been involved in a long-running dispute with West Berkshire over the latter’s division of the parish in two for the purpose of organising free (or otherwise) school transport.

• 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.

• 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].

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

• This week’s NWN has news on a new support group that has been set up in Thatcham to help cancer sufferers. Contact Aileen Blackley on 07702 289473 for more information on Thatcham Support Group 2019.

• There are two 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. (This includes an appeal for more people to step forward in the forthcoming elections, together with some brief and useful advice as to what being a councillor involves. This applies to all parishes, not just Stratfield Mortimer.)

• 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).

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.

• The Padworth recycling centre has announced that its opening ours will be extended from next month.

• 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.

• 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.

• An event to celebrate the return of the great bustard to Wiltshire was held in Marlborough Town Hall last week. Marlborough News takes over the story from here.

• Wiltshire Council has cut funding in a number of areas, including to two day centres in Marlborough. In this article, Marlborough News provides reactions from the organisers and the town’s mayor. 

• The new St Mary’s Primary School finally has its long-awaited garden, thanks to help from a number of teachers and local residents. 

 • Well done to Sue Challen and her team for organising the monthly meals in Great Bedwyn for socially isolated people. The next one will take place on Thursday 21 March. For more information, contact Sue on 01672 870202.

• The battle goes on to prevent the Cross Keys pub in Great Bedwyn from being converted to accommodation. The most recent planning appeal has recently finished its consultation and Penny Post understands that there were around 110 comments, all but one of which opposed the scheme. Whatever decision Wiltshire Council takes this is unlikely to be the end of the matter. We understood that the decision has been called in to the planning committee which is expected to discuss the matter before the end of March. More news will be added to the post here as we get it. 

• Meanwhile another pub under threat, The Red Lion in Baydon, has been in the news. The owner had applied to build on some of the property, including part of the car park, in order to ensure the business’ survival. Wiltshire Council, however, rejected this, asserting that ‘the long-term objective of the applicant (is) the ultimate disposal of the inn…for alternative purposes,’ and that ‘further sub-division of the site will not maintain the inn’s long-term viability.’ You can read more on p18 of this week’s NWN.

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

• And still in Great Bedwyn, keep your eye on the Village Hall Facebook page here for details of what’s going on there, including films (featuring new state-of-the-art equipment).

• 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.

• 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.

• Like many of the things that Alice encountered when she went in the looking-glass world, the prospect of re-opening the former railway station at Grove (Wantage Road) regularly gets closer, only to recede back into the distance. According to one councillor I spoke to a few months ago, this has been going on for about 40 years. For various reasons (which I only partly understand and so won’t try to summarise) the best hope seems to be if new direct services – effectively a new route – are introduced on existing tracks. One such is a proposed service between Bristol and Oxford; another, mooted most recently by local MP Ed Vaizey, would depend on the provision of a service from Oxford to Heathrow. I find this one slightly harder to follow, for this service (as the map on this article shows) would not pass through Grove. The the population of Wantage and grove set to increase considerably and the parking and traffic problems in the area becoming ever more severe – to say nothing of the need to reduce car usage for environmental reasons – this is surely an initiative whose time has come.

• Another local transport link that never seems to be out of the news is the A34. In this week’s Wantage and Grove Herald, a local road-safety campaigner has blamed the reduction on the number of speeding motorists detected in 2018 compared to the year before on ‘savage’ police cuts.

• A Scout group with roots stretching back more than a century has returned to Oxfordshire.

• Planning approval has been given for the new Kingsgrove Primary School at Crab Hill. The design was the subject of some criticism in Julie Mabberley’s regular column in the Wantage and Grove Herald recently; an opposite point of view can be found in a letter from Simon Spiers, the Chief Executive of the Vale Academy Trust in this week’s paper. The newspaper’s editorial does a masterly job of refusing to decide between these opinions. 

• Some other points struck me about Mr Spiers’ letter. Towards the end he says that ‘it saddens me that this lady regularly writes in our local paper to tell us that everything that’s going on in…Wantage is so bad.’ This is not what she, nor the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group which she represents, does. For one thing, neither the columns nor the W&GCG say that ‘everything’ is bad. The targets are picked with some care: if they re-appear it’s because issues still remain. Secondly, these always are accompanied by some form of action people can take if they agree that something should be done, such as participating in a consultation or attending an event, which hardly makes this the negative commentary that Mr Spiers implies. Finally, nobody can pretend that life in any community is perfect. If something can be improved then it’s necessary to highlight these issues and suggest remedies. That’s what the W&GCG does. And, while I’m on the subject, hats off also to the Wantage & Grove Herald for  providing a regular platform for the views of the W&GCG and several other groups. For whatever reason, other papers in the area, including the Newbury Weekly News, don’t do this.

• Hats off also to Richard Morgan, manager of the Helen and Douglas House‘s shops, who’ll be doing a skydive later this month to raise money for the charity.

• A message here from local fundraising supremo Ray Collins, whose Charitable Trust is looking for stallholders for the forthcoming summer carnival.

• As mentioned last week, 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 some of the issues that will be considered during the Oxfordshire Plan 2050.

• Meanwhile, the Vale Council is offering children a chance to get involved in the plan by holding a drawing competition for what they would like Oxfordshire to look like in 2050: the winning entry will be featured in the final Plan. Click here for details.

• 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). 

• Anyone thinking of doing any fly tipping in the Vale area, or considering giving rubbish to someone who may not be properly registered to dispose of, may want to have a quick glance at this article.

• A reminder that the Grove Airfield forum focused on accidents caused by mud on the road from the 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.

• It appears that Swindon Town’s County Ground will soon have new owners – the club itself and the Supporters’ Trust. Click here for more from Swindon Link.

• Click here for information on a Sustainable Living Event in Shrivenham on Saturday 23 March.

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.

• Swindon’s community art hub, Artsite, has launched a new creative initiative to paint a mural in the town centre.

• A roundabout in Highworth, which a campaign group has described as ‘boring’ (I suppose there are worse things for a roundabout to be accused of) is now less so with the addition of a statue of a fox. It’s called the Fox Roundabout so I think I see what they were doing there.  

• 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 goes back less far than usual in the great rock jukebox, only half a dozen years to 2013 – Do I Wanna Know by the Arctic Monkeys. And I love the video.

• Which brings leads, as it does tend to, to the Quiz Question of the Week. This week’s is Which was the last song The Beatles recorded which had all four of them playing live at the same time? Last week’s came 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? The answer is Westlife’s double A side of I have a Dream and Seasons in the Sun. If you went for the Manic Street Preacher’s The Masses Against the Classes (which by some reckoning could be so described) then you can give yourself half a point. I certainly know which one of these two I’d rather listen to.

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Brian Quinn

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