Local News March 21-28 2019

Our round-up of local news across the area this week including freedoms in Hungerford, a new bus service in Wantage, travellers in Newbury, the post office returning to Grove, flood defences in Thatcham, a one-way system (or perhaps not) in Marlborough, a UFO in Boxford, a bustard in Shefford, hedge netting in Theale, an alarm coming in Aldermaston, a footbridge in Swindon, a traffic survey in Compton, police and travel updates, climate emergencies, London Road letters, civic awards, getting active, Maggie’s green credentials, an atomic red line, the first heart and a Penny for Macca and Barak.

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)

• The council elections now only five weeks away: click here for information from West Berkshire and here for Vale of White Horse on how these will be conducted. 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.)

Most of the local councils listed below will have official notices of election and nomination packs for those wishing to stand (the deadline for which is 4pm on Wednesday 3 April).

• These imminent elections provide an opportunity to reflect on what district councils do or should do. Increasingly they are providers of social care, something which now accounts for over half of West Berkshire’s budget. Councils also need to be providing the support and in some cases a safety net for the people of all ages who are in most need of help, which includes using their borrowing powers to invest in areas like social housing, that the free market (to which the country’s home-building policy has effectively been outsourced). It’s less clear to me that they should be involving themselves in prestige projects until these basic and rather less glamorous functions have been fulfilled.

• On which point, there has been much comment here and elsewhere (including the letters’ pages on the NWN) on the subject of the London Road Industrial Estate. Some of the recent correspondence has been between Peter Norman and Councillor Anthony Pick. Please click here to read the most recent letter Peter Norman sent on the subject (the third in this exchange) to both NWN and Penny Post

• You can click here to read West Berkshire’s latest release on the subject of London Road, published on 15 March (the last day before the pre-election purdah). 

• An even wider issue is how local councils are (a) elected and (b) funded. Both seem fairly dysfunctional at present. It’s unlikely that the election campaign will have much to say about these.

• As mentioned before, the local police precept is increasing in 2019-20 (by £24, or about 13% in the Thames Valley). This article on the BBC website looks at some reaction to this and considers where the money is going. 

• To return for a moment to Brexit – as almost all conversations at the moment do – it’s barely necessary to say that the government and parliament are in a state of dysfunctional paralysis. All the talk of backstops, MV3 and deadline extensions is catching the headlines: but, as in all conflicts, there’s also collateral damage involving non-combatants. One such is EurAtom, a Europe-wide treaty on moving radioactive materials which covers, as well as weapons-grade plutonium, radioisotopes which are used for radiotherapy. Membership of EurAtom is distinct from being in the EU and is the only way by which such items can be moved between treaty states. However, as this is negotiated and mediated by the European Court of Justice, it fell the wrong side of one of the PM’s red lines. As a result the UK will withdraw from this, certainly under a no-deal Brexit (and perhaps even if the PM’s deal is agreed), so leaving a wide range of life-saving medical procedures at risk. I doubt this is the only such example.

• The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, is rapidly becoming a central figure in the political drama, a position he clearly relishes and appears to be well-suited for. In a statement today, he began by assuring the members that ‘none of you is a traitor’: the fact this thought had even been entertained shows how low the perception of parliament has sunk. He went on to remind them that ‘the sole duty of an MP is to do what he or she thinks is right.’ This is the kind of remark that must leave the leaders of the parties tearing their hair out. If followed to the letter, parliament would become a more chaotic but perhaps more honest place, with members voting against their party machines, whips voting against their leaders, spokesmen voting against the very amendments they’d recently been espousing. That’ll never happen, will it? Oh, hang on a moment…

• An increasing number of councils – the Vale most recently, on which see the Wantage section below – have declared a climate emergency in their areas. West Berkshire has yet to do so but a debate on the subject, originally scheduled for July, has as a result of a 2,000-strong petition, been brought forward to 21 May, a few weeks after the elections. With central government and parliament in the condition described in the above paragraph – and in any case too remote for most people to feel they can have any influence – this seems an effective and practical way of getting the issue embedded into policies and, perhaps more importantly, making it one of the factors that informs decisions. The trick will be, with this as every other policy, to ensure that the reality matches the intention. In this, West Berkshire (and many other councils) would benefit from having a wider range of views represented on the council. The danger otherwise is that non-represented parties feel marginalised and are dismissed (as happened recently) as being merely ‘interest groups’ (something that should not be a term of disparagement as it surely good to have an interest in something important and to try to do something about it). This comment about wider representation is not a partisan one. It so happens that all but four councillors are currently from one party, the Conservatives. I would feel the same about such unhealthy dominance, which is more a function of our voting system than a reflection of the popular will in 2015, regardless of what party benefitted.

• I’ve seen it suggested that Margaret Thatcher was one of the first environmentalists as she made a number of remarks while PM which could have been uttered a week ago. Take this, for instance, from 1990: ‘The danger of global warming is as yet unseen, but real enough for us to make changes and sacrifices, so that we do not live at the expense of future generations.’  She was also the first leader of a major economy to commit to the Rio earth Summit. Her opinions did become rather more reactionary in later life, by when she saw the growing environmental movement as providing the prefect breeding ground for a kind of pan-national socialism, something of which she had an inordinate horror. It’s also true that her concern about the use of fossil fuels (and her support for nuclear energy) dovetailed neatly with her titanic battle with the miners and her desire to keep any leverage about power supply away from the trade unions. That said, she was a trained scientist, something which very few other leaders can claim that I’m aware of. 

• Community groups and schools across West Berkshire are being invited to apply for a grant to help improve opportunities for local physical activity through the Let’s Get Active fund.

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 the great bustard whose appearance in the area was reported in the most recent Great Shefford Parish News.

• 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 includes: a correction about a recent report of a council meeting concerning adult social care; a suggestion that villages have borne more than their fair share of council cuts; information about the Get Your Coat app; further criticism of West Berkshire’s ‘mismanagement’; a question about the decision-making behind the recent announcement about electric vehicle charge points in Newbury.

• A number of good causes have received valuable support recently, including: Comic Relief (thanks to local fundraising efforts too numerous to mention); SOS Kit Aid (thanks to Marlborough RFC); Walk the Walk (thanks to Dr Barbara King); Orchid Male Cancer (thanks to Helen Pemberton); The Rosemary Appeal (thanks to John Foster and family).

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 each month, the Penny Post Hungerford e-newsletter provides the best and most varied coverage of life in and around the town: Click here to read it

• The Hungerford Town Council Annual Meeting took place on 20 March and, as mentioned, followed a different format this year with a few short addresses and a Q&A session but with most of the time being more like an exhibition with people free to move round the various stands that had been set up by local community groups and council committees. This change of structure doubtless contributed to the high turnout of well over 100 people and is a model other councils of a similar size might want to emulate. ‘We were delighted with how it went,’ Mayor Helen Simpson said afterwards. ‘The new format was a great success as it gave people a chance to find out more about what interested or concerned them, not merely listen to speeches about what the council felt was important. With a few tweaks, we’ll aim to do the same next year.’ There’ll be a fuller report on this in the April Penny Post Hungerford.

• And a quick shout out for those awarded the Freedom of the Town at the above-mentioned meeting, Chris Buck, Ted Angell and Peter Harries. Again, there’ll be fore on this in April’s PPH.

• Congratulations to the Hungerford Town Band which, as reported in this week’s NWN, won third prize in the London and Southern Copunties Brass Band Championships.

Lambourn Valley

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

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

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

• The Environment Agency has now completed its restoration work on the River Lambourn in East Garston. Click here to read more on this issue.

• That’s the river sorted: but where does the drinking water round here come from? This article on the Lambourn PC website explains.

• Speaking of water, the Great Shefford Flood Alleviation Association is surging towards its target of £80,000 with about £67,000 currently in the bank.

Click here for details of how can volunteer at Lambourn Library.

• Anyone in Eastbury who wants to keep up to date with the work done by the Eastbury Village Wardens should contact villagewardens@eastbury.org to be added to their mailing list.

• Eastbury’s village spring clean will take place from 9.30am on Sunday 24 March (that’s this weekend): 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.

• East Garston PC has need of a Clerkclick here for details.

Volunteers are still needed to help run Great Shefford’s youth club. 

• 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 greatsheffordpc@hotmail.com.

• The Lambourn Parish Council Annual Assembly will take place in the Memorial Hall at 7.30 on Wednesday 24 April.

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

4 Legs Community Radio Station will on Friday have its 49th 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.

• The annual Newbury Town Meeting took place on Monday 18 March. You can see the agenda here. You’ll be able to see the notes of the meeting in due course here.

• A Visitor Information Point has been installed at Newbury Library. This easy-to-access device has a large touch-screen with information about places to stay and eat locally, together with links to travel websites for bus, coach and train companies and local events. 

• It’s hoped that, after another short delay, Hamstead Marshall’s The White Hart will be re-opening on 25 March.

• If you think you saw a UFO over Boxford last month, you are not alone

• An incursion by travellers onto Victoria Park in Newbury has been described as ‘terrible’ by the local MP Richard Benyon.

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

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.

• Residents of Compton may (or may not) agree with the letter in this week’s Newbury Weekly News (p19) about what is claimed to a slightly skewed consultation on the subject of traffic-calming measures in the village.

• As mentioned last week, Grahame Murphy, the chairman of Chaddleworth Parish Council, is on West Berkshire’s case for its alleged failures to address local flooding problems caused by blocked drains and gullies, which is one of West Berks’ obligations under section 41 of the 1980 Highways Act. I can confirm that a response has been received from West Berkshire which includes a map of recent roadworks but it remains unclear at the time of writing if this addresses all the concerns raised.

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

• …and the March issue of the Brickleton News covering Brighwalton can be found by clicking the link on this page. (‘Brickleton’ was apparently an alternative name for ‘Brighwalton’ as recently as the 1870s. I didn’t know that til I looked it up just now.)

• 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.

• The Woodland Trust has donated 135 tree and hedge saplings to Brightwalton Parish Council. The next stage, obviously, is to plant them: volunteers are needed for this which will take place on Saturday 23 March (this weekend) at 10am. Click here for more.

• 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 chaddnews@gmail.com.

• 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.

• Click here for information on the Thatcham and Newbury Sustainable Living Market at the Catholic Hall on the A4 tin Sunday 24 March.

• See this week’s Newbury Weekly News (p24) for details of the recent Thatcham Civic Awards ceremony.

• Suggestions for Thatcham’s next blue plaque are being sought. Led by the heritage working party, Thatcham Town Council welcomes submissions from the public proposing people, places or significant events to be commemorated by a blue plaque.

• West Berkshire Council will start work on flood defences at Dunston Park and South East Thatcham early next month.

• Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan is seeking volunteers to assist with the work involved. If you’re interested in helping, please contact bernard.clark@tvt.biz.

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

• 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.

• An opportunity to pit your wits against those of a local quizmaster presents itself 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. There’s a particularly good thought for the week in this issue.

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.

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.

• As mentioned last week, work will start soon on building the new primary school in Theale. Within days of the developers taking possession of the site the matter has once again become mired in controversy, this time due to the issue of hedge netting. This procedure (which many environmentalists object to but which seems at least offer some species protection) is that hedgerows which are to be removed during the nesting season, which runs from March to September, need to be netted before the nesting season to prevent birds from moving in. This needs to be done securely and correctly and under the supervision of a trained ecologist. In the case of Theale it would appear that the netting took place after the nesting season had started; also, that it was not of a suitable quality. A West Berkshire councillor has said that an ecologist was involved. Part of the netting has since been removed by activists. West Berkshire Council and Kier, the contractors, have been contacted for a comment but at the time of writing neither had got back to me (though have apologised for not so far having done so). This is not an issue restricted to West Berkshire: click here for a similar situation in Shropshire.

• The issue of illegal traveller sites continues to crop up (see the Newbury section above) and Theale’s Neighbourhood Action Group (NAG) will hold a public meeting on Thursday 21 March. A report on this will doubtless be available on the Theale PC’s website in due course.

• The same council is on the lookout for a Clerkclick here for details.

• The Padworth recycling centre has announced that its opening ours will be extended from April. This is for a trial period only so, if usage in the new times doesn’t take place over then following six months, the hours will revert.

• If you hear alarms going off at either of the AWE sites on Wednesday 3 April, this is part of a planned exercise.

• There have been reports of fly tipping in the area, particularly in Burghfield and Beech Hill. Fly tipping can be reported to West Berkshire Council by clicking here.

• 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.

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

• The latest traffic/parking issue to have raised its head in Marlborough concerns The Green and whether this should, as the Rea Board has proposed, be one. The town’s councillors are less convinced. Marlborough News looks at the issues here.

• There still seems to be uncertainty over the long-term future of the Braeside outdoor education centre.

• If you go to Tonga – OK, I know you may not be planning on going to Tonga any time soon but just stick with me for a moment – and if you happen to see a rugby match, you might wonder why the players might be wearing Marlborough RFC kit. Marlborough News explains here.

• And another local mystery solved: if you saw schoolchildren near Axford appearing to be releasing baby trout into the river Kennet on Wednesday, then that’s exactly what was happening: click here for more.

 • 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 870 202.

• It’s perhaps a shame that Wiltshire Council is not holding elections this year as it present a good opportunity for asking who there is responsible for the Marlborough News section of the council’s website. I’ve mentioned this before but the most recent item there is from 9 March 2018, over a year ago. Some of the other regional sections are a little better: a few actually have posts dated 2019. Someone at HQ is being paid for doing something they’re not doing. If any of you Wiltshire council-tax payers out there want to ask about this please let me know what response you get.

• If you’re 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. (See also here for information about the forthcoming performance of A Bunch of Amateurs.)

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.

• The Vale of White Horse Council has become the latest to declare a climate emergency. You can read the statement from the council here. of the four points the article picks out, two concern building and planning issues and two the question of renewable energy. “We are sending a clear message to the government that we urgently need more support to tackle climate change,” the Vale’s leader Roger Cox said after the (unanimous) vote. I imagine that this kind of demand for action is the last thing the government wants to hear at present but it seems that the message is being repeated more and more frequently. (The article says several times that the council is ‘delivering carbon reductions’, something that seems a contradiction in terms. I may have to accept that the word ‘deliver’ doesn’t any long at all mean what it should.)

• The Vale Council is also delivering fines, with a local taxi driver recently being successfully prosecuted for refusing to allow a blind man’s guide dog in his vehicle.

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

• The Oxford Times reports here on a telephone scam involving alleged winnings from the Canadian lottery. It seems to be a bit inept; but of course any scam is ept if someone falls for it.

• A craft fair will take place on Sunday 23 March at Grove Village Hall to raise money for the Porch Day Centre.

• This week’s Wantage & Grove Herald has on pp4-5 an encouraging article about several local pubs which are bucking the well-publicised trend of closures. Flip over a couple of pages and you’ll see the leader column echoing this sentiment.

• This week’s Wantage & Grove Herald reports on the recent student climate-change strike and protest in Oxford. Clearly none of the 1,000 or so present had decided to heed Wantage MP Ed Vaizey’s criticism of their actions in the same paper the week before. The time comes when you need to take a stand if you think that something is wrong, has sufficient support and is not being addressed by those in charge. People don’t always get this moment right but from time to time you need to push a bit. Without this, women would still not have the vote and US would still be segregated, to pick but two cases. See also the letters’ page of this week’s paper.

• The excellent Ray Collins Charitable Trust has a new website – click here to see it.

• Congratulation to all those who were nominated in, or won an award at, the South and Vale Business Awards earlier this month.

• Is your car dirty? Would you like to have it cleaned raise funds for the Firefighters’ Charity? Will you be in Wantage on Saturday 23 March between 10 and 3? If you can answer ‘yes’ to all three of these, you’re in luck. Click here for more.

• As mentioned previously, 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.

• Julie Mabberley’s regular column on p8 of the Wantage & Grove Herald moves away from planning-related issues and concentrates on the Letcombe Brook which appears to be a close relative of the marvellous River Lambourn which flows along one side of our garden. The Letcome will soon, for the reasons she explains, be returning to ‘natural flow’. Volunteers are also required for specific management and conservation projects – contact letcombebrook@hotmail.com for more 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, so only a few days left). 

• 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 (deadline for entries is 26 April). Click here for details.

• Wantage Rotary, in conjunction with Sweatbox, are hosting a roller disco at The Beacon on Monday 15 April. – full details here.

• 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.

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

• A new bus interchange will be used as a catalyst for rejuvenating Swindon town centre, under plans to be discussed by councillors on 20 March.

• This year’s council tax information booklet, which tells people exactly how their council tax is spent, has already started hitting doormats, and residents are being encouraged to look out for it when it is delivered with their annual council tax bill.

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

• A new footbridge – 35m in length and weighing 28 tonnes – has been lifted into position across the Wilts and Berks Canal.

Lydiard Park is building up to its 75th-anniversary year with the launch of two new exhibitions.

• Over 100 visitors visited Swindon’s STEAM Museum last week for an event highlighting the services available to young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

• People with dementia will get the chance to unlock memories from Swindon’s industrial railway past on Friday(22 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 this seven-day is something that would bring me out in a bit of a cold sweat: imagine playing to Penny Lane at a rather posh event with Paul McCartney and Barak Obama right in the middle of the front row. Well, that’s what Elvis Costello did – very well, too.

• Which brings leads, as it does, to the Quiz Question of the Week. This week’s question comes from a quiz in aid of the Green Party election campaign and the Eight Bells for Mental Health charity that was held last week in the Church Hall in Speen and is as follows: Who performed the world’s first heart transplant? Last week’s question was: Roughly how many local councils in the UK have declared a state of climate emergency? The answer was about 40 but, as various paragraphs above suggest, the number has risen since then. 

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Brian Quinn

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