Local News March 28 to April 4 2019

Our round-up of local news across the area this week including parking in Hungerford, seven cracked bells in Lambourn, one broken bell in Bedwyn, 500 helped in Thatcham, top milling marks in Wantage, development pains in Newbury, books for sale in Shalbourne, books to borrow in Wash Common, questions in Burghfield, an pub re-opening in Hamstead Marshall, a café opening in East Garston, an award in Aldbourne, nets in Theale, a slapped wrist in Shrivenham, a lost councillor in Marlborough, a closure in Kintbury, a festival in Swindon, police and travel updates, letters about social care and London Road, spring cleaning, last call for the first lottery, a hero loved by time, a market-research mystery, several kingfishers, Christiaan Barnard and a pointless toilet seat.

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 get ever closer: 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.)

• I see that Newbury MP Richard Benyon has been criticised in the Sunday Times for claiming expenses for equipping his new office, including spending £6.80 on a toilet seat. I haven’t seen the report but the only relevant point seems to be if these were permissible claims but there doesn’t seem to be anything to suggest that they weren’t. I contacted his office and was told there was no suggestion of an improper claim. So, what’s the story here? The comment on this in the Newbury Weekly News points out that Mr Benyon is worth over £100m. There’s nothing any of us can do about that but I’m unclear if it’s being suggested that MPs should be means tested before any claims are made. If personal wealth were taken into account in this way then surely The Times, whose owner is about 185 times richer than Mr Benyon, would be giving his newspapers away for free.

• And speaking of MPs, what happened yesterday in parliament? I’ve long since lost any grip on what’s going on. The tipping point came for me a few weeks ago when the BBC announced that ‘a number of Conservative MPs did not support the amendment that UK would not leave the EU without a deal.’ There was a small but palpable explosion in my brain as the double negatives crashed into each other, followed by silence. I suspect that if motion were introduced today saying ‘this house believes that the sun rises in the east’ it would not be able to command a majority.

• Regardless of my views on leaving or not and whether we should have had a referendum at all, it doesn’t seem right that, this having happened (even though based on lies, as so many political decisions are and as would have been the case whichever side won), we should seek to have another one. Why stop at two? You can’t just keep asking the same question over an over again until you get the right answer. (Anyway, there is no right answer, or not one everyone would agree on.) Then, I realised, this is exactly what the PM is doing with her deal: she’s asked the question of parliament twice and was about to ask it again until the Speaker intervened. The whole business more and more resembles Alice Through the Looking Glass with everything back to front or surreal or seemingly being made up on the spot.

• This week’s NWN contains two letters on the subject of the £2m error in West Berkshire Council’s social-care budget which came to light a few weeks ago and which was rapidly officially re-classified as something less damaging. Whatever way you look at it it seems a bit of a screw-up. The more detailed of the two letters asks a number of questions about the processes which led to this error. He also refers to a truly startling question from Councillor Hilary Cole, currently the Deputy Leader of the Council, at the Health and Wellbeing Board Meeting on 24 March 2016, the report of which you can read here, which betrayed a confusion between an infant-mortality rate and the actual number of deaths. As the writer points out, ‘such innumeracy would shame an 11-year-old.’

• There are also two letters on the subject of the London Road Industrial Estate, one of which was also published in Penny Post last week and which you can read here.

• If you see a lot of people picking up litter this weekend it’s not as a result of a sudden upsurge in community service orders but the Great British Spring Clean in action. Most parishes are organising something or other. You can also click here to visit the national website.

• 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.

• If you’re looking to get started in journalism, whatever your age or background, the Breaking into News initiative run by the Media Trust, in partnership with ITV News, may be of interest. Its intention is to discover diverse new talent and identify top broadcast journalists of the future. Closing date is Friday 5 April

• The first draw for the new West Berkshire Lottery takes place on Saturday 30 March. This article from West Berkshire’s website explains how it works and highlights three of the many local good causes which stand to benefit – Swings and Smiles, The Living Rainforest and City Arts Newbury.

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. 

• One of the things that annoys me (actually, better make that one of the many things that annoys me) is being forced to buy fruit and vegetables in quantities pre-determined by the supermarkets and wrapped in plastic that needs disposing of. That’s one of the reasons I love the fruit and veg market in Hungerford on Wednesdays. I guess supermarkets are like so many other retailers and want to get you through the shop and to the checkout with as much stuff as possible, ping, ping with the barcodes and you’re done. Shoppers probably quite like it to, so that the whole business of finding stuff to eat – that never-ending human activity – can be got over with as fast as possible. Food shopping, after all, eats into precious social-media time. Tesco has recently made a small step in the right direction by announcing that a trial at two of its stores, one of which is in Swindon, whereby a wide range of fruit and veg will be sold loose, as has been common in French supermarkets forever. Click here for more. I can’t work out from the article if they’ll be providing paper bags for the purchases rather than plastic ones. Other supermarkets might be following suit: certainly they all watch each other’s initiatives like hawks. Hopefully it will be extended.

• The animal of the week is a kingfisher (any kingfisher will do) which inspired the shape of Japan’s bullet trains. The accompanying video makes a point that even a complete science dumbo like me was able to understand. Indeed, it seemed so simple that I wondered why the bullet-train’s designers didn’t think of it from the off. There are also three rather fine photos of a kingfisher (not, I don’t think, the one that inspired the bullet train) on p24 of this week’s NWN. To my knowledge I’ve seen one of these only once, for about a second, diving into the River Lambourn by our house. The unexpected and fast-moving blue and orange merged into a dazzling colour I’d never seen before – and then, it was gone.

• The letters pages of the Newbury Weekly News this week includes, as well as those referred to above: comments of the recent traveller incursion in Victoria Park; one comment, echoing one I made here a couple of weeks ago, that West Berkshire had been a bit slow off the mark in investing in solar energy; another one suggesting they shouldn’t be doing this at all; a letter for a pupil at St Bart’s in Newbury asserting that the climate-change crisis is more important than missed lessons (none of the pupils to whom I’ve spoken or have seen interviewed have demonstrated any educational deficiency, rather the reverse) and a photo of a particularly disgusting-looking rubbish bin near the towpath in Newbury.

• A number of good causes have received valuable support recently, including: Daisy’s Dream (thanks to Thatcham’s WI); Chilton Foliat Primary School (thanks to staff at customers at The Wheatsheaf); Parkinson’s UK (thanks to Any Whiting).

Hungerford & district

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

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

• The pool at Hungerford Leisure Centre will be closed to the public from 2.45pm on Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 March for the Swimathon. Other facilities such as the gym will be open as normal. There are also still some spaces available for Saturday swimming lessons – click here for details.

• Congratulations to Ollie and Lauren and all who work in or eat at The Wheatsheaf in Chilton Foliat which has raised £1,200 for the village’s primary school from a voluntary £1 donation of every meal ordered at the award-winning pub. The scene has only been running since November 2018 and, in the light of this success, will be continued. I’m not surprised most diners were willing to make the extra donation – the cause is a good one and so is the food there. You should also try their breakfasts…

• The Hungerford Town Council Annual Meeting took place on 20 March and 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. Click here for a report on the event, including a video and details of the the three people awarded the Freedom of the Town,  Chris Buck, Ted Angell and Peter Harries.

• Work continues on the Hungerford 2036 neighbourhood development plan. As mentioned before, the stage has now been reached when the aims and objectives have been established and residents have their chance to comment on these. You can click here to visit the main H2036 page on the Town Council’s website (the most recent additions are at the bottom). The aims and objectives can be found here. If you want to make a comment on this or any other aspect of the work, you can comment online by clicking here. There is also a general comment form for those who prefer to work offline which you can print, complete and return it to the town office. You can also email any comments to [email protected]. The H2036 team will also be hosting or attending a number of events around the town over the next couple of months (dates and venues to be confirmed) which will also give people to opportunity to ask questions and make any comments, verbally or in writing.

• It’s a fairly similar story with the plans to create extra parking spaces at the railway station – bouts of often technical and detailed activity interspersed with rather longer periods of consultation or official process when it can seem as if nothing is happening. Earlier this week, I spoke to Hungerford Councillor and Highways and Transport Committee member Rob Chicken who provided an update: this is summarised here, along with the background to this issue. As the article explain, the ball is now in Network Rail’s court and it’s hoped that they’ll have returned the serve by the end of April. 

Hungerford Town FC are still fighting at the wrong end of the National League South. They’re still in the drop zone but a recent good run has pout them just two points from safety. As you can read here, The Crusaders’ most recent victory was over Billericay Town, thanks to a late goal and a late, late goal.

• Part of the road between Hungerford and Kintbury will be closed from Monday 1 to Friday 12 April for there installation of fibre-optic cable. There will be diversions via the A4. Click here for for information.

• There will be a jigsaw and book sale in Shalbourne on Saturday 30 March from 10am to 3pm at the Village Hall. Contact Robert Green on 01672 870 488 for more information.

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.

• There’s an article on p5 of this week’s Newbury Weekly News which will be of direct interest to about a third of the people who work in the Lambourn Valley. The racing industry, according to a recently-released Jockey Club report, is repressible for about 30% of the jobs in the parishes of Lambourn, East Garston and Great Shefford. Around 800 horses use Lambourn’s gallops, more than twice as many as did in 2004. The report went on the suggest that the challenges that local trainers face include traffic/safety issues and finding suitable staff accommodation.

• A defibrillator has recently been installed in the Lambourn Sports Club and there are now several people trained in first aid. However full instructions are given with defibrillators and little or no previous knowledge is needed to operate one.

• I was leafing through the latest Village Views and read that seven of the eight bells in St Michael’s and All Angel’s Church in Lambourn are cracked, three of them seriously. It seems these will need to be removed at considerable expense and re-welded. If you’d like to find out more or make a donation, contact Amanda Marchant on 01488 670 083. There has recently been a bell breakage in Bedwyn (see Marlborough Area below) so it’s to be hoped this isn’t the start of a local epidemic. The bests at Lambourn are, I believe, hundreds of years old so some kind of wear and tear is to be expected. In fact, this is a good opportunity for a quick hats off to those bell founders of centuries past, who clearly knew what they were doing. Church bells have a tough life. They’re strung up at the top of a tower, exposed to every extreme of temperature and, every so often, get whacked with a hammer. I’d have a few cracks in me if I were treated like that.

• Great news in East Garston: the former shop is about to re-open as a café from Saturday 6 April. More news next week.

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 [email protected] to be added to their mailing list.

• 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 [email protected].

• The Lambourn Annual Parish meeting will take place on Wednesday 24 April, 7.30pm in the Memorial Hall.

• 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 50th 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 an article about the long-term roadworks in Cheap Street as a result of which several local retailers say that their trade has declined by between 25 and 50%.

• Congratulations to all involved in the long-running struggle to have Wash Common Library re-opened and so return West Berkshire to its full library complement. Click here for the latest news, including notice of a fundraising quiz.

• The opening of a new school in Newbury, Highwood Copse, has been delayed until next year after the construction company went into administration, the NWN reports. The Head of education at West Berkshire Council, Ian Pearson, is quoted as saying that ‘this is a situation that could not have been foreseen.’ Really? I’m not saying nobody checked but there are often signs in a company’s accounts if it’s in trouble.   

• 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. 

• Good news for residents of  Hamstead Marshall as The White Hart re-opened  earlier this week. For more information, visit the new website here. (There is also an old website which is frozen in a time warp from 11 September 2015 when the pub closed.) 

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

• 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.

• 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.

• 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.

• See p27 of this week’s Newbury Weekly News for a summary of how Citizens Advice West Berkshire helped nearly 500 people in Thatcham in 2018. Several of the issues appear to involve Universal Credit.

• 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.

• Thatcham Town Council has organised a skateboard day at the Dunstan Green Skatepark on Wednesday 10 April – click here for details.

• There will also be a graffiti workshop at the same venue on Wednesday 17 April – click here for details.

• 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 [email protected].

• 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.

• The Thatcham litter pick will take place on Saturday 30 March – be at the Moorside Community Centre at 10am.

• 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.

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.

• We mentioned last week about the controversial practice of hedge netting by which hedgerows which are to be removed during development work are netted in advance to stop birds using them. At the beleaguered primary-school project in Theale, the accusation (which is the subject of an article on p13 of this week’s Newbury Weekly News) is that the netting had gaps in it and wasn’t secured to the ground, so enabling bird to get in easily but out again with more difficulty. Some also claim that even if the netting is done correctly birds are still likely to get entangled in it. Penny Post contacted Kier but a spokesman said that he hadn’t seen the NWN article and so was unable to comment at this time. Last week I asked Kier for any comments on the original accusations (which were similar to those reported in the NWN), their view of what exactly the netting was deigned to accomplish and when the netting was done but have so far only received a partial reply.

I’ve also been in touch with Councillor Jeanette Clifford, the portfolio holder for Transport, the Environment and the Countryside who provided me with the text of an answer supplied at the Executive meeting on Tuesday 28 March. She says that the netting was installed properly and under appropriate supervision and was designed to encourage birds to nest in nearby safer locations. She added that the nets had been vandalised and so they ‘no longer did what they were designed for.’ She finished by saying that the council now needs to make decisions as to what to do next.

Vandalised or improperly constructed comes to the same thing if you’re a bird trapped in a net. With the issue getting ever-increasing coverage it’s thus both an ecological and a PR problem. There must be other solutions. The obvious one would seem to be that, if a hedge has to be removed at all, that this happens outside the nesting season. There should also be some stipulation that at least the same amount of hedge is re-planted as close by as possible. 

Kier has started publishing brief newsletters providing an update on the above-mentioned work. Click here for the March one (number 1).

 • There will be road closures in Aldermaston due to maintenance work on the lifting bridge between Saturday 6 and Sunday 14 April. Click here for details.

• Theale Parish Council is on the lookout for a Clerkclick here for details.

Burghfield Parish Council has developed a questionnaire to help determine ‘its vision and strategy for the future of Burghfield.’ You have until Monday 20 May to make your views known.

• 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.

• 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.

, to which w• The Marlborough area is set to lose one division (and one Wiltshire Councillor) as a result of the Boundary Commission’s redrawing of the divisions across Wiltshire, as this report from Marlborough News explains.

• Locally based charity Action for the River Kennet (ARK) will be featured in BBC2’s Britain in Bloom on Friday 12th April at 6.30pm. The programme will concentrate on the Stonebridge Wild River Reserve in Marlborough (Stonebridge Meadow is jointly owned by ARK and the Town Council) and will highlight the variety of community work that ARK organises throughout the year at the 15-acre reserve.

• Residents of Great Bedwyn might be wondering why the church bell which usually strikes the hours currently isn’t. The reason is that, earlier this week, it broke as a result of a freak accident. It’s a dual-purpose bell and when it’s used as part of a peal the clock’s hammer mechanism is pulled away to allow free rotation. Unfortunately, on Tuesday evening the cable snapped so the one-tonne bell slammed down onto the hammer, causing it to break at its base. (Hammer hitting bell = good; bell hitting hammer = bad is the lesson learned from this.) Fortunately the bell didn’t have far to fall onto the floor of the tower and so its journey stopped there, rather than fifty feet below where the ringers were gathered. No aspersions should therefore be laid at the door of the bell’s maker, William Purdue of Bristol, who cast it 1656. I asked David the Bell Captain where one got new bells from (they’re not the sort of thing one sees advertised on eBay). Rather to my surprise he said that it could probably be repaired but it was unsure how much this would cost. Finally, for anyone who imagines that the title of Bell Captain may confer a raft of privileges, eye-catching uniforms and ceremonial swords, I asked David this very question. “Nothing like that,’ he said. ‘I am responsible for the hoovering, though.’

• And, while we’re in Bedwyn, news just in that the former Cross Keys pub seems to be on the market; or at least the front part is. The change-of-use application for the rear is soon to be considered by Wiltshire Council, regarding which we understand that over 100 objections were received.

• 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).

• Wiltshire High Sheriff Nicky Alberry was at Community Junction in Aldbourne to present the village youth council with an award to recognise its work in the community.

• 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.

• A fifth-generation flour miller, Emily Munsey from Wessex Mill in Wantage, has achieved the highest score in the country at her flour milling exams held by the National Association of British and Irish Millers (NABIM). I never knew there were exams in flour milling but, given that most of us eat bread and pasta (both in my case, sometimes at the same time), this is probably good news. Certainly her qualification is a lot more useful to world than is mine, a degree in medieval history.

• Congratulations also to Liam Sadler, a year 5 pupil at Charlton Primary School, who won the bronze award at the National Primary Mathematics Challenge last month.

• The Wantage Rotary Club is running another ‘Know Your Blood Pressure‘ event on Saturday, April 6 to raise awareness in the local community.

• Click here for information about this year’s Wantage and Grove spring clean on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 April.

• 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.

• If you’re not registered to vote in the Vale you have until Friday 12 April to do so – more information can be found here.

• As mentioned previously, good news for residents of Grove as 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 looks at the perennial problem caused by houses being built before the infrastructure is there to support them.

• If you were stuck behind four large lorries on the A4, the Mr or the A34 last week, it was nothing to worry about – just a whole load of nuclear warheads on their way from AWE Burghfield to some destination  we’re not allowed to know about. 

• 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.

• Wantage Rotary Club (not Wantage Town Council as I said last week – apologies) will, in conjunction with Sweatbox, be 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.

• People taking part in this Saturday’s Unite-organised Honda march and rally in Swindon town centre are being advised not to arrive at the last minute.

• 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.

• See above (Across the area) for news of an interesting initiative from Tesco which will be trialled in its Swindon store.

• On which subject, I read somewhere ages ago (but can’t remember where so I can’t tell you) that of all the towns in Britain, Swindon is the one which is most likely to selected by market researchers for trialling a new product or service. I can’t remember now why this was: something to do with the fact that it is completely surrounded by open country and so somehow ‘pure’ in marketing terms, or perhaps it’s the demographic mix. If there are any market researchers out there, can you enlighten me?

• Swindon Council appears to have grasped a point which has eluded many of its neighbours that if an authority wants to have homes of a certain size and cost then it may be easier to build them itself rather than relying on the free market – nothing against private developers but they exist to make profits, not to implement government housing policy. Click here for details of the latest such homes to be being built in this way. 

• The developer Bovis has been forced to change its plans (and presumably its practices) after a planning officer realised that 15 of the supposedly three-bedroom homes on a new estate in Shrivenham could easily be sold as more expensive four-bedroom homes, so circumventing the requirement that a certain number of new-builds are ‘affordable’.

• Click here for information about this year’s Swindon Spring Festival which runs from 8 to 19 May.

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

• Click here for details of events and activities at Lydiard park over the Easter holidays.

• 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 is from that wonderful, melodic, odd, quirky rock/funk/soul/jazz band with one of the great singers – Little Feat. So many to pick from and I’ve picked Time Loves a Hero out of the hat for you this week.

• Which takes us to the Quiz Question of the Week. This week’s question takes us into the realm of industrial espionage (cur dramatic music) and featured in the ‘local knowledge’ round of the quiz at The Red House in Marsh Benham on 19 March in aid of the Dogs’ Trust, and is as follows: In 2014 a villain pilot flying over Greenham Common took photos revealing the filming of which movie? Last week’s question was 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 was as follows: Who performed the world’s first heart transplant? The answer was Christiaan Barnard, in 1967 (that at least was the first such operation where the patient recovered consciousness after the operation).

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Brian Quinn

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2 Responses

    1. …or perhaps MPs have access to better-priced toilet seats than the rest of us. It might be one of those perks of the job that isn’t widely known which is revealed to them during their meet-and-greet on their first day in parliament. ‘The money’s not great, compared to what you might have been earning or probably will do afterwards when you’re on the speaking and non-exec circuit, but we HAVE done this MPs-only deal with Loos-R-Us in Basildon…’ Could be worth an FoI request to find out more.
      Brian Quinn

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