The meeting took place in East Garston Village Hall at 7.30 on Tuesday 16 April and was attended by about 50 people.
The Chairman of East Garston Parish Council (EGPC), Jonathan Rabbitts, gave a brief summary of the main events of the previous 12 months.
• Speeding: data collected by EGPC’s Community Speedwatch Team since early 2018 using SID (Speed Indicator Devices) on the bottom road between Roger’s Lane and the Queens Arms has been passed to West Berkshire Council (WBC). WBC agreed that there was a problem and have elevated the matter to the next level of monitoring, using the more sophisticated Automatic Number-plate Recognition system (ANPR). On WBC’s first visit using ANPR earlier this year, 17 motorists were caught exceeding the speed limit in just one hour. Anyone detected using this system will face police action.
Alan Breadmore made some brief remarks about EGPC’s finances. The main extra expenditure in 2018-19 was on the outdoor gym (£14,500) but this was covered by a grant from Thames Water as a result of the damage caused by the sewage floods. Other capital expenditure included £618 for projection equipment for EGPC (necessary now that WBC no longer provides paper copies of planning applications), £325 of which was covered by a grant from WBC; and £300 for a new strimmer.
Other costs, including various repair and maintenance work, was broadly in line with predictions. EGPC also has appropriate reserves (of about £11,0000) to cover future unexpected expenditure.
EGPC made a number of discretionary grants in 2018-19 including to the Village Hall, 4 Legs Radio, the Allotment Association, the Valley Community Bus and the West Berkshire Library Service.
Friends of Lambourn Library
David Ruse addressed the meeting and reminded everyone of the successful battle to keep Lambourn Library – and all the libraries in West Berkshire – open despite the threat of closure since 2015. It provides a vital local resource for people of all ages and children and families in particular.
He listed some of the services. As well as the conventional book-borrowing, it’s also possible to visit the West Berkshire Council library Service’s online catalogue and reserve a book which will then be delivered to your local library for you to collect. Magazines and newspapers can also be borrowed as well as being read in the Library. Downloadable books can also be borrowed. The Library Service also has access to a number of online services and databases, such as Ancestry and The Times, which exist behind an often expensive paywall. All these services are freely available.
An increasing number of groups now use the Library for regular events and it also hosts occasional activities and talks on a range of subjects. These are given wide publicity, including in Penny Post.
Due to the different arrangements that now apply, and the desire for the Library to increase its opening hours, volunteers are often needed.
For more information on any of these points, please visit the Lambourn Library in the High Street or the Library Service’s website.
The Environment Agency
Paul St Pierre of the Environment Agency was due to address the meeting on the subject of the recent river restoration work but was unable to attend due to illness. Penny Post did, however, have a brief chat with him on 8 March and you can see the video clip of this and read a background to the events that led up to the work needing to be done by clicking here.
Councillor Graham Jones
Councillor Jones addressed the annual meeting for the last time in an official capacity as, after 22 years, he will be stepping down as both councillor and Leader of WBC after the elections next month.
Many of his brief remarks were concerned with the twin problems facing WBC (and all other councils at present): the complete removal of any funding from central government and the considerable increase in the cost of providing social care, which now accounts for about 60% of WBC’s expenditure. One result of this was a move towards services increasingly being provided by parish councils or by volunteer groups.
WBC, as is well known, has been forced to cut costs, increase charges on paid-for services and find ways of raising additional funds. Two of the latter include the West Berkshire Lottery and the planned investment of £750,000 in solar panels.
He also paid tribute to former WBC councillor David Lidiard who died in November 2018.
Penny Locke briefly addressed the meeting and enquired whether any residents would be interested in measuring their carbon footprint and then looking for ways to reduce this, following the principle of ‘think globally, act locally.’ This sparked a brief debate about what steps would be practical to take, how these would be measured and the difficulties of accomplishing this in an area where, at present, cars were the dominant (and in many cases the only) practical methods of transport. She stressed that her intention was merely to encourage debate on the issue and to help normalise the consideration of this impact when making decisions about purchases or activities. If you would like to discuss any ideas with her, please contact [email protected].
Many online carbon-footprint calculators exist: this article from The Guardian looks at the ones it feels to be the better ones.
Councillor Jones confirmed that WBC would be holding a debate on its approach to climate change in late May or early June. This map shows the councils which have currently declared a climate emergency, which may be the result of WBC’s deliberations. The number of such councils is constantly growing.
For further information
For more information on EGPC’s activities and composition, please visit the website. Information about the village is also provided by the East Garston News e-newsletters which are sent about once a month. If you would like to subscribe, please click here to visit the Penny Post website: if you tick the ‘East Garston’ box you will receive East Garston News as well as Penny Post. Information about the area is also provided by Village Views and 4 Legs Radio. For more information, please see the East Garston Annual Parish Newsletter (a printed copy will have been supplied to residents).
This information has been compiled by Penny Post based on the East Garston Parish Council Annual Parish Meeting and is not an official record of the event. Every reasonable effort has been made to provide a clear and dispassionate summary of the points covered but this may contain expressions of opinion which may not accord with East Garston Parish Council ’s official view on the matter. Links have been provided to other posts, on the Penny Post site or elsewhere, to provide additional information where this has been judged useful or necessary. The presence of such a link should not be taken to imply that East Garston Parish Council necessarily agrees with, endorses or supports any of the material contained therein.