Lambourn Annual Parish Meeting 24 April 2019

The meeting took place in the Lambourn Memorial Hall and was attended by about 50 people.

Chairman’s Remarks

The Chairman, Peter Penfold, thanked a number of people including the caretakers of the Memorial Hall, the clerks and the councillors, for their work during the past year.

He then provided a brief summary of Lambourn Parish Council’s (LPC’s) main activities over the past 12 months, including:

• The continued financial support (about £4,000) provided to Lambourn Library;
• The continued payment by LBC of the salting of all roads except the B4000 and B4001, which are the responsibility of West Berkshire Council (WBC), and the provision of 28 salt bins;
• The continued provision of 18 dog-poo bins (and he urged that dog owners ensure that these be used);
• The programme of upgrading the street lights, the first phase of which was now completed and which should show savings both in electricity bills and maintenance costs;
• The continued maintenance of parts of the parish which have been LPC’s traditional responsibility, including the play areas, the cemeteries and the Memorial Hall;
• In addition to this, the taking over from WBC the responsibility for the maintenance of some other areas of the parish;
• The re-introduction of CCTV in the High Street, Oxford Street, The Broadway and the Market Square;
• The work done on the neighbourhood development plan (see section below).

Police update

Inspector Alan Hawkett addressed the meeting. His overwhelming message was that crimes must be reported if they are to form part of a larger picture on which action can be taken.

He also acknowledged that there were ‘issues’ with the 101 service but that some crimes could now be reported online. He added that the local police team’s work would be improved if people could communicate concerns to them as well as any other crime reporting which might be necessary. This particularly applied to incidents which, though no themselves crimes, might reasonably cause concern or anxiety. The more the neighbourhood team knows of what is going on the more accurately it can decide what resources it can deploy to the area.

Please click here for more information about how crimes or incidents can be reported.

He reported that there had been a decrease in most crimes in the area over the past year with the exception of ‘violence against the person’ which had risen by 81%. (Note: Penny Post later established that the actual figures for crimes against the person were 85 in 2017-18 and 160 in 2018-19. These figures include reported case of domestic violence. Note that these cover the whole Hungerford and Lambourn policing area which includes, as well as these two places, Kintbury, Hamstead Marshall and the Lambourn Valley as far downstream as Easton.)

There were some questions from the floor about speeding, drug dealing and the possible reluctance of people to report crimes for fear of reprisals. On the last point, Inspector Hawkett said that there are ways to report incidents anonymously (such as Crimestoppers). He also stressed that if matters are reported to the police, all information remained confidential. He advised that confronting suspected perpetrators was not advisable.

District Councillor’s Report

Local Councillor Graham Jones addressed the meeting for the last time in this capacity as he is not standing in the forthcoming local elections.

Most of his remarks concerned the new financial realities facing WBC. The first has been the phased reduction of central government’s rate support grant which only a few years ago had provided 22% of WBC’s income and which has now been removed altogether. This shortfall has had to be made up from a combination of increasing council tax, charging for services that were previously free, reducing costs or services and finding other sources of revenue such as investment in property and renewable-energy generation. On the expenditure side, the picture is increasingly dominated by the cost of social care, which now accounts for over half of WBC’s spending. Both these trends seem set to continue and will represent continuing challenges for WBC, and indeed all councils, over the coming years.

Draft Accounts

The Clerk, Karen Wilson, provided a brief summary of the draft accounts. Major items of expenditure in 2018-19 included the upgrade of the street lights, the projector (required now that WBC no longer provided paper copies of planning applications), the re-installation of the CCTV cameras and the salt bins. The final accounts will be available on the website and at the LPC office in due course. Anyone with any questions in the meantime should contact LPC.

Local Organisations

Brief statements were then made on behalf of several local charities and local groups.

The Lambouurn Trainers AssociationOliver Sherwood. This body represents most, though not quite all, of the trainers in and around Lambourn. He mentioned that the number of racehorses in the area was increasing and he acknowledged that there were still some issues with the co-existence of horses and road users.

The Lambourn Allotment SocietyMike Billinge-Jones. The society has 55 plots, all but one of which is occupied (he said it was rare that there wasn’t a waiting list)..

Eastbury Furze TrustFiona Drake. Established in 1776 for ‘the prevention and relief of poverty’, the charity made bequests to 11 local residents in 2018-19.

Theo Harris TrustPeter Penfold. The charity, which made grants of about £4.000 in 2017-18, exists to support a range of local needs and organisations including Riding for the Disabled, the primary School, the Imagination Library and the Silver Circle .

The Almshouses Of John Isbury And Jacob Hardrett – Peter Penfold. Previously two separate charities which have since merged. The charity owns 11 almshouses in the parish and plans to build 10 more to provide low-cost housing for local residents.

The Friends of Lambourn LibraryDavid Ruse. He 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.

Lambourn Neighbourhood Development Plan (NP)

A brief summary of the progress was by provided by Sue Cocker from the NDP Steering Group.

Following an announcement of a proposed NDP for Lambourn at the Annual Meeting in 2018, there were several consultations throughout the parish during the summer. An open meeting in October 2018 produced overwhelming support for the idea. The Steering Group was set up, which includes non-councillors as well as councillors. She reminded everyone that it was vital that the project was a community enterprise. This consultation in the community will continue and each event will receive wide publicity on the Lambourn Parish Council website, in Penny Post, in Village Views and elsewhere.

A project such as this also requires volunteers. If you are willing to help in any way, please email lambourn.ndp@gmail.com.

A number of parish and town councils in West Berkshire (including Stratfield Mortimer) have already had their NDP ratified while others (including Hungerford) have already started working on theirs. Lambourn was receiving help and support from these.

More information on NDPs generally can be found here.

She closed her remarks by asking residents to consider these two questions: How would I like to see Lambourn develop over the next 10 to 20 years?; and what can I do to help?

 

This information has been compiled by Penny Post. It is not an official record of the event. Every  effort has been made to provide a clear and dispassionate summary of the points covered but these may contain expressions of opinion which may not accord with Lambourn Parish Council ’s official view on the particular 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 Lambourn Parish Council necessarily agrees with, endorses or supports any of the material contained therein. The official minutes of the meeting will be published on the Lambourn Parish Council website in due course.

To read the notes of last year’s meeting on 9 May 2018, please click here.

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