Local News April 4-11 2019

Our round-up of local news across the area this week including Hungerford’s coffee choices, Theale’s nets, Thatcham’s graffiti (and nets), Englefield’s venue, Ramsbury’s installation, Hamstead Marshall’s competition, Kintbury’s closures, Newbury’s delays, Grove’s runners, Wantage’s blood pressure, East Challow’s hall, Aldermaston’s bridge, Marlborough’s litter-pickers, Swindon’s steam, police and travel updates, perks for MPs, governmental precedents, a strategy document, PDR gone mad, Star Wars, the butterflies threatening Donald Trump, five enticing jobs in Wiltshire, a 57-day fire and a truncated chameleon.

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 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.)

• We mentioned last week that Newbury MP Richard Benyon was criticised in the Sunday Times for claiming expenses for equipping his new office, including spending £6.80 on a toilet seat. I said at the time that this was a non-story: but now I’m not so sure. It was pointed out, in a comment to last week’s Local News, that £6.80 is a hell of a good price for a half-decent loo seat. I haven’t bought one for some time so am not sure. Is there, I wonder, some special deal that MPs get for buying these things? Is is a perk of the job that we don’t know about? Would anyone like me to launch a FoI request to find out more?

• At present we appear to have a government of national unity composed of the PM and Jeremy Corbyn. It remains to be seen what it will accomplish. The last time we had one of these was during WWII, which shows how far things have slipped. This seems like a good time to have a quick look at what other governance options the country has tried in the past…

Rule by parliament. We’ve had this for the last few weeks. We also had it from 1649 to 1653 and 1659 to 1660. None of these was a huge success. Oliver Cromwell dismissed the so-called Rump Parliament in April ’53, allegedly with the words ‘You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately – in the name of God, go!” MPs, you have been warned. Then we had…

Rule by a Lord Protector (1653 to 1659). Cromwell was never quite sure what his role was or ought to be. So confused was he and everyone else about this that in 1657, in an attempt to get things back to a relationship that was at least well understood if sometimes antagonistic, parliament offered him the crown. After a lot of characteristic dithering, he refused it. The problem now would be choosing who a Lord (or Lady) Protector might be. Cromwell kind of chose himself. Who would you nominate? Exactly.

Anarchy. This is most associated with the reign of King Stephen (1135-54) when the barons were almost equally divided between those who supported him and those who supported his cousin Matilda. As the two sides were evenly matched and as Matilda was rude and pig-headed and Stephen weak and indecisive, nothing got sorted. Not recommended.

Foreign invasion. The last time we had this was in 1066 but there were some other close shaves, notably in 1216, 1799 and 1940. It’s worth remembering that the reason this hasn’t happened more often is not because of our innate brilliance but because of the English Channel. Many claim that a foreign invasion of one sort or another has happened by stealth over the last 30 years. Why did it happen in 1066? Simple – because William the Conqueror was involved. He really got things done. We’re talking about a man who decided to do a survey of England when there were no maps, no internet, no Uber cars, nothing. The customs, topography and language of the country were wholly unfamiliar to the people he sent out on this mission. The result, the Domesday Book, was one of the most comprehensive documents about England ever produced. This is the best bit, though: from start to finish, the whole thing took just over a year. Now, it would take that long just to agree what it would be called. Respect is due (though he wasn’t what one would call PC). Another military invasion from northern France is likely to solve more problems than it poses, so let’s rule that out.

Royal absolutism. It could be argued that this applied throughout the Middle Ages but there were quite a few things that held the kings back, not least of which was being able to make it clear to everyone what they wanted them to (unless they were William the Conqueror – see above). The purest form probably happened when Charles I had a try at it from 1629 to 1640. It didn’t end very well. Margaret Thatcher was toying with it when she used the royal ‘we’ in 1989. Today, though, it would be very different. The Queen has technical powers she never uses but they don’t require any legislation to kick-start them. More importantly, she has a Twitter account, which solves the communication problem. We’ve tried everything else. What have we got to lose? Let’s give it a go for three months.

• If you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, you and your family can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021, regardless of any deal that the UK government may or may not make with the EU. Click here to see the help that’s available with the application process from West Berkshire Libraries.

• Would you like to live here? No? Exactly. This is what can happen under permitted development rights, by which property owners can change a building’s use from commercial to residential without having to apply for planning permission.

• West Berkshire Council has published its Economic Development Strategy 2019-36 which you can read in full here. It lists several strengths of the area (including location, the stone digital/tech sector and the well-qualified workforce) and several weaknesses (including lack of  affordable housing, an ageing population and a social-mobility gap). Among the notable achievements, ‘electrification’ is mentioned: I presume this applies to railway line but, if so, this only runs as far as Newbury. There are aspirations to attract a university presence to the area. The council also intends to ‘enhance our leisure offering’ which will include ‘revitalising provision’ at the Northcroft Leisure Centre, which might spell some good news finally for the future of the football ground. The council also plans to make ‘green’ choices (the cynic in me feels that the messy typo in the first line of this section, which may since have been corrected, suggests suggests that it was added quite late in the day), to promote the AONB as a ‘living landscape’, to support high streets and to provide the infrastructure needed for electric vehicles (though this seems to have got off to a slightly false start in Eastfields and Westfields, according to this week’s NWN) and to consider expanding the business-rate relief schemes. There are also some mentions of individual areas which are referred to in the relevant sections below. It’s very broad-brush and aspirations, as these documents tend to be but there are several yardsticks which can be used to measure its achievements.

• However, I’m rather less happy about its timing. We’re now in the period of pre-election purdah during which councils are restricted in what they can or can’t say. One restriction is that they should not publish any material that, in whole or in part, appears to be designed to affect public support for a political party: although no party is mentioned in this, much of it reads as an apologia for the current administration. I also understand that they should not announce any new policies or initiatives: by any reading of the document, there are plenty of these. It also rather assumes that the new council (and regardless of the numbers from each party there will be a considerable change in membership as a number of councillors are not re-standing) will agree with it. It should have been published before 15 March or, better still, left until after the election.

• 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, so get your skates on.

• According the the Wantage & Grove Review there’s some confusion surrounding the figures supplied by Thames Valley Police for speeding offences on the A34. The number of incidents fell between 2017 and 2018 but this isn’t because we’re driving better. The police admitted that the deployment of fewer officers was the reason for a 16% drop but it now appears that, due to ‘technical difficulties’ with a system changeover had led to some inaccuracies, with the actual fall being more like 30%. Collecting statistics is a tedious business, to be sure, but if they aren’t done consistently year on year it’s also a largely pointless one.

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. 

• Click here for details of the consultations by West BerkshireCouncil  into proposed parking review amendments, which  seek ‘to improve road safety at identified problem locations, mainly near schools in this case. The consultation closes on Thursday 18 April.

• The animal of the week is several animals, including armadillos, lizards and butterflies who might, according to this report, be instrumental in the fight to stop Donald Trump’s wall/fence thing being built on the Mexican border.

• The letters pages of the Newbury Weekly News this week includes criticisms of West Berkshire Council’s handling of the bus station, the London Road enquiry; the ground at Faraday Road and the councillors’ general interpretation of their code of conduct; a plea to remove track-side rubbish near Newbury station; and reiteration of the point made here last week (and referred to again above) that the Benyontoiletgate ‘story’ was a waste of ink.

• A number of good causes have received valuable support recently, including: Great Western Hospital (thanks to Audley Inglewood); the Little Princess Trust (thanks to Levi Creed); Cancer Research UK and the Motor Neurone Disease Association (thanks to Newbury Rugby Club); the Treehouse School in Cholsey (thanks to the Bunny Run). 

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 I always point out in the first PP of the month, the best coverage of matters in and around the town can be found in the latest Penny Post Hungerford which many of you will have received earlier this week. In case you missed it, click here. As well as the usual news from the Town Council, the Town & Manor, the High Street, the Chamber of Commerce, Hungerford 2036 and Barrs Yard there are articles about the newly-formed Youth Council, the Youth Club, the Twinning Association, the Bowling Club and Smarten Up Hungerford. There are also match reports from the Football Club’s successful March fixtures; news of another march, this time involving climate-change activists who’ll be stopping in the town on Friday during their walk from Land’s End to London; news of another west-east journey, this time by water, with the local Scouts again being involved in the Devizes to Westminster canoe race; the Book of the Month from the Bookshop; veg growing tips from HAHA; and information on a wide range of activities coming up in town in April. 

• There’s an article in this week’s NWN about a recent open meeting at Hungerford Town FC, which the paper describes as being in ‘crisis’. One suggestion (which was unanimously defeated) was that the club ask to be dropped down a league. It’s not clear to me how this would help the finances: while there are indeed costs associated with being in National League South there are also extra gate receipts and sponsorship and advertising opportunities. Such a development would also make it next to impossible to get good loan players from larger clubs, as is currently the case. Moreover, if such request is made, the FA can decide to move the club down to whatever level it chooses.

The club, which could be described as being in a period of transition, needs several things at present: new people to step forward to replace several of the exiting board members; more sponsorship revenue; and more engagement with the local community. Click here to visit the HTFC website if you can help with any of these. All of this will be greatly assisted by the team avoiding relegation, something which the current run of results has left it well placed to do and which the current team and management is focussed on achieving. “No pressure then, lads,” manager Ian Herring said wryly to the players during the meeting.

Certainly, no one can fault Ian Herring’s commitment and Hungerford is lucky to have someone who is passionate about the club, from first-team to juniors. You can read more about his views on the state of the club here (from The Non-league Paper). Extra support at the club’s five remaining fixtures would doubtless also be appreciated. Three of these are at home: v Slough (Sat 6 April); v Bath (Fri 19 April); and v East Thurrock (Sat 27 April). It’s worth remembering also that Hungerford has a population of about 6,000 and is playing against, and sometimes beating, teams from cities such as Oxford, Gloucester, Bath and Truro: to have reached the level is has is, while not quite up to Leicester City’s performance a few years back, is none the less a remarkable achievement and one that all in Hungerford should be proud of.

• West Berkshire’s  Economic Development Strategy 2019-36, which you can read in full here., has this to say about its aspirations for Hungerford: ‘we will work with stakeholders including Network Rail and Great Western Railway to consider how the town’s aspirations can be realised for the area surrounding the station. We will also work with the Chamber of Commerce to highlight the town’s unique offer as a thriving retail centre with a variety of exciting independent retailers.’

•  It appears that Costa Coffee will be taking over the former NatWest building in the High Street, a few doors down from where Coffee#1 will be opening at the former From the Heart site. No change of use permission is required for the former as this can be arranged under the controversial permitted development rights.

• A reminder that the Hungerford Town Council Annual Meeting took place on 20 March and followed a different exhibition-style format. Click here for a report on the event, including a video.

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

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

• A new coffee shop is coming to East Garston in the old shop next to the Village Hall. Priscilla’s Kitchen is having its launch party on Saturday 6th April from 10.00am until noon. Please come along and meet Ruth Jordan, the proprietor, for a glass of fizz and some of her homemade cakes. It will thereafter be open Thursday and Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm and Saturday 9.00am to 4.00pm, serving delicious homemade cakes and light lunches. 

• 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. 

• West Berkshire’s Economic Development Strategy 2019-36, which you can read in full here, has this to say about its aspirations for Lambourn and the horse-racing industry in particular: ‘One of the strongest rural industries in West Berkshire is the horse-racing industry. We are home to a world class racecourse in Newbury and the‘Valley of the Racehorse’ (Lambourn) which is worth over £22m each year to our economy and employs over 700 people. We will improve links with the industry, carefully considering how we can help to deliver a setting that allows it to develop at pace as an integral part of the rural landscape.’

• The Great Shefford Annual Parish Assembly took place on Thursday 4 April – report to follow next week.

• 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 51st 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.

• And sticking in that village, click here for a competition to win a wonderful prize donated by Stella Coulhurst, owner of the recently re-opened White Hart Inn.

• 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 information of a fundraising quiz on 9 May.

Newbury in Bloom 2019 has been launched – click here for details and the entry form.

• 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 major road improvement project for Newbury is expected to continue until the autumn – click here for details. It seems from this week’s NWN that some aspects have been delayed due to the usual ‘unforeseen circumstances’.

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 April newsletter from West Ilsley Parish Council 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 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.

• 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 should by now have started work on flood defences at Dunston Park and South East Thatcham.

• In this week’s Newbury Weekly News there’s a story (on p22) about hedge netting by developers along Tull Way which shows marked similarities to the similar indecent in Theale (see section below).

• The same paper also has a story (on p25) about the ‘uncertain future’ facing Thatcham’s parish hall.

• 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.

• 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.

• I 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. The issue has been in the news these last few weeks because of netting done at the site of the new primary school in Theale which were, depending on which report you read, done badly or vandalised, the result in any event being trapped birds and an atmosphere of needless confrontation. Late last week, West Berkshire Council said that the nets would be removed, something which finally happened on Thursday 4 April. This should mean that the hedges won’t be removed until the autumn but that, too, is uncertain. It’s unclear if this will delay the work on the school. I’ll hope to have a separate post on this for next week in which the various points of view are explained.

Why is this important? There are several reasons. Firstly, we are not the only inhabitants of this planet. Leaving this altruism aside, it’s also now clear that depleting one aspect of the ecological system risks disturbing the others, so initiating increasingly savage examples of the laws of unintended consequences. Thirdly, it was claimed that the process was legal. So at one time was slavery and the non-enfranchisement of women. I’m not suggesting that the cases are in all ways comparable things can be both legal and wrong. The law sometimes takes time to recognise this. Finally, there is a period between early October and late February when, if hedges have to be removed, this can be done without causing suffering, animosity and pointless expense. Five months is a big enough window. Planners and developers need to adapt their procedures to nature but at present, we’re just trying to cheat it. One way or another, nature will get its revenge on us. There’s plentiful evidence this is already happening. There’s only going to be one loser: after all, we need the world more than the world needs us. 

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

• West Berkshire’s  Economic Development Strategy 2019-36, which you can read in full here, has this to say about its aspirations for Theale: ‘the town is of particular economic importance as it is the location of Arlington Business Park, which houses the international headquarters of a number of firms as well as some creative, and rapidly growing, small and medium sized businessesSMEs. We will support Theale as a prime location for businesses through our planning processes and will work with partners to enhance the offering there to attract other businesses to locate there.’

The same document has this to say on the subject of the AWEs: ‘The Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) has two bases in this area, at Aldermaston and Burghfield. AWE is an important provider of local jobs but its location has implications for the future level of development in this area. We will consider how we can support sustainable growth on these sites, ensuring that AWE’s status as a world leader in innovation and employment opportunities is allowed to grow.’

 • 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.

• Click here for information about Burghfield’s plans to create a community hub.

Click here for the April/May 2019 Parish Magazine from Englefield Parish Council.

• One point from the above publication that is worth highlighting concerns the reaction to the plans for the Englefield Community Venue.  There was an ‘overwhelming support for the refurbishment of the club building to provide a venue for a range of community activities’ and people willing to provide ‘voluntary support to manage those activities’. The (Englefield) Estate ‘remains keen that the building continues to be used for the benefit of the community but, as you know, it is in need of refurbishment to meet modern standards. As a result, we have been undertaking surveys…and will update you further in due course. In the meantime, we will begin some preparatory works shortly.’

• 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 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.

• 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).

• Congrats to all those who picked up litter, or will be picking up litter, in and around Marlborough recently.

• I thought this story of the A4 being closed to the east of Marlborough from 7pm til midnight from 1 April to 3 May was a not very amusing April fool until I looked it up on Roadworks.org: I’m afraid it appears to be true.

• Wiltshire Police’s rural teams have been getting reports from the public of vehicles that look as though they are equipped for hare coursing. I’ll stand back and let Marlborough News taken on the running from here.

• The same source has an interesting list of ‘enticing new jobs‘ which, it claimed, Wiltshire Council had available on 1 April

• Click here for information on what’s on in and around Ramsbury.

• We concede that we’re a few days behind the news curve here, but I’d like to draw you attention to some breaking news from there above-mentioned The Raven on Monday about Banksy’s last art installation in the area.

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.

• If you notice about 650 people running out of Grove on Sunday 7 April then what you’re looking at will be the White Horse Half-marathon – click here for more from the Herald.

• 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 classic musical The King and I is being performed at The Beacon in Wantage this week (last performance Saturday 6 April).

• This week’s Wantage & Grove Herald reports that King Alfred’s Academy has said that the recent careers convention, which had over 50 organisations taking part, was ‘a resounding success’.

• 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.

• Click here to take part in the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s online survey concerning the future health and social-care needs in Wantage and Grove. The Wantage and Grove Campaign Group has some thoughts and suggestions here which you might want to have a look at before completing the survey.

East Challow Village Hall has been closed and declared unsafe: the trustees have said the fundraising efforts to pay for the repairs will start soon.

• The Wantage and Grove Campaign Group has reported on the seemingly confusing state of affairs at Crab Hill which involves at least three different developers and, it seems, an intended increase in the number of houses over what was originally agreed. 

• There’s no further news about the future (if, indeed, it has a future) of the new Wantage and Grove Leisure Centre, the plans for which were put on ice last year after doubts about government funding.

• Julie Mabberley’s regular column on p8 of the Wantage & Grove Herald looks at the above-mentioned OCCG healthcare survey.

• Wantage Rotary Club 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 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.

• We mentioned last week about an initiative from Tesco which will be trialled in its Swindon store under which fruit and veg will be available loose, rather than pre-wrapped in plastic. Here’s another one – difficult-to-recycle plastics can now be dropped off at Tesco supermarkets, thanks to a partnership with Swindon based Recycling Technologies.

• A local businessman has been handed a stiff fine after a number of infringements his waste-recycling site in Swindon which included allowing a fire there to burn for 57 days.

• Local health officials have urged patients not to ignore invite to free diabetes prevention course.

• A conference looking at how to protect vulnerable children and adults against drug gangs and human trafficking has been hailed a success by Swindon Council.

• A new exhibition charting the Great Western Railway’s drive to be the fastest railway in the world will launch at STEAM on Saturday 6 April.

• 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.

• The Council’s town centre car parks are now 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 a recommendation from my youngest son Toby, an increasingly excellent drummer whose views on music I take more and more seriously. This is from 1974, part of a live version of Chameleon by Herbie Hancock. I say ‘part of’ because the full rendition is about 16 minutes long. If you like this sampler, check out the full version.

• Which takes us to the Quiz Question of the Week. This week’s question is actually six: get ’em all correct and rearrange them a bit and you could win a wonderfully generous prize at The White Hart in Hamstead Marshall. Click here for details. Last week’s question 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 was as follows: In 2014 a villain pilot flying over Greenham Common took photos revealing the filming of which movie? The answer – and you would have got two points for it at the quiz so you can give yourself two points if you got it right here – was Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

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Brian Quinn

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