Local News April 25 to May 2 2019

Our round-up of local news across the area this week including Hungerford’s Hocktide, Newbury’s football, Lambourn’s open day, Shefford’s bingo, Grove’s PO, Wantage’s wobbly houses, Ramsbury’s run, Thatcham’s level crossing, Bedwyn’s trains, Marlborough’s red boxes, Swindon’s red bags, Theale’s typing problem, Denford’s decks, Burghfield’s hub, police and travel updates, road closures, capitalising library books, election claims, recycling credentials, Facebook’s fine provision, Notre Dame and HS2, Blair and Clooney, one point from safety, 4,000 exotic animals, crafty crafts, Bosworth and a jumbo ark. 

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

Information on police, transport (including roadworks) and district councils can now be found on a separate page here.

Links to the websites for town and parish councils can still be found in the appropriate sections below.

Across the area (and further afield)

• The council elections are now almost upon us: 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.)

• To find out more about what your local candidates (or some of them) have to say on the issues of climate change, bio-diversity loss and recyclingplease click here to read a report from West Berkshire Climate Action. The lack of response by the Conservatives is a bit depressing, the more so given their reason for in general not doing so, which is that they’d rather communicate directly with their voters on this point. I’m not convinced this will come up in every conversation, particularly given the ability of politicians of all hues to manipulate any discussion to ground of their own choosing. Why not say what you believe on this?  ‘Conservative’, with or without a capital C, derives from the verb ‘to conserve’ which is described in the Oxford Living Dictionary as ‘to protect (something, especially something of environmental or cultural importance) from harm or destruction.’ A discussion of this idea seems to be what this survey is trying to encourage. In fairness, there are quite a few candidates from other parties who haven’t completed it either. So, get your skates on, guys and girls and tell WBCA what you think. And, if you meet a Conservative candidate, ask them what their view is – that’s what they’ve said they want you to do. 

• This week’s NWN has a report on a discussion at West Berkshire’s Overview and Scrutiny Management Commission earlier this month. The issue here is whether items such as library books can be be regarded as capital expenditure. It’s not on the face of it a particularly important issue but it’s one which could have important consequences in a few years’ time. It appears from the article that the government’s regulations on councils can capitalise have been relaxed: now, anything that has a lifespan of more than a year (three years is more normal in business) can be treated in this way.

The two important points that arise from this are, first, that developer contributions can only be used for capital expenditure; the second is that only part of anything that is capitalised will appear on the books in any one year. The effect is to give councils more money (in accounting terms if not in actual cash) for a few years and thus remove some of the pressure for extra funds from central government. This therefore looks very like something that Whitehall has created for just this purpose. CEO Nick Carter is quoted as saying that, under these new regulations, regarding library books as capital expenditure was ‘within the rules’. Lib Dem leader Lee Dillon said that ‘it’s not within the spirit of the regulations’ and ‘a false economy.’ It seems to me they’re both right. It doesn’t, however, seem particularly prudent.

This also opens up two other points: what should be regarded as capital expenditure and what developer contributions should be spent on. To allow anything with a life for more than a year to be capitalised seems potentially to include a lot of things that are really normal expenditure and so blurs a useful distinction. Having a lot of items which are being depreciated will also add to accounting time and costs and not at any point give a particularly accurate picture of the council’s financial health.

As for developer contributions, these are intended to provide infrastructure to mitigate the impact of development on local communities, which most people would not see as including library books. Developers can also appeal to have some contributions reduced, using viability assessments, if it turns out that an agreed contribution is threatening its profitability. I don’t know if they might have a stronger case if it was felt that their money was being spent on items that had previously been regarded as general expenditure. All in all, it has the look of something that’s been designed to defer a problem for a few years. If the government has said it’s OK it’s hard to say that West Berkshire should not take advantage of it. Whether this will be seen as being a good idea in a few years remains to be seen.

• With the local elections now only a week away, every political party is seeking to claim credit for initiatives which have worked, or could be seen as having done so, and distancing themselves from ones which have not. Plentiful examples of this can be seen in this week’s Newbury Weekly News, particularly in the letters section. One such is from Graham Jones, the Leader of West Berkshire Council, in which he makes a number of claims about the record of the ruling Conservatives over the last four years.

The first is that 22.5% of new homes have been affordable. The council’s target is 35% or 40% (depending on the type of site) but as most of the national home-building programme has effectively been outsourced to private developers it’s perhaps unfair to blame any council for a shortfall. This is slightly better than the 2017-18 figure for England of 21%. His second achievement is ‘the transfer of the library service to the community’. This certainly happened but it’s debatable whether the party can claim credit for that (see the ‘Hungerford Area’ section below for more on this, including the wording used in the leaflet). He goes on to say that 95% of schools are good or outstanding according to Ofsted: the national figure is 89%, although I’ve not been able to discover how West Berkshire’s figures compare with others in the south, which would be a more meaningful  comparison.

He then mentions the new bus station in Newbury: this and the surrounding development has had its share of criticism but the station itself is still very new so perhaps it’s too early to judge. He also adds that recycling rates are ‘high’. They’re certainly quite high: West Berkshire ranks as the 68th best (out of 345) council in England according to Let’s Recycle, better than Wiltshire (144th) but some way behind the Vale of White Horse (8th). He quotes the statement by the auditors on West Berkshire’s budget: this is a standard form of words which is, I believe, applied to the large majority of councils. He also says that West Berkshire is rated as one of the best and happiest places to live in the UK. There seem to be plenty of surveys of this kind but I’m not sure how much they tell us, nor how much credit is as a result due to the ruling party on the council.

• One matter not mentioned by Graham Jones is the London Road Industrial Estate. However, there are two other letters on the subject, one from a Labour candidate and one from a Lib Dem one. 

• There’s also a backlash against Councillor Dominic Boeck’s letter in last week’s paper which claimed that the Conservatives had all ‘local’ candidates whereas the other parties did not. Regardless of what party makes this claim, it seems a completely specious point. For one thing, how do you measure how ‘local’ a candidate is? Is it how long they’ve lived in an area, or how recently they’ve moved there, or how much time they actually spend there, or how engaged they are with local activities? Does working in an area count? Also, being local (however defined) is not in itself proof of effectiveness, honesty or diligence. It’s certainly not something we set much store by when electing our MPs: as this 2013 report from Democratic Audit shows, in this part of the country only about half of the then MPs were born in the part of the country they represent, let alone in their constituency. 

This article on the BBC website suggests that already more money has been raised for Notre Dame than will be needed for the repairs, perhaps as much as €150m (£130m). This is pretty much the same as West Berkshire’s annual budget although it seems unlikely that and change left over in Paris will end up in Newbury. If the French government is looking for ways of wasting any excess then there’s no better place to send it than the bank account for HS2. According to some estimates this will end up costing £400m a mile, so this £150m from France would build about 600 metres of it. 

• Love it or loathe it, Facebook seems here to stay. Not only has it designed something which has become fundamental to the way about 2.4 billion people communicate but it has also done so by getting people to pay for it not with money but with their personal data. The current outcry about privacy has come far too late: all users are complicit in this transaction and, given the choice, would probably be happy to continue to allow FB’s vast database to continue to accrue information about themselves just as long as some aspects of other peoples’ was made available for them to access. The issue is going to continue to have consequences, of sorts, for the social-media monster. It’s said it will set aside $3bn to cover the possible costs of an investigation into its privacy practices: with an annual turnover of about $56 billion (a vast sum but one that’s still less that the predicted cost of the above-mentioned HS2) this isn’t on the face of it a huge concern for them.   

• 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.

Healthwatch West Berkshire is running two online consultations about the future of healthcare provision in the area. Click here for details. You have until the end of the month to make your views known. 

• The animal of the week is any one you want to pick out the extraordinary array of 4,000 exotic animals rescued by the RSPCA in 2018.

• The letters pages of the Newbury Weekly News this week is mainly given over to election statements and counter-statements, several of which have been covered above. There’s also a picture of a Doberman with a thousand-yard stare which ‘likes chewing on bones’ and ‘dislikes closed doors.’ You have been warned.

• A number of good causes have received valuable support recently, including: The Prospect Hospice in Swindon (thanks to The Inn with the Well in Ogbourne St George); The Hungerford Resource Centre (thanks to the Hungerford Rotary Club); Swings and Smiles (thanks to the National Lottery Community Fund); the Injured Jockeys Fund (thanks to William Dunlop); Great Bedwyn Youth Group (thanks to its recent jumble sale).

Hungerford & district

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

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

• I mentioned above and last week about the Conservative’s election leaflet’s statements with regard to Hungerford Library. There are two references to this. On the front, the document says ‘Our achievements include…securing vital community facilities in Hungerford such as…the local library.’ On the back page, it says ‘Last year in Hungerford, the library building was transferred to the community and is now being managed by them as the Hungerford Hub. The future of the library itself is rosy with the Library Friends Group, Hungerford Town Council and West Berkshire Council all working together.’ There is no doubt that during the later stages of the discussion, once the idea put forward by the Friends and the Town Council was accepted that the groups mentioned did indeed ‘work together’. Each of you can decide if these summaries accurately describe the events and the roles played by the various groups before then.

• As a result of re-reading the leaflet for the above paragraph, there’s one truly astounding fact that I’d previously missed which I think should be more widely known: Dennis Bennyworth is an in-flight horse attendant. I never suspected that such a job existed. On 2 May the people will decide if they feel that the rare skills he’s doubtless acquired are transferable to municipal life.  

• Advance warning of a road closure at Lower Denford Road by Denford Mill Bridge (some of you may better know this as the rat run from the Common to the A4). This will take place between 8am and 5pm on Monday to Friday 9.30am to 4pm on Saturdays between Monday 17 June and Friday 23 August to allow for deck replacement work.

• Hungerford’s Town and Manor and its associated traditions and customs are unique: in no other town in the country has such an organisation survived. Hocktide, which culminates in Tutti Day on Tuesday 30 April, is nearly upon us. Click here to read more about this (the post includes a link to an article going into the history of the Town and Manor and Hocktide in a bit more detail).  

• Click here for more information on this year’s Hungerford in Bloom

• See the ‘Marlborough Area’ below for some news about train services between Bedwyn and Kintbury.

• Forget about the race to win the Premier League – the real sports story is whether Hungerford Town FC have done enough to beat the drop from the National League South. It looks as if they may have done. Their most recent success was a last-minute 1-0 away win against Torquay Utd, a team which six years ago was in the Football League, which is in a town with a population 10 times larger than Hungerfgord’s and which won the division, if not at a gallop, then certainly at a fairly brisk canter. With one match left to play, The Crusaders are three points ahead of Truro City, although with an inferior goal difference. A point will thus be enough, and even a defeat would be fine if Truro fail to win. Hungerford host already-relegated East Thurrock while Truro are at home to Slough Town (who have an outside chance of snatching a play-off spot if other results go their way). Kick off is 3pm at Bulpit Lane on Saturday 27 April. Off the field, a solution seems to have been found to the resignation of the current board, with two local businessmen poised to step in regardless of how things go in the final fixture.

• A reminder that any community groups wanting to apply for grants from Hungerford Town Council are invited to do so. Note that this year all grant applications are being handled by The Good Exchange which will mean that any sums donated by the Council will be doubled through matched funding. Click here for more information. Grants are made throughout the year by the Council but the main batch of awards are in the early summer, so if your organisation hasn’t already registered with The Good Exchange you should aim to do this before the end of April. You can also click here for a list of last year’s grants including contact details for the organisation and what the money was used for.

Shalbourne’s May Day Fair will take place from noon to 4pm on Monday 6 May on the Sports Field. Visit the Parish Council’s website for more information, including details of the dog show.

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.

• By all accounts, the Lambourn Open Day was a rip-roaring success, and blessed with superb weather. This week’s NWN has a report and photos on p20.

Lambourn Parish Council had its annual meeting on 24 April and a report will be provided here as soon as I have a chance to write up my notes.

East Garston held its annual parish meeting on 16 April and you can read a full report here

• The Great Shefford Flood Alleviation Association is closing in on its £80,000 target but is not there yet. The latest fundraising event is a bingo evening in the Village Hall on Saturday 27 April.

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

• East Garston Amenities is organising a theatre trip to the Watermill on Thursday 20th June to see The Importance of Being Earnest. Full details here.

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

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

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

4 Legs Community Radio Station will on Friday have its 54th 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 Statement of Persons Nominated for the election to Newbury Town Council can be found here.

• It appears from this week’s NWN that West Berkshire’s proposed plans for the the temporary continuation of sports facilities at Faraday Road have been described as ‘extremely poor’ and ‘lacking detail’ by Sport England.

• The same paper looks at the immediate prospects for the continuation of work on the Highwood Copse Primary School, the construction company appointed by West Berkshire having gone into administration. Despite the Council’s earlier claim that this could not have been foreseen and that all necessary due diligence was done, a letter in the same paper from Tony Harris says that ‘the most simple search at Companies House reveals the financial state of Dawnus Ltd and the reasons it has entered administration.’

Click here for a competition to win a wonderful prize donated by the recently re-opened White Hart Inn in Hamstead Marshall.

• 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.

• 6 May will see the birthdays of, amongst others, George Clooney, Bob Seger and Tony Blair. Never mind them, though: of far greater importance is the fact that it’s the Crafty Craft race down the canal from Kintbury to Newbury. Still time to enter

• See the ‘Marlborough Area’ below for some news about train services between Bedwyn and Kintbury.

• There have been some changes to the Newbury and District Bus timetables and services – click here for more.

• 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.

• The Hampstead Norreys annual parish meeting will take place at 7.30pm on Monday 29 April in the Village Hall. Click here to see the agenda.

• 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.

• The Statement of Persons Nominated for the election to Thatcham Town Council can be found here.

• Thatcham Town Council has created a shortlist of locations for its next blue plaque and is inviting residents to help make the final decision. More information can be found on the Town Council’s website

• This week’s NWN reports, on p21, that revised plans have been submitted for the five-home development in Cold Ash after the previous proposal was rejected by West Berkshire.

• The next Thatcham Community Forum will be held at 7.15pm at St Mary’s Church on Thursday 9 May.

• The level crossings in Thatcham and Midgham will be closed overnight on Wednesday 8 and Thursday 9 May: more details here.

• This week’s NWN has, on p22, statements from each of the five parties (Conservatives, Lib Dems, Labour, Green and UKIP) which will be-nesting seats in Thatcham.

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

• 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.

• The Cold Ash Annual Parish Meeting takes place at 7pm on Thursday 25 April at the Acland Hall. 

• 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.

• The Statement of Persons Nominated for the election to Burghfield Parish Council can be found here.

• The Stratfield Mortimer Annual Parish Meeting will take place on Monday 29 April, at St. John’s Hall, West End Road, from 7.30 pm. Click here to see the agenda.

Click here and 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.

• This doesn’t really concern anyone but me but I thought I’d mention it. Since we had our new website or since I upgraded my Mac (both happened at the same time), a strange and unwanted auto-correct feature has appeared. Rather than suggesting alternatives for words it doesn’t recognise, it often makes the substitutions without telling me. I type quite fast but need to look at the keyboard so often don’t spot this. One word that it absolutely refuses to accept is ‘Theale’. So, apologies if this in this or any other post you see a reference to a place called ‘These’ or ‘There’ has slipped in. Names like ‘Stratfield Mortimer’ and ‘Beenham’ it has no gripe with: ‘Theale’, however, won’t have at any price. If anyone from the Parish Council is reading this, could you look into getting the village re-named? It would certainly save me a lot of trouble. Thanks in advance.

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 now has longer opening hours. 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.

• 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 (featuring a new-look website).

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

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

• Marlborough Town Council’s 2018-19 Annual Report is available – click here to read it.

• Marlborough Town Council recently debated what it was going to do with its four remaining phone boxes, as Marlborough News reports here. (In East Garston, ours has been turned into a book exchange, which works very well.) 

The same source also reports that the play equipment has been removed from the Rabley Wood View playground in preparation for the development of the site. A replacement playground will not be built for ‘two years or even more.’

Marlborough in Bloom organisers hope the town’s recent appearance in a BBC documentary will boost support for the team as they strive to make the town an even prettier place this summer.

• Marlborough mother Wendy Oakey is keen to repay Great Ormond Street Hospital for the care it gives her eight-year-old son who suffers from chronic nasal problems and will be holding an event at Marlborough Bowls Club on Saturday 18 May to raise funds. More details here.

• Click here for some initial information from Marlborough News about August’s Marlborough Rising music festival.

• 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).

• Some news just in from the Bedwyn Trains Passenger Group. First, the new IET trains should be running on the majority of services from Bedwyn from early May. Second, services between pewsey and Kintbury will be replaced by buses over the May bank holiday (Saturday 4 to Monday 6 May) to allow for bridge replacement work. Third, the BTPG has been working with GWR to try to get the best possible result from the December timetable changes. To sign up to receive BTPG’s informative, relevant and timely newsletters, contact info@bedwyntrains.org.uk.

• The Ramsbury Run takes place on Sunday 12 May.

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

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.

• South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils are alerting residents after they received a report that a man, wearing a high visibility jacket and a false council ID badge, has been impersonating a council officer to provide a waste collection service. The councils are urging all residents to be aware that their officers and waste crews would never knock on someone’s door and ask to take their rubbish away,  even if they’ve pre-booked and paid for the councils to collect their bulky waste. ‘Homeowners must make sure their waste is disposed of legally,’ a spokesperson for the Vale adds. ‘If they choose to employ someone to remove waste, they must check they’re a registered waste carrier. If they’re not and the rubbish is then dumped illegally, the homeowner could be issued a fixed penalty notice or prosecuted for the dumped waste despite not fly-tipping it themselves.’ 

• The front page of the Wantage & Grove Herald has a fairly withering report on the state of some of the new homes on the Grove airfield site. The company, Persimmon, admits that there have been problems: ‘Fortunately,’ their rather jaunty statement concludes, ‘this was picked up during construction and before any of the properties were build completed.’ What a ghastly phrase. Why not just ‘completed’? 

• A survey has been launched by Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group to help them gather information about the future of health provision in the Wantage and Grove area (which has been the subject of much debate recently). This has the support of the recently-formed Wantage OX12 Stakeholder Group. Click here to make your views known (you need to have completed it by 6 May 2019).  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.

• If you want proof that Grove Post Office has re-opened, it can be found on this Facebook post. We know that Facebook never spreads fake news, right? On this occasion, though, it does really seem to be an actual thing. Well done to all concerned.

• Some of the participants have been announced for this year’s Wantage Literary Festival which runs from 26 October to 2 November.

• And before that, there’s the Wantage Summer Arts Festival to look forward to (15 June to 14 July). Click here for details. There’s a fundraising event for this on Saturday 27 April, a tribute to the singer and actor Mario Lanza.

• Julie Mabberley’s regular column on p8 of the Wantage & Grove Herald discusses the survey into the  controversial project of the Abingdon reservoir. Opinion differs as to whether the theme is needed now, or at all, and other or not it would be better to concentrate on many other options to solve possible supply shortages.Please click here to visit it and have your say on this important subject. You have until Friday 26 April to do so (so not long).

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.

• Older patients in Swindon are spending less time at the Great Western Hospital thanks to a simple yet effective initiative that sees care home residents arrive in hospital with their belongings in a distinct red bag.

• Congratulation to local historian Graham Carter whose book about Swindon’s past, A Swindon Time Capsule: Working Class Life 1899-1984, has won the 2018 Alan Ball award.

• I can also recommend Angela Atkinson’s Secret Swindon, published by Amberley in 2018.

• A reminder about an initiative by which difficult-to-recycle plastics can now be dropped off at Tesco supermarkets, thanks to a partnership with Swindon based Recycling Technologies.

• Age UK will officially take on the Toothill Community Centre on Friday, with South Swindon MP Robert Buckland cutting the ribbon at the centre’s opening.

• 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 the many volunteering opportunities at Great Western Hospital.

The song and the quiz

• The Song of the Week is from a man whom I regard as something of a national treasure, Nick Lowe. He’s written loads of great songs (and produced even more for others) but the one I’m going to pick the wonderfully dotty but also, in the context of the increasing concern about environmental issues, rather appropriate I Want to Build a Jumbo Ark.

• Which takes us to the Quiz Question of the Week. This week’s question is Who scored the fastest goal in Premier League history (clocking in at 7.7 seconds from the kick off)? It happened a few days ago, by the way. Last week’s came from the quiz I attended earlier this month at the Hungerford Croft Hall in aid of St Lawrence’s Church and was: Who is the only English monarch since the Norman Conquest to have been crowned on a battlefield? The answer is Henry VII, after the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.  

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Brian Quinn

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Covering: Newbury, Thatcham, Hungerford, Marlborough, Wantage, Lambourn, Compton, Swindon & Theale