Local News May 2-9 2019

Our round-up of local news across the area this week including Hungerford’s possible lorries, Newbury’s business case, Wantage’s time capsule, Burghfield’s Mona Lisa, Thatcham’s parish hall, Hamstead Marshall’s ice cream, Cold Ash’s deceptive sunset, Ramsbury’s run, Marlborough’s children’s centres, Blunsdon’s swifts, Chaddleworth’s news, Lambourn’s PPG, Swindon’s new market, police and travel updates, road closures, the tale of a Hocktide virgin, voting with your hamster while drunk, devolution, an injury-time escape, 7.7 seconds, news for sale, a moose (and other animals), five un-Bolivian names, trackside trees, traffic wardens and an industrial school. 

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 actually here (if you’re reading this before 10pm on Thursday) or just happened (if you’re doing so later). These are taking place on Thursday 2 May in West Berkshire, the Vale of White Horse and Swindon (where a third of the seats are being re-elected). Some town and parish councils (including Newbury, Thatcham and Wantage) will also be holding elections today but most of these will be uncontested as there were not more nominations than available seats. The last time elections were held in these areas was in 2015, on the same date as the general election at which David Cameron won a small majority. Much has changed since then. Wiltshire is not holding elections this year.

Local councils provide a wide range of services including social care (which often accounts for over half their budget), local transport, the maintenance of most roads, libraries, parks, leisure facilities, environmental health and planning. These will vary depending on what type of council is involved: West Berkshire, for instance, is a unitary authority while the Vale is a district council with another level of local government, Oxfordshire County Council, above it. West Berkshire Council’s budget for 2019-20 will be £131m so there’s a reasonably large amount of money at stake. 69% of this is raised through the council tax. There are many online sources of further information on these points: the Your Vote Matters site run by The Electoral Commission, is one.

Polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm and yours (the only one at which you can vote) will be specified on your ballot card. If you don’t have this and don’t know the location you’ll need to check online or enquire locally. You don’t have to bring your polling card (though the former will make the process slightly quicker). This article from iNews and this article from the BBC provide answers to some other questions, including whether you can bring your children, or your dog, or your hamster; whether you can vote while drunk, or while eating; whether you can take photos; and whether you can use your own lucky pen. 

• There’s an article in this week’s Newbury Weekly News (p5) which discussed the future financial problems which West Berkshire Council’s Library Service might face. The Council’s Culture and Libraries Manager Paul James confirmed to Penny Post that a number of measures were in place to help address any future shortfall. He also stressed that the libraries in West Berkshire have emerged from the funding crisis not only unreduced in number but also in many ways stronger as a result of the greater level of community involvement. For this, must credit must go the the various voluntary organisations (such as the ‘Friends of’ groups, which needed to spring up quite fast) but also Paul James and his fellow officers in the West Berkshire Library Service. It also seems likely that the innovative solution in Hungerford will be extended, where practical, to other libraries in the area. As Mr James mentions in the article, ‘the biggest defence for the library service in West Berkshire is continued success.’ It’s therefore encouraging to note that visitor numbers are up across the area. As the NWN article points out, uncertainty is likely to remain so until (or if) the government steps forward with a new national funding strategy. Much might also depend on the new business-rate-based funding plans for all councils which may be introduced in 2020-21. 

• Nominations will remain open until 5pm on Friday 3 May (so not long) for West Berkshire’s Learner Achievement Awards.

• The Newbury Weekly News has been sold to a joint-venture company run by Edward Iliffe, whose company now prints the NWN, and Peter Fowler. Read more here

• If you own a cat or a dog and live near, or take your dog near, a river, particularly at this time of year, you might want to read this brief message on behalf of the local ducks and moorhens.

• I was accused of pedalling fake news recently (I can’t remember where or by whom) when I said that traffic wardens worked on commission. It seems this was old news, not fake news (which I contend is a lesser crime). It seems from this article that council wardens were forbidden from working on this basis from 2015 and private ones from 2018.

• Did you know – and I bet you didn’t – that five of the football teams in the Bolivian División Profesional – their premier League – are called The Strongest, Blooming, Always Ready, Destroyers and Sport Boys. Last time I checked, Spanish was Bolivia’s national language and these seem very much like English names. There’s a story behind each one, I’m sure. There might be a local connection to the Penny Post area if I dig deep enough. Shall I?

• 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.

• The animal of the week is either as moose, or an alpaca, or a fish, or a narwal. See the Song of the Week below to find out what I’m on about.

• The letters pages of the Newbury Weekly News this week include quite a few about climate change; two on the subject of local bus services; and one which asks questions about the business case for West Berkshire’s latest proposal for the the football ground in Faraday Road.

• A number of good causes have received valuable support recently, including: King Alfred’s Scouts (thanks to Persimmon); Swings and Smiles (thanks to The Bladebone in Chapel Row; Newbury Samaritans (thanks to the Deanwood park Golf Club); Great Ormond Street Hospital (thanks to The prince of Wales in Kintbury); Dingley’s promise (thanks to ROC Technologies); numerous local causes (thanks to all those who raised sponsorship money in the London Marathon).

Hungerford & district

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

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

Hungerford Town Council‘s next meeting will be on Tuesday 7 May (a change from the usual Monday because of the bank holiday). There will be a certain amount of formal business to get through as, technically, the council has been re-elected and needs to be be constituted. It will also be necessary to vote on the new mayor, Helen Simpson being the current incumbent. You can see the agenda here.

• As a result of the date of the above-mentioned meeting, Penny Post Hungerford will be published a bit later than usual, on Wednesday 8 May.

• 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). Penny and I were at the Hocktide lunch, thanks to an invitation from the Constable, and a very fine occasion it was. One of the traditions is that Hocktide virgins, or ‘colts’ (I was one but Penny had already been done last year) be shod, which involved the affable local estate agent Tony Nye, now disguised as a slightly demonic-looking blacksmith, affecting to drive a horseshoe nail into the bottom of my foot. The use of the nail was affected but the blows were not. Having someone strike my right heel several times quite hard with a large hammer after a fairly long lunch was a unique experience. In the right hands, this could become an actual thing for osteopaths.

First, however, the victims have to be caught. I was unsure how much reluctance I should affect (I felt rather like the Speaker of the House of Commons who, by tradition, needs to be dragged to the chair after election). The role is normally performed by Jim Smith of Broadmead Estates (who couldn’t attend this year due to a farming emergency). As we discussed in the shallow end of the pool at the Hungerford Leisure Centre today, when he’s on his Hocktide duty people sometimes decide to take him on. For those of you who don’t know Jim, he’s tall, strong and fit and used to play a lot of rugby. You wouldn’t want to be chased round the Corn Exchange by him (though one person chose to be a few years back). You only have to see how fast he swims backstroke to know that there is only going to be one winner. So, if you’re up for being shod next year and Jim’s on duty, just sit down and play nice.

You can see a report of the event on pp8-9 of this week’s NWN.

• The same paper covers some discussions at a meeting of Hungerford’s Highways and Transport Committee on 23 April, including the possibility of moving the phone box near the zebra in the High Street, the issue of road safety near the entrance to the Football Club and the idea of a 30mph speed limit on the Common. All these matters – none of which are completely straightforward as they will involve costs, discussions with other organisations, balancing different considerations and in one case establishing an issue of land ownership – are being further examined. You can read the draft minutes of the meeting here.

• There were also fears, highlighted in the front page of the NWN’s Hungerford edition, that the forthcoming work at J13 of the M4 will result in lorries coming through the town, at least as far as the A338 roundabout by Barrs Yard and possibly deciding to continue their journey along the A4 at Charnham Street. It was suggested at the above-mentioned meeting that this may lead to a revival of the plans for a one-way system for Charnham Road and Charnham Park.

• The Smarten Up Hungerford team remains active: if you want to get involved, contact john@wilmott.co. Its work has produced some very visible benefits to the town and it’s gratifying to see that so many people are getting involved. I’ve cleaned a few road signs in East Garston myself: dirty ones look dreary and are sometimes actively dangerous (particularly if also overgrown). This is yet another example of responsibilities being delegated downwards by a district council, though in this case the task seems not to have been performed by West Berkshire for a considerable time. In each case, these delegations have an uneven effect: communities which are willing, or able, or which can afford to take them on will have clean signs, community centres, libraries, mowed verges or whatever; while those that cannot, will not. Nothing like this has happened before so everyone involved is making it all up as they go along. For about the last century until a few years ago, the received wisdom was that either district-level councils ran these and other services or, if they could no longer afford to, that they were axed. Numerous recent examples have shown that there is a third way, with these being run by local communities, if the community wants them enough. 

• 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.

• Hungerford Town FC went into their last game of the season against relegated East Thurrock last Saturday knowing that a draw or victory would guarantee their survival in National League South: a defeat would still be good enough as long as Truro, three points behind them but with a better goal difference, didn’t win at home to play-off chasing Slough. At half-time, though, Hungerford were losing and Truro winning. Then, suddenly, Slough went 3-1 up. In injury time, it all changed again, with Truro scoring two goals to pull their match back to 3-3. Finally, and to widespread local jubilation, Hungerford got their own equaliser, also in injury time, so making Truro’s result academic. A few sore heads in and around Bulpit Lane the following day, I imagine. Congratulations to The Crusaders, who continue to punch well above their weight in the sixth tier (ie five promotions away from the Premier league). With new and enthusiastic board members in place, the future can be regarded with some confidence.

• 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.

• The bit of the B4001 (the road between the B4000 and Chilton Foliat) under the motorway bridge between the junction with the B4000 and the turning towards Membury) will be closed for 13 weeks from 20 May (ie until 19 August). Diversions will be in place directing you through Membury. This is to enable repairs to be carried out to the bridge.   

Lambourn Parish Council had its annual meeting on 24 April and you can read a full report here.

East Garston Parish Council 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 efforts, including a bingo night, have moved the total up to about £72,000.

• A hard-fought Nairne Paul Cup Final at Milton last Saturday saw Lambourn Reserves narrowly beaten by Saxton Rover Reserves, 1-0 after extra time. I was there as our son Toby plays for Lambourn (though wasn’t in the final squad due to injury). The only injury I suffered was to my hands: the wind was icy, the match was long, the ground at Milton was exposed and I had no gloves.

• The Lambourn Surgery Patient Participation Group performs a vital function in the life of the surgery and more people are encouraged to get involved. For more information click here or contact the Practice Manager at louise.murray-clarke@nhs.net

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 still has need of a Clerkclick here for details.

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

4 Legs Community Radio Station will on Friday have its 55th 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.

• Click here for the latest information from Growing Newbury Green.

• If you are involved with an organisation or charity that benefits the residents of Newbury, don’t miss your chance to apply for grant funding for a special project or core costs. You must have registered with The Good Exchange by the end of May. All applications that are on the Good Exchange website by this date, and posted since 22 October 2018, will be considered if they fulfil the Town Council’s criteria. In 2018 Newbury Town Council gave grants totalling £25,000 to 33 organisations (scroll down to see the full list).

• Stella, owner of The White Hart in Hamstead Marshall, revealed to me yesterday that she makes her own ice cream. Quite how she finds the time she didn’t make clear. If you visit the pub with a child over the bank holiday weekend, the child will get a free ice cream (and you could then nick a bit of it). Remember also to click here for a competition to win a wonderful prize at this recently-reopened pub.

• 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 anniversaries of the sack of Rome, the first Scottish and Welsh devolved elections and the openings of the both the Channel Tunnel and the Eiffel Tower. All minor matters, though: of far greater importance is the fact that it’s the Crafty Craft race down the canal from Kintbury to Newbury.

• 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

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.

• 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 May Chaddleworth News has just popped into my inbox, now in a slimmer (ie smaller) web-optimised format than previously. This includes news from a range of local groups, the minutes of the last Parish Council meeting, a report with photos of the recent Easter egg hunt and details of forthcoming events. If you’d like to subscribe or contribute, please contact chaddnews@gmail.com

• The Hampstead Norreys annual parish meeting took place on 29 April. The minutes will appear here in due course.

• 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.

• 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.

• The Nature Discover Centre has recently had a facelift: or ‘beach lift’ might be a better word. Click here to see more from The Breeze. It seems that the play equipment there will also be being replaced.

• As we’ve had cause to mention before, village and parish halls are under threat throughout the area and for a variety of reasons, including reduced funding from councils and the ever-increasing costs of repairs and compliance. The Thatcham Parish Hall recently also lost its main hirer, reducing its already knife-edge income by about 50%. Both the hall and the thriving table tennis club which has long been based there are under threat as a result. One option open to the trustees is to sell the building, but as this is owned by the people of Thatcham a public meeting would be needed. Some of the trustees have also said they wish to step down. What the hall therefore needs is new trustees to come forward, more groups and societies to hire it and fundraising ideas. See the Facebook page for the latest news and to get in touch.

• We mentioned a few weeks ago about two workshops for young people organised by Thatcham Town Council, about graffiti and skateboarding. It seems for an article in this week’s NWN (p22) that these were vey well attended.

• 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

• 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.

• 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. The photo at the top made me think twice: it seemed at first glance to be a dramatic forest fire but turned out to be an equally dramatic sunset.

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 Stratfield Mortimer Annual Parish Meeting took place on 29 April. The minutes will appear here in due course.

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.

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.

• And still in Burghfield, here’s the Mona Lisa as you’ve never seen her before

• 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.

This article in Marlborough News looks at the implications of, and the justifications for, the closure of further children’s centres in Wiltshire.

• The same source provides information about the forthcoming overnight A4 closures to the west of Marlborough until the end of the month.

• The Marlborough & Pewsey Gazette reports on tree-felling conducted by Network Rail at the height of the nesting season. NR has promised a statement, which may well say, with some justification, that protecting rail passengers (or ‘customers’ as they’ll be termed) from falling trees is paramount. However, trees and birds both follow predictable patterns of growth and behaviour so the time to do this work is surely in the winter. I also imagine it’s a lot cheaper to deal with the wood then as there are no leaves to worry about.

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.

• 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 from the Bedwyn Trains Passenger Group. First, the new IET trains should be running on the majority of services from Bedwyn from about now. 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.

• See the ‘Across the area’ above for information of elections on Thursday 2 May.

• In times of change – and this is if ever there was one – it’s often instructive and sometimes reassuring to look back at the past and see how things were then. This week’s Wantage and Grove Herald takes a trip back to late-19th-century Wantage and looks at St Michael’s which fulfilled various educational and religious functions until it was covered to private dwellings (we spent a certain amount of time there as some friends of our lived in one of these for several years. The downstairs rooms were slightly disorientating in that they were taller than they were wide or broad, giving the unsettling effect either that ones eyesight had packed or or, like Owl’s House in the Winnie the Pooh stories, the whole thing had fallen on its side). One of the early uses it was put to was as a strictly religious ‘industrial school’ to train girls as young as nine for domestic service, which sounds awful. Thank goodness that’s long since closed.

• And, of course, as well as the past, there’s the future to worry about (let’s just forget the present for the moment). Some pupils at King Alfreds have taken care of this by burying a time capsule in the school grounds.  

• Attention all local residents who were getting increasingly irritated by the delays caused on the A338 near the Williams HQ: the temporary lights have now gone.

• 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.

• Julie Mabberley’s regular column on p8 of the Wantage & Grove Herald reiterates some important points about the above-mentioned and soon-to-close consultation.

• If you fancy a job as a football manager then two local clubs, Didcot Town and Wantage Town, are looking for new bosses. You might want to have a quick look at this (written when the FA was last looking for applicants for the men’s national team: I confess that I got my prediction about how the appointed person would fare slightly wrong).

• An article in this week’s Wantage & Grove Herald (p2) discussed the ill-fated Five Councils Partnership, under which Oxfordshire’s district councils joined forces in certain areas to try to achieve some economies of scale. As penny Post and others reported last year, the project, which was deigned to save £9m a year but may not break even. “It wasn’t a complete mistake,” the Leader of South Oxfordshire is quoted as saying, which is far from a ringing endorsement. The motive behind it is a laudable one, however. One question that may be asked is whether Oxfordshire needs four district councils with one county council above it. It could be argued that the districts are too small to be cost-effective and too large to be local. Much the same points could be made about Berkshire’s unitary authorities. With an increasing number of powers being devolved downwards, perhaps (another) nationwide rethink is needed. I appreciate that this a complex and emotive issue.

• One of the letters in the same paper refers to an incident some years ago in which the current local MP Layla Moran ended up slapping her partner during an argument and which has seems to be re-aired at regular intervals. I agree with the writer: it’s not ideal behaviour from anyone but it ‘hardly constitutes ‘domestic violence’ as we would normally understand the term.’

• The editorial in this paper reflects on the rather dark legacy of the cooling towers at Didcot Power Station, which are due finally to meet their maker in a few months’ time. When I’m driving round that area, they’re a bit like the proverbial eyes in portraits: wherever I’m going, I always seem to be driving towards them.

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

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.

This month Swindon’s town centre will be unveiling a new new monthly street market. As part of a collaborative scheme between inSwindon BID and The Anonymous Travelling Market, the Sunday Street Market will launch on Sunday 26 May in Havelock Square.

• 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.

• A new housing development planned for Blunsdon may incorporate some special bricks which are designed to encourage nesting by swifts, of which there are a good number in the area.

• 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 something I’ve just been sent by Ed Pownall, local stand-up and one of our co-presenters on 4 Legs Radio. It’s a splendidly silly reworking by his band One Hit Wonder of the American playground song Moose Alpaca (Fish Narwal), complete with a splendidly silly video. It is, he assures me, ‘this year’s summer dance craze’ and it’s hard to argue – so get practising.  

• Which takes us to the Quiz Question of the Week. This week’s question: To the nearest thousand, how many candidates are standing  in today’s local elections? Last week’s question was Who scored the fastest goal in Premier League history (clocking in at 7.7 seconds from the kick off)?  The answer is Shane Long for Southampton v Watford on 23 April. I once scored a goal that I reckon was faster than this but it was in a five-a-side match at a council pitch underneath the Westway, a game which sadly doesn’t appear in any official FA statistics.

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Brian Quinn

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