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Hungerford Town Council Update May/June 2019

These notes incorporate some but not all of the matters discussed at the Full Hungerford Town Council (HTC) Meeting on 3 June 2019, the agenda for which can be found here. Any references below to ‘the meeting’ refer to this event unless specified otherwise. The official minutes of the meeting will in due course be found on the HTC site. This report also includes information about HTC’s activities which were not discussed at the meeting. See the foot of this post for more information. WBC = West Berkshire Council.

For HTC updates from previous months, please visit the archives here.

Police Report

A representative of the Thames Valley Police was unable to attend the meeting or supply a report.

Just to repeat some messages from last month’s report, which remain just as relevant:

Anyone who sees a crime, or even something which might be or might become a crime, is urged to report it. Please click here for information on how to do this. The more information you can provide the better but do not put yourself at any risk.

For more information on the police presence in and around the town, please click here.

To read a recent interview with Matthew Barber, the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley, please click here.

District Councillors’ Reports

The Mayor told the meeting that the District Councillors Dennis Benneyworth and Claire Rowles were present throughout the meeting; James Cole had been delayed and turned up during it. The first two addressed the meeting.

Claire Rowles, a first-time councillor – a solicitor who grew up in Kintbury and who lives in Boxford – admitted that she was still finding her feet at WBC but had already been asked to join two committees, Adult Social Care (as Deputy Chair) and Western Area Planning.

Dennis Benneyworth, for whom this election merely represented a change of ward, covered a few points. These included the fact that he had called in (asked for it to be considered by the WBC Planning Committee) the application for floodlights at the Tennis Club (though as more than 10 relevant objections had been received this would have happened anyway); his hope that WBC’s grass-mowing duties in the town, already curtailed by budget cuts, would be better in future as a new member of staff was soon to be appointed; and the confirmation that S106 payments (the result of agreements between planning authorities and developers to help make and application more acceptable) totalling about £26,000 would soon be received by HTC.

Co-option of HTC Councillors

There were two vacancies for HTC Councillors and two people – Alistair Fyfe and Denise Gaines – had put themselves forward for co-option. After making brief statements to summarise their CVs which had already been circulated, both were welcomed onto the Council as a result of a majority secret vote.

The Mayor’s activities

The Mayor’s activities in May included, as well the usual HTC meetings, attending a garden party at Buckingham Palace, the Reading Crown Court Youth Competition, the Thatcham and Newbury Mayor-making ceremonies, The Hungerford Constable’s Parade, a Town band concert and a private viewing of the 2019 Open Studios, as well as meetings involving the REME Armed Forces Day and the work at the Croft Field Centre.

Hungerford 2036 (Neighbourhood Development Plan) update

The H2036 project has now reached the stage where the general aspirations need to be separated from matters of planning policy: with the help of the project’s consultants, PlanET, this is now happening.

Health provision in the town was highlighted as a concern in the survey and in subsequent comments, and the team has been working closely with the Practice Manager at the Surgery to understand more about its future needs and to ensure that the NDP reflects this. The H2036 Joint-Chairs are delighted to report that he might be joining the Project Team.

As well as responding to concerns raised by people now, the Project Team also needs to look forward and foresee what future issues will become more important over time and to ensure that this are reflected in the NDP. Environmental matters, including the use of renewable energy and support for electric car use, is one such area and the team is actively working to establish aspirations and policies in this area. Further effort will also be put into engaging with the town’s younger residents in order to ensure that their views, where relevant, are represented.

The Project Team has received a good deal of useful feedback from residents and now wishes to concentrate its work on talking to specific groups or organisations (such as the Surgery, mentioned above) about their needs and aspirations. Several such groups have already been contacted and more will be in the future. If you would like any organisation you represent to be a part of these discussions, please contact the Project Team. Various public events will also be arranged in due course and these will be publicised when the details are confirmed.

You can click here to visit the main H2036 page on the Town Council’s website (the most recent additions are at the bottom). The aims and objectives can be found here. If you want to make a comment on this or any other aspect of the work, you can comment online by clicking here. There is also a general comment form for those who prefer to work offline which you can print, complete and return it to the town office. You can also email any comments to townclerk@hungerford-tc.gov.uk.

To be kept informed please click on this link and scroll down to the foot of the page to sign up to the Hungerford 2036mailing list.

Hungerford in Bloom 2019

This year’s competition will include more categories for domestic entries such as a hanging basket/container, a category for volunteer gardens and, as in previous years, a commercial premises category. HTC would also like to encourage our Hungerford Schools to enter the competition and have included a ‘Schools’ category for you. Anyone who is interested in entering the competition please see the entry form for more details.  All entries, whether a hanging basket, window box or your complete garden will be very welcome and will all contribute to the attractiveness of our town as well as to a successful competition.

A printable copy of the entry can be found here. A hard copy can be obtained from the HTC office. The closing date for the competition is Monday 24 June 2019 and judging day will be Saturday 6 July 2019.

The Hungerford Allotment Holders Association (HAHA) is also taking part in the competition. For contact details for the HAHA competition, please contact Ted Angell on 07798 886 597 or tedangell.ta@gmail.com.

Hungerford’s Pigeons

The Newbury Weekly News reported on 23 May that WBC-contracted street cleaners had been seen dumping pigeon poo into the drains which, it is claimed, can lead to contamination of the water supply. The various problems caused by these winged pests have been mentioned frequently in this section before. HTC is not indifferent to these but a long-term and cost-effective solution is proving elusive. Some of these depend on the co-operation of all the landlords in the High Street, which has not been forthcoming.

Committee meetings

For more information on the work of HTC’s committees, please click here. For a full calendar of committee meetings, please click here.

The minutes of these (and other) meetings are available on the HTC website now or will be soon.

These are the points from some of the committees that were discussed at the meeting:

Tourism and Economy

Following the first experiment last month, there will be another pop-up tourist information stand in the High Street this Wednesday with another one planned for a weekend day. After this, as assessment will be made as to how the provision of information can best be handled.

It was also reported that the new Welcome to Hungerford road signs should be installed during June. The cost will be shared by HTC and the NorthWessex Down AONB.

Highways and Transport

Discussions continue with Network Rail over HTC’s plans for additional car-parking spaces near the station (see this post for the background to this). Network Rail has said that it requires the use of some of the land for its own activities but it’s hoped that this can be incorporated in the existing proposal, perhaps with the help of WBC and the Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership which are also now likely to become involved in the project.

Environment and Planning

As mentioned in last week’s Local News, there will be a meeting of the Hungerford Town Council Environment & Planning Committee meeting on Monday 1o June at 7pm, upstairs in the Town Hall, to give a brief update on the progress of the development at Salisbury Road. It was originally planned that a representative of CALA, one of the developers, would attend this: but it now seems that CALA has sold or otherwise transferred its interests in the matter to Bewley Homes. Click here to the see the relevant page on the Bewley website. It’s hoped that a representative from Bewley , and perhaps also Wates (the other developers), and perhaps also CALA, will attend the meeting. The representative/s will answer questions but the Town Council requests these to be submitted in advance, preferably the day before but by 2pm on the day at the latest. Please contact claire.barnes@hungerford-tc.gov.uk.

It was also reported at the meeting that, following complaints, the workmanship on the development behind the Three Swans seemed to have improved. It was also confirmed that no expressions of interest had been received for the former NatWest building in the High Street.

Recreation and Amenities

It was confirmed at the meeting that the new lease with HAHA was on the point of agreement; that HTC’s tree-management programme was being advanced; and that the annual health and safety walk around of the town was being conducted.

Change to the frequency of council meetings

The Mayor had previously circulated a document in which it was proposed that the committee meetings for Recreation and Amenities and Highways and Transport (the only HTC committee meetings which take place as frequently as once a month and which perhaps do not need to) and, possibly, the full council meetings themselves, in future take place only every other months. This would bring HTC into line with other larger Town Councils in West Berkshire.

Two main reasons were suggested. The first was that the work of the Clerk and her staff was already considerable and that valuable time could be saved by reducing the number of agendas and minutes for these. The second was that the meetings were often inconclusive as a month was often not enough time for a suitable report to be prepared, without which discussion would have to be deferred.

In the discussion that followed, the proposal was broadly approved but with some concerns. These included possible lack of transparency, momentum, continuity and decision-making. Under the new arrangement, one missed meeting could result in a four-month gap of attendance. It was also suggested that committee chairs should have more power to decide certain matters which otherwise needed to come back to the full council (which often led to the issue being re-opened and, if unresolved, returned to the committee). The point was also made that a more rigorous adherence to action plans and their timings would improve the efficiency of HTC’s work. It was widely accepted that HTC carried out a large number of tasks, involving a great deal of documentation, in a wide range of areas. With volunteer councillors and hard-pressed staff it was necessary that some changes be considered.

The Mayor eventually proposed that the frequency of full HTC meetings be left as they were (every month save August). From September, and for an initial trial period of six months, Recreation and Amenities and Highways and Transport would meet only in odd-numbered months but would provide brief reports to HTC on each occasion. This proposal was accepted.

It was also stressed that all councillors, town and district, and the staff, can be contacted by members of the public. Contact details can be found here.

 

The sections above cover some of the issues with which Hungerford Town Council has recently been involved or concerned: it by no means describes all of the Council’s activities.

For more information on Hungerford Town Council, please click here.

If there’s anything that you’d like to see addressed by Hungerford Town Council, and perhaps also covered in this way in future editions of Penny Post Hungerford, please email claire.barnes@hungerford-tc.gov.uk. Any such suggestions should be received at least four working days before the end of the month (and preferably sooner) if they are to be included in the corresponding post for the following month. That is not, of course, to say that the Council will not in any case give the matter its attention and respond personally if appropriate.

This information has been compiled by Penny Post from information supplied by Hungerford Town Council and others. Every reasonable effort has been made to provide a clear and dispassionate summary of the points covered but these may contain expressions of opinion which may not accord with Hungerford Town Council’s official view on the particular matter. Links have been provided to other posts, on the Penny Post site or elsewhere, to provide additional information where this has been judged useful or necessary. The presence of such a link should not be taken to imply that Hungerford Town Council necessarily agrees with, endorses or supports any of the material contained therein.

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