Local News June 27 to July 4 2019

Our round-up of local news across the area this week including Thatcham’s questions, Hungerford’s answers, Newbury’s objections, Burghfield’s go-karts, Ham’s pub, Theale’s clean-up, Marlborough’s penny-spending, Wantage’s photos, Aldbourne’s heritage, Lambourn’s railway, Shefford’s pheasants, Highworth’s democracy, Greenham’s re-enactment, Hampstead Norreys’ champion, Swindon’s recycling, East Challow’s bees, police and travel updates, the moon, Boris’ woes, climate emergencies, chalk rainbows, learner achievements, organic wine, a collapsed spaniel, John of Gaunt’s bath-time, a 3,100-mile run and the moon again (and again).

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)

• Local MP Richard Benyon has told the NWN that he will be supporting Jeremy Hunt in the forthcoming Conservative Party leadership election, which has put him up in my estimation. In the same article he said that he had sympathy for Boris Johnson in his recent domestic debacle, saying that it was ‘pretty unpleasant’ for a recording of the row to have ended up with a newspaper. The Conservatives have done their best to make the neighbour, not the politician, the story. Boris Johnson has form with these kind of domestic rages, dating back to the 1980s. He is also, to put it mildly, at times unreliable. This article from The Independent lists a number of his ‘flirtations with dishonesty’ which, even by the low standards of political probity, make pretty sorry reading. It makes no difference, however, what you or I think about him as, unless you’re a member of the Conservative Party, you don’t get to have a say as to who our next Prime Minister will be.

This website says that more than 50% of the population of the UK now lives in an area which has declared a climate emergency. I’m not sure if these figures double count places where both the parish and the district councils have done this but, even if so, it’s an impressive total and one that’s growing every week. This leads to two issues. The first is what steps a council can take. Thatcham, which passed its resolution earlier this week, is one of the latest to pass such a motion which led, as reported on p29 of this week’s NWN, to some discussion as to what happens next. I spoke to one of the councillors today who confirmed that the process was a ‘voyage of discovery’ but that help and support had already been received from other councils, including Reading. Thatcham’s next step will be a meeting of the working party on Thursday 27 Jun . One of the decisions, which all councils face, is whether the first step should be to put their own house in order in this respect or to introduce policies and initiatives in their area. The second is at what point the national government will get involved and produce an over-arching framework for this. The risk otherwise is that there’s a lot of duplication, inconsistency and confusion. However, as the government is preoccupied with other things, the councils have decided that they need to act. If death came from Whitehall, we would all live to a very old age. 

• Residents of West Berkshire have until the end of July to make their comments on the Draft Economic Development Strategy 2019-36 which ‘takes a long term view of the district’s economic needs and looks at how the council and its partners might meet the challenges likely to emerge in the coming years.’

• This year’s summer reading challenge from West Berkshire Libraries gets under way soon with children aged 4-11 being invited to sign up to the annual Challenge to borrow and read any six library books between 1 July and the end of September. This year’s theme is ‘Space Chase’, inspired by the first moon landing 50 years ago.

• My word, was the moon landing really 50 years ago? I remember being made to watch it on television – a programme which seemed to be little more than a grainy image of a pointed tin can with the word ‘simulation’ flashing underneath it – and, this image aside, it left no impression on me at all. In many ways the whole thing was little more than a frenzied, and ultimately successful, response to a piece of Cold-War rhetoric by President Kennedy nine years earlier. The collective achievement was immense and involved pulling together aspects from almost every branch of science, many of which were untested. The best computers the age could devise were used on the project but these were 120 million times less powerful than an iPhone. As for the guidance computer, this would have been comfortably outperformed by the technology in a modern washing machine. All in all, it’s perhaps easier to accept the view of the conspiracy theorists and say that the whole thing was a hoax concocted in some Hollywood studio. 

• The thing about swimming in a pool, as I’ve had cause to remark before, is that it’s mind-numbingly boring and so equates to a form of meditation. My efforts pal into complete insignificance, however, compared to this event in – where else? – New York which involves running 3,100 miles in 52 days around the same city block.

• The 17th annual Learner Achievement Awards were held on 7 June at Shaw House to celebrate the success of adult learning in West Berkshire and cover a range of provision including apprenticeships, professional qualifications, and health and wellbeing courses. the awards are organised by West Berkshire Council on behalf of the West Berkshire Community Learning Partnership and sponsored by Newbury College, West Berkshire Training Consortium, and the Newbury Community Resource Centre.

• The animal of the week is Peter the cocker spaniel who collapses in a heap whenever he gets excited or alarmed. 

• The letters pages of the Newbury Weekly News this week include: criticism of the formalities for using West Berkshire’s recycling centres; a call to improve local public transport; more on the the climate-change science debate; and some thoughts about the practical consequences of carbon neutrality. 

• A number of good causes have received valuable support recently, including: New Life (thanks to the recent cycling trip to Normandy); several local charities (thanks to the Burghfield Box Kart Bash); Julia’s House (thanks to Marlborough Golf Club); the British heart Foundation (thanks to pupils at Brook Field Primary School in Swindon); prospect Hospice (thanks to the Starlight Walk).

Hungerford & district

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

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

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

• Good news that, reversing the trend of village pubs closing, a new one opened last week – The Crown and Anchor in Ham, on the site of the former Indigo Palace restaurant. We wish it well. They’re also recruiting for staff.

• The results of the Town and Manor Trustee elections were declared last month and you can see a list of the winning candidates here.

• As mentioned last week, Bewley Homes sent a representative to  Hungerford Town Council’s Environment and Planning Committee meeting on 10 June (read the minutes of the meeting here). at which the considerably-changed plans for the 100-home (if that is what it is to be) development at Salisbury Road were discussed. A number of questions were posed by the Council and members of the public which Bewley has now replied to: you can see the answers here. The very first question asked why Bewley had taken on the project from CALA: the answer, that ‘mutually acceptable commercial terms for the venture could not be agreed’ has disturbing echoes of the problems that have plagued the (far larger) Sandleford development in Newbury which also has two developers. Hopefully Bewley and Wates will be able to get on rather better. Another question asked why there were no homes on the eastern part of the site (resulting in a higher density of homes in the remainder and a vacant space which looks very much like ‘part two’). The answer was that ‘The masterplan submitted with the outline application was illustrative only and demonstrated one way in which the site could be developed.’ The last phrase could perhaps be rewritten as ‘…demonstrated to the planning authority a vision which was most likely to lead to permission being granted.’

Organic wines are available for sampling at The Naked Grape in Hungerford on Saturday 29 June.

• The Hungerford Summer Festival gets going on Friday 28 June and runs until 14 July.

Hungerford Town FC has recently announced its shirt sponsors for the next three years.  The latest Penny Post competition gives you the chance to see these shirts in action by winning  a pair of season tickets (worth nearly £400) for all of the 2019-20 home fixtures.

• 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). Lower Denford Road will be fully closed to through traffic and non-motorised users, including pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians, at Denford Mill Bridge. The 24-hour seven-days road closure will last approximately nine weeks to carry out bridge deck replacement works. There will access-only traffic between the junction on the Common by the railway line and Mill Bridge, and from the A4 to Denford Mill: but the Bridge itself will be closed to traffic and pedestrians during this time. Diversions will be marked via Park Street, the High Street (A338) and the Bath Road (A4).

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.

p13 • This week’s NWN reports that Lambourn Parish Council has objected to plans to build a new home on the site of the former Malt Shovel pub in Upper Lambourn (which has already been converted into flats.)

• The amount raised by the metal-detecting event May in aid of the Great Shefford Flood Alleviation Association has been confirmed as £3,604 (including match funding from The Good Exchange).

• This month’s Nature Notes in the Great Shefford Parish News considers the so-called ‘common’ (though actually quite rare) quail and relates tales of pheasant machismo, vegetable destruction and egg thefts.

• See p13 of this month’s Village Views for details of the 2019 Lambourn Photography Competition – entry forms must be at the Pharmacy by Wednesday 14 August.

This collection of photos of The Lambourn Valley Railway on The Lambourn Facebook group prompted a flood of recollections and questions about the line, which closed in the 1960s. One question was why it closed: the answer was that it almost always lost money, even in the heyday of the rail network in first half of the 20th century. 

• There will be an open garden day in Great Shefford and Shefford Woodlands on Sunday 7 July and the organisers hope to have as many gardens as possible featured. Please contact Linda Forrester on 01488 648140 for more information.

• 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 until 19 August. Diversions will be in place directing you through Membury. This is to enable repairs to be carried out to the bridge.  

• 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 [email protected]

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

• 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 62nd 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.

• Please click here for Hamstead Marshall.net, which provides an excellent round-up of what’s going on in and around the village. It also publishes the Hamstead Hornet – if you’d like subscribe, contact Penny Stokes at [email protected].

• If you see rainbows drawn in chalk on the pavement in Bartholomew Street this coming weekend, it’s part of a Gay Pride celebration centred on The Globe pub. 20p for every drink served will be donated to the All Out campaign which aims to combat intolerance about this aspect of our personality over which we have no control – we are each how God/nature/evolution made us.

• This week’s Newbury Weekly News reports, on p2, of the objections raised by Newbury Town Council to the plans for the redevelopment of the newspaper’s former offices in Faraday Road for a number of reasons, including concerns about pollution from the A339 and about striking the right balance between residential and commercial space. 

• The same paper has, on p3, a report on the recent Victoria Park Fun Day.

• And, turning to pp6-7, there’s another report on the event at Greenham Common last weekend which commemorated, and re-enacted, General Eisenhower’s visit to Newbury in 1944.

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

• You can still enter Newbury in Bloom 2019 until 30 June – click here for details and the entry form.

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.

• With 17,000 entrants the Countryside Alliance’s award for best village shop are bigger than the FA Cup. Like the FA Cup, there can only be one winner: and this year it’s the Hampstead Norreys Community Shop. Many congratulations to them.

• A reminder about the shophop’s eco-bricks project which re-purposes your one-use plastic. You can read more about this by clicking here

West Isley’s village fete takes place on Sunday 7 July: click here for the Facebook page. For those of you who like Spitfires, there’s a video of a fly-past by one at last year’s event. 

• See p12 of this week’s NWN for a report and photos of the Classic Vehicle Day in Yattendon last weekend.

• The June Chaddleworth News is available here. If you want to subscribe or contribute, email [email protected]. This month’s issue includes village events, some local history, brewery awards, fête news, memorial trees and local clubs and societies.

• The June newsletter from West Ilsley Parish Council can be found 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 the latest news from Woolhampton Parish Council.

• Please click here for details of Thatcham’s civic events in 2019.

• See above, Across the Area, for news of the recent decision by Thatcham Town Council to declare a state of climate emergency.

• The 2019 Thatcham Family Fun Day takes place on Sunday 30 June – more details here.

Thatcham Parish Hall needs new trustees, more groups and societies to hire it and fundraising ideas. See the Facebook page for the latest news and to get in touch.

• Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan is seeking volunteers to assist with the work involved and is also requesting comments from residents. For more information, visit the NDP section of the parish council’s website.

• 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.

• See this week’s NWN (p20) for a report and photos covering Beenham’s recent fete.

• The unaudited version of the 2018-19 Annual Governance and Accountability Report (AGAR) was published by Theale Parish Council on 14 June 2019 and is available for inspection.

• Kier is issuing roughly monthly updates about the building progress at the new primary school is Thealehere’s the latest one.

• The same council is searching for a new parish councillorclick here for details.

• The Burghfield Box-kart Bash took place on 23 June and raised around £18,000 for a range of local charities. See p10 of this week’s NWN for a report and photos.

• Burghfield’s Community Sports Day will take place on Sunday 7 July.

• Holy Trinity Church in Theale is planning a Community Clear-up of its churchyard on Saturday 29 June 2019 from 10am. Please join in and help if you can; meet at the Church at 10am and if you have a pair of secateurs or lopers bring those too. 

Click here and here for the latest from Highways England about the progress of the work to turn the M4 from J3 to J12 into a smart motorway.

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

Click here for the June/July 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.

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

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

Marlborough.news reports that ‘big changes are underway’ for the Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group.

• Over 600 people have signed a petition asking Marlborough Town Council to install a pedestrian crossing in the High Street.

• Information here on Marlborough’s LitFest (26-29 September). 

• Marlborough is soon to have new public toilets.

• Free coach transport to the National Armed Forces Day in Salisbury on Saturday 29 June is being provided by Marlborough’s Royal British Legion with support from the Marlborough Area Board.

• Registration is open for the fourth annual Savernake Forest 10k and 3K fun run on Saturday 13 July.

• There will be three guided walks in Aldbourne on Saturday 6 July designed to explore part of the village’s history and heritage – including, according to this poster, where John of Gaunt once took a bath.

Action for the River Kennet is looking for volunteers in July to help build a rain garden at St Michael’s School.

• 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).

• And in the same village, click here to keep up to date with what’s going on at the Youth Club.

• 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.

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

• There was a time, though anyone under about 20 would not remember it, when (unless you had a Polaroid) the act of taking a photograph involved a long wait while the images were developed from the roll of film. An even more distant time involved heavy, fragile and expensive equipment and plates to take even the simplest picture. Some fortunate survivals of that age, in the form of 70 glass-plate negatives from the early 20th century, have recently been donated to the Vale and Downland Museum.

• The same venue is having a fundraising cupcake day on Saturday 30 June in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society.

• Still a few spaces left for the Curry Night Quiz on Saturday 20 July in aid of the Save Wantage Hospital Campaign.

• A wonderful photo here of the swarm of bees which were recently collected by the Oxfordshire Bee Co from East Challow.

• The Grove Volunteer Litter-picking Group meets at Old Mill Hall in School Lane at 9am on the second Friday of every month. Equipment is supplied by Grove Parish Council. More details here.

• Councillors at the Vale of White Horse will soon have a chance to consider part two of the district’s local plan and will vote on the adoption of the plan in the autumn.

• An international woman’s football tournament involving teams from England, France and Germany – forget the World Cup: the real competition will take place on Sunday 30 June when Wantage Town FC Ladies hosts sides from Carpentras in France and Sessen in Germany, as well as other teams from Swindon, Reading, Marlborough and Newbury.

• Click here for information the Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage Talking Newspaper (DAWN) for the blind and partially sighted.

Grove Parish Council has need of three more councillors: email [email protected] to find out more.

• Julie Mabberley’s regular column on p8 of the Wantage & Grove Herald looks at the progress that’s been made over the last few years with the large developments at Crab Hill and Grove Airfield.

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 several times previously about the odd situation in Highworth where 10 Conservative councillors were each handed an extra votes in the local elections as a result of an error in calculating the bloc votes. A group, Democracy for Highworth, has been set up to accomplish this and describes the progress the group has made, in the face of a fairly complex and long-winded system legal process for addressing such errors. The administrators removed an article from Private Eye’s Rotten Boroughs section saying that the post ‘is not about pointing fingers or blame.’ Fair enough: but if such things happen they should be reported. There’s also the question of whether it’s right that the voters, or those of them that have contributed, should have to pay for rectifying the error. 

• Voicemail and email reminders are the latest measures being introduced by Swindon Borough Council to help people keep on top of their council tax payments.

• A free gaming event, Brunel Knights, takes place in The Crossing, Swindon Town Centre on the first Wednesday of the month, from 6pm onwards. 

• Families in Swindon are being asked to complete a survey to help the council understand their childcare needs.

• Swindon is seeking to encourage the number of car-charging points through a new policy for new-build homes that will go out for consultation in July and August.

• Swindon Council  is introducing a trial collection of separate food waste recycling.

• Another story of depressingly low standards with new-build houses, this time on the Abbey Farm development.

• Swindon Borough Council’s Public Health Team has been working with several local organisations to encourage residents to be more open about how they’re feeling and talk about their mental health.

• Click here for details of the many volunteering opportunities at Great Western Hospital.

The song and the quiz

• The Song of the Week goes back to what I was blathering on about earlier, about the moon landings in ’69. Surely a moon-themed song was called for? There are plenty to choose from – Moondance, Bad Moon Rising, Moon River, Blue Moon, The Whole of the Moon – or even the whole of the Dark Side of the Moon. But, no, I’ve gone for something a bit different from any of these – We Like the Moon by…actually, I don’t know who did it: it doesn’t say.. You wouldn’t want to hold it up an example of great singing or guitar playing but when I first heard it about 10 years ago I nearly fell off my chair laughing, which can’t be that bad.  

• Which brings us to the Quiz Question of the Week. This week’s question is also about the moon and is as follows: What is remarkable about the respective sizes of the sun and the moon? Last week’s question was: Which stadium has staged the most European Cup/Champion’s league finals?The answer is Wembley, the old and the new, which has done so seven times (1963, 1968, 1971, 1978, 1992, 2011 and 2013, since you ask). 

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Brian Quinn

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