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Hungerford Town Council Update September/October 2019

These notes incorporate some but not all of the matters discussed at the Full Hungerford Town Council (HTC) Meeting on 7 October 2019, the agenda for which can be found here. Any references below to ‘the meeting’ refer to this event unless specified otherwise. Any such issues are not necessarily covered here in the order in which they were discussed. 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

Full Council Meetings take place in the Corn Exchange complex, generally at 7.00pm on the first working Monday of every month except August. The agenda for the next one will be provided in this section of the HTC website in due course.

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

WBC = West Berkshire Council.

Police

No local representative of the Thames Valley Police was able to attend the meeting but the following report was provided by PS Andrew Murray:

Crime Report

I have reviewed the recorded crime for the last month (06/09/19-06/10/19) and provide a precis of the figures below- These are crimes recorded as occurring in Hungerford. It does not include the villages and wider communities.

• Two assaults with injury and four without injury.
• Two burglary (dwellings) and two burglaries (non-dwelling0.
• Four criminal damage reports.
• Three shopliftings (including attempts), five miscellaneous thefts, which includes bilkings (not paying for fuel etc) and one theft of a pedal cycle.
• There were no thefts from vehicles, theft of vehicles or drug offences recorded during this period.

The Team

PS Andrew Murray joined the team at the start of October as the NHPT’s Sergeant. He has worked previously as a Response Sergeant’for West Berkshire and therefore has some previous knowledge of the Hungerford area. PC Dave Burleigh has recently left the team to take up a new role elsewhere.

The current set up of the team is one Inspector, one Sergeant, two Police Constables and six PCSOs to cover the Hungerford and Downlands area.

The team is contactable by email but this should not be used in an emergency or for crimes in progress as it is not monitored 24/7. The email is address is below HungerfordandDownlandsNHPT@thamesvalley.pnn.police.uk

Other messages

• Please encourage local people to sign up for Thames Valley Alerts. As well as local crime information, you can receive details of the latest scams.
• The Herbert Protocol. We are keen to promote the Herbert Protocol initiative which helps us all to try to keep vulnerable members of our community safe.
• Please report incidents via 101 or 999. We sometimes find that news travels fast round a community but if no one tells us, we don’t know about it.

Resignation of a Town Councillor

The Mayor reported that, sadly, Councillor Rob Brookman has resigned as a HTC Councillor meaning that the vacancy will in due course be filled by co-option. All those present thanked him for his years of work, the annual organisation of Hungerford’s justly famous Christmas lights being a particular achievement.

Appointment of Deputy Clerk

It was also announced that Dr Liz Bell had joined HTC as a Deputy Clerk.

Hungerford Youth and Community Centre

There was a short presentation by Charlie Barr from the HYCC. She summarised the history and changing status of the organisation: before 2012, the centre and a youth worker had been fully funded by West Berkshire but, since then, the Centre has had to rely on grants from other organisations or its own funding efforts. Since 2016, the building and the hard court have been refurbished and a youth club operates twice a week. The building is also used at other times for other activities. The HYCC has also become a charity, which enables other sources of funding and offers VAT-exemption.

The long-term plan is to increase the number of sessions, make these age-banded, organise trips and appoint a youth worker, for all of which additional funding would be needed. She stressed that national funding bodies only consider projects if there’s already a solid basis of local financial support so she expressed her gratitude to HTC for its continuing contributions.

All three District Councillors expressed an interest in visiting the HYCC in the near future.

For more information about the HYCC, visit the website.

Hungerford Food Festival

All those present at the meeting paid tribute to the organisers of the most recent Hungerford Food Festival on Sunday 6 October which was felt to have been the best ever.

Salisbury Road

For the immediate background to this issue, please see the August/September HTC Update.

District Councillor James Cole confirmed at the meeting that negotiations were continuing between the developers and WBC’s planning officers. He said he couldn’t comment on the specifics, nor predict the conclusion, but felt that a robust approach was being taken by WBC. District Councillor Claire Rowles confirmed that the call-in had not yet appeared on the Western Area Planning Committee minutes.

Speeding on the Common

For the background to this, please see News from Hungerford Town and Manor, September 2019.

District Councillor Dennis Benneyworth confirmed that WBC’s review of the issue of speeding on Hungerford Common, and in Lower Denford, would take place on Wednesday 9 October. A large number of signatures to a petition, obtained online, at the Hungerford Food Festival and at other events, will support the claim that the speed limit should be reduced to 20mph.

Councillor Richard Hudson pointed out that WBC is likely to follow advice from Thames Valley Police that, as the average speed is at or around 30mph, no further measures are needed.  He also suggested that other measures might need to be considered. Some are likely to prove impossible or difficult: speed humps and chicanes cannot be used without street lights. Rumble strips and reflective signs might provide solutions. So far this year there have been four collisions involving cows and cars and the fear is that the next one might involve a serious injury to a driver or passenger.

Car parking at the station

For the background to this issue, please see Car Parking in Hungerford.

At the meeting, Councillor Rob Chicken said that a grant application had been made to cover the cost of the feasibility study into the proposed parking plans; also that the re-painting of the footbridge had started (so far on the inside only).

Car parking at the Hub

District Councillor Dennis Benneyworth said that at a recent meeting in Hungerford with WBC’s CEO Nick Carter, the request was made that volunteers at the Hub be given free parking permits. He promised to follow this up.

Parking outside the Three Swans

The recurring issue of large delivery lorries parking outside the Three Swans and blocking not only the traffic but also the zebra crossing was discussed at the meeting. The Manager of the Three Swans confirmed that this was against their agreement with their suppliers and that the matter would be looked into. The only viable solution would be for them to park on the other side of the High Street and roll the barrels across the zebra crossing. He also pointed out that smaller vans delivered round the back of the building.

It was also suggested that the planning-permission conditions for the development behind the Three Swans should be examined as it was possible that these had anticipated the problem of deliveries by large lorries and required a suitable access for vehicles of all sizes.

Hungerford 2036 (Neighbourhood Development Plan) update

For the immediate background to this issue, please see the August/September HTC Update. For the background to the entire project, please see the Hungerford 2036 – Shaping our Future post.

Work in September has mainly involved consulting about the site-selection criteria with representatives from WBC. These comments now need to be considered and incorporated into this part of the document. It’s expected that this will happen in the next few weeks and that it will be ratified by HTC in November: this will achieve the stated aim of its being in place before West Berkshire’s HELAA (Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment) is itself finalised.

Councillor John Downe said that he appreciated that the pace of work over the last few months might appear unspectacular but stressed that this stage was one that required precision of facts and of language and also required the involvement of other groups.

He also mentioned in passing that he had recently attended a convention hosted by Cherwell District Council in Bicester, an organisation which has a reputation for innovative planning policies and for securing grants for these initiatives. In response to a question from a colleague he said that this was not a route Hungerford could adopt on its own but that such initiatives needed to come at district-council level. Hungerford’s NDP work did, however, leave it well placed to lobby for such lessons to be followed in this district.

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 2036 mailing list.

The Mayor’s activities

The Mayor’s activities in September included, as well various HTC meetings, helping to cover staff absences in the office, participating in two councillor training sessions and attending Berkshire Vision’s AGM and a reception by the High Sheriff of Berkshire.

Pigeons

This continuing problem has now been, with the help of District Councillor James Cole, elevated to the local Public Protection Partnership (PPP) for  its consideration. A site visit from the PPP has taken place and its expected that the initial report will be provided to HTC within the next week or so.

It has also been agreed that representatives from the PPP attend the HTC meeting on 2 December; this may start 15 minutes earlier than usual at 6.45 to allow adequate time.

Street lights

As previously reported, the situation in Hungerford is somewhat inelegant, with some lights owned by HTC and some by WBC. WBC is happy to take ownership of HTC’s lights providing that these can first be brought up to a satisfactory present-day standard (the reverse of the discussions which took place with regard to the transfer of the Library from WBC to HTC). As a result, HTC is involved in rolling programme of capital expenditure for items which it will then dispose of, so reducing HTC’s maintenance liabilities in the future. Each street light costs about £1,000 modernise, the main change being the conversion to LED bulbs.

The most recent such modernisation was approved at the meeting with regard to seven streetlights in Park Way at the cost of some £7,200. It was also agreed that further street lights would be treated in the same way whenever there was sufficient sums in the budget.

West Berkshire Council Climate Conference

District Councillor Claire Rowles reminded the meeting about this event on Monday 28 October. The agenda was still in draft form but would soon be available on WBC’s website. District Councillor James Cole said that he felt there were a number of items that would make attendance very useful for HTC councillors and, indeed, members of the public. The event is free but pre-registration is required.

District Councillors’ reports

All three Councillors were present at the meeting. The various reports and observations they provided have been incorporated into other sections in this post.

Committee meetings

Some aspects of the work of some of the committees were discussed at the meeting, including:

Environment & Planning. It was reported that September had been a fairly quiet month with no controversial issues, such as Salisbury Road (see above), to contend with.

It was noted that the application for the lights at the Tennis Club had been withdrawn, possibly due to the costs of the investigative and remedial measures demanded by WBC. It is, however, expected that a further application would reappear in the future which would hopefully have addressed the concerns which were expressed at the time of the original application. The Mayor expressed her hope that a solution could be found which would enable the town’s long-established tennis club to grow and thrive.

It was also noted that, to date, no application has been received by WBC for the chairs and table outside Costa Coffee in the High Street. These were allowed to remain while the relevant officer was on holiday last month but this period of grace has now lapsed.

Highways and Transport. Aside from the matters of parking outside the Three Swans and the plans for the railway station, which are covered elsewhere, other issues discussed during the month included the need to deal with road signs obscured by vegetation; the idea of wildflower areas on grass verges and roundabouts, which WBC is in general agreeable to; and the continuing good work being done by the Smarten-up Hungerford team of volunteers.

Recreation & Amenities. A number of issues were discussed at the recent meeting. These included a productive meeting with the Nursery School about car parking at the Croft Hall; the regretful refusal of permission to Hungerford Surgery for the use of the car park for staff as this would compromise the viability of hiring the building; a request that other councillors agree to join the Triangle Field management Committee; and a report on discussions with HAHA, the allotment association, which still awaits the final lease from the landlords but which has enjoyed another successful year.

Tourism & Economy. A reminder that the 2019 Hungerford Trade Showcase whch will take place at John O’Gaunt School on Tuesday 22 October, co-inciding with a parents’ evening. Anyone running a local business who would like to find out more should contact cllr.martin.crane@hungerford-tc.gov.uk.

Finance & General Purposes. The main variations in the budget were discussed, most of which related to phasing issues.

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

Hungerford Town Council opening hours

A reminder that due to an unplanned and unavoidable period of staff absence, HTChas taken the decision to close the council office on Mondays and Thursdays for the foreseeable future. It will be open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 10am and 2pm. Theyhave deliberately chosen to close on the same days as the library, when footfall tends to be lower.

If you need to contact HTC urgently on Mondays or Thursdays, please telephone the office on 01488 686 195 to speak with a member of staff. You can also email admin@hungerford-tc.gov.uk at any time. In addition, the office will be closed altogether between Friday 13 and Thursday 19 September.

 

The sections above cover the main issues with which HTC has recently been involved or concerned: it by no means describes all of HTC’s activities. Nor is this an official record of the meeting referred to above, nor any other aspect of HTC’s activities. Links to the official minutes of this and other meetings are provided in this post.

For more information on HTC, please click here.

If there’s anything that you’d like to see addressed by HTC, 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 HTC 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 HTC 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 HTC’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 HTC necessarily agrees with, endorses or supports any of the material contained therein.

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