Local News Oct 3-10 2019

Our round-up of local news across the area this week including Hungerford’s market, Marlborough’s mops, Lambourn’s bonfire, Elton’s digesters, Shefford’s contingency, East Garston’s harvest, Thatcham’s ducks, Newbury’s canal, Wantage’s bonus, Swindon’s stadium, Shrivenham’s advice, Burghfield’s beer, Bedwyn’s club, Aldbourne’s band, Ashampstead’s arms, Boxford’s hall, Brightwalton’s walk and work, police and travel updates, good causes celebrated, grant awards, the Eton Wall Game, four local councils compared, Theresa’s reading habits, two understated obituaries, knockers, odd socks, fake blood, greengrocers, seasonal drawings, simple folk, Lee Kwan Yew and the bathroom window.

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)

• Ever in search of an explanation as to what is going on in Westminster, I was in the early hours of last Friday morning struck with a searing insight, of the kind that only comes when you unexpectedly find yourself awake at three in the morning. The whole ghastly fiasco, my febrile mind told me, is nothing more than an extension of the Eton Wall Game, a sport practiced only in one particular school near Slough, the rules and terminology of which make backstop, no-deal and article 50 seem like something out of a game of happy families. Of all the odd things about this activity, surely the oddest is that, while the ultimate objective is to score a ‘goal’, in the most prestigious contest, the annual St Andrew’s Day Match, no goal has been scored since 1909 (there are also things called ‘shies’ but they seem like very second-rate items, giving you one point as opposed to nine for a mythical ‘goal’) . Imagine over 100 consecutive FA Cup Finals ending 0-0. Not exactly a great spectator sport. So, public approval is not necessary. That in itself is a useful point to bear in mind. In short, the contest is personal

Two of the principal architects of Brexit, David Cameron and Boris Johnson, went to Eton (as did Jacob Rees-Mogg; and a few other people who have ruled us). Boris at one time was ‘the Keeper of the College Wall’, a term which could, and might, as well as a Wall-game position, be that of some parliamentary office, perhaps the person who walks behind Black Rod or the one who checks the plumpness of the Lord Chancellor’s woolsack. The obvious inference is that the current political mess is a bit of unfinished business from school. The significance of 1909 must have been apparent to them: surely few other places would have placed such importance on studying this apogée of British global dominance? But what happened in 1909? I’ll tell you. Not only did Blériot become the first person to fly across the Channel – so creating a sense of British unease about our relations with Europe that have remained and grown ever since –  but also Manchester United won the FA Cup for the first time. So what? you might ask. That’s what I though until, fuelled with a Nostradamus-style sense of paranoia, I noticed that the last time they won it was in 2016, the year of the referendum. Pretty convincing evidence, as I think you’ll agree. When I also point out that St Andrew, on whose day this epic match is played, is the patron saint of Scotland, a country whose independence vote in 2014 was surely one of the things that convinced Cameron that he could win the next one, you must accept that my case is pretty much made.

There’s more. Cameron supports Aston Villa (except when he gets mixed up and thinks he supports West Ham, as he once did). Villa were one of Man U’s great rivals in the 1910s. Boris Johnson is even more confused about football, once saying that he supported all the London teams: how anyone can support Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea is beyond me. However, his children all support Newcastle. The fact that Newcastle won the league in 1909 when Man U when their first cup provides, as I think you’ll agree, the clincher to my argument. Brexit is a sporting rivalry which has its origins in the Edwardian age but which was honed on the playing fields of Eton and is now being re-enacted, for our enjoyment, nation-wide, daily and seemingly indefinitely.

I concede that almost everything I’ve just written is probably complete drivel. However, it seems at least as sensible and cogent an explanation for what’s going on as anything else I’ve read.  (You’re fired. Ed.

• The matter of the the redevelopment of the London Road Industrial Estate – which has been going on for over 10 years without anything much happening apart from the A339 relief road – is mentioned in this week’s Newbury Weekly News with the announcement (which I thought had happened some time back) that West Berkshire was not going to release correspondence between it and St Modwen’s concerning the deal between( that was, last year, found to be unlawful) on various grounds, including commercial confidentiality. The newspaper has requested that the Council conduct an internal review of this decision. Presumably all the correspondence will be available to the Scrutiny Commission which is looking into    this tangled story. Some question whether this body, which includes members who were involved in the original decisions, is the best vehicle for examining the matter.

• Our former PM, Theresa May, still the MP for Maidenhead a few stops down the line from West Berkshire, decided that the Henley Literary Festival was a better place to spend her time than her party’s conference. She said that she ‘might’ write a book about her political life but confessed that she hasn’t read David Cameron’s and that she prefers a good thriller or whodunit to a political memoir. Tickets for the event cost £14; a reasonable price to pay to hear an ex-PM deliver her views, even if these appeared to be rather anodyne. Time will tell if she will follow in the footsteps of her predecessors at No 10, Tony Blair and David Cameron who, according to this source, can command up to £195,000 and £120,000 respectively for public speeches. What anyone will get from listening to them I don’t know. Whenever I hear either of them talk, I can think of nothing but the sinister classy-happy vicar and there unctuous schoolmaster in Private Eye’s parodies of their premierships. It’s possible that we should regard our ex-leaders with more respect than we do, although Enoch Powell’s maxim that all political careers end in failure seems never more apposite. Certainly Blair’s, Cameron’s and May’s did. I wonder if the time might soon come for a re-appriasal of Gordon Brown’s time in office?

• Each of the four local councils in the Penny Post area – West Berkshire, the Vale of White Horse, Wiltshire and Swindon – has its own website and each has, within that, its own news section. This covers items such as council initiatives, grant awards and general community information: all useful stuff. There seems to be some unspoken agreement between the four that they will between them only provide a certain number of items each month. A year or so ago, Swindon provided nothing at all – ‘There is currently no news’ was the surreal message that appeared for months beyond count – but about six months ago that all changed and it has several new posts a week and is by far the best. West Berkshire used to be very good but something seems to have slipped anchor since the election. The Vale’s reports, which used to be regular, have also dipped a bit. Wiltshire Council’s coverage of news items relating to Marlborough is beyond pathetic, with only three posted since March 2018. Councils are working for us and this is one of the ways by which they can tell us what they’re up to and mention the aspects of their work that we should know about. More pertinently, someone at each of these councils is being paid to keep these areas of the site populated. If you live in Wiltshire (which I don’t) I suggest you ask the council why the person paid to update the site has added only three stories in the last 18 months, all of which are about the Council having fined people for dumping rubbish of one kind or another. If they don’t have the money to run that part of the site then take it down. Leaving it up as it is makes them – and by implication the residents who might be expected to read it – look like idiots. 

• We live in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Characterised by its rolling chalk downlands, our AONB is perhaps not as well recognised as it should be. Local MPs Richard Benyon and Kit Malthouse paid tribute to our wonderful countryside, and the work being done by the NWD Landscape Trust to preserve it, at this year’s Royal Berkshire Show on the 70th anniversary of the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act.

• Congratulations to local MEP Judith Bunting who has been appointed President of the Fitwilliam Society, the Cambridge college’s alumni organisation. Other former Fitzwilliam students who have followed a political career include Norman Lamont, Vince Cable and Lee Kuan Yew who ran Singapore for several decades and held political offices of one kind or another for a staggering 56 years.

• A report on p4 of this week’s Wantage & Grove Herald says that 12% of crimes reported to Thames Valley Police, and 9% of reports of rape, are not being recorded properly. If this is true it does, of course, render any figures derived from these largely meaningless.

• The local community group West Berks Climate Action Network has partnered with Iddea (sic) Renewable Energy to allow homeowners to install solar panels at a reduced price due to economies of scale.

• Tickets for the West Berkshire Climate Change Conference on Monday 28 October are now available.

• The Community Champion Awards recognise the valuable contribution of local residents to communities across the district. Organised by West Berkshire Council, the awards are an opportunity to say thank you to people who have done something special for their local community. Nominations are now open for the 2019 awards.

• In a joint venture with transport safety consultancy, Agilysis Ltd, West Berkshire Council has supported the development of a smartphone app that  uses geolocation technology to give reassurance to parents and guardians and security to children for their local unaccompanied journeys.

• The deadline for the autumn reactive grants from Greenham Trust is Friday 11 October. Click here for more information on these and how your organisation can apply.

• Click here for details of the volunteering projects being undertaken by the West Berkshire Countryside Society, which include a range of woodland, riverside and heathland management tasks.

• You get a fire engine; you fill it with fake blood; you pull up outside the Treasury building in order to spray the fake blood over the front wall; you turn on the hose. What could possibly go wrong? Well, this could

• There are three letters in this week’s Newbury Weekly News that I find rather hard to follow. One says, in response to one published last week, that the EU hasn’t stopped a single war, this despite the fact that there have been no wars between member states, in stark contrast to the position prevailing before. That looks like a 100% success rate to me. The second accuses Remain voters of not knowing what a Corbyn government would do: however, unless you have a time machine, I don’t see how anyone can know for sure what any government would do. Does the writer have certainty about what the current government will do? if so, he doesn’t share it. The third is a rather confusing synopsis of an imaginary novel about our political system, featuring the ‘simple folk’. 

• The animal of the week is any one of the menagerie of moths, butterflies, weasels and stoats mentioned in this month’s Great Shefford Parish News (See Lambourn Area below) 

• The letters section of the Newbury Weekly News this week includes, aside from the three letters mentioned above, two further thoughts about Richard Benyon, a plea not to use the term ‘train station’ when referring to a ‘railway station’ (the two terms seem interchangeable to me), a suggestion that the youth of Newbury should protest about Camp Hobson’s opposition to the re-development of the Waterside Youth Centre and an appeal to support the work of the Friends of Victoria Park.

• A number of good causes have received valuable support recently, including the Motor neurone Disease Association (thanks to Clive Jones); Macmillan (thanks to numerous World’s Biggest Coffee Mornings); First Days (thanks to the Mortimer 10k run); Newbury Samaritans (thanks to shoppers in Newbury).

Hungerford & district

Latest news from Hungerford Town Council, Shalbourne Parish Council and Inkpen Parish Council.

• The roads that pass through Hungerford Common are currently limited to 40mph. The Town and Manor would like to see this reduced to 20mph to protect road users and cattle. There have already been four accidents involving cars and cattle this year, with two bovine fatalities. This week’s NWN has a story of a still more serious incident. West Berkshire Council has announced that it will soon be conducting a survey in the Common with the results expected later this year. In the meantime, the Town and Manor has launched a petition on the subject which can be visited here

• As mentioned in last week’s Local News, the issues of Salisbury Road, pigeons and cafe tables have been taken as far as they can by Hungerford Town Council and are now in West Berkshire’s court to decide.

• The Bear in Hungerford will be a hosting a highly discounted clothing sale from Luna Boutiques on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 October.

• The next meeting of Hungerford Town Council takes place on Monday 7 October in the Corn Exchange. The agenda can be seen here. There will be a report on this, and a summary of the other activities with which Hungerford Town Council has been involved in September and will be in October, in October’s Penny Post Hungerford which will be emailed on Tuesday 8 October. If you do not receive this and would like to, please let us know by emailing brian@pennypost.org.uk.

• A reminder that the Bedwyn Train Passenger Group, which campaigns on behalf of people using rail services from Bedwyn, Kintbury or Hungerford , has been holding discussions with GWR which have resulted in some improvements to these local services which will take effect when the new timetable is implemented in December. 

• The weekly Wednesday market has been extended into the Town Hall. For more information, including how you can procure a stall, please click here

• Age Concern Newbury & District has launched a meals on wheels service for Kintbury and Hungerford  on Tuesdays and Thursdays. If you or anyone you know would like to use this service, or if you’re able to be a volunteer driver for the deliveries in the Newbury area, please get in touch with Age Concern through their website.

• Hungerford’s annual Food Festival returns on Sunday 6 October – details here.

Lambourn Valley

Latest news from Lambourn Parish CouncilEast Garston Parish Council and Great Shefford Parish Council.

• Residents of the Valley will recall that, in 2015, there was a successful campaign to prevent a development in Weston from using sewage digesters which would have resulted in partially traded effluent finding its way into the SSS-protected River Lambourn. It appears from this month’s Great Shefford Parish News that a similar scheme is being proposed at a development in nearby Elton. We understand that, in the light of concerns expressed by the campaign group, the proposed arrangements are currently being reviewed. 

• The EA is also involved in another aquatic matter in the area, the flood defences in Great Shefford. The village’s £80,000 contribution to the scheme has now all but been raised but – as reported at the Parish Council’s annual meeting in April, and confirmed at various times since – the EA has been unable to provide a timetable for when the work will start. One of the issues is that a contingency fund needs to be in place for over-runs on the cost. Enquiries by the PC have established that the contingency for this project is a staggering £600,000. The PC minutes also report that the EA said that such sums ‘are used most of the time,’  something which surely calls into question the accuracy of the initial job-costing. The concern was, and is, that residents will expect a reasonably quick return on their investment in terms of a flood defence. It has since been proposed by the EA that Steve Ackrill, the Parish Council Chairman, should project-manage the work with a view to reducing the costs and speeding up the start of the work. The project would then be owned and managed by the Parish Council – another example of a responsibility being devolved downwards to a local organisation which has a direct interest in ensuring that the work happens. All of this is subject to final agreement between the parties concerned.

• You know Christmas is coming when Village Views asks for seasonal drawings to use in, or on the cover of, its December issue. See details on p5 of the October issue for details.

• I am, once again, indebted to the Nature Notes section of the Great Shefford Parish News for some startling wildlife facts. I never knew, for instance, that there are about 2,500 species of moths in the UK but only about 70 species of butterflies. I never knew that brood of blue tits can eat 15,000 moth caterpillars. I never knew that spiders pollinate flowers. A few pages later and he was back again (this is a kind of two-month issue), this time explaining the difference between weasels and stoats (animals that without fail make me think of The Wind in the Willows: the description of Mole lost in the Wild Woods haunts me yet.)

• The same publication has, on the same page, a round of applause for Chris and Heather who have been the driving force behind Lambourn’s Friday market for the last 30+ years as well as running the fruit and veg stall. Even though I was once beaten up by a greengrocer  (a long time ago, in London) my congratulations go out to anyone who can go to wholesale markets at the hours they do to procure the items needed to stop us all going down with scurvy. If I don’t visit the Lambourn market as often as I used to, it’s only because (1) I tend to go the similar one in Hungerford as this meshes with the swimming times at the Leisure Centre and (2) we’re normally doing a show on 4 LEGS Radio on Friday mornings. Hats off to our greengrocers.

• We had a visit from a Nottingham Knocker last week, though I didn’t know at the time that was what they were called. A young man knocked on the door at dusk and started trying to sell me something; I politely declined; he gave me a menacing look and went away. It appears from this month’s East Garston News that these guys claim to be doing the selling as part of a rehabilitation programme: Thames Valley Police has confirmed that no such programme exists. Call 101 or 999 if anything like this happens to you.

• I then had a look online to see why they got this name. It seems the scam originated in Nottingham, which I was expected: what I was not was the information in this article that the scammers examine any banknotes they are offered for their goods. If they’re uncrumpled or musty smelling, these are signs that the person may have more money in the house. I find this very hard to believe. In any case, modern synthetic banknotes can’t be crumpled and, presumably, do not get musty. Anyone got any thoughts on this?

• If you didn’t get East Garston News, you can click here to read it. As well as more on the Knockers there’s also information on the recent Macmillan coffee morning, an appeal for a new governor at Shefford School and information about the forthcoming Harvest Festival 

• The Lambourn Bonfire party will take place at the Sports Club on Saturday 2 November.

• What a wonderful film Stan and Ollie was, shown at the Valley Film Society’s opening screening of its 15th season earlier this week. Laurel and Hardy were a bit before my time but I was aware of them, in the same way my children were aware of Monty Python. Steve Coogan, more often associated with the toe-curlingness of Alan Partridge was superb as Stan Laurel, as he was in the excellent Philomena (another film I saw thanks to the VFS). Some of the slapstick routines made me laugh uncontrollably: Stan and Ollie themselves would, perhaps, have approved. I must check out one of the original films and see if it still works. Future films – an eclectic selection – are on the first Tuesday of the month in East Garston Village Hall until July. There’s a fully-stocked bar and orders for food taken which normally arrives at a dramatic moment about two-thirds of the way through which does not, I assure you from long experience, disrupt the enjoyment in the least: rather the reverse, if anything. See you at the next one.

• The most eagerly awaited event of the autumn in the Valley is not Brexit, nor Halloween, nor bonfire night but the East Garston Quiz which this year takes place on Friday 22 November. Please contact Ed James to book your slot for this event which is usually a sell out: further details here.

• Click here for details of the online petition to try to make the stretch of the A338 between Hungerford and East Grafton safer.

Click here for details of flu clinics at Lambourn Surgery. 

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

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

4 Legs Community Radio Station will on Friday have its 72nd day of broadcasting – click here for more.

Newbury & district

Latest news from Newbury Town Council, Chieveley Parish Council and Hamstead Marshall Parish Council.

• Please click here to see NTC’s archive of monthly newsletters.

• See p6 of this week’s NWN for a report on the recent Newbury in Bloom awards.

• The same paper reports, on p14, that approval has been granted for two houses in Shaw despite objections from residents concerned about parking problems. The Planning Officer said that although similar plans were rejected in the 1980s, policies on such matters had since been ‘relaxed somewhat.’

Newbury Town Council has formally expressed its view that the UK should remain in the EU. At a special meeting of the Council on Thursday 19 September, it was agreed to write to the People’s Vote campaign and West Berkshire for Europe to declare support for a ‘People’s Vote’ referendum on the final Brexit outcome, including an option to remain in the EU.

• Eight new public recycling bins, with distinctive lime-green mouths, have been installed in Newbury town centre.

• Newbury Town Council has launched a public consultation on the Design Statement prepared by the Town Council’s Canal Corridor Working Group. This describes the history, character and functions of the canal and recommends design guidelines, design principles and planning policies to influence future development along the canal corridor. The Public Consultation runs until 27 October.

• If you have a few hours to spare each week and live reasonably close to Boxford, the Village Hall Committee has need to a caretaker/maintenance manager who can keep an eye on the hall, recreation ground and playground. See here for more information

Chieveley Parish Council is updating its emergency plan – click here to get involved.

• The Step Up 4 Good fun runs take place on Sunday 13 October starting at Newbury Racecourse. More information can be found here. Greenham Trust is looking for more volunteers for the event – if you can help, please email events@greenhamtrust.com or visit the volunteer registration page of the website.

• 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 admin@hamsteadmarshall.net.

• Newbury-based Falkland Cricket Club has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help raise the final £50,000 needed to finish the club’s new pavilion.

• Click here for the latest news from the development of the University Centre at Newbury College.

• Click here for the latest NTC News from Newbury Council.

• Click here for the latest information from Growing Newbury Green including the Newbury Apple Day on Saturday 5 October.

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

Latest news from Hampstead Norreys Parish Council, Compton parish Council, Ashampstead Parish Council, Chaddleworth Parish Council, Brightwalton Parish Council, West Ilsley Parish Council and East Ilsley Parish Council.

• Some advice here from the East Isley Parish Council website about bonfires (equally applicable to other parishes).

• The monthly Ashampstead Arms will once again pop up in the Village Hall on the first Saturday of the month, 5 October.

Chaddleworth’s Village Hall needs the support of anyone who has ever used it, or might use it, for the wide range of events which it hosts. A new roof and ceiling – fairly serious issues as I think you’ll agree – are required and the committee has been able to get this supported by The Good Exchange, which means that your donation will be match funded. Click here for further details.

Brightwalton’s Annual Working Party, which performs maintenance work around the village, takes place on Sunday 20 October and the organisers are keen to recruit some extra volunteers. Click here for more details.

• If, however, you want to walk around Brightwalton, but not work, the annual walk takes place on Sunday 13 October. Last year this helped raise over £5,000 for local causes. 

• The October issue of West Ilsley Parish News 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

Latest news from Thatcham Town Council, Cold Ash Parish Council, Bucklebury Parish Council, Brimpton Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

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

• The Mayor of Thatcham is quoted in this week’s NWN as assuring residents that none of the plastic ducks which were used in last month’s Rotary Club charity duck race ended up posing an environmental hazard: all were collected and none, as he put it, ‘went feral.’  

• The programme for the 2019 Thatcham Festival has been released – more details here. The festival runs from Saturday 12 to Sunday 20 October and includes talks, music, art exhibitions and activities for children. 

• One of the events associated with this is Thatcham Apple Day on Sunday 13 October.

• 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

Latest news from Theale Parish Council, Aldermaston Parish Council, Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council, Englefield Parish Council and Burghfield Parish Council.

• Kier is issuing roughly monthly updates about the building progress at the new primary school is Thealehere’s August’s. Still no sign of September’s (or October’s).

• This week’s Newbury Weekly News has, on p12, a report on the recent Beer festival at Burghfield.

• Click here for details of forthcoming events in Burghfield.

Click here and here for the September 2019 updates 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 August/September 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

Latest news from Marlborough Town CouncilAldbourne Parish Council and Great Bedwyn Parish Council.

• You can click here to visit a consultation from Public Health Wiltshire, the results of which ‘will be used to help inform local priorities for the next three years.’ 

• Pall bearers from the Marlborough & Devizes Extinction Rebellion carried a symbolic coffin in a slow march up and down Marlborough High Street on 28 September. Marlborough News takes up the story from here.

The same source reports that the lengthy process of merging the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) for Wiltshire, Swindon and Bath & North-East Somerset is nearly complete and now needs to be signed off by the two central NHS organisations they answer to.

• Click here for details of the online petition to try to make the stretch of the A338 between Hungerford and East Grafton safer.

• The Bedwyn Train Passenger Group campaigns on behalf of people using rail services from Bedwyn, Kintbury or Hungerford (and, as necessary, their replacement bus services). As this article reports, the group’s recent discussions with GWR have resulted in some improvements to these local services which will take effect when the new timetable is implemented in December. 

• The first of Marlborough’s two Mop Fairs takes place on Saturday 5 October: the next one is on Saturday 12.

• Congratulations to the Aldbourne Band which finished in the top 10 at the British Open last month.

Great Bedwyn Pre-school is looking for toys and equipment for a new toddler group.

• The Bedwyn Cinema is returning to the Village Hall. As result of recent fundraising, a high-resolution video projector and four-metre screen have been installed and recently-released films will be shown each month, usually on the third Thursday. Tickets are available from the Post Office and Village Stores. 

• 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.

Wantage & district

Latest news from Wantage Town Council, Grove Parish Council and Letcombe Regis Parish Council.

• Click here for details of the surgeries held by local District Councillors Jenny Hannaby and Jane Hanna until late November.

• Oxfordshire’s communities are being asked by the Oxfordshire Growth Board to give their views to help ensure growth is managed in the best way in the county, an aspiration which many in the area feel is not happening as well as it might and which has put the Vale of White Horse in an awkward position with regard to its Local Plan (see below). You can find out more, and participate in the survey, here.

• Councillors in the Vale of White Horse have until Wednesday 9 October – the next full council meeting – to decide whether to adopt part two of the district’s Local Plan. Ahead of that, Emily Smith, the Leader of Vale of White Horse, has written to Sue Cooper, Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, warning of ‘possible unintended consequences of their council withdrawing its local plan, specifically if the county council or government decide to withdraw their support for the £218m infrastructure in the area.’

• A woman from Grove has admitted illegally claiming a discount which meant she received 25 per cent off her council tax for more than five years.

• The Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, Emily Smith, has written to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government to express serious concerns regarding the future funding of local government, particularly at district council level.

• Congratulations to Wantage teenage motorcyclist Alicia Robinson who has triumphed in the 2019 FIM TrialGP World Championships.

• Grants are available from Wantage Town Council as a result of the new Homes Bonus. Groups can apply for a minimum of £1,000 (and up to 50 per cent of the total cost) towards projects which benefit the local community. 

• The new primary school on the Kingsgrove estate is on course to open in September 2020, with capacity for up to 420 pupils as well as 26 full-time nursery places.

• Organisers of community events in the Vale are invited to apply for some of the £10,000 worth of festival and events grants on offer from Vale of White Horse District Council. 

• There will be two services in Wantage on Monday 14 October to commemorate Verdun Pierpoint and those who lost their lives in HMS Royal Oak in 1939.

• The wonderful Vale & Downland Museum is looking for a new trustee: more details here.

• 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.

Click here for information on this year’s Wantage Literary Festival which runs from Saturday 26 October to Saturday 2 November. 

• Click here for information the Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage Talking Newspaper (DAWN) for the blind and partially sighted. The organisers are currently appealing for help to keep the service going – click here for details.

• Click here for information on the location of defibrillators in and around Wantage.

• Residents and local organisations in the Vale of White Horse will shortly be asked to comment on some proposed changes aimed at supporting people on low income.

• Julie Mabberley’s regular column on p8 of the Wantage & Grove Herald looks back at the recent Crab Hill Forum, where the developers of the 1,500-home site provide information to members of the public, councillors and community groups.

Click here for the latest from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group

• Click here for details of some forthcoming events in Wantage.

Swindon & district

Latest news from Swindon Borough Council.

• Swindon Dance has received £2,000 from the D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust to run a weekly dance class for Swindon’s adult carers. The classes will continue until July 2020.

Parents and carers with children entering primary or secondary school for the first time next year are being advised by Swindon Borough Council that they now (by 31 October) need to apply for school places for them.

• Plans to revamp Swindon’s Abbey Stadium are set to take a step forward, if planners approve the details of the project on 8 October.

• A new literacy programme inspired by one of Swindon’s most iconic landmarks is now underway in the town.

• Swindon Council will launch its online community lottery to support local good causes in November.

• Two major road schemes in Swindon will benefit from more than £45m in government funding.  

• Swindon is one of 100 towns set to benefit from a share of the £3.6 billion Towns Fund.

• A project to enhance urban meadows and forest habitats while improving people’s health and wellbeing is about to be launched in Swindon.

• From 7 to 11 October, the South and Vale Business Support Team will bring the free five-day Pop-up Business School to Shrivenham for people looking to start and/or expand their own business without using any money. More details here.

• If you live, work or travel around Swindon, you’ll remember the successful Beat the Street from last year. The physical activity challenge is set to return to Swindon for 2019 from 25th September for six weeks.

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

The song and the quiz

• The Song of the Week derives from an email chat I had with a friend of mine yesterday who had been listening to the Medley on The Beatles’ Abbey Road, a passage of music about which everyone has an opinion. Mine is that it always slightly underwhelms me, being a charming and elegantly constructed scrapbook that, more than anything else, shows what might have been and how much they had all drifted apart. McCartney’s energy and purpose – which by all accounts was driving the other three mad by this time – was largely responsible for piecing the Medley together. The stand-out song for me is almost lost in this and is the only complete thing in the whole passage. It’s the last song on which all four of The Beatles played together live and so, for that reason alone, is worth a bit of attention. It’s also a wonderful and clever piece of work, by McCartney, which – and this could be applied to almost anything they did, so staggering was their virtuosity – was unlike anything they’d done before. So, give it up for She Came in Through the Bathroom Window. She could steal, but she could not rob…

• Which brings us to the Quiz Question of the Week. This one came from the recent Back to School Quiz at The Castle and the Red House, in aid of Swings and Smiles, and was as follows: You’re packing for a business trip early in the morning. You will be away for one night. You can’t switch the light on because you don’t want to wake your partner. You have ten grey socks and ten blue socks but you can’t see them because it’s dark. All socks are exactly the same except for their colour. What is the minimum number of socks you need to pack to ensure you had at least one matching pair?  The next quiz at The Castle takes place on Wednesday 23 October and is on the wonderful theme of 80s music. Last week’s question was: What do Aldous Huxley, CS Lewis and President John F Kennedy have in common? The answer is that they all died on 22 November 1963: guess which one got the biggest obituary? As if to commemorate this triple event (though perhaps not), the East Garston Quiz will take place on this date this year. If this question crops up then remember that you heard it here first.

Brian Quinn

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