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Hungerford Town Council Update October/November 2019

These notes incorporate some but not all of the matters discussed at the Full Hungerford Town Council (HTC) Meeting on 4 November 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 (when there is no meeting). 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.

The Nursery School

The Head Teacher Suzanne Taylor provided an update of recent campaigns, projects and activities. The main news was the continuation of the supplementary funding. albeit only until March 2021. For more information on this and the other points she raised, see the separate post here.

Police

Representatives from the local neighbourhood team addressed the meeting.

The main issue in October had been six residential burglaries in the town during October, mainly during daylight. This was part of a far wider series of crimes reading across West Berkshire and into Wiltshire. Enquiries were ongoing and no further comment was made. There were also two shoplifting incidents, resulting in two arrests, and four thefts for vans.

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.

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,” a TVP representative said at a recent meeting,  “but if no one tells us, we don’t know about it.”

Parking charges on the High Street

This matter was discussed as a result of a question from a member of the public. It was suggested that there should be free parking for 30 or 60 minutes in order to encourage high-street shopping.

Councillor Keith Knight said that he had approached WBC in 2017 to discuss how parking charges could be revised to include this free period with no overall loss to WBC’s revenues. At the time, WBC rejected the proposal but he feels that the matter can be brought up again after March 2020.

Appointment of an Interim Clerk

It was also agreed that Jo Pike, the Clerk of Great Bedwyn Parish Council, would be appointed as Interim Clerk during Claire Barnes’ absence and would act as the interim Proper Officer, enabling HTC to fulfil its various statutory obligations.

Resignation of Assistant Clerk

The Mayor thanked Sarah Hennessy for staying on in the role for longer than she had planned and helping HTC through the recent difficult period.

The Library and Hub

Councillor Keith Knight gave a brief report on the progress made at the Library and Hub (which is now run by a trust).

He said that although costs had been higher than predicted, so was the revenue. A Hub Manager has been appointed who has been instrumental in organising the work of the volunteers, renting out the building to local groups and promoting the events that take place there. Currently about 25% of the Hub’s costs are covered by its own revenue and that the target was to raise this to 50%: the balance of the revenue would come from various grants (not just from HTC).

He also reminded the meeting that Hungerford was being used as a model by other libraries (most recently Stratfield Mortimer) in West Berkshire and elsewhere. He said he was pleased with the progress that was being made so far.

He requested that a grant of £9,000 be provided by HTC for 2020-21 (slightly less than the £10,000 in the current year). After a very brief discussion, this was agreed unanimously.

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 revised drawings and information provided by Bewley Homes seemed to bear a closer relation to the original outline planning permission than did the reserved matters application submitted to WBC during the summer. Letters with the relevant information had been sent to local residents, those who had contacted Bewley on the matter and HTC councillors. This change followed a considerable amount of discussion between the developers and WBC’s planning officers. He said that he had declined the offer from Bewley of a private meeting, feeling that one involving HTC would be more appropriate. He added that he understood that Bewley would be submitting an amendment to the reserved matters application – not a new application – in the near future.

Councillor Gaines confirmed that representatives of Bewley would be attending a meeting of HTC Environment and Planning Committee at 6.30 on Monday 11 November 2019 in the Town Hall. The agenda can be seen here. All are welcome to attend. She asked that anyone wanting to submit a question do so in writing by 2pm on that day to admin@hungerford-tc.gov.uk.

She stressed that this was not to stifle debate but merely to manage it. It would also enable HTC to do any necessary research or take any necessary advice before the meeting. Please note that questions should only relate to the specifics of the reserved matters application and the recent communication from Bewley: the initial outline planning permission has been approved and will not be discussed at the meeting.

Speeding on the Common

It would appear that the results of the meeting between the Town and Manor and WBC in October resulted in WBC accepting the strength of the Town and Manor’s case to have have the speed limit on the common reduced. However, and revision to speed limits is a multi-tiered process which can take some time. The Town and Manor, with HTC’s support, is continuing to press the issue. Further news will be provided as it’s available.

Car parking at the Hub

At a recent meeting between the District Councillors, HTC and WBC’s CEO Nick Carter in Hungerford, the question of free parking permits for volunteers at the Hub was raised. At the meeting District Councillor James Cole said that after further discussions a solution to this had been agreed. It is expected that this gesture will help with the important business of recruitment and retention of volunteers.

Hungerford 2036 (Neighbourhood Development Plan) update

Councillor John Downe reported at the meeting that an important milestone had been reached with the finalisation of H2036’s housing site assessment criteria. This will enable Hungerford to apply these criteria to WBC’s soon-to-be-published own list of possible sites (known as the HELAA) and thereby have a strong influence over which of the ones in Hungerford are developed. This gives the town a voice in the local planning process which it would not otherwise have had.

H2036’s criteria needed to be ratified by HTC to become effective. After a brief discussion, this was passed unanimously at the meeting.

For more information on this, a link to Hungerford’s criteria and the background to the H2036 project, please see the separate post here.

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 October included, as well various HTC meetings, judging Hungerford calendar entries; attending a Hungerford Camera Club exhibition, a Youth and Community Centre bingo night at the Royal British Legion, the Lord Lieutenant’s SERFCA awards ceremony and the West Berkshire Climate Conference; and visiting the Hungerford Care Home and Herongate Leisure.

Pigeons

Councillor James Cole said at the meeting that the report provided by the local Public Protection Partnership (PPP) had been received. It was decided that this would be considered by HTC’s Highways and Transport Committee which would recommend what action should be taken.

West Berkshire Council Climate Conference

This event took place at Newbury College on 28 October. At the meeting, the Mayor said that she thought it was a useful first step but that more information about West Berkshire Council’s views and proposed policies would have been useful.

You can read WBC’s account of the event here; the Newbury Weekly News’ here; and Penny Post’s here.

District Councillors’ reports

Only Councillor James Cole was able to be present at the meeting. The various reports and observations he 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 October had been a fairly quiet month with no controversial issues, such as Salisbury Road (see above), to contend with.
• The issue of the chairs and tables outside Costa Coffee are still being examined by WBC’s officers, with whom the final decision in the matter will rest.

Recreation & Amenities.
• The main work in October was connected with improving the war memorial in Bridge Street in advance of the Remembrance Day event on Sunday 10 November, including cutting bak vegetation and repainting railings.
• Work has also taken place on cleaning the flooring on the play park at Bulpit Lane.

Tourism & Economy.
• Councillor Martin Crane reported that progress was being made with harmonising the work of the various groups in the town with the aim of promoting Hungerford to external visitors.
• He also reported that the most recent Trade Showcase had been widely seen as successful and that henceforth this would be organised by John O’Gaunt school.

Transport and Highways.
• The Mayor mentioned that she was disappointed at the shoddy workmanship involved in some recent work on the High Street with the contractors not re-instanting some paving stones and leaving others cracked. The matter has been raised with WBC.

Finance & General Purposes.
• The main variations in the budget were discussed, most of which related to phasing issues.
• The receipt of £11,993 of CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) payments was noted.

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, HTC has 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. They have 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.

 

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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