Our round-up of local news across the area (and a bit beyond) this week including Hungerford’s bookshop, Chilton Foliat’s pub, Marlborough’s closed playground, Wantage’s green spaces, Thatcham’s free parking, Newbury’s street closure, Wickham’s new bells, East Garston’s quiz, Bedwyn’s cars, Letcombe’s brook, Swindon’s bungalows, Lambourn’s questionnaire, West Hanney’s plan, Compton’s cancellation, Cold Ash’s choir, Aldermaston’s candle, police and travel updates, good causes celebrated, orange/green pact, expensive planning games, a trip round the constituencies, opening salvoes, crooked stamps, Will Young, rockets, vipers, fireworks, postboxes, Gatsby, Napoleon and Jamie Lee Curtis.
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)
• The election – either our third general election in four years or our second EU referendum in three years, depending on your point of view – got under starters orders yesterday and already there are some non-runners, early fallers and blinkers to advise you about. A government minister has resigned; a Tory MP has had to apologise for remarks about the Grenfell fire; several Labour candidates have been banned from standing and the Deputy leader has chosen not to; a former Labour minister has advised people to vote Conservative; the Bank of England has claimed that the government’s Brexit deal will reduce economic growth; and the Lib Dems have complained about about unfair media representation. That’s just the first day. This is likely to be a particularly toxic campaign.
• As expected, the two main anti-Brexit parties – the Lib Dems and the Greens – have agreed an election pact (which also involves Plaid Cymru in Wales) not to stand against each other in certain seats. Even if Labour were minded to join this, or was clear whether it was anti-Brexit or not, it could not as its constitution insists that it field a candidate in every constituency outside Northern Ireland in every election. Having spoken to a local Lib Dem party member, it seems that about 60 pacts have so far been agreed, 43 of these in England. Discussions are continuing elsewhere so it’s possible that similar arrangements may apply in our local constituencies. The final decision needs to be taken at national level but this must be triggered by a shared view locally that a deal is viable. At the 2017 election, these two parties between them got 24% of the votes in Newbury: Richard Benyon (who is not standing this time and whose successor has yet to be selected) received 61.5%.
• One claim that I have already seen on a Lib Dem leaflet and will expect to see on others is the claim that 300,000 homes a year will be built. This is a figures left over from the days of David Cameron. The last year this figure was hit was in 1969. There are several different ways these figures are calculated, but the ‘annual net additions to the housing stock’ figure from Fullfact.org put 2016-17’s figure at about 215,000, the best year since 2007-08 . There are huge systemic obstacles to this target being met, particularly with regards affordable homes. Effectively, the entire policy has been outsourced to private firms which, understandably, have more interest in profits than meeting government targets. The extra costs of making new builds as close to carbon-neutral as possible (estimated at about 5-10%) will not make this task any easier until the retail markets starts to give such homes a premium on their resale value. As the average ownership period is about seven years and as people are more motivated by the purchase price of any item rather than its running costs, this may take some time to work through the system. Any predictions on house-building figures (and, indeed, anything else) over the next six weeks should be taken under advisement.
• Here at Penny Post we have about 4,200 subscribers and, with every newsletter, we have at least one person unsubscribe (fortunately, we get more people joining). The last Penny Post Hungerford, sent earlier this week, had one. I checked the name: richardbenyon.etc. Now, I’ve sometimes said some hard things about him (and sometimes supported him) but I thought that to unsubscribe was a bit harsh. He seems to have pretty broad shoulders. What did I write about him this week? Then I checked the reason: he was unsubscribing from his parliamentary email address (he also uses another) as he was no longer of that place. A timely reminder that all things change. He has been much involved in some environmental initiatives, including a large-scale tree-planting exercise in West Berkshire which Penny has helped start up, so I hope that his retirement from the Westminster jungle will give him more time for that.
• The Green Party has suggested that £100bn a year needs to be spent on tackling the climate emergency. I’m no expert – and any sum of money over about £10,000 makes my head reel – but this seems about right. This is about the sum the government is planning to spend on the idiocy of HS2, admittedly not over one year, so The Treasury must be familiar with this number of zeros. Our GDP in 2017 was 2.6 trillion: but at this point I have to stop as I’m unclear which figures are in the US billion/trillion or the larger UK ones. I think it’s about 4% of our GDP, about twice as much as we spend on defence. Something of this level might be needed and we might have to pay higher taxes. No party, however, has since the 1940s been elected on on the promise of doing this. Regulation and higher taxation is needed to combat this threat. Can we, however, trust any party to pass the right legislation, enforce it and levy and extra 5% in tax? I think we know the answer to that. In any case, this election is effectively another Brexit vote. If we don’t pay for it it isn’t going to happen.
• This week’s NWN has eight pages of coverage of its recent Best in Business awards (pp12-19).
• A reminder that the West Berkshire Climate Conference took place last week and you can read our report on the event here. Please see the note at the foot of the post if you have any comment to make on the highly complex matter.
• West Berkshire is carrying out a survey of its leisure centre users to find out how theses are performing and to identify areas for potential improvement.
• As mentioned last week, GWR is set to introduce fare rises of around 100% on some services from Bedwyn, Hungerford and Kintbury (and perhaps further west) also to Paddington come December. I can give the (slightly) good news that the Bedwyn Train Passenger Group has managed to extract some concessions from GWR and has also given examples of how the fare rises can be reduced with pre-booking and a careful choice of trains and connections.
• 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.
• Click here to visit West Berkshire’s consultation on possible future additions to the Local List of Heritage Assets. This closes on 5 December 2019.
• The animal of the week is that viper in David Attenborough’s latest wonderful documentary whose tail has evolved into a version of a spider good enough to fool a flycatcher.
• The letters section of the Newbury Weekly News this week includes criticism of the format of the the recent Climate Conference; a repeated appeal for Sainsbury’s to stop offering motorists those ridiculous blue plastic gloves at their petrol stations; a question about how many people have read the EU treaties they talk about so confidently; a suggestion about silent fireworks; and request that voters spoil their ballot papers.
• A number of good causes have received valuable support recently, including Eight Bells for Mental Health (thanks to the Greenham Trust and others); Newbury Soup Kitchen (thanks Enborne Primary School); several local good causes (thanks to the recent fireworks displays in the area, including the one at Newbury racecourse organised by the Lions Club); Threshold Housing Link (thanks to TOG24); Prospect Hospice (thanks to Ian Rumbold).
Hungerford & district
• There are currently three vacancies on Hungerford Town Council – see here for the official notice.
• The November Penny Post Hungerford was published earlier this week which provides the best round-up of what’s going on in and around the town. If you didn’t get it, you can read it here. So much in it that I hardly know where to start. There’s the usual update from the Town Council, The High Street. Barrs Yard, the Chamber of Commerce, the Hub and the NDP team. There’s funding news (good) from the Library and (mixed) from the ever-excellent Nursery School; there’s an interview with one of the ward’s District Councillors, a foraging report from HEAT, a Halloween report from the Primary School and news of poetry with a Duchesss involving both this school and the Care Home. There’s astronomy, racing news, views about poppies, a pop song, a pop-up shop, travel tips, news award nominations, festive menus, special offers and a wise quote. If we’d put any more in it the internet would have broken. So we didn’t.
• Congratulations to Emma and Alex at the Hungerford Bookshop for their double triumph at the recent NWN Best in Business awards.
• If West Berkshire’s best business is in Hungerford, then just down the road and across the county border, The Wheatsheaf in Chilton Foliat has been named the country’s most sustainable food business by the SRA (Sustainable Restaurant Association).
• I’ve mentioned several times, as have others about the Salisbury Road development. In summary, Outline Planning Permission (the basic template for the site) was agreed some time ago. In the summer, one of the developers (there are two involved), Bewley Homes, submitted plans which were about as far removed for these as could reasonably be imagined. Only about 60% of the site, at this stage, was to be built on on but this was to contain about the same number of homes as the OPP had envisaged. Cue local opposition, a call-in for the District Councillors, objections from the company which had recently sold them the interest in the site and long discussions with West Berkshire’s planning officers. The plans recently resubmitted bear a far closer relationship to the OPP than did the last application. These may pass the scrutiny of the Western Area Planning Committee or they may not.
The developers were trying it on. Why they were doing this makes sense. Planning authorities cannot charge for extra work they have to undertake. West Berkshire Council had no choice under the current rules but to accept the application for two thirds of the site, and deal with it in the normal manner. It cannot charge more just because it takes longer to negotiate the developer back down to 100% of the whole site, as was the case here. For the developers it’s like a game of roulette where you keep your winnings but your losses are covered by the house. Why would you not stay in the game? Bewley was following the rules so I can’t accuse them of any malpractice, within this lunacy. The rules are, however, wrong. Planning departments are underfunded and do not have enough money to enforce their decisions. One reason is because they’re spending a lot of their time negotiating with developers. The only solutions I can think of are either to allow council planners to charge for all their time; or to say that if any detailed plans (reserved matters applications) have significant variations from the OPP then a new application must be submitted. To continue the current system is to permit a colossal waste of time and human intelligence in getting matters back to where they should be in the first place.
• Hungerford’s Christmas lights will be turned on on Sunday 1 December, with former East Garson resident Will Young flicking the switch. Festivities start last 4pm.
• One of the events which helps show off the lights, and the High Street, to best advantage is the Christmas Extravaganza which this takes place on Friday 13 December. As before, the Chamber of Commerce is busy raising funds to help towards the cost of this. The best way of donating is via The Good Exchange as the sum you give will be doubled by match funding.
• And, still at the memorial, the Remembrance Day event in Hungerford will take place on Sunday 10 November.
• The weekly Wednesday market has been extended onto the Town Hall steps and into the building itself. For more information, including how you can procure a stall, please click here.
• Click here for the latest latest East Garston News.
• This publication alerts us to the fact that Goodings Lane will be closed between 8am and 4pm on Wednesday 13 November while carriageway patching works are completed. A plan of the closure can be found here
• Abel Gance’s silent masterpiece Napoléon will be being screened in Lambourn on Sunday 24 November – more information here.
• I understand that continued progress has been made regarding the sewage digesters which have been proposed for a development in Elton but which, as with a similar scheme in nearby Weston in 2015, have attracted local opposition. Discussions have taken place between local residents and the developer, prior to a new application being submitted to West Berkshire Council. If this application is successful it would remove the question of using the digesters so, hopefully, solving the problem.
• The Steering Group of Lambourn’s neighbourhood development plan has been working on a questionnaire which should be ready later this month. A hard copy will be hand-delivered to every household in the parish of Lambourn. Additional copies will be available from the Parish Council Office and Lambourn Library and there will also be an on-line version. Residents aged 14 and over can complete the questionnaire (one per person). The more people who return completed forms, the better the NDP will reflect the wishes of residents, so please take the time to reply. Deliverers are needed to distribute the questionnaires. If you are able to help, please contact Sue Cocker on 01488 71357 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.
• A reminder that Lambourn, along with several other local towns and villages, has a regular market. Every Friday the varied stallholders include a greengrocer, a butcher, a lady selling scones, a yarn and haberdashery seller, an odds and ends stall and jams and preserves.
• A reminder also that the Friends of Lambourn Library has three vacancies on its committee and welcomes hearing from anyone, of any age, who would be happy to join what is by all measures and estimations a successful organisation. Please contact email@example.com.
• The East Garston Quiz this year takes place on Friday 22 November. Contact Ed James to book your slot for this event which is usually a sell out: further details here.
• Volunteers are still needed to help run Great Shefford’s youth club.
• 4 Legs Community Radio Station will on Friday have its 77th day of broadcasting – click here for more.
Newbury & district
• Newbury Town Council is currently undertaking an in-depth inspection of the trees that it owns and manages within the Parish. The purpose of the programme is to identify trees that are in poor health or a danger to the public and to replace them with healthier and more suitable ones.
• The Town Council has agreed its draft strategy for the next four years. The consultation on this was expected to be online in early November although this (and so much else) may be delayed by the general election.
• The Five Bells at Wickham will be re-opening under new management on Thursday 21 November (the kitchen will be open the following day). This holding website page has links to their social-media pages. This will be second re-furb and re-opening in the Valley in almost as many months, The Great Shefford (formerly The Swan) having re-opened in early September.
• Market Street will be closed until 29 November, 2019.
• Chieveley Parish Council is updating its emergency plan – click here to get involved.
• 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
• 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.
• 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) It’s that time of the year coming up.
• The October issue of Chaddleworth’s News has been published and, if you don’t receive it, can be viewed online on the Parish Council’s website. If you want to contribute or subscribe, email email@example.com. As usual, there’s a round up of local events, past and future and news from local clubs and societies.
• 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. Click here for further details.
• Residents of Compton are being urged to make their views known about a proposed 250-home development on the site of the former Pirbright Institute. A public event on this matter would have taken place at The Wilkins Centre from 12.30pm to 8pm on Thursday 7 November but it’s been announced that, due to the pre-election purdah, the event has been cancelled. This seems to me rather mysterious. This bans local or central government from making announcements about any new or controversial government initiatives that could be seen to be advantageous to any candidates or parties in the forthcoming election. Homes England is, according to its website, ‘an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government.’ I suppose that therefore it’s purdah-worthy. However, this appears to be a rather perverse interpretation of the law, particularly if the event is now not to take place at all, which is what ‘cancelled’ means. Will the views of local residents be able to be expressed?
• The November 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
• Please click here for details of Thatcham’s civic events in 2019.
• This week’s Newbury Weekly News reports, on p31, of the recent discussions between West Berkshire and Thatcham Councils about the provision of ‘free’ parking spaces in the run-up to Christmas: the inverted commas are because on one day, Friday 6 December, West Berkshire will be foregoing the fees and on the following day the district council’s estimated loss of £750 will be met by covered by the town council. In reality, no such days are completely free as the lost revenues from the respective councils will probably either be charge more for something else or cut something. I appreciate that this is a rather Scrooge-like way of looking at the matter.
• Refill Thatcham is a free campaign to reduce the amount of plastic waste in the town. More details here.
• West Berkshire Council says that two schemes to help prevent flooding in Thatcham are ‘well under way.’
• The Nature Discovery Centre is looking for volunteers to work with the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust to provide a series on nature therapy sessions at the Centre. Click here for more information.
• 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. which includes, amongst much else, news of a fundraising quiz on Saturday 9 November and, as its quote of the week, the last sentence from what I think is the 20th century’s greatest novel.
Theale and district
• Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council welcomes suggestions as to what it might do with its old phone box: click here and scroll down a bit.
• This will mean more to some of you than it does to me, but I see on Aldermaston PC’s website that there is to be a ‘candle auction for the three-year lease of Church Acre’ at 7pm on Thursday 27 November at the Hind’s Head. I pass this onto you as I read it. I know that the Hind’s Head is a pub because I’ve been there but I have not the slightest idea what the rest of this announcement is all about. For some reason the phrases call to mind a Hammer Horror film. If anyone can enlighten me as to what a candle auction is and what Church Acre is and why it is leased every three years and to whom and what they do with it, I’ll be delighted to spread the word.
• Congratulations to the Willink School in Burghfield which has been selected as a Maths Hub Lead school for the South West of England following a successful bid to the Department for Education. There are currently 37 of these nationwide.
• Kier is issuing roughly monthly updates about the building progress at the new primary school is Theale – here’s August’s. Still no sign of September’s (or October’s, or November’s).
• Click here for details of forthcoming events in Burghfield.
• Click here and here for the latest updates from Highways England about the progress of the work to turn the M4 from J3 to J12 into a smart motorway. (The whole concept of these is currently under review.)
• Click here for information about Burghfield’s plans to create a community hub.
• Burghfield’s Christmas Market will take place on Saturday 7 December.
• Click here for the October/November 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
• This week’s NWN has, on p25, an article highlighting the parking problem in Great Bedwyn which the Bedwyn Train Passenger Group has been highlighting for some time. Free parking near a railway station with direct trains to London is something of a rarity and commuters are not slow to take advantage. A car park has been suggested before but, as the article points out and as has been exampled elsewhere, this can merely attract more rail passengers and leave the on-street situation as it was before. Parking restrictions, with a system of residents’ parking permits, seem to work elsewhere providing they’re enforced. Bedwyn is not exactly on the way to anywhere else in Wiltshire but the traffic wardens could always take the train (not that there are many services that operate between Bedwyn and stations further west, something else the BTPG is trying to improve).
• Marlborough News has an excellent and entertaining article about the background to the three possible Conservative party candidates for Claire Perry’s old seat of Devizes. One of the recurring features of elections are the sometimes desperate claims made by each candidate that they are local, even though this does not in itself guarantee effective representation: I’ve lived in East Garston for over 20 years but I’d be an utterly useless MP. There’s also normally at least candidate who stands accused of being parachuted into the constituency by the party’s HQ. There’s also, increasingly, plenty of criticism, often online, of claims made in a candidate’s CV. This article has all this and more. In the 2017 election, Claire Perry retained the seat for the Tories with nearly 63% of the vote and a majority over over 21,000 so the decision as to who gets the nomination is of more than academic interest. The last time any party other that the Tories held the seat was in 1923.
• The same source has details of the town’s Christmas lights events on Friday 22 November.
• The playground at St John’s Park on White Horse Road, which is owned by Wiltshire Council, has been closed for weeks with no firm indication when it will re-open. The Council has said that the park has been closed because some of the equipment needs repairing. The spokesman, quoted in the Gazette and Herald, also said that work would start “should all the materials arrive.” This leaves open the possibility that the materials will never arrive and that the play park will remain closed forever. Was this what he meant to say?
• This article from the BBC website reports on 12 different thefts of postboxes from rural locations in Wiltshire, often with mail in them. Now, I’ve got it fixed in my mind that stealing mail is a particularly serious offence, up there with treason and committing arson in a dockyard. This may all date back to when I was about six when my cousin told me that if a stamp was put on an envelope at an angle then the Queen came and cut you head off. I don’t think this is true but my stamps are always at 90º to the envelope’s edge, just to be on the safe side. These thieves clearly have no such fears.
• The Marlborough Area Neighbourhood Plan Consultation results have been released – click here for details.
• See the Across the Area section above for information in the considerable rise in some rail fares from Bedwyn that are likely to be a consequence of the December’s new timetable changes and the results of the Bedwyn Train Passenger Group to mitigate these.
• A reminder that Great Bedwyn Pre-school is looking for toys and equipment for a new toddler group.
• 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
• The Letcombe Brook Project has launched a new website to give insight into the rare chalk stream, the animals which live there and maintenance work by volunteers.
• This week’s Wantage & Grove Herald looks at how the general election contents in the county will be affected by local issues such as the Oxbridge expressway, the debate about Sough Oxfordshire’s local plan and HS2. Oxford West MP Layla Moran has already fired her opening salvo, with the Wantage & Grove Herald reporting her as claiming the government has failed schools in the area. The article goes on to quote the School Cuts website as claiming that 80% of schools in her constituency will face a funding shortfall in 2020-21. The organisation’s website home page suggests that the national figure is 83%.
• The same paper’s website reports that St Modwen has received planning approval from the Vale of White Horse District Council for the development of 102 homes including eight affordable houses on its Kingsgrove scheme.
• In the Wantage constituency, Ed Vaizey will not be re-standing and the Tories have yet to select his replacement. It remains to be seen if the Lib Deb-green election pact (see Across the area above) will apply here. At the 2017 election, these two parties polled 17% of the votes between them compared to Ed Vaizey’s 54% (Labour came second with 27%). The seat was created in 1983 and has never not been held by the Conservatives.
• Residents and South Oxon and the Vale will have extra green-waste collections in November.
• 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. You can find out more, and participate in the survey, here (closes on 26 November).
• You can click here to read the speech given to the Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet by South Oxfordshire Councillor Robin Bennett on 15 October 2019 following the Secretary of State’s decision to prevent South Oxfordshire continuing to discuss its local plan, which is was minded to withdraw and re-consider.
• A scheme to give vulnerable people a place to go for help in the Vale of the White Horse has been launched.
• West Hanney Parish Council has launched its neighbourhood development plan consultation and will be holding a meeting at the War Memorial Hall on Monday 11 November to present its proposals.
• Click here for the latest from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group.
• 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.
• The 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 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.
• Julie Mabberley’s regular column on p8 of the Wantage & Grove Herald considers to what extent the health and wellbeing of the local population is being catered for by the new developments in the area, particularly in such matters and open green spaces and leisure centres. She also questions why the NHS had not contributed to the recent Vale local plan, despite being asked. He final paragraph also raises an issue I mentioned recently, that of estate rent charges. This is essentially a way by which private companies can continue to extract revenue from freeholders. In the example she cites, the 5,000-odd new homes in Wantage and Grove will have their open spaces managed in this way on a long lease. The accusation has been made that these fees, which can result in the companies concerned obtaining a charge over a defaulter’s property, make property hard to sell as conveyancers are increasingly warning purchasers against buying homes where these apply.
• Click here for details of some forthcoming events in Wantage.
Swindon & district
• Latest news from Swindon Borough Council.
• Residents of Swindon who received a letter from the Council saying they were ineligible to vote in the forthcoming general election can be reassured that this was an error.
• There are two constituencies in Swindon. In Swindon South, Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland will be defending a slim-ash majority of 4,264 over Labour. In Swindon North, fellow Conservative Justin Tomlinson is rather more comfortably placed with a majority of 8,335.
• The Mayor of Swindon, Kevin Parry, is hosting the song and dance for charities close to his heart on Saturday 23 November.
• In an initiative that other councils in the area might heed, 14 new adaptable bungalows are now being offered for sale by the Swindon Housing Company, with the income generated from the sales to be used to support existing Council services.
• A link road which will connect the New Eastern Villages with Commonhead roundabout has received a major funding boost from the government.
• Action to help Honda-associated companies provide a programme of welfare support for their Swindon workforce is being coordinated by a group of partners from across the public and private sector.
• High-tech cameras, drones and robots will be used to assess the current state of one of Swindon’s most notable heritage buildings.
• Community groups and schools in Wroughton can apply for grants of up to £20,000 thanks to the Wiltshire Community Foundation. The deadline for applications is 13 December.
• Swindon Council will launch its online community lottery to support local good causes in November.
• The Beat the Street initiative has ended and about 25,000 people took part according to Swindon Link.
• Click here for details of the many volunteering opportunities at Great Western Hospital.
The song and the quiz
• The Song of the Week is partly inspired by the Hungerford lights switch-on. This is being done by Will Young, one of whose hit was leave Right Now. This song was written by the interestingly-named Eg White who is one of the country’s best songwriters. Right up at the top of list is Rockets, which appeared on 24 Years of Hunger, an album he recorded (as Eg & Alice) with Alice Temple whose later fame included becoming the UK’s BMX biking champion. Eg White went on to write songs for or with many other Artists, including Adele. Rockets is one of the loveliest songs I know and takes me right back to 1991 whenever I hear it. Give it a go. If ever I’m asked on Desert Island Discs – unlikely, I admit – this will be of my picks.
• Which brings us to the Quiz Question of the Week. This week’s is this general-election themed one: What sad, unique and probably never-to-be-repeated record does Alfred Dobbs hold? Last week’s question was: In what year was John Carpenter’s famous slasher film of this name released? The answer is 1978. This was the film debut of Jamie Lee Curtis – that’s Lady Haden-Guest to you and me.
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