Local News 28 to Dec 5 2019

Our round-up of local news across the area (and a bit beyond) this week including Hungerford’s enforcement, Marlborough’s hustings, Wantage’s deliveries, East Garston’s questionnaire, Lambourn’s questionnaire, Chaddleworth’s pub, Thatcham’s festivities, Newbury’s chalets, Wickham’s bells, Manton’s re-opening, Grove’s litter, Swindon’s elections, Aldermaston’s diversion, Bedwyn’s movies, Burghfield’s boat, police and travel updates, good causes celebrated, the election so far, PCC, TSB, WBC, GWR, AGM, Santa Claus banned, taxi fares, the river’s rebirth, excellent teeth, a weak hand, meaningless statistics, a long coastline, a living calendar, lifetime homes, black and white birds and a little red Corvette.

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)

• If you missed the public hustings last night in Newbury, you can watch our live stream of the event on facebook. There is another chance to listen to our prospective parliamentary candidates (Lee Dillon Lib Dem, Laura Farris Conservative,  James Wilder Labour, Steve Masters Green, Ben Holden-Crowther Independent) answer voter questions at 7.30pm Monday 2 December at Thatcham Baptist Church.

• Regarding the election, I just want to run this past you to check in case I’ve got confused. A former Labour minister, Ian Austin, has advised people to vote Conservative. A former Conservative minister, Michael Heseltine, had advised people to vote Lib Dem. A former PM, Tony Blair, doesn’t appear to think that anyone should vote for any of these parties. Nigel Farage has accused all the parties of promising too much. Muslims are being advised not to vote Conservative and Jews not to vote Labour. The Lib Dems and the SNP took ITN (or the Conservatives and Labour, I’m not sure) to court and then, while they were there, decided to take each other to court. In some seats the Lib Dems and the Greens are behaving like best buddies, in others (on identical policies in the case of each party) like sworn enemies. If you want Brexit to happen you may not have a serious candidate who will agree with you as, if your current MP is a Conservative, the Brexit Party will not be standing, even if the current candidate is a remainer. If you don’t want Brexit to happen you’ll have up to four candidates to choose from. None of this really feels quite normal. But what is ‘normal’ these days? Crazy is the new normal.

• Whoever wins, based on recent history there’s a better than even chance that they’ll eventually be ousted not by the public but by their own party or by a political crisis. Not counting the current one, there have been eight PMs since 1974: of these, only three (Callaghan, Major and Brown) left office as a result of an election. All the others (Wilson, Thatcher, Blair, Cameron and May) were either pushed or jumped (or, in Cameron’s case, ran away). 

• The big election news, however, as reported in this week’s NWN and elsewhere is that David Yates has not been allowed to stand under the same ‘Santa Claus‘: West Berkshire CEO and Returning Officer Nick Carter clearly feels that enough people in the area believe that Santa Claus really exists for this to cause voter confusion. Mr Yates has said he’ll appeal, which – as this wouldn’t be heard until after 12 December – could force a by-election.

• The same paper has, on p6, articles about all the candidates who have been allowed to stand. One of Hungerford’s district councillors, Claire Rowles, has received criticism for also standing as the Conservative candidate for Warrington, this on the grounds that she purported to have (and indeed does have, if it matters) a local connection to West Berkshire. This is something that I think can be left to the residents of Warrington to worry about. As mentioned before, I think the whole ‘local’ issue is specious: what matters is if the candidate is any good. All I can tell the people of Birkenhead is that she seems to be an energetic and effective district councillor in West Berkshire. She said that she ‘wants to help out in marginal seats.’ In no way can Birkenhead be so described. Last time out, Labour’s Frank Field got nearly 77% of the votes and has a majority of of well over 25,000. I’ve often wondered what it must be like to stand in a constituency where one has no chance of winning. Next time I see her I’ll ask.

A recent article published on the BBC website reveals that West Berkshire Council is struggling to hire nurses, occupational therapists, adult social care staff.social workers and bin collectors because of low wages and a lack of career progression. This article in the Reading Chronicle a couple of days later also suggested that the government’s push to reduce immigration had a role to play.

• The same paper reports that taxi fares (which it claims haven’t changed since 2013) may soon be about to rise by about 10%.

• West Berkshire Council has produced a directory listing many of the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) services available in the area – you can see the Autumn 2019 edition here.

• 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.

• A reminder about an update regarding the new rail fares and timetable which will come into force in December and will affect local GWR services. 

TSB is, along with other banks, closing quite a few branches. My first act was to check on this website to see if any in this area, particularly Hungerford (where it’s the last bank standing) were on the list: it seems not.

• For the animal of the week is our sturdy 10-year-old black cat Marmite who was judged to have ‘superb teeth’ by Hungerford Vets. Must be all those pigeons he catches. Hungerford Town Council needs to deal with these pests – let us know if you want to hire Marmite for a couple of days, guys.

• The letters section of the Newbury Weekly News this week includes: a critique of Richard Benyon’s record as Newbury’s MP; a letter from the electorally excluded Santa Claus; a letter that seems to be claiming that British democracy is broken (which it may be), though surely not, as the writer claims, because it sometimes elects different parties (which seems rather the point of it); and confirmation from a local MEP that the Tories have been reported to the Electoral Commission for their preposterous,  mendacious but also slightly pathetic use of the ‘factcheckUK’ name during the recent election debate.

• A number of good causes have received valuable support recently, including: Oxford Children’s Hospital (thanks to Claire Boulter); MacMillian’s Brave the Shave (thanks to Ethan Keable); Fair Close Centre (thanks to NORMA); the NWN’s Over 80s Parcel Fund (thanks to many donors and volunteers); Swings and Smiles (thanks to the gin evening at The Globe in Newbury); Dingley’s Promise (thanks to the Friends of Elstree).

Hungerford & district

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

• There are currently three vacancies on Hungerford Town Councilsee here for the official notice

• The the revised plans for Hungerford’s Salisbury Road development were approved by West Berkshire’s Western Area Planning Committee on  27 November with at least 13 conditions: how well these will be enforced is another matter. You can see the plans (which will soon have the conditions added) on the WBC website: use the code 19/01406/FULMAJ.

The application was passed despite some trenchant criticism from some councillors about Bewley’s refusal to take the opportunity to build to higher environmental standards than the regulations currently specify. West Berkshire did have the opportunity to demand higher standards than the national ones, under the so-called ‘Merton Rule, but I understand that it has not done so. This needs to be part of its local plan so that opportunity has been missed (perhaps permanently, as the planned new standards will admit of no local variation). It also seems that a suitable mix of homes for private sale is not part of West Berkshire’s policy. This development includes no one- and two-bedroom homes for private sale, exactly the kind of properties that are most needed by young families. The overall requirement of 40% affordable housing has been met (though it will be seen if this survives viability assessments, which could reduce this). All in all, Bewley has done the minimum required and cannot be forced to do more. The WAPC cannot insist on conditions which are in excess of its council’s policy or national legislation without the risk of an appeal being launched, which it would probably lose. Certainly the district councillors, and Hungerford’s own councillors, have pursued the matter with commendable energy, doing exactly what local councillors should do. Considering the weak cards which were dealt them by the current imbalances and uncertainties of the planning system and the seeming shortcomings of West Berkshire’s own policies, they played the hand as well as they could. The current application is, for instance, an improvement on the previous, very condensed, plans.

In one matter Bewley Homes must be commended. We are all being encouraged to plant more trees and the plans show this will be happening round most of the site. In four places, however, there are gaps. All four happen to co-incide with the end of roads that will be built as part of the development. On being asked about this by the WAPC, Bewley’s representatives muttered about sight-lines and maintaining views. I think they are being far too coy and self-effacing. Surely the real aim is to avoid the environmental damage (and, incidentally, the cost) of felling these trees when, as will surely happen, the development is extended at some point in the future. On this point Bewley is equally coy.

• The long-running affair touches on a number of planning issues including environmental issues, the relationship between councils and developers, the role of parish councils and the way government regulations are established and enforced. There are several articles about Salisbury Road on the PP site: the most recent one, which you can read here, looks at these aspects of the matter.

• Any planning matter brings up the question of enforcement. As is well known, West Berkshire currently lacks the staff to deal with real or suspected breaches of regulations quickly or sometimes at all. This has led to, yet another, insidious and downward transfer of responsibility to parish and town councils. They do not have to do this, but a good town or parish council is now having to keep a close eye on any work and check that conditions aren’t being breached. Two local examples of this spring to mind. First, there’s the question of the chairs and tables outside Costa in the High Street. These were placed there despite there being no permission and the matter was only brought to West Berkshire’s attention by the Town Council. Secondly, there has been some very dangerous parking by vans on Priory Road as a result of site visits to Salisbury Road (not a good omen for the future). Again, the Town Council were onto this and West Berkshire’s Enforcement Department notified. If there is a development happening in your parish, therefore, your parish councillors may need to take a more proactive role in monitoring this than has been the case in the past. The best thing, of course, would be for the government to ensure that planning authorities had enough enforcement officers.

• The December Penny Post Hungerford will be sent out on Tuesday 3 December.

• 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.

• There’s some further news here about the new rail fares and timetable which will come into force in December and will affect services to and from Bedwyn, Hungerford, Kintbury and Newbury. 

• 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

Lambourn Valley

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

• Click here for the latest latest East Garston News.

• November’s Valley of the Racehorse will be published next week. 

• The River Lambourn has done its more-or-less annual magical rebirth, emerging out of the ground to fill a previously dry river bed almost overnight. Our cats, who used this as a kind of motorway, are livid. Meanwhile, as reported last week, the Environment Agency’s investigations continue into the dredging incident which took place almost exactly a year ago which you can read about here.

• Residents of East Garston may have been perplexed to have received a questionnaire from Community Action in Gloucestershire (GRCC) concerning housing needs in the parish. I spoke to Martin Hutchins, who sent the covering letter. You can read his profile here (which also has his contact details, as does the covering letter, should you wish to contact him). He confirmed that CRCC is a charity, in many ways similar to the Community Council for Berkshire (CCB) which exists, to quote its website, ‘to inspire, support and deliver community action.’ GRCC has, as the letter states, been commissioned by Evans Jones, a Gloucestershire-based planning consultancy, to conduct this survey. He also said that they approached CCB to do this, such is the etiquette involving such bodies, but that CCB was at that time unable to devote the resources to it.

It’s impossible to be certain what the ultimate purpose of this is. Most probable, it seems to me, is to provide evidence in support of a proposed application, or possibly an application which has been previously rejected and which the owners wish to revive. The data from the survey may find its way into West Berkshire’s decision-making although, as only one village is being canvassed, it seems unlikely that it’s part of any more general, and thus particularly useful, assessment of the area’s needs. The ostensible purpose of the survey is to provide evidence of more affordable homes but I can’t see that any private development would be viable if it comprised wholly or substantially these kind of dwellings. I understand that East Garson is not currently part of West Berkshire’s plans for additional housing, though that may change when the Housing and Economic Land Assessment Allocation (HELAA) is published early next year. The trouble with requests for information like this is that it’s not certain how or by whom it will be used. Many feel that more affordable homes are needed: whether this will help provide them is another matter. 

• Residents of the Parish of Lambourn should by now have received questionnaires of a very different kind, this one unambiguously about the ongoing neighbourhood development plan. All residents are urged to respond as it presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to influence all aspects of development in the area, not just one. These forms can also be downloaded. For more on this, see this post.

• Last week’s East Garston Quiz raised over £4,000 directly (with about another £1,000 taken at the bar) so helping to keep our excellent Village Hall in good repair for the increasingly wide range of uses to which it’s put. Hats off to ringmaster Ed James, to Sue Tulloch for the superb food, to Raymond and everyone behind the bar and everybody who helped. It’s always a great evening. These community buildings perform a vital function and are always in need of funding (or at least attendance at fundraising events) and volunteers. My recollections of the later part of the night are a bit hazy but I am able to report that our team, God Knows, were the winners. One of the questions is in the Quiz Question of the Week section below.

• 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 suecocker@hotmail.com.  

4 Legs Community Radio Station will on Friday have its 80th day of broadcasting – click here for more.

Newbury & district

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

• This week’s NWN has, on p4, a report on the proposed construction of about 40 ‘holiday lakeside chalets‘ near Hambridge Lane. Whether or not this is the kind of accommodation that Newbury needs will be a matter that West Berkshire Council will ultimately decide. However, their decision may be influenced by the promise by Pegasus, the developers, to build them to environmental standards which, to quote the paper, ‘improve on current building regulations’. Bewley Homes (see Hungerford section above) might want to read this article and have a look at the plans. 

• The same paper also has, on p12, coverage of plans to turn the Baptist Church into a community hub.

• This is the second year of Newbury’s Living Advent Calendarclick here for more details.

• As mentioned last week, the Town Council is looking into the possibility of having some free car parking on market days (Thursdays). The Town Council will be considering the matter and its costs with an announcement expected early in the new year.

• The Five Bells at Wickham has re-opened under new management. The website page has recently gone live and should tell you all you need to know. The Five Bells is offering a wonderful prize for our 2019 Christmas Competition, which you can see here.

• Market Street will be closed for a bit longer than planned, probably re-opening in early December. 

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 admin@hamsteadmarshall.net.

• 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.

• We understand that the current tenants of The Ibex in Chaddleworth want to move on. Interest has already been expressed by others in taking this over. If you want to find our more about the possibility of running this lovely pub at what appears to be a very fair rent, call Stewart on 01488 638 311.

• A bonfire, fireworks and general merry-making evening will take place in Ashhampstead on Sunday 7 December.

• If you fancy becoming a Compton Parish Councillor, now’s your chance…

• Due to pressure of other work, the Editor has announced that there won’t be a November issue of Chaddleworth News but that normal service will be resumed next month.

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

• The November issue of West Ilsley Parish News can be found here.

• The November issue of Brickleton News (covering Brightwalton) 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.

• One of these is in fact several events over an early festive weekend from Friday 6 to Sunday 8 December – more information here.

• The by-election to fill the vacant seat on Thatcham Town Council caused by the resignation for personal reasons of Nassar Kessel, will take place on general election Day, 12 December.

West Berkshire Ramblers will be hosting its AGM on Saturday 30 November at Woolhampton Village Hall, Bath Road, Woolhampton. More details can be found here.

Refill Thatcham is a free campaign to reduce the amount of plastic waste in the town. More details here.

• If you have a dog that likes a party (or if you like a party and have a dog) then you (and your dog) need to be at the Frilsham Dog Party from 11am to 3pm on Sunday 1 December.

• The most recent (November 2019) Parish Report from Brimpton Parish Council can be seen here. Topics covered include planning applications, speeding and tree planting.

• 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.

• The November Parishes Magazine covering Aldermaston, Beenham, Brimpton, Midgham, Wasing and Woolhampton: click here to see it. This covers secular as well as religious matters.

• 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.

• If you don’t tie your boat up properly on the River Kennet (or any other river) it can end up weir-snarled, as did this one at Burghfield Mill last weekend. This reminds me of a double whammy that befell a friend of mine when we were all on holiday in Pembrokeshire some years ago. He tied up his dingy at the harbour one evening but his knot-making skills were that day deficient and it was swept into the bay and half smashed on the rocks. He and some helpers struggled to get the remains back to shore. Exhausted and freezing he tried to load it onto his trailer whereupon the boom unexpectedly swung round and smashed the windscreen of his car. The old adage that the hobby of sailing is like standing under a cold shower tearing up £20 notes would must have seemed more true. 

• As mentioned last week, thanks to Dave Shirt from Aldermaston for telling me what a candle auction was (Aldermaston PC’s website announced that there was to be one ‘for the three-year lease of Church Acre’ at 7pm on Thursday 28 November (that’s tonight) at the Hind’s Head). 

• Next month will see five performances of the York Nativity Play at Aldermaston’s St Mary the Virgin Church on 2, 5, 6, 7 and 8 December: there’s also a press call and costume rehearsal on 29 November. For more information, visit the website.

• Still in Aldermaston, it looks as though the temporary diversion of the A340 due to the damaged building will be in place for some considerable time

• Theale’s village’s Christmas Fair will take place on Saturday 14 December.

• Click here for details of forthcoming events in Burghfield.

• There’s an open mic night at The Crown in Theale on 4 December.

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. (As mentioned before, the 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.

• The November Parishes Magazine covering Aldermaston, Beenham, Brimpton, Midgham, Wasing and Woolhampton: click here to see it. This covers secular as well as religious matters.

Marlborough & district

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

• If you fancy becoming a Marlborough Town Councillor, click here for information.

• If you want to know where your local candidates stand on the burning issues of the day and weren’t able to make it along to the recent hustings, you can read this excellent report from Marlborough News (there’s also a Youtube link at the foot). 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. The last time any party other that the Tories held the seat was in 1923. 

• Drivers in Marlborough beware: parts of the town centre now have a 20mph speed limit

• The Devizes and District Foodbank, part of the Trussell Trust network, is asking the Marlborough community to help support people in crisis this Christmas by donating to the UK’s largest food collection. Marlborough News has more here.

• The Outside Chance pub in Manton will be re-opening in time for Christmas according to Marlborough News.

• The Marlborough Area Neighbourhood Plan Consultation results have been released – click here for details.

• The archaeological dig that took in Aldbourne earlier this year will be featured in BBC Four’s Digging for Britain on Wednesday 11 December 2019.

• There’s some further news here about the new rail fares and timetable which will come into force in December and will affect services to and from Bedwyn, Hungerford, Kintbury and Newbury. 

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

• Forget the general election: there’s the Youth Parliament to think about. I don’t know too much about this, being rather above the age for eligibility, but you can find our more on this website. This caught our eye as this post appeared on the Community Mentoring and Support Wiltshire’s FB page. it’s only Wiltshire that’s involved: it’s nationwide. I’ll try to find the time to find out more about this for next week and let you know.

Click here for information about the Bedwyn Cinema’s screenings on 28 November (get your skates on) and 19 December.

• 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.

• As mentioned last week, St Modwen, the developer at Crab Hill, has submitted an application to amend the Section 106 agreement which determines the level of contribution it has to make to the community. This is available to view on the Council website as application P19/V2997/MPO. It seems that the proposed changes don’t change the overall level of financial contributions required but do alter a lot of details. The Wantage & Grove Campaign Group, which alerted me to this, doesn’t currently have a lawyer on its team so if anyone with this kind of experience would be able to have a look at the documents and highlight the main implications of the changes the W&GCG would be very grateful: the email is admin@wantageandgrove.org. Comments can be submitted to the District Council until Wednesday 11 December 2019.

• The W&GcG has also pointed out that this could have an effect on the funding for the Wantage Eastern Link Road. Despite statements to the contrary, the £7m of funding for this is not all secured: the majority (£5.75m) depends on S106 developer contributions, including from Crab Hill.

• The Herald has coverage of the five candidates standing for the Wantage seat in the forthcoming election. In 2017, Ed Vaizey received 54% of the votes (Labour came second with 27%). The seat was created in 1983 and has never not been held by the Conservatives.

• I don’t normally cover crimes in this columns (plenty of other journalists spend their whole time in court doing just that) but this one is particularly strange one that could have turned into a major tragedy. In summary, a man in Wantage was recently jailed for trying to burn down a nightclub because it didn’t sell Red Bull. Seems to me that the last thing he needed was a high-caffeine drink. I’m sure someone at Red Bull HQ thought (hopefully before being slapped down by their boss) ‘now, surely there’s a marketing angle in this for us?’

• I’m a bit confused by an article on p2 of this week’s Herald. This refers to comments made by the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, that the so-called Oxbridge Expressway probably wouldn’t be built if a majority Conservative government was elected on 12 December. Hang on – wasn’t it the Conservatives who proposed this plan? Also, is this suggestion not in danger of falling foul of political purdah?

• I’m also confused by an article on p3 which says that about 300 EU staff have left the John Radcliffe trust this year, about 20% of its EU roster and the second-highest such fall in the country. This looks like a clear and dramatic Brexit headline. However, the article goes on to say that 318 EU nationals were recruited in the same period so the net positions seems to be positive. How does these compare with previous years? Also, the second-highest fall means nothing if actual numbers are being compared as the size of trusts varies. This was a result of a FoI request by the Lib Dems. Pity they didn’t ask for a bit more information and then we could have seen what point, if any, these figures were making.

• And, still in The Herald, on p12 the paper gets its claws into PCC Anthony Stansfeld (as does the Editor on p10) over claims that he acted inappropriately over his involvement in a fraud enquiry.

• 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. The Herald reports that the group collected well over 200 sacks of rubbish between All 2018 and March 2019. More details here.

• Local scout groups are offering their Christmas card delivery services in December: Wantage and Grove Scouts will deliver the festive greetings by hand to residents in the areas.

Millbrook Primary School in Grove is celebrating its 50th birthday and the pupils have marked the event by creating three mosaics with the help of a local expert.

• The Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire district councils are looking for volunteers to join a joint panel to help set councillors’ allowances. The Independent Remuneration Panel for councillors’ allowances consists of up to five members of the public who help determine how much money councillors from both councils receive for their time, while also giving value for money. You need to apply by Friday 29 November, so time’s nearly up. More details here.

• A scheme to give vulnerable people a place to go for help in the Vale of the White Horse has been launched.

• There will be free parking in the run up to Christmas in Wantage and Faringdon on Saturdays 7, 14 and 21 December. Click here for more information.

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.

• 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 looks at the concept of ‘lifetime homes‘ a slightly cringey phrase (like ‘forever homes’ for pets) which the housing industry has developed to describe properties which can be adaptable for changing needs: the staircase, perhaps, being able to cope both with a toddler stair-gate and, for a later period of life, a stair-lift. She points out that the current local plan in The Vale doesn’t demand a particularly large number of these. A lot of the aspects of such properties are, as she suggests, good practice and common sense anyway. 

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

Swindon & district

Latest news from Swindon Borough Council.

• Swindon Borough Council and its partners came together earlier this week in a show of unity against domestic violence.

• 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 way in which councillors are elected can vary. All councillors are elected for four-year terms and the most common system is for all these to take place at one time. This has some disadvantages. Not only can an external event, such as Brexit, produce a possibly skewed result, but also a dramatic change of control can have a damaging effect on decision making, particularly if the timetable for a local plan co-incides with an election (as recently happened in South Oxfordshire). A more rational system is perhaps that of thirds, one that several councils including Swindon follows.  In this model, councillors are elected for a term of four years, with one third being elected for three consecutive years which is then followed by a fourth year when there are no elections. A recent consultation was launched as to whether this should be changed and the decision has recently been taken by the Council that it shouldn’t. 

• Swindon Museum and Art Gallery has successfully acquired its first work through the Arts Council England’s Acceptance in Lieu scheme. The scheme enables taxpayers to transfer important works of art and heritage objects into public ownership and applies to work that has important cultural and historical connections. Swindon Link takes up the story from here.

• I had most of the sight in one of my eyes saved by a pioneering doctor 30 years ago (see here for a an account of it which is a good deal more jaunty than the way I felt at the time) so I’m please to ask you to raise your glasses, or your spectacles, to Hani Hasan of the Great Western Hospital who has been awarded the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Medal in Clinical Ophthalmology for 2019.

• And, still with local property, this article in Swindon Link looks at how the market might fare in the immediate future.

Haydon Wick Parish Council is looking for volunteers to get involved in a variety of activities.

• Christmas will be coming early to Lydiard House thanks to a special festive treat on offer to visitors.

• 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 has launched its online community lottery to support local good causes.

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

The song and the quiz

• The Song of the Week is, for no particular reason, by Prince. Personally think he was a musical genius simply because of his ability not only to create a song but also to play almost instrument and provide high-octane performances, often more than one a night, and to keep on doing so throughout the whole of his life. He was dazzlingly prolific: I write and record a song a month and feel pretty good about that. He would often do half a dozen in one day, with barely any retakes. By some estimates, there is enough material in the vaults in Paisley Park to release an album a year until about 2050, although all kinds of reasons are likely to prevent that happening. He was a huge one-off, superior in my view  to Michael Jackson, to whom he’s often compared. Many of you of a certain age will remember Little Red Corvette, for instance. Have another go at it.

• Which leads us inexorably towards the Quiz Question of the Week. This week’s question came from last week’s Quiz at the East Garston Village Hall. Compere/quizmaster/auctioneer Ed James has developed an interesting tradition of one round of questions set by a guest: the one I’ve picked was one of these, set by Dave Lee, and is as follows: Which country has the largest coastline? Last week’s question was from the quiz in Cold Ash in aid of the Three Rivers Community Choir and was as follows: What is the odd one out from pelican, camel, zebra and puffin? The answer is camel as all the others are types of road crossings in the UK. They could also have added two other kinds of crossing, Toucan and Pegasus, to the list. Don’t ask me what the differences are: but you could ask Thameside Metropolitan Borough Council which seems to be to be black-and-white-bird aware in this matter.

Brian Quinn

For more news follow Penny Post on Facebook and Twitter

If you would like to add your thoughts to anything in this post, please use the ‘Comments’ box at the foot of the page. Once moderated, your comment will be visible to other users.

If you would prefer to contact me directly and privately about anything which was, or you think should have been, in this post, please email brian@pennypost.org.uk.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on print

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Coverage Area

What's On

8:00 am Lambourn Friday Market @ Lambourn Market Square
Lambourn Friday Market @ Lambourn Market Square
Jul 10 @ 8:00 am – 4:00 pm
Lambourn Friday Market @ Lambourn Market Square | Lambourn | England | United Kingdom
Come and browse Lambourne’s market stalls. Our range spans from Fresh Produce, to a Butchers and other essential foods and items.
9:00 am Newbury Thursday and Saturday Ma... @ Newbury (Northbrook Street, Market Place)
Newbury Thursday and Saturday Ma... @ Newbury (Northbrook Street, Market Place)
Jul 11 @ 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Newbury Thursday and Saturday Market @ Newbury (Northbrook Street, Market Place) | Newbury | England | United Kingdom
Newbury Market is a bustling one-stop shop for all your essentials. The majority of the traders have been on the market for many years so
7:30 pm Wantage Cafe Scientifique @ online
Wantage Cafe Scientifique @ online
Jul 14 @ 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Wantage Cafe Scientifique @ online
Wantage Cafe Sci (via Zoom): 14 July 2020, 19h30 Who Needs Geologists? The Role of Geology in the Energy Transition with Mike Simmons Although geology
7:00 am Hungerford Wednesday Market @ Hungerford High Street
Hungerford Wednesday Market @ Hungerford High Street
Jul 15 @ 7:00 am – 2:30 pm
Hungerford Wednesday Market @ Hungerford High Street | England | United Kingdom
Wednesday is market day in Hungerford, when cars give way to shoppers, traders and stalls filled with fresh fruit, vegetable, fish, meat, flowers, plants, clothes,

Sign up to the free weekly

Penny Post


for local, positive news, events, jobs, recipes, recommendations & more.

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