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Hungerford Town Council Update November/December 2019

These notes incorporate some but not all of the matters discussed at the Full Hungerford Town Council (HTC) Meeting on 2 December 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 Public Protection Partnership (PPP)

Sean Murphy from the local PPP gave a brief address of the meeting. He explained that the work of the PPP is perhaps better known by its three main areas of operation: trading standards, environmental health and licensing. West Berkshire Council hosts the PPP in this area but its activities also cover Bracknell Forest and Wokingham. This has enabled several economies of scale as well as the provision of specialist teams in areas such as fraud and pollution to an extent that would not otherwise be possible.

The PPP employs about 110 staff and receives about 15,000 enquiries each year. Some of these involve major legal or regulatory breaches ranging from fly tipping to doorstep crime, from unsafe consumer goods to air quality and from licensing issues to online scams. The PPP operates in a way similar to the police, with intelligence being gathered, breaches being investigated and prosecutions being launched.

The PPP traditionally undertakes consultations with its three partner councils although, from 2020, it intends to spread this net more widely and to involve parish and town councils, including Hungerford, in this process.

For more information on the PPP’s work, please click here.

Police

Representatives from the local neighbourhood team were unable to attend the meeting but provided the following report about incidents in Hungerford in November.

• There were two thefts from vehicle reports, one of which was parked on Hungerford Common. Please be mindful that beauty spot thefts such as those that occur on the Common and Combe Gibbet are largely opportunists so do not hide personal belongings in your vehicle – take them with you.
• Overnight on 10-11 November a Transit van parked in Prospect Road was stolen. If anyone has information regarding this please contact us on 101 quoting crime number 43190351574.
• At about 6pm on 19 November a windscreen of a van was smashed in Westbrook Close. Again if you have any information please quote 43190361765 when calling 101.
• There was been one reported shoplifting for November in the town.
• It was reported that at around 1030am on the 24 November a male indecently exposed himself to a female on the common, after calling out to her “look.” The male was described as white and was in the wooded area of the common near to the bend and junction of the road to Lower Denford..

Please keep reporting information to us: we sometimes find that news travels fast round a community, especially via various social media channels, but if no one tells us, we don’t know about it and also can’t officially record it.

You can report online at https://www.thamesvalley.police.uk, but if it is urgent please continue to call on 101 (non-emergency) and 999 in an emergency.

Our team email address is: hungerfordanddownlandsnhpt@thamesvalley.pnn.police.uk. Please be aware this is not monitored 24/7 and should not be used to report a crime.

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.”

Salisbury Road

For the immediate background to this issue, please see the October/November HTC Update.

The most recent development was the approval of the called-in revised application by West Berkshire’s Western Area Planning Committee on 27 November. It’s unclear if there might be any further negotiation about the specifics of the development, some aspects of which (including the environmental standards and the housing site allocation).

A member of the public requested the support of HTC and the District Councillors to call in the application to the Secretary of State on the grounds of ‘inadequate assessment of environmental impact.’ HTC said that it would consider the matter at its next Planning Committee meeting.

Various issues which arise from the issue of Salisbury Road, and the subject of planning regulations generally, have been covered here in this article written by Penny Post (not HTC).

The Christmas lights

These were switched on by Will Young on 1 December: you can read a brief report and see some photos here. As usual, the decorations and lights are both spectacular and elegant and have once again attracted much favourable comment. This year’s preparations were not without their unexpected challenges, however, and HTC expressed its particular thanks to Councillor Sally Hawkins and the Mayor for resolving these. It was also noted that some of the light strings and brackets would need replacing, perhaps before next winter.

Speeding on the Common

As reported last month, 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.

Hungerford 2036 (Neighbourhood Development Plan) update

Councillor John Downe reported at the meeting that H2036’s housing site assessment criteria had been finalised. This will enable Hungerford to apply these criteria to WBC’s long-delayed own list of possible sites for development (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.

He went on to point out that the publication of the WBC’s HELAA has, however, been delayed yet again, which puts H2036’s work into a state of limbo. The current proposed date for this is January 2020. Until the HELAA is published, and the H2036 group has had a chance to consider these, there is little more that can be done.

A complete assessment must also await WBC’s publications of its opinion as to the number of new homes that Hungerford will be expected to provide. This will follow HELAA but by how long is equally uncertain.

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 November included, as well various HTC meetings, attending various Remembrance Day events, taking part in a poppy appeal collection, making a number of arrangements for the lights switch-on, attending a Hungerford Bowling Club dinner and presentation, opening the sensory garden at the Nursery School, meeting the North Wessex Downs AONB and attending to various matters relating to the Salisbury Road development including two site visits and attending WBC’s Western Area Planning Committee meeting.

Planting trees in the churchyard

In common with other councils, HTC recognises and accepts the current view that tree planting is beneficial for the environment as it helps to reduce the area’s carbon footprint. A recent request was made that seven trees be planted in St Lawrence’s churchyard in a wildflower meadow. HTC is responsible for managing the trees here (and in several other places in and around the town).

Although there is no immediate cost to HTC (the saplings will be donated and the planting work done by volunteers) there was some concern expressed at the meeting that in 10 years or these trees might require maintenance work and thus costs to HTC. HTC currently spends about £5,000pa  on tree maintenance (though this figure varies year on year as the work is phased and also depends on factors such as storms and disease). After a discussion it was agreed that the planting should go ahead, the immediate environmental benefits outweighing any possible future costs for trees that will not grow taller than about four metres

It is certainly prudent to ensure that future costs and responsibilities of maintaining any HTC assets are recognised and allowed for, even if these assets are initially provided free of charge. If any organisation wishes to plant trees on land managed by HTC it should contact HTC with all the relevant details as soon as possible.

Pigeons

This matter was raised during the PPP’s presentation to the meeting (see above). The PPP had provided a detailed report into the pigeon issue which included a building-by-building assessment of which measures were in place where and how effective each seemed to be. This document will be considered by HTC’s Highways and Transport Committee which would recommend what action should be taken.

Orange planning application notices

Councillor Denise Gaines said that there had recently been cases where these notices had not been put up in time for people to be aware of applications and to make comments. She said she had raised this with WBC’s Planning Department who had admitted that these might on some occasions have been missed due to Hungerford’s distance from Newbury. The department promised to do better in the future.

In the past, the applicants themselves were responsible for positioning these notices but this was changed as there had been cases of these not being displayed visibly enough. In the past, letters were also sent to neighbouring properties to alert them to the application but this has ceased as part of the recent cost-cutting measures.

Finding for the Youth and Community Centre

When Charlie Barr’s made her presentation to HTC’s meeting on 7 October, she said that national funding bodies only consider projects if there’s already a solid basis of local financial support. With this in mind, HTC agreed at the December meeting to confirm its funding support of £4,800pa for the next three years.

District Councillors’ reports

District Councillors James Cole and Claire Rowles were at the meeting. Due to the period of purdah in the run up to the election they were unable to comment on some of the issues raised at the meeting, including Salisbury Road. They were able to confirm that WBC has recently been conducting a peer review, whereby a team from the Local Government Association interview officers and councillors to help ensure that the council’s work is being conducted correctly. This exercise last happened in 2014.

Other recent WBC activities and initiatives included agreeing to installing high-street recycling bins (pending the results of the trial of this in Newbury); and the putting in place of all the council’s usual winter measures including regarding rough sleeping.

Committee meetings

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

Environment & Planning.
• Councillor Gaines summarised the various issues and meetings regarding Salisbury Road, leading to the WAPC decision of 27 November.
• She also reported on the problem of the orange application notices (see separate section above).

Recreation & Amenities.
• The main work in November was connected with completing the works near the war memorial in Bridge Street in time for the Remembrance Day event and making he necessary arrangements for the Christmas trees and lights. It was reported that this year there had been several unexpected issues to contend with and special thanks were offered to the Mayor and Councillor Sally Hawkins for resolving these.

Tourism & Economy.
• The advert for Hungerford in the Great West Way magazine has been finalised.
• It was agreed at the meeting that a further £150 would be spent on an advert in a different publication (not connected with the GWW).

Transport and Highways.
• Due to a subsidy cut by WBC, the H1 bus will from March only run one day a week.
• During the installation of the Christmas lights it was noted that some of the wall-mounted brackets and some of the light strings will soon need replacing.

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

For more information on the work of HTC’s committees, please click here. For a full calendar of committee meetings, please click here. Monthly summaries of the committees’ work are added as appendices to the official minutes of the meeting (see top of post).

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.

Contacting WBC in an emergency

You can also contact West Berkshire Council out of office hours for emergencies. These are considered to include:

  • Major incidents such as major accidents or significant flooding.
  • Fallen trees and other debris blocking or restricting roads or causing potential danger to road users.
  • Traffic lights not working (West Berkshire Council only manages fixed traffic lights, not temporary ones).
  • Emergency repairs to council-owned temporary accommodation (tenants of properties should contact their housing association, landlord or agent).

 

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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