East Garston Parish Council – September 2020 Update

East Garston Parish Council (EGPC) generally meets on the first working Wednesday of every odd-numbered month. Currently these are conducted virtually. More information about EGPC, including the agendas and minutes of the meetings, can be found the East Garston Parish Council website.

WBC = West Berkshire Council.

September 2020

EGPC held its third virtual meeting on 2 September 2020 and discussed a number of topics on matters of importance to the village, which included the following items. The next meeting will be on Wednesday 4 November.

Community grants: We were delighted to award grants to the Over 60s Coffee Club for a marquee to support its outdoor activities and to the Village Hall to replace its broken cooker.

Community funding towards the cost of a replacement swing. We have an application on The Good Exchange to raise funds for the replacement of the swing in the Jubilee Meadow playground.  Anyone wishing to donate to this project can do so here. Any amount you donate will be doubled as the project is eligible for match funding under the Greenham Trust top-up scheme.

Parish Plan. We reviewed the 2010 East Garston Parish Plan and were pleased with the significant progress against the original objectives drawn up by Martyn Wright and his team. We identified some areas where progress had been quite limited for various reasons, including drawing up a Village Design Statement and a Housing Needs Assessment, as well as assessing provision and needs of young people in the village. We are talking to WBC about how we can get some technical advice and financial support to progress these items, as we believe they are still important objectives for the village to achieve. Outcomes will be shared with the parish before anything is finalised, hopefully at next year’s Annual Parish Meeting, assuming that Covid-19 protocols allow.

Speeding. Many of you will have seen the speed indicator on the Newbury Road again over the last few weeks. This is all part of the trial being run by WBC with our support. WBC are reviewing the results and we are still awaiting detailed findings, but the headlines are (as if we didn’t know) there are still too many speeding vehicles, but the presence of the indicator is having a positive effect.

East Garston website. Government regulations about accessibility of .gov.uk websites like ours have been introduced this month and we are required to make reasonable adjustments to our website so they are accessible to people with various disabilities. We are also required to publish an Accessibility Statement and have a plan of action by 23 September. We are fortunate that our webmaster Alan Breadmore has carried out an audit of the website on our behalf and made a number of adjustments to improve accessibility.

We have also adopted a Website Accessibility Statement and agreed a plan of action. You can view the Accessibility Statement here. If you have any comments about the accessibility of the website, we would really like to hear from you so we can try to meet your needs. Please email any comments to news@eastgarston-pc.gov.uk or phone the Parish Clerk, Alison Blackmore, on 01488 648014.

Parish Clerk needed. A vacancy has arisen for this important role. Please see this separate post for details.

July 2020

EGPC held its second virtual meeting on 1 July 2020 and discussed a number of topics on matters of importance to the village, which included the following items.

Re-opening of Jubilee Meadow and the outdoor gym and children’s playground. The Government announced that such facilities can re-open from 4 July provided the detailed guidelines, published on 26 June, are followed. As well as carrying out the obligatory risk assessment, there are specific requirements on cleaning and hygiene, social distancing and the provision of public information. Jubilee Meadow and its playground has only ever needed a very light touch to maintain it as a safe and enjoyable space in the village. Having reviewed the new Guidelines, EGPC is not yet in a position to meet them and so will not be re-opening Jubilee Meadow for the time being. We know this is disappointing but it would not be responsible for us to do otherwise. We are looking at how we can meet the requirements as well as investing in a new set of swings which will be available later in the year.

Speeding on the Newbury Road. We have been working with WBC for some time to reduce the speed of traffic on Newbury Road. You may well have seen a new speed indicator on the westbound side shortly before Humphreys Lane junction during June. The four weeks of data from this is currently being analysed by WBC and will no doubt confirm what many of us suspect: traffic may be lighter during lockdown, but it is not slower, and many people continue to ignore the 30 mph speed limit. As traffic levels creep upwards again, and with more people walking, running, cycling and riding, please observe the speed limits. It’s 30 mph for a reason.

Parish Plan review. We have been reviewing the achievements of the 2010 East Garston Parish Plan and its 17 overall objectives and numerous specific actions. There is much to be proud of here on the part of the many residents who were involved and coordinated by Martyn Wright. A lot has been achieved, but there are a few areas where further work is needed, particularly around understanding housing needs and the needs of young people. EGPC will be looking to make some progress on those areas and also to identify any new areas or initiatives that could be included for action over the next five years. If residents have ideas or suggestions, or would like to get involved then we would love to hear from them. Please contact the Parish Clerk Alison Blackmore on eastgarstonpc@gmail.com.

Coronavirus support. Finally, a big thank you to the many volunteers across the village who have offered support to people in need during the current crisis. We are fortunate (so far!) in having only a relatively small number of people unable to travel as they are shielded or self-isolating and needing help, mostly with prescriptions, sometimes with petrol for lawn mowers or shopping for essentials. We know how much the volunteer support has been appreciated by those receiving help. If you or someone you know needs support of this nature, please contact Chris Tonge at christopherjtonge@gmail.com or on 01488 648370.

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