Hungerford Town Council Update August/September 2020

Note: due to Coronavirus, there have been several changes to the way in which Hungerford Town Council’s (HTC’s) business is being conducted. These are variously referred to in the sections below.

These notes incorporate some but not all of the matters discussed at the Full HTC meeting on 7 September 2020, 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 may also include information about HTC’s activities which were not discussed at the meeting. See the foot of this post for more information.

Full Council Meetings take place generally at 7.00pm on the first working Monday of every month except August (when there is no meeting). For the foreseeable future, these meetings will be conducted online. Please see the Virtual Council Meetings section below for more on this, including how you can continue to participate in or contribute to these.

HTC = Hungerford Town Council; WBC = West Berkshire Council; WAPC = WBC’s Western Area Planning Committee. DC = District Councillor.

For HTC updates from previous months, please visit the archives here.

Police report

The following report was provided to the meeting by the local policing team.

Lockdown now seems like a distant memory with areas of life slowly returning to some kind of new normal. We have been lucky that our community, in the main, have been adhering to and following the governments advice. We appreciate that at times this has been challenging, and something none of us have experienced before. As a team we are still using the Tri-station as our temporary base to allow us to social distance.

OSARA (Objective; Scanning; Analysis; Response; Assessment) meeting

On 28 August, members of the team met with The Mayor and two other representatives of HTC for an OSARA meeting. This was chaired by Sgt Murray.

The purpose of such a meeting is essentially to problem-solve. We used it to discuss community concerns, mainly around anti-social behaviour in the town. This included offences such as criminal damage. These meetings are confidential but allow the Police to share information with HTC and discuss ways to jointly tackle the issues and concerns. Future meetings are planned, the next one in October.

The Mayor added her summary of the main points the August meeting had covered.

  • More CCTV sites. ‘I think all present were unanimous about the wish to have more sites covered in the town. There was a request to stop two of the cameras from rotating, often missing key shots whilst turning. Members’ bids and fundraising may also be options to raise funds for more cameras.’
  • Reminding the need to report all incidents (see below).
  • A proposed mailshot to encourage public engagement and confirm how incidents can be reported.
  • Speeding vehicles and modified motorcycles were lagged as increasing problems, both in the town and on the outskirts.
  • Illegal encampments: better channels for information sharing to assist landowners and local authorities was discussed.

Reporting incidents

It was highlighted in the meeting the need to report. News travels fast round a community, especially via various social media channels such as Facebook but if no one tells the Polices, they don’t know about it: if it’s not officially reported, it hasn’t officially happened.

You can report incidents online. If it is urgent please continue to call on 101 (non-emergency) and 999 in an emergency. If you would like to report anonymously, you can do so via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online at Crimestoppers.

Recent incidents in Hungerford

  • On the evening of the 15 August, a male was stopped in a vehicle near the High Street, He was arrested and has been charged with ‘drink driving, having no insurance and driving otherwise in accordance with a licence’.
  • Overnight on 21-22 August, we received 11 reports of garages and/or vehicles being broken into in the town. PC Ambler is currently investigating and asks anyone with information or CCTV capturing anything suspicious that evening to make contact with us. Furthermore if your garage or vehicle was broken into or interfered with on that evening, or at any other time, please report this to the Police.

General information

  • See above regarding reporting incidents.
  • People are encouraged to sign up for Thames Valley Alerts. As well as local crime information, you can receive details of the latest scams.
  • Thames Valley Police has a Facebook page.
  • The local policing team also wants to draw attention to the ‘what 3 words’ app which is used to help with the prevention of rural crime by locating people. The app provides a three-word code for each grid which is mapped over the world. By ringing 999 and quoting it the police can locate you.
  • You can report incidents online but if it is urgent please continue to call on 101 (non-emergency) and 999 in an emergency.
  • The team’s email address is hungerfordanddownlandsnhpt@thamesvalley.pnn.police.uk. This is not monitored 24/7 and should not be used to report a crime.
  • The Herbert Protocol. The local police team is keen to promote the Herbert Protocol initiative which helps us all to try to keep vulnerable members of our community safe.

Co-option of two new HTC Councillors

Ellie Yakar-Wells (of Nye & Co Estate Agents) and John Shatford (of John Shatford Bookkeeping) had both offered their services as HTC Councillors and, after a brief discussion behind (virtual) closed doors during the meeting, both were unanimously voted onto the Council.

Mayor’s report

Welcome back. I hope you’ve had an enjoyable summer break, albeit slightly different to the plans many of us had for our holidays. I’ve made the most of the ‘Eat out to Help out’ scheme and wish to thank Hungerford’s hospitality sector for responding so positively. Your efforts have allowed residents to return, feeling confident and safe in their surroundings. I wish all retailers and businesses in the town every success for the future.

VJ Day service

HTC wishes to thank Derek & Di Loft (RBL, Poppy Appeal), John Parry (RBL), Nick Lumley (Constable of Town & Manor), Julian Tubb (Bellman), Rev Mike Saunders, Tim and Sandy Crouter (Hungerford Town Band), Graham Saunders (Hungerford Fire Service), Sarah Hennessey, (HTC), Bruce Steggles and Tony Bartlett (photographer) for their collaborative efforts, allowing Hungerford to mark the 75th anniversary of VJ Day with dignity and respect. It’s always an honour and privilege to lay the wreath for our community. Thank you all.

Police OSARA meeting

Please see the separate section above.

Smarten-Up Hungerford

I requested some community help and the Smarten-Up team didn’t hesitate to step forward. Nicola Wood, Susan Mayes and Forbes Stephenson worked to clear and tidy the War Memorial gardens at Bulpit Lane ahead of VJ Day. Huge thanks from HTC and the entire community. Your town-wide volunteer efforts are so appreciated. If you have a few hours to spare and if you enjoy gardening and meeting like-minded volunteers, the Smarten-Up team would love more members. Please, get in touch if you can help (Click here for information, including a summary of work done earlier in the summer.)

Community Spaces

DC Cole secured a members’ bid to I’mprove the War Memorial gardens in Bridge Street. We are really looking forward to revamping this important community space. HTC is reducing the canopy of the London plane tree sited at the edge of this site. Due to its size, this work could look fairly drastic: rest assured we have taken advice from the tree officer at WBC and conducted several site visits. HTC also hopes to plan a refresh on the tragedy garden and war memorial gardens in Bulpit Lane in due course. This has taken longer than HTC had hoped due to Covid-19 lockdown and the non-availability of landscapers.

Croft Field Activity Centre

HTC will be forming a working party to plan works to improve the facilities and to allow better disabled access and facilities. This was a condition when HTC took a lease on the building from WBC. S106 money has been secured and we will collaborate with regular hirers to accommodate multiple needs for this site.

Hungerford Self Isolation

I was invited to attend Geordie Taylor’s outside birthday gathering. Around 20 people (socially distancing) met to celebrate Geordie’s birthday and also as a way of gathering the volunteer team. Raising a glass to the volunteers for their tremendous efforts throughout Covid-19 lockdown. Huge congratulations to you all. Living in this town is just the best!

Christmas Lights

HTC has agreed to put up the Christmas lights in the town. With some families and businesses struggling financially due to Covid-19, we did discuss this expenditure. HTC concluded the town really needed a pick-me-up. Hungerford’s lights bring in visitors and we hope our high street businesses will benefit from increased footfall and that the lights bring a little joy to us all.

HTC will do a virtual switch-on and we hope to get our various groups and organisations to get involved with a virtual pre-recorded countdown. I hope you will log on to social media on the evening as Hungerford counts down to switch on. I have visions of you having a Eurovision-style evening, enjoying the celebrations within your permitted bubbles.

District Councillors’ report

All three DCs were present at the meeting. Aside from matters mentioned elsewhere, these were the main topics that were raised.

  • WBC had a fairly quiet August but there is plenty on the table at present, including discussions about London Road in Newbury and the response to the government’s white paper on planning.
  • Any organisations wishing to hold public events are advised to get any necessary applications in as soon as possible. DC Cole said that he was already assisting some event organisers and would be happy to so for others. See this page for his contact details (and for those of all other WBC Councillors). The local PPP (Public Protection Partnership) may need be involved and DC Cole will be able to advise.
  • Investment in WBC’s Community Municipal Investment closes on 16 September. The aim of this is to ‘fund green projects to help the district become carbon neutral by 2030.’ More information can be found here.
  • WBC has been awarded £134,000 from central government to encourage active travel – click here for more information.
  • Salisbury Road development: discussions are still taking place between the developers and WBC’s planning officers about the CIL payments and he revised application to change the nature of the tenancies at the site.
  • WBC had provided a guide quote for installing and maintaining a re-cycling bin in the High Street. The installation cost is estimated at £450 with £70pa thereafter for emptying. It was stressed that, following Newbury’s experience, there would need to be a publicity campaign to explain what could and could not be put in it.
  • DC Rowles said that she was on the local Police and Crime Panel which scrutinises the Police and Crime Commissioner at meetings (about every other month) which are attended by the Chief Constable. See this page for her contact details (and for those of all other WBC Councillors).
  • Congratulations were offered to both of the newly co-opted members.

CV-19 members’ bids

Under recent government funding plans, the District Councillors, or Ward Members (currently Dennis Benneyworth, James Cole and Claire Rowles for Hungerford and Kintbury) can each put in up to a bid of up to £1,000 for projects will support the area’s reaction to and recovery from CV-19. These can be pooled and , unlike with the normal members’ bids, match funding is not required. Applications must be made by the end of the year.

DC Rowles told the meeting that a few projects had been proposed but that the DCs welcome further suggestions. She agreed to send HTC a list of projects which were being proposed in other wards to act as a guide.

WBC’s Environment Strategy

Councillor John Downe asked at the HTC meeting in July what progress had been made with this, the consultation period having ended some time ago. The DCs assured him that the matter was progressing through WBC’s processes. The revised strategy has now been published and you can see it here.

Councillor Downe pointed out in the September meeting that there seemed to have been little progress on this.

Hungerford 2036 (neighbourhood development plan)

The H2036 team has now completed its task of applying its site criteria to the potential sites for development identified in WBC’s HELAA report and the matter has now been passed to H2036’s consultants. Once completed, a public consultation will be organised. The H2036 team is still considering how this can be both consistent with whatever social-distancing regulations are likely to be in the place and the requirement that this be as public and inclusive as possible. The final NDP will need to be assessed by an external examiner and if they feel that any part of the process was defective the whole plan could be refused. It may therefore be necessary for any consultation to be delayed.

After discussion with WBC, it was eventually accepted by the H2036 team that it would need to pay for these to have HELAA-type assessments and the consultants have been charged with this. Once completed, Councillor John Downe stressed that it would be necessary for WBC to sign these off so that they had the same force as the other sites.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding all planning matters arising from the recent publication of the government’s white paper, it was agreed that H2036’s work would continue as normal.

For more information, see the Hungerford 2036 post here.

HTC’s committees

There have been no committee meetings since 3 August, as is customary in that month, and so nothing to report. The September schedule is, the Mayor stressed, quite busy.

For further details on HTC’s committees, including membership, agendas and minutes, please click here (and go to the ‘Town Council’ tab).

Other matters

The meeting discussed and agreed the following:

  • Grant of £400 for start-up costs for the new Hungerford Youth Council with which Councillors Daniel Lewis and Derek Alford had been much involved
  • The positioning of a Hungerford Environmental Action Group (HEAT) noticeboard under the railway bridge.
  • A report on the accessibility improvement plan for HTC’s website was deferred to the next Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting.

Finances

Councillor Winser said that there was nothing significant to report and that HTC’s finances were in good shape. In answer to an question by DC Benneyworth, she said that so far Covid-19 had not had a major impact on HTC in this respect.

Hungerford’s pigeons

Members of HTC’s working group have investigated the deterrent measures in place on the High Street. Number 15 (owned by Co-op), the Royal Mail sorting office and the railway bridge are three places where the current arrangements don’t seem to be suitable. Councillor John Downe told the meeting that responses have been received from the owners of the first two saying that the proposals to remedy the problem were being considered.

Virtual council meetings

HTC has been as active as possible in supporting the community through these challenging times. Many tasks and activities cannot currently take place but HTC’s councillors and officers are still active online. The most important recent development has been the resumption of HTC’s full council and committee meetings.

Following government legislation and guidance from professional bodies, council meetings now take place virtually. The link for each meeting is on the agenda which is published on the HTC website a few days before each meeting. For anyone unable or unwilling to attend meetings in this way, questions can be sent by email to townclerk@hungerford-tc.gov.uk or by post to The Town Clerk, Hungerford Town Council, The Library, Church Street, Hungerford RG17 0JG. These need to arrive by 2pm on the day of the meeting. You can also phone 01488 686 195 and leave your question on HTC’s answerphone (this is not always checked every day so please leave your message three days before the meeting).

The HTC office at The Hub is currently closed but emails and phone messages are being monitored.  Call 01488 686 195 to leave a message or (preferably) email admin@hungerford-tc.gov.uk.

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 any meeting nor of 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 matter. Links have been provided to other posts, on the Penny Post site or elsewhere, to give 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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Covering: Hungerford, Marlborough, Wantage,   Lambourn, Newbury, Thatcham & Theale