Hungerford Town Council Update May/June 2021

These notes normally incorporate matters discussed at the most recent Full HTC meeting, generally held on the first working Monday of every month save August. However no meeting was held in June 2021 due to the incompatibility of the two government regulations that (a) all council meetings at which decisions are to be taken must be held in-person from 7 May; and (b) the various social-distancing regulations must remain in force until at least 21 June and which render such meetings impossible or difficult to hold, certainly if there is to be any participation from the press or the public.

HTC = Hungerford Town Council; WBC = West Berkshire Council; WAPC = WBC’s Western Area Planning Committee. NDP = Neighbourhood Development Plan. H2036 = Hungerford’s NDP. DC = District Councillor.

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

Police report

A report was not provided for May: if one is supplied later, it will be added here later.

General information

  • Please report all incidents to the Police or otherwise they will not be officially recorded.
  • Mentioning an incident on social media does not count as reporting the crime.
  • 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 three 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.
  • If you would like to report anonymously you can do so via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online.
  • The team’s email address is hungerfordanddownlands@thamesvalley.pnn.police.uk. This is not monitored 24/7 and should not be used to report a crime.
  • 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.

Social rented housing at Lancaster Park (“Salisbury Road”)

A long-running uncertainty about the above development was, hopefully, concluded in mid-May. The issue was that the developers wished to overturn the condition that 28 of the 100 homes on the above site be for socially-rented homes on the grounds that this would make the development unviable. This was opposed by HTC, the DCs and many members of the public. After long discussions with WBC and the completion of a report (commissioned by WBC but paid for by Bewley), WBC concluded that the application would be rejected and that the obligation to provide the 28 social-rent homes would stand. The developers have six months in which to appeal.

On 13 May, shortly after the announcement, HTC issued a statement welcoming this decision which you can read here.

Street names at Lancaster Park

Also on 13 May, HTC issued a statement about the resolution of another issue relating to the development which had also been recently announced. This concert the street names to be used at Lancaster park. You can see HTC’s statement here.

Hungerford Town Council Covid Community Champion 2021

In place of the usual Freedom of the Town Award, HTC is planning to recognise local residents who have gone out of their way to help the community of Hungerford since the start of the pandemic. HTC is asking residents to nominate their “Covid Community Champion” for whatever reason: whether their deeds were big or small, whether they worked as an individual or part of a larger group or organisation, HTC wants to hear about them. An event to honour Hungerford’s Community Champions will take place later in the summer.

If you would like to nominate someone, please provide their name and the reasons why you are nominating them.

Nominations can be submitted by email to admin@hungerford-tc.gov.uk or by completing a nomination form available on the HTC website at www.hungerford-tc.gov.uk or by phoning the office on 01488 686 195.

All nominations need to be received by HTC by Wednesday 30 June 2021.

Mayor’s report

At our last meeting in May we discussed all the options for holding meetings before 21 June following the government’s announcement that these had to revert to in-person events after 7 May, even though social-distancing needed to remain in force until at least 21 June. Even though we’re lucky enough, unlike some councils, to have a large hall we can use, we eventually decided not to meet this month. HTC has full powers of competence and a fully-qualified Clerk, so matters that normally need to be decided in full council can be delegated. It’s to be hoped that our next meeting will take place as planned on Monday 5 July.

The fact that we haven’t all met formally, on Zoom or in-person, doesn’t of course mean that HTC’s work has paused. Several committee meetings have taken place in May, as well as an Extraordinary Full Council Meeting which confirmed how HTC would operate until social-distancing regulations were removed, or a return to discretionary face-to-face meetings permitted, including delegating certain matters to the Clerk.

In addition to committee meetings, HTC’s officers and councillors continue to work for the town in a wide range of ways. Matters as diverse as streetlights, pigeons, the improvements at the Croft Field Activity Centre and various planning applications continue to receive our full attention. Some of these have been long-running (few, we admit, have been as long-running as the pigeons): earlier this month, for instance, we were delighted to be able to share the news that WBC had rejected the application by Bewley Homes (the developers of the Salisbury Road/Lancaster Park site) to remove the provision for 28 socially-rented homes. HTC and our district councillors had been united in opposition to this proposal. This is excellent news for families in Hungerford and throughout the area.

We’ve also launched our 2021 Community Champion Award. in place of the usual Freedom of the Town Award, we are planning to recognise those local residents who have gone out of their way to help the community of Hungerford since the start of the pandemic – in place of the usual Freedom of the Town Award, we are planning to recognise those local residents who have gone out of their way to help the community of Hungerford since the start of the pandemic. See the separate section on this below.

We hope that normality will be returning before too long. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to let us know if there’s anything you’d like me or any of my colleagues on HTC to look into or get involved with. See this page of the HTC site for how to get in touch.

Stay well, stay safe and enjoy the sunshine!

Hungerford 2036 (neighbourhood development plan)

We are planning to complete our work on  the Hungerford 2036 site assessments by early June.

We then hope to commence public consultations on this phase of the project team’s work with two events in the Corn Exchange late this month, assuming that Covid restrictions will have eased and allowed this by then. An on-line facility to view the information and submit consultation feedback will be made available at the same time.

For more information, see the Hungerford 2036 post here.

Covid infection rates in Hungerford

As this (this interactive map shows, the seven–day rolling rate of new cases by specimen date ending on 1 June 2021 the number of infection rates in the town was fewer than three (white on the map), as it was for all the contiguous areas; and as it has been for some time. It was mentioned at the meeting that West Berkshire has shown a small (in actual numbers, though not in percentage: see below) spike recently but this was mainly due to one outbreak in a school elsewhere in the district.

It’s also worth pointing out that, when starting from a low base, small increases can seem disproportionately large when expressed as percentage rise. In the same way, the rate per 100,000 will, when applied to an area with fewer than this number of people, be greater than the total number of cases in that area. Both of these apply to Hungerford. Any future changes using this map should be interpreted with this in mind.

HTC’s committees

The following committee meeting haver recently taken place:

  • Environment and Planning. (Last meeting 6 May – click here to see the minutes.) Items covered included: six planning applications (one objection, three no objections and two no objections with observations and concerns).
  • Highways and Transport. (Last meeting 26 April – click here to see the minutes.) Items covered included: footpaths; grit bins; CCTV; the town’s pigeons; the Christmas trees; environmental initiatives; Hungerford in Bloom; litter; and maintenance works on the A338.
  • Finance and General Purposes. (Last meeting 5 May – click here to see the minutes.) Items covered included: payment of grants (full details in the minutes); update on the streetlight replacement; the latest on the acquisition of the the freehold for the Bridge Street War Memorial land; the leisure strategy; and the progress on the discussions for a new lease for the Triangle Field.
  • Extraordinary Full Council. (Last meeting 6 May – see section below.)

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

Extraordinary full council meeting

In the light of the government’s recent decision not to permit council meetings to be held other than in-person after 7 May, a special full council meeting of HTC was held on Thursday 6 May, mainly to discuss the best way in which these can be organised after this date. You can read the minutes here.

One of the matters was to delegate payments to the Clerk during June, with approval from other officers and councillors.

The other was to set up a working party to mirror the compositions of the Environment and Planning (E&P) Committee. As a working party it could make recommendations, not reach decisions, and could thus continue to meet remotely. These recommendations would be passed to the Clerk who, with the Chair of E&P and the Mayor, would have delegated authority to make decisions, based on the recommendations, and submit them to WBC on behalf of HTC. 

The government has initiated a call for evidence on the subject to which any interested person, whether a council member or officer or not, in encouraged to respond (if you use none of the free-text boxes it will take as little as five minutes).

Date of next full HTC meeting

The next meeting will be on Monday 5 July.

Contacting HTC

HTC can be contacted in the following ways:

  • By email to townclerk@hungerford-tc.gov.uk
  • By post to The Town Clerk, Hungerford Town Council, The Library, Church Street, Hungerford RG17 0JG.
  • By phone on 01488 686 195.

Any questions for an HTC meeting need to arrive by 2pm on the day (please allow more time if you have left this on the ansafone).

Members of the public are also welcome to attend any meetings, remotely (for as long as these are permitted) or in-person (once these resume).

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