Hungerford Town Council Update June/July 2021

These notes incorporate some but not all of the matters discussed at the Full HTC meeting on 5 July 2021, the agenda for which can be found here. The official minutes of the meeting will in due course be found on the HTC site. 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.  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.

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 July: 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.

Mayor’s report

Strategy Document

Hopefully, you will all of seen the finished 12-page booklet which was circulated in this week’s edition of The Adviser. I’ve been out and about all weekend and received some really positive feedback. I hope residents will find it both interesting and friendly and gain some useful facts about HTC’s plans, aspirations and responsibilities. Please keep the comments coming!

H2036

I attended both consultation sessions held in the town hall last Wednesday and Sunday morning. The turnout was steady and consistent. See also separate section below.

EV Event

Congratulations to HEAT which organised a very successful Electric Vehicle show in the Croft on Saturday. The weather was kind and the turnout fantastic. It was great to have so many vehicle options in one place. I believe HEAT had over 500 visitors on the day. I really enjoyed experimenting with the electric bikes. The day had a real buzz about it, questions and feedback from the public were useful and will help us shape the future of electric vehicles and charging points in Hungerford.

Monthly Food and Artisan market

I’m not sure who booked the weather but thank you. Another fantastic event in the town this weekend. Hungerford has certainly been a hive of activity this weekend. Congratulations on another very successful market.

Summer Festival

Hungerford’s Summer Festival is now in full swing. I attended the art gallery in Chilton Foliat on Friday. We have some incredible talent exhibiting locally and I urge you to visit and get involved in the upcoming events. The team have worked incredibly hard and I wish them every success with the festival.

Members’ bid

Hungerford has been successful in obtaining a members’ bid for the regeneration of the corner of land near the ‘Smarten up’ team’s planter at the Co-op roundabout. The funds will be matched by HTC to develop the entrance to the town and improve the planting in the area. Thank you to our ward members for championing this request for the town.

Mayor-making in Newbury

I attended the Mayor Making ceremony in Newbury with Councillor Knight. The event was lower key due to Covid restrictions.  Councillor Billy Drummond took office from the out-going Mayor Councillor Elizabeth O’Keeffe. HTC wishes Councillor Drummond a fantastic Mayoral year. Congratulations!

Housing development – Kintbury

I was invited to the opening of the new housing estate that’s now complete in Kintbury and was very interested to see the environmental elements built within the houses.

West Berkshire Highways

The Town Clerk and members of the council met with WBC to discuss the footways along the A4/A338 following a detailed report from Councillor Fyfe. Hopefully Hungerford will see some improvement on the areas highlighted to be in poor repair. Cycling lanes were also discussed. HTC will be contacted by WBC with a considered plan of works and suggested improvements in due course.

Hungerford Town Football Club

Councillor Knight and I met with HTFC Chairman Patrick Chambers to discuss leisure provision within the town. It was a good first meeting and both parties gained knowledge and information relating to the club’s future plans.

Pump Track

I was contacted on social media by members of the public looking to float the idea of a pump track in Hungerford.  I am very keen to meet and discuss this idea and perhaps get a group of councillors to hold a working party meeting to find out more and perhaps to visit a local track (there’s one in Wroughton). I ‘ll will bring the information back to council for consideration.

Camburn Trust

I was delighted to be asked to sit on the interview panel for this local charity. The students interviewed were absolutely delightful, it was a real highlight to share their aspirations and ambitions. I think we are in very safe hands!

It was a huge privilege to meet with these young adults, I wish them every success with their exam results and look forward to seeing their progress. This is a fantastic charity that really helps with the equipment and study materials needed by students within Hungerford.

WBC Meeting

I arranged a meeting to introduce a local independent retailer to the new Economy Manager at WBC, Katherine Makant. Together we discussed the welcome back funding pot available to businesses. Newbury Bid was also on hand to help and support our local retailer. Thank you for your time and support. I understand the local retailer has now heard the bid was successful and an event is planned for the later in the year.

Heritage Meetings

The meetings will be ongoing and details will follow on conclusion.

Covid Awards

Invitations have been sent and awardees notified. I’m really looking forward to this community event. I hope it will be a lovely afternoon for all. Thank you for all of your nominations. See also separate section below.

District Councillors’ reports

All three DCs were present at the meeting. The main points covered were:

  • Hungerford’s members’ bids, and others throughout the ward, were all successful and DC Cole pointed out that more funds could have been applied for.
  • A total of £500,000 can be distributed across the area through CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) bids and applications need to be made by the end of August. These are made directly by the town and parish councils, not through their DCs.
  • The gradual return to normal life also means the return to payment of charges like council tax and business rates. The DCs stressed that WBC has schemes to help those who are in difficulty.
  • DC Rowles pointed out that the first draft of Newbury’s Town Centre Vision is now out for consultation. Aside from the fact that all those who visit Newbury for any reason (not just residents) are invited to respond, similar exercises are also planned for other towns in the district, possibly including Hungerford. For more information, see the Newbury Area Weekly News on the Penny Post website.
  • The work of the Conservation Area Reassessment Programme was referred to by by DC Cole (WBC’s Heritage Champion). There are two such areas in Hungerford and a small team of four or five people – two are already committed – is needed to help with the project. For more information, please contact James.Cole@westberks.gov.uk.
  • DC Cole explained that, as a result of submitting to WBC a critique of aspects of the Council’s planning policy and performance and threatening to resign the party whip if changes were not made, he had been relieved of his roles on the Public Protection Partnership and as the Chair of the Licensing Committee (although he remains on the Scrutiny Commission, the Constitution Review Task Group and the Environment Advisory Group and remains as WBC’s Heritage Champion). He stressed that this would enable him to spend more time on ward matters.

Roadworks and temporary traffic lights on the A338 by the entrance to Lancaster Park

This issue – which the Mayor admitted had been dominating her in-box recently – was discussed at the meeting. It appears that there is a problem with either the design or construction of the roundabout which has resulted in temporary lights being put up for health and safety reasons: these will need to remain in place until the problem has been fixed. DC Benneyworth said that it was hoped that this work would start within the month and agreed that these might take five to six weeks to complete, which will mean that the current arrangements will persist throughout the summer. (HTC only got to know anything about the issue and its likely duration because it asked WBC, not because it was immediately told.)

Councillor Downe asked that WBC provide a full statement about the “outrageous” mix up as soon as possible, including whether this error was the result of the right plans being executed wrongly or the wrong plans being approved. The DCs promised to chase this up.

NHS, Social-care and Frontline Workers’ Day

At 8pm the meeting was briefly suspended to allow HTC members to go out to the Town Hall steps and give a minute of clapping to celebrate this event.

Safer Streets Champion

Local DC Claire Rowles was appointed to this role in May and briefly described to the meeting what this would involve. She stressed that the first stage was to have discussions with town and parish councils, residents, the Police and town-centre managers to establish what problems existed and what could be done to improve matters in the district. For more information on this role, please see this separate post.

Hungerford 2036 (neighbourhood development plan)

Two public consultations on the four potential sites for new homes took place the last week in the Corn Exchange. H2036 estimates that  about 60 people attended the first event and about 40 the second: all engaged positively in seeking clarifications on the neighbourhood plan and the sites being considered. A few completed consultation comments forms were submitted but most people said that they would record their input on the H2036 websiteThis includes all of the materials exhibited at the public sessions and has an interactive consultation response facility for each of the sites.

We anticipate leaving the consultation open through July and August and will be looking for further physical consultation opportunities around the town after 19 July when Covid restrictions are expected to be changed. The H2036 Team would welcome suggestions for groups and locations which would be suitable and worthwhile for further sessions.

An additional site (HUN18 on Marsh Lane) was put forward late in the site assessment process. H2036’s consultant has reviewed it and it is currently being assessed by WBC as part of a HELAA update. They plan to publish the updated HELAA once complete. We understand that the WBC Planning Policy team has long-outstanding requests for input from WBC Highways on additional sites which has caused some delay. At the meeting, the DCs agreed to chase this up with WBC.

The H2036 Team encourages as many residents as possible to review the potential housing sites and provide any comments and insights through the website.

For more information, see the Hungerford 2036 post here.

Hungerford in Bloom

Councillor Winser said the team of judges, included her, had walked an estimated 8.5 km the previous weekend to visit all of the 35 entries. She said that these were of a very high standard and were clearly the result of a good deal of care and work. Click here for more, including a list of the winners.

Hungerford Town Council Covid Community Champion 2021

In place of the usual Freedom of the Town Award, HTC has invited nominations for local residents who have gone out of their way to help the community of Hungerford since the start of the pandemic, whether their deeds were big or small, whether they worked as an individual or part of a larger group or organisation. Nominations have now closed and the nominees have all been informed. A ceremony will take place between noon and 4pm on Saturday 24 July at the Croft Field Activity Centre.

WBC’s Environmental Strategy Delivery Strategy

This has been published and there was a discussion about this at the meeting. Councillor John Downe said he welcomes some aspects, such as any discouragement for having petrol or diesel cars idling in traffic queues, but said that he would welcome more information on the plans for the EV charging points at Station Road. The DCs agreed to chase this up.

It was also pointed out that one of the problems highlighted at the recent EV event in Hungerford was that of non-EV cars being parked in one of the parking bays with EV charging points (of which there are currently only eight in Hungerford). It was also pointed out by Councillor Schlanker that those who had paid for residents’ permits should not be barred from using any bays simply because they didn’t have an EV. This is a matter that will be considered by HTC’s Environment and Planning Committee.

CCTVs

This long-running debate was touched on at the meeting and there was some discussion as to whether the primary purpose of CCTVs was to protect HTC’s assets (such as the Croft Field Activity Centre, where there has recently been a case of vandalism) or to help provide the Police with an inventory of what vehicles are entering and racking the town. It was agreed that this needed to sent back to HTC’s Highways and Transport Committee for further consideration of the costs and locations of further cameras and a plan as to what these should be accomplishing.

Covid infection rates in Hungerford

As this (this interactive map shows, the seven–day rolling rate of new cases by specimen date ending on 30 June 2021 the number of infection rates in the town was fewer than three (white on the map), despite a brief spike a week or so before. All the neighbouring areas show higher levels of between four and 14 cases.

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 and delegated authority

The following committee meeting has recently taken place:

  • Environment and Planning. (Last meeting 2 June – click here to see the minutes.) Items covered included: five planning applications (one objection, one no objections and three no objections with observations and concerns); the proposed mobile pizza tailer; and the elevation of aspects of application 21/00034/FULto a stage two complaint.

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

Note: due to the contradiction between the government’s insistence that council meetings at which decisions are to be taken revert to in-person events (from 7 May) and the continuation of social-distancing and other restrictions (which now seem likely to end later in July), many councils including HTC have deferred committee meetings, or converted committees to working parties which make recommendations (rather then decisions) or delegated matters to the Clerk and/or a small number of councillors. Matters are now getting back to normal, in HTC at least. The fact that a committee meeting hasn’t taken place shouldn’t be taken to mean that no work has been done in that area.

At the meeting it was also agreed that the exceptional powers for the Clerk to have the power to spend up to £5,000 without full-council approval would be continued as a policy in the event that any emergency, not limited to Covid, presented itself.

The Christmas lights

The Clerk reported that work was nearing completion on specifying the locations, power points and other aspects of the 2021 Christmas lights. These would be agreed by HTC soon and incorporated into the document which would be used for the three-year tender for the provision of what most agree is the best festive display in the area.

Exhumation charges

This is not a usual item on a council agenda but it presented itself this month. A recent request for this service resulted in the office staff researching the costs and suggesting that, should this be required in the future, a charge of £200 would be made. This was agreed at the meeting.

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.

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