Hungerford Town Council Update August/September 2021

These notes incorporate some but not all of the matters discussed at the Full HTC meeting on 6 September 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.

Full Council Meetings take place generally at 7.00pm in the Corn Exchange complex on the first working Monday of every month except August (when there is no meeting). The agenda for the next one (as well as for the Council’s various committee meetings) can be found in this section of the HTC website

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

The following report was provided on 2 August 2020.

Crimes and incidents

In August 2021 there were six cases of anti-social behaviour, two of shoplifting, four of criminal damage and three thefts. There was no obvious suggestion that any of these formed part of a wider pattern.

There was also an incident involving a quad bike: this was ongoing so no comment could be made other than that the quad bike concerned has been “removed from the equation.”

It was also pointed out that autumn tended to result in more crimes such as hare coursing and that any suspicious sightings of particularly 4×4 vehicles in rural areas should be reported.

In answer to a question from HTC, the representatives reported that they were aware of a number of incidents centred on two properties in the Prospect Road area and that they were in touch with other relevant organisations.

The local Police team

The current set up of the team is one Inspector, one Sergeant, three Police Constables and five PCSOs to cover the Hungerford and Downlands area. Our third Police Constable joined the team this week. Please see below for how to contact them.

Local events

If you have any community events for which you would like representation from your local NHPT, please contact us via the above email address. While we cannot guarantee we will always be able to attend, we will make every effort to do so. 

General information (including contacts)

  • Please report all incidents to the Police or otherwise they will not be officially recorded – news travels fast round a community but if no one tells us, we don’t know about it. 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.

Hungerford town-centre funding

Former HTC Mayor Martin Crane made a presentation to the meeting arguing that the town needs to change and adapt if it’s fully to meet the challenges posed by the post-Covid world. He suggested that a new town-centre plan was needed and that all local organisations including the Town and manor, HTC, WBC, the Chamber of Commerce and local landlords should be a part, as should local residents. He felt that HTC had a particular role to play in encouraging and facilitating debate and discussion on how the town could take a fresh look at what it what it was and aspire to what it wanted to be.

The Mayor suggested that further discussions were needed within HTC and with other bodies such as WBC to discuss how these ideas could be developed.

Hungerford heritage trail

Penny Locke and Karen and Karen Salmon from the Hungerford Chamber of Commerce (CoC) explained the idea of a heritage trail to attract visitors to the High Street. Using the model being adopted in Thatcham, QR code signs would be displayed in the town, linking to a website with historical information. Printed leaflets will also be available for those without smartphones. Hugh Pihlens of the Hungerford Virtual Museum has kindly agreed to help provide the historical content.

Based on Thatcham’s experience, it was suggested that about £2,000 would be sufficient to begin the project. Funding may be available from WBC but initial discussions suggested that this might be long-term and there was no reason why the project should not be realised more quickly than WBC’s timescales indicated. One of Hungerford’s DCs, James Cole, is also WBC’s Heritage Champion and he said that he hoped to be able to help with any issues that might arise.

The Mayor said she supported in principle any idea which would help bring visitors to the town and improve their experience, a suggestion endorsed at the meeting by a brief (and informal) show of hands. She asked that a more detailed funding proposal be provided, including a specific funding request, ideally match-funded by Greenham Trust, which would then be considered.

Mayor’s report

I hope you’ve all had an enjoyable summer break. Mind you, at the time of writing, summer’s still here, isn’t it?

Police matters

I was invited to attend a meeting with Matt Barber (the Thames Valley’s Police & Crime Commissioner) with DCs Claire Rowles and James Cole. This meeting was held to welcome Matt to Hungerford and we discussed many local concerns. The county lines drug scene continues to be a local worry.

I also shared some community concerns concerning speeding vehicles through the town and CCTV. Matt shared some of his own areas of focus and we agreed to keep in regular contact.

Hungerford Theatre Company

Deputy Mayor Claire Winser alongside husband John and I, attended the production of The Three Musketeers in the car park of the triangle field.

Wow! The performance was simply outstanding, hilariously funny, such a treat. We all had a really lovely evening and laughed all the way through. We would like to say a huge thank you for the kind invitation and to forward our congratulations to the whole company. Superb show! Well done all.

The Cricket Club

Claire Winser and I also attended the Cricket Club’s celebrations to recognise Roger Beard’s incredible 60 years of service to the cause of leather against willow.  Roger was commended for his selfless volunteer efforts over six decades. In Roger’s usual style, he delivered a heartfelt speech giving thanks to the cricket team and the many volunteers who help to ensure the future success of the club.

Roger was surprised but extremely thrilled when the Chairman announced to the audience that his service and commitment to the club was being recognised by renaming the pavilion as the Hungerford Cricket Club’s Roger Beard Pavilion. Claire and I really enjoyed the afternoon.

Hungerford Town Council sends its very best wishes to Roger and Jean. Huge congratulations!

Pigeons

I wasn’t going to mention this in my report, but I never like to shy away from difficult topics. HTC received a handful of emails which have been fairly unpleasant regarding the recent cull of the town’s pigeons.  I know the local press has also been sent copies.

HTC has received a much greater number of communications from our community thanking the council for taking action. I have received positive comments whilst attending recent civic events.

If a resident slips on guano, perhaps breaking a bone, or if a visitor to Hungerford slips on guano, requiring assistance and a change of clothes from a local charity shop, or an historic building faces a bill of £50,000 for damage repairs which caused by guano and nest materials (none of which have been made up), HTC needed to address the concerns being raised by Hungerford’s residents and landlords.

A decision to instruct a contractor was taken after years of meetings and following guidance HTC sought and received from numerous professional bodies. We worked alongside landlords and businesses to ensure buildings were pigeon proofed with netting and spikes and looked at a range of options. Some of these have been tried in the past and may be in the future. None on their own will provide a perfect solution.

Businesses have faced a really tough time financially over the last 18 months and yet still were completely committed to helping the council achieve the much-needed measures. Notices were placed to remind residents about food littering and bird feeding. HTC sometimes makes decisions that not everyone will agree with but it always fully considers and debates before doing so.

Please see this statement from HTC about the recent cull. Further communications will be issued as necessary.

Skate Park and Pump Track

I am really looking forward to starting this exciting conversation which I hope will improve the play facilities within the town. Councillor Winser and I have spent time at the skatepark over the holidays, talking to the children and parents about what facilities they would like to see in the town. The pump track idea has been really well received and all of the children I spoke with wanting to see one in Hungerford. As well as this, they’d like a redesign of the skate park ramps to resemble those in Newbury and Kintbury. (Many Hungerford children are now getting on the train to use these as ours are currently not up to scratch.) I’ve been given a wish list of ramps from the children these include a bowl, half pipe, rolling ramp and box jumps. I have no idea what these are, but I am willing to champion this project on their behalf. Youth-based projects in Hungerford has always been an important priority as Mayor and I hope to I can gain council support for this project.

And looking forward

My diary is starting to fill, I’m looking forward to the many civic events planned for September and October. It’s nice to feel a little more directly involved in the community again.

The railway bridge

A request was made to Network Rail to add extra spikes to the Hungerford Railway Bridge crossing the High Street in order to prevent pigeons nesting. This has been turned down due to limited funding.

District Councillors’ reports

Two of the DCs – Dennis Benneyworth and James Cole – were present at the meeting. Their comments included:

  • Coverage of the various dramatic local events, including the arson at the Faraday Road Football Ground clubhouse and the illegal settlement in Lawrence’s Lane in Thatcham (see the Weekly News with Brian column in Penny Post for more) which undermined the fond hope of many people, including WBC’s Leader, that August was likely to be a “quiet month” in the district. (Both issues have been addressed by WBC.)
  • The fact that that there had been a number of personnel changes in the senior ranks at WBC, including the CEO and the Head of Planning,
  • DCs Claire Rowles and James Cole and the Mayor recently met the new Police and Crime Commissioner (see Mayor’s report above).
  • The Welcome Back funding had resulted in a number of local initiatives including the recent Maker’s Market in Hungerford (organised by Jade Bailey and others).
  • The issue of an untended and untenanted house was causing an increasing number of problems for neighbours and further action by WBC is being considered.

Please see this page on WBC’s website should you wish to contact the DCs directly about any matter that relates to the Hungerford and Kintbury ward.

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

As mentioned last month, 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.

The issue appear to be rather more complex than first appeared and, after several delays, remedial works started on 6 September. These will take about six weeks to complete. The issue is one involving the developers, Bewley Homes, and WBC: HTC has no responsibility in the matter besides pressing (as it has consistently done) for information and for the works to be done as soon as possible.

Rights of way

An issue regarding a footpath diversion a result of a successful planning application for a barn in Upper Eddington was briefly discussed at the meeting. HTC is aware that no formal application to divert the historic right of way has been made and WBC has yet to enforce any remedial action. HTC is considering its next steps.

Hungerford in Bloom

The Hungerford in Bloom presentation awards event will take place at 10.30pm on Saturday 18 September at the Croft Activity Centre.

The Triangle Field

A lease agreement is nearing completion between HTC and the Hungerford Rugby Club (HRFC). Heads of terms have been drawn by our solicitor and following some amendments these will be sent back to HRFC’s solicitor.

Maintenance and health & safety

Councillors have agreed to restart health and safety walk-rounds of HTC assets. These help to bolster the checks already in place and give councillors an opportunity to get to know the town’s assets and discuss any concerns following the inspection within committee. Any urgent actions from these inspections are addressed immediately. HTC’s maintenance employee also attends which helps communication.

Several pieces of equipment have been improved in the play parks with new wet-pour surfaces. Equipment is being addressed as the wet pour starts to shrink from the original edges. The new surfaces will not have edges meaning they won’t shrink in the future and be longer wearing.

Part of the wall at St Saviours which was damaged from a tree root has been rebuilt following the removal of the tree which had ash die back. The Mayor said she was “really pleased with the results.”

Bracket fungus was spotted on a couple of trees and HTC contracted its arboriculturist. No further action was required but HTC will continue to monitor.

Bench policy

HTC has now adopted a bench policy. This will help ensure a consistent and logical approach when requests are received for memorial benches on HTC-managed land.

Hungerford 2036 (neighbourhood development plan)

Following the two initial public consultations about the four potential sites for new homes, further online consultation responses continue to be received. Even so only a minority of residents have so far taken the opportunity to comment on the potential housing sites.

The H2036 website includes all of the materials exhibited at the public sessions and has an interactive consultation response facility for each of the sites. The Hungerford 2036 Project Team strongly encourages all residents to view the online materials and contribute their insights on the sites being considered. The H2036 website includes all of the materials exhibited at the public sessions and has an interactive consultation response facility for each of the sites. The Hungerford 2036 Project Team strongly encourage all residents to view  the online materials and contribute their insights on the sites being considered.

The consultation will remain open until the end of September 2021 and the H2036 team will be holding further public events to encourage public engagement as follows:

  • Saturday 12 September at the Food & Artisan Market in the Croft Hall Activity Centre Field  – a H2036 stall to publicise the project overall and the current consultation plus an opportunity for questions of project team members.
  • Thursday 16 September  in the Croft Hall from 5pm to 8pm –  another chance to see the full site consultation exhibition materials with ample opportunities for questions and discussion with the team members.
  • Saturday 18 September in the Croft Hall from 10:30 to 1pm – see above.

The H2036 Team would also welcome suggestions for groups and locations which would be suitable and worthwhile for further physical sessions before the end of September.

West Berkshire Council recently announced that, due to NPPF changes, its planned Local Plan schedule is being delayed. H2036 will need to consider the implications of this for its anticipated project end-date.

For more information, see the Hungerford 2036 post here.

CCTVs

Some gaps in CCTV coverage have been identified in the middle of the high street and outside the library and public toilets. HTC’s current system allows up to 16 channels and it already uses 13 of these. A Panovu camera (360º) requires four channels. Future-proofing by extending the number of possible channels would be prudent. The quotations provided by the current provider would offer cameras that would link to the existing system with images available in the office. This would fulfil HTC’s policy of improving safety and reducing crime by increasing conviction rates. The installation of extra cameras at entrance/exit points to the town was a high priority, as was protecting HTC’s own assets such as the Library.

The following proposals were made and passed at the meeting:

  • Although the current cameras in Church Street face up and down the street (as requested by the Police), the public toilets and the entrance to the library are not captured. HTC has had quite a few instances of vandalism of the toilets in past years and again recently. The proposed solution was the installation of two fixed-turret cameras, one opposite the library and one on the exterior wall of the library. Cost: £1,518.
  • To rectify gaps in coverage along High Street by installing a 360º camera opposite the junction to Park Street on Lamppost 13. A wireless link would be installed to provide unhindered wireless link. Upgrade to CCTV system would be needed to provide more channels. The cost for installation of Panovu 360-degree camera. Cost £3,511.
  • Upgrade the office system to include an 8TB hard drive to allow extended recording to 64 channels. Cost £1,658.

CCTV at Croft Field on hold due to planned renovations and Triangle Field due to lease issues.

A Privacy Impact Assessment is in place and process for applying to view CCTV available on website.

HTC’s committees

The following committee meetings have recently taken place: Note that, apart from E&P, meetings do not take place in August. Work continues in these areas, however, and some of the results are referred to elsewhere in this report.

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

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