Hungerford Town Council Update October/November 2021

These notes incorporate some but not all of the matters discussed at the Full HTC meeting on 1 November 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

No report was provided for the meeting but a representative of the local policing team made a verbal report to the meeting:

“There have been cases of motorbikes speeding over the Common and hare coursing on the outskirts of town. Two criminal damage incidents occurred in October including a car window being smashed on the High Street. There was also a report of someone viewing a vehicle parked on a driveway and pushing the owner to sell it and another of a male offering gardening services for cash and targeting the elderly. There has been some drug dealing at Smitham Bridge Trading Estate.”

Other issues highlighted to the police by councillors included the use of e-scooters and drug dealing at licensed premises. The Police were interested to learn more about the latter and explained they were educating riders of e-scooters, which should be registered and insured.

As CCTV has been enhanced in town it is hoped HTC may receive a larger donation from the Police to support the costs.

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. 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.

Mayor’s report

Croft Field Activity Centre

HTC has just heard its planning application for improvements to the Croft Field Centre has been approved. We shall now seek to obtain quotes to undertake the required works.

Remembrance Sunday 14 November

This year’s remembrance parade will go ahead as usual, we will socially distance the wreath layers  to be 1m apart, the war memorial area will be managed so that we can ensure a safe space, we will enjoy having Hungerford Town Band and Sixth Armoured Close Battalion Support – REME involved once more.

Opening of Judiciary – Reading

I attended this event with Councillor Knight. The event was well attended by Civic leaders and is always such a lovely service to attend.

Mindfulness Garden Opening

I was delighted to attend the opening of the mindfulness garden at Hungerford Primary School. The garden has been beautifully put together with lots of help from the children. I think it will be a lovely addition to the school and really help to create a quiet reflective area for the children to sit and read. I can’t wait to re-visit the garden as the planting becomes more established. You can see a video of the event here.

Meeting with Bewley Homes

Councillor Downe and I met with representatives of Bewley Homes including Managing Director Andrew Brooks and their PR consultant Chris Wotton. We were given a guided tour of the new development and discussed concerns from both sides. It was agreed we would issue a joint statement which was published in the local press and which you can read here. The welcome pack we had produced for new residents previously will now be jointly sent out with Bewley’s own welcome/new home pack.

Opening of the Volunteer Centre West Berkshire in Newbury

I was invited to attend the opening of the new VCWB in broadway House. MP Laura Farris and High Sherriff Willie Hartley-Russell were also in attendance along with civic Mayors and invited guests. It was nice to hear from those who have been helped by the volunteer centre and nice to meet some of the volunteers working hard to help the community.

Kennet Radio Mayor’s interview

I have taken part in a recorded interview will be aired on Thursday this week. I covered some of the projects HTC is involved in including the Christmas lights switch-on and Remembrance Sunday, as well as why I joined HTC and more about my role as current Mayor.

Hungerford Bowls Club Annual Prize Giving Dinner

I was invited to attend the annual prize giving at the Royal British Legion. I was delighted to present the annual prizes to winning members of the club. The club has had another interrupted year, members are pleased to be playing again and hope next season will be a full season and leagues will be as they were pre-covid. The club is always so friendly, they will always welcome new members.

Poppy Appeal

I was collecting for the poppy appeal on Saturday and will be doing another stint on the Town Hall steps in early November. I am always thrilled to witness the generosity of residents supporting the appeal.

Poppy Appeal Band Concert

I attended the poppy appeal band concert at the Corn Exchange Hungerford on Sunday evening. Thank you to Hungerford Town Band for agreeing to hold the concert again this year in support of this wonderful campaign.

Committees are due to meet this month, so next month will hopefully have more news on current projects.

District Councillors’ reports

DC James Cole was present at the meeting. His comments included the following:

  • The application by WBC and Sovereign for redeveloping the former care home in Chestnut Walk. HTC’s view was that the scheme was unambitious in its ambitions and objectives for sustainability. Councillor Cole agreed and called the application in: “were it to be recommended for approval without change,” he said in his call-in letter, “it would be appropriate for the committee to decide whether the climate change and sustainability measures in the application were compliant with WBC’s climate change policy.” A Teams meeting has been arranged for 3 November involving DC James Cole and Claire Rowles, representatives for HTC and the project team leader at Sovereign. DC Cole said he would be “delighted” if he could withdraw his call in, and would be happy to do so if the shortcomings of the current proposal were addressed.
  • Visit to John O’Gaunt School. All three DCs visited the school in October and were shown round by Head Teacher Richard Hawthorne. “It has come a long way from what it used to be,” DC Cole said, “and Richard Hawthorne has ideas to make it even better. I hope that we may be able to assist in the future. I was impressed.”
  • Speeding on the Common. This has recently been in the news again as two more cows have recently been hit by cars. The Town and Manor favoured some additional measures such as chicane or speed bumps. DC Cole pointed out that any such decision by WBC would require supporting evidence and suggested that speed indicator devices could be either borrowed (for three weeks) from WBC, or bought. He advised seeking expert help, which WBC could supply, if a purchase were planned. It was agreed that this would also be of use in other parts of the town where speeding was an issue. There was also a discussion about how any costs should be split between HTC and the Town and Manor. The Mayor suggested that while such discussions and research should continue, the first step was to see what effect the new 30mph signs (due to be installed by early December) would have.
  • WBC’s Conservation Areas. See this post on WBC’s site for more on this. These periodically need to be re-assessed and DC Cole has offered to help get a team together to do the necessary work. He recently had a conversation to the Constable of the Town and Manor Peter Joseph and hopes that a T&M representative will get involved in this.

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.

Hungerford 2036 (neighbourhood development plan)

Work continues on analysing the recent housing sites consultation so there’s nothing further to add to the last report early October.

For more information, see the Hungerford 2036 post here.

Christmas lights switch-on

Preparations are well in hand for the installation of the tress and lights and for the event itself.

The Mayor confirmed that this year the lights will be switched on by Roger Beard who was recently honoured by Hungerford CC (its pavilion has been re-named after him) as a result of over 60 years of work for the club. This will take place on 28 November: the switch-on will take place at 5pm with various musical and other entertainments taking place from about 4pm.

The Croft Field Activity Centre

The application has been approved by WBC. The next stage is to obtain quotes to undertake the required works.

Grant to Hungerford Library

The Library building – now also known as The Hub – has since 2018 been owned by a board of trustees: this was the result of an imaginative solution to save the Library which had (along with all the others in the district bar Newbury’s) been under threat of closure. WBC still provides the Library Service but the building itself is now independently run on behalf of the community.

It was always accepted that a support grant would be required from HTC. Councillor Keith Knight, who has been much involved in the project since its inception, told the meeting that this was originally set at £10,000pa with the aim of reducing it to £6,000 within five years. He said that the pandemic had decimated booking revenue and pointed out some new initiatives, including the forthcoming shop at The Curve in the Library building, which should help to remedy this. He also pointed out that the potential has recently been identified to make the building more environmentally friendly and to save running costs, both of which will require investment. It was also pointed out that the Library’s 2021-22 performance was currently exactly in line with the budget.

HTC agreed to the Library’s request for a grant of £9,000 in the year 2022-23. In seconding the motion, the Mayor paid tribute to the achievements of the Library/Hub over the last few years and added that building also provided a town-centre base for HTC.

Lateral-flow tests in Hungerford

The Mayor said that she’d recently learned that test kits were now only available through pharmacists if an online form had been completed and a code received. She questioned if this was wise given the high level of cases in the area and had raised this with WBC’s Public Health team.

Hungerford Carnival 2022

Councillor Keith Knight announced at the meeting that a family fun day is being planned for 16 July with the carnival taking place the following day. More details to follow.

Home-heating event in 2022

Councillor John Downe said that, following the widely-regarded success of the electric vehicle show in Hungerford in July, the Hungerford Environmental Action Team (HEAT), of which he is a member, had proposed that a home-heating event take place in the town. This has provisionally been arranged for May 2022.

HTC’s committees

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

  • Environment and Planning. (Last meeting 11 October – click here to see the minutes.) This covered four planning applications (two no objection, one support, one no comment).
  • Highways and Transport. (Last meeting 27 September – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: the poor state of some buildings; planter vandalism at the station; Smarted Up Hungerford’s finances; EV chargers; Hungerford in Bloom; footpath surveys; improvements at the railway station; CCTV; road signs; and speed limits.
  • Recreation, Amenities and War Memorials. (Last meeting 21 September – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: a memorial for Jack Williams; work at the Triangle Field; the skate park; Remembrance Sunday; the allotments; the Hungerford Theatre Group; and trees.
  • Finance & General Purposes. (Last meeting 15 September – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: the Croft Field Centre; the Christmas lights; the Bridge Street war memorial; and the welcome packs for Lancaster Park.

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