Hungerford Town Council Update November/December 2021

These notes incorporate some but not all of the matters discussed at the Full HTC meeting on 6 December 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 for the meeting:

“During the last month there has been no reports of anti-social behaviour in the town, one reported shoplifting and six reports of criminal damage. One of these was (again) to the public toilets behind the library and two were rural with damage being caused to crops, fences or gates. In addition there were two reports of hare-coursing which in the immediate rural areas outside of the town. There was also one reported theft in the town in the last month, from a van parked in Parsonage Lane, and one recent theft in rural Hungerford of a trailer. At the beginning of November an estate on the outskirts of town reported a non-dwelling burglary whereby a large number of gardening tools and equipment were stolen.”

Protect yourself at Christmas

Historically Christmas is the time of year when we could see an increase in burglary offences. Now is the time to review your current security measures at home and consider any additional that might be needed. More information can be found here.

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.

Presentation by Julian Swift-Hook of Kennet Radio

At the June 2020 full council meeting, Hungerford Town Council unanimously resolved to support Kennet Radio‘s (KR’s) application to Ofcom to extend coverage to Hungerford.  As a result of that support (for which KR was and is very grateful), together with support from other community leaders and organisations in Hungerford, KR obtained consent in principle from Ofcom to extend our coverage. Having obtained the regulatory authorisation from Ofcom, the next step is to find somewhere suitable to locate the transmitting aerial.

Julian Swift-Hook described how the preferred venue at Lindley Lodge has recently run into problems due to opposition from some residents. Plan B would be siting it at the Rugby Club (on land owned by HFC) so he was asking the Council for support in principle for this idea (was unanimously provided by a show of hands) so that discussions with the club could proceed. He said that other sites were also been looked at, height above sea level being a major consideration.

He also answered some questions from HTC about matters such as funding and timing. On the latter, he admitted that the clock was slightly ticking as any Ofcom licence needed to be re-applied for if the service hadn’t been activated within a year.

The Co-option of a new councillor

At the meeting, Jerry Keates was unanimously co-opted as a councillor.

Mayor’s (and Deputy Mayor’s) report

As many people will know, the Mayor Helen Simpson has been laid low with Covid since shortly after the Remembrance Day Parade on 14 November. We wish her well for a speedy recovery. Since then, Deputy Mayor Claire Winser has stood in for her.

The events Helen Simpson attended included a site visit to the proposed Chestnut Walk development and the opening of The Curve at The Hungerford Hub (3 November), the Remembrance Day Service (11 November) and the Remembrance Day Parade (14 November). Note that the Deputy Mayor pointed out at the meeting that the silent soldier silhouette that was damaged and blown away in the recent storms has been recovered as is currently being repaired.

The events Claire Winser attended included a visit to the Tri-service Station, specifically the fire service (26 November), the Christmas lights switch-on (28 November) – which also was without the designated switch-flicker Roger Beard who was ill (since recovered) – and Virginia Crane’s funeral (3 December).

District Councillors’ reports

All three DCs (Claire Rowles, Dennis Benneyworth and James Cole) were present at the meeting. The points they raised included the following:

  • The planning application at Chestnut Walk (see the 11 November and 2 December sections of the Hungerford Area Weekly News for more on this) was discussed by DC James Cole. The application was opposed by him and by HTC as it lacked ambition with regards to its sustainable features. It is, as he pointed out, a complicated issue which has conflated a number of separate matters including WBC’s planning procedures, its responsibilities as a landowner and the climate emergency. He also added that it was unfortunate that time didn’t permit the discussion of his motion at the recent WBC full council meeting which would have enabled the issue to be aired.The application is now set to come before WAPC on 15 December.
  • Speeding. DC James Cole said that the long-awaited 30mph signs on the Common will go up this week. He has also been active in providing information to HTC about the options available for reducing speeding in the town, including the purchase of speed indicator devices (see the committees section below for more). He reported that a number of people have also approached him to volunteer to help with this.
  • The Nursery School. DC James Cole said that, following Greenham Trust’s CEO Chris Boulton’s presentation to HTC on 4 October (see here for a summary) He approached Greenham Trust to see if bridging grants  might be available to help the well-publicised and long-term funding problem at Hungerford Nursery School. Further discussion suggest that this might be harder to accomplish than was first indicated.
  • The Conservation area. DC James Cole said that a team of six volunteers has now been assembled for the work required to update this (see more on this on WBC’s website).
  • Fairfirlds allotment site. DC Dennis Benneyworth said that there had been problems reported about the condition of the shed and that he had contacted Sovereign Housing about this.
  • Speeding survey. DC Dennis Benneyworth said that this had recently been conducted in the Smitham Bridge Road/Church Street area and that the results had recently been sent to HTC.
  • Daisy’s Dream, “a charity which supports children and their families who have been affected by the life threatening illness or bereavement of someone close to them”, recently contacted DC Dennis Benneyworth to say that it was having a stall at the Hungerford Extravaganza but needed people to help staff this for an hour or so. If you think you could help, please contact the charity through its website.
  • Planning committees. DC Claire Rowles said that, as a result of some redeployments agreed recently at WBC, she had been appointed to the WAPC and that DC James Cole was a deputy: DC Dennis Benneyworth was and remains the Chair. The Hungerford and Kintbury ward will thus be well-represented in planning decisions which are taken in this way (generally, if there are more than 10 objections or if the ward member decides to call it in).
  • Civility in public life. DC Claire Rowles said that she had presented a motion at the recent WBC full council meeting designed to heighten awareness about the intimidation – ranging from online abuse to physical attacks – which all democratic representatives, from MPs to parish councillors, were at times subjected. This move was inspired by the recent murder of the MP David Amess, whom DC Claire Rowles knew personally. The Local Government Association has this to say on the subject.

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)

Following the public consultation process about the four potential sites for new homes, the project team has met once to review the comments received and further inputs from North Wessex Downe AONB. As a result ,the H2036 assessments of the sites have not fundamentally changed although some additional information is being sought, particularly related to concerns raised by some residents about traffic volumes. Another project team meeting is scheduled during December to consider further all the accumulated information on these potential sites.

WBC has recently published its revised timetable for its work on the local plan review which had been temporarily on hold whilst new government planning requirements were analysed. As a result, WBC  intends to take its local plan to full council in the summer of 2022, followed by a public consultation and then submission to the Secretary of State in early 2023.

The H2036 project team will be considering how Hungerford’s NDP timetable should best align with WBC’s and how to ensure a timely completion of the H2036 project.

For more information, see the Hungerford 2036 post here.

Christmas lights switch-on

The Deputy Mayor reported that the act of initiating what many feel is the best Christmas-light display in the area had gone very well with a good turnout, an excellent sound system (thanks to Kennet Radio), the ever-excellent lights (thanks to, this year, Shield Electrical) and even a seasonal snowfall at just the right moment. She added that both the Mayor and Roger Beard were sorry that they had not been able to attend. She also thanked the town councillors who attended for their help with the barriers.

In case you missed the event, here are some videos from Kennet Radio of traditional songs, young people choir and Santa on the Town Hall Steps.

The Croft Field Activity Centre

As reported last month, the application has been approved by WBC. The next stage is to obtain quotes to undertake the required works. A Changing Places grant from WBC has since been applied for to enable a Disabled shower/toilet to be included in the refurbishment.

Hungerford Allotment Holders Association (HAHA)

HAHA is hoping for a longer lease than one year (not an ideal length of time for anything that involves tilling soil and planting crops). A meeting has been requested with landlords, the developers, HAHA and HTC to negotiate a longer lease. 

The 2022-23 budget

This was presented at the meeting and the Deputy Mayor explained a few minor adjustments within each of the committee budgets which had been recently agreed.

It was provisionally agreed that the precept request would be £319,357, an increase of 4.13% on the previous year. This would be ratified at the January meeting at which point the tax bands would have been confirmed which would enable HTC to state the exact impact this would have on a band D council-tax payer.

HTC’s audit report

The Deputy Mayor offered her congratulations to HTC’s staff for their work in ensuring that the Council’s accounts and procedures passed this annual test with only three very minor recommendations for improvements, all of which were then in in the process of being, or have since been, implemented.

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 8 November – click here to see the minutes.) Items covered included: the settlement boundary; Chestnut Walk; five planning applications (four “no objection” and one “support); and case officers’ reports.
  • Highways and Transport. (Last meeting 22 November – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: the possible purchase of speed indicator devices; EV charge points; Chestnut Walk; proposed improvements at the railway station; and proposed improvements to the Tesco junction.
  • Recreation, Amenities and War Memorials. (Last meeting 16 November – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: the Croft Field Activity Centre; the lease at the Triangle Field; the skate park; the allotments; the Hungerford Theatre Group; dog mess; various repair works identified or performed; tree work; and CCTVs.
  • Finance & General Purposes. (Last meeting 25 November – the minutes will appear here in due course. The one before that was on 10 November – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: the grant-awarding policy; Smarten-up Hungerford; the Bridge Street war memorial; and the 2022-23 budget.

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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