Hungerford Town Council Update December 2021/January 2022

These notes incorporate some but not all of the matters discussed at the Full HTC meeting on 4 January 2022, 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 (although the January 2022 one was in the Library) 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:

“The team has had a busy month with various engagements. We laid a wreath at Remembrance and attended both the light switch-on and the Hungerford Extravaganza. It was great that these events were able to go ahead this year.

During the last month there has been two reports of anti-social behaviour in the town and three reports of criminal damage, two of which are rural crime related in locations surrounding the town. At the beginning of December a report was made of a residential burglary in the town – this is currently under investigation.

 “There has been one reported theft from vehicle which has occurred on Hungerford Common. These thefts are usually opportunistic, so we urge those parking at beauty spot locations, such as the Common, Combe Gibbet and such like to take all personal belongings with them.”

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

As many people will know, Mayor Helen Simpson has been laid low with Covid since shortly after the Remembrance Day Parade on 14 November. She was back in the Chair for the January 2022 meeting.

For obvious reasons, there was nothing to report on her activities in the last month. The only point she made was that she has recently signed a representation from HTC to the government requesting the a return to virtual meetings should be permitted. This had worked perfectly well for councils across the country for the year before 7 April 2021 when the legal permission lapsed. Despite rising Covid cases, the proven use of technology and the greater inclusiveness which virtual participation leads to, this has so far not been implemented. (Technically, councils can hold meetings virtually: the problem is that any votes which are not conducted in person may be subject to legal challenge).

District Councillors’ reports

Two DCs (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, 2 December and 16 December sections of the Hungerford Area Weekly News for more on this) was discussed by DC James Cole. He posed two questions for the meeting of WBC’s Executive on 16 December. The portfolio holder Hilary Cole said that the matters would be referred to the Housing Board, which will hopefully lead to the desired result of the specifications of the development being improved.
  • Speeding. DC James Cole said that the long-awaited 30mph signs on the Common were put up in early December though some felt that these could be more prominent.  The Town and Manor owns the land through which the road passes and so may be able to effect this. He also suggested that HTC should consider buying SIDs and other relevant equipment in order to help deter, and gather evidence of, speeding in other parts of the town. He had previously provided a report on this to HTC.
  • Pigeons. A perennial local problem has recently become conflated with another issue that has long been on HTC’s radar, namely the deteriorating condition of the once elegant building next to (and owned by) the Co-op in the High Street. Aside from loose tiles and damaged gutters, it now appears that pigeons are roosting inside the building. The Town Hall recently suffered extensive damage as a result of these birds: also, if this is their new HQ, it will make the problem of reducing their numbers even more problematic.
  • The Conservation area assessment. DC James Cole said that the training session planned for December had been rescheduled to 24 January. He also said that funding was now available to enable to volunteers to obtain professional assistance for their work. (See more on this on WBC’s website).
  • Hungerford Sewage Treatment Works upgrade. DC Benneyworth said that a message has recently been received from Thames Water about these works which will start on Monday 1o January  2022 and last until June. Heavy traffic is to be expected in and around Park Street on 10 January.
  • Remedial work at Kennedy Meadows. DC Benneyworth reported that this work, caused by traffic damage as a result of the nearby Lancaster Park development, should start soon.

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.

Covid vaccinations

The Mayor thanked the Councillors who had helped as volunteers at the very successful (perhaps almost too successful given the vast numbers of people who sometimes used it and the distances they travelled) pop-up centre at the Cricket Club. Note that this has now closed. For those who want to get boosters, there are two options:

  • Visit the NHS booking website to book an appointment: you will be offered nearby sites that have appointments available. If none are suitable, the situation is changing fast so try again in a while.
  • Visit the NHS walk-in centre website for information of drop-in centres near Hungerford.

At the meeting, the DCs also read out a recent communication from Graham Sims, the Chairman of the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust:

“Once again Covid has become a major challenge for the Trust with in-patient cases having doubled in a week, some patients in intensive care and further deaths. The very important message is that over 90% of all patients with Covid in the hospital have not had a booster and the sickest are, without question, those that have not had a vaccine at all.  All deaths caused by Covid seem to be in patients who were unvaccinated. This is hurting our staff and risking the continuation of normal patient treatments and visiting: so I ask all of you, please: ask everyone you come into contact with to get the vaccine/booster now if they haven’t already!”

Hungerford 2036 (neighbourhood development plan)

There was no meeting in December so matters remain much as they were last month.

For more information, see the Hungerford 2036 post here.

The Croft Field Activity Centre

The plans for an enlarged changing place including a disabled shower and toilet was to have been discussed at the meeting but these were not available due to staff shortages at the architects. The Mayor pointed out that these were important aspects of the proposed improvements and so would, when provided, be discussed at the next committee or full council meeting.

The 2022-23 budget

The tax base for a band D property having been received, it transpired that HTC’s budget would result in a negligible -0.2% fall in HTC’s part of the precept. In view of the high rate of inflation, the various capital projects HTC was working on and the possibility that further services might be devolved downwards from WBC in 2022-23, it was proposed (and agreed) that additional funds be allocated to the reserves, resulting in an increase in the precept of 2.6%. This equates to about £4pa for the part of a band D council-tax payer’s bill that relates to HTC’s precept.

St Johns Hall, Station Road, Hungerford planning application

This was one of the matters discussed at the recent E&P committee meeting (see below). HTC had a number of objections to this proposals (some of which echo those were raised in the separate Chestnut Walk application in late 2021).

The four objections to this application (21/02780/FULMAJ) were: (i) lack of car parking spaces and poor management of the proposed spaces; (ii) lack of provision of bin/recycling facilities and poor management of the proposed facilities; (iii) lack of EV charging points; and (iv) failure to specify any sustainable environmentally friendly features (such as ground source heat pumps and solar panels). It now remains to be seen what view WBC’s planners and (if it goes to committee) councillors take about the plans.

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 13 December – click here to see the minutes.) Items covered included: rights of way in Eddington; Chestnut Walk; a trading licence application; the beech tree south of the canal near Tesco; ten planning applications; 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 6 December – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included:  actions from the previous meeting; the Welcome Back fund; 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.

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Email
Print

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Sign up to the free weekly

Penny Post
e-newsletter 

 

For: local positive news, events, jobs, recipes, special offers, recommendations & more.

Covering: Newbury, Thatcham, Hungerford, Marlborough, Wantage, Lambourn, Compton, Swindon & Theale