Hungerford Town Council Update January/February 2022

These notes incorporate some but not all of the matters discussed at the Full HTC meeting on 7 February 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 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:

Crime report

(The following relates to “incidents of note to the wider community” in January 2022)

  • Anti-social behaviour. There have been reports of ASB in Park Way and Coldharbour Road, whereby persons have “egged” one house and knocked on doors and windows of various others. The persons involved are believed to have been identified, and have been spoken to by Police. Ongoing work is being done to prevent further ASB.
  • Assault. One female arrested for public order offences and assault on Police in Hungerford.
  • Burglaries. Persons have attempted to enter a property on Somerset Close. A non-residential property has had items stolen on Bridge Street: this is under investigation
  • Criminal damage. Persons have broken the top of a concrete post on Priory Road.
  • Theft. Report of a stolen bin from Kennedy Meadow.
  • Suspicious incidents. Report of three persons in a van on Fairfields Close, suspected of trying to steal diesel. Also, a report of suspicious males looking at a property on Bewick Mews.

The neighbourhood police team’s activity

The NHPT has been carrying out various rural operations in the past few weeks. These are not only to prevent rural and wildlife offences but to catch and deter offenders involved in burglaries and similar offences.

Of note, there have been a few reports of youth-related ASB as mentioned above. The NHPT carries out regular patrols to deter such behaviour and will continue to work with the Youth Offending Team to address these issues.  The community is encouraged to report any anti-social behaviour witnessed.

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 HungerfordandDownlandsNHPT@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

I have to confess I’m feeling hugely excited about some of the projects HTC is looking to champion in 2022. Many of these are currently in their infancy but I’m hopeful HTC can see at least some of them realised for the community before too long. Here’s a taster of the some of the ideas currently being considered or in progress. Please come along to the town meeting on Wednesday 30 March (venue to be confirmed) to learn more about the projects being championed.

The Croft Field Activity Centre project

This already has HTC approval and some funds have been allocated. The project has since grown in size and work may need to be phased in order to realise our full ambition for this site. The overall aim is to make this community asset available to a wider, more inclusive audience and the plans include providing a changing table and adapting the internal structures to meet the needs of disabled users. We are also going to soundproof the ceiling and give more room to our main hirers.

The skate park and pump track project

Hungerford’s now 12-year-old old skate park is coming to the end of its life. HTC is currently considering investing into this site and remodelling to create a modern park which will be more aligned with facilities elsewhere, such as in Kintbury and Newbury. It is also considering installing a bike pump track. HTC will be looking for your views on both when we launch a survey very soon. Key players are hoping to be available to discuss this project at the town meeting in March.

The all-weather pitch project, involving HTC, John O’Gaunt School and Hungerford Town FC

This project is hugely exciting for the community, JOG academy and Hungerford Football Club. HC is working with the football foundation to look at upgrading the current astroturf playing surface to an all-weather pitch, which will be used by all partners. Please see HTC’s press release for more information.

Other matters

  • Hungerford’s neighbourhood plan is also progressing well, the team will be looking to go out to consultation fairly soon (see also separate section below).
  • The office has been busy updating all of the council’s risk assessment documents. This is a mammoth task each year.
  • All of our contracts have been out to tender again. This time we have also looked at three-year contract options to try and streamline the process, save time on administration and help with budgeting over a longer period.
  • There were no civic engagements in January but my diary is starting to fill for the next few months.

Hungerford Primary School

David Mayer, the Head at Hungerford Primary School (HPS) addressed the meeting. He listed some of the main many achievements during his five years at the helm. These included the consistently “good” Ofsted rating, curriculum extensions, the refurbishment and redecoration work (much of the latter being done by the teachers, parents and governors),the greater emphasis on aspects such as physical activity and music provision and initiatives such as outside learning, the mindfulness garden and ties formed with local groups to create a more balanced and holistic education than that demanded as a minimum by the National Curriculum. He also praised the “superb” PTA for its help in raising much-needed funds.

He thenlisted a number of challenges, including local and national demographic shifts and the perennial problem of funding. He also stressed – a point echoed by the next speaker – that the fortunes of the three schools in Hungerford are closely linked: about 85% of HPS’s pupils go on to John O’Gaunt, for instance.

Hungerford Nursery School

Suzanne Taylor, the Head at Hungerford Nursery School, addressed the meeting. The situation here is slightly more complex as the school caters for very young children, some of whom have a wide range of needs (including for free school meals) but government funding does not always reflect what it provides. Despite numerous successes and achievements – the most eye-catching being the attainment of a fifth successive “outstanding” Ofted rating, a staggering achievement – the school, and maintained nursery schools generally, continues to operate against the backdrop of a deep uncertainty about its long-term funding.

Aside from the continued support of HTC and WBC, which was re-confirmed at the meeting, she issued specific appeals for funding to support areas where government provision was defective, including SEND provision and school meals. Not all the financial problems stem directly from Whitehall, however, for she revealed she’d been advised that a staggering 60% increase in energy bills should be provided for in the next financial year. She also appealed for volunteers for the Family Centre.

For more information on the long-running funding problem faced by HNS, please see this separate post.

Co-option of a new councillor

There were two candidates  for one available position (the reverse is normally more true in town and particularly parish councils). The Mayor thanked both candidates for standing and said how sorry that only one could be selected. She hoped that the unsuccessful candidate would be happy to remain active in Hungerford’s many projects and put himself forward again when the opportunity next presented itself.

After a brief discussion under part 2 (meaning that the press and the public were excluded) a vote was taken and Keith Carlson was elected to serve. The defeated candidate Mark Greenwell congratulated him and said he would be willing to assist HTC and the town in the future.

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 27 January 2022, 11 November, 2 December and 16 December 2021 sections of the Hungerford Area Weekly News for more on this) was, DC James Cole reported, being discussed at both the WBC Housing Board and the board of the joint venture involving Sovereign and WBC (the developers) but couldn’t say when a decision would be made.
  • Refuse collection arrangements. DC Dennis Benneyworth said that collection days had changed throughout much of the district: more information can be found here.
  • 16 Hungerford High Street.  This is the building next to (and owned by) the Co-op in the High Street, also known as 15 or 15a. The deteriorating state of this elegant structure was a long-running campaign for the former Mayor Martin Crane: DC Dennis Benneyworth reported that Geordie Taylor of the Hungerford Self-isolation Group, has taken on the campaigning mantle.
  • The recycling bin for plastic bottles and cans near One Stop. This has, DC Dennis Benneyworth reported, been a victim of its own success and his is pressing WBC to ensure that it’s emptied more frequently.
  • Covid grants. DC James Cole reminded HTC that applications under the Additional Restrictions Grant Challenge Fund close on 13 February. More information can be found here.
  • Verges. DC Dennis Benneyworth told HTC that the reported problems with the verge on the A338 near Lancaster Park with WBC will be raised with WBC.

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.

The platinum jubilee celebrations

The Mayor stressed that, although HTC has some specific ideas, it wants an event, or series of events, which will be primarily community-led. After some discussion at the meeting it was agreed that a working party would be set up involving representatives from a wide range of groups in the town to plan what will happen. Subject to approval by their trustees or members, representatives of the Town and Manor and the Chamber of Commerce expressed their support for the idea.

It was pointed out that the membership of any working or steering group would need to be kept small if it were to be effective, although engagement was needed from as many organisations as possible and that volunteers and helpers would also be required.

It was agreed that a preliminary meeting would be held in the (recently refurbished) Town Hall at 7pm on Monday 21 February to discuss the possible ideas. Please contact claire.barnes@hungerford-tc.gov.uk in advance if you wish to attend.

Speed indicator devices

Following a report from DC James Cole and a discussion at the Highways and Transport Committee (H&TC), it was decided that HTC would purchase three speed indicator devices (SIDs). There was some discussion at the meeting as to how many would be with a simple “smiley-face” display and how many with a dedicated message (the latter used up more power) but it was agreed that these details would be discussed and agreed at the H&TC. The maximum cost to HTC – which was agreed at the meeting – was £6,605. The Town and Manor of Hungerford has agreed to contribute to the cost of one of the three SIDs.

The 2022 town meeting

Save the date: this will take place at 7pm on Wednesday 30 March. The venue will be announced soon.

Hungerford 2036 (neighbourhood development plan)

The Project Team meeting delayed from December due to Omicron took place during January and another is scheduled for the week commencing 7 February to continue the evaluations of options for allocating sites to satisfy Hungerford’s housing and sustainability requirements.

The H2036 project team is also considering how Hungerford’s NDP schedule can best align with the revised WBC timetable and how to ensure a timely completion of the project.

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 were discussed at the meeting HTC’s aspiration is to have a fully-accessible building, including showers and disabled facilities and concern was expressed at the revised plans which provided for a unisex toilet facility and seemed to do away with the showers. After some discussion, it was agreed that the architects would be contacted again to see what other options existed for then listed space, and budget, at the project’s disposal.

The proposed new all-weather pitch at John O’Gaunt School

HTC has recently announced its involvement in an exciting new project at John O’Gaunt School in collaboration with Excalibur Academies Trust and Hungerford Football Club. The successful outcome would result in a third-generation (3G) all-weather pitch being built within the grounds of the school and would be one of the first in West Berkshire. For more information, please see the full statement here.

The skate park and pump track

A consultation is being finalised on this initiative which will be circulated soon. See also the Mayor’s Report above.

The conservation area assessment

Councillor Alastair Fyfe reported that seven people were now involved in the group, including representatives from HTC, DC James Cole and members of the public. The work involved in the project (see more on this on WBC’s website) was admitted to be considerable. It was hoped that, when WBC finally appoints consultants for the project, that this firm can also be tasked as project managers. This would enable the volunteers to conduct designated work in the town that they know without first needing to navigate the complicated criteria which the task demanded.

The Co-op garage roundabout on the A4

The Mayor expressed her hope that this could be used for wildflower re-wilding and suggested that this could be a topic for a members’ bid at the next funding round.

HTC’s committees

The following committee meetings have recently taken place:

  • Environment and Planning. (Last meeting 10 January – click here to see the minutes.) Items covered included: updates on previous actions; tree-felling south of the K&A Canal; a call-in on St John’s Hall; three new applications; and case officers’ reports.
  • Highways and Transport. (Last meeting 24 January – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: speed indicator devices; EV charge points; the railway station; improvements at thew Tesco junction; and a report from the electrical contractors for the Christmas lights..
  • Recreation, Amenities and War Memorials. (Last meeting 18 January – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: the Smitham Bridge playground; the allotments; the Cemetery; The Croft Field Activity Centre; the skate park; the leisure strategy; the Triangle Field; trees; and the Greenham 40 plaque.
  • Finance & General Purposes. (Last meeting 12 January – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: welcome packs for new residents; HTC’s risk assessments; the heritage trail; and various financial matters.

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.
  • In person at the above address between 10am and 2pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
  • 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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