Thatcham Area Weekly News sections – archive 1

To see the current Thatcham Area Weekly News column, please click here.

Please note that this section is presented as an archive of past columns and is not updated. Some web links may no longer be active (usually indicated by a score-through), for instance when draft parish council minutes are replaced by adopted ones or when a consultation has closed.

Thursday 5 May 2022

This week’s news

• Refurbishment of Thatcham Library to add new disabled access toilets and entrance area has been put back from July to September so that the building remains open for the summer reading challenge. This is the least ambitious of the proposals suggested to improve the building and, as portfolio holder Howard Woollaston told Penny Post, is designed to ensure that the building remains compliant and accessible for the next few years, during which time more extensive plans will be agreed for finding a permanent solution for a building which, as most will agree, is far too small for the needs to the town. This may include a redevelopment of the site which includes the next-door former nursing home. See more details here on Newbury Today.

Colthrop Lane on the south side of Thatcham train station will be closed on Sunday 8 May between 8am and 4pm so BT can access their overhead network in a safe environment. There is no alternative route so access will be allowed at intervals.

• In order to minimise the spread of Covid, Thatcham Medical Practice reminds patients that the wearing of face masks is still required in their premises.

• Thatcham Town Council will be lighting a beacon as part of the Platinum Jubilee to celebrate the Queen’s 70 years of service on Thursday 2 June with lots of other entertainment and celebration planned for the evening as well.

• We Care West Berkshire is hosting a Dementia information event to help inform people of dementia on Wednesday 18 May between 10am and 4pm.

• For recent news from Hermitage see the latest Hermitage Parish Council newsletter here.

• The 11 April meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council highlights not only by how much some energy prices have risen but also how much companies charge to disconnect and remove streetlights which are no longer required. On the first point, BPC’s monthly bill for the power to the streetlights has risen from £5.44 in March 2021 to £45.78 for March 2022. Getting them removed is not a cheap business either. Enervo (formerly SSE Contracting) quoted about £2,300 for this. The Chairman described this as “a ridiculous amount”. The matter was left that the Clerk would try to obtain some other quotes or to see if a better deal can be negotiated with Enervo. The irony is that neither BPC nor the residents want the street lights which serve no useful purpose and seem to be left over from a time when the village, willingly or otherwise, was going through a brief period of suburbanisation.

• This week’s Newbury Weekly News reports on p22 that the long-running application for five luxury homes in Cold Ash. I remember covering this issue when the matter was refused by WBC last July. As they are entitled to do, the developers took the matter to appeal and won. Many of the concerns were, I recall, aesthetic and it appears that either the developers have amended these or the Inspector felt that were not of significant importance.

• Click here to see the latest edition of the Cold Ash Community Bulletin which this week starts with the a footpath and end with George Bernard Shaw.

• For the latest newsletter from Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates, local groups and events across the Thatcham area, please visit their website here.

Two other plans for Thatcham

As mentioned several times in previous posts, West Berkshire Council appears to regard the four-developer, 2,500-home, 30-year plan to the north east of Thatcham as the solution to the main development needs for the town, indeed for the whole district. It’s fair to say that this vast project has not been met with universal approval. Amongst other challenges, the scale of the project has also demanded that a 30-year vision be created to support the case. This has had a knock-on result on the already delayed local plan refresh. Indeed, it now seems increasingly likely that this will not be completed by July, as had been hoped.

Other schemes do exist, all on a more human and thus achievable scale. Two of these – Croudace’s Henwick Park to the north of the town and the Colthrop Village consortium to the south east – have for presentational purposes joined forces in order to make their case for inclusion at the top table of possible options. These would provide respectively about 225 and about 950 homes, nearly half of what the larger scheme promises. It’s important to stress, however, that the two schemes are wholly separate and would be developed independently. The same cannot be said of the 2,500-home plan which will require for decades the close co-operation of four separate developers. As the Sandleford’s troubles have shown, this could prove to be three too many.

The two companies have set up a website, which you can visit here and which includes information about how you can make comments. I hold no brief for either of these schemes and neither is perfect (what is?): but they seem to be more sustainable, more achievable, less destructive and less divisive than the larger project and therefore at least worth serious consideration. There seems to be some doubt however as to whether they’ve so far received this from West Berkshire Council.

The main points in their favour seem to be (in the case of the Colthrop site) the re-use of brownfield land and the creation of a bridge over the railway line to replace the bottleneck of the level crossing. Neither of these are on offer from the 2,500-home proposal. That site is 100% Greenfield: as for the railway bridge, WBC doesn’t accept that the project would significantly increase traffic across the level crossing. Many others, including Thatcham Town Council, are sceptical about this. The only way of ensuring that the development had no impact at all on this would be for the developers to write into the sale contracts of the new homes the condition that the owners never use the crossing, for example to travel to Basingstoke. I believe this would be a legal first, and I doubt very enforceable. It also wouldn’t do much to increase the sale prices they could realise. I think we can forget this idea. In any event, I understand that even the lowest figure for traffic modelling suggests that by 2050 vehicle journeys would have increased, even if the population remained the same. Most of them will by then be electric rather than petrol or diesel: but, unless they can fly, any increase will make the bridge ever more necessary if that part of the town isn’t to grind to a halt.

The consortium also makes the point that WBC’s seeming fondness for the 2,500-home plan is because it will provide a new secondary school. Leaving aside the fact that the developers will only pay for half of this and that it will not be provided until the later stages of construction, there’s also the suggestion that the underlying assumptions are flawed. Kennet School is pretty much full and more secondary-school places are needed now, the consortium claims. No development plan can, however, produce such an immediate solution. The consortium argues that demographic forecasts suggest that there will, by the time the proposed secondary school is open, actually be a reduction in school-age children, particularly at secondary level. If true, this perhaps has some other unwelcome consequences for the area as a whole. It certainly would seem to remove a major plank supporting the case for the larger development.

Given that these offer viable alternatives to what would be a region-changing decision, I’m glad to have the opportunity to bring these to your attention: the more so as it appears that some of these details were not known to at least one organisation which I would have thought would have been told about them as a matter of course.

A community bus

This section is taken from last week’s Weekly News with Brian. In retrospect it would have been better to have run it here (and in the Newbury News column) so I have now done so..

West Berkshire Council has recently announced that it has funded a new community bus for the Newbury and Thatcham Handybus service: you can read more here. The vehicle “has been adapted to be fully accessible and was successfully funded through the Council’s Capital Grant Fund, which is available for all local community transport operators to bid for. The new service will provide an opportunity for those who are unable to use public transport to access local town centres.”

From the Handybus’ inception in 1986 up until a few years ago, WBC provided all the vehicles so this could be seen as no more than a partial return to what had gone before. The statement also implies a commitment to supporting those unable to use conventional public transport. Until about four years ago, this was exactly the service being provided by Readibus. Since then, WBC has cut the community transport provider’s grant, thereby decimating the service. Last year, Penny Post was contacted by many Readibus customers who were upset and bemused by why this had happened, Readibus having previously been provided transport for about thirty years without any problems. The relationship has since sunk into legal wrangles over WBC’s insistence on a gagging clause (the council doesn’t like the term but that’s effectively what it is), a practice which has been exposed as wrong in many ways by many charitable groups as part of a nationwide campaign.

Well done to VCWB and Handybus for securing this grant. Hopefully the new vehicle will do something to redress the gap in this aspect of the council’s community-transport provision for its residents with mobility problems over the last few years.

Community notices

Thatcham History Trail provides interesting historical information about specific places in the town centre. You can access the trail online at thatchamhistorytrail.info/trails/town-centre or you can look out for the new plaques that have been installed at each historical site with a QR code that takes your smartphone to information about the site on the website.

• Friends of Thatcham Library is rallying volunteers to help maintain the standards of the facility, including tidying up the garden at the back of the library and making it accessible for library users. To become a “new friend” of the library please email friendsofthatcham@gmail.com or see more details on Newbury Today.

• All are welcome at the open sessions at the new Community Garden at Thatcham Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. You can sow some seeds, create some wildlife habitat or just have a cuppa and relax in a calming green space.

Thatcham Rugby Club hosts Safe Space: Men’s Mental Health evenings on the last Thursday of each month from 9.15pm to 10pm.

• Please drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at Thatcham Library during its opening hours. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to its website.

• A technology ‘Befriend Bus’ with a laptop, screen and speakers visits older residents in Thatcham and Newbury to give them tech support. For more details contact Handybus Coordinator Paul Wilding on 01635 37111 or email handybus@vcwb.org.uk.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

• Educafé’ Wellbeing Festival through May and June offers free or low-cost yoga, nature walk, belly dancing, pilates and gardening in Thatcham, Newbury, Highclere and Bucklebury. Click here for the full schedule.

Wed 18 May Dementia Information Talk with WeCare West Berkshire.

Thu 2 June Thatcham Jubilee Celebration Evening & Beacon Lighting

Sun 5 June Churches of Thatcham’s Big Jubilee Lunch

• Regular events

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

Thatcham Rugby Club hosts Safe Space: Men’s Mental Health evenings on the last Thursday of each month from 9.15pm to 10pm.

• The Kings Head pub, Thatcham is hosting free snooker/pool tables, every Wednesday from 5pm to closing time.

Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir children’s choir meets 6pm to 7pm and the community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please see the organiser’s Facebook page for further updates.

• RMD Adventure Learning‘s youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, is for over 13s on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

• The Youth Café at Glendale Church, Thatcham is open to all secondary school pupils on Fridays between 6.30pm to 8pm.

United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Glendale Church also hosts a Board Games Night on the first Thursday of each month from 7pm to 10pm, entry cost £1 per person. The next one will be 7 April.

• Thatcham Town Football Club Wednesday Quiz Night happen once a month with the next quiz to be held on Weds 20 April. Teams up to 6 people.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. (also here)

 Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Sustainable Living Markets in Thatcham and Newbury – see their Facebook page for dates.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 31 January and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these. To see the dates and agendas for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 12 April and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: goats on the grazing field; planning matters; financial matters; a co-option to the council; the risk assessment; the street lights; the Recreation Ground; the neighbourhood development plan (which is now entering its final phase); committee reports; and the Acland Hall. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 11 April and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: street light costs (see also This Week’s News above); Common clearing; planning matters; the plans to build 2,500 homes between Bucklebury and Thatcham; a report from ward member Graham Pask (which included the observation that he is “continually talking to WBC about improving communications with the parishes”); the jubilee; the Meadows and Hockett Field; the Cemetery and the Chapel; the Memorial Hall; speeding; recycling; rights of way; financial matters; and CCTV at the Memorial Hall. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 5 April and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the litter pick on 30 April; parking near the school; the jubilee; the recreation ground; speeding; repairs and maintenance; planning matters; financial matters; a report from ward member Dominic Boeck; and the the Village Hall. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 21 March and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 17 March and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 7 March and you can read the minutes here.  To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewburyarea; Compton and DownlandsTheale area; Wantage area; Marlborougharea; Swindon area.

News and views from across the area and beyond: please see the most recent Weekly News with Brian column.

Thursday 28 April 2022

This week’s news

• Thatcham Mayor John Boyd‘s disco event last Friday 22 April was a big success, raising nearly £600 for local charities Swings & Smiles and Thatcham Cricket Club.

Thatcham History Trail is now live on the streets of Thatcham. The trail has been created by Thatcham Historical Society and Thatcham Town Council’s heritage working party and provides interesting historical information about specific places in the town centre. You can access the trail online at thatchamhistorytrail.info/trails/town-centre or you can look out for the new plaques that have been installed at each historical site with a QR code that takes your smartphone to information about the site on the website. The Kennet students who trialled the history trail when it launched a couple of weeks ago report that it is easy to use but physical trail leaflets can also be picked up in and around the town, including at Thatcham library and Thatcham Town Council offices.

• Educafé’s first Wellbeing Festival through April, May and June offers free or low-cost yoga, nature walk, bellydancing, pilates and gardening in Thatcham, Newbury, Highclere and Bucklebury. Click here for the full schedule.

• Friends of Thatcham Library is rallying volunteers to help maintain the standards of the facility, including tidying up the garden at the back of the library and making it accessible for library users. To become a “new friend” of the library please email friendsofthatcham@gmail.com or see more details on Newbury Today.

• The Churches of Thatcham are hosting a Big Jubilee Lunch to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee on Sunday 5 June between 10am and 4pm. The Jubilee Lunch will be held on the Kennet School Field and will host family games and activities, community stalls, a free barbeque, live music and much more. There is also the opportunity for your child to be a part of a choir. For more information, please click here.

• The Asylum Seekers from Iran and El Salvador who are staying at the Regency Park Hotel in Thatcham had the opportunity to have a relaxed day at Thatcham Baptist Church, enjoying some family time on Saturday 23 April last week.

• Congratulations to former childminder Renate Hughes who managed to raise £120 for the charity Versus Arthritis at Cold Ash Preschool with her crocheted Easter Chicks with mini eggs inside. See more here on Newbury Today

• A reminder that Thatcham’s Annual Town Meeting is being held on Tuesday 5 May at Thatcham Parish Hall on Chapel Street at 6.30pm with doors opening at 6pm. This is a great opportunity to ask questions of councillors and Thames Valley Police. Refreshments will be provided. See more details here on Thatcham Town Council’s facebook page.

• You may have noticed the speedily built new housing estate near Thatcham station. The street has been named Langford Way after former Thatcham resident Malcolm Langford who was an electrician, historian and metal detectorist and was known well as “Mr Thatcham”. See more here on Newbury Today

• We Care West Berkshire is hosting a Dementia information event to help inform people of dementia on 18 May 2022 between 10am and 4pm.

• For recent news from Hermitage see the latest Hermitage Parish Council newsletter here.

• Click here to see the latest edition of the Cold Ash Community Bulletin which this week starts with the River Pang and ends with George Orwell.

• For the latest newsletter from Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates, local groups and events across the Thatcham area, please visit their website here.

Surveying Thatcham’s (and Newbury’s) needs

I’ve mentioned before about a survey which has been doing the rounds on social media: surprisingly, it does not appear on WBC’s own website and isn’t the subject of any official communication that I’ve seen. Its purpose is to provide the additional evidence of a 30-year vision that was in July 2021 demanded by the government regarding any substantial developments (including ones whose completion time might exceed the 15-year lifespan of the local plan). Compared to the Newbury masterplan document last year, this shows all the signs of being a box-ticking exercise; something which WBC sees as an obstacle to be overcome rather than an opportunity to be grasped. It certainly has been launched in a very peculiar way and communication has been, to put it mildly, patchy.

The consultants were commissioned by WBC at the end of December 2021 and their report needs to be finalised by June. It would seem both prudent and logical, not to say polite, to make contacting the town councils one of the first orders of business. True, the consultants are commissioned by WBC not by these two councils; true, WBC and Thatcham and Newbury Councils don’t agree on everything. However, there’s a big difference between contacting someone and accepting everything they tell you. It seems that Newbury Town Council was only officially contacted by the consultants on 26 April. Thatcham Town Council wasn’t contacted by them at all but had to make the calls itself. Both these have over the years done a good deal of work on establishing how the towns might develop in the future. Thatcham, for example, produced a 180pp document in 2016 helpfully called “Thatcham Vision” which, by dint of its title alone, might possibly be relevant to anyone working on a vision of the community now. It seems, however, that the consultants were not even aware of this until Thatcham TC brought it to their attention.

I’m not sure what Newbury Town Council’s next move will be. In Thatcham’s case, meetings have taken place and a detailed reply has been made to many of the points raised in the survey (and other matters that were not). TTC elected not to respond to the questionnaire as it was presented, mainly because only two choices of aspects of particular concern or interest could be selected, whereas the reality is that anyone responding in a thoughtful and measured way would probably have something to say on all of them. I understand that the response also refers to flooding issues and to the strategic gap between Thatcham and Newbury, which TTC regards as very important (presumably because a number of its residents do) although it appears that these are of less interest to those drafting the survey.

When completed, the document will form part of WBC’s official submission as part of its local plan refresh. The National Planning Policy framework demands that consultation take place before the council’s strategy is finalised. I trust that the external examiner will be convinced that the work done represents a suitably robust and inclusive assessment of the various views that exist. if they don’t, then I suppose there may be a further delay. I’m not sure if a consultation which seems mainly to involve clicking on pictures could be so regarded.

It could be argued that the best thing would be to scrap what’s happened so far and start again properly and then communicate the consultation in the normal ways. The survey as it stands promises engagement with “stakeholders” but this is a conveniently vague word that can include or exclude more or less anyone. Such exercises risk being expensive wastes of time if they don’t include all the groups that might have useful knowledge and who will have to bear the consequences of the decisions. (In the same way, if a council were to be having a discussion about how, say, its planning procedures were to be reformed it would be insane to do this without getting the views of developers, district councillors, members of the public and parish and town councils. Not to do so would risk the inference that the matter had been pre-determined.) What view the inspector will take of the document that emerges from this survey remains to be seen.

Community notices

• All are welcome at the open sessions at the new Community Garden at Thatcham Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. You can sow some seeds, create some wildlife habitat or just have a cuppa and relax in a calming green space.

Thatcham Rugby Club hosts Safe Space: Men’s Mental Health evenings on the last Thursday of each month from 9.15pm to 10pm.

• Please drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at Thatcham Library during its opening hours. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to its website.

• A technology ‘Befriend Bus’ with a laptop, screen and speakers visits older residents in Thatcham and Newbury to give them tech support. For more details contact Handybus Coordinator Paul Wilding on 01635 37111 or email handybus@vcwb.org.uk.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Sat 30 Apr Thatcham Litter Pickers 10am, Lower Way Sports Field, Thatcham.

Tue 5 May Thatcham’s Annual Town Meeting at Thatcham Parish Hall

• Regular events

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

Thatcham Rugby Club hosts Safe Space: Men’s Mental Health evenings on the last Thursday of each month from 9.15pm to 10pm.

• The Kings Head pub, Thatcham is hosting free snooker/pool tables, every Wednesday from 5pm to closing time.

Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir children’s choir meets 6pm to 7pm and the community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please see the organiser’s Facebook page for further updates.

• RMD Adventure Learning‘s youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, is for over 13s on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

• The Youth Café at Glendale Church, Thatcham is open to all secondary school pupils on Fridays between 6.30pm to 8pm.

United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Glendale Church also hosts a Board Games Night on the first Thursday of each month from 7pm to 10pm, entry cost £1 per person. The next one will be 7 April.

• Thatcham Town Football Club Wednesday Quiz Night happen once a month with the next quiz to be held on Weds 20 April. Teams up to 6 people.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. (also here)

 Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Sustainable Living Markets in Thatcham and Newbury – see their Facebook page for dates.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 31 January and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these. To see the dates and agendas for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 5 April and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the litter pick on 30 April; parking near the school; the jubilee; the recreation ground; speeding; repairs and maintenance; planning matters; financial matters; a report from ward member Dominic Boeck; and the the Village Hall. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 22 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the jubilee; Southend’s new noticeboard; dog bins; the annual parish meeting (28 April); the PC’s Facebook page; the Recreation Ground; financial matters; planning matters; and the NDP. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 21 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: Ukranian refugees; financial matters; the Village Hall; the jubilee; the proposed NE Thatcham development; planning matters; and the annual parish and annual general meetings (18 May). To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 17 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; financial matters; the burial ground; speeding; village maintenance; and the jubilee. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 14 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: vehicles on the Common; the Donnington Hospital Trust; streetlights; defibrillators; planning matters; WBC’s emerging local plan; a report from ward member Graham Pask; financial matters; the jubilee; the PC’s website; the Meadows and Hockett Field; repairs and maintenance work; speeding; the loss of two oak trees; tree planting; and the Chapel Row Patient Participation Group. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 7 March and you can read the minutes here.  To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsTheale area; Wantage area; Marlborougharea; Swindon area.

News and views from across the area and beyond: please see the most recent Weekly News with Brian column.

Thursday 21 April 2022

This week’s news

• There are a few tickets still available for Thatcham Mayor’s Fundraiser Disco & Quiz Night this Friday 22 April in aid of Swings & Smiles and Thatcham Town Cricket Club. There are spicy and non-spicy food options and the Mecure Newbury West Grange Hotel are offering a special £65 bed and breakfast rate for those wishing to make a night of it. Book your tickets here.

Harts Hill Road will be closed between 7am and 7pm this Friday from the junction with Floral Way and the A4 on Chapel Street to enable Volker Highways to carry out machine patching under the Highways Improvement Programme. You can find the plan of the closure here.

• The latest update on the Lower Way development of 91 homes proposed to be built next to the Lower Way field, is that names are being proposed for the project. In the latest Planning and Highways Working Party meeting on 5 April, names were suggested that take inspiration from the lakes that sit next to the development. Amongst the names are Barbel, Pike and Chubb. The options are yet to be confirmed and will be proposed again in the next Planning meeting. See here on Newbury Today for more.

• Thatcham Rugby Club hosted its first Newbury Phoenix Rotary charity quiz last Friday, where more than £800 was raised. The charities that were being supported were Riding for the Disabled, Time to Talk, New Life and West Berkshire Mencap. The quiz included music, picture and local knowledge rounds. If you’re interested in joining the next quiz in the autumn, you can email kyms.phoenix@newburyrotary.org.

• Thatcham Library is hosting a Peter Rabbit-themed craft session this Friday from 10.30am to 12pm to celebrate Peter Rabbit’s 120th Birthday. The craft session is for children aged 3 and above and for more information you can call 01635 866049. You can also click here for more.

• Newbury Today is asking for the public’s opinion on West Berkshire’s best public toilet, which includes Thatcham Broadway’s Toilets. If you’re interested in having your say, click here.

• Your opinion is also being sought on your favourite Thatcham restaurant in the town centre. Click here to have your say.

• Thatcham Town FC’s programme editor Andy Morris who has been producing The Kingfisher programme for nearly 10 years has been nominated for a Berkshire Football Award in the Supporters Trust at Reading (STAR) Volunteer of the Season category. If you are a fan of Thatcham Town and believe Andy is a good fit for winning, see here for how to fill out a nomination form.

• For recent news from Hermitage see the latest Hermitage Parish Council newsletter here.

• Click here to see the latest edition of the Cold Ash Community Bulletin which this week starts with tadpoles and ends with a Martin Luther King.

• For the latest newsletter from Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates, local groups and events across the Thatcham area, please visit their website here.

The survey, again

I made some comments in this column last week about a “survey” which had appeared on social media inviting “community members” in Newbury and Thatcham to “have their say on the future of West Berkshire.” My advice was then, and still is now, to have nothing to do with it until it’s been made clear on the survey itself who has initiated it and for what purpose the information is being gathered. I think this is an important point of principle for any survey, not just this one. Otherwise it’s like someone coming up to you in the street and saying “give me £20 for charity.” What charity? you ask. “I’m not going to tell you.” What will the money be used for? “None of your business.”

Whatever comparison one uses, it seems to be a pretty indifferent piece of work, a sentiment echoed by everyone to whom I’ve spoken. One person, who is experienced in such municipal matters, said they thought it looked a bit like one of theyr children’s school IT projects. Indeed, a survey done by 12-year-old Joely Rice concerning the possible uses for the old school in Shaw-cum-Donnington (see the Newbury Area Weekly News column) was in many ways better than this one. I see that the link has been provided in this week’s NWN (good luck with typing that lengthy url). I’m not going to link to is until the origin and purpose of this is specified and until I’ve had a couple of questions answered by West Berkshire Council (which are promised) including whether or not it’s happy with the inference that the residents of these two towns are on their own being asked to decide the future of the entire district. I’d also be more willing to promote it if Newbury and Thatcham Town Councils were happy with it. To date, it doesn’t appear that either is.

Community notices

• All welcome at the open sessions at the new Community Garden at Thatcham Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. You can sow some seeds, create some wildlife habitat or just have a cuppa and relax in a calming green space

• Please drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at Thatcham Library during its opening hours. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to its website.

• A technology ‘Befriend Bus’ with a laptop, screen and speakers will visit older residents in Thatcham and Newbury to give them tech support. For more details contact Handybus Coordinator Paul Wilding on 01635 37111 or email handybus@vcwb.org.uk.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Fri 22 Apr Thatcham Mayor’s Disco & Quiz Night

Fri 22 Apr Easter Crafts Session at Thatcham Library.

Sat 23 Apr Thatcham Rugby Club 40th Anniversary at the Clubhouse.

Sat 30 Apr Thatcham Litter Pickers 10am, Lower Way Sports Field, Thatcham.

• Regular events

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

Thatcham Rugby Club hosts Safe Space: Men’s Mental Health evenings on the last Thursday of each month from 9.15pm to 10pm.

• The Kings Head pub, Thatcham is hosting free snooker/pool tables, every Wednesday from 5pm to closing time.

Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir children’s choir meets 6pm to 7pm and the community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please see the organiser’s Facebook page for further updates.

• RMD Adventure Learning‘s youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, is for over 13s on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

• The Youth Café at Glendale Church, Thatcham is open to all secondary school pupils on Fridays between 6.30pm to 8pm.

United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Glendale Church also hosts a Board Games Night on the first Thursday of each month from 7pm to 10pm, entry cost £1 per person. The next one will be 7 April.

• Thatcham Town Football Club Wednesday Quiz Night happen once a month with the next quiz to be held on Weds 20 April. Teams up to 6 people.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. (also here)

 Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Sustainable Living Markets in Thatcham and Newbury – see their Facebook page for dates.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 31 January and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these. To see the dates and agendas for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 5 April and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the litter pick on 30 April; parking near the school; the jubilee; the recreation ground; speeding; repairs and maintenance; planning matters; financial matters; a report from ward member Dominic Boeck; and the the Village Hall. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 22 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the jubilee; Southend’s new noticeboard; dog bins; the annual parish meeting (28 April); the PC’s Facebook page; the Recreation Ground; financial matters; planning matters; and the NDP. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 21 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: Ukranian refugees; financial matters; the Village Hall; the jubilee; the proposed NE Thatcham development; planning matters; and the annual parish and annual general meetings (18 May). To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 7 March and you can read the minutes here.  To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 14 February and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 17 February and you can read the minutes here.  To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsTheale area; Wantage area; Marlborough area; Swindon area.

News and views from across the area and beyond: please see the most recent Weekly News with Brian column.

Thursday 14 April 2022

This week’s news

• According to this week’s Newbury Weekly News, paediatric doses of the covid vaccine for five to 11-year-olds with no underlying health conditions are currently available from Thatcham Family Hub. A second does will be offered at least 12 weeks apart. These vaccines aren’t being given at schools or GP surgeries. Apparently you are meant to be able to book on the NHS booking website or by calling 119.

• Great news that, after two years of closure due to the pandemic, the lovely cafe at the Nature Discovery Centre reopened this week. Visitors can sit inside again to enjoy sandwiches, cakes, snacks and drinks. See more on their facebook page here.
• This week’s NWN reports on p3 of an “unusual” power cut in Frilsham this week which left some houses in the village without power for four days. The experience seemed to bring out the supportive blitz )or perhaps Covid) spirit in the residents: it also appeared to bring out the best in SSEN which, most people seemed to agree performed really well. I spoke to ward member Carolyne Culver about this on 14 April. She told me that what seemed to have been usual about its cause ahas that one tree fell on another tree which then fell on a power line, the sort of thing that happened all the time in Tom and Jerry cartoons. She agreed that the electricity company had done a good job. I understand that the lights are now back on.

• A reminder for the parents looking to entertain their little ones this Easter, the Pop Up Family Adventure World with dinosaurs, children’s rides, a food court and inflatables runs from Friday 15 to Monday 18 April, from 11am to 6pm on Thatcham Memorial Playing Field. Check here for more information.

• Thatcham Youth is also running free activities this Easter holiday including sports activities and reptile handling. It is being held at the Moorside Community Centre and please note some event require advance booking.

• There is still time to nominate an individual, group or business for the Thatcham Community Awards 2022. The categories include: the Community Contributor Award, the Environmental Champion Award and the Inspiring Young Person Award. To make an nomination, follow this link to the Thatcham Town Council website and fill out the form on the page. All nominations need to be in by 4.30pm, Monday 18 April.

Thatcham Mayor’s Fundraiser Disco & Quiz Night on Friday 22 April is in aid of Swings & Smiles and Thatcham Town Cricket Club. There are spicy and non-spicy food options and the Mecure Newbury West Grange Hotel are offering a special £65 bed and breakfast rate for those wishing to make a night of it. Book your tickets here.

• A whopping £11,650 investment has begun being put to use in Thatcham’s playgrounds. After a recreations and amenities meeting held in October last year, the options to refurbish or replace the equipment in playgrounds was discussed. The final decision was to replace the equipment so now 12 play parks in Thatcham Town Council’s control are getting a facelift. For more on this, have a look at Newbury Today here.

• Newbury Today is asking for the public’s opinion on West Berkshire’s best public toilet, which includes Thatcham Broadway’s Toilets. If you’re interested in having your say, click here.

• Your opinion is also being sought on your favourite Thatcham restaurant in the town centre. Click here to have your say.

• Thatcham Town FC’s programme editor Andy Morris who has been producing The Kingfisher programme for nearly 10 years has been nominated for a Berkshire Football Award in the Supporters Trust at Reading (STAR) Volunteer of the Season category. If you are a fan of Thatcham Town and believe Andy is a good fit for winning, see here for how to fill out a nomination form.

• On that note, Thatcham Town FC is hosting a quiz night at Waterside Park on Wednesday 20 April at 7pm. Prizes are sponsored by SJ Wines and more information can be found here.

• Thatcham Town Council’s Events Committee meeting on Monday 11 April can be viewed here on the council’s YouTube channel. Key topics discussed were the Spring Into Thatcham evaluation, plans for The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations and Thatcham Family Fun Day 2022.

• For recent news from Hermitage see the latest Hermitage Parish Council newsletter here.

• Click here to see the latest edition of the Cold Ash Community Bulletin which this week starts with a woodpecker and ends with a mockingbird.

• For the latest newsletter from Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates, local groups and events across the Thatcham area, please visit their website here.

A slapdash vision

An article on p29 of this week’s NWN looks at the 5 April Planning Committee meeting of Thatcham Town Council (TTC) at which the members discussed the possible next steps in TTC’s discussions with Iceni. This company has been appointed by WBC to act as consultants for the aspects of the local plan which, following changes to government regulations last year, now require a 30-year vision for significant developments (such as the plans for 2,500 homes to the north east of Thatcham). In recent weeks, TTC has been trying to arrange a meeting with Iceni and to discover what form any consultation with residents will take, although so far without any conspicuous success.

I contacted David Lister, the Leader of TTC, to see if he had any further comments. He pointed out that the newspaper article had incorrectly stated that TTC’s plan was to hold a series of virtual discussions. He pointed out to me that this was in fact Iceni’s proposal: TTC, on the other hand, favours Iceni meeting with the community face-to-face, something TTC would be happy to host and promote. He also added that Iceni had contacted TTC on 29 March with this virtual-event suggestion and also requesting that a meeting outside TTC’s normal cycle be arranged to accommodate a discussion. Iceni also said that “wider public engagement will also take place over the coming weeks which we will provide full details for in case you are able to share with your contacts.” However, I understand that no such information has been provided.

TTC has also pointed out that “it is not possible to develop a meaningful response during the course of a meeting, so we will need to be informed of Iceni’s thinking on the vision in advance.” We also understand that this has not been provided either. This is perhaps surprising given that Iceni was appointed by WBC on 24 December 2021 (although this only received wide publicity in mid March) and that, on Iceni’s own admission, a “draft vision document” (that word “vision” again) will be produced in May. A virtual meeting has been arranged with TTC for 14 April after which matters might be a bit clearer. It seems, however, rather late in the day. One wonders if it would have happened at all had TTC not pressed for it.

The NWN quotes TTC and WBC Councillor Owen Jeffery describes WBC’s handling of the matter thus far as “casual” and “slapdash”, add that “there has to be a point at which WBC wakes up and starts behaving in a vaguely constructive way.” As regards the matter of consultation, he says that “there’s no way anyone could seriously suggest that the public of Thatcham have been duly informed or asked for their opinions.” It may be that the survey referred to in the section below forms part of this but until it makes clear who has proposed it and what the information will be used for (which as of 13 April hadn’t happened) it’s impossible to be certain. “It’s all rather a shambles, isn’t it?” TTC’s David Lister said ruefully.

“It all comes to having real respect for the affected population,” Owen Jeffery told Penny Post on 14 April. “Proposals can be made by developers or landowners but their interests should not be driving engine for wholesale change to a community.”

Details about the awarding of this contract (worth £109,500) can be found here. The brief is limited to looking at the ill-fated Sandleford site (the appeal decision on which is still awaited from the Secretary of State) and the proposed 2,500 homes for NE Thatcham. It’s worth stressing that other, more manageable and less impactful, proposals exist for both which one hopes that WBC is also considering with an open mind. However, the more money that is spent on one scheme, the more it will start to look like and be treated like the preferred option. Many others feel that it should be seen as anything but.

A strange survey

My attention was recently drawn to a very odd looking survey about the future of Newbury and Thatcham. There’s certainly plenty of debate about these matters at the moment. I’m not going to give you the link because, for the reasons I’m about to provide, I don’t think you should have anything to do with it, at least not until the many problems with it have been sorted out.

“Newbury and Thatcham community members! Shape the future of West Berkshire for 2050,” the heading reads, followed by the instruction to “answer this survey.” There are so many problems with just this bit that I hardly know where to start.

“Community members” is a wonderful example of the fatuous marketing-speak that now prevails (like the hideous phrase “having a conversation around” rather than “discussing”). The word the copywriters were groping for was “residents.” It also seems that residents of those two towns alone are being invited to “shape the future” of the district. What about the rest of us? Do we get a say in this? West Berkshire Council has long been accused, fairly or otherwise, of being less concerned with the areas away from its centre than it might be. It’s taken some steps to redress this. Comments like this risk putting matters back ten years.

And what does “shape the future” try to mean? What it really means is “contribute to a discussion about.” The residents, of these towns or of the whole district, aren’t going to shape anything on their own. Westminster and Whitehall will have a lot to say about that. They’re not mentioned either.

As for the photos, the less said about those the better. If the aim was to pick two that showed the towns in the most unattractive possible light then job done.

I’m not finished yet, not by a long chalk. What’s so special about 2050? If – as I suspect it might be – this has something to do with the new 30-year vision that’s demanded for large developments such as the 2,500-homes plans for Thatcham, then the date should be at least 2054 if we assume that the local plan refresh won’t be done before 2024 (even so, most of its decisions won’t last for more than 15 years). “2054” would require explanation, though. “2050” doesn’t. What this date is trying to convey is an aspirational future time about a generation hence, close enough to still be relevant to many yet living but far enough away to make it clear that momentous changes may be planned which you can help “shape.”

Then it says “answer the survey.” There’s no “please”, no “thanks in advance.” In any case, you can’t “answer” a survey. You can “respond to” or “participate in” it. You can “answer” a questionnaire, or questions in a survey: but a survey involves expressing opinions; and opinions aren’t answers. For anyone who thinks I’m being nit-picking, I’d say that we have different words to describe different things for a reason, just as there is all the difference in the world between the chords of A7 and A Maj7, between thirty-one and thirteen and between crimson and scarlet.

There are two other massive problems with the “survey” which are much more serious than these presentational issues. The first is that there’s no clue as to who is running it; the second is that there’s no information about to what use the findings will be put. These are fundamental. If you push on through the rather vacuous questions – the answers to which could be used to justify almost any conclusion – you come to a page where you have to enter your email address to proceed where you had to agree to T&C’s. The latter are only revealed when you click on the question about why the email address is needed, which seems less than straightforward (best practice should surely be that the T&Cs are clickable from the page on which you’re asked to agree to them, not hidden away somewhere else). I stopped at this point.

I put some of these points to the communications team at WBC on 13 April and received the biggest surprise of all: they said they knew nothing about it. Why anyone would want to run a “survey” about the “future” of the district, as “shaped” only by the “community members” of the two largest towns, without the knowledge of the district council is beyond me. Until these anonymities, ambiguities and solecisms are fixed (or, better still, the whole thing is re-done and launched properly), I’d advise you not to waste your time in completing it or passing it on to anyone else: should you come across it at all, of course. You won’t be getting any link to this from us.

Community notices

• All welcome at the open sessions at the new Community Garden at Thatcham Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. You can sow some seeds, create some wildlife habitat or just have a cuppa and relax in a calming green space

• Please drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at Thatcham Library during its opening hours. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to its website.

• A technology ‘Befriend Bus’ with a laptop, screen and speakers will visit older residents in Thatcham and Newbury to give them tech support. For more details contact Handybus Coordinator Paul Wilding on 01635 37111 or email handybus@vcwb.org.uk.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

• Sat 16 to Mon 18 Apr Easter EGG-stravaganza morning and afternoon sessions, at Bucklebury Farm.

Fri 22 Apr Thatcham Mayor’s Disco & Quiz Night

Sat 23 Apr Thatcham Rugby Club 40th Anniversary at the Clubhouse.

Sat 30 Apr Thatcham Litter Pickers 10am, Lower Way Sports Field, Thatcham.

• Regular events

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

Thatcham Rugby Club hosts Safe Space: Men’s Mental Health evenings on the last Thursday of each month from 9.15pm to 10pm.

• The Kings Head pub, Thatcham is hosting free snooker/pool tables, every Wednesday from 5pm to closing time.

• Sing Louder Choir children’s choir meets 6pm to 7pm and the community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please see the organiser’s Facebook page for further updates.

• RMD Adventure Learning‘s youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, is for over 13s on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

• The Youth Café at Glendale Church, Thatcham is open to all secondary school pupils on Fridays between 6.30pm to 8pm.

United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Glendale Church also hosts a Board Games Night on the first Thursday of each month from 7pm to 10pm, entry cost £1 per person. The next one will be 7 April.

• Thatcham Town Football Club Wednesday Quiz Night happen once a month with the next quiz to be held on Weds 20 April. Teams up to 6 people.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. (also here)

 Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Sustainable Living Markets in Thatcham and Newbury – see their Facebook page for dates.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 31 January and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these. To see the dates and agendas for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 22 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the jubilee; Southend’s new noticeboard; dog bins; the annual parish meeting (28 April); the PC’s Facebook page; the Recreation Ground; financial matters; planning matters; and the NDP. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 21 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: Ukranian refugees; financial matters; the Village Hall; the jubilee; the proposed NE Thatcham development; planning matters; and the annual parish and annual general meetings (18 May). To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can read the draft minutes here. items covered included: a presentation from the Beechfield Lane Residents’ Association; the Yattendon Estate; planning matters; a report from District Councillor Carolyne Culver; the playground facilities; the Clubroom; the jubilee; the annual parish assembly (18 May); financial matters; and a new guardian of the defibrillator. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 7 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: heating the Club Room; the Village Field; the Village Green; planning matters; a report from District Councillor Graham Park; flooding; the parish survey; maintenance work in the parish; financial matters; and facilities for children. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 1 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: plans to celebrate the jubilee; community emergency plans; the Great British Spring Clean; update regarding Speed Indicator Device (SID);  planning matters; planning for parking near the school; jubilee plans; speeding; a proposed new map; the parish plan; planning matters; possible devolution from WBC; a report from ward member Dominic Boeck; and the Village Hall. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 14 February and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 17 February and you can read the minutes here.  To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsTheale area; Wantage area; Marlborough area; Swindon area.

News and views from across the area and beyond: please see the most recent Weekly News with Brian column.

Thursday 7 April 2022

This week’s news

• If you’ve walked through Broadway recently, you’ll have noticed a lot has changed, and for the better. The centre of Broadway has been dug up and new wooden barricades have been fitted giving a fresh look to the area as well as some new shrubbery. The latest bit of inspiration is from local artist Simon Jardine, who has illustrated 16 wonderful bollard covers that represent most shops in the High Street. Hopefully, residents can expect more from the town in times to come, but for now, this is a very welcome change.

• The plan to raise the three Victoria Cross memorial stones out of the pavement in Thatcham Broadway is being discussed again after being put on hold due to the pandemic. Newbury Today offers great insight into the history of the three men here.  The proposal is to create a plinth that will preserve the life of the memorial stones, keeping them away from footsteps and paws. The decision was finalised in a council meeting in 2020 and will soon be put into action.

• There’s a new scout group in town: Squirrel Scouts for young children aged between 4 and 5 years. The 1st Thatcham Cragside Squirrel Drey was aptly named after the place red squirrels are often sighted and was the place the group met last Saturday for the investiture. The group were going nuts as 8 children were in attendance taking part in activities all squirrel-themed. For more information, have a look here on the Scouts website.

The Great British Spring Clean with the Thatcham Litter Pickers and The Parsons Down’s Eco-School was so successful last month they are holding another one on Saturday 30 April, at Lower Way Park. Check out their Facebook page if you would like to be involved.

• Thatcham is again to be home to the Pop Up Family Adventure World which will host dinosaurs, children’s rides, a food court and inflatables. Running from Friday 15 to Monday 18 April, and open from 11am to 6pm on Thatcham Memorial Playing Field, the Adventure World is a fantastic break for the kids during the Easter Holidays. Check here for more information.

• West Berkshire Council will be introducing a free, weekly food waste collection across the region. This aims to massively reduce the waste going to landfills and the food will instead be composted for use by local farmers. In order to prepare for the changes, aiming to come into place this autumn, the council has released a new survey regarding Food Waste Habits and would like as many locals as possible to contribute. Please click here to learn more about the Councils food waste collection plans and click here to take the survey for yourself. The survey will be available until the 3 May.

Healthwatch Berkshire invites you to have your say on Covid testing. This survey will show how many people are still relying on and using Covid testing equipment in daily life and whether or not it is as important as it has been in the past. Please find the survey here.

Thatcham Rugby Club is celebrating its 40th anniversary starting at 12pm on 23 April. With a home game to take place at 2pm and a BBQ from 1pm to 5pm. Afterwards, at 6pm, there will be a club social event including a disco and a raffle. See here for more information.

• As reported last week, Thatcham Town Council has vocally offered its support to Ukrainian refugees. If you would like to host Ukrainian refugees coming to the UK please see details here.  To find out how you still can help in this ongoing crisis, take a look at our summary of other local and national appeals.

• For recent news from Hermitage see the latest Hermitage Parish Council newsletter here.

• Click here to see the latest edition of the Cold Ash Community Bulletin which this week starts with spring flowers and ends with sarcasm.

• For the latest newsletter from Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates, local groups and events across the Thatcham area, please visit their website here.

The town can’t take it

There’s a letter on p20 of this week’s NWN whose headline will have caught the eye of many residents of the town: “Thatcham cannot take more development.” The writer is clearly a long-term resident who looking back over a number of decades and sees little to celebrate about what the immediate future holds.

Unfortunately, “taking more development” is exactly what Thatcham is being asked to do. Quite why this is happening is hard to fathom. It’s hard to think of a settlement in the district which has a worse infrastructure deficit at present and also which has as little space in its immediate area in which it can provide new amenities and facilities.

The secondary school is nearly full. The library is too small and so is the leisure centre. Flooding has been and will remain a problem. The station is at the southern edge of the town and has no bridge, making the railway line at times almost impassable. To the north, the town centre is hemmed in by the busy A4. To the south west the landscape is mainly lakes and rivers. To the north and east is open countryside, mostly in three parishes which have mounted fierce campaigns against what would be a serious erosion of these strips of green that form a useful physical and psychological divide between one community and the next, of the kind which has all but vanished between Thatcham and Newbury. The town may historically have benefitted from being on a main road, a canal, a river and a railway: but now it seems a prisoner of its geography, constrained within these bounds but also forced to cater for more and more people.

A glance at the map shows that the southern edge of the built-up part of the town exactly follows the railway line. If we are to use public transport more, it makes sense to have the station as close as possible to centre of the community it serves. Moving the railway line is not practical (though I bet Brunel could have done it over a weekend) so it seems logical to plan development to create something of the same result. At least one such site south of the tracks, at Colthrop, seems viable but for whatever reason doesn’t appear to be getting the same attention as does the 2,500-home scheme.

One of the reasons advanced to support the latter is that it’s the only way infrastructure can be provided. Well, yes and no. Developers are only required to mitigate the effects of their own work, not to address pre-existing issues – for that reason, it’s currently proposed that the 2,500-home scheme cover only half the cost of the new secondary school. It therefore in some ways makes little difference whether there are 25,000 homes or 2,500 or 25 as the best that be hoped for is a net-zero effect, ie with the infrastructure needs elsewhere being effectively un-addressed. Also, viability assessments and other manoeuvrings can and often do reduce the contributions, in cash or in kind, that have been promised. Al lot of the projects, like the above-mentioned school, also seem to be pushed to the later part of the development, so increasing the chances of the company failing without having built what has been agreed.

In order to build south of the railway, a bridge would be needed. WBC has so far maintained that the 2,500-home plan would not require this but I have my doubts. We are being encouraged to use cars less, one solution being to shift to trains. If more trains run through Thatcham then the delays at the crossing will get worse, and perhaps lead to an almost permanent LA-style gridlock, even if no new homes are built at all are added. Moreover, a large development that’s been given the green light north of Basingstoke is expected to increase the traffic travelling north into West Berkshire. It’s also to be assumed that some of those living in the 2,500-home site will have jobs in or abound Basingstoke.

Fortunately, the Colthrop developers have agreed to provide a bridge. If this development is approved, WBC should insist that this be completed before any homes are occupied. It may not therefore be possible to pay for a school (or even half a school) but this will at least be something that benefits the whole town. It’s not easy to see any aspect of the proposed mitigations in the  NE Thatcham plan which can say the same.

The NWN correspondent concludes by saying that “I won’t be here in 30 years but you have to think of those who are.” In this sentiment he is at one with the Secretary of State, who last year decreed that all significant developments (which NE Thatcham is) need to be justified by a 30-year vision in the local plan. This WBC’s planners are currently hard at work on. What conclusions they will come to are as yet uncertain. WBC has recently appointed consultants and I understand that, finally, a meeting has been arranged between this company, Iceni Projects, and Thatcham Town Council in mid-April, with the Town Council hoping to issue a statement on this before the end of the month. This might in turn provide some clues as to how seriously the other possible schemes for the area around Thatcham are being considered and, perhaps, what might be done to improve the infrastructure deficit that already exists. More on this when more is known.

Community notices

• Do you know someone from the local area who has done something inspiring or made a huge difference to the community? Well, nominations for the Thatcham Community Awards 2022 are now open! You can nominate individuals, groups or businesses who you think should be recognised for their outstanding work in the community, whether it be for the environment, charity or something else. The categories include: the Community Contributor Award, the Environmental Champion Award and the Inspiring Young Person Award. To make an nomination, follow this link to the Thatcham Town Council website and fill out the form on the page. All nominations need to be in by 4.30pm, Monday 18 April.

• A new technology ‘Befriend Bus’ with a laptop, screen and speakers will visit older residents in Thatcham and Newbury to give them tech support. For more details contact Handybus Coordinator Paul Wilding on 01635 37111 or email handybus@vcwb.org.uk.

• Thatcham Youth are running free activities this Easter holiday including sports activities and reptile handling. It is being held at the Moorside Community Centre and please note some event require advance booking.

• Please drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at Thatcham Library during its opening hours. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to its website.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Thu 14 Apr Easter Family Fun Day 10am to 3pm, Moorside Community Centre. Organised by Thatcham Youth.

Fri 15 to Sat 16 Apr Easter Belgian Chocolate Craft Session at The Ace Space.

• Sat 16 to Mon 18 Apr Easter EGG-stravaganza morning and afternoon sessions, at Bucklebury Farm.

Sat 23 Apr Thatcham Rugby Club 40th Anniversary at the Clubhouse.

Sat 20 Apr Thatcham Litter Pickers 10am, Lower Way Sports Field, Thatcham.

• Regular events

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

Thatcham Rugby Club hosts Safe Space: Men’s Mental Health evenings on the last Thursday of each month from 9.15pm to 10pm.

• The Kings Head pub, Thatcham is hosting free snooker/pool tables, every Wednesday from 5pm to closing time.

• Sing Louder Choir children’s choir meets 6pm to 7pm and the community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please see the organiser’s Facebook page for further updates.

• RMD Adventure Learning‘s youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, is for over 13s on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

• The Youth Café at Glendale Church, Thatcham is open to all secondary school pupils on Fridays between 6.30pm to 8pm.

United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Glendale Church also hosts a Board Games Night on the first Thursday of each month from 7pm to 10pm, entry cost £1 per person. The next one will be 7 April.

• Thatcham Town Football Club Wednesday Quiz Night happen once a month with the next quiz to be held on Weds 20 April. Teams up to 6 people.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. (also here)

 Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Sustainable Living Markets in Thatcham and Newbury – see their Facebook page for dates.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 31 January and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these. To see the dates and agendas for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 21 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: Ukranian refugees; financial matters; the Village Hall; the jubilee; the proposed NE Thatcham development; planning matters; and the annual parish and annual general meetings (18 May). To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can read the draft minutes here. items covered included: a presentation from the Beechfield Lane Residents’ Association; the Yattendon Estate; planning matters; a report from District Councillor Carolyne Culver; the playground facilities; the Clubroom; the jubilee; the annual parish assembly (18 May); financial matters; and a new guardian of the defibrillator. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 8 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a presentation regarding the proposed developments in Henwick Park Cold Ash and Colthrop Thatcham for approximately 1,175 new homes (see also Plans for North east Thatcham above); insurance issues; the Clerk’s report; planning matters; financial matters; the annual parish meeting (28 April); maintenance contracts; and the NDP. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 7 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: heating the Club Room; the Village Field; the Village Green; planning matters; a report from District Councillor Graham Park; flooding; the parish survey; maintenance work in the parish; financial matters; and facilities for children. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 1 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: plans to celebrate the jubilee; community emergency plans; the Great British Spring Clean; update regarding Speed Indicator Device (SID);  planning matters; planning for parking near the school; jubilee plans; speeding; a proposed new map; the parish plan; planning matters; possible devolution from WBC; a report from ward member Dominic Boeck; and the Village Hall. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 14 February and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 17 February and you can read the minutes here.  To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

Thursday 31 March 2022

This week’s news

• After a two year hiatus, the Cold Ash Gardening Club’s Spring Show is back this Saturday 2 April in the Acland Hall. Exhibitors of flowers, floral art and handcrafts will be setting up between 8.30am and 10am, in preparation for judging at 10.30. It will then be open for public viewing between 2pm and 4.30pm, with the award ceremony at 4pm. There will also be refreshments, homemade cakes, opportunities to buy various handicrafts and plants, browse the selection of flower arrangements, as well as the Seed Swap – in which you can bring old excess or unused seeds and swap them for new ones. Check out the website for more information.

• The friends and family of late Thatcham mother Laura Kendrick continue their Kindness vs Cancer campaign. This Saturday 2 April at 2:30pm Laura’s friend Michelle Yam will be hosting a fun fitness session to help the family meet their £50,000 target, which will go towards compassionate conversations training for NHS staff treating seriously ill patients. It is £10 to take part, of which all proceedings will go towards the campaign. The event will be held outside, behind the Hermitage Village Hall. If you would like to support the Kendrick family in their campaign, visit their crowd funding page here. For more information about Kindness vs Cancer, visit their website.

• This is your last chance to have your say on anti-social behaviour in central Thatcham and the introduction of the Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO). Please complete the anonymous online survey here, issued by West Berkshire Council, by 3 April. Hard copies can also be picked up from the Town Council offices and Thatcham Library.

• Do you know someone from the local area who has done something inspiring or made a huge difference to the community? Well, nominations for the Thatcham Community Awards 2022 are now open! You can nominate individuals, groups or businesses who you think should be recognised for their outstanding work in the community, whether it be for the environment, charity or something else. The categories include: the Community Contributor Award, the Environmental Champion Award and the Inspiring Young Person Award. To make an nomination, follow this link to the Thatcham Town Council website and fill out the form on the page. All nominations need to be in by 4.30pm, Monday 18 April.

The Great British Spring Clean with the Thatcham Litter Pickers and The Parsons Down’s Eco School last Saturday was a great success. Volunteers of all ages, 38 in total, managed to fill an impressive 40 bags worth of litter. A massive well done to everyone who took part. The next Thatcham Litter Pickers event will be on Saturday 30 April, at Lower Way Park, check out their Facebook page if you would like to be involved.

• Congratulations to the many school children, across Thatcham and indeed the country, who took part in the exciting Voice in a Million concert at Wembley’s OVO arena – the first such concert in two years since the pandemic began. Last week children from several schools in Thatcham and the local area joined over 5,000 other students from across the country in a joint sing-a-long. Francis Bailey class teacher Miss Eleanor Richardson told us: “The day itself at Wembley was joyful. All the children had an amazing time and sang their hearts out, performing pop hits with schools from all around the country!” See here for more on this story.

• In line with the changes outlined in the UK government’s Environmental Act 2021, West Berkshire Council will be introducing a free, weekly food waste collection across the region. This aims to massively reduce the waste going landfill and the food will instead be composted for use by local farmers. In order to prepare for the changes, aiming to come into place this autumn, the council has released a new survey regarding Food Waste Habits and would like as many locals as possible to contribute. Please click here to learn more about the Councils food waste collection plans and click here to take the survey for yourself. The survey will be available until the 3 May.

Healthwatch Berkshire invites you to have your say on Covid testing. This survey will show how many people are still relying on and using Covid testing equipment in daily life and whether or not it is as important as it has been in the past. Please find the survey here.

Thatcham Rugby Club is celebrating its 40th anniversary starting at 12pm on 23 April. With a home game to take place at 2pm and a BBQ from 1pm to 5pm. Afterwards, at 6pm, there will be a club social event including a disco and a raffle. See here for more information.

• As reported last week, Thatcham Town Council has vocally offered its support to Ukrainian refugees. If you would like to host Ukrainian refugees coming to the UK please see details here.  To find out how you still can help in this ongoing crisis, take a look at our summary of other local and national appeals.

• For recent news from Hermitage see the latest Hermitage Parish Council newsletter here.

• Click here to see the latest edition of the Cold Ash Community Bulletin which this week starts with a tractor and ends with breakfast cereals.

• For the latest newsletter from Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates, local groups and events across the Thatcham area, please visit their website here.

Thatcham’s vision

Last week I wrote about a couple of developments in the proposals for 2,500 homes in Thatcham (a phrase I’ve typed many, many times before and expect to type again). I understand that in both cases the situation remains much as before but I draw your attention to these in case you missed them. This is a matter of vast importance for Thatcham and the communities which border it to the north and east and will, if realised will change the area for good; and take a great deal of time to accomplish. Despite a certain amount of evidence to the contrary, this is not technically a done deal and WBC may yet change its mind on the matter.

Aside from whether of not something on this scale is a good idea, if it proceeds at anything like the pace of Sandleford it will blight the area for decades to come. With four developers involved rather than merely two at Sandleford – which there seems to be one too many –  there’s little to suggest this may not happen. There are a number of other schemes which will provide a similar number of houses on a more human scale: last week’s post looks at a couple of these.

Community notices

• A new technology ‘Befriend Bus’ with a laptop, screen and speakers will visit older residents in Thatcham and Newbury to give them tech support. For more details contact Handybus Coordinator Paul Wilding on 01635 37111 or email handybus@vcwb.org.uk.

• Thatcham Youth are running free activities this Easter holiday including sports activities and reptile handling. It is being held at the Moorside Community Centre and please note some event require advance booking.

• Please drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at Thatcham Library during its opening hours. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to its website.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Sat 2 Apr Fitness Class for Kindness vs Cancer 2:30pm, behind Hermitage Village Hall.

Sat 2 Apr Cold Ash Gardening Club Spring Show 2022 2pm to 4:30pm, Acland Hall, Cold Ash.

Thurs 14 Apr Easter Family Fun Day 10am to 3pm, Moorside Community Centre. Organised by Thatcham Youth.

Fri 15 to Sat 16 Apr Easter Belgian Chocolate Craft Session at The Ace Space.

• Sat 16 to Mon 18 Apr Easter EGG-stravaganza morning and afternoon sessions, at Bucklebury Farm.

Sat 23 Apr Thatcham Rugby Club 40th Anniversary at the Clubhouse.

Sat 20 Apr Thatcham Litter Pickers 10am, Lower Way Sports Field, Thatcham.

• Regular events

• Sport in Mind run free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club run Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

Thatcham Rugby Club host Safe Space: Men’s Mental Health evenings on the last Thursday of each month from 9.15pm to 10pm.

• The Kings Head pub, Thatcham is hosting free snooker/pool tables, every Wednesday from 5pm to closing time.

• Sing Louder Choir children’s choir meets 6pm to 7pm and the community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please see the organiser’s Facebook page for further updates.

• RMD Adventure Learning‘s youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, is for over 13s on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

• The Youth Café at Glendale Church, Thatcham is open to all secondary school pupils on Fridays between 6.30pm to 8pm.

United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Glendale Church also hosts a Board Games Night on the first Thursday of each month from 7pm to 10pm, entry cost £1 per person. The next one will be 7 April.

• Thatcham Town Football Club Wednesday Quiz Night happen once a month with the next quiz to be held on Weds 20 April. Teams up to 6 people.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. (also here)

 Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Sustainable Living Markets in Thatcham and Newbury – see their Facebook page for dates.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 31 January and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these. To see the dates and agendas for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 21 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: Ukranian refugees; financial matters; the Village Hall; the jubilee; the proposed NE Thatcham development; planning matters; and the annual parish and annual general meetings (18 May). To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can read the draft minutes here. items covered included: a presentation from the Beechfield Lane Residents’ Association; the Yattendon Estate; planning matters; a report from District Councillor Carolyne Culver; the playground facilities; the Clubroom; the jubilee; the annual parish assembly (18 May); financial matters; and a new guardian of the defibrillator. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 8 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a presentation regarding the proposed developments in Henwick Park Cold Ash and Colthrop Thatcham for approximately 1,175 new homes (see also Plans for North east Thatcham above); insurance issues; the Clerk’s report; planning matters; financial matters; the annual parish meeting (28 April); maintenance contracts; and the NDP. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 7 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: heating the Club Room; the Village Field; the Village Green; planning matters; a report from District Councillor Graham Park; flooding; the parish survey; maintenance work in the parish; financial matters; and facilities for children. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 1 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: plans to celebrate the jubilee; community emergency plans; the Great British Spring Clean; update regarding Speed Indicator Device (SID);  planning matters; planning for parking near the school; jubilee plans; speeding; a proposed new map; the parish plan; planning matters; possible devolution from WBC; a report from ward member Dominic Boeck; and the Village Hall. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 14 February and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 17 February and you can read the minutes here.  To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

Thursday 24 March 2022

This week’s news

• The forecast is looking good for Saturday so don’t miss the Spring Into Thatcham 80s themed Street Party on Thatcham High Street & The Broadway from 4pm to 9.30pm. There will be a street market on Thatcham High Street, street entertainers and street food and a giant screen in the centre of The Broadway playing 80’s music to dance the evening away to. So dig out those leg warmers and neon leotards and bop till you drop…

Thatcham High Street is to be closed between 1pm and 11pm this Saturday 26 March for the event above. Traffic diversion signs will be in place, mainly diverting traffic from High Street onto Chapel Street.

• In the latest bit of Earth-friendly news from Parsons Down’s Eco School scheme, there will be a litter picking event taking place this Saturday between 10 and 11am in conjunction with the Thatcham Litter Pickers. The litter pick is taking place, not only because Thatcham needs this kind of attention and care, but also because until April 10 2022 it is the Great British Spring Clean, as part of Keep Britain Tidy’s initiative. Those who wish to join the students in helping keep Thatcham presentable can meet at the Burdwood Centre in the morning. Equipment will be provided however, your own is encouraged if you have it. You can find more information on the Eco School website here.

• As reported last week, Thatcham Town Council has vocally offered its support to Ukrainian refugees. If you would like to host Ukrainian refugees coming to the UK please see details here.  To find out how you still can help in this ongoing crisis, take a look at our summary of other local and national appeals.

• There is still time to have your say on anti-social behaviour in central Thatcham and the introduction of the Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO). Please complete the anonymous online survey here, issued by West Berkshire Council, by 3 April. Hard copies can also be picked up from the Town Council offices and Thatcham Library.

Healthwatch Berkshire invites you to have your say on Covid testing. This survey will show how many people are still relying on and using Covid testing equipment in daily life and whether or not it is as important as it has been in the past. Please find the survey here.

Thatcham Rugby Club is celebrating its 40th anniversary starting at 12pm on 23 April. With a home game to take place at 2pm and a BBQ from 1pm to 5pm. Afterwards, at 6pm, there will be a club social event including a disco and a raffle. See here for more information.

• For future dates of meetings and events organised by Thatcham Town Council, please see the Town Council Facebook page.

• Thatcham mother and daughter creative partnership Melanie and Amy-Scarlett Nicholson-Jones are looking forward to their first Mother’s Day as published authors and illustrators, following the recent publication of their recent picture book, Why, Mummy? See here for the full story and how you can win a free copy of their charming book.

• For up-to-date news on the opposition to the 2,500-home plan for northeast Thatcham, please see the websites for Thatcham Town Council, Bucklebury Parish Council, Cold Ash Parish Council and Midgham Parish Council (see links at the foot of this section). You can also follow reports from the Bucklebury Says No group.

• For recent news from Hermitage see the latest Hermitage Parish Council newsletter here.

 Click here to see the latest edition of the Cold Ash Community Bulletin which this week starts with daffodils and ends with John Lennon.

• For the latest newsletter from Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates, local groups and events across the Thatcham area, please visit their website here.

Spring into Thatcham

Spring into Thatcham is the latest in a series of events and projects that have been paid for by European Union funding.  This sounds strange considering we left the EU over a year ago. It seemed worth catching up with Thatcham Town Council’s Owen Jeffery, who has been leading this project, to find out what the scheme involves and how it’s been funded.  “The EU project to restart ‘society’ after Covid is funded from the budget that the UK contributed to, as far as I can understand, before we left or were in transition,” he told me. “The intention behind it was very simple – to provide a sudden and unique boost to the area to get it ‘going again’ after the economic ravages of Covid.  Thus it was not permitted to fund capital projects but had to be specific additions, improvements or initiatives to just get things moving again.”

Thatcham put in a bid and was awarded £70,000: the money is therefore not coming from the Council Tax. This has already been used for various events including the winter-time High Street welcome-back event which featured singing, dancing, poetry reading, entertainment, shops open till the late evening and flags and planters and bunting to improve the general  appearance. All this has already happened.

“However,” Owen Jeffery went on, “we are now running up to the end of the Financial  Year by which time any grant awarded must all have be spent (or will have to be returned). Hence the ‘Spring into Thatcham’ on Saturday 26 March, our last event under this scheme. The High Street will be closed to traffic and this will give the added space to allow for a major event from the Broadway down to the ‘Beach’ (where the seats and decorative paved area are located beyond Spice Restaurant.)  The specially commissioned fun bollard collars are all a part of the scheme to enliven the appearance. The Town Council has also used the opportunity to make improvements to the Broadway that we are now seeing coming to fruition with new fencing, railings, gates, hedging and fresh turf.”

The EU money has also enabled improvements to the public toilets, seats and street furniture. “The EU grant has been well spent,” Owen Jeffery concluded. “It has been a massive kick start for our town centre. Spring into Thatcham is another celebration of our great Thatcham community spirit and we give a warm invitation to the rest of West Berkshire to see what we can do in Thatcham.”

Road closures will come into effect from 4pm, the Mayor will be present from 4pm and the event finishes at 9:30 pm. More information about the day’s activities can be found here and also here.

Plans for North East Thatcham

This one refuses to go away. There have been two recent developments.

On 16 March, following reports in a specialist planning publication, an extraordinary meeting of the Planning Committee was convened to “receive and consider any correspondence received from West Berkshire Council or Iceni Projects Ltd since publication of the agenda; and (b) receive and consider a proposed letter of engagement with consultants Iceni Projects Ltd, contracted to support West Berkshire Council’s Local Plan Review for North East Thatcham.” Thatcham TC leader confirmed to Penny Post on 22 March that “the committee expressed disappointment that TTC had not been approached to contribute to a consultation on the Towns Vision given that the guidance from Bryan Lyttle at TTC Full Council on 31 January 2022 was that consultants would be conducting their work over Feb and March.

“The committee noted the effort that went into creating the Thatcham Vision (2016) which took around three years of effort, and gathered opinions from almost 2,000 local residents, which reflected the passion and commitment within the community to support this type of activity. It would be hoped that the consultants recognise the appetite within the community to be engaged. The committee approved unanimously (cross-party = LibDem and Conservative) to send the draft letter (with minor corrections) to West Berkshire Council seeking engagement from the consultants with both TTC and with local residents.”

The letter itself, sent to Iceni on 22 March, stressed that TTC comprised “the elected representatives” of the community and that it “believes it can make a significant contribution.” It also expressly expected Iceni to “give impartial advice to WBC, including if the evidence you collect does not support the plan that has previously been envisaged.”

What lies behind this last remark is the suspicion that WBC regards the 2,500 home plan as something of a done deal, despite other sites that have offered themselves. (It’s also possible that, as WBC now needs to spend considerable time on creating a 30-year vision – which planning policy now demands be provided for a scheme of this size but would not be for smaller ones – that this will make the 2,500 plan more compelling as time and money will have been spent preparing for it.

The second development refers to the other sites mentioned above. Two of these, at Henwick Park and Colthrop, have effectively joined forces in proposing their case. and have been lobbying parish councils. In normal circumstances, a proposal for a combined total on 1,175 homes across the two sites would be met with stern opposition but many might feel that these would be better than the vast alternative . Representatives of the two developers addressed a meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council on 8 March and you can read a summary of the Q&A section in the minutes here.

Football compromises

There’s an article on p26 of this week’s NWN which discusses the continued discussions about the options for the football pitch at Pound Lane. It described how Thatcham TC’s Recreations and Amenities Committee (RAC) has discussed it and identified five options, one of which (to shorten the current pitch, improve the playing area and install goals at the cost of about £1,800) is its preferred one. I spoke to a Thatcham Town Councillor on 24 March who confirmed that, a final decision will be taken at the next RAC meeting in April. This will have taken into account the views of local residents, all of whom have been given a questionnaire. The result will therefore be informed by public opinion and not just by a couple of councillors sitting in the pub and saying “let’s do that.”

I mentioned last week (Parking Compromises) that most decision by a council (or anyone else) produce imperfect results. This seems to be another example. At the risk of quoting myself…”The trouble with any project like this is that, after a lot of discussion and probably expenditure, a solution is arrived at which causes the same amount of inconvenience or irritation but to a different group of people than previously…No solution is going to be perfect. Doing nothing is not an option. Pleasing everyone is impossible. The only solution that’s achievable is normally a compromise that satisfies nobody and fails to address the main issues, even if the participants can agree what these actually are. And then, whatever is decided, within a few years a new scheme will be proposed and the whole process will start all over again. Who’d be a councillor?”

Community notices

• A Thatcham family is continuing the campaign Kindness vs Cancer, started by Laura Kendrick, who sadly died in February this year. The campaign aims to raise £50,000 in aid of educating NHS and health staff in compassionate conversations training, an initiative which aims to improve patient care and the mental wellbeing of those receiving treatment for serious illnesses. Please visit their crowdfunding page here. For more information about Kindness vs Cancer, visit their website.

• A new technology ‘Befriend Bus’ with a laptop, screen and speakers will visit older residents in Thatcham and Newbury to give them tech support. For more details contact Handybus Coordinator Paul Wilding on 01635 37111 or email handybus@vcwb.org.uk.

• Thatcham Youth are running free activities this Easter holiday including sports activities and reptile handling. It is being held at the Moorside Community Centre and please note some event require advance booking.

• Please drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at Thatcham Library during its opening hours. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to its website.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Fri 25 Mar Birds and a Brew: Spring Migrants 10am to noon, Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre.

Sat 26 Mar, 10am to 11am, Thatcham Litter Pick, meet at the Burdwood Centre.

• Sat 26 Mar Spring Into Thatcham 80s themed Street Party  Thatcham High Street & The Broadway

Sat 26 Mar Live Semi-Final of Swan Talent Show 8pm, The Swan, Thatcham.

Thur 14 Apr Easter Family Fun Day 10am to 3pm, Moorside Community Centre. Organised by Thatcham Youth.

Fri 15 to Sat 16 Apr Easter Belgian Chocolate Craft Session at The Ace Space.

Sat 23 Apr Thatcham Rugby Club 40th Anniversary at the Clubhouse.

• Regular events

• Sport in Mind run free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club run Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

Thatcham Rugby Club host Safe Space: Men’s Mental Health evenings on the last Thursday of each month from 9.15pm to 10pm. This months will take place on 31 March.

• The Kings Head pub, Thatcham is hosting free snooker/pool tables, every Wednesday from 5pm to closing time.

• Sing Louder Choir childrens choir meets 6pm to 7pm and the community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please see the organiser’s Facebook page for further updates.

• RMD Adventure Learning‘s youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, is for over 13s on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

• The Youth Café at Glendale Church, Thatcham is open to all secondary school pupils on Fridays between 6.30pm to 8pm.

United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Glendale Church also hosts a Board Games Night on the first Thursday of each month from 7pm to 10pm, entry cost £1 per person. The next one will be 7 April.

• Thatcham Town Football Club Wednesday Quiz Night happen once a month with the next quiz to be held on 16 March. Teams up to 6 people.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. (also here)

 Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Sustainable Living Markets in Thatcham and Newbury – see their Facebook page for dates.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 29 November and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these. To see the dates and agendas for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 21 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: Ukranian refugees; financial matters; the Village Hall; the jubilee; the proposed NE Thatcham development; planning matters; and the annual parish and annual general meetings (18 May). To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 8 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a presentation regarding the proposed developments in Henwick Park Cold Ash and Colthrop Thatcham for approximately 1,175 new homes (see also Plans for North east Thatcham above); insurance issues; the Clerk’s report; planning matters; financial matters; the annual parish meeting (28 April); maintenance contracts; and the NDP. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 1 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: plans to celebrate the jubilee; community emergency plans; the Great British Spring Clean; update regarding Speed Indicator Device (SID);  planning matters; planning for parking near the school; jubilee plans; speeding; a proposed new map; the parish plan; planning matters; possible devolution from WBC; a report from ward member Dominic Boeck; and the Village Hall. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 14 February and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 17 February and you can read the minutes here.  To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council took place on 12 January and you can read the draft minutes here. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 5 January and you can read the minutes here. There was also an extraordinary hybrid meeting on 18 January, the minutes of which you can read here, which was almost entirely devoted to the consideration of planning application 21/03166/FULD. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford areaMarlborough areaNewbury areaThatcham areaCompton and DownlandsTheale areaWantage areaSwindon area.

News and views from across the area and beyond: please see the most recent Weekly News with Brian column.

Thursday 17 March 2022

This week’s news

Thatcham Town Council has vocally offered its support to Ukrainian refugees. Leader of the council David Lister said that “like everybody in Thatcham, my heart goes out to the Ukrainian people and all those impacted by war…I hope we, in Thatcham, can in some way help the plight of refugees and support the rebuilding of the country in the future.” As mentioned previously, another Thatcham town councillor, Jeremy Cottam, has been very active collecting donations of essential supplies. With help from the Thatcham Rotary Club, these donations have now been sent to those most in need at the Polish boarder. To find out how you still can help in this ongoing crisis, take a look at our summary of other local and national appeals.

• Discussions are still on-going regard the issue of anti-social behaviour in central Thatcham and the introduction of the Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO). Similar orders have already been issued in Newbury and Speen and would will grant police officers delegated powers to order offending groups to leave the area, being given ‘Direction to Leave’ forms advising them not to return to the area for 24 hours. Failure to comply will be considered a criminal offence and may result in being fined. There is still time to have your say on the matter as you can still complete the anonymous online survey, issued by West Berkshire Council, which is open responses until 3 April. Hard copies can also be picked up from the Town Council offices and Thatcham Library.

• A Thatcham family is continuing the campaign Kindness vs Cancer, started by Laura Kendrick, who sadly died in February this year. The campaign aims to raise £50,000 in aid of educating NHS and health staff in compassionate conversations training, an initiate which aims to improve patient care and the mental wellbeing of those receiving treatment for serious illnesses. If you would like to support the Kendrick family in their campaign, visit their crowd funding page here. For more information about Kindness vs Cancer, visit their website.

• For future dates of meetings and events organised by Thatcham Town Council, please see the Town Council Facebook page.

• For up-to-date news on the opposition to the 2,500-home plan for northeast Thatcham, please see the websites for Thatcham Town Council, Bucklebury Parish Council, Cold Ash Parish Council and Midgham Parish Council (see links at the foot of this section). You can also follow reports from the Bucklebury Says No group.

• For recent news from Hermitage see the latest Hermitage Parish Council newsletter here.

• Click here to see the latest edition of the Cold Ash Community Bulletin which this week starts with wild turkeys and ends with Jerome K Jerome.

• For the latest newsletter from Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates, local groups and events across the Thatcham area, please visit their website here.

Parking compromises

There’s an article on p23 of this week’s NWN (which you can also read here on Newbury Today) which describes a meeting at Thatcham Town Council a few weeks ago to discuss alternative parking arrangements for school runs in Thatcham. I’m not going to go into all the details of the scheme (which I’m not massively familiar with) but reading the report made me realise just how hard any discussions about changing parking or pedestrianisation arrangements are to resolve.

The main problem with parking arrangements – and even more so with pedestrianisation – is that there are several groups involved. In no case that I’ve seen have their interests been even remotely aligned. In this parking debate the dramatic personae include parents, their children, the schools, Thatcham Town Council (TTC), West Berkshire Council (WBC) and those (who might also overlap with all or any of these groups) who want to discourage the use of cars for environmental or other reasons. The article highlights differences between, in particular, the school and parents, and between WBC and TTC (which are of a different political complexion, which might have something to do with it).

Oh, I forgot – lawyers might be involved too, for there are fears that the car parking areas proposed are not of a suitable standard and may deteriorate to a point where tyres are shredded or ankles twisted, with all the litigious horror stories that these might bring. It’s also unclear who will maintain the parking areas, who will insure them, whether the scheme will be permanent or for a trial period and whether or not others who currently use the car parks will find themselves inconvenienced, so then going and parking in exactly the places (perhaps near the school) that the whole idea is designed to prevent.

The proposals by WBC are, TTC asserts, not sufficiently well thought through; but I suspect that, were a finished project to be presented by WBC, then TTC would, with justification, claim that it was having something imposed on it. Have all the parties involved discussed the issue and all its myriad likely or possible implications? I doubt it. Are there enough hours in the day for all the organisations and groups that need to discuss something in this level of detail to be able to do so? I doubt that as well.

The trouble with any project like this is that, after a lot of discussion and probably expenditure, a solution is arrived at which causes the same amount of inconvenience or irritation but to a different group of people than previously. With pedestrianisation (as the councils in Newbury and Wantage have discovered) you have an even larger cast of characters including shoppers, retailers, cyclists and the emergency services. No solution, here in Thatcham for the schools or anywhere else, is going to be perfect. Doing nothing is not an option. Pleasing everyone is impossible. The only solution that’s achievable is normally a compromise that satisfies nobody and fails to address the main issues, even if the participants can agree what these actually are. And then, whatever is decided, within a few years a new scheme will be proposed and the whole process will start all over again. Who’d be a councillor?

2,500 homes in Thatcham

The section below has been taken pretty much verbatim from the minutes of the meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council on 14 February.

Councillors Dickens and Spours attended a meeting of Thatcham Town Council (TTC) at which officers from WBC went through the process which will be used for the Local Plan. When the next draft of the Local Plan is issued, there will be the standard six-week consultation time. Under questioning, the officers didn’t have any answers on traffic or schools, which were not considered to be directly to do with planning. Whilst it was stated that all sites were options, there appeared to be emphasis put on the THA20 as if it had already been chosen. Whilst newly appointed senior officers were reportedly looking at the proposals with “fresh eyes”, questions were continually being deferred to [WBC’s Planning Policy Manager] Bryan Lyttle.

The combination of development proposals at Colthrop, Siege Cross and Henwick Park can be viewed as an alternative to THA20. District Councillor Pask is encouraging WBC to consider the Colthrop site as it is a sustainable, partially a brownfield site and has the benefit of a bridge over the railway, river and canal. Councillor Simon Pike (TTC) has noted that the new National Planning Policy Framework gives a higher status to land within the setting of the AONB which would include the land proposed for THA20.

It was also noted that it was EU regulations which determined the DEPZ. If the DEPZ was based on National Policy there could be more flexibility with the Grazeley site. However, the MOD has approved the EU regulations.

Note: this subject has been covered many times in previous editions of this column and doubtless will be again. See the archive sections below and search for “2,500”.

Community notices

• A new technology ‘Befriend Bus’ with a laptop, screen and speakers will visit older residents in Thatcham and Newbury to give them tech support. For more details contact Handybus Coordinator Paul Wilding on 01635 37111 or email handybus@vcwb.org.uk.

• Thatcham Youth are running free activities this Easter holiday including sports activities and reptile handling. It is being held at the Moorside Community Centre and please note some event require advance booking.

• Please drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at Thatcham Library during its opening hours. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to its website.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

• Sat 19 Mar Sustainable Living Market 10.30am to 1pm, Thatcham Catholic Hall.

• Sat 19 Mar Barfield Handbell Ringers Concert 3pm St Mary’s Church. Tickets cost £6 (£5 concessions) from Picture This on the High Street, or on the door.

Sun 20 Mar Bird Walk and Discovery 2pm to 3pm, Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre.

Sun 20 Mar Muddy Church Family Event 2pm to 3.30pm, Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre.

Fri 25 Mar Birds and a Brew: Spring Migrants 10am to noon, Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre.

Sat 26 Mar Live Semi-Final of Swan Talent Show 8pm, The Swan, Thatcham.

Thur 14 Apr Easter Family Fun Day 10am to 3pm, Moorside Community Centre. Organised by Thatcham Youth.

• Regular events

• Sport in Mind run free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club run Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

Thatcham Rugby Club host Safe Space: Men’s Mental Health evenings on the last Thursday of each month from 9.15pm to 10pm. This months will take place on the  31 March.

• The Kings Head pub, Thatcham is hosting free snooker/pool tables, every Wednesday from 5pm to closing time.

• Sing Louder Choir childrens choir meets 6pm to 7pm and the community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please see the organiser’s Facebook page for further updates.

• RMD Adventure Learning‘s youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, is for over 13s on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

• The Youth Café at Glendale Church, Thatcham is open to all secondary school pupils on Fridays between 6.30pm to 8pm.

United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Glendale Church also hosts a Board Games Night on the first Thursday of each month from 7pm to 10pm, entry cost £1 per person. The next one will be 7 April.

• Thatcham Town Football ClubWednesday Quiz Night happen once a month with the next quiz to be held on 16 March. Teams up to 6 people.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. (also here)

 Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Sustainable Living Markets in Thatcham and Newbury – see their Facebook page for dates.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 29 November and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these. To see the dates and agendas for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 1 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: plans to celebrate the jubilee; community emergency plans; the Great British Spring Clean; update regarding Speed Indicator Device (SID);  planning matters; planning for parking near the school; jubilee plans; speeding; a proposed new map; the parish plan; planning matters; possible devolution from WBC; a report from ward member Dominic Boeck; and the Village Hall. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 22 February and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: speeding; the jubilee picnic; a presentation from Greenham Trust; the NDP; the Wildlife Allotment Garden; checking that orange planning notices had been displayed at the relevant property; and other planning matters. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 14 February and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the jubilee; planning matters; repairs and inspections around the parish; financial matters;’ the Avenue of Oaks; the annual assembly (7.45 on Thursday 5 May in the Victory Room); The Meadows and Hockett Field; defibrillators; speeding; and recycling.  To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 24 January and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 20 January and you can read the minutes here.  To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council took place on 12 January and you can read the draft minutes here. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 5 January and you can read the minutes here. There was also an extraordinary hybrid meeting on 18 January, the minutes of which you can read here, which was almost entirely devoted to the consideration of planning application 21/03166/FULD. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

Thursday 10 March 2022

This week’s news

• As conflict in Ukraine continues, there has been a sustained outpouring of local support to help those worst affected. Thatcham Town Councillor Jeremy Cottam requests donations such as medical items, sanitary products, clothes and toiletries to send to Ukrainian refugees. Please drop off items any time from Monday to Friday between 8.30am and 5.30pm to the 500 Logistics office at Unit 9, Rivermead Business Park. Here is our summary of other local and national appeals to find ways how you can help.

• Huge congratulation to Dee Gunning and Trudy Churcher, two carers from Thatcham, who have organised ‘The Miles of Smiles’ 20k sponsored walk from Hungerford to Thatcham, along the Kennet and Avon Canal in aid of the MND Association which supports those with Motoneuron Disease, including Colin Wilkins a client of the carers. The walk will take place on the 22 May. If you would like to support their cause, please make a donation here. If you are interested in how you can get involved in similar initiatives yourself, join the Walk 4 MND Facebook group.

Bowling Green Road and Henwick Lane will be closed between 9.30am and 3.30pm on 14 and 15 March so BT can safely access their underground network. The road closure will be between its junctions with Gordon Road and an alternative route is via Gordon Road.

* The Volunteer Centre West Berkshire are currently recruiting for six new volunteer roles including: a Parental Support Volunteer; Building Guide; Internet Shopping Volunteer; Fundraiser; Backroom Sorter and Lesson Volunteer. If any of these positions sound interesting to you, please e-mail vbase@vcwb.org.uk for more info or check out their FaceBook page, which is also regularly updated with new volunteering opportunities.

• Thatcham Youth are running free activities this Easter holiday including sports activities and reptile handling.

• For future dates of meetings and events organised by Thatcham Town Council, please see the Town Council Facebook page.

• For up-to-date news on the opposition to the 2,500-home plan for northeast Thatcham, please see the websites for Thatcham Town Council, Bucklebury Parish Council, Cold Ash Parish Council and Midgham Parish Council (see links at the foot of this section). You can also follow reports from the Bucklebury Says No group.

• For recent news from Hermitage see the latest Hermitage Parish Council newsletter here.

• Click here to see the latest edition of the Cold Ash Community Bulletin which this week starts with goats and ends with success unexpected.

• For the latest newsletter from Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates, local groups and events across the Thatcham area, please visit their website here.

Anti-social behaviour in Thatcham

There is still time for local residents, businesses, agencies and visitors to have their say on the proposal to create new Public Spaces Protection Order to tackle anti-social behaviour in central Thatcham.  

PSPOs allow councils to place restrictions and requirements on certain behaviours in an area, to make sure we can all use and enjoy public spaces, safe from anti-social behaviour. Any person behaving in a manner that has caused, or is likely to cause, nuisance, harassment, alarm or distress must leave the restricted area when requested to do so by an authorised officer for a specified time, and not return to that area for a period not exceeding 24 hours.

Thatcham’s proposed PSPO ‘Restricted Area’ is pretty large from the Memorial Field down to the A4 Bath Road to the High Street, down Green Lane to the junction with Lower Way/Church Gate, Station Road to Niddegen Close along public footpath to Station Road to the junction with The Moors, up to Chapel Street becoming Bath Road, bordering Gilbert Court to Brownsfield Road. It includes Memorial Field, Thatcham Health Centre, Thatcham library, Clock Tower, Memorial Hall, War Memorial, Crown Mead, St Marys Church, High Street, The Broadway and the Kingsland Centre.

The proposal is if a group is behaving anti-socially within this restricted area they would be asked to leave the area by the police officers and given ‘Direction to Leave’ forms advising them not to return to the area for 24 hours. If they don’t comply they will have committed a criminal offence and may be fined.

Please respond to this brief, anonymous online survey from Thatcham Town Council, and West Berkshire Council are continuing to ask for responses to an online survey by 3 April. Hard copies can also be picked up from the Town Council offices and Thatcham Library.

The Pinchington Phoenix

There’s recently been some controversy surrounding the possible uses of the elegant Pinchington Hall. “This was lovingly and faithfully restored,” the managers Phoenix Lets told Penny Post, “and is now a six-bedroom mansion with pretty grounds and woodland.  Phoenix Lets took on the property in February 2020 with a view to using it for a variety of purposes such as corporate events, yoga retreats, private hire for families, wine tasting, cookery demonstrations, art clubs and exhibitions.”

The problem appears to be that the neighbours feel that some of the events that have taken place or which might do in the future would cause noise and disturbance. I’m not taking sides on this as I don’t know enough about the issues. I am, however, aware that the town councillors for the ward (two of whom I spoke to about this on 10 March) have acted in support of concerns raised by their residents (who elect them). I’m also aware that the building needs to turn a profit for the owners and managers. In order to try to address these concerns, Phoenix Lets has announced that it will be holding an open day on a date TBC in April “for the public to view the Hall and bring their ideas for its use.” I imagine that invitations will also be extended to the ward councillors and to the neighbours.

The problem with these issues is finding some common ground. The more complaints and accusations that fly around, the harder it is for either side to trust the other. The councillors’ position appears to be that events which involve evening entertainment and music would be problematic but that the kind of activities described by Phoenix Lets above would seem not to be. Whether this alone will make the venture sustainable is another matter. If nothing can be planned without fear of complaints and if the neighbours are tensely waiting for something that might confirm their fears then no one’s interests seem to be well served. Hopefully an event such as that planned will, as the politicians are fond os saying, help to draw a line, start a fresh page and all the other clichés that sometimes have the habit of coming true.

There’s another possibility, of course. Buildings need to be used to stay healthy. If it were to remain empty and untenanted, worse problems might follow than the occasional party. One option that might follow would be to develop the site. You could probably fit quite a few homes there. I’d bet the the local councillors would have a few complaints then. Hopefully this won’t happen as this is a lovely building which could produce some valuable benefits for the community. When the open day details are announced, we’ll publicise this. Go along, have a look round, see what’s proposed and make your comments. Hopefully a compromise can be reached which can work for everyone involved.

Community notices

Thatcham Town Harriers FC is still looking for any locals to fulfil its vacant voluntary Head Treasure role. Click here for details.

• West Berks Action for Refugees is still asking for donations for refugees who are in temporary accommodation here awaiting their asylum claim hearings. Please see WBAR’s Facebook page for details.

• A new technology ‘Befriend Bus’ with a laptop, screen and speakers will visit older residents in Thatcham and Newbury to give them tech support. For more details contact Handybus Coordinator Paul Wilding on 01635 37111 or email handybus@vcwb.org.uk.

• Thatcham Youth are running free activities this Easter holiday including sports activities and reptile handling.

• Please drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at Thatcham Library during its opening hours. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to its website.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Wed 16 Mar Quiz Night 7pm Thatcham Town Football Club.

• Sat 19 Mar Sustainable Living Market 10.30am to 1pm Thatcham Catholic Hall.

• Sat 19 Mar Barfield Handbell Ringers Concert 3pm St Mary’s Church. Tickets cost £6 (£5 concessions) from Picture This on the High Street, or on the door.

Sun 20 Mar Bird Walk and Discovery 2pm to 3pm Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre.

Sun 20 Mar Muddy Church Family Event 2pm to 3.30pm Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre.

Fri 25 Mar Birds and a Brew: Spring Migrants 10am to noon Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre.

Sat 26 Mar Live Semi-Final of Swan Talent Show 8pm The Swan, Thatcham.

• Regular events

 Sport in Mind run free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club run Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

Thatcham Rugby Club host Safe Space: Men’s Mental Health evenings on the last Thursday of each month from 9.15pm to 10pm. This months will take place on the  31 March.

• The Kings Head pub, Thatcham is hosting free snooker/pool tables, every Wednesday from 3pm to closing time at 10pm.

• Sing Louder Choir childrens choir is meeting 6pm  to 7pm and the  community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm. Located at Frank Hutchins Hall on Thursdays. Please see the organiser’s Facebook page for further updates.

• RMD Adventure Learning‘s youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, is for over 13s on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

• The Youth Café at Glendale Church, Thatcham is open to all secondary school pupils on Fridays between 6.30pm to 8pm.

United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Glendale Church also hosts a Board Games Night on the first Thursday of each month from 7pm to 10pm, entry cost £1 per person. The next one will be 7 April.

• Thatcham Town Football Club Wednesday Quiz Night happen once a month with the next quiz to be held on 16 March. Teams up to 6 people.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. (also here)

• Baby and Toddler Group on Wednesday from 10.30am till noon at St Mary’s Church, Thatcham. Baby Café is open every Tuesday from 10.30am to noon at Old Bluecoat School, Thatcham.

 Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Sustainable Living Markets in Thatcham and Newbury – see their Facebook page for dates.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 29 November and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these. To see the dates and agendas for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 1 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: plans to celebrate the jubilee; community emergency plans; the Great British Spring Clean; update regarding Speed Indicator Device (SID);  planning matters; planning for parking near the school; jubilee plans; speeding; a proposed new map; the parish plan; planning matters; possible devolution from WBC; a report from ward member Dominic Boeck; and the Village Hall. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 22 February and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: speeding; the jubilee picnic; a presentation from Greenham Trust; the NDP; the Wildlife Allotment Garden; checking that orange planning notices had been displayed at the relevant property; and other planning matters. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 24 January and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 20 January and you can read the minutes here.  To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council took place on 12 January and you can read the draft minutes here. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 10 January and you can read the minutes here. This was followed an hour later by an extraordinary virtual meeting, the minutes of which you can read hereTo see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 5 January and you can read the minutes here. There was also an extraordinary hybrid meeting on 18 January, the minutes of which you can read here, which was almost entirely devoted to the consideration of planning application 21/03166/FULD. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford areaMarlborough areaNewbury areaThatcham areaCompton and DownlandsTheale areaWantage areaSwindon area.

News and views from across the area and beyond: please see the most recent Weekly News with Brian column.

Thursday 3 March 2022

This week’s news

• Thatcham Town Council,and West Berkshire Council are asking for responses to an online survey to consider a new Public Spaces Protection Order for Thatcham. PSPOs allow councils to place restrictions and requirements on certain behaviours in an area, to make sure we can all use and enjoy public spaces, safe from anti-social behaviour. They can be used to protect the public from behaviour that is having, or is likely to have, a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the area. As a correspondent of ours from Thatcham often experiences underlying issues regarding Thatcham’s Broadway, input would be greatly appreciated and the survey takes no time at all to complete. Hard copies of the survey can also be picked up from the Town Council offices and Thatcham Library. Responses to the survey must be submitted by 3 April.

• On Saturday 19 March at St Mary’s Church, the Barfield Handbell Ringers are performing a concert in memory of Bill Butler who passed away in October 2021. Bill founded Barfield in 1965 and was their musical director for 50 years. The concert starts at 3pm and tickets cost £6 (£5 concessions) and can be bought at Picture This on the High Street, or on the door.

• As reported here by Newbury Today, Laura Farris MP has taken a trip to Thatcham Research to discuss the work the company is doing on Zero-Emission Vehicles with the Department of Transportation. In hopes to future-proof Thatcham and its surrounding areas, the team at the Research facility invited the MP to talk about the new generation of cars that include hydrogen, electric and driverless.

Thatcham Town Harriers FC is looking for any locals who may be able to help the grassroots football club fulfil its vacant voluntary Head Treasure role. Click here for details.

• In response to the negative feedback over the last couple of months of concerns that the venue will create a hub for “amplified music and generally rowdy behaviour” Pinchington Hall in Crookham plans to hold an open day in early April to portray their side of the picture themselves. After the feud regarding the hall becoming a wedding venue which resulted in a lost premises licence, this is an attempt to prove the value of the venue to local residents. See more on Newbury Today here.

• Francis Bailey’s Year 6 pupils had a visit from the historical author, comedian and presenter, Iszi Lawrence, last week. The students were treated to an animated assembly and workshop about the homefront, WWII pilots and suffragettes. (I wish history lessons had been that dynamic when I was at school.)

• There has been a considerable outpouring of support for Ukraine. Here is our summary of local and national appeals to support.

• The popular coffee mornings at the United Reformed Church have restarted after a long two years of absence. Minister John Lee announced that the meetings are restarting this week every Tuesday from 10 till midday. The space is perfect to socialise and enjoy a coffee.

• For future dates of meetings and events organised by Thatcham Town Council, please see the Winter 2021 newsletter and the Town Council Facebook page.

• For up-to-date news on the opposition to the 2,500-home plan for northeast Thatcham, please see the websites for Thatcham Town Council, Bucklebury Parish Council, Cold Ash Parish Council and Midgham Parish Council (see links at the foot of this section). You can also click here for the latest updates from the Bucklebury Says No group. See also the separate sections below (this has been covered many times and, I sense, will be again).

• Hermitage Parish Council news update for February 2022 is now available online and includes; plans for how to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, dates for Annual Parish Assembly, new bus shelter designs, and much more.

• Click here to see the latest edition of the Cold Ash Community Bulletin which this week starts with  looking west and ends with working hard.

• The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton has published its February 2022 newsletter, which covers updates, local groups and events across the Thatcham area.

Community notices

• Local grassroots football club Thatcham Town Harriers are still in need of a volunteer treasurer. The club need to find a replacement, otherwise Harriers will be forced by the FA to fold. Please see the AGM agenda and club website for further details.

• West Berks Action for Refugees is asking for donations for refugees who are in temporary accommodation here awaiting their asylum claim hearings. Please see WBAR’s Facebook page for details.

• A new technology bus for older residents in Thatcham and Newbury is launching in March. The Befriend Bus will be kitted out with a laptop, screen and speakers, and will drive out to residents living in sheltered housing, social housing developments and other areas submitted through referrals. For more details contact Handybus Coordinator Paul Wilding on 01635 37111 or email handybus@vcwb.org.uk.

• Thatcham Youth is running a free six week mental health course in March for 9 to 16 year olds. To sign up or ask any questions, please email Hannah at hannah.squires@thatchamyouth.org.uk.

Churches Together of Thatcham are running a free six week Bereavement Course starting from Wednesday 2 March.

• Thatcham Town FC is raising funds for Newbury Cancer Care by selling framed pictures of their 2021-22 season team photo for £5. Orders can be made at the clubhouse bar with Karen and further details are on facebook.

• Please drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at Thatcham Library during its opening hours. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to its website.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Fri 4 Mar Community Café 10am to noon Fisher Room in Cold Ash Church.

• Fri 4 Mar Live Music – Gemma Doyle 8pm The Swan, Thatcham.

Sat 5 Mar Community Seed Swap 2pm to 4pm Acland Memorial Hall, Cold Ash.

• Sat 5 Mar Roller Disco Night 5pm to 7.45pm Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham.

• Wed 9 Mar Open Morning Bucklebury C of E Primary School.

• Thu 10 Mar Mental Health Support Parent Training 7pm Main Hall, Kennet School, Thatcham.

Wed 16 Mar Quiz Night 7pm Thatcham Town Football Club.

• Sat 19 Mar Sustainable Living Market 10.30am to 1pm Thatcham Catholic Hall.

Sun 20 Mar Bird Walk and Discovery 2pm to 3pm Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre.

Sun 20 Mar Muddy Church Family Event 2pm to 3.30pm Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre.

Fri 25 Mar Birds and a Brew: Spring Migrants 10am to noon Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre.

Sat 26 Mar Live Semi-Final of Swan Talent Show 8pm The Swan, Thatcham.

• Regular events

• Sport in Mind run free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club host Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham also on Wednesdays, which start at 7pm.

Thatcham Rugby Club hosts Safe Space: Men’s Mental Health evenings on the last Thursday of each month from 9.15pm to 10pm. A chance to speak to new people and hopefully feel more connected to the community. It’s not therapy, just a place to be.

• The Kings Head pub in Thatcham is open for all to enjoy free snooker/pool tables, every Wednesday from 3pm till the pub’s closing time.

• Sing Louder Choir community choirs meet on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall with a children choir 6pm to 7pm  community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm. Please see the organiser’s Facebook page for further updates.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.

• RMD Adventure Learning‘s youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, is for over 13s on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

 Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• The Youth Café at Glendale Church, Thatcham is open to all secondary school pupils on Fridays between 6.30pm to 8pm.

• Glendale Church also hosts a Board Games Night on the first Thursday of each month from 7pm to 10pm, entry cost £1 per person.

• Thatcham Town Football Club Wednesday Quiz Night happen once a month with the next quiz to be held on 16 March. Teams up to 6 people.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2.30pm to 4.30pm. More information here.

Sustainable Living Markets in Thatcham and Newbury – see their Facebook page for dates.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Baby and Toddler Group on Wednesday from 10.30am till noon at St Mary’s Church, Thatcham. Baby Café is open every Tuesday from 10.30am to noon at Old Bluecoat School, Thatcham.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 29 November and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these. To see the dates and agendas for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 8 February and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included the jubilee; dog waste; planning matters; financial matters; the annual parish meeting; a proposed village competition; and committee reports. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 1 February and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: an unprepared telegraph pole; street name plates (WBC has conceded on this one); parking near the school; jubilee plans; speeding; a proposed new map; the parish plan; planning matters; possible devolution from WBC; a report from ward member Dominic Boeck; and the Village Hall. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 20 January and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; financial matters; the burial ground; speeding; playground inspections; molehills on the Recreation Ground; the Village Hall; defibrillators; the jubilee; support for the proposal from the Newbury and District Agricultural Association to amend its constitution; and councillor training. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 24 January and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; public sessions explained; a report from ward member Graham Park, mainly on the subject of the proposed 2,500 homes in north east Thatcham; a discussion about whether MPC should join the opposition group of parishes to the above-mentioned plan, it eventually being agreed by four votes to one to do so; and financial matters. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council took place on 12 January and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: the parish’s power supply; a report from Yattendon Estate; planning matters; delegated powers, playground facilities; the Club Room; the community orchard; the 2022 Yattendon fête on Saturday 4 June; financial matters; and the jubilee. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 10 January and you can read the minutes here. This was followed an hour later by an extraordinary virtual meeting, the minutes of which you can read hereTo see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 5 January and you can read the minutes here. There was also an extraordinary hybrid meeting on 18 January, the minutes of which you can read here, which was almost entirely devoted to the consideration of planning application 21/03166/FULD. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

Thursday 24 February 2022

This week’s news

• West Berkshire doesn’t tend to host many international sport matches, however this Saturday Thatcham Town FC will face-off against island-side Guernsey FC. The Kingfishers’ home fixture will hopefully see them climb back up the Isthmian South Central league (step four of non-league football), but they face a Guernsey side they drew 2-2 to in early November 2021. Kick-off starts at the slightly earlier than usual time of 12.45pm on 26 February, with tickets available ‘on the gate’ at Stacatruc Stadium (formerly Waterside Park), Thatcham.

• Thatcham Litter Pickers are planning their first litter pick of 2022 this Saturday 27 February, meeting at 10am at The Moorside Community Centre on Kennet Heath. For more details please contact thatchamlitterpickers@gmail.com.

• This week Thatcham Rugby Club is launching new Safe Space: Men’s Mental Health evenings to be held on the last Thursday of each month between 9.15pm and 10pm. The evenings are focused on welcoming any locals in, so they can speak to new people and hopefully feel more connected to the community. It’s not therapy, just a place to be.

Sovereign Housing Association has supported the launch of a new technology bus for older residents in Newbury and Thatcham. It has given £3,000 from its community fund with The Good Exchange to Volunteer Centre West Berkshire (VCWB) and Age Concern Newbury and District’s ‘Befriend and Activate Partnership’. When it launches in March, Befriend Bus, kitted out with a laptop, screen and speakers, will drive out to residents living in sheltered housing, social housing developments and other areas submitted through referrals in Newbury and Thatcham. The Befriend Bus co-ordinator will help them connect with their loved ones using FaceTime, which they can do from the comfort of the bus or their home. The co-ordinator will also encourage social interaction with fellow residents and make arrangements for them to become regular shopping trip passengers. The bus plans to do weekly visits and hopes to support around 50 people in the community.

• Our congratulations to all involved in the locally produced short film ‘Our impact – Geoff and Shaun’s story‘ for becoming finalists in the Charity Film Awards. The film was made for Prior’s Court in Hermitage, which supports young people between 5 and 25 years old with complex autism. Watch and vote for the film via smileymovement.org and for further information please see Newbury Today.

• Thatcham Town councillors Mark Lillicrop (Liberal Democrats, Thatcham West) and Paul Field (Independent, Thatcham Central) remained positive about the town council’s new approach to council surgeries, which is currently trialling a transfer to online meet and greets. Despite this optimism the surgery had zero attendees, with Mr Lillicrop explaining that “We will discuss it again; there are other considerations to be made, like publicising it, maybe in a way that’ll attract an online audience.” As reported by Newbury Today, Thatcham Town council will press on with online meetings and further information on March’s online council surgery will be published in the council’s upcoming newsletter.

• More from Thatcham Town council, as they are asking for responses to an online survey to consider a new Public Spaces Protection Order for Thatcham. Hard copies of the survey can also be accessed from the Town Council offices and Thatcham Library. Responses to the survey must be submitted by 3 April.

Thatcham Library will receive future refurbishments and new disabled access toilets, as planning permissions were approved by West Berkshire Council on 4 February. The renovation work must be started by developers within the next three years, with current plans to extend the building and add a new entrance. More information can be found on Newbury Today, but only if you are a Iliffe Media subscriber as they have put the article behind a pay-wall…

• Recent storms and extreme winds have caused irreparable damage to local buildings and flora. Bucklebury CoE Primary School sadly lost their playground tree to Storm Eunice, which ripped the tree in half… Hopefully the school will be able to re-plant a new tree in the near future to provide pupils with a pleasant green space to enjoy.

• For future dates of meetings and events organised by Thatcham Town Council, please see the Winter 2021 newsletter and the Town Council Facebook page.

• For up-to-date news on the opposition to the 2,500-home plan for northeast Thatcham, please see the websites for Thatcham Town Council, Bucklebury Parish Council, Cold Ash Parish Council and Midgham Parish Council (see links at the foot of this section). You can also click here for the latest updates from the Bucklebury Says No group. See also the separate sections below (this has been covered many times and, I sense, will be again).

• Click here for information about lateral flow tests available in West Berkshire.

• Hermitage Parish Council news update for February 2022 is now available online and includes; plans for how to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, dates for Annual Parish Assembly, new bus shelter designs, and much more.

• Click here to see the latest edition of the Cold Ash Community Bulletin which this week starts with a fallen oak tree and ends with Charles Darwin.

• The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton has published its February 2022 newsletter, which covers updates, local groups and events across the Thatcham area.

Community notices

• Local grassroots football club Thatcham Town Harriers are still in need of a volunteer treasurer. The club need to find a replacement, otherwise Harriers will be forced by the FA to fold. Please see the AGM agenda and club website for further details.

• West Berks Action for Refugees is asking for clothes, toiletries, games and musical instrument donations for refugees who are in temporary accommodation here awaiting their asylum claim hearings. Please see WBAR’s Facebook page for details.

• Jenny and Tom at Thatcham Refillable sell laundry, home and personal cleaning products in refillable containers at a range of venues in the Thatcham and Newbury areas and are looking for suggestions for more events to trade at.

• Charitable clothing donations are requested by Bucklebury C of E Primary School as Bag 2 School will be collecting on Thursday 3 March. Please see the school’s 4 February newsletter for further details.

• Thatcham Youth is running a free six week mental health course in March for 9 to 16 year olds. To sign up or ask any questions, please email Hannah at hannah.squires@thatchamyouth.org.uk.

Churches Together of Thatcham are running a free six week Bereavement Course starting from Wednesday 2 March.

• Thatcham Town FC is raising funds for Newbury Cancer Care by selling framed pictures of their 2021-22 season team photo for £5. Orders can be made at the clubhouse bar with Karen and further details are on facebook.

Creative talent of local residents is still being asked upon by Thatcham Town Council to help create the Thatcham Legacy Project 2022 of 45 different scenes depicting key events that have happened in the UK and Commonwealth over the last 70 years to commemorate the Queen’s upcoming Platinum Jubilee.

• Please drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at Thatcham Library during its opening hours. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to its website.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Fri 25 Feb Birds and a Brew with BBOWT 10am to noon Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre.

Fri 25 Feb Live Music – The Cover Brothers 8pm The Kings Head, Thatcham.

• Sat 26 Feb Charity Dog Walk 10.30am The Rowbarge, Woolhampton.

Sat 26 Feb Thatcham vs Guernsey FC 12.45pm Thatcham Town Football Club.

• Sat 26 Feb Live Semi-Final of Swan Talent Show 8pm The Swan, Thatcham.

Sun 27 Feb Muddy Church Family Event 2pm to 3.30pm Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre.

• Mon 28 Feb ‘The Legend of Jack of Newbury’ Talk 7.15pm Sixth Form Common Room, Kennet School, Thatcham.

Tue 1 Mar Coffee Morning 10.30am to noon Frilsham Club Room, RG18 9XQ.

Fri 4 Mar Community Café 10am to noon Fisher Room in Cold Ash Church.

• Fri 4 Mar Live Music – Gemma Doyle 8pm The Swan, Thatcham.

Sat 5 Mar Community Seed Swap 2pm to 4pm Acland Memorial Hall, Cold Ash.

• Sat 5 Mar Roller Disco Night 5pm to 7.45pm Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham.

• Wed 9 Mar Open Morning Bucklebury C of E Primary School.

• Thu 10 Mar Mental Health Support Parent Training 7pm Main Hall, Kennet School, Thatcham.

Wed 16 Mar Quiz Night 7pm Thatcham Town Football Club.

• Sat 19 Mar Sustainable Living Market 10.30am to 1pm Thatcham Catholic Hall.

Sun 20 Mar Bird Walk and Discovery 2pm to 3pm Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre.

Sun 20 Mar Muddy Church Family Event 2pm to 3.30pm Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre.

Fri 25 Mar Birds and a Brew: Spring Migrants 10am to noon Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre.

Sat 26 Mar Live Semi-Final of Swan Talent Show 8pm The Swan, Thatcham.

• Regular events

• Sport in Mind run free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club host Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham also on Wednesdays, which start at 7pm.

Thatcham Rugby Club’s new Safe Space: Men’s Mental Health evenings are held on the last Thursday of each month between 9.15pm and 10pm. The evenings are focused on welcoming any locals in, so they can speak to new people and hopefully feel more connected to the community. It’s not therapy, just a place to be.

• The Kings Head pub in Thatcham is open for all to enjoy free snooker/pool tables, every Wednesday from 3pm till the pub’s closing time.

• Sing Louder Choir community choirs meet on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall with a children choir 6pm to 7pm  community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm. Please see the organiser’s Facebook page for further updates.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.

• RMD Adventure Learning‘s youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, is for over 13s on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

 Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• The Youth Café at Glendale Church, Thatcham is open to all secondary school pupils on Fridays between 6.30pm to 8pm.

• Glendale Church also hosts a Board Games Night on the first Thursday of each month from 7pm to 10pm, entry cost £1 per person.

• Thatcham Town Football Club Wednesday Quiz Night happen once a month with the next quiz to be held on 16 March. Teams up to 6 people.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2.30pm to 4.30pm. More information here.

Sustainable Living Markets in Thatcham & Newbury – see their Facebook page for dates.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Baby and Toddler Group on Wednesday from 10.30am till noon at St Mary’s Church, Thatcham. Baby Café is open every Tuesday from 10.30am to noon at Old Bluecoat School, Thatcham.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 29 November and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these. To see the dates and agendas for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 8 February and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included the jubilee; dog waste; planning matters; financial matters; the annual parish meeting; a proposed village competition; and committee reports. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 1 February and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: an unprepared telegraph pole; street name plates (WBC has conceded on this one); parking near the school; jubilee plans; speeding; a proposed new map; the parish plan; planning matters; possible devolution from WBC; a report from ward member Dominic Boeck; and the Village Hall. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 20 January and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; financial matters; the burial ground; speeding; playground inspections; molehills on the Recreation Ground; the Village Hall; defibrillators; the jubilee; support for the proposal from the Newbury and District Agricultural Association to amend its constitution; and councillor training. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 24 January and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; public sessions explained; a report from ward member Graham Park, mainly on the subject of the proposed 2,500 homes in north east Thatcham; a discussion about whether MPC should join the opposition group of parishes to the above-mentioned plan, it eventually being agreed by four votes to one to do so; and financial matters. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council took place on 12 January and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: the parish’s power supply; a report from Yattendon Estate; planning matters; delegated powers, playground facilities; the Club Room; the community orchard; the 2022 Yattendon fête on Saturday 4 June; financial matters; and the jubilee. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 10 January and you can read the minutes here. This was followed an hour later by an extraordinary virtual meeting, the minutes of which you can read hereTo see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 5 January and you can read the minutes here. There was also an extraordinary hybrid meeting on 18 January, the minutes of which you can read here, which was almost entirely devoted to the consideration of planning application 21/03166/FULD. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

Thursday 17 February 2022

This week’s news

• Due to the storm forecast for Friday, this week’s Thatcham market will not be happening. Otherwise you might get a tornado of tomatoes in the Broadway.

Thatcham Litter Pickers have joined Surfers Against Sewage and signed up to the Plastic Free Communities network. They are planning their first litter pick of 2022 on Saturday 27 February, meeting at 10am at The Moorside Community Centre on Kennet Heath. For more details please contact thatchamlitterpickers@gmail.com.

• A recent (3.20pm on 17 February) announcement from GWR says that the red warning concerning storm Eunice will lead to “significant changes to rail services” from 4am on Friday. This is expected to last throughout the day and will result in some cancelled services. Passengers are advised to consult Journey Check before setting out. GWR is also accepting rail tickets booked for Friday 18 February for travel over the weekend or on Monday and will issue full refunds to anyone choosing not to travel at all. GWR will also need to check for any damage before re-opening so there could therefore be further delays and changes to services over the weekend.

Crookham Hill road in Thatcham will be closed approximately 100 meters north of its Burys Bank Road junction up to the junction with Old Thornford Road, between 21 and 24 February from 9am to 4.30pm. Further details on the road closure can be found on One.Network and Thatcham Town Council website.

• Thatcham Town FC is raising funds for Newbury Cancer Care by selling framed pictures of their 2021-22 season team photo. Each order costs £5, which will include an A4 size print of the team photo which is encased inside a black bordered picture frame. Orders can be made at the clubhouse bar with Karen and further details, plus a sneak peak of the photo, have been published on Facebook.

• More arts news, as Kennet School tweeted out photos displaying their pupil’s House Art competition entries, with various different mediums and media used to represent a theme designated to their age groups. Congratulations to St. David house for winning the competition and to all pupils for their fantastic artwork.

• Jenny and Tom at Thatcham Refillable sell laundry, home and personal cleaning products in refillable containers at a range of venues in the Thatcham and Newbury areas and are looking for suggestions for more events to trade at.

• The next charity countryside dog walk at The Rowbarge Pub in Woolhampton scheduled for Saturday 26 February, starting at 10.30am. There was a great turnout for their January countryside walk which raised funds for National Animal Welfare Trust Berkshire in Great Shefford.

• Thatcham-based Sunday League football team Paggies Bar FC are through to the Berks & Bucks FA Sunday Cup final, thanks to a 3-2 home win at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground on 13 February. Former Thatcham Town FC attacker Brad Pagliaroli scored a hat-trick of goals to edge passed their opponents LA Micro. The match was enjoyed by many spectators, as seen in this photo via Twitter, who braved the wind and rain that came Thatcham’s way last weekend. The Sunday League side also received a good luck message from ex-professional striker Peter Crouch, who wishes them all the best of luck ahead of the final on March 13. Congratulations from all of us at Penny Post and good luck in the final.

• For future dates of meetings and events organised by Thatcham Town Council, please see the Winter 2021 newsletter and the Town Council Facebook page.

• For up-to-date news on the opposition to the 2,500-home plan for northeast Thatcham, please see the websites for Thatcham Town Council, Bucklebury Parish Council, Cold Ash Parish Council and Midgham Parish Council (see links at the foot of this section). You can also click here for the latest updates from the Bucklebury Says No group. See also the separate sections below (this has been covered many times and, I sense, will be again).

• Click here for information about lateral flow tests available in West Berkshire.

Hermitage Parish Council news update for February 2022 is now available online and includes; plans for how to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, dates for Annual Parish Assembly, new bus shelter designs, and much more.

• Click here to see the latest edition of the Cold Ash Community Bulletin which this week starts with a rainbow and ends with Einstein.

• The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton has published its February 2022 newsletter, which covers updates, local groups and events across the Thatcham area.

Thatcham’s 2%

I’ve recently been given a copy of WBC’s five-year investment plan which lists all the capital expenditure which the council plans to make until the end of the 2026/27 financial year. With 2,500 homes planned and a widely-accepted infrastructure deficit in the town, I thought I’d take a quick look to see how many projects in the town were in the pipeline. There are 216 items in all: some of these are for things that will benefit the district as a whole but there are a number which are specific to one project in one place. They’re not sorted geographically so the only way was to look for instance of the word “Thatcham” which should, I reasoned, flush most of them out.

The word “Thatcham” appears seven times, referring to five different items. I also spotted one relating to the Kennet Leisure Centre, so that makes six. There’s £125,000 for the Discovery Centre (item 83), £1.2m for the Library (156), £595,000 for the expansion of Thatcham Park’s nursery facilities (185), £14,000 for improvements to the Thatcham Reedbeds (198), 2.6m for flood defence schemes in North Thatcham (214) and £200,000 for refurbishment of the Kennet Leisure Centre (30). These total about £4.75m, about 2% of a total expenditure of £220.36m. Newbury, by contrast, has about £13m allocated (about 6%). I don’t know if this is a fair reflection of WBC’s feelings about the respective needs of each town.

Clearly until the 2,500-home plan is approved (if it is) no capital expenditure, such as for half the cost of the new secondary school, can be allocated. Residents and councillors in Thatcham, however, may wonder whether that’s it as far as addressing any deficit is concerned. Certainly it will be no surprise that there’s nothing in there about a bridge at the railway station, which WBC claims would not be required even if the 2500-home plan proceeds. I suspect, though, that any motorist who uses the level crossing every day for a week would be comfortably able to read through all 216 items on the WBC’s CapEx list while they were waiting in the queue. Other ways of passing the time there do exist, of course.

Community notices

West Berks Action for Refugees is asking for clothes, toiletries, games and musical instrument donations for refugees who are in temporary accommodation here awaiting their asylum claim hearings. Please see WBAR’s Facebook page for details of when and where donations can be made.

• Spurcroft Primary School in Thatcham request new or used (but still in good condition) football boots to be donated to the school. Sizes of 3 or 4 (UK Adult) are preferred and any donations can be dropped-off at the school office near the school’s entrance. Please see Spurcroft’s 11 February newsletter for further information on how to help.

• Charitable clothing donations can be made by Bucklebury C of E Primary School pupils and parents, as Bag 2 School will be collecting all donations at 8.40am on Thursday 3 March. Please see the school’s 4 February newsletter for further details.

• Thatcham Youth are running a free six week mental health course in March for 9 to 16 year olds. To sign up or ask any questions, please email Hannah at hannah.squires@thatchamyouth.org.uk.

• More free courses are open for interested applicants, with a five week Marketing & Sales Online Masterclass beginning on Tuesday 1 March and a six week Bereavement Course starting from Wednesday 2 March.

• Local grassroots football club Thatcham Town Harriers are still in need of a volunteer treasurer. The club need to find a replacement, otherwise Harriers will be forced to fold. Please see the AGM agenda and club website for further details and how to contact the club.

• It’s your last chance to enter The Swan, Thatcham very own talent show. A few spaces for entries are still available, with the Talent Show winner to be awarded £200 plus a performance at this year’s Thatcham Festival. Any talent or skill can be performed and applications need to be sent before midnight on Saturday 19 February to Swan.thatcham@marstons.co.uk or via Facebook. Your audition tape needs to include your performance for the talent show judges to decide who will make it into the two live semi-finals.

• Further creative talent of local residents is still being asked upon by Thatcham Town Council to help create the Thatcham Legacy Project 2022 of 45 different scenes depicting key events that have happened in the UK and Commonwealth over the last 70 years. The selected scenes will be put together to create a large visual commemoration within the town to celebrate, and commemorate, the Queen’s upcoming Platinum Jubilee.

• Please drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at Thatcham Library during its opening hours. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to its website.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Regular events

• Sport in Mind are running free badminton activities down at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club host Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham also on Wednesdays, which start at 7pm.

• The Kings Head pub in Thatcham is open for all to enjoy free snooker/pool tables, every Wednesday from 3pm till the pub’s closing time.

• Yoga by the Lake at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre on Sunday mornings for an hour of relaxation between 10am and 11am. For more details please click this link.

• Sing Louder Choir community choirs meet on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall with a children choir 6pm to 7pm  community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm. Please see the organiser’s Facebook page for further updates.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.

• RMD Adventure Learning‘s youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, is for over 13s on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

 Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• The Youth Café at Glendale Church, Thatcham is open to all secondary school pupils on Fridays between 6.30pm to 8pm.

• Glendale Church also hosts a Board Games Night on the first Thursday of each month from 7pm to 10pm, entry cost £1 per person.

• Thatcham Town Football Club Wednesday Quiz Night. Teams up to 6 people.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2.30pm to 4.30pm. More information here.

• See Sustainable Living Market – Thatcham & Newbury on Facebook to learn about their planned dates for future markets throughout 2022.

• Thatcham Baptist Church have many different groups and events happening throughout the week, for people of all ages. Their What’s On web page details all upcoming events plus regular groups held by the church.

• Baby and Toddler Group on Wednesday from 10.30am till noon at St Mary’s Church, Thatcham. Baby Café is open every Tuesday from 10.30am to noon at Old Bluecoat School, Thatcham.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 29 November and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these. To see the dates and agendas for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 1 February and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: an unprepared telegraph pole; street name plates (WBC has conceded on this one); parking near the school; jubilee plans; speeding; a proposed new map; the parish plan; planning matters; possible devolution from WBC; a report from ward member Dominic Boeck; and the Village Hall. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 25 January and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the jubilee picnic; projects identified at the NDP open day; the NDP committee; financial matters, including the 2022-23 budget, the precept being fixed at £51,000; delegated powers; and planning matters. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 24 January and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; public sessions explained; a report from ward member Graham Park, mainly on the subject of the proposed 2,500 homes in north east Thatcham; a discussion about whether MPC should join the opposition group of parishes to the above-mentioned plan, it eventually being agreed by four votes to one to do so; and financial matters. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council took place on 12 January and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: the parish’s power supply; a report from Yattendon Estate; planning matters; delegated powers, playground facilities; the Club Room; the community orchard; the 2022 Yattendon fête on Saturday 4 June; financial matters; and the jubilee. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 16 December and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 13 December and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 1 November and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

Thursday 10 February 2022

This week’s news

• West Berkshire Lottery has supported eight different projects already this year, totalling over £17,000, one of those projects being Swings and Smiles in Thatcham which received a whopping £4,500 to go towards the cost of a wheelchair-accessible roundabout for its outdoor playing area. See more here on the Newbury Today page.

West Berkshire Community Hospital has been given the go ahead for a new MRI scanning unit. Following planning permission from West Berkshire Council, it will also build a new CT scanner at the Rookes Way, Thatcham site. The parking has also been given a promise of eight extra spaces by the Council. See full story here on Newbury Today.

• Some news from Newbury Today, about trees in and around the area. As ash dieback has been discovered in the area, Thatcham Town Council has approved the tree survey work of 27 trees. As of right now the project could see the good use of £5,000 put towards tree-life however, if left longer, it has been warned that number of diseased trees might increase. See more information here.

• The next charity countryside dog walk at The Rowbarge Pub in Woolhampton will be held on Saturday 26 February, starting at 10.30am. There was a great turnout for their January countryside walk which raised funds for National Animal Welfare Trust Berkshire in Great Shefford.

• Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service is asking for opinions and survey responses from Berkshire residents, as they wish to learn more about how they can respond to Automatic Fire Alarms alerts to help reduce the burden of false alarms on the service. Please respond to their online survey and see an informational video regarding the consultation.

• For future dates of meetings and events organised by Thatcham Town Council, please see the Winter 2021 newsletter and the Town Council Facebook page.

• For up-to-date news on the opposition to the 2,500-home plan for northeast Thatcham, please see the websites for Thatcham Town Council, Bucklebury Parish Council, Cold Ash Parish Council and Midgham Parish Council (see links at the foot of this section). You can also click here for the latest updates from the Bucklebury Says No group. See also the separate sections below (this has been covered many times and, I sense, will be again).

• Click here for information about lateral flow tests available in West Berkshire.

• Click here to see the latest edition of the Cold Ash Community Bulletin which this week starts with frost and ends with Voltaire.

• The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton has published its February 2022 newsletter, which covers updates, local groups and events across the Thatcham area.

Young people in Thatcham can have their say

Thatcham Youth is a registered charity was established in 2010 and provides, facilitates and supports provision for children and young people in Thatcham, catering for all ages up to young adults. It has recently created a survey which will be used to help shape its future plans

“Thatcham Youth wants to hear from the young people of Thatcham during February,” Head of Youth Activities Dan Cooper said. “The youth charity is launching a Thatcham Youth Survey, designed to give young people in Thatcham a chance to have their voice heard on what future activities the group organise and run. The survey is just 10 questions and can be done in as little as two minutes but will have a major impact on the direction of our charity.

“‘As we look towards the future of our charity, we are really keen to hear from the young people of Thatcham on where we go. One of our key aims is to make sure that young people have a say in their town. We feel the survey is a great way to give them this chance. The results will be used to plan what future activities and projects we launch. It takes just a couple of minutes to complete the survey but really will shape the direction of our charity.'” To complete the survey, click here.

Thatcham Youth currently runs two weekly youth clubs (for ages seven to 11 and for 11 to 14+), a monthly roller disco, free school holiday activities and support groups for young people in the town. To get involved in any way or find out more about the charity visit the charity’s website.

West Berkshire’s new town

Emotive language and fighting talk, you might say – but that’s effectively what the plan for 2,500 new homes between Thatcham and Bucklebury is. If fully realised it would be about the size of Hungerford, though in all probability without Hungerford’s compensating infrastructure and certainly without its railway station, leisure centres, library (and antique shops). As for education provision, a child born today would have been through the whole educational system before this is provided. As has been regularly mentioned in previous columns, the plan seems to have a number of serious flaws. There are also a number of other competing schemes which are increasingly jostling to try to get the planners’ attention.

There are two articles in this week’s NWN (on p22 and p23) which look at some aspects of this. The first concerns questions asked under a Freedom of Information request by Steve Beeson from Bucklebury concerning the funding of the Thatcham Strategic Growth Study by the developers and also the general suitability of the site. I covered this in some detail in the 9 December 2021 section (see below – 31 questions of 2,500 homes) which also provides a link to the questions and answers. See also the 3 February section below (Alternative plans) for more on some of the other possible developments which many feel would be more appropriate.

The second article refers to a recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council which was attended by two senior WBC planning officers. This was covered in the 20 January section (see below – A moment to reflect). The NWN article emphasises the point that Thatcham TC feels strongly that it meeds to be more directly involved in WBC’s discussions about shaping the 30-year vision now demanded by the National Planning Policy Framework. As of 10 February, I’m unaware that this request has been met.

As these and other posts explain, there are a number of options facing WBC’s decision-makers. Recent events in far-away Whitehall have possibly added another wrinkle. Jacob Rees-Mogg has become the Minister for Brexit Opportunities and among his missions is the repeal of “unwanted” EU legislation on the UK’s statute books. One of these concerns REPPIR (The Radiation Emergency Preparation and Public Information Regulations of 2019), a result of which was the extension of the DEPZ (Detailed Emergency Planning Zone) around the two AWE sites. This seemingly put the final nail in the coffin of the vast Grazeley project ,which would have straddled the West Berkshire and Wokingham border. If this is repealed, Grazeley could come back to life. If so then the justification of the NE Thatcham plan – which was pushed forward to help plug the resulting gap in the district’s housing projections – largely disappears.

Community notices

• Thatcham Town Football Club is starting a Wednesday Quiz Night at the club. Just £1 per person with teams up to six people. The first quiz will be held on 16 February from 7pm so get your thinking caps on.

• Can you help at Woolhampton CoE Primary School’s Community Sunday School Day on Sunday 13 February? They are looking for any locals, parents or pupils to help in tidying and maintaining the school site. Anyone able to offer any volunteering support will be greatly appreciated and if you have equipment that can be of further use (brushes, brooms, buckets, leaf blowers, jet washers, etc.) feel free to bring it along with you.

Thatcham Youth are running a free six week mental health course for 9 to 12 and 13 to 16 year old Thatcham residents. To sign up or ask any questions, please email Hannah at hannah.squires@thatchamyouth.org.uk.

• Local grassroots football club Thatcham Town Harriers are still in need of a volunteer treasurer. The club has set a deadline of the end of February to find a replacement, otherwise Harriers will be forced to fold. Please see the AGM agenda and club website for further details and how to contact the club.

• The Swan Pub is inviting applications for their very own talent show, with £200 plus a performance at this year’s Thatcham Festival to be awarded to the competition winner. Any talent or skill can be performed and applications need to be sent before midnight on Saturday 19 February to Swan.thatcham@marstons.co.uk or via Facebook. Your audition tape needs to include your performance for the talent show judges to decide who will make it into the two live semi-finals.

• Further creative talent of local residents is still being asked upon by Thatcham Town Council to help create the Thatcham Legacy Project 2022 of 45 different scenes depicting key events that have happened in the UK and Commonwealth over the last 70 years. The selected scenes will be put together to create a large visual commemoration within the town to celebrate, and commemorate, the Queen’s upcoming Platinum Jubilee.

• Please drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at Thatcham Library during its opening hours. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to its website.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 29 November and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these. To see the dates and agendas for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 1 February and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: an unprepared telegraph pole; street name plates (WBC has conceded on this one); parking near the school; jubilee plans; speeding; a proposed new map; the parish plan; planning matters; possible devolution from WBC; a report from ward member Dominic Boeck; and the Village Hall. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 25 January and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the jubilee picnic; projects identified at the NDP open day; the NDP committee; financial matters, including the 2022-23 budget, the precept being fixed at £51,000; delegated powers; and planning matters. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 24 January and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; public sessions explained; a report from ward member Graham Park, mainly on the subject of the proposed 2,500 homes in north east Thatcham; a discussion about whether MPC should join the opposition group of parishes to the above-mentioned plan, it eventually being agreed by four votes to one to do so; and financial matters. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council took place on 12 January and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: the parish’s power supply; a report from Yattendon Estate; planning matters; delegated powers, playground facilities; the Club Room; the community orchard; the 2022 Yattendon fête on Saturday 4 June; financial matters; and the jubilee. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 16 December and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 13 December and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 1 November and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford areaMarlborough areaNewbury areaThatcham areaCompton and DownlandsTheale areaWantage areaSwindon area.

News and views from across the area and beyond: please see the most recent Weekly News with Brian column.

Thursday 3 February 2022

This week’s news

• The trustees, staff and clients at West Berkshire Therapy Centre would like to thank Thatcham Town Council for its kind donation of £1,000 to help make sure all their clients can afford their services. The therapy centre, based at Frank Hutchins Hall, provides local residents, who are suffering from a wide range of disabling conditions, with specialised gym equipment and support to help provide access to the physical and mental health benefits of regular exercise.

• Two further Thatcham-based flood basins were approved and signed off by the Environment Agency in early January, with the current plans from West Berkshire Council on display in this NewburyToday article. The ‘detention basins’ will be a part of the North Thatcham Flood Alleviation Scheme and are to be located on Bowling Green Road and Heath Lane. We don’t know if it’s our twisted minds but the Heath Lane plan looks a bit, well how can we put this, phallic… Maybe it was the best shape they could think of for a drainage basin.

• We reported last week that 91 new homes were “recommended for approval” on land south of Lower Way, Thatcham by planning officers. An update on the situation isn’t good reading for those opposed to the new houses being build, as NewburyToday reports that the 91 homes will be built as “the land next to Lower Way is designated for development in the current Local Plan and the scheme was approved.” As mentioned in the article it seems there is not much room for negotiation for frustrated locals “as the meeting was told the area would be built on even if the Persimmon Homes development got turned down.”

• More building development in Thatcham but, for once, for the benefit of creatures other than humans. Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) tweeted a short video highlighting the area of Thatcham Nature Discovery that will receive renovations, in the hope of attracting new wildlife to the site. A previous article from BBOWT displays future plans for the Nature Discovery site which include; two new bird hides, putting up new display boards and trail markers. Costs for funding the works is being covered by Landfill Communities Fund, of which waste company Grundon are contributing the full £125,000 for the project.

• Karen Frost, Pastoral Development Worker for Hungerford, Newbury & Thatcham Methodist Churches shares her thought for the month: Is your life ordinary? To be honest, I think mine is most of the time. Then something happens, a God-cident as I call them, that turns something ordinary into something extraordinary.  

• Kennet School’s PDR pupils were treated to a dance masterclass from Liberate Dance, which saw its students learning a dance routine to show-off to their family and friends. Pupils may want to read below, as Thatcham is hosting talent shows in 2022.

• More news from Thatcham’s Kennet School, as they announced that Sixth Form pupils Isobel and Luke will be the new head students for 2022/23. Congratulations to both pupils from all of us at Penny Post.

Bucklebury CoE Primary School took a school-trip to London to visit the Houses of Parliament, as well as meeting their local MP Laura Farris. We’re sure the pupils were much better behaved than certain politicians have been recently…

Woolhampton CoE Primary School host a Community Sunday School Day on 13 February between two two-hour sessions of 10am to noon, then noon to 2pm. They are looking for any locals, parents or pupils to help in tidying and maintaining the school site. Anyone able to offer any volunteering support will be greatly appreciated and if you have equipment that can be of further use (brushes, brooms, buckets, leaf blowers, jet washers, etc.) feel free to bring it along with you.

• Plans to renovate Bucklebury Farm Park have been published by BerkshireLive which include; the removal of some portable cabins, an extension and refurbishment to the existing visitor barn, the removal of the five overnight stay guest-cabins, adding another covered play barn, a refurbished toilet block, and new outdoor covered seating areas. Current renovation works are also taking place at the farm park’s playgrounds in preparation for all of the younger visitor who will be in Bucklebury this upcoming Spring season.

• There were many attendees at The Rowbarge’s first charity dog walk of 2022, who were accompanied by their four-legged friends. The countryside walks aim to raise as much money as possible for local charities, such as January’s charity National Animal Welfare Trust Berkshire in Great Shefford. The next charity walk will be held on Saturday 26 February, starting at 10.30am.

• The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton has published its February 2022 newsletter, which covers updates, local groups and events across the Thatcham area.

Thatcham Youth are looking for the opinions of Thatcham residents (aged under 18 years old) on what future activities and services they would like to see provided to the town’s local children. A quick online survey can be answered to provide the youth group with feedback on what activities they can cover through 2022.

• More from Thatcham Youth, as they have launched a free six week mental health course for 9 to 12 and 13 to 16 year old Thatcham residents. To sign up or ask any questions, please email Hannah at hannah.squires@thatchamyouth.org.uk.

• As mentioned last week, bin collection days are changing next week (commencing Monday 7 February) to accommodate for the impacts of both the nationwide HGV driver shortage and Covid-19. Visit West Berkshire Council’s website here to check how your street is affected.

• Local grassroots football club Thatcham Town Harriers are still in need of a volunteer treasurer. The club has set a deadline of the end of February to find a replacement, otherwise Harriers will be forced to fold. An update on their website explains that “We really need volunteers to step forward and support them by taking on these core committee roles. These roles don’t require any football experience and each role individually takes no more than one to one and a half  hours of time per week.” Please see the AGM agenda and club website for further details and how to contact the club.

• Thatcham’s The Swan pub are inviting applications for their very own talent show, with £200 plus a performance at this year’s Thatcham Festival to be awarded to the competition winner. Any talent or skill can be performed and applications need to be sent before midnight on Saturday 19 February to Swan.thatcham@marstons.co.uk or via Facebook. Your audition tape needs to include your performance for the talent show judges to decide who will make it into the two live semi-finals.

• Further creative talent of local residents is still being asked upon by Thatcham Town Council to help create the Thatcham Legacy Project 2022 of 45 different scenes depicting key events that have happened in the UK and Commonwealth over the last 70 years. The selected scenes will be put together to create a large visual commemoration within the town to celebrate, and commemorate, the Queen’s upcoming Platinum Jubilee.

• Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service are asking for opinions and survey responses from Berkshire residents, as they wish to learn more about how they can respond to Automatic Fire Alarms alerts to help reduce the burden of false alarms on the service. Please respond to their online survey and see an informational video regarding the consultation.

• For future dates of meetings and events organised by Thatcham Town Council, please see the Winter 2021 newsletter and the Town Council Facebook page.

• For up-to-date news on the opposition to the 2,500-home plan for northeast Thatcham, please see the websites for Thatcham Town Council, Bucklebury Parish Council, Cold Ash Parish Council and Midgham Parish Council (see links at the foot of this section). You can also click here for the latest updates from the Bucklebury Says No group. See also the separate sections below (this has been covered many times and, I sense, will be again).

• Click here for information about lateral flow tests available in West Berkshire.

• Please drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at Thatcham Library during its opening hours. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this linkto its website.

• Click here to see the latest edition of the Cold Ash Community Bulletin which this week starts with footpath 16 and ends with an empty desk.

Alternative plans

One of the criticisms that has been made of WBC’s plans to create what would in effect be a new town between Thatcham and Bucklebury is the fact that insufficient attention was paid to alternative proposals. To counter this, the proposers of two sites at Colthrop and Henwick have joined forces to promote their two schemes, one south of the railway and the other on the northern edge of the town. You can see the joint website here. These would provide about 1,200 homes, roughly half of the 2,500 promised in north east Thatcham.

The website lists what it sees as the main advantages, including a railway bridge, a lower traffic impact and the fact that it would provide no more homes than the local plan demands. Henwick Park is as far from the town centre as the 2,500-home plan but Colthrop is certainly closer, as well as being very close to the station. Also the two sites could be developed independently: with north east Thatcham or Sandleford in Newbury, co-operation between developers is required. Experience has shown this is not always easy to achieve.

These plans do not appear to contribute a new secondary school which, one way or another, the town will need before too many more homes are built. The north east Thatcham plan is not much better in this regard, promising to contribute half the cost of this once 80% of the homes have been built, a date which might be 20 years off.  Where the possible 600 secondary school pupils who will have moved into the development by then remains a mystery. There’s certainly no room for expanding Kennet; while Trinity in Newbury, which is the catchment school for the west of the town, is filling up fast as well as a result of other housing developments.

I do not understand why developers cannot be compelled to put in mitigation features such as schools, community centres and surgeries as the first step. They might claim that they don’t have the cash until they’ve sold some houses: however, with a share £1bn contact in their pockets, as would be the case were this to be approved, I can’t see this would be hard to borrow. As well as ensuring that the facilities were there from the off, this would also protect against the developer going bust before these tiresome aspects were built or managing to dispense with them through viability agreements. However, as I’m not making up the rules, this isn’t going to be happening, here or elsewhere.

Senior representatives from WBC’s planning department attended a meeting on Thatcham Town Council on 31 January to answer some questions about the next stages of the plans for the proposed 2,500-homes site. I understand that over 2,000 comments have been received, all of which need to be considered as part of the process of formulating the 30-year vision now demanded by the government’s revised National Planning Policy Framework. Thatcham TC requested that it be more directly involved in determining this vision, a request on which the officers were non-committal.

A re-evaluation of the wisdom of the 2,500-home plan seems to be necessary. The site has some serious flaws, of which its likely non-deliverability is only the most glaring. Another point in favour of the alternative proposals is that the Colthrop site utilises brownfield land. Housing Minister Michael Gove stated shortly after taking over the job that this, rather than greenfield, was his preference. This could prove important if – as has happened with Sandleford – the decision ends up being called in to be decided by his department.

Welcoming the refugees

Last week, spokespersons for West Berkshire Council said they were unable to comment on what was happening at the Regency Hotel in Thatcham, which had cancelled all booking until the end of June, explaining that they had been told too refer all enquiries to the Home Office. On Friday 28 January, WBC eventually decided that enough was enough and decided that the matter needed to be addressed so that the fact could be established that the hotel was being used to house Afghan refugees and a that a warning be given to people who had been circulating less nuanced views on social media. I understand that the Home Office was informed that such a statement would be issued.

I applaud the decision, and the sentiments in the statement about what I was told independently were some pretty vile remarks. Speculation and comment had reached a pitch where the needs of keeping residents informed trumped central-government policies or, for that matter, journalistic etiquette about questions being answered to the questioner rather than in a public statement. WBC had to show some community leadership: not to have done so would have been to cede the ground to the darker and vastly less accountable world of social media.

Thatcham Town Council’s Mayor John Boyd has since issued his own statement: “Thatcham Town Council (TTC) is aware of a number of asylum seekers being housed temporarily in the Regency Park Hotel and TTC is intending to liaise with the new managers there to establish what we, as the council and community leaders, can do to make their stay more comfortable and make them welcome to Thatcham and the district. At this stage we understand that  Clear Springs who are managing the hotel are not accepting offers for support for either food or donations but we will communicate with them on this issue and update our residents as soon as we are able to.”

He also told Penny Post that TTC was in contact with Clear Springs and would be giving publicity to appeals for any help or donations that might be required should this situation change.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 29 November and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these. To see the dates and agendas for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 24 January and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; public sessions explained; a report from ward member Graham Park, mainly on the subject of the proposed 2,500 homes in north east Thatcham; a discussion about whether MPC should join the opposition group of parishes to the above-mentioned plan, it eventually being agreed by four votes to one to do so; and financial matters. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 11 January and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: electricity; dog bins; a response to residents on a planning matter; other planning matters; financial matters; the jubilee; tree preservation orders; a plan for the grazing fields; the draft budget; the neighbourhood development plan; and an overgrown path. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 4 January and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: land for sale; a damaged utility pole; cherry trees; a street that doesn’t exist; speeding; the war memorial; planning applications; and a replacement village map.  To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 16 December and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 13 December and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council took place on 10 November and you can read the draft minutes hereTo see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 1 November and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

Thursday 27 January 2022

This week’s news

• Congratulations to Megan Dempsie for co-winning West Berkshire’s Junior Citizen of the Year Award 2021. Megan volunteers with 5th Kennet Vale Rainbows, supporting weekly activities for five and six year olds and she initiated and helps with running Thatcham Litter Pickers. Megan started volunteering when she was 10 years old and has also raised significant sums of money to support causes that affect her friends and family who live locally. More details about the Community Champions 2021 winners can be seen here.

• Thatcham recently seems to be a housing developer’s paradise, as there are many different proposals for housing sites across the town including; the 2,500 home plan in north-east Thatcham, nine first-time homes opposite the Lawrences Lane development, up to 350 home scheme at Lower Henwick Farm, and on top of that the recently finished 92 apartment McCarthy Stone retirement home development near the town centre. Now, long-running plans for 91 new homes to be built on the land south of Lower Way have been recommended for approval, as reported by Newbury Today. Ahead of a 26 January meeting, planning officers announced that permission should be granted “subject to conditions” and also added that “public benefit of the proposed housing in this location attracts substantial weight in the planning balance and that the residual adverse impacts would not outweigh the benefits”. I’m afraid it seems the many efforts of locals who have long-opposed the Lower Way homes plan have sadly gone to waste…

• West Berkshire Council have notified local residents that (as of Monday 7 February) bin collection dates will be changing in order to accommodate for the impacts of both the nationwide HGV driver shortage and Covid-19. Further information and FAQs regarding the changes can be read on the council’s website including a new bin-day finder page where you can search for details for your own street address.

• Ex-Newbury MP Richard Benyon launched Village Halls Week 2022 from Bucklebury Village Hall’s newly renovated Victory Room on 24 January. The event challenges England’s many rural community buildings to do “something different” to show-off their local’s creative or maybe wacky sides… The week-long celebrations continue until Sunday 30 January, with further information available on NewburyToday and the launch event’s live broadcast from Bucklebury available to re-watch on YouTube.

• A belated AGM meeting was held on 26 January to discuss the necessary replacement of four committee roles at local grassroots football club Thatcham Town Harriers. Karl Woodrow will be stepping down from all four roles after, incredibly, volunteering as Club Secretary, Club Treasurer, Pitch Coordinator, and Covid Officer within his five seasons at the club. If replacements aren’t found, then the club’s future will be at risk. Harriers posted an update to its website explaining that “We really need volunteers to step forward and support them by taking on these core committee roles. These roles don’t require any football experience and each role individually takes no more than one to one and a half  hours of time per week.” Please see the AGM agendaand club websitefor further details and how to contact the club.

Stop press: as of 27 January, four of the five club officer roles have been filled, but the treasurer role is still vacant. The club has set a deadline of the end of February to find a replacement, otherwise Thatcham Town Harriers will be forced to fold.

• Woolhampton CoE Primary School expressed its delight for the proposed outdoor learning area grant being accepted by Woolhampton Parish Council. The council will fund the cost of the project, which the primary school hope will “introduce enhanced provision across the classes.” Planning photos and further information is available to see on the front page of the school’s 21 January newsletter.

• As reported last week, there is now a 22kW electric vehicle fast charger, capable of charging two vehicles, at Thatcham Gilbert Court public car park. For more details please see West Berkshire Council’s website. Users will be required to pay for their parking space whilst charging their vehicle.

• Thatcham Town Council is still calling upon the creative talent of local residents to help create the Thatcham Legacy Project 2022 of 45 different scenes depicting key events that have happened in the UK and Commonwealth over the last 70 years. The selected scenes will be put together to create a large visual commemoration within the town to celebrate, and commemorate, the Queen’s upcoming Platinum Jubilee.

• This week will be your final chance to provide any thoughts and opinions to Royal Berkshire Fire Authority regarding its funding from council tax for the next financial year. You can respond by completing this online surveybefore 5pm on Tuesday 1 February or ask for more information by emailing precepting@rbfrs.co.uk. Further details can be found via the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service website and Facebook page.

• Another chance to voice any opinions towards Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, as they wish to learn more about how they can respond to Automatic Fire Alarms alerts to help reduce the burden of false alarms on the service. Please respond to the online survey and see an informational video regarding the consultation.

• For future dates of meetings and events organised by Thatcham Town Council, please see the Winter 2021 newsletterand the Town Council Facebook page.

• For up-to-date news on the opposition to the 2,500-home plan for northeast Thatcham, please see the websites for Thatcham Town Council, Bucklebury Parish Council, Cold Ash Parish Council and Midgham Parish Council (see links at the foot of this section). You can also click here for the latest updates from the Bucklebury Says No group. See also the separate sections below (this has been covered many times and, I sense, will be again).

Click here for information about lateral flow tests available in West Berkshire.

• Please drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at Thatcham Library during its opening hours. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this linkto its website.

Click here to see the latest edition of the Cold Ash Community Bulletin which this week starts with a pink clouds and ends with pain and suffering.

Media silence (note updated 4.30pm 28 January)

The Regency Park Hotel in Thatcham has suddenly cancelled some future bookings planned to be held within its premises for reasons that are (as of Thursday 27 January) yet to be explained – see this NewburyToday article for more. At a press briefing on 25 January, which Penny Post attended, West Berkshire Council was asked to comment: the Council’s Leader Lynne Doherty said she was regretfully unable to do so as she had been told to refer all enquiries to the Home Office (a Newbury Weekly News journalist had done just this and was told to contact West Berkshire Council). This was still the case at 5.30pm on 27 January. As reported in the article and confirmed separately by Penny Post, Thatcham Town Council has not been informed either. All that can be said for certain is that the gym remains open to members.

Whatever is planned will seem to be keeping the hotel fully booked until the end of June. This could either be because the Home Office has picked this as the venue for the mother of all parties, a five-month-long carnival of self-indulgence that will reduce the Downing Street events to insignificance; or, which appears more likely, that the hotel is going to be used to house asylum seekers. The current media blackout leaves the vacuum which could potentially be filled by speculation on social media. I guess the Home Office knows what it’s doing but this veil of secrecy risks making something that isn’t that big a deal seem like a problem. I feel sorry for the hotel staff who’re having to cancel bookings without being able to explain why. I also doubt that WBC’s leadership and communications team welcomes being told to sit on information and, perhaps, watch speculation unfold in its district which it can do nothing to dispel.

So, if Pritti Patel is reading this, WBC’s next media briefing is at 4pm next Tuesday: could you make sure you’ve given Lynne Doherty the green light by then, please?

On 28 January, West Berkshire Council was finally allowed to release the following statement on this matter:

West Berkshire Council has recently been informed by the Home Office that it is using The Regency Park Hotel in Thatcham to accommodate asylum seekers.

This is a private arrangement between the Home Office and the hotel, and we were not involved in their negotiations. We are also not involved in the planning or day-to-day activities at the hotel. The Council and other agencies are only involved by way of the provision of any statutory duties.

In recent days we’ve seen unkind comments on social media in relation to the asylum-seekers. This is not who we are in West Berkshire and to people making these hurtful comments we say; be kind. We are working in partnership with Thames Valley Police around the concerning comments being made. Thames Valley Police will investigate instances of hate reported to them. We encourage those who experience or witness hate to report offences by calling non-emergency 101 or reporting online. If a crime is taking place right now, dial 999.

Fortunately the people making these comments are in the minority and we know that the vast majority of residents are welcoming to people in need and will help them to feel at home.

Balancing the books

This week’s Newbury Weekly News reports on p27 that the council currently has a deficit of about £47,000 and is planning to raise its precept by 4.8%. I called Town Councillor and Financial Committee member Mike Cole to get his thoughts.

I suggested to him that a 4.8% precept increase (just over £4pa on a band D property) wasn’t actually that much and that some parishes were going for even more (unlike district councils, towns and parishes are not limited in how much they can raise their precept without going to referendum). He pointed out that the promise the council had made when it assumed office in 2019 was that rises would be kept within the rate of inflation, currently at about 5%. As for the deficit, this is out of a total precept of about £700,000. He confirmed the newspaper’s report that measures were in hand to address this.

He also confirmed that, as the NWN had reported, much of this was caused by extra use of and thus wear and tear to (and on a few occasions vandalism of) the 17 playgrounds in the town. Extra costs and reduced revenues arising from Covid were also to blame. he confirmed that in the last financial year, TTC had received about £17,500 in various Covid support measures from WBC but that nothing had so far been allocated in this year. (this was also about the sum of money that the Council was out of pocket as a result of lost bookings on its public buildings). He said that WBC had been swift in passing on such government funds in the past and felt sure that, if any more were available, that WBC would give TTC a sympathetic hearing.

Local government legislation requires parishes to have regard to the level of reserves needed for meeting estimated future expenditure when calculating their budget. However, there is no specified minimum or maximum level of reserves that an authority should hold and it is down to the Responsible Financial Officer (generally the Clerk) to advise the Parish Council about the level of reserves and to ensure that there are key protocols for their establishment and use. In recent years many town and parish councils have been confronted with extra costs as a result of the parent authority wishing to shed services or assets, the parish then having to choose between taking these overor doing without. Some parishes have therefore been building up their reserves to cover such eventualities. Indeed, in late 2021 a Wiltshire Councillor advised Aldbourne PC to increase its precept for exactly this reason.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

• Fri 28 Jan Birds and a Brew with BBOWT 2pm to 4pm Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre.

• Fri 28 Jan Live Music – Zoe Badman 8pm The Swan, Thatcham.

Sat 29 Jan Charity Dog Walk 10.30am The Rowbarge, Woolhampton.

Sat 29 Jan Quiz Night 7.30pm Thatcham Rugby Club.

• Mon 31 Jan Online Talk – History of Thatcham Town Centre 7.30pm via Zoom meeting.

Tue 1 Feb Coffee Morning 10.30am to noon Frilsham Club Room, RG18 9XQ.

Fri 4 Feb Design Your Own Royal Crown 4pm to 5pm Thatcham Library.

• Sat 5 Feb Online Volunteer Recruitment Fair 10am to 12.30pm via Zoom meeting.

• Thu 10 Feb SEND Coffee Morning Workshops 9am to 10am Parsons Down School, Thatcham.

Fri 11 Feb PTA Quiz Night 7pm Main Hall, Kennet School, Thatcham.

• Sat 12 Feb Roller Disco 5pm to 7.45pm Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham.

Sat 12 Feb Spring Concert 7.30pm St Mary’s Church, Thatcham.

• Fri 18 Feb Meet The Brewer Event with Loddon Brewery 7pm The Rowbarge, Woolhampton.

• Sat 19 Feb Thatcham Refillable Mobile Shop 10am to noon 60 Northfield Road, Thatcham RG18 3ES.

Mon 28 Feb ‘The Legend of Jack of Newbury’ Talk 7.15pm Sixth Form Common Room, Kennet School, Thatcham.

• Regular events

• For January 2022 Sport in Mind are running free badminton activities down at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club host Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham also on Wednesdays, which start at 7pm.

Yoga by the Lake at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre on Sunday mornings for an hour of relaxation between 10am and 11am. For more deails please click this link.

Sing Louder Choir community choirs meet on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall with a children choir 6pm to 7pm  community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm. Please see the organiser’s Facebook page for further updates.

• For updates on clubs and activities provided by Thatcham Youth please visit their Facebook page and website.

• RMD Adventure Learning is running a youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, Thatcham for over 13s on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm. Please see a Facebook post from RMD Adventure Learning for more information.

 Thatcham Library has many different clubs and events for people of all ages throughout 2022. For more information on events at Thatcham Library, visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• The Youth Café at Glendale Church, Thatcham is open to all secondary school pupils on Fridays between 6.30pm to 8pm.

• Glendale Church also hosts a Board Games Night on the first Thursday of each month from 7pm to 10pm, entry cost £1 per person.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2.30pm to 4.30pm. More information and contact details can be found here.

• See Sustainable Living Market – Thatcham & Newbury on Facebook to learn about their planned dates for future markets throughout 2022.

• Thatcham Baptist Church have many different groups and events happening throughout the week, for people of all ages. Their What’s On web page details all upcoming events plus regular groups held by the church.

• Two regular weekday events for parents or carers with babies and toddlers are hosted by St Mary’s and St Barnabas Church, Thatcham every week. The Baby and Toddler Group is held every Wednesday from 10.30am till noon at St Mary’s Church, Thatcham. Then their Baby Café is open every Tuesday between 10.30am to noon at Old Bluecoat School, Thatcham.

• This week’s NWN reports, on p28, that the application for 21 homes in Hermitage at The Old Farmhouse has come back to life again after having been lodged, passed and had an amendment objected which was then passed on appeal. You can view the application here. I contacted Hermitage PC and was told that the matter will be considered at its next meeting on 2 February.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 29 November and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these. To see the dates and agendas for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 4 January and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: land for sale; a damaged utility pole; cherry trees; a street that doesn’t exist; speeding; the war memorial; planning applications; and a replacement village map.  To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 16 December and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the co-option of a councillor; planning matters; financial matters; the burial ground; playgrounds and recreation areas; trees; the Village Hall; and the future of the parish magazine. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 14 December and you can read the minutes here. I To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 13 December and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council took place on 10 November and you can read the draft minutes hereTo see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 1 November and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 25 October and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Marlborough area; Newbury area; Thatcham area; Compton and Downlands; Theale area; Wantage area; Swindon area.

News and views from across the area and beyond: please see the most recent Weekly News with Brian column.

Thursday 20 January 2022

This week’s news

• Six new electric vehicle charge points are now live across West Berkshire public car parks including one 22kW Fast Charger, capable of charging two vehicles at Thatcham Gilbert Court Public Car Park. For more details please see West Berkshire Council’s website. Please note, users will be required to pay for their parking space whilst charging their vehicle.

• The creative talent of local residents is called upon to help create the Thatcham Legacy Project 2022 of 45 different scenes depicting key events that have happened in the UK and Commonwealth over the last 70 years. The selected scenes will be put together to create a large visual commemoration within the town to celebrate, and commemorate, the Queen’s upcoming Platinum Jubilee. Thatcham Town Council has asked for a variety of artistic mediums to be sent including embroidery, weaving, applique, cross stitch, patchwork, photography, painting, marquetry, mosaic, felting, beading, crochet and others.

• More news from Thatcham Town Council, as it seeks to prepare a formal letter to West Berkshire Council addressing their concerns with a proposed new parking permit scheme. Plans include the introduction of a ‘Park and Stride’ style of transportation for parents with children attending local Thatcham schools near the Old Bluecoat School and Dunstan Green open space car parks. Councillor Owen Jeffery (Lib Dem, Thatcham Central) has remarked “we need to get a lot more detail from West Berkshire Council as to what they want to do, how they’re going to make it work and how they’re putting money into the repair maintenance. I don’t think there is enough detail here. I certainly think we are not in a position to approve it as it stands.” Further debate between Thatcham’s councillors can be read in this NewburyToday article covering the topic.

• Another NewburyToday article highlights the importance and help that Thatcham Community Larder has provided for local people since its inception six months ago. The larder works in a similar way to others you may see mentioned by us in Newbury, Wantage and Marlborough, with members able to shop for up to ten non-perishable items plus any fresh produce on offer. Stock that is received would normally have been thrown away into land fill and gone to waste, but anything that is left behind from the larders is donated to Newbury Soup Kitchen and the Small Animal Rescue Sanctuary to reduce waste even further.

• Last week we mentioned that Thatcham local Ed Smith was participating in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, alongside his three ship-mates. They were all looking to raise funds, as well as the public’s awareness, for charity Victoria’s Promise and sea forest preservation initiative One For The Sea. The group recently completed their row across the Atlantic Ocean, which started in the Canary Islands on 12 December 2021 and ended with their arrival on the Caribbean island of Antigua on 18 January 2022. Thirty teams from across the globe competed in the race, which as NewburyToday says “is widely regarded as the world’s toughest row” and Team Anna Victorious finished in an impressive fifth place. On top of that the group raised an immense £32,000 for Victoria’s Promise, the charity whose support Ed was so grateful for during his late-wife Anna’s battle with cancer. Congratulations from all of us at Penny Post, we hope you all enjoy your return back home.

Dog poo bins throughout Thatcham are still not being emptied, with bags upon bags pilling up on top of already full bins. Photos tweeted by Thatcham Council leader David Lister highlight the current issue, with the areas surrounding the bins being affected by the mini mountains of waste. If a dog poo bin is full and in need of emptying, you can report the problem to West Berkshire Council. However this doesn’t look to be an instant fix to the problem…

• Many more laps have been marched by locals supporting the charity group Hope, Strength and Courage with their attempt to walk 10,000 laps of Thatcham lakes (Nature Discovery Centre) and Newbury’s Victoria Park. All participants will be given a sponsorship form to hopefully raise as much as possible for Newbury Cancer Care. Please see the charity group’s Facebook page or this Newbury Cancer Care tweet for how to get involved. Thatcham is still beating Newbury with 67 laps to 52 (according to a post on 14 January at 11.57am). Surely anyone born and raised in Thatcham couldn’t let Newbury take the lead.

• It’s been a busy week for Thatcham’s Kennet School Sixth Form pupils, as they were joined by various local religious leaders to discuss how their faith impacts mental health and the importance of religion in today’s world. Also 19 candidates performed speeches to ask and encourage fellow pupils to vote them into several leadership roles for the 2022-23 school year. Gone are the ballot boxes, which have been replaced by an online voting system for the upcoming elections.

Royal Berkshire Fire Authority are asking for Berkshire’s thoughts and opinions on their funding coming through council tax for the next financial year. You can respond by completing this online survey before 5pm on Tuesday 1 February or ask for more information by emailing precepting@rbfrs.co.uk. Further details can be found via the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service website and Facebook page.

• For future dates of meetings and events organised by Thatcham Town Council, please see the Winter 2021 newsletter and the Town Council Facebook page.

• For up-to-date news on the opposition to the 2,500-home plan for northeast Thatcham, please see the websites for Thatcham Town Council, Bucklebury Parish Council, Cold Ash Parish Council and Midgham Parish Council (see links at the foot of this section). You can also click here for the latest updates from the Bucklebury Says No group. See also the separate section below.

• Click here for information about lateral flow tests available in West Berkshire.

• Please drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at Thatcham Library during its opening hours. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to its website.

• Click here to see the latest edition of the Cold Ash Community Bulletin which this week starts with a balloon and ends with Alastair Campbell.

A moment to reflect

Opposition continues to the plans to build 2,500 homes to the north east of Thatcham. One person who has misgivings about the plan is MP Laura Farris and these were expressed in a letter sent following her attendance at a public event in Bucklebury Village Hall in August 2021. A meeting recently took place involving her, WBC Leader Lynne Doherty, ward member Graham Park and the new Executive Director of Planning Eric Owens to discuss WBC’s response to her comments. This should be provided soon and will doubtless be made public in due course. This proposal to allocate this number of homes to NE Thatcham dates back over a year, since when several things have changed.

Firstly, the two senior planning officers and the portfolio holder from that time have moved on which provides, perhaps, an opportunity to review the scheme with fresh eyes. Many have claimed that insufficient attention had been devoted to other proposals such as at Colthrop which, as well as being on a more human scale, are in many ways better located and so likely to be less environmentally damaging. Anything south of the railway line of course re-opens the question of the bridge, which many feel is needed even if no further development took place in the town. WBC’s planners have always maintained that the 2,500 development wouldn’t require this. Any on the other side of tracks definitely would and I understand that the developers have said they could cover or at least contribute to the cost of this. Doubtless at this very moment WBC’s officers are establishing how much this is likely to cost.

Another personnel change has also taken place at the Ministry of Housing and it didn’t take long for the new supremo Michael Gove to evince serious doubts about the planning white paper proposed by his predecessor. Last summer, the government also announced that a 30-year vision was required by planning authorities for significant developments. This has resulted in a delay to the local plan while this is assessed for NE Thatcham, so providing another pause in which the wisdom of this billion-pound and decades-long project can be reconsidered. This will be conducted against the backdrop of two of Mr Gove’s statements: firstly, that brownfield developments should be prioritised over greenfield ones; secondly, that more flexibility should be given to the interpretation of housing allocation figures. With the saga of Sandleford in Newbury still rumbling on, it’s also fair to ask if a scheme involving four developers (two have, after 20 years, proved to be one too many in Sandleford) is deliverable at all and whether, if it is, it can happen with a sufficiency of mitigating infrastructure and the minimum of environmental impact.

If the re-evaluation results in a change of view, WBC should be applauded. To admit that a decision could be improved, and to effect that improvement, is an act of bravery and wisdom, not of weakness or folly. There certainly seem to be many reasons why this plan needs a careful rethink, some of which may not have been clear when the idea found its way into the emerging local plan.

None of the opposition groups are planning to take their foot off the gas, however, and will continue to make their views known. Their work will have built up a good deal of local expertise. WBC might be wise to engage with them to turn this to constructive use. The result should be a solution which benefits all the residents of the district – a sentiment which was recently unanimously voted on at a full council meeting – and doesn’t place all the burden on one part of it which is already hard pressed to provide what’s required by the residents it already has.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

• Sat 22 Jan Sustainable Living Market 10am to 12.30pm Thatcham Catholic Hall.

• Sun 23 Jan Muddy Church 2pm Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre.

• Tue 25 Jan Royal British Legion Thatcham Branch Meeting 7.30pm Thatcham Town FC.

• Wed 26 Jan Mobile Library 10.15am to 10.55am Watermill Court, Woolhampton.

• Fri 28 Jan Birds and a Brew with BBOWT 2pm to 4pm Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre.

• Fri 28 Jan Live Music – Zoe Badman 8pm The Swan, Thatcham.

• Mon 31 Jan Online Talk – History of Thatcham Town Centre 7.30pm via Zoom meeting.

Sat 5 Feb Online Volunteer Recruitment Fair 10am to 12.30pm via Zoom meeting.

Thu 10 Feb SEND Coffee Morning Workshops 9am to 10am Parsons Down School, Thatcham.

Sat 12 Feb Roller Disco 5pm to 7.45pm Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham.

Fri 18 Feb Meet The Brewer Event with Loddon Brewery 7pm The Rowbarge, Woolhampton.

Sat 19 Feb Thatcham Refillable Mobile Shop 10am to noon 60 Northfield Road, Thatcham RG18 3ES.

• Regular events

• For January 2022 Sport in Mind are running free badminton activities down at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club host Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham also on Wednesdays, which start at 7pm.

• Anyone looking to get into yoga or join a group of fellow enthusiasts, then head down to Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre on Sunday mornings for an hour of relaxation. The sessions are between 10am and 11am and if you’d like to find out more or get in contact with the organisers, then please click this link.

• Frank Hutchings Hall, Thatcham hosts two new community choirs called Sing Louder Choir. The groups meet on Thursdays with a children choir being held between 6pm to 7pm, followed by the community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm. Please see the organiser’s Facebook page for further updates.

• For updates on clubs and activities provided by Thatcham Youth please visit their Facebook page and website.

• RMD Adventure Learning is running a youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, Thatcham for those over 13 years old. The club takes place on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm. Please see a Facebook post from RMD Adventure Learning for more information.

 Thatcham Library has many different clubs and events for people of all ages throughout 2022. For more information on events at Thatcham Library, visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• The Youth Café at Glendale Church, Thatcham is open to all secondary school pupils on Fridays between 6.30pm to 8pm.

• Glendale Church also hosts a Board Games Night on the first Thursday of each month from 7pm to 10pm, entry cost £1 per person.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall has acquired two indoor carpet lanes plus equipment for indoor bowls. If you would like to join the group, they meet twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2.30pm to 4.30pm. More information and contact details can be found here.

• See Sustainable Living Market – Thatcham & Newbury on Facebook to learn about their planned dates for future markets throughout 2022.

Thatcham Baptist Church have many different groups and events happening throughout the week, for people of all ages. Their What’s On web page details all upcoming events plus regular groups held by the church.

• Two regular weekday events for parents or carers with babies and toddlers are hosted by St Mary’s and St Barnabas Church, Thatcham every week. The Baby and Toddler Group is held every Wednesday from 10.30am till noon at St Mary’s Church, Thatcham. Then their Baby Café is open every Tuesday between 10.30am to noon at Old Bluecoat School, Thatcham.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 27 September and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these. To see the dates and agendas for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 4 January and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: land for sale; a damaged utility pole; cherry trees; a street that doesn’t exist (see also the News section above); speeding; the war memorial; planning applications; and a replacement village map.  To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 14 December and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: questions about CAPC’s decision not to object to application 21/02702/OUTD for Sylvian House in Fishers Lane; a problematic oak tree; grit; grazing; goalposts; Greenham Trust; a proposed memorial bench; speeding; planning matters; financial matters, including the 2022-23 budget; the jubilee; the neighbourhood development plan; and committee reports. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 13 December and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the co-option of a new councillor; the audit; planning matters; an update from the working group on the emerging local plan (with particular reference to the proposed 2,500 homes in Thatcham); byways on the Common; the cemetery; the chapel; hedges; the playpark; the dibrillator; speeding; cherry trees; financial matters; engagement with West Berkshire Council; the Best of Bucklebury weekend (18 and 19 June); the Patient Participation Group; The Victory Room; and parking in Briff Lane. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council took place on 10 November and you can read the draft minutes hereTo see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 1 November and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 25 October and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 21 October and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

Thursday 13 January 2022

This week’s news

• Six new electric vehicle charge points are now live across West Berkshire public car parks including one 22kW Fast Charger, capable of charging two vehicles at Thatcham Gilbert Court Public Car Park. For more details please see West Berkshire Council’s website. Please note, users will be required to pay for their parking space whilst charging their vehicle.

• Between 7 January and 7 March local charity group Hope, Strength and Courage is attempting to walk 10,000 laps of Thatcham lakes (Nature Discovery Centre) and Newbury’s Victoria Park. Understandably (unless they can get Sir Mo Farah involved?) the laps are accumulative throughout the weeks with many locals registering their personal laps to add to the total. So far Thatcham is beating Newbury with 28 laps to 23. All participants will be given a sponsorship form to hopefully raise as much as possible for Newbury Cancer Care. Please see the charity group’s Facebook page or this Newbury Cancer Care tweet for how to get involved.

• Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) has created a community garden at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham. The initiative is part of their ‘Engaging with Nature’ project which uses nature to help people with mental health problems. BBOWT is encouraging anyone to come along to the garden and get stuck in. The 10-week program uses a blend of nature therapy, horticultural therapy and expressive arts to help improve mental health.

• And still at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre, if you haven’t seen the murmurations of starlings over the Thatcham Reed Beds, you can watch this captivating video by land manager Roger Stace.

Thatcham Town FC is hosting an open Questions & Answers session with the Kingfisher’s manager Jamie Leacock and his team. Fans will have the chance to ask any question they wish, which could range from future plans of the club to his current reflections on recent results. Anyone wishing to attend the Q&A can meet at the club bar after Thatcham’s home match against South Park FC on Saturday 15 January.

• Thatcham local Ed Smith is currently participating in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, alongside three ship-mates who are all looking to raise the public’s awareness of the charity Victoria’s Promise as well as sea forest preservation initiative One For The Sea. As reported by NewburyToday, Ed was so thankful for the support provided by Victoria’s Promise during his late-wife Anna’s battle with cancer that he begun fundraising for the charity. Team Anna Victorious’ journey started on 12 December 2021 in the Canary Islands and they are still rowing in the Atlantic Ocean towards the Caribbean island of Antigua. You can track the live location of the group’s journey via the website of Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge.

• As mentioned last week, the Age UK shop in Thatcham’s Kingsland Centre has sent an appeal to those who may have received unwanted Christmas gifts this year to donate them.  You can contact the shop on 01635 864 994 or you can find more information here, and on the website here too.

BerkshireLife published 50 photos from 1972 (which is now all of 50 years ago…) that look back at various towns and events across Berkshire at the time. A couple of photos in the collection highlight a Dalek take-over of Woolhampton Primary School. We must have missed that episode of Doctor Who, however, the kids at the school don’t seem too scared by the infamous monster’s arrival…

• The pandemic has tried its best to tear apart much of our local community spirit, by forcing us to self-isolate and go into lockdown. However for the residents of Burns Walk in Thatcham, that couldn’t be further from the truth. NewburyToday reports that around 18 households upon Burns Walk have united (while social distancing we’re sure) to support West Berkshire Foodbank. As seen in the article’s photographs, Mark Palmer-Broughton’s dining table soon became over-whelmed with the street’s generosity. The donation will certainly go a long way to supporting the vulnerable during these winter months.

• Thames Valley Police and Crimes Commissioner, Matthew Barber, is asking residents across the Thames Valley area for their opinions for the 2022/23 Police Budget. An online survey can be responded to before the deadline of 5pm on Tuesday 18 January. Matthew Barber has stated the importance of any responses by saying “giving us your feedback, you can help shape decisions about police funding and how Thames Valley Police can continue to work to keep us all safe.”

• Also, Royal Berkshire Fire Authority are asking for Berkshire’s thoughts and opinions on their funding coming through council tax for the next financial year. You can respond by completing this online survey before 5pm on Tuesday 1 February or ask for more information by emailing precepting@rbfrs.co.uk. Further details can be found via the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service website and Facebook page.

• For future dates of meetings and events organised by Thatcham Town Council, please see the Winter 2021 newsletter and the Town Council Facebook page.

• For up-to-date news on the opposition to the 2,500-home plan for northeast Thatcham, please see the websites for Thatcham Town Council, Bucklebury Parish Council, Cold Ash Parish Council and Midgham Parish Council (see links at the foot of this section). You can also click here for the latest updates from the Bucklebury Says No group. See also the separate section below.

• Click here for information about lateral flow tests available in West Berkshire.

• The Thatcham Community Larder is open 2pm to 6pm every Weds at the Frank Hutchings Hall. See here for more details.

• Residents of Back Lane in Brimpton may be interested to know that their street doesn’t exist. A meeting of the Parish Council on 4 January was told that new street name plates couldn’t be added as it “isn’t an official street name  in any postal addresses.” I don’t know whether this non-existence can be used as grounds for not paying their council tax (but I doubt it). For more on what passed at this meeting, see the section below.

• Please drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at Thatcham Library during its opening hours. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to its website.

• Click here to see the latest edition of the Cold Ash Community Bulletin which this week starts with mist and ends with Tolkien.

Can we have our ball back?

A small-sided football pitch has long frustrated local residents near Pound Lane in Thatcham, with NewburyToday reporting that complaints were raised by locals due to wayward footballs flying from the current pitch into their driveway. Thatcham Town Council’s answer to those complaints was to relocate the goal post to another part of the field and then re-wild the old playing pitch with grass and flowers, which would overall cost £4,000. However, that move has been branded “a waste of money” by locals living near to the Pound Lane fields. Gary Johnson, Chairman of Pound Lane Action Group, has said “the football pitch should be left where it is” while adding that moving the pitch to where wild grass grows could put those who use the pitch at risk. Local dog walkers and users of the playground have also weighed in.

Thatcham council may find itself in a lose-lose situation here as every solution threatens to create a situation in some ways better but in other ways worse than the one it’s replacing. As the proposed move has been triggered by residents getting fed up with having balls coming into their gardens and slapping into their houses, perhaps a taller fence might be the answer. There was one of those at Faraday Road in Newbury until a month or so ago when it was taken down. I imagine this has long since been turned into dog food or railway tracks or whatever happens to old fences: but if this is viable, I wonder if WBC might want to contribute to the cost of a new one? That would help tick one of the boxes in their obligation to Sport England to improve football provision in the district, something that many (including Sport England) feel would be better done by spending money at various locations rather than concentrating its efforts on the problematical and expensive new pitch at Monks Lane in Newbury. Just a thought…

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Sat 15 Jan Manager Q&A Session 5pm Thatcham Town FC.

Sun 16 Jan Come and Be Service 5pm St Mary’s Church, Thatcham.

• Thu 20 Jan Vintage Adventure 2.30pm to 4pm Thatcham Methodist Church.

Sat 22 Jan Sustainable Living Market 10am to 12.30pm Thatcham Catholic Hall.

Sun 23 Jan Muddy Church 2pm Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre.

Tue 25 Jan Royal British Legion Thatcham Branch Meeting 7.30pm Thatcham Town FC.

• Wed 26 Jan Mobile Library 10.15am to 10.55am Watermill Court, Woolhampton.

• Fri 28 Jan Birds and a Brew with BBOWT 2pm to 4pm Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre.

• Fri 28 Jan Live Music – Zoe Badman 8pm The Swan, Thatcham.

Mon 31 Jan Online Talk – History of Thatcham Town Centre 7.30pm via Zoom meeting.

• Regular events

• For January 2022 Sport in Mind are running free badminton activities down at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 6pm.

Thatcham Rugby Club host Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham also on Wednesdays, which start at 7pm.

• Anyone looking to get into yoga or join a group of fellow enthusiasts, then head down to Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre on Sunday mornings for an hour of relaxation. The sessions are between 10am and 11am and if you’d like to find out more or get in contact with the organisers, then please click this link.

• Frank Hutchings Hall, Thatcham hosts two new community choirs called Sing Louder Choir. The groups meet on Thursdays with a children choir being held between 6pm to 7pm, followed by the community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm. Please see the organiser’s Facebook page for further updates.

• For updates on clubs and activities provided by Thatcham Youth please visit their Facebook page and website.

• RMD Adventure Learning is running a youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, Thatcham for those over 13 years old. The club takes place on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm. Please see a Facebook post from RMD Adventure Learning for more information.

 Thatcham Library has many different clubs and events for people of all ages throughout 2022. For more information on events at Thatcham Library, visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• The Youth Café at Glendale Church, Thatcham is open to all secondary school pupils on Fridays between 6.30pm to 8pm.

• Glendale Church also hosts a Board Games Night on the first Thursday of each month from 7pm to 10pm, entry cost £1 per person.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall has acquired two indoor carpet lanes plus equipment for indoor bowls. If you would like to join the group, they meet twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2.30pm to 4.30pm. More information and contact details can be found here.

• See Sustainable Living Market – Thatcham & Newbury on Facebook to learn about their planned dates for future markets throughout 2022.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 27 September and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these. To see the dates and agendas for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 4 January and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: land for sale; a damaged utility pole; cherry trees; a street that doesn’t exist (see also the News section above); speeding; the war memorial; planning applications; and a replacement village map.  To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 14 December and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: questions about CAPC’s decision not to object to application 21/02702/OUTD for Sylvian House in Fishers Lane; a problematic oak tree; grit; grazing; goalposts; Greenham Trust; a proposed memorial bench; speeding; planning matters; financial matters, including the 2022-23 budget; the jubilee; the neighbourhood development plan; and committee reports. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 13 December and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the co-option of a new councillor; the audit; planning matters; an update from the working group on the emerging local plan (with particular reference to the proposed 2,500 homes in Thatcham); byways on the Common; the cemetery; the chapel; hedges; the playpark; the dibrillator; speeding; cherry trees; financial matters; engagement with West Berkshire Council; the Best of Bucklebury weekend (18 and 19 June); the Patient Participation Group; The Victory Room; and parking in Briff Lane. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council took place on 10 November and you can read the draft minutes hereTo see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 1 November and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 25 October and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 21 October and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

Thursday 6 January 2022

This week’s news

• Green bin (garden and food waste) collection service has been temporarily suspended by West Berkshire Council until 8 January, with resumption of the services starting again from Monday 10 January.

• Local residents of Thatcham and Newbury have complained about the problems with mail deliveries over Christmas which have continued into the New Year. A Newbury Today article highlights the Royal Mail’s explanation for the scarcity of post as “there are just not enough boots on the ground at the moment”, with Thatcham’s delivery office being closed on 30 and 31 December because of “reported sickness absences”. With the festive period coming to a close, the amount of parcel and post deliveries will likely be decreasing and therefore make for a more manageable situation for Royal Mail.

None the less, problems in parts of the area keep re-surfacing. Across the county line in Wantage, residents have regularly claimed about very late post and the local MP has even raised the matter in the Commons. As recently as 2003 many areas had two postal deliveries a day and many people’s days traditionally started with opening their letters over breakfast.  Now, however, Royal Mail is presiding over a service that seems at times to consist entirely of unsolicited mail. None the less, a lot of people rely on it. Many don’t choose to use the internet for all that it can provide and six percent of homes don’t for one reason or another have access to it at all. Even the digitally connected need it more than they might suppose as if you need a new PIN or password it’s sometimes sent by post.

• Age UK in Thatcham has sent an appeal to those who may have received unwanted Christmas gifts this year to donate them. More than 119.5 million presents go unwanted in the UK and around 22.7 million of those end up in landfills so, if you or anyone you know received the infamous “oh, er… thanks so much…” present, please consider giving it a second chance. You can contact the shop on 01635 864 994 or you can find more information here, and on the website here too.

Thatcham Town Council posted a video which reflects back to their various events in December 2021 and also left a message to local residents saying “we look forward to seeing you at our events in 2022!”

• A charity football match held on 19 December at Henwick Worthy Sports pitches in Thatcham raised £1,015 for Newbury Cancer Care. As shown by Newbury Today‘s match photos, many of the players from local pub-team Taste of England and their opponents played in fancy-dress costumes. With Superman inbetween the sticks, Santa flying down the wing, and cheerleaders chasing footballers across the pitch, it was certainly a fantastic effort for a very worthy cause.

• Starting from Thursday 6 January, the Frank Hutchings Hall, Thatcham will host two new community choirs called Sing Louder Choir. The groups will meet on Thursdays with the children choir being held between 6pm to 7pm, followed by the community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm. Please see the organiser’s Facebook page for further updates and details.

Thames Valley Police and Crimes Commissioner, Matthew Barber, is asking residents across the Thames Valley area for their opinions for the 2022/23 Police Budget. An online survey can be responded to before the deadline of 5pm on Tuesday 18 January. Matthew Barber has stated the importance of any responses by saying “giving us your feedback, you can help shape decisions about police funding and how Thames Valley Police can continue to work to keep us all safe.”

• One crime that the local police can get stuck into is the theft of the Bucklebury Community Bus, as reported by this week’s Newbury Weekly News and also the Thatcham Together Community Forum on 21 Dec.”Help! ” the message read. “The bus has been stolen from the car park of the Cottage Inn, some time between Friday 17 December and Tuesday 21 December. It has been reported to the Police. The bus is a dark blue Ford Transit, registration YP63 MFK.” The NWN article quotes a spokesperson for the group as saying that “sadly the police had nothing to go on and so have closed the case.” Really? They have a registration number and a description. Surely this doesn’t mean that any stolen vehicle unrecovered after a couple of weeks is just forgotten about? Could Matthew Barber explain what’s meant by “closing the case”?

Thatcham Youth have many clubs and activities for children across the Thatcham area including The Zone Youth Club and Vision Youth Club, with both having many different events on throughout the start of 2022. Please also see our ‘dates for the diary’ section below for further information on upcoming events at Thatcham Youth.

• If you have children who wish to learn about computer programming and coding, then they can sign up for a free 12 week online course with West Berkshire Libraries. Applications to attend the course must be sent before Monday 10 January.

• For future dates of meetings and events organised by Thatcham Town Council, please see the Winter 2021 newsletter.

• For up-to-date news on the opposition to the 2,500-home plan for northeast Thatcham, please see the websites for Thatcham Town Council, Bucklebury Parish Council, Cold Ash Parish Council and Midgham Parish Council (see links at the foot of this section). You can also click here for the latest updates from the Bucklebury Says No group. See also the separate section below.

• See here for the latest from Thatcham Town Council’s Facebook page.

• Click here for information about lateral flow tests available in West Berkshire.

• Claire from the Incantata Community Choir in Thatcham confirmed to Penny Post that the choir is looking for new members. The choir meets every Wednesday between 9.30am and 11.30am at St Mary’s Church Hall, Greenham. No auditions are required and it offers two free trial sessions in the first month of each term. See more information here on their website.

• The Thatcham Community Larder is open 2pm to 6pm every Weds at the Frank Hutchings Hall. See here for more details.

• Please drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at Thatcham Library during its opening hours. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to its website.

• Click here to see the latest edition of the Cold Ash Community Bulletin which this week starts with fireworks and ends with fears and dreams.

Spick and span

• Congratulations to the Thatcham-based window cleaner who not just expressed their annoyance at the filthy and increasingly illegible road sign on Floral Way near the roundabout on the A4 but took a proactive response to their frustrations by giving the sign a much needed clean, with many locals praising the voluntary work done. The window cleaner has also asked if there “any signs locally as bad that wind you up, drop a pin on map and a photo of it and I will clean it on my travels.”

I could provide him a list of about 50 round the area, some of which are so grimy and illegible and/or overgrown with vegetation that if I were West Berkshire Council’s legal officer I might be worried that these will cause an accident before long. The ones on the B4000 between Membury and Shefford Woodlands are particularly bad but the road is so terrifying that only a very brave or a very foolish person would pull in and get a mop and bucket out. Maybe West Berkshire Council should close all the roads for 24 hours and get as many people as possible to clean the signs, cut back the vegetation, re-paint the white lines, pick the litter off the verges and fill in the potholes, all in one go. Everyone else can have a stay-at-home day – we should be used to those.  Just a thought…

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 27 September and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these. To see the dates and agendas for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 7 December and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: street-name plates for Back Lane; cherry trees; flooding near Willow Wands; speeding; the allotments; cleaning the war memorial; planning matters; and the Village Hall. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 23 November and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council took place on 10 November and you can read the draft minutes hereTo see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 8 November and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 1 November and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 25 October and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 21 October and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

Thursday 23 December 2021

A look back at 2021

We’ve covered a lot of stories in this area in 2021, several on more than one occasion as things have changed or new facts come to light. We’ve listed and summarised a handful of these below. More information can be found by searching for the respective phrases in this post (and any for coverage of this area for earlier periods, which will be linked to at the foot of the post). 

• 2,500 proposed new homes. In terms of its scale (amounting to a new town about the size of Hungerford), its costs (about £1bn) and its likely timescale (decades) this is probably the most important topic that we’ve covered this year. The most prominent aspect of West Berkshire Council’s (WBC) emerging local plan, published in December 2020, was the “strategic development” for 2,500 homes to the north-east of Thatcham which would infill much of the land between the town and Bucklebury. As might be expected, opposition to this has been considerable, widespread and consistent. Questions that have been raised include the sheer scale of the development, the level of infrastructure mitigation that would be provided (including a re-opening of the debate about a bridge at the railway station), what influence the developers had over the creation of the Strategic Growth Study, the threat to the AONB and whether so many of the districts social-rent and “affordable” homes – 1,000 of which should be provided by the development – all need to be concentrated in one place. The project would change this part of West Berkshire for good and seems to run contrary to many of the recent statements from the government about refraining from building on greenfield sites. This one is set to run for some time.

• Thatcham Library. Everyone agrees that – like other aspects of local infrastructure – this is inadequate for the town’s needed. A small step forward was taken in July when WBC agreed to spend £25,000 on an accessible toilet and some minor improvements elsewhere. More dramatic changes will need to wait a few years by which time it’s hoped that plans will be finalised for re-developing the whole site, including the old care home. More ambitious development options, costing up to £100,000, were also proposed but WBC’s decision seems seems prudent as long as further works are definite contemplated. I’m sure that Thatcham Town Council and the town’s district councillors will keep WBC to its word. Thatcham TC also has influence over the Library Service as its voluntary contributions of about £25,000pa are conditional on satisfactory quarterly reports on how this is benefitting the town.

• Thatcham Festival. October’s nine-day event in October was a great success with 35 individual events celebrating the best of local talent. We were there on the opening day, which was blessed with warm autumn sunshine, and were delighted to meet several of the participants and local traders. Hopefully it will return in 2022.

• Thatcham quiz. This ran for a couple of months until mid November and we’d like once again to thank the 21 local retailers who donated prizes. Congratulations to Geoff Gosney whose name was first out of the hat. (The answers, by the way, were John Both, 1-0, Newbury and 1847. To see the questions, click here.)

• Cold Ash Community Bulletin. Our unofficial award for the best parish magazine goes to this title, not least because it’s produced every week (not an easy thing to do, as we well know). Congratulations to all those involved and also to those who work on similar publications, print or digital, across the area. All of them deserve an award for keeping providing hyper-local information, often in more than one format.

This week’s news

• Green bin (garden and food waste) collection service has been temporarily suspended by West Berkshire Council between 28 December till 8 January, with resumption of the services starting again from Monday 10 January. The council explained the reasoning behind the suspension as needing to “free up more drivers and operatives to ensure your rubbish (black bin) and recycling (green boxes and bag) service continues as scheduled throughout the busy Christmas period and into the New Year.”

• The winners of  the competition to design the Mayors Christmas Car‘ were announced by Thatcham Town Council – Jessica Pallett-Ford (under 16 category) and Leah Mellett (over 16 category). Congratulations to both winners, who both received a certificate, a prize and a pack of cards of their own designs from Mayor John Boyd.

• You can watch a ‘look-back on 2021’ video, posted by Thatcham Youth, highlighting their great work with children in West Berkshire throughout this roller-coaster of a year.

• Further news from Thatcham Youth, which announced the cancellation of its Movie Morning Christmas event which was due to show the ever popular film Elf. They explained that “over the last year our team of staff and volunteers have worked non stop to deliver provision for the young people of Thatcham. Given this, we want to give all of the team a chance to rest and enjoy the Christmas period with their families. We hope everyone understands and we will re-schedule something for the new year.” But will the elf still be there one twelfth might has passed? Time will tell…

• Kennet School’s Physically Disabled Resource (PDR) students wrote and performed a “humorous adaptation of the nativity play” for other pupils and staff to enjoy. Clearly, as seen in photos tweeted out by the secondary school, the performance went down a storm and will hopefully inspire the students to keep on pursuing their many talents within Drama.

Opening times for Thatcham’s Nature Discovery Centre between 24 December to 5 January have been released, with the centre closing on 25 and 26 December as well as 1 January.

Bucklebury Farm Park will also be closed for the Christmas break, with closures on 25, 26, 27, 31 December and 1 January too. The park will then re-open on 2 January.

• Local residents can still dedicate memories and Christmas messages to lost loved ones during the month of December on the Memory Tree at London Road Cemetery. Tags can be found on-site and can be attached to the Christmas tree found in the middle section of the cemetery.

• Various Christmas services are being held throughout the Thatcham area, and beyond, which you can find further details about via The Hermitage Team Ministry website.

• For future dates of meetings and events organised by Thatcham Town Council, please see the Winter 2021 newsletter.

• For up-to-date news on the opposition to the 2,500-home plan for northeast Thatcham, please see the websites for Thatcham Town Council, Bucklebury Parish Council, Cold Ash Parish Council and Midgham Parish Council (see links at the foot of this section). You can also click here for the latest updates from the Bucklebury Says No group. See also the separate section below.

• Latest news from Churches Together in Thatcham includes details about events and community groups. To view, click here.

• See here for the latest from Thatcham Town Council’s Facebook page.

• Click here for information about lateral flow tests available in West Berkshire.

• The Thatcham Community Larder is open 2pm to 6pm every Weds at the Frank Hutchings Hall. See here for more details.

• Please drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at Thatcham Library during its opening hours. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to its website.

• Click here to see the latest edition of the Cold Ash Community Bulletin which this week starts with golden brown and ends with living life backwards.

News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 27 September and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these. To see the dates and agendas for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 7 December and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: street-name plates for Back Lane; cherry trees; flooding near Willow Wands; speeding; the allotments; cleaning the war memorial; planning matters; and the Village Hall. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 23 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Christmas tree; the memorial bench; grit; the report that “grazing field 1 was now very overgrown” and “no sheep had been in the field for two years,” two things that are probably related; the jubilee; and planning matters. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council took place on 10 November and you can read the draft minutes here. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 8 November and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 1 November and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 25 October and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 21 October and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

 

To see earlier Thatcham Area Weekly News columnsplease click here.

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